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No One Can Stop Mr. Talking Time's Top 50 32 & 64-Bit Video Games!

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
Like Kirin I had BoF4 as #9 on my list. One thing I appreciate about it that hasn't been mentioned is that it let your non-active characters contribute to battles in different ways.

Going back a few entries:
Diablo was in my top ten. What a game! I can remember playing it at night, in the dark, and the soundtrack and ambient effects doing a number on me.
Diablo had great sound design - I can still remember all of the crunchy sound effects. Even the sound when selecting a menu item was good. I remember that I liked the game so much that I downloaded a Diablo theme for Windows that replaced the mouse pointer with the gauntlet cursor from the game.
 
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Issun

My way, soon
#26

Sorry to break the party WORMS!

Developer: Rare
Publisher: Rare
Platform: Nintendo 64
Release Dates: November 21, 1997 (JP/EU), November 24, 1997 (NA)
129 Points, 5 Votes, Highest Vote: $3 (Beta Metroid)



Let's start with what the game was originally supposed to be:


Wikipedia said: Development of the game began after the release of Killer Instinct 2, and was intended to be a real-time strategy game known as Wild Cartoon Kingdom in its early stages. As time progressed, the focus of development shifted from a Walt Disney World-influenced racing game to a unique title named Pro-Am 64, in which Nintendo had no involvement. Due to the delays of Banjo-Kazooie, Rare felt that they needed a stronger intellectual property to attract a wider audience for a game scheduled to release before Christmas 1997, thus making the decision to base a game on the character of Diddy Kong.

Huh. Video game history is nuts y'all.

It's easy to ask, if you don't know much about this game, whether Nintendo was just cannibalizing itself with two mascot kart racers within a year of each other. One could argue, though that Diddy Kong Racing actually has more complex mechanics than its older cousin, offering hovercrafts and planes on top of wheeled vehicles, with each type having its strengths and weaknesses. The tracks aren't quite as varied as the Mario Kart games, but this game somehow surpasses that series in goofiness by quite a bit. Consider the game's villain, Whizpig.

Yes, this game has a villain, because it has a "story" (in the manual, at least), and it is pretty silly, but in that old school all-in-the-manual way. This is a game that is easy to dismiss at first glance, but the more you learn about it, the easier it is to understand why it has a spot on this list. It also introduced two Rare mainstays: Conker and Banjo. One of them will be appearing on this list, the other will not.

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Issun

My way, soon
#25

That crate... it really doesn't like being shot.


Developer: Rare
Publisher: Rare
Platform: Nintendo 64
Release Dates: May 22, 2000 (NA), June 30, 2000 (EU)
130 Points, 6 Votes, Highest Vote: #1 (dosboot)



Rare was on fire during the Nintendo 64, and perhaps no game from that era better exemplifies that then the ultimate refinement of single analog stick shooters than Perfect Dark. That's pretty much all I have to say on the subject, as Perfect Dark superfan dosboot wrote the best summation of the game four years ago:



dosboot said: Perfect Dark deserves more recognition than being a 'pretty good' game. It is the crowning achievement of old Rare, the crowning achievement of the Nintendo 64, and, in this voter's book, it's the most enjoyable FPS ever made.


I. OK - WHAT IS IT?
---------------------
Rare took their previous secret agent game, Goldeneye, and created an original IP spinoff with the same look and feel. This time, the star agent is Joanna Dark and the game takes place in a near future setting. Imagine flying cars, researchers closing in on developing AI lifeforms, and international corporations with large firearm procurement departments. As these types of games are wont to do, you begin with a mission that unexpectedly unfolds into a far grander adventure. In Perfect Dark's case, that involves a conspiracy against the president, first contact with distinct good guy aliens and bad guy aliens, and fighting for the planet's fate.

Joanna Dark has a very loosely referenced backstory, but apparently she is some kind of prodigy when it comes to her occupation (her profile directly from the game contains lines like "Superb reactions. Proficient with a variety of weapons" and "She scored unprecedented achievements in training leading to the creation of a new class of training grade"). She works for the Carrington Institute, which is this world's benevolent megacorp + counter terrorism agency rolled into one. Joanna is the youngest agent produced by the organization but, surprisingly, she's also the most mature and collected figure within the story. As a FPS game, it is pretty clear how Perfect Dark is derived from Goldeneye, but as a sci-fi story about a lady at the forefront of a para-military organization it's also easy to see comparisons with Ghost in the Shell and other sci-fi media.


