For the record I have not published a game. The title should be corrected to 'after trying* to make one'. I took part in a now finished one. Once, as part of a course, I was assigned a lead role, in a group of three, to make a game prototype and what got submitted barely qualified. I then later coded a text adventure independently, only shown to and played in front of my loved ones (kept exclusive to them by their recommendation). Anything I've contributed to that reached the outer world can best be described as a template of the original idea, as this creative process goes.
Now I see some games that are like the Sistine chapel. You think movies are hard work until these beasts rear their finely engineered heads. I still am amazed they fit a digital country on a disk/cartridge/USB.
Here are just a few.
To say there are many things to admire here is an understatement. An aspiring pixel sprite artist or musician would take a look at or listen to this game and may decide on a new career path. The care given to and on display of the most simple actions and moments, a few of which blur borders between cutscene and gameplay, creates a whole that feels ironed and polished. I like to think that there was a flow chart in their office trying to contain the time travel narrative sequence of events and their outcomes. Let's just say it's like the Back to the Future of video games. Even if random battles hadn't been removed, even if you couldn't have optional resurrections or different endings or could not wander away from text boxes, the game breezes by with a pure sense of adventure. As close to structurally perfect as RPG's go, throw in a dream team of creative forces and make sure you get to fight dinosaurs and race in hover cars and... I'm wasting words, the game can't be done justice outside of playing.
Shadows of memories
An awkward and strange game where the main character looks like a French designer was told to design something Belgian but do it like how a Japanese designer would. It was ambitious for the time. The game world is ugly, the camera angle makes me want to cry and the voice acting makes the models feel even more like dolls. However, this games core experience has aged rather well. While not wholly original, it was doing something kinda different for the time. Looking like an RPG and with animation that had to be avoided in the marketing, their intended target audience was the real mystery. I think they wanted a nice middle ground for mysteries and adventure games. My experience with the game was quite mild, until I looked up the other endings on the internet and discovered something out of the Twilight Zone or Rick and Morty was hiding just behind all of my 'good' moral in-game choices. It'll be a fun day if this ever gets a HD upgrade.
Metal gear solid 3
Wow, I mean this game had almost everything I already loved about the series but its fresh setting imbued it with a sense of life. Then they threw in camouflage and even found ways to use the old technology of the setting to tighten the tension with the stealth mechanics. The first two games were about infiltration, and this game is also about infiltration but now there is canyons and jungles and torture scenes and fake deaths and enough hidden secrets in both game and cutscenes to make your head hurt. There are survival mechanics which are common nowadays but I like catching with intent to eat. I like to think there were teams inside teams assigned solely to craft those boss fights.
Before I knew what metroidvania was there was this game. With an unkillable protagonist, this game is a puzzle platformer, you can turn invisible, a day and night cycle changes level layout so you can become a zombie, and you get power upgrades that you feel afterwards. You can throw enemies, then you get to throw/kick enemies in a mini-golf mini-game. The animation is great, the music charming, the enemies memorable. I was in love. You'll understand if you were too. I didn't deserve this game and those who made it went above and beyond for a Gameboy title that put others to shame. Still does IMO.
This game sort of revolutionized the point and click adventure for me, probably because of the bike combat. If fact I think the first third of this game contains some of the best examples its genre has to offer in both content and execution. Along with fine writing, strong voice acting and mature content not seen often in this genre, it just felt cool. Many other games have tried to push the boundaries of this genre but none has wowed me as much as this. Those select few still working in this genre (me included) need to step up our game(s).
What a clusterf**k this could have been. The game does not fulfill its promise of endless branching paths and different scenarios but it does a damn fine job of giving that illusion. I kept a mental checklist of what to try on my next playthrough in order to mess with the story as much as I can, so I guess it worked on me. The combat is anything but special with turn-based grid battle tactics made engaging by being challenging. This would have been hard to pitch and had to have been twice as hard to execute, a tip of my hat to them. Like some of above, you run the risk of a bad ending and especially with a game this length, that's a ballsy move for a project.
