I’ve recently thought about my favorite games a lot. Some of this was sparked by buying the 360, which made me think if there even was anything truly new to play to justify the purchase. Some of it is due to looking at the videogame spines on my shelves every day. And yet another part is growing up: what is it, exactly, that I’m spending my time on? And why?
To address that 360 concern: yes, it’s been a worthwhile purchase. Oblivion alone has gotten so much playtime it’s worth it. Then there’s Battlefield 2, which is the only Live game I’ve played a lot of, and continue to do so. However, there’s always that nagging feeling that my wins or losses don’t count towards anything. I’m still waiting for someone to make console online warfare amount to something and not just individual matches. Give me territory to conquer! Wars to win! Gamerpoints to achieve!
Not big on analysis for its sake alone, here’s a list of some of my current favorites and a quick go at why I like them so much that I keep coming back to them. Your comments are most welcome.
Jet Set Radio Future (Xbox). I find the gameplay a bit too difficult and cumbersome for extended play, but the overall aesthetic just drags me in. It features perhaps the best videogame soundtrack ever built and some of the best visuals.
Soul Calibur II (Xbox). Sometimes you need a good beat ’em up, and in my limited experience, Soul Calibur II is the best. It continues to look very good despite its age and the gameplay is pure gold. If only it had online play!
Amped 2 (Xbox). The best snowboarding game out there. Just riding flawlessly gives a good buzz. Add to that a fully customizable soundtrack (these days a given, not so back then) and you’ve got a relaxation game second to none. Oh why did they butcher the sequel? I’ve played the career mode through four or five times – the last ten leaderboard positions notwithstanding, sadistic as the requirements are.
Otogi (Xbox). The world is full of third-person action, but none I’ve played execute it as well as Otogi. Audiovisually it’s so beautiful it hurts and nothing feels as good as flying through dozens of enemies in one grand aerial melee.
OutRun 2 (Xbox). Great for a short chill-out, but also very demanding and good for improving your records. OutRun 2 is feel-good on a DVD. It’s the perfect arcade machine, somehow shrunk onto a shiny disc. You can’t not smile when playing it.
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat (Gamecube). DK is the only platformer I play these days and the drumming control is just so much fun. No other game is like it. Too bad they never made a proper sequel, feels kind of dumb to have this gigantic controller for just this one game.
Ikaruga (Gamecube). Making the perfect 2D arcade shmup this fiendishly difficult ensures my continued interest in cracking it. It helps that it looks and sounds stellar, but really, I’d be all over it if it was 8-bit graphics.
I see that all of the games on this top of mind list are very different from each other. This is not intentional, but it does enforce my observation that I keep going to new (or different) experiences. My interest in the new Battlefield is close to zero, ditto Soul Calibur III. Hmm. So let’s hope the studios continue to churn out truly new stuff to play.
My next items in the “must get” list are Viva PiÃ±ata (360) and Dead Rising (360). Nothing is like Dead Rising and while Viva PiÃ±ata shares a lot with Animal Crossing, PokÃ©mon and Harvest Moon, I hear it’s a more varied mix of these rather more monotonous offerings. I’ve played me a lot of Animal Crossing, but it does get boring. Here’s to hoping the upcoming Wii version has more features and especially more community stuff.