Tag Archives: games

My Top 30 NES Games

Today Nintendo announced the NES Classic, a mini-replica of the original Nintendo Entertainment System, that will come with a pre-loaded library of 30 games. The 30 games selected are not surprising (for both licencing and popularity reasons) but it raises the question – what are your top 30 NES games?

I came up with a list of mine. My total NES games played probably tops out short of 50, so most of the games I’ve played will appear on this list. Inclusion doesn’t necessarily denote quality 😛

  1. The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants
  2. BreakThru
  3. Legendary Wings
  4. Hudson Hawk
  5. Maniac Mansion
  6. Dr. Mario
  7. Bubble Bobble
  8. Tengen Tetris
  9. Galaga
  10. Adventure Island
  11. Super Mario Bros. 2
  12. Duck Hunt
  13. Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers
  14. Classic Concentration
  15. Flintstones: Suprise at Dino Peak
  16. Gun.Smoke
  17. Super Mario Bros.
  18. RBI Baseball
  19. Klax
  20. Kirby’s Adventure
  21. Panic Restaurant
  22. Tetris
  23. Monopoly
  24. Mega Man 2
  25. Adventures in the Magic Kingdom
  26. The Guardian Legend
  27. Super Mario Bros. 3
  28. Star Tropics
  29. Felix the Cat
  30. Gun-Nac

It looks like there’s an overlap of 9 games between my list and what’s going to be offered on the NES Classic.

Best Games of 2015

Somehow I managed to play 30 games that were released in 2015. That made coming up with a top 5 list a bit difficult. But, I managed to to do it. Here’s my video about the best games of the year.

If you’re not one for videos, here’s the list.

  1. Pillars of Eternity
  2. Ori and the Blind Forest
  3. Rise of the Tomb Raider
  4. Until Dawn
  5. Tales from the Borderlands

And since 5 is so few, there are a couple honorable mentions

  1. Stasis
  2. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
  3. Witcher 3

What were your favourite games of the year?

Difficulty in Games

The writing bug just isn’t biting me lately, but I sure am making a lot of videos. This one is at least closer to a blog post.

I spend some time talking about game difficulty. What difficulty I like to play on, whether I like to replay on increased difficulties. I also talk about some different kinds of difficulty – a requirement for quick reactions, memorization, strategy, harsh punishments – and which of these I enjoy.

What are your feelings on game difficulty?

Best 100 Games of All Time

This week Edge magazine put out a list of the best 100 games of all time. The list has caused some stir. Partially because most of the games are really recent. Partially because as far as I can see, the list is completely without context or explanation. And partially because “best” is a totally subjective term and the whole idea of the list is stupid.

However… who doesn’t love stupid lists? So, I’m making my own. I dunno if there even are 100 games I can apply the word best to, but let’s try!

1 Planescape: Torment
2 XCOM: Enemy Unknown
3 Portal
4 Shadow of the Colossus
5 Mass Effect (series)
6 Star Ocean Second Story
7 Shadow Hearts Covenant
8 Knights of the Old Republic
9 Saint’s Row 4
10 Civilization (series)
11 Beyond Good and Evil
12 Bastion
13 The Witcher (series)
14 Dragon Age 2
15 Super Mario Brothers (series)
16 Quest for Glory (series)
17 Mario Party (series)
18 Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines
19 Final Fantasy X-2
20 Wolfenstein: The New Order
21 The Guardian Legend
22 The Swapper
23 The Pandora Directive
24 Tomb Raider
25 The Walking Dead s1
26 Batman Arkham Asylum
27 Spec Ops: The Line
28 Gun Nac
29 Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers
30 Final Fantasy 7
31 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
32 Monkey Island (series)
33 Under a Killing Moon
34 The Fall
35 The Cat Lady
36 Parasite Eve
37 Valiant Hearts
38 Final Fantasy 10
39 Snatcher
40 Alan Wake
41 Felix the Cat
42 Divinity: Original Sin
43 The Longest Journey
44 The Blackwell series
45 Ori and the Blind Forest
46 Dead Space
47 Shadowrun: Dragonfall
48 Fatal Frame 2
49 Legend of Dragoon
50 Metro 2033
51 Dead Rising (series)
52 Dragon Age: Origins
53 The Dig
54 ESPN NFL Football
55 TMNT: Turtles in Time
56 Limbo
57 Rayman Legends
58 Fallout (1&2)
59 Theme Hospital
60 The Last of Us
61 Baldur’s Gate (series)
62 Wasteland 2
63 Her Story
64 The Stanley Parable
65 Braid
66 King’s Quest (series)
67 This War of Mine
68 Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments
69 Tetris
70 Pillars of Eternity
71 Star Tropics
72 Gone Home
73 Remember Me
74 Planet of the Eyes
75 Dragon Age: Inquisition
76 Alice: Madness Returns
77 Gran Turismo (series)
78 Mario Kart (series)
79 Bioshock (series)
80 Deadly Premonition
81 The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
82 Afterlife
83 Resident Evil 4
84 Loom
85 Zuma
86 God of War
87 The Last Door
88 Fallout 3+
89 Lost Odyssey
90 Heavy Rain
91 Child of Light
92 D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die
93 Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura
94 Sunset Overdrive
95 Spyro the Dragon
96 Until Dawn
97 Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
98 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
99 Murdered: Soul Suspect
100 CS:GO

