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

Issun

My way, soon
Today's HMs are two games that remind us just how wacky and wonderful games of this era could get:


No One Can Stop Mr. Domino!: 18 Points, 1 Vote
It's a puzzler where you play an anthropomorphic domino, but it's also more than that. I really wish I could find an image of the ad that ran in EGM at the time where it's just a guy on a street corner with a sandwich board that read "Nobody Can Stop Mr. Domino!". Alas it is probably lost to time. Here is pudik:

pudik said: Like every other bit of Artdink's legendary PS1 output, No One Can Stop Mr. Domino is a simple concept, with a simple interaction, underpinned by fine detail and unassailable personality. The fun is in navigating levels and fixing your way around minor, gamified obstacles, but the joy is watching the kitschy Rube Goldberg contraptions that work the domino track you set.


Incredible Crisis: 62 Points, 3 Votes
This one I have played a bit. It's a wonderful series of minigames that ostensibly chronicle a day in the life of a middle class Japanese family. Let's hear it from Kirin, Daikaiju, and Tomm:

Kirin said: The PSX marked a confluence of market penetration and cheap physical media not previously seen in the home console scene that led to the US finally getting a bunch of "weird" niche releases from Japan. Few things are more weird and niche than Incredible Crisis. Mechanically it's really just a collection of mini-games, but the presentation involves an ordinary Japanese family getting sucked into every possible genre of shenanigans over the course of a day - it's the kind of thing that nobody would've attempted to localize in previous generations and it was super exciting to finally get a shot at without resorting to imports.

Daikaiju said:
Whenever a real sea change occurs in gaming, things get weird.
Developers are torn between playing it safe or tinkering with every tool and trick in the new box. The PS1 era was one such shift. IC tells the kind of story you'd see in a TV network ensemble cast movie (i.e. If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium). The Tanamatsuri family needs to get home early to celebrate Grandma's birthday. Each faces their own trials and tribulations, intersecting here and there. Several chapters and their minigames test your ability to dance, dodge, balance, do math, buy bargins and *ahem* "massage" It was crazy, nuts, and frankly, unique. We were lucky to get a US release. Barring another paradigm shift, I'm not sure we'll see it's like again.

Tomm Guycot said: An office calisthenics rhythm game. Japanese quiz show in an ambulance. Medical stretcher street luge. Bank robbery stealth sequence. Top Gun battle against a plushie kaiju. Theme song by the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra. Back in November of 2000, any one of those things would designate a game as "the CRAZIEST thing you've ever played!" but Incredible Crisis had all of them - and more! It certainly did nothing to disprove the "wacky Japan" stereotype, but it did allow players to engage in extramarital activities on a ferris wheel. Sometimes that's enough.
 
no one can stop mr domino from making it onto this honorable mention, even though it got my one vote about an hour out from the dateline.

I should say that not every other artdink game was defined by simplicity, considering carnage heart's novel sized guide, but as i've recently started another game of neo atlas' switch port, i will reiterate that artdink does simply make every idea they've morphed into a game turn out brilliant.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
Incredible Crisis was great. "Quiz show in an ambulance" doesn't do it justice. The context is that you're in a stretcher and the paramedics are trying to ensure you're lucid, so they ask you something like "5 + 3 = 8?" You answer yes or no.

So far, so good - but it quickly devolves into them asking "23 x 49 = 2047?" And any wrong answer means they hit you with the defibrillator.

If you stay alive long enough, you're launched into the next stage when the stretcher falls out of the back of the ambulance, and you have to dodge cars as you roll downhill.

Incredible Crisis is a collection of weird, quirky minigames, but it's not just charming - it's hilarious. If you're unfamiliar with the game, do yourself a favor and look up a playthrough.
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)
Didn't the NES Three Stooges game have a mini-game like this?

Yes, but the one in Incredible Crisis is better. Also, I need to put a finer point on the "Erotic Massage on a Ferris Wheel" minigame, which only Daikaiju mentioned in passing. Playing as dad, you literally have to make a woman climax while riding a ferris wheel to move to the next stage.

Incredible Crisis rules, and so does its soundtrack provided by the amazing Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra.


Fuck yeah, it does.
 

Issun

My way, soon
#30

You require more Vespene Gas.

Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Platforms: PC, Mac, Nintendo 64
Release Date: March 31, 1998
125 Points, 5 Votes, Highest Vote: #8 (Adrenaline)



While Warcraft and Diablo put Blizzard on the map, it was StarCraft that cemented their status as one of the most important companies in the history of PC gaming. Real Time Strategy games were nothing new in 1998, with Command & Conquer, as well as Blizzard's own Warcraft series, having made the genre popular just a few years prior. And while early versions of the game were too much like Warcraft II, the finished product was nothing short of a masterpiece.

