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

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Here's a thing about me: I love horror, and I love horror games. Several of my picks for this list reflect that, and many more that didn't get their vote in, yet could've on a different day. I also love finding horror in unexpected places and contexts, which only elevates the expression as these things usually go--novelty and unfamiliarity can be great means of imbuing the fear of the unknown just a little stronger than before. That's why the horror RPG looms so heavily in my mind, for example; I treasure the attempts people make toward it because it's not an easy thing to conceptualize and execute upon and so all the more special any time it's tried.

Ocarina of Time was really my first contact with Zelda to any great degree; we didn't have the NES or Game Boy games and lacked a SNES at all growing up. Maybe I'd seen Link in a Nintendo Power comic or via the animated series, but that's as far as awareness about the series went--this would be the baseline. And like... have you seen Ocarina of Time? It's a really distressing game, and I'm not talking about just the explicitly played for horror segments of it like the Bottom of the Well and the Shadow Temple--it's nearly all of it, in every way it plays out through the tone of the writing and the particularities of the presentation.

So many dungeon and environmental tracks eschew easy melodic content in favour of sheer ambient echoes and distant crackles; even when music insinuates itself back into the action it's something like the Forest Temple's theme that is as unpredictably unnerving as the architecture of its respective surroundings. It's known that at least since Link's Awakening the creators had wanted to populate the games with suspicious, unreliable characters, citing Twin Peaks as an influence, and that mode kicks into high gear in Ocarina, with its jerky weirdos that seemingly reveal much less about themselves than they're suggested to internally have going on, and who are wont to get stuck on odd existential fixations that entirely consume their lives. No one acts "right" and no interaction is entirely comfortable, and it's much attuned to the uneasy adolescence the game is about via its POV character--all the heightened darkness and menace of the setting part and parcel of the jumbled-up growth process Link undergoes.

There's stuff about this game that's just haunting and some of its due to the inherent ideas involved, and some of it is just its time and place and the medium it inhabited. "Imperfections" are a largely acknowledged tool in horror works--people love their VHS artifacts and distortion not just as an era-signifier but a valid storytelling implement; what is obscured and rendered unclear can be that much more evocative. With Ocarina and its immediate follow-up, it's not just that almost everyone at the time played this stuff on a modest TV with a composite signal--it's the way they lived in the moment of early 3D expressions, and how those abstractions fed into the textually unsettling natures of the games. The caricaturish style of character design exhibited by the series turned into ghoulish, angular models of those concepts; the contemporarily staggeringly impressive outdoors contrasted with the static, comparatively dead pre-rendered interior spaces; the framerate hovering around 20fps if that made making sense of the world that much more foggy and difficult to grasp. The series has flirted with being scary at times afterward, but it's never succeeded at it again, with some attempts like portions of Twilight Princess numbering as some of the most forced and embarrassing in memory, and some of it is again due to the ideas conveyed not rating up-- but also the rest suffering from surrounding technology that's too advanced, too smoothed-out, too "solved" to unnerve, the advances of a medium acting as deterrent to the fringe benefits its juvenilia enjoyed.

I don't know how much of what I have and continue to read into the game is intent, but it's not like that matters; people have largely made up their minds about Ocarina of Time as much as any piece of media can be rendered understood that way. Still, in how it's reduced or elevated to The Greatest Game of All Time as it so habitually is, there's a risk of taking it for granted and thinking of it in the way we talk about it instead of how the game talks about itself, which as most things of its stature go, can often be much more surprising and engaging than the associated reputation. That specific context may even make it more appealing as a piece of horror-adjacent errata than a game like Majora's Mask, which is textually and tonally so much more direct about its aims and thus more easily parsed. That a game this universally beloved and picked apart can still feel like an unknowable, esoteric mess of obsessions and anxieties is ultimately why Ocarina continues to stand as one of the rare times I ever truly cared about the series in its long history.
 

4-So

Spicy
Ocarina of Time will always be associated with the last day before Thanksgiving break during my freshman year of college, where I first introduced my later-to-be wife to my parents and my brother. I remember going to her workplace, picking her up and going catch a bite to eat with the folks, and then dropping by EB to pick up Zelda. Honestly? The most exciting thing about the game (before I actually played it) was that the cartridge was gold, just like the original Zelda. I love that sort of thing. Attention to detail and whatnot.

