Posts Tagged ‘Donkey Kong Country Returns’

The Joepinion’s Top 10 Games of All Time

NOTE: This is going to be a list that I will continue to come back to and update.  These are MY favorite games.  I have not played every game ever made, nor do I want to.  These are just the best games I’ve ever played.  Feel free to comment and leave me synopsis of your own favorite.

1. Punch Out!! (NES)

punch out!!There, of course, are two versions of Punch Out!! for the NES. One which features Mike Tyson as the baddest boss of all time and one that features Mr. Dream, which was a placeholder for Iron Mike once Nintendo could not (did not want to?) continue billing the infamous fighter on one of its games any further.

The boxers you face are all (almost racist) characatures of different ethnicities. They each have their own style and their own attacks/weaknesses that you will need to learn to win the fight. For this reason, the game is often called more of a puzzle game than a boxing game. I agree that learning the styles and pattens of each boxer is an important key to winning the game, but isn’t that the case for any game? I mean, think about any Bowser fight. Don’t you have to understand his patterns- where he is going to jump, when you can attack, etc., before you can win? It goes the same for any boss in any game, from God of War to Ducktales.

Why is Punch Out!! the best game ever made? It is the most unadulterated, straightforward test of skill there is in video games. Consider that there are no power ups in this game. While other games allow you to enter a boss battle with a mushroom, extended life bars, rocket launchers, or some other type of power that helps you beat the boss, Punch Out!! asks you to beat every boss with nothing going in but your reflexes and trainer that really doesn’t know what he’s talking about half the time. Sure, you can find ways to earn stars that give you a power punch, but this is done by finding hidden weaknesses in each boxer. You need to work to find those during the fight.

Exhibit B in my argument is the fact that this game is centered around boss battle after boss battle. There are no bonus rounds. There are no practice modes. The game simply puts you in front of a new boss and charges you with the task of finding out how to win. You have 3 dodge moves and four punches to choose from. It is 100% pure, beautiful, nerve racking gaming. By the time you get to the next boxer, you have earned absolutely nothing but the mental experience you earned from beating the last boxer. You have absolutely nothing, and you have everything you need to win.

For those reasons, defeating Mike Tyson (or Mr. Dream) is the biggest challenge in gaming, and Punch Out!! is the best game ever made.

  1. Portal 2

portal 2When I look at the most loved and successful video games, they usually have a few things going for them. They mostly have characters or at least one character that is iconic or that the player can connect to. They also, in some way advances some aspect of video games. When I was growing up, the big thing people were paying attention to and giving acclaim for was graphics. Games like Star Fox almost made it into the limelight based on cutting edge graphics alone. Somewhere around the time we stopped worrying about bits, the focus changed to story telling.

If someone were to ask me to complete the sentence: “In the future, I hope all games could be more ____,” I would probably either say “cheaper” or “like Portal.” Portal makes you think, it makes you explore, it makes you work out tricky puzzles, and it makes you care. It makes you wonder about the world you are in, it makes you like interesting characters, and it makes you feel like you’ve just been entertained for however long you were playing. It doesn’t do any of this through cut-scenes, and it doesn’t hold your hand through the most difficult parts of the game. It rewards you with a fantastic ending and hidden secrets that reveal more about the story.

The multiplayer, longer play time, and the addition of multi-player inPortal 2 make it better than the original, but the first title would have shown up on my list if it went up to 20 or 30, that’s for sure.

  1. Super Mario World

smwThe Super Nintendo is, in my opinion, the greatest console of all time, and it was launched on the wings (cape?) of Super Mario World. The game took everything that made Super Mario Bros 3 great and turned it up to 11. It introduced us to the next generation of gaming for Nintendo and really set the standard from that point forward for killer apps that would dominate video game console wars to come.

I only wanted to pick one Mario platformer for this list, so I tried to find the best by focusing on what set each game apart from the rest. Super Mario World is full of definitive moments in the franchise, including riding Yoshi for the first time, finding keys and unlocking new pathways out of levels, and a new depth of immersion and story telling that was not possible on the NES. The addition of many other Mario staples, such as the spin jump, Star Road, and Ghost Houses, to name only a few, made Super Mario World one of the last 2D games in the franchise that could really be called fresh and innovative.

Since Super Mario World, Mario has done a lot. He has entered 3D, he has driven go-karts, he has gone missing- but he has never quite matched the greatness that was Super Mario World. Sure, Mario 64 did something similar for the character and for Nintendo- and even for gaming in general, the game did have its glitches, and in my opinion lacks the iconic power-ups that can be found Super Mario World.

For those reasons, Super Mario World simply cannot be topped when talking about the best of the Mario franchise.

  1. Donkey Kong Country Returns

DKCRA Wii game? At number 4? For serious?

Totally for serious. And it might have even beaten out my #3 game if it wasn’t on the Wii, as a matter of fact.  I mean, shaking the controller gets kind of old.