The Terrans, Protoss and Zerg were all perfectly balanced, with none inherently having the upper hand, though an experienced player could know which one fit their preferred playstyle. The single layer campaign managed its AI well enough to have a slowly graduated difficulty, and the online multiplayer was one of the first to truly catch on, with its graphics being just simplistic enough that one could play the game passing well even over dial-up. I've said before in this thread how important the 5th generation was, and StarCraft is one of the biggest examples of why.


WisteriaHysteria said: So popular and important that it created e-sports. An RTS game so perfect that it caused the genre to stagnate because how do you top it??​

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Issun

My way, soon
#29

I don't know where this ship came from, but is definitely not within legal specifications.


Developers: Factor 5, LucasArts
Publisher: LucasArts
Platforms: PC, Nintendo 64
Release Date: December 3, 1998

127 Points, 5 Votes, Highest Vote: #6 (Patrick)


Is this the first Star War to appear on any of our video game lists? I'm pretty sure it is. I guess it's not too surprising, as for a long time the majority of the truly great Star Wars games were confined to the PC, with an occasional console release (but not very many people had an original XBox). What is truly surprising about this game in particular is that, while it did have a PC release, its most popular version was released on the N64 (I imagine more than one vote on this list was for that version). It really is one of the better Star Wars video games, too, with open levels, smooth mechanics, and a story that bridged OG Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. I even remember taking note of how many Star Wars titles were being released for the 64 versus the PSX.

In hindsight, the Nintendo 64 is seen as a bit of a flop. While it did end up suffering from a relative dearth of third party titles, and the Playstation did end up owning the generation, the 64 actually had a pretty respectable install base over its lifetime. And yes, the Playstation did have a much bigger library, but perhaps the 64's smaller library caused the quality titles to stand out, and having such a quality licensed shooter on the console, especially one that Sony didn't have, was a major get for Nintendo. LucasArts was even instrumental in getting Nintendo to release their Expansion Pack for the console, and Rogue Squadron was not the last title on this list to have taken advantage of the peripheral.

So yeah, after Mario and Zelda had been released, the 64 did do a bit of floundering, but it was still getting support from some unlikely places.


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4-So

Spicy
Oh, something that I voted for finally showed up! Loved Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. Spent many hours by my lonesome in the dorms my freshman year of college trying to get gold on all of the missions. Good times.
 

Falselogic

Techno-Threadcromancer
(they/them)
Starcraft was my #12! And Wisteria pretty much summed it up. Starcraft is basically the original RTS model perfected. The entire genre has had to move into near different forms/genres in order to escape the shadow the game casts.
 

ThornGhost

lofi posts to relax/study to
(he/him)
Starcraft was on my list, but I ranked another RTS significantly higher. Still, a totally great game, very deserving, etc etc
 

Issun

My way, soon
#28

I gave you lives. So that you'd make good progress. But you couldn't understand.

Developer: Treasure

Publishers: Treasure, ESP
Platforms: Arcade, Sega Saturn
Release Date: May, 1998
127 Points, 5 Votes, Highest Vote: #1 (spines)



This is is it, the top ranked arcade shooter on the list, and arguably the best of the generation. Unfortunately it was only available outside of Japan by import for 13 long years before it was finally released on XBox Live Arcade, where players around the world could finally see what the fuss was about.

I watched some gameplay footage on YouTube before writing this, and I had to pull myself away. It may not have audiovisual slendor on the level of G-Darius (though the music is fantastic, as one would expect from Hitoshi Sakamoto, and the art direction and graphics are stellar). It may not have the intense sensory overload of R-Type Delta (though it is frenetic, with great enemy variety). What I could tell, even from just watching someone else play it, is that it is obviously smooth, tight, stylish, and just fun to play (though I'd probably die within minutes). It's such an incredible package, and it's clear that it gave arcade shooters a new lease on life in Japan (with its spiritual successor, Ikaruga, doing so worldwide just a few years later).

Treasure already had a pedigree with action games, but they decided to take a stab at something new and knocked it out of the park. Radiant Silvergun was an instant masterpiece, and it still influences games today, the most obvious example being NieR: Automata.

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Issun

My way, soon
#27

I would call thou foolish, but thou art mortal. Thou cannot go against thy nature.

