Marilink's Favorite Games, 90-81: Of Gold and Gray

Updated: Jul 8

Do I need a preamble for each section of ten? Probably not, but it seems strange not to have anything here. Let's get into it.

90. Crypt of the NecroDancer

Every so often I've said that Roguelites aren't my thing, but as I look over my Top 100 and think about that statement, I think the more accurate statement is that I haven't experienced enough of them. CotND was my first, and I fell in love with it right away. The rhythm-based gameplay is so inventive and fun, and the game just oozes with charm. It's got so many little touches that add up for pure joy, like the fact that the entire tileset becomes a dance floor when you get a combo going. Of course, I can't go a full paragraph on this game without mentioning the fact that the soundtrack is just incredible. Wall-to-wall bangers. Danny B outdid himself on this bad boy. My favorite track, by a narrow margin, is probably 2-2, "Grave Throbbing."

89. Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse

I came way late to the Castlevania series. I didn't play any of the games until VGF's own Mushroom began the One-Credit Contests in 2014. The first game up was Castlevania III, and it didn't take me long to get hooked. (Update: I used to have a link to an old forum thread here, but VGF has since been nuked. RIP.) Over the course of a week, I was able to get good enough at the game to make it all the way to Dracula without continues. I was all in. Though I was never able to do a one-credit clear of the game, I had a blast and added a new series to my list of favorites. Over the course of that year I bought, borrowed, and devoured every Castlevania game I could, and it's all thanks to Dracula's Curse--and Mushroom. Thanks, bud.

88. Mega Man 3

From one classic NES third entry to another, except Mega Man didn't choose to dabble in weird, poorly-translated exploratory mania like Castlevania did for a bit. Instead, MM3 builds on the first two games and moves forward beautifully. It introduces the slide--and while that may not sound like a huge deal, in a series with sequels as iterative as Mega Man, adding that movement option is quite literally game changing.

The Doc Robot robot fights are still great, but they're even more amazing if you put yourself in the shoes of a player back then. At that time nostalgia was not exploited nearly as much as it is in the current gaming landscape; so when those Mega Man 1 and 2 Robot Masters come back to mess you up in Mega Man 3? Wild, y'all! That just wasn't much of a thing up to this point in gaming history.

The ever-present Mega Man 2 vs. Mega Man 3 debate rages on among Mega Man fans. Where do I land? Well, you'll find out one way or the other.

87. Mighty Switch Force

Game music is so tied to the game experience that it can be hard to separate the two. Lovers of video game music can find themselves screaming into the abyss, "Why doesn't the entire world understand the genius of Koji Kondo!?" But until people are willing to immerse themselves in the Mushroom Kingdom, they just may never get it. If you are a game music lover and want to show the world that the genre is legitimate, might I direct you to Mighty Switch Force and Jake Kaufman in general.

Normally one plays a game before becoming obsessed with its soundtrack; for me, I discovered MSF in the reverse order. I pumped this soundtrack for months of homework sessions before I actually played the game. After a while, my brother informed me that Jake Kaufman is actually Virt of OCRemix fame, and it was like a revelation--I had actually been listening to his stuff for years, and what I was enjoying with MSF was simply his latest creation in a long list of jams.

For whatever reason, that realization is what spurred me to actually download and play the game. Turns out? It's amazing. The gameplay rises to the level of the soundtrack, and it all combines for just pure joy and fun. As for my favorite tracks, it's hard for me to pick between Whoa! I'm in Space Cuba, and Yummy.

86. Ori and the Blind Forest

When a game actually convinces me to plug a controller into my computer, I know something special is about to happen. I got Ori in a Humble Bundle the year after it released, and after taking one look at the game I knew I wanted to play it. Ori may be the most visually stunning Metroidvania/Exploratory Platformer out there, at least until its sequel came out last year to top it. But while I came for the lighting, I stayed for the gameplay. The skill curve in this game is one of the most satisfying I can think of across the entire genre, rising to the level of Super Metroid itself in terms of how it lets you traverse the world by the endgame. On top of all that, there's a moving story, which is communicated less by dialogue and more by visuals, which is a technique I greatly appreciate whenever it is pulled off. I look forward to playing the sequel someday, and I hope it captures the magic I experienced here.

85. WarioWare Gold

I'm not sure what the future holds for WarioWare. R&D1, the weird blacksheep division of Nintendo and the masterminds behind the series, are all but dissolved and assimilated into the rest of the company. Without their willingness to experiment and try weird things, I don't know if we'll see another WarioWare again, or at least not for a long time.

With that in mind, I'm so glad that Nintendo chose to package and release WarioWare Gold, which is basically the WarioWare equivalent to a Greatest Hits album. The game features a new story mode, but the microgame$ included are pulled from the original, Twisted, and Touched--with some appearances from the other side games in the series as well. Some modes are focused on one style of play, and some modes ask you to rapidly change control schemes as the levels progress. If this is the last hurrah for WarioWare, it is a great celebration of the series to end on.