Well, what do you know – I got to 100. Honestly, after the top 30 or so the order doesn’t mean a whole lot. And after 60 or 70 I’m just listing games I liked a fair bit.

What do you think? Any omissions (that are likely omitted because I haven’t played them). Any surprises?

Game Dealbreakers

In my last post, Corinna left a comment suggesting that I try out The Longest Journey and its sequels if I’m looking for a game with a great female protagonist. I’ve actually played TLJ, and at one point owned Dreamfall on XBox, but never played through it because I couldn’t stand the controls. That gave me the idea for this post. Game dealbreakers – the things that can absolutely ruin a game for me, often to the point of never playing it again.

Bad Controls

Bad control schemes are probably the most unforgivable thing for me in games. I hate when a game makes me want to play it, then makes the act of playing it incredibly frustrating. At this point I don’t even remember what it was about the controls for Dreamfall that made me so mad, but it was bad enough to me that I never played past the intro despite its predecessor being one of my favourite games ever. Now you might ask me “Pam, why didn’t you just pick it up on PC if you hated the Xbox controls?” And that would be a totally fair question. I have no idea, it was 8 years ago. I think a replay of The Longest Journey and getting Dreamfall for PC is in order soon though.

In terms of controls, the Resident Evil series is one of the worst offenders. I hate tank controls where you have to rotate your character with one analog stick, while the other makes them go straight forward or straight back. It’s so clunky and slow, especially in an action game. RE4 is the only game in the series I actually played through because the controls turned me right off.

It looks much cooler than it felt to play.

It looks much cooler than it felt to play.

At the top of this list though is a certain scene in The Force Unleashed where you needed to take down a star destroyer. I don’t think a video game has ever induced so much rage in me. This tiny little portion of the game ruined the whole thing for me. It introduced a completely new type of controls and implemented them very poorly. The game did a bad job of letting you know what you were supposed to do, did a bad job of giving you feedback about if you were doing it right (other than the game over screen) and the controls were just unresponsive and gross. In the middle of it, I actually went tearing through my house, searching for a hammer so that I could smash the game disc into a thousand pieces. In the end I did not give into my anger and I finished the game but even thinking about it, 6 years later, makes me mad.

Also on this list – games that doesn’t let me invert the Y axis controls.

Point of No Return

A lot of games have a point of no return, a point you hit where you’re driven to the end game without the option of going back to explore or finish sidequests. Most games handle this well, and make it explicitly clear that this will happen. However, some games don’t.

The first game I remember being problematic in this way was Legend of Dragoon. I was right near the end of the game, still had a few optional bosses to fight (which apparently dropped really good stuff) but I ended up travelling to the end location, which I couldn’t get back from. It wasn’t made very clear that you couldn’t come back. So, even though I was standing basically right in front of the final boss, I quit. I think I finally went back about a year later so I could say that I had finished the game.

All this gold... for nothing.

All this gold… for nothing.

The worst offender of taking you to the point of no return without telling you was Fable 3. I spent a lot of hours in that game. I did every quest, tried to get every achievement. In the last portion of the game you’re preparing for a big attack on Albion and how much of your kingdom survives is based on how much gold you have in the treasury. I had a zillion gold in my personal treasury, but was waiting until the last-minute before transferring it over to Albion’s treasury. Little did I know that the “last-minute” was (according to the in-game time) 121 days before the attack. At 121 days before the attack I woke up, held court, then all of a sudden (without notice or a chance to do anything else) it was the day of the attack, Albion had no gold in the treasury, all the people were about to die. And of course Fable 3 uses autosaves and a single save file. I was livid. I deleted that save file and have never finished the game.