II. FPS Design
---------------
If there is one thing I will always go to bat for, it might be the FPS gameplay that emerged and evolved from Goldeneye. And Perfect Dark is the best game in that lineage. Doom and Quake started the FPSes off genre right by giving the player a strong defensive edge. I don't know where FPS designers wandered off to, but it wasn't learning from the innovations created by GE & PD.

Take a look: Perfect Dark is basically "hitscan" enemies from start to finish. But the defensive edge is still there and perhaps stronger than any FPS. Enemies are programmed to take aim via a wide variety of deliberate animations before firing. This gives clear telegraphs that the player can respond to. Shooting an enemy will interrupt whatever they are doing (and there are tactical decisions behind shooting different body parts). It's a very simple concession, but sometimes game designers could use a 101 refresher that if you don't put good concessions in your game then you are creating situations with forced damage. The second concession to the player (and also rarely copied...) is that enemies don't exhaust every last millisecond of their animations to update their aim. So if the player is moving in the right way at the right relative positions, they can avoid enemy fire and transparently understand why they were unharmed. Why hasn't this been copied in FPSes? Who knows, but we can appreciate that Perfect Dark did. And it is a really hard game too! But it does it while being fair and understandable.

You could take these two concessions and reword them slightly into a schema for how Dark Souls enemies are designed, which is a funny aside but if it convinces someone then all the better.


III. The Game is Stacked High with Good Content
-----------------------------------------------------
Maybe 99% of people won't care about these academic considerations, but they will care about where Perfect Dark delivers the most: iterating Goldeneye's gameplay with bigger levels, more enemy types, and more weapons. There's thirty-four weapons in this game! I know I'm not exactly talking to a group of Carl Sagans, so let's try to contextualize that big number by comparing it to similar games. Here's an easy way: does your game assign weapons to hotkeys? Then it probably has fewer guns than Perfect Dark.

Let's also appreciate the equipment in this game. Heck, that the game has an inventory system in the first place makes it feel like you are controlling a character and not just a floating gun. One mission gives you the DrugSpy robot, the next starts you with two combat boosts, and the next gives you night vision goggles. It's a typical example of how the game routinely provides special purpose weapons and items with no fanfare and no nose leading (those 3 mission briefings don't mention the optional items, much less recommend where to use them). You are supposed to literally play around with your weapons and items until you find the best strategies.

The game is also a completionist's playground that Sakurai would approve of: there's the 17 main missions (with 3 difficulties a piece to clear, all of which add new objectives) and then 4 more bonus missions. Every mission also has a built in speedrun challenge for you to return to and unlock cheats. Back at HQ, you can knock out a slew of challenges in the firing range - 3 challenges per weapon! There's also 30 combat simulator challenges (against bots of ever increasing difficulty) based on the multiplayer component of the game.

Then there's endless amount of custom challenges you can make for yourself using either the simulator or the regular game. Like Goldeneye, mastering the game gives you the option to adjust enemy health, accuracy and damage. You can also craft unusual 'modded' scenarios on top of this using cheats: give every enemy a shield or a rocket launcher, and then give the player some kind of handicap to balance it out. For example, start yourself with a cloaking device and your pick of one overpowered weapon (from the 'All Weapons' cheat).

After you've exhausted all that, boot up the credits one last time and let it reach those memorable final words... Perfect Dark is Forever.

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4-So

Spicy
I voted for both of these and they deserve all the attention, especially Diddy Kong Racing.

Exploring the island, finding hidden areas, and so on, was such a cool concept. And in terms of the sub-areas themselves, the Snowflake Mountain area, where you race through the arctic village, may be one of my favorite designs of all time. I always preferred DKR to anything from Mario Kart and I've always been a bit bummed that Nintendo didn't attempt to replicate the DKR DNA elsewhere. Now that Nintendo and MS seem to be more buddy-buddy, I hope to one day see the original revived, if nothing else.
 
Wow, I sure did write a big wall of text on Perfect Dark text 4 years ago. It must be a pretty good game still worth appreciating.
 

Beta Metroid

At peace
(he/him and such)
Ah, two games that are better than their more well-known cousins on the same console! The 64 had some fantastic racing games, and DKR nailed the "mascot racer" style. I'm not sure I'd agree that the tracks feature less variety than Mario Kart, as the different vehicles open up a wide variety of possibilities. A big edge it has over Mario Kart is the handling of items. Rather than simply rewarding you for driving poorly, you can build more powerful items yourself by concentrating on a single item type, or determine that you need a certain item right now, so settle for something weaker. There's also strategy involved with boosts (both boost items and those set on the tracks), giving you optimal speed if you release the accelerator just as you launch.

