Sprite's Top 100 Games: #90-81

WHOA WAIT A SEC, I’m still doing this?! Yes, I have no intention of letting this go unfinished. I’ve just been… rather occupied over the past few months. You know... working, doing commissions, working on my comic, procrastinating… I’m a busy guy. Alright, so just like last time, games are being ranked based on how much they resonated with me and how much of an effect they’ve had on my life. I’ll also pretend you’ve never played the game before and that I’m trying to sell you on it, which half the time feels really silly because who the heck hasn’t played Super Mario Bros.


And condensing your entire thoughts about a game into a few paragraphs is still hard.

 

90. Roller Coaster Tycoon


I want to get off Mr. Bones’ Wild Ride.


My cousin and I kind of had a thing for amusement parks when we were younger. His mom would take us to the different parks around the Bay Area several times every summer. We were just… kids being kids, screaming on roller coasters, getting soaked on the log rides, exploring all the Nickelodeon-themed attractions, squeezing out every bit of fun until the sun went down. Feels like a lifetime ago.


Anyways, uh, the game, Roller Coaster Tycoon. It’s a simulator game in which you manage an amusement park. You can design and build your own rides and coasters, modify the terrain and scenery, hire workers and entertainers, and of course do all the boring stuff like managing your budget and marketing. The park is your oyster. There’s different scenarios you can play, like “turn this abandoned pier into a successful park within a year”, but honestly I usually just ignored the objectives and built whatever park I wanted.


Building the overall park is great, but the best part of the game is designing the rides and rollercoasters themselves. You can use pre-made coaster designs, some of which are even modeled after real life coasters, but the game‘s robust coaster designer lets you build whatever the heck kind of custom coaster you want. Twists, turns, corkscrews, loops, drops, sit-down, stand-up, face-down flying… anything. Well, almost anything. The coaster still follows the game’s laws of physics, and needs to be safe to ride. Your coaster needs enough momentum to actually make it through that loop, but not so much that it flies off the track killing everyone on board (thankfully you can test your rides before actually opening them). You start to feel just as much of an engineer as an entrepreneur.


I still boot this game up once in a while when I’m feeling nostalgic for those times. Just listening to those screams of excitement, the rolling of coaster wheels, carnival music, kids’ laughter, what more could you ask for?

 

89. Banjo-Tooie


EEKUM BOKUM

Banjo-Tooie, the sequel to Banjo-Kazooie, named as such because it’s Banjo 2… ie. It’s a collect-a-thon 3D platformer in which you play as Banjo the bear and Kazooie the breegull/bird, trying to thwart the evil plans of Gruntilda the witch for a second time. You collect golden jigsaw pieces, which allow you to open new worlds to explore and find even more jigsaw pieces, as well as gain new abilities and upgrades.


What sets the Banjo-Kazooie series apart from other run-of-the-mill cartoony collect-a-thons is, in my opinion, presentation. The characters are endearing, the writing is hysterical, the themes and designs of the worlds are always a joy, as is that unmistakable Grant Kirkhope music that accompanies them. It’s just straight-up goofy fun.

But of course, Banjo-Tooie is a sequel, so what does it do better than the first game? Pretty much everything, really. Worlds are huge compared to the first game, so much so that they need warp pads just to make them easier to traverse. One of my favorite additions is the fact that worlds are actually connected. There are things you can do in one world that will affect another, or even pathways to hidden areas that can only be accessed from a different world. It makes the whole island on which the game takes place feel like one big cohesive environment. There’s a whole assortment of new abilities, some of which build upon moves from the first game, such as new egg types that Kazooie can shoot, and there are even some moves that have Banjo and Kazooie operate separately. There’s boss fights in every level, new transformations, mini-games, heck, you can even play as Mumbo and use all his eekum bokums.


So does this mean it’s better than the first game? Eh, I’ll probably answer that later in the list. But Banjo-Tooie is definitely everything a good sequel should be.

 

88. Untitled Goose Game


HONK


Not every game needs an epic story or visceral combat. Sometimes you just want to be a mischievous goose and cause chaos.

