Occasionally, gamers like us, are asked, “What game should I play?” We usually follow up with the question, “What type of game are you looking for?” Each of us probably has a different answer when that person says, “I want to play a good puzzle game” or, “I’m really in the mood for a shooting game.”
A recent discussion with the GamerSyndrome staff writers brought up an interesting topic that dealt with this exact question. “What games define a genre?” Basically, what game do you tell a person to play when they are new to a particular genre such as RPGs? These are usually the games that we grew up on, or the games that inspired us to play more titles in that same genre. I decided to tackle this question by breaking down each genre and choosing a game (or two) that I would tell you to play. Keep in mind that the games below
– Hack and Slash: Dynasty Warriors
When I think of a good hack and slash game the first thing that pops into my head is the Dynasty Warriors series. It may not be the best game, and it will surely never be at the top of the video game dogpile like God of War or Devil May Cry, but it happens to be my favorite. When I want to escape the complexity of certain games and just rip through hundreds of enemies in a matter of minutes, I know the game I want to pick up. It’s a simple game that involves a couple of buttons to pull off some insane carnage. The back story is fun, as you can follow the Shu, Wei, and Wu forces in the ultimate battle for China. This is a game you must try if you are looking for a hack and slash game.
Super Mario Bros.
Who can say platformer and not think of Mario?
I vividly remember being three years old when my dad walked into the house with the Nintendo Entertainment System in hand. I still see myself jumping up and down on the couch while my parents tried to figure out how to get the technology to work. The first game I played happened to be Super Mario Bros., and it is where this career of mine began. This game, as well as Mario himself, is what defines video games. Everyone knows who Mario is, and he’s as much of a household name as Elvis or Michael Jackson. Any gamer who hasn’t played this game has done themselves a disservice. For this reason I would recommend this game above all else. It may not be the most complicating of the bunch, but when it comes to pure platforming no one does it better.
Super Street Fighter 2
One look at the picture (and phrase) above says it all. Street Fighter 2 is the game that brought fighting games to the masses. Who can ever forget getting shocked by Blanka, or getting knocked back by E. Honda’s hundred hand slap? The game was such a hit, that they even made a movie about it, though the game was much better. Street Fighter 2 perfected fighting on a controller by making a simple game that provided a balanced and complex experience. Even now Street Fighter continues to carry on its legacy having recently released a fourth installment in the series. So you probably don’t need me to tell you that Ryu and Ken will still be kicking our butts far into the future.
Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Countless hours were spent playing this game during my childhood. I still consider the scene where Link removes the Master Sword from the stone as my greatest video game moment. When it comes to an adventure game it’s impossible to not mention any of the Legend of Zelda games. There are few out there that aren’t good, so recommending any of the titles to someone who’s looking for an enthralling adventure experience is a good idea. This one in particular is my pick because the visuals are beautiful and help pull you into the land of Hyrule. The music is great, and it sticks with you long after you’ve beaten the game. Most of all, the puzzles and combat are everything you would want in a video game, simple to grasp with complex elements. If you want a game that helps you experience video games in a broad sense then pick up this title.
– First Person
Halo: Combat Evolved
Ahhh…Halo. It’s the definition of games for the current generation. Kids around the world spend countless hours between class and study-less nights working on their multiplayer rank, and adults aren’t too far behind. This is why I picked Halo as the go-to game for first person shooters. When Halo: Combat Evolved hit the market people went crazy. Console LAN parties were abundant and FPS became a household term for people other than PC users. While games like Half-Life 2 changed the way we view shooters, Halo made greater strides by making it available to a wider audience. Everyone who plays games like Modern Warfare 2, or Borderlands, can thank the creators of Halo for changing the way you play games.
– Third Person
Syphon Filter 2
I may have picked this game out of nostalgia, but it doesn’t take away from it being a flagship third person shooter game on the PS1. Before the early PlayStation days, there weren’t very many games like this, and Syphon Filter 2 stood out among the rest as a solid title. Going back and playing SF2 makes me appreciate the dual analog sticks that we now have, but it still holds strong in its era. Sure there are games out there that control better and look much more appealing, but I would still recommend this any day over Gears of War.