Let's see, what else? Rubberbanding is far less pervasive here than in Mario Kart. While this isn't David Wise's best work, it's still pretty darn great, and works some nifty transitions into the music tracks (like this track, which has different phases depending on whether you're outside or inside the castle segment of the race). You can play the single-player mode cooperatively with a code. The battle mode introduced objectives beyond "shoot the enemy." The boss races really spiced things up, including tracks that didn't loop. Great game.
 

YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
Donkey Kong Racing didn't even enter my thoughts when making the list, despite how I played the hell out of it when I was young. I'm pretty sure I got 100% on it, maybe even multiple times!
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Diddy Kong Racing is my favourite Mario Kart game ever. It has an overworld with special challenges and hidden stuff, hidden stuff in the levels, more challenging second rounds and bosses. I love it. I want another mascot racer of that kind, with a real single player mode.
 

RT-55J

definitely not a robot
(He/Him)
I got this vague feeling that we're gonna see a lot more N64 games on the list from this point on.

There's also strategy involved with boosts (both boost items and those set on the tracks), giving you optimal speed if you release the accelerator just as you launch.
My brothers and I didn't learn this until several years after the game came out, and it instantly transformed the game from this infuriatingly impossible artifact into just another game we could knock out in a couple weeks. It kinda makes me feel mad lol
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
I didn't own an N64 and didn't vote for either of these, but I do remember playing some DKR on a friend's console in college and it being a good time. That whole development story is fascinating but not entirely surprising, as it really does feel like Diddy was slotted into a world full of characters from some other game entirely.
 

WildcatJF

Red After Image
(he / his / him)
YAY Perfect Dark!!!!

I LOVE that game. It's my favorite FPS to this day. Just watched the genre move away from this format and leave me behind lol.
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
I didn't vote for these, but I understand why folks would. Perfect Dark in particular I'm quite familiar with - I basically played it vicariously through my brother, who put a ton of time into it.
 

4-So

Spicy
It's nice to see stuff I voted for show up. 😊 I was starting to sweat.

I have no connection to the Sega Saturn having only played it a grand total of one (1) time in my life. I only played PC games at a friend's house and he had a very limited selection. (And TIE Fighter almost made my list.)

N64 love all day, every day.
 

Ixo

"This is not my beautiful forum!" - David Byrne
(Hi Guy)
I considered Diddy Kong Racing, but went with a different non-Mario kart racer. Man is it fun though. Was even more fun after you put in the codes for all blue speed boost balloons and giant characters. (“ROCKETFUEL” and “ARNOLD” respectively.) Bonus points for then picking one of the last man standing battle arenas instead of a track.
 
This has been a string of games I've never played so cool to see these in more detail. I've actually been pretty shocked that I have played so many things listed so far!
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
I'm still trying to remember if I played Rogue Squadron or not. There was another game I KNOW I played but I'm not 100% sure on this one.

Diddy Kong made my list but low. I remember enjoying it enough to make my list but its been such a long time that compared to certain other games, the memory is hazier.
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)
I didn't vote for either of these, and with Perfect Dark, I think I'd actually sold my original N64 by then (I would get another N64 in late 2001 for No Mercy purposes). And shortly thereafter, I'd be playing PS2 games, including TimeSplitters, so I guess PD just kinda passed me by.
 
Diddy Kong Racing is the best DK game, change my mind. (This one didn't make my list, but it was a *hard* cut. Lots of good memories of this game.)

Perfect Dark is a game I really wanted to love, but it just could never recapture the shine of its predacessor for me. Part of it is just it not hitting the same with my friend-group, so we just didn't play it as much as GoldenEye. But part of it is that I'd moved onto CS for my pew-pew shooting needs by that point and playing an FPS on console just felt like a step back. It's still a pretty good game though!
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
I don't really like Diddy Kong Racing. I don't think the non-racing objectives work and it was too difficult to be fun.
 

Issun

My way, soon

#24

Anyone can fight... But no one can show off like I can!

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Platforms: Arcade, Sony Playstation, Sega Saturn
Release Date: June 29, 1998
140 Points, 5 Votes, Highest Vote: #3 (WildcatJF)



If Alpha 2 changed the Street Fighter mold, Alpha 3 broke it wide open. More play options, more combos, a deeper roster. But for all that, many fans considered it a step back from its predecessor. Some felt that -isms and Guard Bars were all a bit much, while others loved the added depth they brought. Some just preferred the stages and music from the previous game, some the story, some the announcers.