Developer: Capcom Development Studio 3
Publisher: Capcom
Platform: Sony Playstation, PC
Release Dates: April 27, 2000 (JP), November 28, 2000 (NA), August 3, 2001 (EU)
128 Points, 5 Votes, Highest Vote: #7 (Sarge)



Breath of Fire IV wasn't quite the Playstation's JRPG swan song, but it was close, which is ironic, considering it was originally slated for the PS2. Some of that still show, though, as it is both a massive and a beautiful game. It features sprite work at a level that would be rarely seen until the retro indie scene reached full bore almost 15 years later, and while it's not particularly long by PSX JRPG standards, it does feel like a massive epic.

The third installment had already taken the series in a direction with a more complex story and relatable characters, and while the jury's out on which game handled those better, it's hard to argue that IV's cinematic flair does make both more engaging. It also had battle system that improved on its predecessor in myriad ways.

This game's follow-up was both a hugely innovative work and effectively killed the series, as people at the time weren't sure what to make of it. However, hindsight has been kind to both IV and its successor as being really good at what they were trying to do.

Sarge said: Apparently some series fans didn't like BoF4. I am not in that number, finding the graphics sumptuous and the protagonist/antagonist dual story compelling. A huge improvement over Breath of Fire III in my book.

WisteriaHysteria said: Sure would be nice if Capcom treated its premier RPG franchise with the love it deserves.

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Diablo is a game I enjoyed and respect, but never quite got into the way that a lot of very passionate fans did. By the time I stumbled upon it, it was already old-hat to my friends that played games, so I always felt like I was way behind the learning curve. Plus, it was a game that was incredibly easy to hack, so you could enter a multiplayer instance and just find OP hacked items laying on the ground which effectively ruins the experience. Diablo definitely deserves to be on this list, but it just isn't on mine, especially when it was more Diablo 2 that people remember and hold in the highest of esteem. Fantastic game tho.

Tron Bonne is a game I own and always wanted to play but just never did so, for reasons I can't really explain beyond general pile of shame issues. Also surprised MML1&2 didn't rank. I had MML on an early version of my list but it became one of many hard cuts.

Starcraft was #12 on my list. I love that game to pieces, even if I'm absolutely dreadful at RTS games. I have a lot of fond memories of just walking down the dormitory halls in college and you could just peer in any random person's room and see a kid battling someone else on the campus network. It's one of my earliest memories of being a gaming spectator in that regards. I have an additional level of sentiment to it just because the Asian-American community really latched onto this one as a multiplayer game, so you always felt a minor sense of community/fellowship with your fellow azn gamers. It's also one of the last great videogames that I remember having a traditional yet very meaty/worth the price expansion pack. Every time I see horse armor or a handful of characters added to a game for a hefty price as DLC, I hand my head in shame and despair, "Whatever happened to the Brood Wars of the world?"

Star Wars: Rogue Squadron was a pretty solid Star Wars game for the N64. Not quite my favorite for that system though. (That honor would go to Shadows of the Empire.) I can't imagine the game holding up over the years (I imagine few would choose to go back to this over Rogue Squadron), but as a preteen it was a good time on a console that had very few good times.

Breath of Fire IV made my list at #18. It's one of the best looking games on the PS1. It's a masterclass in spritework. It's got the best story in the franchise, and IMO it's the pinnacle of BoF. (Most people around these parts probably prefer BoF5 out of respect for how daring and experimental it was, but I prefer the more conventional BoF4 over how obtuse and alienating BoF5 is on so many levels.) It's really a huge shame it came out when it did. The year 2000 was completely packed with RPGs and great games in general, and this one fell through the cracks at the time despite being one of the best RPGs on the system. BoF4 epitomizes a graphical design philosophy that is still just completely unmatched. (Imagine a Xenogears 2 that looked this good.) It's also lowkey got an incredible soundtrack. Love this game to bits.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Oh hey, I had Breath of Fire IV up fairly high on my list at #9. I debated between it and III, but in the end IV's polish carried the day. As others have mentioned, the sprite work is just amazing, and combined with fantastic textured 3D backgrounds it makes for an absolutely gorgeous game. I also really liked the split scenario that lets you play as the nominal antagonist periodically throughout the game.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Dropped both of the PS1 Breath of Fires from my list, but there's a lot of fondness there because while North America didn't get every interesting RPG at the time through the localization process, Europe got a smaller selection still, and Breath of Fire was in a sense notable for us simply because it was allowed to exist. III's soundtrack by Akari Kaida and Yoshino Aoki is a landmark work in the medium, and with IV Aoki's solo approach proved that that standard of quality could be met in going for something entirely different and equally as captivating.

