Not too long ago, I posted a few games that I owned but never played under the hashtag #50GamesINeedToPlay. It originally started as something to do during lockdown and I never thought I would actually get through the list during the initial restrictions period. Out of that original list, I’ve managed to play two of them – Die Hard Arcade and Yakuza Kiwami. I’ve decided to go through the list again and pick out 20 games that I absolutely have to play. The list is in no particular order and only contains games I physically own. I’ve also tried to keep it to one entry per franchise. I’ve also included the European release dates as these would have been when they were first available to me.
1) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Wii U – 2017
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. Originally released in 2017 for both the Wii U and Switch, it encourages the player to explore the land of Hyrule in any way they see fit. The game also introduced a few new mechanics, including weapon damage. Similar to other games in the series, Breath of the Wild has you explore a multitude of dungeons, each with their own unique boss fight. The game was praised by many for it open-world and non-linear approach. This is one of the few games I bought at launch and I chose the Wii U version over the Switch one (I didn’t have a Switch at the time). Like most Zelda games, I tend to be incredibly late to the party (I still haven’t played the Wii ones) but seeing the overwhelmingly positive review scores, I really should play it.
2) Wild Arms
PlayStation – 1998
Wild Arms is a JRPG set in a Wild West inspired world called Filgaia. You take control of Rudy, Jack and Cecilia as you explore the wastelands and dungeons of the world. The battle system is turn-based and in 3D, compared to the 2D look of the overworld. As a massive JRPG fan, this one sadly passed me by. At the time, I was more preoccupied by Final Fantasy and Grandia. I did manage to get a used copy on eBay not too long ago and am looking forward to sinking my teeth into it soon.
Nintendo 64 – 2001
Released during Rare’s hay-day, Banjo-Tooie is the follow-up to the successful Banjo-Kazooie. Players once again take control of the dynamic duo as they attempt to stop Gruntilda. The game has a variety of collectables to find across a variety of areas, each with its own unique theme. The game was released during the height of the fifth generations “Collectathon” boom. I never picked up either Banjo games on release as after having played Donkey Kong 64, I had my fill of the genre. I never really cared much for collectathons, preferring the progression style of games like Conker’s Bad Fur Day. I did pick up the Banjo games second hand a while back but have only dabbled with Banjo-Kazooie. I am looking forward to playing the trilogy (yes Nuts & Bolts included) someday.
4) Resident Evil
Sega Saturn – 1996 & GameCube – 2002
Here’s a two for one entry. Originally released in 1996, Resident Evil sees you control Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield as you uncover the mysteries of the Umbrella Mansion. Using tank control, you must navigate the mansion, all the while conserving your ammo and solving puzzles. The 2002 remake added in new areas, monsters and expanded upon the originals plot while keeping the tank controls and fixed camera angles of the original. It also improved the voice acting. As a fan of the series, I find it strange that I’ve never actually played the original. I started with Resident Evil 2 and made my way through the rest of the series. I have purchased Resident Evil three times: the Directors Cut on PSN, the Saturn version and the GameCube remake. I’ll have to play through it and soon!
5) Horizon Zero Dawn
PlayStation 4 – 2017
Released around the same time as Breath of the Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn sees you take control of Aloy as she attempts to uncover the past. It’s set in an open-world, based on a futuristic version of our own, where machines rule the land. The game encourages you to use a variety of different methods in order to defeat these machines. The world itself looks stunning and has a variety of side missions and tasks to keep you busy. I purchased the Complete Edition after a friend recommended it to me (he went on about it for quite a while). I find open-world games a little off-putting as they require a lot of time investment in order to fully explore the world but, like Breath of the Wild, its positive reception has me curious.
PlayStation – 1997
Another JRPG I missed from the PlayStation. Suikoden is a turn-based JRPG that sees you recruit a large cast of characters, each with their own unique abilities to help (or hinder) your party in battle. I know very little of the game but I do recall seeing it in a strategy guide at the time. I was amazed by the large amount of characters you could recruit and the impact they could have on the story. However, I could never find the game in stores. I did pick it up on eBay a while back, along with its sequel, and have been waiting to play through it but I want to get my hands on the third entry first. Sadly, it was never released physically in Europe but it is available on the PSN store, which seems like the only way I’ll play it now.
7) Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos
Nintendo Entertainment System – 1992
It was also known as Shadow Warriors II: The Dark Sword of Chaos in Europe. You control Ryu Hayabusa as he attempts to stop the evil emperor Ashtar. The game is an action-platformer and a punishing one at that. Like its’ predecessor, the game is all about trial and error, and learning from your mistakes. I have played the original Ninja Gaiden and made it to the 5th stage but haven’t had a chance to play II or III just yet. Although they’re not long games, they do take time to get to grips with and I don’t have the privilege of using save-states to help me through it.
8) Land of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
Sega Master System – 1993
This 1993 platformer has you control the Disney mascot through a variety of colourful worlds as you attempt recover a stolen crystal. Like the other Illusion games, there’s not much of a plot but it does come with a host of different stages (14 to be exact). I purchased this at the same time I got Castle of Illusion and World of Illusion. I have played through the two Mega Drive games but haven’t had the chance to start this one. Maybe it’ll make a nice distraction once I’ve finished playing through the Yakuza series.
9) Illusion of Time
Super Nintendo – 1995
Illusion of Time (also known as Illusion of Gaia) is a top down action RPG. It is the second game in the Soul Blazer trilogy. The game sees you explore a variety of Earth-like settings, from the Nazca Lines to the Egyptian Pyramids. As you progress, you can unlock new alter egos to play as. The game also has a slightly different approach to levelling up. Instead of gaining exp, you gain Jewels after defeating all the enemies in an area. I have played both Soul Blazer and Terrangima (I actually played Terranigma first years ago) and was interested in the series so I picked it up. I am hoping to one day play through the series and see how it evolves with each entry.
10) Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
GameCube – 2004
A remake of the 1999 classic, Solid Snake must stop Liquid from activating Metal Gear Rex. Obviously there’s a lot more to the story than that but I would be here all day trying to make sense of a Kojima game. The game uses the same graphical style of Metal Gear Solid 2, while retaining the areas from the original. This entry is an odd one as I have played the original version (it’s one of my favourite games of all time) but haven’t tried this one yet. This is also one of the last few games I bought when I lived in London, where retro games are much easier to come by.
PlayStation 2 – 2002
Out of the 50 games in my original list, this was the one that got the biggest reaction. It seems a lot of people forgot all about it and its sequel. Released in 2002, Maximo is a spiritual successor to Ghost’n Goblins and if you’ve played any of those, you know what you’re in for. The game is an action-platformer with a ghoulish setting. Like Ghost’n Goblins, you lose armour when you take a hit. I ordered the two games from Cex but they’ve sadly ended up in the backlog and I have no idea when I’ll finally get around to them.
12) Total Overdose
Xbox – 2005
Fun-fact, according to Wikipedia, this was released in Europe before North America. Probably the only game on the list to do that – if Wikipedia can be trusted. Total Overdose is an open-world third person shooter with a host of weapons at your disposal. You play as three different characters as you gun your way through Mexico. You can also perform a variety of “Loco” moves to help you eliminate enemies. I picked this up when it was new as it looked like a GTA clone. 15 years later and I still haven’t played it, which is disappointing because its reviews at the time were somewhat positive.
GameCube – 2003
What other game could I put at number 13 on the list other than XIII (I know, probably a horror). XIII is a first-person shooter with cell shaded graphics that looks well today (it seems cell-shaded graphics age well). The game-play is a mixture of action and stealth, with missions requiring a different approach to finish them. The game originally received mixed reviews but it has developed a cult following, with a remake being announced not too long ago. I never really had an interest in this game when it was first released but I did pick it up in Cex for cheap when I was in Reading one day. After hearing the opinions of a lot of people I follow on Twitter, I decided that this is one I absolutely have to play.
14) Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
Dreamcast – 2000
Originally released on the PlayStation and PC, this game is a follow-up to Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. This time around you take control of Raziel as he attempts to exact his revenge of Kain. The game has a good few puzzles to solve and combat is hack’n’slash based. Raziel will unlock new abilities as the plot progresses, helping you to overcome later puzzles. I purchased the Dreamcast version when I got the console just so I could beef up my library of games for it a little. I still haven’t gotten around to most of the Dreamcast games I purchased at the time.