The Doney Kong Country franchise made a lot of waves with its first installment and kind of petered out after that. When I first heard it was returning to its roots with a new game for the Wii, I went banana’s (that will be my only pun, I promise). And to be totally honest, the game had me going ape until the very end (ok, I’m done now, seriously).

I am not going to spend too much time talking about why I liked the game since I already posted a review on the Joepinion about it. Read that review if you’re wondering what makes this game so great.

5. Silent Hill

silent hill

Few games have actually affected me as a human being. I never got PTSD from playing Metal of Honor, and I never checked under my bed for zombies after playing Resident Evil. I mean, really, Resident Evil wasn’t scary. It wasn’t even a thriller. It was cool, but that’s about it. Resident Evil 2, maybe you could call that scary.. Silent Hill, on the other hand, was downright frightening. It gave me nightmares and it introduced me to what kind of terror a video game can deliver.

I mean, come on, the game starts off with you getting killed in a dark alleyway by a bunch of little demon children. Next thing you know, you’re running around a fog-ridden town trying to find you daughter as you bounce between what seems like a twisted version of reality and a world that seems closer to hell than anything else you’ll experience on the Playstation (unless you count Bubsy 3D).

The stuff you see and do in Silent Hill is damn near madness, and in terms of the horror genre in general, it was years before its time. The twisted and freakish look of its villains and the haunting moans of the monsters you are tasked to defend yourself against remind me of more recent and more significant horror movies than the horror movies of its time. Also, the investment you feel with so many of the characters in this game is beyond anything you could probably find in video games of this era, let alone in the horror genre.

This game was built to mess with your mind and really pulled you into its gritty and horrifying world. To this day, it is the ultimate game in survival horror in my opinion.

6. The Legend of Zelda

the legend of zelda

I am in the middle (kind of) of trying to get through Ocarina of Time again. If that game is so great, why the hell can’t I stay interested enough to beat it? Everyone keeps telling me to get past the first 3 dungeons and things will pick up. That’s fine, sure, but it takes hours to do that, and I’m bored NOW.

I never felt that way in the original Legend of Zelda or in a Link to the Past. Both games could have gone here, but I only wanted to pick one, and the most groundbreaking and eye-opening for me was the original. I mean, being able to explore all those dungeons and find all those items- uncovering the unexpected over and over again- it felt so much more special the first time around.

I discovered The Legend of Zelda before the internet was around and before I could go out and buy a strategy guide. Most everything I found in that game was either by accident or by someone showing me or telling me about it. Those were different times, and it made everything feel much more rewarding and individual- like you were on your own adventure outside of the game to try to figure out where to get the next great hidden item.

Other games have tried to live up to the greatness of the original, and some have gotten close, but sometimes you just can’t beat a classic.  It did more with 8 bits than most games did with 32 or 64.

7. Red Dead Redemption

reddeadredemptionRockstar was going to get on my list one way or another, and while most people might have included a GTA game on their top 10 before a Red Dead game, I was honestly most torn between including Red Dead Redemption of Red Dead Revolver in this slot. I remember Revolver taking over my life when I first got a copy. I unlocked everything that game had for me and I loved every minute of it (except maybe for that final quick draw battle. That sucked.).

Red Dead Redemption is definitely on the Mount Rushmore of games from the 360/PS3 era. It was beautiful, engrossing, and full of surprises. Its story was compelling and the characters that populated the landscape were fun to talk to and help out when you could. You could pick flowers or hunt animals or search for hidden treasure. It was the best old west game I have ever played.

Online was even fun, and that’s hard to pull off. I hate multiplayer in these kinds of games, but some of my best memories of this game were online. Like when my friend Max and I found these people in a stage-coach. We rode up, killed their horses and rode off, leaving them alone in the middle of nowhere to rot. Good times. Oh, and the Undead Nightmare DLC was spot-on. Bigfoot could have been my favorite character of that console generation.

By far, this was the most interesting and wonderful world Rockstar has created for us to explore, and that is why it is on my list.

8. Super Metroid

super-metroidThis is an interesting title to land on my list because even through it came out when I was 9, I just played it for the first time. I am going to write a full review for the game, so check back for that soon.

When you stack up Super Metroid to the other games on the Super Nintendo you can’t help be notice all the things that it did so well. Because of the cinematic score, the beautifully designed open-yet-claustrophobic setting, and the great boss battles spread out between power-ups and mini-bosses, the game gives you just enough to let you want to know more.

If you’ve played the original Metroid on the NES, it only makes you appreciate this game more. Just like the upgrades that make the series great, the Super Metroid game is a beautiful upgrade from the original. It improves the already great music, and every area feels even more varied than in the original, which are both great accomplishments.