It’s so cute!

I’ve always loved JRPGs, but a number of them are so damn cute it makes me sick. I never played Windwaker because I couldn’t get over the art style. I tried Eternal Sonata and Radiata stories, but all the characters were so fracking precious that I had to stop.

Na no Kuni

Kill it with fire.

I went out and bought a PS3 specifically so I could play Na no Kuni, but after playing adorable characters and collecting 100 adorable pokeman familiars and having to feed them adorable cupcakes I just couldn’t take it anymore.


I am a giant wimp when it comes to scary games.

Ughhh, make it stop.

Ughhh, make it stop.

I tried to play Silent Hill 1 a long time ago, and I lasted for maybe 30 minutes. I got through the intro but as soon as I picked up that radio, I was toast. It would emit static, I would turn the television off. I tried a few times but the result was always the same. I’ve never played through a single Silent Hill game.

The only really scary game I’ve ever finished was Fatal Frame 2. However, I played it with a friend, which made it much easier (even though she would literally throw the controller at me if something scary happened while she was playing).

Do you have any dealbreakers in games? What drives you crazy?

Female Protagonists

After my recent post about Tomb Raider, my friend Arielle asked about what makes a female character strong.

I started writing a response and decided I needed to do some more critical thinking on the matter, and do some more thorough analysis of female characters in games. I asked Twitter to name some games with female protagonists, and the responses were great! I decided to compile all the answers into a big list. I also went through every game I’ve ever played and added a bunch of other titles.

Here’s the list!

If you’re looking for a game where the playable protagonist (at least one of them, if there are multiple) is a female, it’s a good place to start. I’m still filling in information as I go, like release date, genre, I might add the platforms the games are available on. If you notice any games I’ve missed, or disagree with any of my classifications, feel free to comment here, hit me up on Twitter, or add a comment to the spreadsheet.

I’ve excluded certain types of games from the spreadsheet:

  • Games where you can make your character either gender. So, while Commander Shepard is an amazing female protagonist, the Mass Effect series is not included because whether you play as male or female, the character and story stays the same.
  • Games where the character model is just a skin. Like Mario Kart (or sports games) – you can play as Princess Peach, but whether you’re female, male, koopa, or ghost, really has no impact.
  • I’ve only included games where a female is the main protagonist (or one of them). In FFVII for example, Tifa, Aeris, and Yuffie are playable characters, but it is Cloud’s story.

I’m hoping to go somewhere with all this information, besides just having a list for reference (though I think it’s a pretty cool reference to have available).

Based on the quick analysis I’ve done of the games on this list I have played, or at least am very familiar with, I generally don’t have a problem with the way female protagonists are portrayed when they are the true protagonist. They drive the story forward by making decisions and acting on them. They sorta have to – they’re the leading characters. One exception I’m finding to this so far is the games like Bloodrayne or Lollipop Chainsaw. I don’t assume to be able to read the developers minds, but to me it seems clear that the leading characters were not made female to give women players something to relate to, or attract them to the game. They were made this way so straight male players could see TITS! And ASS! as they killed things. I watched a 2-minute gameplay trailer of Lollipop Chainsaw and I don’t think 5 seconds went by without me being able to see right up Juliet’s cheerleader skirt.

Anyway, for now I’ll keep picking away at the spreadsheet to make it more complete. I hope it’s useful for you and helps you discover some awesome new games to play.

Steam Stash: Part 2

The Steam Summer Sale is over. Thank goodness. Things were starting to get out of hand. I ended up buying 17 games, but on the bright side I only spent $52. Final games take:

Blackwell Bundle (4 games)
Don’t Starve
Prison Architect
Shadowrun Returns
The Swapper
Syberia 1 & 2
System Shock 2
To the Moon
Warlock – Master of the Arcane

I talked about a few that I had a chance to play before. Here are some thoughts on others I’ve dedicated some time too.

Blackwell Legacy & Blackwell Unbound

The Blackwell games are a series of old school point-and-click adventure games first released in 2006. They revolve around a family of mediums, the Blackwells, and their ghostly helper, Joey. Their job is to help ghosts that are stuck on this plane of existence to realize they are dead and move on. I’m actually surprised I had never played any of these before, since I’m a big fan of point and click adventures, despite most of them being full of completely illogical solutions to problems.