15) Shadow Hearts
PlayStation 2 – 2002
Shadow Hearts wasn’t on my original list as I didn’t own it at the time. Since them, I’ve picked up the first two games in the series as well as Koudelka. Shadow Hearts is a horror JRPG set in in a bleak alternative reality. The game allows you to capture monsters and transform into them during combat. I did pick up Shadow Hearts: From The New World when it was first released but missed out on the first two entries in the series. I’m glad I’ve managed to get my hands on them as it seems the price is always going up.
16) Secret of Evermore
Super Nintendo – 1996
This 1996 action RPG sees you play as a boy and his dog as they’re transported to the world of Evermore. Similar to other games in the Secret of series, the battles take place in real-time so you have to think quick in order to adjust your strategy. There are four different weapon styles available, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Magic is also done through alchemy, a change from the Secret of series. The player must acquire formulae and ingredients in order to cast spells. The dog can sniff out ingredients for you. I can’t remember when I got this game but I did find the concept interesting at the time and I had never played a Secret of game. Since then, I have played some of Secret of Mana but I am looking forward to delving in to the unique world of Evermore.
17) ToeJam & Earl
Sega Mega Drive – 1991
Take control of Funkotron’s hippest residents as they try to escape Earth. This 2D game has you play as either ToeJam or Earl has you explore a messed up Earth, trying to find the missing pieces of your ship. The camera is set above the characters at a 3/4 perspective. As you collect the missing pieces, you’ll move up the levels (literally) and if you fall off, you have to climb back up. You also have a variety of presents to help (or hinder) your progress as you attempt to avoid the humans. The game can also be played with a friend, using a dynamic split screen. I picked up the first two games at the London Gaming Market a few years ago and have been on the look out for the third game to complete my collection.
18) Red Dead Redemption II
Xbox One – 2018
The third entry in the Red Dead franchise, you control Arthur Morgan, a member of the Van der Linde gang. Similar to the first Red Dead Redemption game (and most Rockstar games), it takes place in a large open world with a cast of crazy characters. The game received overwhelmingly positive reviews but some people I follow on Twitter did have issues with its pacing and length. I got this game as a Christmas present in 2018 but unlike the first one, I didn’t dive straight in to it. It may be a while before I get to experience it as the length is a little off-putting at the moment.
19) Golden Sun: The Lost Age
Gameboy Advance – 2003
In a list riddled with RPGs, I think it’s only fair to include one from the Gameboy Advance. The follow up to Golden Sun, The Lost Age sees you take control of Felix’s party. The combat is turn-based, with traditional experience point-based levelling up. You can also acquire Djinn to help you in battle and to solve overworld puzzles. One excellent feature is the ability to carry over Djinn from the first Golden Sun through a password, but the password is ridiculously long. I have played through both the first and third entries in the series but could never find the second one. As I’m not the biggest handheld collector, it was low on my list of priorities but I did stumble across it in a shop in Tooting one day for a reasonable price, so I snatched it up.
20) Castlevania: Symphony of The Night
PlayStation – 1997
Well, here we are, the final entry on my list and probably the rarest game in my collection. Symphony of the Night is often considered the start of the modern Metroidvanias (I always found that odd as Metroid has been doing it since the NES). You take control of Alucard, Dracula’s son, as you explore your father’s castle and try to put a stop to his wicked deeds. The game sees you gain experience through combat and has you explore a multitude of rooms for new equipment. The game was met with incredibly positive reviews (except for one publication) and has developed a massive following. I never played Castlevania growing up and when the PlayStation came around, I was more interested in Final Fantasy, Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid. I did have someone offer to swap this with me but the disc was in such terrible condition, I declined. Years later, I would start to pick up games from the series and set my sights on this one. The physical release goes for a ridiculous amount of money now but it is available on a variety of modern consoles.
I hope you enjoyed my list. Having not played them did present a challenge on how to describe them so a lot of information was gathered from other sources. I will eventually get around to them but, like many gamers, my backlog is forever growing. What games do you have in your collection that you haven’t played yet? What games do you recommend? Let me know.