By the Last Token Gaming Staff
The holidays are upon us once again. Remember when you were a kid, you would have a list to give to your family for gifts? Once the big day came for the gifts to start flowing, you tear through the paper looking for that one huge game. I remember hoping for Super Mario 64 during the Nintendo 64 launch season, but when I opened the package instead I received Pilotwings 64. Now I know that wasn’t a bad thing, it’s just that, at the time, I really wanted Mario instead.
This particular memory had me thinking: If you could ask for any 3 games throughout history, which ones would they be? These 3 games would be 100% guaranteed to be in your hands. Would it be one of the newest games out? Perhaps it would have been one of the rarest games that were ever released. Maybe you already owned it and passed it along. This article is for all of us to answer those questions. This is for all those times we were stiffed on that one perfect gift.
1: Earthbound – I owned this once before. I still have the t-shirt and strategy guide. Unfortunately, someone stole my copy of the game. I loved it not only because it was an RPG, but the fact that it was so off the wall and weird. Its monetary value has nothing to do with it. I had one of my greatest gaming experiences to date with that game. If I could ever get it back, I would be the luckiest kid in the world.
2: Donkey Kong Country – I know this game is relatively easy to get and at a pretty decent price. For some reason though, I wish I had my copy back. It is a piece of history that actually pushed me to understand the impact an amazing soundtrack could really have on a game. Also, the graphics were next gen on a current gen system at the time. Rare was a company that simply could not be stopped. If I were to get a copy of the game now, it wouldn’t feel the same. My grubby little 14 year old fingers were all over that cart. I treasured it and was devastated when it disappeared.
3: Final Fantasy III/VI – As a kid, my first RPG style game was Illusion of Gaia. I never got to play Final Fantasy I and II. My friend had a copy for Final Fantasy III (US title) and I couldn’t get enough, with the soundtrack, the characters, and the amazing story. When he was done with his copy, I bought it from him and took it home. That day I popped it in the old SNES and went to town. I played through the game 3 times in a row. I was looking for every different way to play it, while also trying to find all of the characters. Some people might still say Final Fantasy VII was the best. I have to disagree. Once you play FF:VI, FF:VII will disappear from your memory. As with Earthbound and Donkey Kong Country, my copy of Final Fantasy was stolen and never recovered. To this day, I can’t find a complete and mint copy of this and that saddens me.
Writing my part for this article will be most enjoyable as it could end up reflecting reality rather than fantasy. I’ve put quite a few N64 classics on my Christmas list, all of which I’ll review for the Hall of Fame. Naturally, the rest of my list reads like my usual smattering of random indulgences, including an Orel Hershiser shirt and Kind Hearts and Coronets on Criterion Collection DVD, but that’s boring and lame, so let’s stick to the fuckin’ games!
- Banjo Tooie: Like anyone else who had outgrown diapers by 1998, Banjo Kazooie was my childhood. I played it nonstop, to such an extent that I got quite a few reprimands from my parents. But god, how could I *not* play it around the clock? The music, the sunny designs of each level, the pure sense of adventure….and, with this article being a holiday-themed one, it has to be said that no holiday season was complete without playing Freezeezy Peak nonstop and letting Grant Kirkhope’s magnificent tune for it bolster the seasonal mood. But from the brief spell that I’ve played its 2000 sequel, Banjo Tooie, I must say it seems to be an even better game. It’s not only bigger in scale, but the gameplay is more freed up and allows you to control Banjo and Kazooie individually when necessary. Naturally, I’ll induct both games into the Hall of Fame, but Tooie might go in first if I get it this holiday season.
- NBA Courtside 2: Featuring Kobe Bryant: Most of you no doubt know what a hardcore baseball fan I am, as well as a boxing junkie. But I’m also a devout lover of basketball as well, and have recently rekindled my interest in following the NBA again (a process admittedly aided by the long overdue turnaround of my beloved Sacramento Kings). Naturally, I wanted to dig back for what’s considered to be the best NBA game for N64 for an HOF Review, and this seems to be the consensus pick. Given that this title came out in 1999, it’ll no doubt be a fun capsule of basketball history as well as an excellent sports gaming experience. Let’s put it this way: When it came out, the New York Knicks had just played in the NBA Finals a few months before. Let that sink in for a moment.
