The Shadow’s Sixty Countdown – Rank 60-55

Hello! It’s finally time. I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time. Over the course of the next several months, we’ll be gradually counting down my favourite games ever. Of course, there has to be a cut off, so I’ve selected the end of 2015. Any games that came out during 2015 or earlier are eligible for this list. This gives us ~30 years of gaming to play with, so this was an incredibly hard list to create, and has taken me weeks of deliberating to narrow it down to just 60.

We’ve got games of nearly every genre here, including some genres I don’t often play anymore. We’ve got old games, new games, and everything in between. Obviously, I’m just one man… I haven’t played every game, so I apologize if there are any games you really loved that got left off because of that. One notable game in that category is Undertale which I suspect I would have loved had I had the time to play it, given what I’ve seen of the game.

Amalur

Each entry into this countdown will cover 6 games as we build towards the coveted Top 6 games of all time, according to me. Hope you enjoy this list, and if you have any questions about why I’ve placed things where they are, or if you disagree with me… please, feel free to comment!

60) Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (PS3/Xbox 360)

Amalur Title
In general, me and Open World RPGs have a rocky relationship. I tend to be very heavily story-focused when it comes to games, and once you start making an RPG open world, the story has a tendency to either just plain suck or become very distant and hard to relate to current events (see Skyrim and Dark Souls for perfect examples of each of the above). Amalur did an amazing job of making a story that was both interesting and relevant by having good characters and some very interesting ties to the gameworld’s unique history.

The other thing that Amalur did so well, the thing that makes me hold it with such esteem among its peers for me, is make the gameplay exciting. Another thing Open World RPGs are prone to do is make the game slow and pensive in an attempt to add deeper strategy. Sometimes this is successful, other times it just leads to an extremely boring experience… but Amalur’s development team decided to up the pace a lot while still keeping the strategic focus by taking advantage of a third person viewpoint to give more dynamic options and greater information to the player.

59) Lords of the Realm 2 (PC)

As a kid, I loved strategy games. I mean, I still do… but the love is a bit more distant for me nowadays. I played a ton of little strategy themed games as a kid, but one that stood out to me for its unique approach was Lords of the Realm 2. The game tasked you with managing medieval towns and conquering a realm. Everything from resource management, army management, managing your peoples’ happiness… even things like crop rotations were important.

Not every county had every resource, or even adequate farmland to support themselves – much less your armies, who also required food. Did you position your armies on the front line, and have them feeding off of a potentially sparse country, did you keep them further away in lusher pastures and risk lands being destroyed or conquered while you repositioned your forces in the event of an invasion, or did you forage off neighboring lands and potentially piss off those lands’ ruler?

Lords of the Realm

The game was really deep and its only real flaw was a lack of customization. There were an extremely limited range of custom maps and a single campaign… and thus the game’s lifespan was limited. But while you lived out that lifespan, it was an amazing time.

58) Pixeljunk Monsters (PS3/PSP)

Tower Defense has been around for over a decade, first finding its home in custom maps for Blizzard’s RTS hit StarCraft. These games have always been a PC focused genre, as controls on consoles have – for the most part – left much to be desired. Every so often some developer would try to crack that code, but they generally failed miserably. Until Q-Games made Pixeljunk Monsters.

They removed just enough of the complexity to make it function with console controllers without sacrificing the game’s overall difficulty. They also added some additional mechanics to cater more to the console controls, by making your character’s position matter for more than just building. You have to collect coins/gems, and if you stand on a tower, it will upgrade over time. This adds a bit of tension, and makes controlling your character matter – which is relevant for a console game, but less so with a mouse and keyboard.

PixelJunk Monsters

The glue that holds it all together is an adorable art style and great soundtrack. The music and art make the game constantly fun and keep the pace flowing for what is generally a relatively slow genre.

57) Street Fighter 2 (SNes/Arcade/Many Others)

One of the two great giants in the fighting game genre, Street Fighter has always dominated the scene… and, in my eyes, the series reached its pinnacle with Street Fighter 2. SF2 offered a great roster of characters who had distinct personalities and movesets.

SF2 also introduced us to some of the most iconic characters and theme songs gaming has to offer. Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li are incredibly well known… and Guile’s theme still stands as one of those timeless songs that you just never get tired of hearing.

Street Fighter 2

What really made the game for me were its controls though. Modern fighting games tend to have like 20 different moves and dozens of combos, which is simply unreasonable for play with anything other than a fight stick… SF2 kept it simple: each key had a purpose, and each character had a handful of distinct and fitting combination attacks. I miss that simplicity nowadays.

56) Chrono Trigger (SNes/PS1/DS)

Chrono Trigger is one of the legendary Super Nintendo era JRPGs, and holds a place of reverence for many, with some even considering it to be the greatest JRPG of all time. And it deserves most of the praise it gets. It had relatively good graphics for its era, had an amazing story, interesting characters, and very solid gameplay mechanics.

Chrono Trigger Title

It’s strongest asset is that story, featuring numerous endings and a ton of interweaving plotlines that echo through the time periods you get the opportunity to explore. It is arguably the best ‘time travel’ themed video game ever made, using the time travel in a way that makes sense but not trying to dwell too strongly on it.

Chrono Trigger’s soundtrack also receives an immense quantity of much-deserved praise, with countless remixes, remasters, and modifications over the years. It was even among the first sets that VGL performed, and is probably my favourite of their sets.

55) Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3)

It’s strange to be recommending a game I’ve never finished on this list… but Metal Gear Solid 4 was an incredible experience. The game gets criticized for being ‘too much movie, too little gameplay’, but when you have cut-scenes this well-done and a story this good, it’s hard to be upset about a lot of cinematic sequences.

MGS4

This was, in my eyes, the final true ‘Metal Gear Solid’ game, and it deserves credit for wrapping matters up so well. Even for someone like me, who was never that familiar with the previous games’ story, the game felt coherent and cohesive, and it even offered a great encyclopedia to get people up to speed on elements from the previous games.

I also loved the options this game offered. For the majority of the game, you could choose just how stealthy you wanted to go, what types of weapons you preferred to use, and even whether you wanted to go first person or third person… and no aspect of the game suffered from these choices. The shooting mechanics were solid and accurate, the gameplay was responsive, it was just a great shooter experience.