That’s what Untitled Goose Game is. Literally, that’s it. You’re a goose and you have a set of objectives that has you making your way through town, inconveniencing just about every human you come across. The game presents these objectives as puzzles for you to solve, usually in some big cause-and-effect sequence of events, such as leaving an item near the sprinkler so the gardener will go to pick it up, right before you switch the sprinklers on and run away honking. Each objective is only a harmless prank, but the fact that you’re just a goose, and you’re going around outsmarting these clueless humans, is what makes it oh so deviously satisfying. It’s such silly and pure fun, I can't help but love it.


I mean, don’t expect an engrossing story or challenging gameplay, but if you’re tired of all the games that have you solving problems with bullets, give Untitled Goose Game a shot. It’s a great example of how games can take the simplest premise and make it fun for everyone.


And remember, peace was never an option.

 

87. Super Mario Bros.


Thank you Mario! But our Princess is in another castle!


Man, what can I even say about this game? It’s Super frickin’ Mario Bros. It’s a sidescroller, you’re Mario, you eat mushrooms and stomp goombas, you save the princess. You know all of this. I guess if there’s anything worth talking about, it’s why this game is so good and iconic. It wasn’t the first sidescroller ever made, but it was perhaps the first one to do everything right.


The precise controls are one of the biggest standouts, in my opinion. When you control Mario, he has momentum, he has weight. You can hold a button to run faster, and when he comes to a stop, he decelerates for a second first. You can hold the jump button to control the height of your jump, and steer your jump left or right in the air. These small touches make it feel so much more intuitive and 1-to-1, they give you the confidence to tackle any platforming you come across.


But of course, the controls wouldn’t matter unless the game is designed well and fun to play, right? Well, IT IS. Every enemy and obstacle is deliberately placed and the platforming is always challenging but fair. Even the very first level is perfectly designed to teach you the basics of the game one mechanic at a time without punishing or overwhelming you. So even if you’re never played a video game before, which might've been the case for many people back in the day, you can still jump in and have fun.


All of this, combined with the colorful graphics and catchy-as-heck music (it’s playing in your head right now), it’s no wonder this game almost single-handedly saved the video game industry. It’s a timeless masterpiece, and absolutely deserving of its reputation as one of the best and most important games of all time.

 

86. Super Mario Sunshine


I’m a chuckster!


Super Mario Sunshine kinda gets a bad rap, at least as far as Mario games go. A lot of people call it gimmicky and unpolished. While it’s not my favorite Mario game (obviously if it’s this far down the list), I still think it’s great and deserves a lot more credit than it often gets. Super Mario Sunshine has you play as Mario whose vacation is interrupted by an evil clone of himself who frames him for desecrating an island with slime and graffiti, so he uses a sentient water pump to clean up and collect shine sprites, the source of the island’s sunlight and power. You know, the usual.


So, Super Mario Sunshine is a follow-up to Super Mario 64, and it mostly follows the same format. You have a hub world with a bunch of stages that you can warp to, each with a handful of objectives, which award you with Shine Sprites instead of stars this time. The main difference between Sunshine and SM64, is that Sunshine takes place in one cohesive world. Sunshine’s stages are all different areas of Isle Defino, like parks, resorts, hotels, and beaches. You can even see other parts of the island in the distance in some stages. It feels like an inhabited, living world compared to the more empty abstract levels of SM64.


Super Mario Sunshine was one of my first GameCube games, and while not the most aesthetically groundbreaking game by any means, it was one of my first glimpses into how pretty newer games could look with all their newfangled graphics. It took the theme of a tropical island vacation and made it a joy to both look at and explore.


Also, you can ride Yoshi! He uh… shoots juice. Out of his mouth.

 

85. Mario Party 3


CHANCE TIME


Mario Party. The friendship-ender of games itself. I could’ve put several of these games on the list, but I just went with my personal favorite, Mario Party 3.


If you’ve somehow never been dragged into a game of Mario Party, here’s the rundown: It’s a virtual board game of sorts, where you roll dice and travel around the board collecting coins. You play mini-games in between turns, in which coins are rewarded to the winner. You use these coins to buy stars, and whoever has the most stars (or most coins if it’s a tie) at the end wins. Sounds simple enough, but with all the different spaces you can land on, events that can happen, mini-games to play, bonus stars to claim, coins and stars to steal, it becomes absolute chaos.


