Game Recommendations

These are my video game recommendations. Specifically, these are the ones which I can surely say that I’ve enjoyed them and can even go back to them from time to time and probably still have fun. Generally, expect older games. If a game’s available on multiple systems, I’m just listing it under the one I played it on, but the version I chose may also have specifics to my recommendation.

A simple racing game with a track editor. Navigate lanes to find the boosts and jumps needed to finish first.

Always the classic in just about any form. Its worthy successors don’t deviate much from the formula, rather providing tweaks and takes on it, even though this isn’t even the first iteration, it’s a solid one. Also has some good music to go through line after line. This is the one I’ve known most.

Speedy hovercar racing with the power of Mode 7. It has great music even before any of its remixes later on.

Star Fox
A classic rail shooter showcasing the at-the-time state-of-the-art graphics possible with the Super FX chip. An arcade-style game with selectable difficulty paths and elaborate bosses, again, for the time.

Animal Crossing
If you want to see Animal Crossing in one of its rawest forms, the GameCube is a good place to look. Of course in Japan it started on the N64 and there was some back and forth on the GameCube, but this even has support for using cards, which wouldn’t happen again until the 3DS. In this case it’s e-Reader cards, though. This game is also host to the 1 PM Cat Song as I call it, a very important track that plays at 1 PM on normal clear days.

An off-beat adventure within a house featuring one of the cutest protagonists ever. The sense of scale is strong here as a tiny robot tries to fix everything with anything at their disposal.

Crazy Taxi
A faithful port of the extreme taxi driving arcade game. Drive all over not-quite-San Francisco delivering everyone to everything as fast as possible, or even play weird minigames. I specifically recommend this version because it still has all of the original music and product placement intact. This also applies to the PS2 and Dreamcast versions.

Kirby Air Ride
A single-button racing game with multiple modes and lots of Kirby cuteness. Essentially my first game for the system, it’s fast-paced but easy to pick up fun. City Trial is an especially interesting mode where players must find the right machine and powerups to beat an unknown challenge. A similar mode would later be included in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS.

Super Smash Bros. Melee
The one Smash Bros. that everyone will recommend, especially in competitive, unless they’re playing the mod for Brawl that turns it into Melee. A decent-sized roster with a variety of stages and modes available makes this a great fighting game of some kind.

Tetris also works wonderfully in portable form, to the point where this was even packaged with the Game Boy as a killer app, even with multiplayer as an option, with similarities to how multiplayer Tetris works today. Also with good music. Even noted as the best version by the creator of the original Tetris.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf
An Animal Crossing game I’ve actually gone back to multiple times throughout, and made a lot of progress with as well. The series did continue to build its quality-of-life angle on each main iteration, to the point where this even got a patch later to enable even more stuff.

Digimon World
Despite the Western release being horribly glitchy with a questionable translation at times, this is certainly a game of its time. Pre-rendered backgrounds with polygon characters, visible random encounters that take place in the same field, and a whole virtual pet simulation on top of it. All of this while working to rebuild a town. It’s a weird ambitious concept but it fits together and keeps in touch with the virtual pet roots of the series. Somehow, this game was a cult classic enough to where it got a remake on the PSP, but only in Japan. But at least the sequel to the remake got a Western release, but after it was ported to the PS4 from the Vita.

Future Cop: LAPD
An old game from an old time where the future involved more hover cars, but I think they at least got the natural disasters, rampant crime, and police brutality right. Grid-based labyrinths explored through firepower and a mech that switches between walker and hovercar. It’s a pretty cool game overall, with the strange variety of levels that aren’t purely linear, sometimes to a drawback when similar parts in a level show up to confuse. It’s very much a game of its time, and an idea that I feel could be expanded upon, at least from the gameplay standpoint. Speaking of expanding upon, it helped spawn one of my least favorite genres ever, the MOBA, though the game mode in question here is actually somewhat interesting as a competitive tower defense.

Katamari Damacy
The original weird ball rolling game that spawned a series that continued well past the creator’s involvement, like many series do. Delightfully weird in its own right, of course, with crazy physical gameplay trying to roll everything up in the world, because this somehow adds stars back to the sky.

The original DOS Doom, that is, as well as its sequel. Classic sprite-shooting fun with incredible mod potential that still exists to this day, now with enhanced engines, but the core gameplay is where it’s at.

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
A game with a fair amount of freedom but also not a lot of direction. It’s not exactly easy to get into but it has some strange lore as well as a lot of reading said lore. The combat, being based largely on dice rolls and other stats until you can actually build skill in a weapon, can be divisive, but figuring out how to make the game work for you, and even break the game, makes it pretty amazing despite the datedness of it. In this game, I tend to always go Argonian, because lizards.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
A game with a fair bit of freedom mixed with weird moments to make it fun. Somehow it’s become a classic despite its shortcomings and incredible jank. Also extendable quite a bit through mods that can add to replay value, as is tradition. My introduction to Elder Scrolls, where I tend to always go Argonian because lizards.