There are few simulation games out there that can do it as well as the Sims franchise does it, and as far as building goes, the original Sim City was a classic. While it may lack the depth of future installments, Sim City keeps it manageable and fun. Most people who pick up the game may not be able to build a megalopolis on their first try, but chances are they will feel like a grade A mayor soon after they receive their first mayor’s house. Building a city from the ground up and dealing with the requests of your citizens is only part of the fun. Managing taxes and recouping from a tornado keep things unpredictable and lively; also, watch out for Godzilla, he’s not just in Tokyo. Beyond recommending this for building simulation games, I would also recommend this to anyone who’s getting into gaming. Sim City offers the basic formula for video games and does it well. This IS a must play.
Occasionally we get tired of screwing up our own life. Day in and day out we make stupid decisions and can’t fix them. Will Wright came up with the perfect solution to the problem, it’s called The Sims. Much like its counterpart, Sim City, you are tasked to build. The Sims has you building your day to day life working a job, upgrading your house, and finding love. Instead of screwing up your own life, you can screw up the life of someone else. There’s not many games like this out there, unless you are into Second Life, which is kind of a creepy game if you ask me, but it would probably beat them all out if there were.
A game that easily wins awards for being one of the best video games of the modern generation is Fallout 3. So naturally it is a good pick for a genre. The world of Fallout 3 is gorgeous despite it being desolate and destroyed. The music, the visuals, and the gameplay all seem to work in perfect harmony to create an experience that gamers have been waiting for for a long time. While scouring the wasteland you have the opportunity to pick up powerful weapons, armor, and even experience points that you can trade in for perks. Some perks allow you too gain extra experience, have a higher attack, and even see more blood when shooting the leg off of a brute. Either way you look at it, there is a lot of content for players. If you want to get away from the daily life of a questing wastelander, then run over to the nearest shopping mart and blast your way through raiders for some rare loot. To sum it all up, this game is huge and will easily eat up 100 well-spent hours of your life.
– Eastern (JRPG)
Final Fantasy VII
Anyone who plays RPGs knows about the fame of Final Fantasy VII, and chances are it was one of the first RPGs they ever played. When Final Fantasy VII released in America in 1997 it gained a popularity that many games had never known. Even people who typically didn’t play RPGs could walk into a store already knowing a little about the game. So is the game’s praise deserved? Of course it is! While there may be speculation as to what RPG is the best, there are few times when Final Fantasy VII isn’t considered in the list. This is game has produced so many spin-offs that it’s almost getting annoying, but it’s all a testament to how strong of a story the game has. Final Fantasy VII embodies every element of a great RPG, and the story is engrossing even for those who don’t typically cling to this genre. If you are looking to get a game with excellent character development, semi-complex gameplay, and gripping story, then make sure to grab this recommendation.
Strategy – RTS
No game defines a genre more than Starcraft does to the RTS (Real-Time Strategy) genre. There have been many RTS games to come and go, and some have had many followers, but few have the loyalty following that Starcraft does. Even though Starcraft was released in 1998, it still doesn’t have a sequel out on the market; but that hasn’t stopped people from playing it just as much as they did when they first got it. At times you even have to worry about how attached to the game some fans are. In South Korea the game is treated almost as a national past time where fans gather in large auditoriums to watch some of the greatest players battle it out on a virtual battlefield. You may never latch on to the teet of RTSs like some people, but if you are looking for a game with lots of strategy, solid gameplay mechanics, and a story to back it up, then a little suckle may be worth your while.
Super Mario Kart
It’s hard to imagine playing racing games, but never having touched Super Mario Kart for the SNES. If you haven’t, then stop reading this right now and get the game. If you don’t have an SNES then go buy one, invite some friends over and spend all night experiencing the wacky power-ups, heated races, and epic battles that are sure to ensue. Super Mario Kart is a timeless classic that is just as fun today as it was when it first came out. Even some more current games, like Blur, offer throwbacks to the engrossing precedent that Mario Kart set. The game has an easy entry and even the most newb of your friends can kick your tail at any given moment; making it favorite on the SNES. I will forgive you for continuing to read this if you still haven’t played the game, but honestly, I don’t know why you’re still here.
Gran Turismo 2
Simulation racing games have never caught on quite as well as their arcade counterparts, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t quality games hidden behind their unpopularity. The more recent games such as Forza 3 and soon to be released, Gran Turismo 5, are essential to keeping the franchises alive, but each owe it all to the earlier Gran Turismo titles. Gran Turismo 2 shines more than the others because of its large database of cars, and because it happens to be a little less complicated than the others. Don’t get it confused though, simulation racing games are difficult to get accustomed to, and it takes a lot of patience to begin to enjoy them. But if you are looking to introduce yourself to the genre then start your race here.