Conceived by one guy in his dorm and then finished in his apartment a few years later. And I think he may have invented cinematic scripted gameplay, I'm not sure. In fact this game makes me think everything about genre is a lie and we ought to just tear it down and start afresh without words for what we can dream up. It's like a pulp sci-fi teenage dimension bending dream and carries all the flaws that comes with it. I wanted to make something like this, tell a story like this both in-game and out. Here it is executed all without a single non-alien word spoken. I like to think that this is where the seeds of ICO and MGS got planted and... well, that's already enough.
Soooo, just take an existing beloved best selling adventure title that came out, add in levelling stats with some wild magic spells and something about the apocalypse and cha-ching! I spoke about my love for this game before, but it's a fine example that being derivative isn't always the worse jumping off point. It may not have equaled its competition in every area but it came to show another way to do it well. At the time it showcased a more creative approach to spells, puzzles and NPC interaction. One boss is disguised as an innocent and can be revealed if you attack that said innocent. You also disguise yourself as a woman to infiltrate a woman-only village. You can paralyse civilians. Give gamers the tools and they will play.
This game is something of a miracle and many who witnessed it thought the same. In fact the 2016 game is also a gift from the devine hellfires of carnage. Nevermind how it has kick ass guns, chaotic action or the thrill of mowing down hells legions, the fact this game took colored keys and doors and gave it such momentum, using 2D shooting, is something i just can't wrap my head around. I have read and watched a great deal behind what went into crafting it to try and witness this lightning in bottle. While Quake, Duke Nukem 3D, or Wolfenstein could easily occupy here, I return to this game far more often out of a sense of fun and wonder and still try to dream up the odd mod.
Too easy and too long might have been how I summed up this game at one time. '3 games in 1', I said. Then a few years later I revisited it and ate my words. Ok, yes another HD release that balances the difficulty and makes cutscenes skippable would be welcome. Many see a Zelda clone in a unique art style. Like Zelda its got underwater dungeons, sky dungeons, lower intestine dungeons, cities covered in darkness, all the works. What does work is its variety. The vast freedom of wide green explorable environments keeps giving long after the game runs out of celestial upgrades such as conjuring up bombs, drawing lilypads, creating wind and shooting projectiles of fire/water. There is a bark button. This game is firmly within the confines of its genre but where nowadays the action adventure genre seems to share a building and carpark with the survival genre, I point to this game as a landmark.
Jak and Daxter
You can replace this slot with quite a few Naughty Dog titles but this one is due to nasty opinions. Before the days of massive opens worlds in every major release, the teams debut on the new generation console showed a creative energy freed of the level structure via selection hub area that the platformer genre had thrived in before, and my how they did it wonderfully. The safe areas you do backtrack to between stages will change upon completion like game worlds/islands but you actually walk/drive between, is part a narrative device and gives the feeling of a broader world rather than a mission stage. The boss fights feel like those of a platformer game, with a sharper style that Sony hoped would make it stand out. Everything feels like the right action for Jak and I find it has the strongest platforming in the series. Maybe those who had exhasuted the wealth of content in the Crash games that came before would have been disappointed they didn't evolve things further and didn't play as wild or loose with things (the sequel got burdened with compensating) and one could certainly make the case that the vehicles in ND's games both before and after this title were far better, this game felt more contained for my tastes. It is also the entry that on replay has the most memorable and atmospheric environments that don't impose you with too much scale.
Where games allow choice this game was a spider web of paths, or so it made it feel. We now have alot of games that operate on play your own way and certain elements will vary to compliment or comment on your playstyle. Maybe I just like the sense of freedom, but where the effects of those gimmicks could wear off the more you play, this game nver ceased in throwing interesting environments at me. Seriously, I played the last several levels together in one night and they were all a delight. This game also gave me the tools that made me feel very clever for using them right or made me feel like some ninja stealth hacker. This game was just alot of fun but with so many variables bouncing around I was just amazed at how they all flowed together well. This is one of those games where I was happy to seek out the optional objectives. I remember in the original splinter cell finding delight in uncovering a hidden path to your objective and this game had that in spades. This is one of those games you are a little baffled why it can't be recreated today as if modern technology created greater limitations.
Thief / Dishonoured
Mario galaxy 2
Half life / portal
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