IV's probably got one of the best settings in an RPG, really: it breaks away from the genre and medium's Eurocentrism in a big way as a contemporary like FFX also did, and there's so much reassessment of stock staples in it as it goes on, like one of the greatest lineups of dragons in any piece of media, majestic and alien in their diverse forms.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
I'm not sure if I had BoF IV on my list, but I hould. III is certainly there, as it introduced me to JRPGs, still one of my favourite genres. IV disappointed me a bit, because it wasn't a direct successor to III (I didn't know at the time that the series didn't work that way). But I still enjoyed it a ton, and did nearly everything - filled out the fishing book, or something like that, found all the dragon transormations, nearly got all the monster abilities (gave up on that explode move, because people just didn't want to learn it). Also didn't kill the super boss, because I wasn't motivated to do so much grinding.

I really need to replay this game, I would appreciate the story and the setting so much more, this time. I always loved the spritework in this and III.

I love this series, especially III and IV. I want them back, in classical form. Nothing against DQ, I enjoyed that one a lot, too, and it is thematically strongly connected. But I want more of the classical series.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Oh yeah, I was gonna mention IV's "dragons"! Some great design going on there.
 

Lokii

It's always time for burgers
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
I'm enormously fond of both playsation BoFs but IV is a really special game. For me, it (along with Suikoden II) stands as the pinnacle of of JRPG storytelling of the era (both in large structural terms and in small intimate detail-oriented strategies). It's a very contemplative game and one that treats its (cartoony, maze-and-numbers, filled with talking animals) form seriously and with dignity. It's subtle and confident and inventive and charming and oh-so beautiful. For me at least, it doesn't get much better.
 
Rogue Squadron: I can't think of many other Star Wars games where Luke Skywalker is talking in your ear throughout the whole game; it feels very 90s to look (and listen) to videos of it today. This was the first Star Wars media I encountered where all the starships were given tactical strengths and identities (or at least communicated clearly enough so that I could understand it). I didn't vote for it but I sure played the heck out of it and the rest of the series.

Starcraft: I remember this game being the height of cool to me at the time. It was cheesy and lifted so obviously from Aliens, Predator, etc but that was what made it awesome. Predator is a little cheesy too, but I still love that shit. During this era I would watch the science vessel cutscene on its own and just act out the lines with the actors. Setting up your siege tanks or dragoons to repel waves of enemies felt intense too. Playing Starcraft was war, man.

As far as my voting decision went, I voted for Starcraft because it is a great game that was also huge to me at the time, but I did knock off points because I have trouble (re)connecting with old RTSes when I try to dust them off.
 

YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
I could never get terribly far into BoF IV and I'm not sure why. I would inevitably lose interest after only a dozen hours of play, if that, and I've tried playing it multiple times throughout the years and even when it was new. I was super into the series from a young age too (one of my earliest online handles is "dragon" inspired), so it's got the nostalgia factor going on top of everything else that's very cool about it. It is absolutely an exquisite example of top-tier spritework, art design, world design, music... it's got a lot going for it. Which makes it all the more frustrating that I could never sustain interest in it....
 

spines

behold my godlike
(she/her, or something)
bof3 had a psp port, so 4 is the only one i haven't played at all. it's on the pile of things to do "soon" though...

i think i got rogue squadron for pc from the library once. it didn't run great on our computer but of course i loved it, i was a huge star wars fan at the time.

starcraft i ended up not voting for; i think it would've been out of place on my list, not because of a lack of other pc games, but because it was actually such a formative experience for me and important game in general, but one that i haven't really come back to to (re)assess as an adult. though to be honest my current feelings on blizzard (even extending before the wow and activision eras) and reaction to a lot of what starcraft 2 brought to the table didn't help.



Silvergun did better than I expected. It's quite a divisive game among dedicated shmup fans (as most are, really, though more than almost any other this is a game that really demands to be played in a certain way), though I think its broader reception is more overall positive. For me, my top 5 was games that are all very close to my heart in some way, and really any one of them could have a completely fair claim to #1, but since I had to choose one to elevate to the very top...well, I picked this one. certainly the fact that I've repeatedly named twitter and tumblr accounts after references to the game influenced that, as well as the fact I've spent a fair amount of time playing both through the xbox port and a machine at our barcade.

