Everyone does Top 10 Games lists. The problem with those? Usually, they’re full of games that earn a place because of nostalgia or industry significance. Here at Snackbar Games, we like being a little more practical: if you’re looking to just have fun, what games should you pick up and play today? This time, we’re looking at Sony’s first console outing: the PlayStation.
Matthew Jay: Ask the general internet gamer what they hate most about modern gaming, and there’s a good chance one of their top three will be achievements and the growth of minuscule rewards as a carrot on a stick. These tiny incentives to move forward keep us playing because we’ve never got the best gamerscore or weapon set. But they’ll tell you Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, the game that arguably popularized this phenomenon, is one of the greatest games ever made. Through giving you little items constantly, you not only want to keep traversing this enormous mansion to move the story forward, but as Alucard picks up hundreds of swords and weapons, the player gets to mold him to their specific play style. Whether you like a light weapon with a long reach or something that takes a second to swing but will mess up a guy, Symphony of the Night has you covered.
Gerry Pagan: While the original Oddworld was a game full of awful design choices, Abe’s Oddysee brings some very clever platforming thrown into the mix. Its sequel, Abe’s Exoddus, introduces better Mudokon gathering commands, actually teaches you the basics before letting you loose and is just as fun to play. The first is a great place to start, though. Like puzzle platformers? Give Abe’s Oddysee a shot. You won’t be disappointed.
Andrew Passafiume: PaRappa the Rapper is a pretty charming game, mostly due to just how strange it is. It falls into the category of games like Katamari Damacy and LocoRoco that are distinctly Japanese and become pretty memorable because of it. And also like those games, the music plays a huge role in the game; PaRappa is no exception. The basic gameplay is easy to understand, the songs are catchy, and while it is short, there is a lot of replay value. It’s a strange little game that managed to come out at just the right time and still deserves a place in any gamer’s collection.
Graham Russell: The strategy RPG genre seems to go hand-in-hand with fantasy and magic these days, whether it’s Fire Emblem or Disgaea or oddballs like Record of Agarest War. It wasn’t always that way, though. Front Mission 3, the first to make it to America and generally regarded as the best in its series, focused on battle mechs in a near-future war in Japan. It’s a nice change of pace from what we have now, and despite some weird menus inspired by what people thought the Internet was in the late ‘90s, it still totally holds up. Bonus: there are two almost entirely-different playthroughs for the game based on one tiny choice in the first ten minutes.
Gerry Pagan: The main six Suikoden games contain what is probably the most tightly-woven lore and continuity in an RPG. While the original entry was a solid game in its own right, Suikoden II takes an already great idea and further expands on it. With refinements to the game’s comprehensive battle system, tons of sidequests to complete and events to participate in, as well as more-detailed spritework, this game deserves all the praise it gets. It’s only a shame that it’s so hard to find, with no easy method of acquisition until it makes it onto PSN’s PS1 Classics service.
Matthew Jay: Aeris dies. If you’ve somehow been living under a rock for over a decade, I’ve just spoiled what fans have considered the biggest and most shocking plot point in the Final Fantasy series. But by letting you know this, you’ll be able to see this game for what it is. Much like anything as prominent as FF7, it will eventually reduce in the public mind to several setpieces and memorable lines of dialogue. But Final Fantasy 7 is a 40-to-50 hour game and, for all its datedness, it moves at a fairly brisk pace. There is plenty to do and a lot to experience, many of it that will touch you more than the death of a character who was only present for a third of the story.
Andrew Passafiume: The original Klonoa: Door to Phantomile is still probably the best in the series. It is, at its core, a pretty basic platformer, but it’s just so damn adorable. While many have played the remake for the Wii (simply titled Klonoa), it is no comparison to the original. It’s a fine remake, but a lot of the challenge is removed, making it even more of a “kid’s game” than it ever was before. But trust me when I say that Door to Phantomile is no pushover. It’s not tough, no, but it offers more of a real challenge than the remake might indicate. The game looks a bit dated (as most games of this era do), but the controls are as great as ever and it has plenty to do to keep platformer fans happy.
Gerry Pagan: During the ’90s, Square was mostly known for its assortment of incredible RPGs, but they often ventured into unexpected genres and worked their magic. Brave Fencer Musashi is Square’s attempt at platform-centric action game, bringing about what is possibly one of their best creations. The combination of addicting stat progression, charming characters, tight gameplay and creative level and boss design makes for a game that continues to stand the test of time.
Andrew Passafiume: Next to Street Fighter III: Third Strike, I consider Alpha 3 to be the best of the Street Fighter games. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the Alpha series, don’t worry: this game is a great introduction to the series (or to Street Fighter in general). With a total of 34 characters, a system that has yet to be topped by any other fighting series and one of the best arcade fighting game ports on a home console, Street Fighter Alpha 3 is still the best fighting game you can find on Sony’s first console.
Matthew Jay: If you have been alive for the last two weeks, you know what folks are saying about the Uncharted series. Naughty Dog has taken it in a more scripted direction than other companies today are doing with games like Skyrim or Fallout. Many are seeing this as a problem, whereas I see it as a plus. Through heavy scripting, a developer can create a controlled environment in which to tell you a better story. Heart of Darkness, just as Another World before it, is a perfect example of this. It’s not about choosing which path to take or your decisions affecting the story, but it never claims to be. HoD has a very specific idea of what you must do next and is only interested in seeing you do it correctly. If you’re interested in the story they’re telling, then hop on for the ride. If not, then keep moving. There be no dialogue trees here.
What do you think? Did we screw up? What do you think stands the test of time?