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#9 - Undertale (PC, 2015)
There is a very short list of games I would personally consider perfect. In fact, that list may include just a single game on it. And that’s Undertale. Every other video game I’ve ever played, whether on this list or otherwise, I could come up with some facet of the game I would like to change, and I believe it would be an objectively better game. I don’t know what I could ever change about Undertale to improve it. It identifies its target audience and barrages them with such a focused experience tailored to exactly them superbly. I would say I’m part of that audience. Not quite the bullseye of that target audience dartboard, but somewhere in the outskirts (maybe like a double 18) to the point that most of its merits are still a solid hit with me.
On the surface, Undertale is just a fun, little RPG Maker game with a unique battle system, made almost entirely by a single person. You play as a human child who has fallen into monster territory, after the human race banished them to live in the underground as the result of a huge race war. As you might expect, most monsters aren’t terribly excited to see you there and will start fights with you. Random battles will pop up, and when they attack, they summon little white damage areas that you have to dodge. It’s kinda reminiscent of Paper Mario, in that you have a lot of control over how much damage you take while on the defensive, though Undertale is a bit more engaging.
Then when it’s your turn, you have several options. No matter who you’re up against, you can always just FIGHT them, take them out, and gain EXP and LV, become stronger and move on. But that’s not what the game really wants you to do. It is specifically advertised as “the RPG game where you don't have to destroy anyone.” That’s where your other battle options come in. One of them is ACT, wherein you have a few courses of action, depending on what monster you are fighting. These can range from petting the monster, to singing with them, to trying to eat them. There will typically be some combination of actions that will then allow you to use one of your final options, MERCY, to spare their life, and move on without growing stronger.
It helps when the story and cast of characters are so god damn strong. Every character may not click with you personally, but all of them have the potential to. They all lean pretty hard into being sorta awkward and cheesy that a lot of people the game is specifically targeted to can relate to personally. There’s an anthropomorphic goat who loves awful jokes that is desperate to help anyone who’s in trouble, but gets a bit too overbearing about it a lot of the time. There’s a skeleton in the game whose defining personality trait is trying to look cool and make friends, when really he’s just a big silly goofball who just wants some company. There’s a lizard scientist who is a massive nerd who gets obsessed with anime and is desperate to have someone to talk to about them without feeling ashamed about it. They all are extremely endearing and have clear flaws that really speak to who the game is trying to tell it’s OK to have flaws as long as you are trying to be a good person. The story twists and turns, never really having a dull moment, and ultimately delivers an extremely powerful ending. Even if this was all there was to the game, I think it would be pretty unique and charming.
But I give basically all of the credit to Toby Fox’s ingenuity for why Undertale is elevated to excellent status. There are several corners he could’ve cut when developing this game, but he never did. I swear he thought of everything. He has his finger on the pulse of gaming tendencies and put in tons of s*** rewarding players for trying something outside the box. At any point, if you’re playing this game, and come up with some funny thing out of the norm to try and see if something different happens, there’s a 99% chance it will. I would say that Undertale is the game most chock-full of alternate dialogue of anything out there, AAA or otherwise. It is absolutely absurd the amount of content this little indie game is packed with, just waiting for you to discover. People were still finding things years after its release that no one had ever seen before.
On top of everything else, the music is phenomenal. Every area has its own track, which are all great. The generic battle theme is catchy af. And every boss in the game has a special theme, too, which are most of the best tracks in the game. Spider Dance, Asgore, Death By Glamour, and of course, the infamous Megalovania are all A+ songs I’ve got in playlists on Spotify.
To this point, I actually can’t think of anything I would change about the game. There are a few story moments that I personally don’t have great feelings for, but I know others that really enjoyed them. And those are few and far between. I had a big dumb smile on my face for 96% of the game. And even after having beaten it once, there’s a decent amount of replayability for an RPG. I notice something new every time I experience it, whether it's through playing it again or watching someone else try it. And after its initial release, there were no bugs, no updates, no DLC, no nothing. Toby Fox spent multiple years trying to develop a masterpiece, and he knocked it out of the park first try.
Sans > Papyrus > Toriel > Undyne > Asgore > Flowey > Alphys
Xbox GT/PSN name/Nintendo ID: TatteredUniform
#9. Mega Man 2 (NES, 1989)
The perfect Mega Man game. All the music is amazing. Wily stage 1 is a top 5 track all time. This is the only game I ever sped run. I was best clocked at 31 minutes. The record at the time was 28 minutes. I replay this game more than most. Not really sure what else to say here. It's Mega Man. People are aware of him. It is one of the first games I ever beat. I have beaten every possible order of Robot Master or close to it.