One thing the Playstation, Saturn and Dreamcast versions had that really sold this game was World Tour mode which allowed players to have an experience closer to Street Fighter II, while also opening up new play options. It was a pretty great edition, and it's a shame they didn't find a way to include it in the 30th Anniversary Collection version.

While both 2 and 3 have their proponents, and while both brought important things to the genre, it's pretty clear that both on and off Talking Time, Alpha 3 is the more beloved, and by many considered the premiere fighting game experience of the generation.

Sarge said: The countless hours I spent playing this game are a testament to its greatness. A massive roster, World Tour mode, a PlayStation port that somehow wasn't much compromised from the arcade original... what's not to love?

Selected Track:
 
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Issun

My way, soon

#23

My name is Lakilester... Er, no, it's Michael... No, um... Oh yeah... Spike. Yeah yeah, I'm Spike.

Developer: Intelligent Systems
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo 64
Release Dates: August 11, 2000 (JP), February 5, 2001 (NA), October 5, 2001 (EU)
141 Points, 6 Votes, Highest Vote: #2 (Sarge)



In 1995, it was announced that Nintendo and Square were working on an RPG starring Mario. For any of us, it was a dream come true, and the final product did not disappoint. The only question after finishing Super Mario: Legend of the Seven Stars was: What's next? Well, with Square jumping ship in late 1996, Nintendo would have to look elsewhere. It was rumored that Hal Laboratory, of Lolo and Kirby fame, would be tapped for the new Mario RPG project. It wasn't too far out of left field, as they'd made a pretty decent dungeon crawler called Arcana a few years earlier. In the end, though, Nintendo went with Intelligent Systems, and the choice turned out to be perfect.

Of course Intelligent Systems also had an RPG pedigree. They were the creators of the Fire Emblem series, after all. Since they were in house, it would also make development a lot easier. Like Square, Intelligent Systems avoided the seriousness of their flagship RPG franchise and opted more for the silliness one would expect from a Mario game. Unlike Square, IS declined to put too much of their own stamp on it, letting it be, first and foremost, a Mario game. The end result was a game that refined Super Mario RPG's timed hits battle system, shed the first game's claymation look for a unique 2D paper aesthetic, and set the tone, both with humor and with characters, for the entire series (even as it wanders further and further from its RPG roots). The debate still rages over whether this game or it sequel is the superior game, but we can all agree, I think, that the two together represent a true high-water mark for the creativity of both Nintendo and Intelligent Systems.


Sarge said: Initially, I was worried about this one. SquareSoft isn't working on it? It's gonna be terri... wait, this is good. No, excellent! Charming characters, splendid writing, and a combat system that managed to be engaging make this neither better or worse than Super Mario RPG, simply different (and fantastic).

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Daikaiju

Rated Ages 6+
(He, Him)
Paper Mario had some really great set pieces, like the train ride and the Quiz Show. It's shadow looms large over the series.
 
Paper Mario got my vote, despite never owning it and only watching other people play or just hearing about the game. It was so important and I've played so many of the sequels.
 

Beta Metroid

At peace
(he/him and such)
Paper Mario is really great. I prefer the sequel, but of all the Mario RPGs, this one certainly feels the most like a mainline Mario title in RPG form. Of course, when I'm playing a Mario RPG, I often WANT a bit of a departure from the classic Mario feel, but this one occupies a unique niche due to its emphasis on those traditional Mario trappings.
 

Lokii

It's always time for burgers
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
Papper Mario killed Super Mario RPG 2 and forced Square to go to Sony and Nintendo never recovered PUT GENO IS SMASH!!!!!!!
 

WildcatJF

Red After Image
(he / his / him)
I voted for Alpha 3 quite highly (psst @Issun it was my #3) although I will admit most of my exposure with it is through the Dreamcast port, lol. But I did play it in arcades! It's my favorite of the franchise to this day, and I hope Capcom might find their way back to this style of gameplay and feel with SF6.

I like Paper Mario but it didn't quite place on my list. Still solid as hell tho.
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)
Alpha 3 is definitely the best of that series, and I also spend a ton of time with it, but not as much as MvC1, which I previously discussed. Still, for a straight-up SF game with no crossovers or anything, it's one of my favorites, right up there with II Turbo.
 
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