Some game experiences we want to share with everyone, others we simply can't even make it into words and want to share anyway, forcing the cardridge/disk/activation code into someones hands so forcefully they get the opposite effect. Sometimes the game just found you at a certain moment which was past its time in the limelight or maybe you wanted a challenge without all the modern sheen and layers of built up genre preferences applied. Sometimes we just can't sum up those good times enough that we can share, there's only chanting in this games lonely corner. Before the internet I tried to share my favourites with all my friends, nowadays I have a filter and don't try and force those things on others but at the time I felt I had found a lost gospel. Here are 10 games that might be first time I've shared them or the first time since the first, which means they didn't go over well enough which makes them slot nicely onto this list.
10. Another world
A few years back I did recommend this game to many, those I was confident would stop and look at what it did for its time. Then Inside (2016) got released and I realised no one would want to play this game anymore. There was even a HD release that had come out and I haven’t played but I knew it was needed. This game had a sense of cinematic language that I seen creep into Uncharted, MGS and the Last Guardian. This game was like that amazing Sci-fi project we (all?) have laid out in our minds but never got down and made because life is finite. I think it is incredible at just about every step, I was fascinated by how it was made, how no one else was doing what it did at the time, and how one mad man made just about all of it which was comfort when you study computers and their internal workings. Now the time for the game has passed and its influence has gone on to do better things, maybe thats for the best and I can always return to enjoy it.
9. Soul Reaver
I was recommended this game. One my oldest and dearest friends game me it and then the sequel. This game was like me proving to a metal-head crowd that I could beat a game about gothic vampires in a ruined world and everything about it seemed to inspire their album art. This game is still well revered and the universe is still untapped potential by precious IP resuscitation. This game has a version on Steam that has a few issues but I had to steer away my sibling from curiously diving into this game. He did not listen and quickly gave up. This game has no built in map and often the challenge is finding out where to go. When I was playing this game at age 10-12, the only guides were all in text and navigating this game world based on a description was a tough puzzle by itself. The boss fights were often messy and looking back at some youtube playthroughs my memory was right in this case. I don’t know who could enjoy this game nowadays since I’m told Tomb Raider 1-3 are hard to go back to (nonsense!) and maybe this is where a remake would be justified and there are still games coming out with the whole ‘two worlds/realms’ that you have to interact with separately but one may influence the other and so on.
8. The Twin Snakes
The older I get the more this games gets badmouthed, belittled, disregarded and snubbed. The more time passes the more that I agree but everything that justifies making the game an exile of the series is really all in the cosmetics. Yes they butchered the difficulty so that animal crossing players can pick it up, yes the voice acting is somehow worse, yes the cutscenes are like Advent Children, yes that Yoshi in the labs is distracting. But I know in my heart of hearts I never would have finished the game (solo) had it came to me via Ps1 and I would have been totally lost when I finally got to play MGS2 10 years too late. I needed a first person view when I was that young and I needed crazy overly long explanations about the story’s silliest building blocks and Grey Fox was badass for a young anime enjoying child. It is odd to revisit in the present and a full-remake could be on the horizon but for 'baby's first MGS' it was a start none the less.
7. Sims 2
Sims 2 is wonderful and so many people I know have enjoyed it, they loved it long before they met me and it has never needed a recommendation. That being said this is a game vastly made better thanks to the wide selection of mods available, small cheats shared by the community and the vast amount of options compared to later entires in the series. The main catalogue of mods for Sims 2 has disappeared from the internet and there appears to be little substitute, or demand, for any online graveyard to dig them up from. Sims 2 could be a great game all over again and entertain thousands like it had done and it still does to lesser degrees than in its heyday. I know I will return to playing it, my partner will certainly play it again, youtubers will continue to make hilarious content out of it but I think too few players will be impressed by what the game has to show, Quality of life mods are still around but nothing compared to what this game once was and could have been made into. I’m happy to play it as is, but I imagine any players shown this way won’t stick around for long.
6. Chrono Cross
This game is something else. And I don’t even know what. It was probably only wildly played and still remembered for bringing an end to one of Squaresofts’ IP’s. Nowadays it’s original setting and ‘out there ideas’ are what makes it stand out. I’ve played this game twice and got the same ending, my only recommendation is do it differently from me. There are too many directions to go (seriously your choice is intentionally flexible), too many side-quests and side-characters and a story that resembled a multi-layered race car track. The best selling point is you get to play as a cat for a small quest, that was fun. The worst selling point is the game drops you at an important story event to begin with along with zero guidance. After the odd intro the game starts off great with emotion, warmth, speed and a mad trippy plot and continues like that for the first 5-6 hours but then slowly changes gears to drammatic crawl and slowly gets more and more abstract before the clowns turn into dragons (true story). Also there is something about time and body swapping that is explained in 50 textboxes when it could have been sorted out with a small visual to show who’s spirit went where (someone online did it and its not as mental as they made it sound). With stripped back combat compared to its older brother, dizzying use of alternate universes and enough islands, beaches, treasure and pirates to compete with Sea of Thieves, its really not all bad, I just don't know who would want it.