The great thing about Mario Party is how much chance and luck is involved. ...No, really. As much as I’d enjoy a pure contest of skill, the randomness can keep one player from completely dominating, or give a losing player a chance to catch up, and sometimes it’s just fun to see your friends get screwed over by the RNG. It leads to some really ridiculous and memorable moments. I’ve seen controllers thrown across the room in reaction to someone landing on a hidden star block. All-in-all, Mario Party is a game where anyone can jump in and have a chance at winning. It’s not like some games where it’s like “why even play, we already know so-and-so’s gonna win.”


Mario Party has had some great entries, some less-than stellar entries… heck, even the most recent, Super Mario Party is a lot of fun, but Mario Party 3 seems to be the one my friends and I always go back to.

 

84. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4


first off I’d like to point out that I hate ranger bob I think he’s evil


Several games in the Tony Hawk’s series rank among the highest rated video games of all time on Metacritic, ranking up there with entries from The Legend of Zelda and Grand Theft Auto series. How the heck did these games about skateboarding garner such acclaim? Because they freaking RULE. There’s no engrossing story, there’s no deep moral or social commentary, they’re simply a blast to play and that’s all they need to be.


In Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4, you play as a skateboarder, which can be from the roster of pro skaters including Tony Hawk himself, the legendary Rodney Mullen, Bam Margera of Jackass fame, or a skater of your own creation. The game mostly involves going around a level doing skateboard tricks, which give you points. Different button inputs will do different tricks, which can be combo-ed together to increase your score. It has a very arcade-y feel as you string together tricks in mid-air and keep your balance as you grind along rails.


The previous three games would throw you into a level and you’d see how high of a score or how many objectives you could complete within a time limit. THPS4 changed it up by letting you free roam around the level and start objectives by talking to NPCs. It could be something simple like racing another skater, or something ridiculous like playing tennis with your board, or letting an elephant out of its cage at the zoo. It not only makes the game feel less restrained, but also makes you feel part of that crazy carefree skater culture, going around doing stunts and messing with people like the world is your playground.


Not to mention the KILLER soundtrack that just further adds to that experience. WATCH ME EXPLOOOOOOODE

 

83. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds


What, the rug tastes really good or something?


Okay so, full disclosure, this game is a follow-up to Link to the Past, which I’ve... never played.


*audience gasp*


I know, I know. I just didn’t get into Zelda until the 3D games and I never went back and played much of the older ones. I’ll get around to it soon, though! Hopefully. Maybe. ANYWAY. Maybe that’ll kinda help me in this case because it just shows that this game is good enough to stand on its own without the need to play its predecessor. So anyways, it’s a top-down Zelda game. You go around the world exploring, fightin’ enemies, clearing dungeons and solving puzzles, finding new items, the usual Zelda stuff. Several things set this game apart though. One being that you can actually clear the dungeons in any order you want, giving you much more freedom as a player instead of just being told where to go next. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with linear gameplay, but for a game series that focuses so much on exploration and discovery, it’s surprising that this was the first Zelda to try out this format, because it fits very well. Even the usual items you use have been revamped: you now pay rupees to either rent or buy them, which actually adds a value to rupees that not a lot of other Zelda games have had.


Another great thing is the main gameplay mechanic, in which you can turn into a painting and stick to walls. It could’ve easily been gimmicky and annoying, but it’s so well implemented into the world and the puzzles that it’s really anything but. It feels as second nature and intuitive as swinging your sword. If you want a game that perfectly encapsulates what makes Zelda Zelda, this game is a perfect example.

 

82. Super Mario Galaxy


Welcome! Welcome, new galaxy!