So, on one hand this is a game where, notoriously, the scoring system is rather complex and also as non-optional as it could possibly be; even in a game like Battle Garegga where it's generally understood by now that getting more access to extra lives (and using those lives to score higher so you can get even more of them) is the easiest way to finish the game there's not really the same expectation that players will learn and execute the stages to such a specific degree. I'd expected not to like it a whole lot, especially since I've never gotten deeply into Ikaruga, which remixes some of the puzzle-like concepts in a faster and more minimalist way, but the pace and atmosphere of the game really captivated me, as did the weapon mechanics, which are complex but have a great underlying logic. Also, just bopping a huge enemy or an entire screen with the sword is great.

(really, i think if i convinced myself to put on a copy of ikaruga and spend a fair amount of time over a week or two playing it, i'd probably get invested in it and like it just fine, but i've never really wanted to.)

At the same time, it really does feel to me like the most "Treasure" of the company's efforts in the genre. It may be a little on the slower-paced side for the company's games, but I feel like many of the distinctive elements are there: the weapon combining mechanics, tracing all the way back to Gunstar Heroes, strange wordplay and cryptic boss/mechanical descriptions, and of course, just a huge number of boss fights in general. There are giant enemy ships, reassembling turret formations, rushes of minibosses, homages to other shmups, and of course the treasure classic: wildly roaming, undulating, almost organic machines.

I also love Sakimoto's soundtrack, which slowly unfolds variations on a central motif over the course of the earlier stages. It doesn't have the intensity of many other shmups, but for a game which is slower-paced and even-tempered in a sense I think it matches the feeling of the action very nicely.

Anyway, obviously no single game can represent the best of everything, so the process of picking #1 is sort of like, choosing what to represent about myself through that choice. And while I probably wouldn't say that Silvergun is my favorite shmup or overall game in any single way, the way it comes together is captivating and mysterious to me like very little else is. I could certainly say something similar about G-Darius (although its soundtrack might be pretty unbeatable), which again, was very close to the top as well, but having to choose one...well, at least this time, I made this choice.
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
I love all the weapon types in Radiant Silvergun, and that it has a sort of RPG-ish mode that lets even shmup noobs eventually plow through it. It's great stuff.

Pretty clear I love BoFIV. I know not caring as much for BoFIII might be a bit of a hot take - I see tons of praise for it pretty much everywhere - but I thought the pacing was a lot better in BoFIV, and the story more interesting to me as well. And as others have pointed out already, it's incredibly polished. Those graphics are just top-tier stuff, and as @WisteriaHysteria said, can you imagine a Xenogears 2 that looked like this? Man.
 
One thing I forgot to mention about Starcraft was the custom maps and b.net. Both of which were a big game changers.

WC2 had custom maps, but not nearly with the level of customization options available, and distributing those custom maps just wasn't going to be something very feasible back then when the internet was so young. WC3 brought the model of custom games to full fruition but all those WC3 map modders got their starts in Starcraft. Tower Defense games and Horde Modes were a long time staple of gaming for decades, but Starcraft made both into viable full experiences of their own thanks to the ingenuity of custom maps. If you value the WC3 custom games scene, you should thank Starcraft for giving birth to it.

To do MP in WC2, the average consumer had to have your modem dial up people directly. (RIP your phone bill if you were calling anyone outside of your immediate vicinity.) But b.net was like a revelation, where you could make an account and then match make games. Other gaming companies had similar systems, but none worked as well or were as catchy a name as battle.net. Starcraft, along with a handful of contemporary shooters like Half-Life, really set the stage for online gaming in ways that I don't think gets enough recognition. It was so wild to be able to play some dude halfway around the world in a videogame back in 1998.

bof3 had a psp port, so 4 is the only one i haven't played at all.
IIRC, BoF4 was a PS1 classic you could have bought and played on your PSP/PS3/Vita. There apparently was also a PC port!? That might be worth looking into.
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
Yeah, BoFIV got a PS1 Classic release. Got it sitting on my Vita. Did not know about a PC port, though! Very interesting indeed.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Yeah, I randomly found the PC version of BoF IV one day, on the last day of a school year. Immediately bought it.
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)
Radiant Silvergun was on my list, but is not the highest-ranking shoot-them-up on said list (nor the highest ranking Treasure game!). Still, it's one of the best of that era, and still a very solid play. I think that while, yes, for scoring it's quite prescriptive, for beginners, it's fairly friendly? Sarge mentioned the story mode and the fact that you always have all of your weapons guns at your disposal makes it pretty enjoyable for everyone to at least blast through a few stages.
 
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