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask: It’s the video game equivalent of Godfather I vs. Godfather II: Do you prefer Ocarina of Time, or its shockingly dark and convoluted 2000 follow-up, Majora’s Mask? I’ll put it this way: I spent veritable lifetimes growing up with OoT, to such an extent that when Majora hit shelves in October 2000, I was put off by it. As I watched my friends play it, the macabre story and atmosphere were very unappealing to my young mind that was too attached to the admittedly sunnier aesthetic of its predecessor (at least by comparison). Then, after I finally borrowed MM from a friend and played it through in 2009, I knew there was no question: It was my preferred game. OoT may be the greatest adventure in gaming history, but there’s something about Majora’s Mask that cuts even deeper for me. The pulse-pounding race against time, the apocalyptic implications, the intimate feel of the world and each temple…I could go on. And hopefully, after unwrapping it from under the Christmas tree, I will go on about it in 2015 for its well-earned Hall of Fame Review.
- Final Fantasy III/V/VI– Final Fantasy has always been my staple for an RPG fix, and the only ones I haven’t gotten a good chance to play through are considered the hardest (III), and greatest stories within the series (V and VI). I’ve always wanted to play these games, but in their original form and not the newest ports. It’s like reading a book versus reading a book on a Kindle to me: there’s something magical about playing the original version versus a new looking style.
- Suikoden II – Considered one of the greatest RPG experiences ever, Suikoden II is an extremely hard game to find. With its limited release copies and tepid initial reaction to its release, the game didn’t really pick up here. I’d attribute this to SquareSoft’s rapid rise in popularity taking off with Final Fantasy series as part of the reason some of the hidden gems can be hard to find. Maybe one day I’ll get to play this game.
- Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars – SquareSoft and Nintendo working together on an epic Mario RPG? Who wouldn’t want to be able to play this game? It’s the combination of two great ideas to make an amazing game that I want to play in my lifetime.
- Beautiful Katamari – The Katamari series was always foreign to me, until my friend lent me (to never be returned) his copy of Beautiful Katamari for the Xbox 360. I fell in love with it! The game is exciting, simple yet challenging, and addicting. As I do not have a 360 anymore, my copy resides at fellow LTG staff member Chris Medrano’s house collecting dust. I almost unlocked 100% on this game, which even with guides is very difficult to do. Collect the cousins, collect the hats, the body styles and roll up the universe in a black hole. If you’ve never played a Katamari game I highly, highly suggest you try one!
- Onimusha Blade Warriors – Do you like Super Smash Bros.? Do you like Samurai? What about Mega Man and Zero? Onimusha Blade Warrios is a 2d fighter with characters taken from the Onimusha Franchise, so basically it’s Super Smash with Samurai (if you couldn’t tell from my previous gesture). I personally think this game was incredible, I rented it back in the day on PS2 and played the crap out of it with my friend Joel. We unlocked all the characters and stages during that week of summer and loved the game in it’s entirety. You’ll usually find this on a list of “Games that fail in comparison to Super Smash” but I honestly think it should have been a fair rival.
- SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs – I don’t even know where to begin on this one. If I could get a copy of this, it would have to include the multiplayer servers coming back up. Fans of the SOCOM series have been asking for an HD Remake of this for far too long. This was really the last good installment. This game alone got me started in online gaming and shooters (next to Halo and Tribes) and also raging. Screaming at the enemy’s ability to shoot from the back of their head (visual lag only) is the first of a long list of annoyances, but they are eclipsed by this game’s superior style. I can’t blame the PS2 for the online capabilities of the time, and gaming would have never been the same if I didn’t come across this gem.
My Top 3 Most Wanted Lists are:
- Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES): I’m all about retro gaming. I own this game on the gameboy advance, but I’ve always wanted a hard copy for my recently purchased SNES. This one sets the stage for open world adventure games, and really set the tone for the whole series.
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii): Although I prefer Melee, I really want a copy of this. I’ve never wanted to spend the money on it though. But maybe I will just have to bite the bullet.
- E.T. The Videogame (SNES): This game is a piece of ancient crap. But it’s rare as all get out these days, and since I’m starting a museum of gaming soon, I’d like to put it on display.
I don’t want for much in this world, but if I had to choose a few things to ask for I suppose these would be my list.
1. Diablo III: Expansion: Though I hated the game itself, I have a large amount of friends that love this game and can’t put it down. For that reason alone I would want to fire it up and play. Any social aspect I can get from a game is good to me.
2. Destiny (Xbox 360): I got to play this game a bit with a friend and really enjoyed what I got out of it. The gameplay was fun and I got to around level 15 in the one sitting. I would love to get it and be able to try out some of the other classes.
3. Riot Gift Card: I know this one isn’t a game, but money has been tight lately and I would love to be able to gift my friends some skins on Christmas. I usually do every year, but cash has been a little absent from my wallet this year and I haven’t been able to. This would be a “help me help them” gift.