A pretty interesting game that happened and even had additional expansions for further angles on the events. The player is generally always in control, even if they’re stuck on a train, they can at least move around. It also has a variety of segments while still focusing on the FPS gameplay, and the final part of the game can be divisive, but still has interesting experiments. Still manages to have all kinds of mods as well, something that continued into its sequel.

Half-Life 2
Takes the series in a new direction for a while with more cinematic graphics and physics. Also has at least two additional episodes with some extras here and there. The graphics and gameplay still somewhat hold up today, but they do show their age. At the very least, it was pretty advanced at the time.

Hypnospace Outlaw
This game has stuck with me, even as recently as it’s been released and updated. It’s pretty much just the type of weird niche game I’m into, and it’s all about browsing some alternate 1999 Internet-type thing, complete with the aesthetics and worldbuilding that resemble that of the old web on Geocities and similar hosts of the time. Pages are filled with random GIFs and synthesized or compressed autoplaying music, as expected. It’s a strange look back while digging through all kinds of pages in search of solving assigned cases. There’s also the appearances of established quality content creators in our online showing up in the virtual online, which is another layer of cool. Of course they also have a Pokémon parody, but it’s a covered a bit more in-depth than just “here’s not-Pikachu, go fight on the playground and buy too much merchandise”, and the designs are actually really cool and so much fun. This is a long paragraph already and I don’t want to spoil too much, but I could go on.

Mechwarrior 2
There’s something about the way this game is presented, though it can vary depending on the platform, with the low-poly environments and mechs involved, yet it’s straightforward gameplay with two campaigns among other content as well as expansions, one standalone. I grew up with the Windows version, which features a very “simulation” look including limited textures and a gradient dynamic sky. I’ll even mention the console versions for taking a more arcade-oriented approach instead of trying to cram all the simulation functions on a controller. The Mechwarrior 2 time was a pretty nice one for the series, with its game publishing rights frequently in some kind of custody battle, it changes developers a lot, so a lot can change between sequels. For this one, though, I’ll do what I can to get it running on whatever PC I’m using, through virtual machines to engine hacks.

I actually like this unironically. It’s sometimes nice to go to something relaxing to just build with weird virtual blocks, but also mod it when desired to weird experiences. Somehow it’s possible to make computers in this but that’s out of my league. My typical expertise is dirt houses, and maybe later stone.

The Oregon Trail
I can recommend many versions of this, from the original DOS version as well the Windows remake and its four sequels as well. Essentially if it’s not some cheapified mobile version that barely resembles the original or lets you win if you pay a lot into it, I’m probably all right with it. I sometimes call it a roguelike, in the sense that it’s a random linear dungeon crawl with deadly consequences, even though you can save progress and reload saves typically, but I don’t know many who really do that. One of the few possible roguelikes I’d actually play, most likely.

A puzzle game with then-state-of-the-art portal technology that also appeared in other games such as the original Prey. It’s an indie sort of project from a major developer who brought on a student team. I can still recommend this one even with its older style and some oddities from the mechanics.

Portal 2
The sequel to Portal, with a lot more polish, story, and yet another student team’s work. The mechanics have been tightened up and more puzzle elements have been brought in to make this a suitable sequel, even if there are more breaks to show story in between chapters. Now even includes an in-game map editor if you don’t want to use the more complex external one that’s always existed.

The Sims
Control virtual people and live out dreams of commercialism or arson. This has been a long-running series, for now. The first one is a 2D isometric classic with 3D characters and can be quite a trip to return to, for the first and subsequent times. It can also be considered among the most “hardcore” of the games. The second one is the first major 3D entry, but also introduced the current method of having a ton of expansion packs, some of which are smaller “stuff” packs. When it comes to expansions, I would avoid the “stuff” packs if given a choice because it’s even to the point of buying ads at times, and mods can suffice here typically. The third one is very ambitious with a fully open world and is quite fun if you have a powerful machine and a bit of patience. I feel like this was probably their peak of design. The fourth is a bit divisive given how it launched and how it maintains the excessive amount of expansions, now in three tiers, and also requires EA’s Origin to run. It also drops the open world and has fixed lots so it can load faster, but at the cost of what I just said. Plus, the metric ton and then some of DLC, if I didn’t already mention that a dozen times, and whatever lack of focus. Long story short, I can generally recommend the main series, but with a warning about the fourth and possibly future entries if they keep going down that road. I’d suggest getting mods over DLC for that one where possible, because it can still get to be some weird fun despite the shortcomings.

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