I've cooled on the game since release - I'm not even sure it would enter my top 5 for the series - but it was an obsession at the time, and I still think all of the stuff before Adult Link is some of the most satisfying hours in any Zelda. The Kokiri Forest, the trip over Hyrule Field to the castle, the ascent to get to the Gorons, etc. Just amazing stuff.

Interestingly, I feel the second part of the game drags and I actually couldn't be bothered to finish it. My dormmate actually volunteered to complete the final dungeon and finish the game when I ran out of steam. I've dropped games before at the end of them - I made it to the 4th disc in FF9 and couldn't force myself to play anymore - but Ocarina remains the only Zelda I put a major time investment into but didn't finish.
 

Tomm Guycot

(he/him)
I'm well known for disliking OoT so I won't harp on it here where all the folks who love it voted for it.

But I will say all the things that bother me now, bothered me back then. I'm glad it existed - it paved the way for many better Zeldas (including BotW, my personal favorite game of all time).

It uh, brought Dodongo back! I love Dodongo.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
I'm a crotchety old man who wishes Zelda had stayed 2D. Maybe I'd feel differently if I'd played OoT.

But even so, I can't deny that it's one of the most impactful and influential games of all time.
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
Ocarina was #22 on my list. Yeah, yeah, I know. I remember enjoying it, but was, much like Final Fantasy VII, somewhat disappointed overall. Guess that SNES era was really good to me. A funny thing happened, though - I played through the 3DS remake, and I had an absolute blast. I honestly am starting to think my biggest hangup was the tech issues, and the improved frame rate in the new version really helped the rest of the content shine. But we're not talking about that version, so I rated accordingly.

However! I bought an N64 for this game. I got it from a local pawn shop, with the game, for $50. So excited was I to play that I drove back home... and realized I didn't have the keys to get in my own house. And none of the windows were open. What did I do, you may ask? Oh, I just pulled out the window air conditioner unit to get in. That's all. No biggie. I could have (and should have) waited, but my obsession ran pretty deep back then. But at least I knew right then and there that the system worked fine and that I had access to my precious new Zelda game. :LOL:
 

Issun

Let's 90s gaming
#1

Pepsi Maaaan!

Developer: KID
Publisher: KID
Platform: Sony Playstation
Release Date: March 4, 1999
600 Points, 20 Votes, Highest Vote: Is Pepsi Okay? (#1)



When the question "Are games art?" comes up, one game is always the first mentioned. It's surprising, since it was only released in Japan, but Pepsi Man benefited from the fact that this was the generation where modding consoles really took off. So much so that it's burned itself into our consciousness the way few games have. At first blush, it seems to be merely another action platformer with collection elements, but scratch the surface and you find so much more. It's integration of game and story is unparalleled to this day. Its themes of collecting Pepsi for the thirsty people of the town is melded with the gameplay where you collect Pepsi for the thirsty people of the town.

The beauty of Pepsi Man is its seeming simplicity that covers an emotional tale and complex systems. Let's all talk about our memories of the late 90s when Pepsi Man was the foremost gaming experience on any system while enjoying the game's rockin' theme.

Selected Track:
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
Dr. Pepper is definitely excellent. Were there ever any Dr. Pepper tie-in games? If not, someone needs to get on that.
 
I had Zelda at #7. I really liked it. Zelda is easily my favorite Nintendo-thing. I love many other entries to the franchise more than this one, but this was a still really good. I think its importance to gaming as a whole is overstated. But its importance to Nintendo is probably a lot easier argument. (Where would Nintendo be without this and Pokemon?) Most of y'all already covered the main points of discussion I had about the game. But to me, it'll mostly stand as one of the few times immense levels of hype that built up over years and years didn't let me down.

I still can't believe I left Goemon off my list smh.

I actually had Pepsi-Man on a rough draft of my list, but cut it in favor of a few other games I had stronger emotional attachments to.

Dr. Pepper is definitely excellent. Were there ever any Dr. Pepper tie-in games? If not, someone needs to get on that.
 

RT-55J

definitely not a robot
(He/Him)
Man, I thought I knew you Talking Time! I thought that Iggy's Reckin' Balls was for sure a shoe in for first place. What an upset! I think I need to lie down, pop open a can of ice-cold Pepsi, and rethink my life (while drinking the Pepsi).

See y'all later
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)
#1

Pepsi Maaaan!