Wood > Bubble > Air > Metal > Flash > Quick > Heat > Crash
I am Nick. Go Sens, Bills, Blue Jays!
UotY 2015, You should listen to The Show w/ Ngamer and Yoblazer
Today I learned that Nick has beaten Mega Man 2 40,000 times.
Today I learned that Nick has beaten Mega Man 2 40,000 times.that's a lot of times
azuarc may not know the strength of songs in VGMC, but he conquered the guru in Game of the Decade 2! Congrats!
Curse B8 and its advanced metrics. Its closer to 100. I meant in the scope of starting with different masters, not going weakness routes etc. Obv not each thing. Foolish of me to say so. Eat me alive B8
I am Nick. Go Sens, Bills, Blue Jays!
UotY 2015, You should listen to The Show w/ Ngamer and Yoblazer
"every possible order"
it's an underwater adventure ride
#10. Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega Genesis, 1991)
The first video game I ever played! I’ve talked about Sonic a bunch already obviously, and a lot I say would just be redundant. But clearly it had an impact because we’re here 30 years later and it has never not been my favorite series. I was into all the Sonic media. The TV Shows, the comics, the toys, the Tiger games, a mini pinball machine, I was Sonic for Halloween at least once, shirts and stuff, all the way to these days where I use screencaps in my Zoom backgrounds at work.
Everything just perfectly clicked in this game. The way Sonic controls, the platforming, jumping on enemies, beating bosses, running past the goalposts, jumping into that big special stage ring if you got 50, the oft overlooked “ring” mechanic of always being able to survive as long as you have one ring (short of getting crushed or falling down a pit) – really this was a fantastic mechanic that never gets credit for working and still sticking through. As I said in my other review, Sonic is not a game about going fast. So many people deride these games for this, saying “well they let me do it in Green Hill and then took it away in every other stage and that’s why I don’t like it” oh well I’m sorry a game introducing different ways to utilize Sonic’s movement isn’t the exact same just run fast every single level. Sega eventually kowtowed to fans and made these games in 3D. Some are ok. Most of them are bad. But if its what you like, I guess more power to you, but I feel like you’ve deluded yourself out of what makes Sonic Sonic based on a fallacy you had 30 years ago. Sonic is not about speed.
Sonic is about momentum. Yes, sometimes going fast plays a part in this, but it doesn’t have to. It’s momentum and how it interacts with slopes, bouncing off of enemies, going through loops, the pacing between going slow and going fast, and taking care to avoid obstacles. If you just plow forward, yes you will get punished and probably deserve it. Speed still plays a part here because there are sections spaced properly through out the game where you CAN fly through fast, and that is fun too. Look at the level progression. Green Hill- fast, Marble- slow, Spring Yard- Mostly fast except for those crushy elevators, Labyrinth- Slow, Star Light- FAST (I love the super steep slopes and double loops in this level, it provides a stark contrast to Labyrinth before it), Scrap Brain- can play pretty fast if you’re good with timing and obstacles. But again, in each of these, your momentum uniquely affects you in each level. Marble has the lava geysers. Green Hill has the snaky pipe things that you spin down. Spring Yard has the big U-shaped halfpipe things, that you can spinroll out of (by the way, the down spinroll is an underappreciated thing about Sonic because spindash in Sonic 2 outshined it by most people, but pressing down to spinroll is a very effective thing to do in how you take out enemies and how it completely changes how you move around). Labyrinth throws you for a loop with controlling yourself in water plus the GODDAMN DROWNING tension, which is heart-pumping adrenaline, not to mention the unique boss where you just have to outclimb the water level, avoiding fireballs and spears. Star Light has steep slopes and the see saws that launch differently depending on how you land on them. And Scrap Brain has the conveyor belts and spinny-do platforms.
Plus, more I didn’t mention in each of these levels but my point is Sonic 1 was interesting and fun because of how varied and interesting it was in how it incorporated this MOMENTUM. Oh, not to mention the trippy as f*** special stages where you’re just falling endlessly in gravity and controlling a maze around sonic while like birds, fish, and bubbles take over the background what the f*** is even happening
Anyway, I Love this game. It’s fantastically underappreciated by most people who like 2 more, but for me, this one is better, just a bit. I personally think the level design is better, the music is much better (Star Light and the Boss music stands out for me a lot), and the visual design is much better- I like the way it looks more than Sonic 2, it’s more smooth and less sharp- it’s still colorful, but more subtle than Sonic 2’s color. The bosses are classic (Decapitation!!!).