PaRappa the Rapper
While games like Guitar Hero 2, or Rock Band may define the music genre as we know it today, other games like PaRappa the Rapper are great representations of where the genre started and how far it has come since then. PaRappa the Rapper is a simple game that introduces a hip-dog who raps his way to a girls heart. The game involves timing your button presses to the rhythm of the songs and getting those button presses as perfect as possible. The game keeps up with how close you are and rates you accordingly; fall too low and you’re out of there. Sound familiar? Thought so. After reading the description it’s probably very easy to see that Guitar Hero took a lot of tips from PaRappa the Rapper. Even though the gameplay has since been perfected, you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to experience this cute and funny story and innovative gameplay.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour
The Tiger Woods PGA Tour video game series is probably one of the best if not the best sports game out there. For those of you who know anything about sports games it’s obvious that Madden runs the market and defines what sports games are today, but it doesn’t hold the allure that PGA Tour does. Many gamers who choose not to play sports games at all still latch on to this title because of it’s massive appeal. The game simply involves the task of getting the golf ball from one end of the course and into the hole at the other end of the course. But the simplicity is broken when you factor in winds, lay of ground, and player skill. The game becomes addicting when you are looking for that perfect hit, or when you are 2 strokes down with only 3 holes left to go. As far as sports games go, this is a must try.
– Pay 2 Play
World of Warcraft
You’ve heard the stories of grown-ups living in their parent’s basement with only a bedpan and World of Warcraft to accompany them. You’ve even seen videos of extreme temper-tantrums involving kids freaking out because mom and dad canceled their account. While it may be completely ridiculous for people to invest so much of their lives into this game, it’s hard to play the game and not feel it’s pull on your life. I can imagine that it’s hard to create the kind of success that Blizzard has created, and perhaps they have a secret formula that we don’t know about, but the bottom line is that the game is good. The MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) genre involves games that allow you to play a game with real people in a virtual world using avatars. In World of Warcraft you can choose between a number of different classes and then develop those classes by gaining experience. You can join guilds and work with others to fight off evil minions, or spend sometime by yourself collecting items for quests. There is always a lot to do it WoW. There’s a reason the game has so many followers, and if you have $14.99 a month, and the time, to spare then you should consider giving the game a try.
– Free 2 Play
Free-to-Play MMORPGs are a dime a dozen. You can simply put the term into Google and find an endless list of sites that give you the opportunity to play their game for free, for as long as you want. While this may sound appealing, you have to keep in mind that these games usually have less content, and in order to get extra content you will need to commit to micro-transactions. While this may sound like a hard way for a company to make money, it’s actually the exact opposite. With the idea that a person can spend $5 to buy extra experience it’s not a surprise to see that same person eventually buying $30+ worth by the end of the month. One of the most successful games to do this is a game called MapleStory. Looking at the picture above automatically makes you think of a childish game, while this is partly true, there is also quite a bit of depth. Anyone who wants to create an account and jump in to play for about 30 min. can do so easily. Others who wish to spend hours a day playing the game can also find lots of things to occupy their time. MapleStory has the basic MMORPG formula including lots of levels, like 200 of them, and in depth classes that involve meticulous stat building. Those looking for an easy to play game with a bunch of friends should jump on board with MapleStory.
Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo
Who can forget Tetris? Tetris, like many other games on this list, defines the genre that it is attached to. Even Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo visually takes elements from Tetris. So why pick Super Puzzle Fighter over Tetris? Simple, SPF is a forgotten gem, and chances are you have played Tetris, or some knock-off, once in your life. Super Puzzle Fighter takes colored gems, which you can rotate and place on your board, and requires you to join them with gems of the same color in order to make larger gems that can be broken with special orbs. Sounds easy enough, but when paired with more complex features, like your enemy dropping extra blocks on you when they hit a streak, spices up the action and provides you with a much more interesting Tetris-like experience. When Super Puzzle Fighter came to the PlayStation it was well received, but was never launched into the annuls of the greatest puzzle games. Due to this misfortune, many people miss out on the great fun that Super Puzzle Fighters 2 Turbo has to offer. Don’t become one of these people.
Try devoting some of your time this year getting your hands on these games and trying them out if you haven’t already. Let us at GamerSyndrome know about your experience with these excellent titles.