9. Driver: San Francisco

driver sf

I like to reward people for being different, but when I first saw trailers for Driver: San Francisco, I wondered how the hell they were going to make it work. I mean, hopping from car to car and taking over the bodies of the people driving so you can control different vehicles in the middle of a mission seemed more like a sci-fi game than a driving game. It takes a lot to make me call a driving game brilliant, but this gamble paid off, because here is Driver on my list.

I would have never thought one of the most compelling stories on my top ten list would be in a driving game. Playing as Tanner, a cop in San Francisco, you start to discover you have super-natural abilities, described above. You use these abilities to try to stop a big time criminal from releasing a horrible fate upon the city. If I told you any more about the story it would ruin the game, so I’ll stop here.

I will say that the side missions, the characters, the “Last time on Driver: San Francisco” TV recap of your game so far when you turn it on, and the many Easter eggs to be found make Driver a game worth coming back to time and time again.

10. Tony Hawk’s Underground

thug

Before the first Tony Hawk game, these kinds of sports games didn’t exist. Then suddenly, after Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater hit shelves, we started getting snowboarding games, BMX games, rollerblading games. I mean, what Tony Hawk did for real life extreme sports he did for the extreme sports genre in gaming. It’s pretty incredible. Now, I know that the last few games that bore his name have been really horrible and literally unplayable, but for a while his games were only getting better and better. At the apex of the Tony Hawk franchise was my number ten game, Tony Hawk’s Underground.

What really set this game apart from others in the franchise was its editor modes. You could make your own park and then make your own goals in the park you’ve made. You could also make your own goals in the levels that were provided on the disk. This made Underground probably the game I have played the most on the list.  The story wasn’t all that bad either, and was probably the best and least annoying of all the attempts made by Neversoft to make a story mode work in a game like this.

Other notable features of the game included being able to get off of your board and climb around the levels. It included some great classic levels as well, including The School II, which is my all time favorite.

Donkey Kong Country Returns

A must have for Wii owners of all ages.

A must have for Wii owners of all ages.

Donkey Kong Country Retruns.  I wish they would have called it something else…Like “Donkey Kong Country: Anything Other Than Returns.”  It was gone for a while, and now it’s back.  I get that.  It’s returned.  Ok.  But man…so cliche.  But it’s Nintendo, and since it’s not a Zelda game, the title is going to be, at the very least, lackluster.  At least they didn’t make some kind of banana pun.

Now that I got that out of the way, Donkey Kong Country Returns is the best game I’ve played on the Wii yet.  It might be the best platformer I’ve ever played, along with Super Mario World and Mario 3.  And of all the recent Nintendo re-imaginings and re-releasings, it shines as bright as the sun.  The game pulls no punches in its extreme styling and imaginative level design.  It holds on to all the things we fell in love with the first time we played a game as Donkey Kong and Diddy, including the rhino and a plethora of hidden areas.   It contains countless hidden items and offers great replay ability.  The game is very near flawless.

I played a lot of the game with my girlfriend.  The multiplayer is a marvel in the platforming genre, in which it is common for a second player to feel like more of a burden or a distraction.  NEW Super Mario Bro.’s suffers from this problem, as a second player gets in the way and is constantly vying for the best power-ups and trying to run ahead or is constantly slowing you down.  In DKCR, one player controls Diddy and the other Donkey Kong.  Each has his own abilities, such as DK’s ground pound and Diddy’s ability to use a jet pack and gun, and so each character  is very useful.  If a player in multiplayer is going to slow, they are transported to the faster character.  There is no slowing down.

The level design is what really puts DKCR in my list of top three platformers of all time.  Some levels take place during dusk, making everything in the level a silhouetted black.  Another level is shrouded in smog.  The mine cart levels return, as do new challenges, such as a rocket barrel you must navigate through obstacles R-Type style, and barrels that shoot the player into a new path hidden in the background landscape of the primary stage.   Yet another level has the player being attacked by an octopus from the background of the level.  By far, the most impressive level is one in which everything (from moving platforms to hammers that can crush the player), moves in beat to the level’s music.  It is level design like that, which can remain interesting and fresh even on your tenth try, that keeps gamers from giving up on the hard levels and pushes them to enjoy the next stage.

In terms of beautiful level design and meaningful interactions with those levels, DKCR delivers and delivers big.

In terms of beautiful level design and meaningful interactions with those levels, DKCR delivers and delivers big.

The boss battles can be a bit over the top in difficulty.  There are some things that seem to be random, like enemy attacks, that feel like they really should be determined by a pattern.  Some of them, like the crab boss, seem unfair because of this.  Still, it is entertaining and offers up a bit of variety in difficulty and game flow.

On the surface, the game can at times seem a bit campy and too cartoonish. Hardcore gamers should not be fooled. The true core of this game is groundbreaking and inspired.

The games gets an A+.  I loved every minute, and after finishing, there is still a lot more to do.  I can’t wait to 100% the game and really get the full effect.  If you own a Wii, this is a must have.  It is simply a beautiful and exciting game.