Over the years, Mario has mastered every terrain on Earth. Plains, forests, oceans, underground caves, volcanoes, castles, on the ground, in the sky… What the heck else is left? OUTER SPAAAAAACE


Super Mario Galaxy is another 3D Mario Platformer, in which you travel to worlds and collect stars, jumping across obstacles and on top of enemies’ heads as usual. The big difference this time around is the addition of GRAVITY. Or rather… MORE GRAVITY. SO MUCH GRAVITY. GRAVITY EVERYWHERE.

gravity So instead of being confined to your usual downward gravity, this time gravity pulls you towards the platforms and small planets that make up each world. You can walk on top of them, under them, around them, jump between them… It forces you to think about platforming from angles you never have before. Besides that, it’s your typical 3D Mario stuff. You have a hub world, Princess Rosalina’s Comet Observatory (more or less a spaceship), which warps you to different galaxies in which you collect stars to open up more galaxies. Galaxies are either a linear “get from point A to point B” level full of platforming in which the star is the end goal (sometimes even with a boss thrown in), or a larger single planet full of different tasks and objectives that reward you stars, more reminiscent of Super Mario 64 or Sunshine. As with a lot of Nintendo games, it’s pretty easy to beat, but 100% completion is a decent challenge. Getting all 121 stars requires going back to previously beaten levels and beating it with a condition added, like getting the star within a time limit, or beating a boss without getting hit.

It’s also one of the best looking games on the Wii. Have I called a game gorgeously beautiful this time yet? This game is gorgeous. And Beautiful. And colorful and sparkly. I like how everything has rim lighting which kinda emulates what things look like in space. Oh and the orchestral music! There’s a reason they call it “Nintendo polish”. Pretty much every mainstream Mario platformer is a must-play, and Galaxy is no exception.

 

81. Sonic the Hedgehog 2


BLAST PROCESSING. SEGA DOES WHAT NINTENDON’T. They sure don’t advertise games like they used to. Sonic was Sega’s answer to Mario, made to be cooler, sleeker, flashier, and most of all, faster. Whether or not he was actually better is a debate as old as time, but no one can deny that he was a worthy contender.


Sanic the Hedgehorg 2 is of course, the sequel to the first Sanjay the Wodgeheg, once again starring Sonk the Hodgegog. In Sinbad the Corndog II you play as Fivedollar the Footlong as he-


okay i’m done sorry


Right so you play as Sonic as he once again races through levels trying to save all his animal friends that have been trapped inside robots by Dr. Robotnik, but this time his buddy Tails the Fox tags along. If you’ve never played a Sonic game, it’s your standard sidescroller platformer in which you get to the end of each level, jump on enemies, fight bosses and all that, but you go FAST. There’s no run button like in the Mario series, Sonic just speeds up as you move, and you can hurt enemies simply by jumping into or through them rather than just on top of them. This allows for a much more fluid style of playing with non-stop motion as you speed through loops, corkscrews, and pipes.


Of course, the game isn’t just about holding right to win. Each world (“zones” as they’re called) has its own mechanics, hazards, and enemies to break up all the constant speeding forward. Not to mention every zone has a unique theme and aesthetic, all of which are really creative and eye-popping. There's a chemical plant full of rising pink liquid, an underwater ruin scattered with breakable stone columns, a city that’s entirely a fancy nighttime casino… They all make full use of that colorful, almost abstract style of Sonic graphics, something that’s kinda been forgotten about with modern Sonic games.


Anyways, as far as being a sequel, the only difference between this and the first game, besides the new levels, is that Sonic can now do a spin dash, in which he ducks and spins in place before launching himself forward. And of course, there’s Tails, whom a second player can play as. Not a whole lot of new stuff, but hey, why fix what isn't broken?


I wonder how many entries I can end by praising the game’s soundtrack. The music in this game is awesome as heck. My favorite is Hill Top Zone. So jazzy.

 

And that does it for this time around! At this rate I’ll be done maybe before the next decade. Hopefully that’s not the case because then I might have to retcon this list with all the new games that come out.


The List So Far

100. Journey

99. Stellaris

98. Detroit: Become Human

97. INSIDE

96. Cuphead

95. Gris

94. OneShot

93. Hyper Light Drifter

92. Read Only Memories

91. The Last Guardian

90. Roller Coaster Tycoon

89. Banjo-Tooie

88. Untitled Good Game

87. Super Mario Bros.

86. Super Mario Sunshine

85. Mario Party 3

84. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4

83. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

82. Super Mario Galaxy

81. Sonic the Hedgehog 2


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