This is game is tough, it is just about every FPS you or someone you know has played and it is great fun. The game very much lives up to its title, you will see every shade of black and grey and static and noise and the brightest color of anything will be of an explosion, which even the grenades don’t make (more of a large *Pop!* effect). Someone who is well versed in the genre will find little here that is new or even refined but if you keep your head down and aim steady there is chance of getting wrapped up in the great momentum of the missions, the satisfying shooting and the challenging chopper fights. There are rewards to be had if you power through this game but only if you can temper expectations for what was once the best of the Ps2 shooters which is not what jumps out to me as the console for those experiences.
4. Maniac Mansion
I suppose I have never recommended this game to someone so it’s doesn’t exactly fit the criteria of this list and who knows, maybe it just needed me to share in order to find a kindred gamer who adored it like I do. A point and click game that was best reached via NES and controlled via controller was never an easy sell. Simply put; this game has too many options. I was forced to turn to a guide to finish it the first time but only for the one puzzle and only with the internet did I learn that I had chosen a weak trio of characters and I was stuck with them until I restarted the game. But I buckled down and pushed forward and the rewards were reaped. The puzzles here range from simple goonies-styled treasure hunt secrets to insane double knot styled logic that requires a fleshlight and a coded rolodex. I managed to avoid a whole insane puzzle to get a code for a safe because when I failed the first time at opening the safe via key code, I reloaded my save and then pressed all the digits in one line and it worked and open popped the safe. A great time but not an easy or straightforward time.
3. Don’t starve (inc. Together)
This game wants you dead. This game has been so unfair to me, robbed me of time and energy and made light of all my efforts. At the same time the gameplay is terrific and I wonder why there aren’t more games like it. In order to play this game and make it feel 'beatable' ‘manageable’ I had to custom build my world and turn off the big monster with one eye and lanky arms to waits for me to come back to camp just so he can make a wreck of it. The base game is just outright too much for me. I love it when the game always has that setting/level/challenge thats too out there for little old me. I’ll be starving many times again before I see the far reaches of this game, I might just go try again right now.
This game is like every game of its era and console, painful grind, maddening enemies and repetition to exit a dungeon to get rewarded with exploring a massive world with many hidden items and a head spinning arsenal of weapons & spells all of which make for a great time. I don’t recommend this game because I don’t want my friends to suffer, it took me a year to finish this game from on and off playtimes, people around me began to get sick of the bright ancient graphics and cliche adventure music or that dolphin who acts like your personal boat. This is the type of game that could be a breeze if you started at Level 5 but this game doesn’t do many favours for you at first. No close friend has wished for a retro Zelda that is a stripped down version of the Mana RPG games so I have never directed them towards this game. I may have had fewer friends in such a world.
1. Maximo : Ghosts to Glory
The first Maximo game was everything I wanted at a certain point in my life. When I was working in a city very far away from home, working a 9 to 6 job that was tied to tedious computer automation, and it was then I needed a game that kicked my ass. A game that if I was not prepared to make the most out of my evening and push one hell of a heavy boulder up a hill then I should prepared for it roll back over me. A 3D take on the Ghosts n' Goblins formula, this game needed a save state system to avoid life wastage. This game demanded precise platforming, precise blocking, muscle memory to evade enemy attacks, enemies hiding behind corners which the camera reveals too late, outright unfair enemy attack range and selective health pickups . And I loved every minute of it, the fist-shaped dents in the wall be damned. While I am lost for a reason why I loved it so, I never took to the Dark Souls game even though they were a natural continuation of masochistic gaming. Only one person has played it from my recommendation and barely got past the second level. Maybe at the time I needed an action adventure that forced you to claw your way to every victory, sometimes I get gaming itches that are hungry for a play style I can’t quite capture in my head so I turn toward crazy older games where industry pressure did little to dilute creativity as maddening of concept as that may seem.
P.S. Please share any similar expereinces in the comments or games you love but have never wished to share the pain ones gets put through to reach the loving stages.
P.P.S. Was going to include honorable mentions but they bordered on making a list of their own so who knows what may come outta the future :)