In Blackwell Legacy you play as Rosangela who, at the start of the game, has no idea she’s a medium. So the game is not only about helping ghosts come to terms with their deaths but also about Rosangela coming to terms with seeing dead people and having Joey be a permanent fixture in her life. I enjoyed the game overall, but my biggest problem was with Rosangela. She was very socially anxious, and I didn’t like playing as her. This did get better throughout the game though.

Blackwell Unbound is the second game in the series, but is a prequel. In this game you play Rosangela’s aunt Lauren, who I liked a lot more. She was fiery, but also (after a life of having to solve the problems of ghosts) very jaded. Her relationship with Joey had been established already so there was some good back and forth between the two of them, whereas in Legacy Joey and Rosangela has just met and things were awkward. Unbound is dragged down a bit by some terrible voice acting in a few supporting roles though (seriously, young people pretending to be old people just doesn’t work). Otherwise, it was an enjoyable adventure game with a fine narrative and good dialogue. I’m looking forward to playing the next games in the series.


I should really read before I buy, I didn’t realize this was a co-op only game. I spent some time in a lobby waiting for a group to form, then played a level and had to wait in another lobby. That ended my Monaco experience. Need to get some friends to play with if I’m going to try this again.

Shadowrun Returns

Shadowrun is an isometric RPG (like Baldur’s Gate), but it has a cyberpunk theme. I’ve only put in an hour or two so far, but I’ve had a lot of fun with it. What I’ve seen of the story is intriguing. The main character is a shadow runner – a kind of unofficial investigator/contractor/get shit done whatever the means type. You’ve been hired by your now dead ex-partner to solve his murder. The game so far is quite linear, which I don’t have a problem with. There are some optional quests but they don’t distract too much from the main storyline. The talent/skill system is fairly straightforward, but the class system is still a mystery to me. I chose to be a shaman, but so far I have no idea what it is that makes me a shaman. I’ve never cast a spell or anything.

The combat is tactical turn-based, and immediately reminded me of XCOM. So far I’m really liking the game, I will definitely finish it and may pick up the next campaign as well.


This is an action-adventure platformer and I didn’t like it at all. It just seems like a really bad port. Trying to get a good resolution to play in windowed mode was an exercise in futility. I got stuck on the character selection screen and wasn’t able to select a character for a while. When I finally got in I found that playing this with a keyboard is awful and the default controls seems designed to make me angry.

Just when I think I’m turning into a PC gamer, something like this happens to bring me back to my console-loving reality.

A lot of people whose opinions about games I respect like this game, so I’d suggest picking it up for a console and skipping the PC version.

To The Moon

To the Moon is a narrative-based Indie game. The premise is about granting dying wishes to people by creating new memories for them. Two doctors, Rosalene and Watts arrive at the house of Johnny, the dying man who wants to go to the moon. They need to traverse his memories back to the time he was a child in order to implant the wish to go to the moon, with the assumption that his brain would then create those memories and he could die happy.

I had heard nothing but good things about this game. For me, good story is the basis of a good game (at least for an adventure or role-playing game – Rayman doesn’t need a good story). Also, I’m a sucker for quirky indie games. Unfortunately, I hated this game. Let me tell you why.

Johnny’s story, as seen by the doctors in his memories was actually quite poignant and moving. It dealt with all kinds of interesting themes like old age, mental health, regret, memory, love, secrets. And it dealt with them all fairly well. So what was the problem? It was the doctors. Johnny’s memories on their own were a lovely story experience, but then we have these annoying doctors, cracking jokes, making comments, being jaded. Dr. Watts especially was a dick. They just didn’t shut the fuck up. Reading their dialogue got old really quick.

Though the doctors were the most egregious problem they weren’t the only one. The controls were bad. Sometimes clicking an object would move you to it, sometimes it wouldn’t. The cursor placement was weird. Of course, controls weren’t a huge deal since 90% of the game was just clicking though dialogue. I don’t have a problem with games being more about narrative than gameplay, but in this case I felt that watching this like a movie would have been move rewarding than having to move and click. There are completely inconsequential tile flipping puzzles that you need to do to travel from memory to memory. Near the end of the game I guess the developers felt like they needed to jam some gameplay in and there was a short frogger-like shooting sequence which seemed entirely out of place. Also, the game had an unhealthy preoccupation with roadkill.

If they could have told Johnny’s story without the annoying doctors making quips all the way through, I’m sure I would have liked this game more. As it was, I was just wanting it to end from about the 2 hour mark onward. There is a sequel planned, but it centers around those same two doctors, so I’ll be skipping it.