It’s also a much more important game both to me and in the Sonic pantheon. I’m glad this one came first because it really solidified the importance of momentum in 2D platformers and that persisted well throughout most of Sonic’s 2D life. I knew as I went through my first loop-de-loop, when I went through that first snake pipe in Green Hill and hit the slope and launched through the air, even to when I outraced the lava floe in the little obstacle course in Marble (the one blocked by spikes and raised platforms)- I knew these games felt amazing and were perfect for me.
Next up: A successor that I am in the minority of liking more than its much more popular original game.
~Wigs~ 3-Time Consecutive Fantasy B8 Baseball Champion
2015 NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPION NEW YORK METS
9.) Mega Man 3 (1990)
The perfect Mega Man game. All the music is amazing. The opening theme is one of the top 5 VGM tracks of all time.
it. I built myself an NES just to play Mega Man 3 the way god intended after only having experienced the game via emulation. The game f***ing rules - you have proto man, you have the weird f***ing things they tried in the music. You have the shadow bosses.
Everything about this game is designed to be about topping what they did in Mega Man 2 and they f***ing succeeded. I've played this game a s*** load. No boss power ups. Power ups only. Less than ideal orders of operation.
Everyone know about Mega Man, but what's amazing to me about Mega Man 3's sound track is it actually is two different composers and you can like barely tell.
Gemini Man>Top Man>Snake Man>Shadow Man>Hard Man>Spark Man> Needle Man> Magnet Man
Board 8's Voice of Reason
The bosses are classic (Decapitation!!!).https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJsRAcAhnNw
Xbox GT/PSN name/Nintendo ID: TatteredUniform
#10. Beatmania IIDX (series) (Arcade, 1999)
This writeup pretty much needs to pick up at the end of my Dance Dance Revolution writeup. DDR was so influential for me, both as a competitive game, and in leading me to a group of new friends. As I also mentioned before, I would get together with that group of friends to play a whole bunch of other video games beyond DDR. One of these friends owned a game called Beatmania IIDX 6th Style. It was one of those “oh we've heard of this game but never seen it” things. One evening of trying the game, and I was hooked.
Beatmania IIDX is another music game series from Konami. It's supposed to be a DJ simulation game, with 7 keys arranged with slightly inconvenient positioning and a turntable. It simulates DJing as much any other music game simulates its instrument, but you get the idea. Each note is keysounded, meaning pushing the buttons plays the song.
IIDX is a notoriously difficult game. The buttons are arranged in a way that at least one of them will always be awkward for your fingers to hit, and the turntable needs to be scratched both up and down, meaning there is a whole learning curve just to get used to the controller. The timing window for the most accurate judgment on a note is just 2 frames, I believe, in a 60 fps game. Easy songs will still have hundreds of notes, hard songs can get up around 1,500 to 2,000 notes in a 2 minute period. You can get “goods” with a much more generous window, but it won't count towards your score for your grade, just merely keep you alive for passing. The game designers recognized how narrow the timing window was, because you can get a AAA, the highest grade, with just 88.89% of the max score (8/9ths). And yet still, it is very common for people to be getting C's and D's on songs when they first start (4/9ths and 3/9ths of the max score, respectively). As for clearing songs, there is a bar that fills as you hit notes and depletes as you miss, and it needs to be 80% full at the end of the song. It definitely fills up slower than it clears out, and a handful of missed notes in the final stretch of a song can lead to a failure. Hitting extra buttons can also be penalized, depleting your bar more, meaning mashing in a panic can go terribly wrong. Konami has a good laugh sometimes, as they often fill songs with the most dense bulls*** at the very end of songs. It's common for high level players to earn a AAA, but still fail a song. It sounds like IIDX can be a very masochistic game, and it kind of is at times, but it can also be very rewarding when things go well. Hitting a long string of notes gives a big rush of adrenaline.
There is a fair amount of crossover between IIDX music and DDR. A lot of popular Konami songs in DDR actually originated in IIDX, mostly instrumental/electronic stuff. Songs like Holic, V, Sync, Absolute, Burning Heat, Spin the Disc, A, Sakura, and a lot more all originated in IIDX. When I first saw these songs in IIDX, I was really excited, because many of them were among my favorites in DDR. There is a bunch of original music too, and the more I heard, the more I loved IIDX's soundtracks.
ONLY FIVE CAN LADDER.
Sushi, kamikaze, fujiyama, nippon-ichi...