Developer: KID
Publisher: KID
Platform: Sony Playstation
Release Date: March 4, 1999
600 Points, 20 Votes, Highest Vote: Is Pepsi Okay? (#1)



When the question "Are games art?" comes up, one game is always the first mentioned. It's surprising, since it was only released in Japan, but Pepsi Man benefited from the fact that this was the generation where modding consoles really took off. So much so that it's burned itself into our consciousness the way few games have. At first blush, it seems to be merely another action platformer with collection elements, but scratch the surface and you find so much more. It's integration of game and story is unparalleled to this day. Its themes of collecting Pepsi for the thirsty people of the town is melded with the gameplay where you collect Pepsi for the thirsty people of the town.

The beauty of Pepsi Man is its seeming simplicity that covers an emotional tale and complex systems. Let's all talk about our memories of the late 90s when Pepsi Man was the foremost gaming experience on any system while enjoying the game's rockin' theme.

Selected Track:

Objectively correct.

As for OoT, I voted for it, of course, it's my favorite Zelda. (Or... at least that's how I remember it, but it's been a good long while since I've replayed it.) Similar to Mario 64, it felt like this giant leap forward. Also, the fact that 3D action games as recently as two generations ago hadn't yet figured out a lock-on mechanic is just... wut? That was the big thing for me, trivial as it largely seems now. I was like "how will combat WORK in 3D?" I'd played so many games that either just didn't or were slow-paced and mostly used ranged-weapons like guns (Resident Evil) and seeing that lock-on it was just like "oh, yeah, obviously."

So the real #1 is obviously WWF No Mercy, right? Let's just get on with it.
 
So the real #1 is obviously WWF No Mercy, right? Let's just get on with it.
In all seriousness, I think the wrassle-bassle-vote was probably split among different games. For me, mine was WCW vs NWO on the N64. But it felt like all my friends had different favorites. I also couldn't really vote for a wrassle-bassle game on some ethical grounds but man WCW vs NWO sure was a helluva lot of fun. Definitely honorable mention worthy at the least.
 

Issun

Let's 90s gaming
Honestly though, the Pepsi Man main theme is super legit.

Anyways, it took a bit for me to think of a fake #1, since I refused to go with the obvious choice (y'all know what game I mean), but once I remembered Pepsi Man, I had it.

So yeah, real #1 tomorrow AM. It's gonna be lit I promise you.
 

Issun

Let's 90s gaming

Die monster. You don't belong in this world.
It was not by my hand that I am once again given flesh. I was called here by humans who wish to pay me tribute.
Tribute!?! You steal men's souls and make them your slaves!
Perhaps the same could be said of all religions...
Your words are as empty as your soul! Mankind ill needs a savior such as you!
What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets. But enough talk... Have at you!


Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo
Publisher: Konami
Platforms: Sega Saturn, Sony Playstation
Release Dates: March 20, 1997 (JP), October 2, 1997 (NA), November 1, 1997 (EU), June 25, 1997 (Saturn JP)
483 Points, 17 Votes, Highest Vote: #1 (WildcatJF, Sarge, Thornghost)



Anyone who knows Talking Time probably figured this for the top spot before the list even started. I was actually pretty surprised when, for a few days, it looked like it might not get it. But it was always destined to be. It was not as immediately revolutionary as the other games in the Top 5, but it put the Vania in Metroidvania, its opening is a thing of legend, and it proved how beautiful 2D sprites could look on next-gen hardware.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was truly a labor of love. Every part of Dracula's castle has something to appreciate, secrets to find, challenges to overcome. While 3D games were still finding their footing, Castlevania turned in something elegant and refined: the ultimate expression of video games from their genesis in the late 1960s to the tail end of the 4th console generation. And like I said, it wasn't immediately apparent that SOTN was going to change anything, but it kept the idea of 2D, sprite-based, exploratory platformers alive into the 3D generation. With Koji Igarashi cutting his teeth on this game and going on to continue its legacy on handhelds, it was only a matter of time before the kids playing Super Metroid and Symphony of the Night, wanting to make their own games and having the internet available as a distribution tool as they grew up, started making their own games, and what better model than 2D platformers, especially ones that involved dense, explorable worlds? While I hesitate to actually call Cave Story a true Metroidvania, there's no doubt that the genre heavily influenced Pixel, and a whole new type of game model, with a low barrier to entry and the ability to let developers truly unfetter their imaginations, was born.

Obviously Symphony of the Night was not single-handedly responsible for the creation of the indie game, but it was a huge influence on them, and it's really hard to say how indies would have looked without it, or if they really would have existed. Cave Story was the right place, right time, and Symphony of the Night had proven that this type of game was still viable, even in a polygonal world. So, while the effects of Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time were more immediately apparent, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was likely no less important in the long run, and we're all the better for it as people who love video games.

Sarge said: Perhaps the greatest of the exploratory platformers to this day. While Super Metroid may be more tightly designed, Symphony instead revels in its excess. Endlessly replayable, with overpowered, broken weapons everywhere you turn. The sumptuous spritework and sound is just icing on the cake. And that twist revealing a second half was impressive back in the day.

Selected Track:
 

Issun

Let's 90s gaming
And that's our list. I'm so glad you guys let me run this, as while there weren't too many surprises at the top of the list, there were some neat games overall that I learned about, and it's been great seeing everyone talk about their experiences. I know this was a console generation that was special to just about all of us on Talking Time, so I'm glad I got to hear about how it affected each of you.

Thank you to everyone who voted and commented. Thanks to those who submitted blurbs, and to those who did the mini writeups for the Honorable Mentions.

And of course, a huge thank you to WildcatJF for his epic comic to help closeout our list.

Please remember to submit your Office Supplies list to Mogri, and look forward to his Top 50 coming soon.
 

WildcatJF

Red After Image
(he / his / him)

itz woz soooooooooez foon dancinz n teh groovez

Arucald waz mostz kidz witz teh bootz

i gotz teh tallz bootz

notz sows heevies

nowz tho

iz tirez. ni ni
 

WildcatJF

Red After Image
(he / his / him)
Koji Igarashi's first effort to remix Castlevania into a new play genre is arguably one of the finest games ever made, PS1 or otherwise. It has a creative dedication to its mechanisms and its world that none of the subsequent games would ever muster. Alucard, free from the tyranny of the Belmont clan that had mostly consumed the series (in terms of primary heroes, only Bloodlines had deviated from that family up to this point), has a myriad of options for attack unprecedented in the franchise to that point. The famed Vampire Killer has no place in Alucard's inventory (as Richter Belmont still has it); instead, Alucard wields swords, shields, rods and a wide swath of magic as his offensive toolkit. And he is like 95% fun to control and run around with -- the only nitpick I have is the clunky inventory system to use items, which requires you to "equip" a potion, exit out and use it, and then repeat if necessary. It does kind of kill the momentum to use potions this way, and while there is a familiar who can eliminate this step, the fact that there has to be a familiar to do that is a bit silly.

But there are very few slights to be thrown at Symphony. It's the most visually appealing game in the series, with lovely spritework and an eye for detail unrivaled by any other 'Vania. Secrets spill over with this game, with so many hidden touches and abilities to search out that exploration is simply overflowing with joy and discovery. The gameplay is nearly perfect, with Alucard's slow but steady unlocking of skills providing a nice Metroid-style tapestry to the series (thus the term Metroidvania). And the game is very memorable, with plenty of moments well worth experiencing blind to fully appreciate it.

For me, it's a very close call between Symphony and Aria of Sorrow for the best overall game in Castlevania history. Symphony definitely wins on the audio-visual front, and the devotion of its team to stuffing it full of neat extraneous bits and a plethora of secrets makes it a little more appealing in terms of level design and structure. And Alucard is a great brooding hero. While I do overall give the edge to Aria on a mechanical level, Symphony is without a doubt the pinnacle of this particular era's gaming offerings, and one I still remember fondly to this day. I should replay it soon, actually, haha.

Thank you to Issun for both running an entertaining list and asking me to contribute some art for the final entry. When I saw what the #1 was I knew I had to do it, lol, it's my favorite series!! I'll share my list later on.
 
SotN is probably one of my biggest gaming regrets/envies. Some BG info:

I hate Vampires. Well, hated. As a kid, they were the single most scary thing to me. There is something uniquely terrifying about them. Unlike other monsters, ghouls, and body horrors, Vampires stand on their own. Zombies are more gross and arguably a lot more dangerous, but if you died to one you’re dead. Whatever comes back isn’t you. Vampires though are the undead. You still remain you, retain consciousness and memories, but are now evil. When a zombie chomps on a former loved one, it’s tragic but it’s nothing personal. Vampires though take delight in torturing those they used to love. Everyone dies and dying by a normal monster is just the same outcome but through a different means. With vampires though, it involves this weird existential dilemma where you must live forever now but as a fundamentally different and evil person. That idea of having your personality and will overwritten terrifying me as a child. It was the single largest source of nightmares I had. They were my horror-clowns, and I avoided them at all costs.

As an adult, I know better. They’re actually kind of silly and endearing. But the damage has been done. I would have had the patience and dexterity as a child to maybe take on a Metroidvania game. But as an Old, I know that I generally don’t have a good time with such games and don’t have the patience or dexterity to take them on anymore. So SotN is a game I’ve actually never played. And it’s a shame too because everything I see about it, looks like a wonderful and majestic game. I was just too much of a weiner as a kid, and now too much of a Boomer to get anything out of the experience personally. I do love watching people play the game though, it makes for really good speed running material. It’s not my #1 but this game never seemed like it would remotely be a bad choice for it.

Thanks for hosting this whole thing Issun! This has been a lot of fun, and I’ve enjoyed this ranking thread a lot. I’ll post my personal top 25 with some added exposition later after a few days so SotN can have more time to shine.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
I've rarely liked anything more than Castlevania in my teen years. It utterly dominated my interests as far as video games went, and the ancillary obsessions that rose up around it as a result: I perused the fan sites, I joined those communities, I wrote for them too, and many of the personal relationships that I maintain to this day--some of the closest friends I have--came from that youthful enthusiasm and the people that orbited around that same thing. I can't just write off the impact the series had on my life, far beyond being a piece of media that I liked, and Symphony's part of that too. I first played it around 2005, emulating it on an Xbox, of all things. It didn't run quite right, but it was close, and it's not like I cared about minor technical faults in the face of what the game was. How many platforms can one get it for by now, anyway? I've played most of them, as each offers some odd permutation on the experience even if the game nominally remains the same. It's impossible to become tired of, no matter how many times it's played, and so I return to it not on schedule, and not to refresh on something I no longer recall, but simply because it continues to compel--the game's most dastardly gambit is that no matter what kind of superfan of it you might be, it can still surprise and delight you just through sharing a little bit more of the bottomless depths of its true, unfathomable nature. It has no time for performative cynics as it's composed almost entirely of gleeful wonder.
 
This was a really fun one, thank you!

Edit: Also I did hook up my PS3 and download Suikoden II based on this list

I was kind of surprised that Myst and The Sims didn't show up, but checking the dates again now I may have been a bit off on if they qualify.
 
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Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
I got SotN for like five bucks from a second-hand CD store near my grad school about a year after it came out. Got into it so much I ended up doing the 212% map completion (or whatever it was), following guides to clip through stairs and such, just because exploring in this game feels so goddamned good.

Thanks for the fantastic list Issun! I guess I'll post mine a bit later too.
 

Falselogic

Techno-Threadcromancer
(they/them)
Most of my games didn't make it but I was focusing on PC because that's what I mostly was during the 32 and 64 bit eras

1. Homeworld (PC) - Just an amazing achievement. Beautiful to watch and listen to. Even the battles are breathtakingly beautiful.
2. Rollercoaster Tycoon (PC) - Just a perfect little building game. The menu music often plays in my head.
3. Quake 2 (PC) - The game we wired up my highschool's computer labs to play! So many before, during and after school LAN sessions with this game.
4. Fallout (PC) - I mean it's Fallout.
5. Deus Ex (PC) - Just a perfect 90s game.
6. Diablo (PC)
7. System Shock 2 (PC)
8. Grim Fandango (PC)
9. Riven (PC)
10. Half-Life (PC)
11. Planescape: Torment (PC)
12. Starcraft (PC)
13. Diablo II (PC)
14. The Longest Journey (PC) - I wanted to give adventure games so love.
15. Ape Escape (PSX) - Made the dualshock controller make sense.
16. Misadventures of Tron Bonne (PSX)

17. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (PSX)
18. Starsiege: Tribes (PC)
19. Baldur's Gate (PC)
20. Commander & Conquer Tiberium Sun (PC)
21. Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (PSX)
22. Baldur's Gate II (PC)
23. Metal Gear Solid (PSX)
24. Megaman Legends (PSX)
25. Castlevania Symphony of the Night (PSX)
 

Tomm Guycot

(he/him)
I keep relating these games to my personal journey and as the guy who helped Iga release Bloodstained I guess I can accept this #1 result as an important game to me personally.

It's good.

I got Crissaegrim my first time through, and that colored my idea of how hard the game might or might not be.

I love the sequence under the castle where you fight Cerberus.. and then past him is a catacomb of madness and death. ie. hell. And then when you go there in the inverted castle you fight Death. It's great environmental storytelling before that was even a thing that was done.

I still say the story about it being inspired by Zelda is bs >_>
 
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