Strider, Arcade

Another arcade classic from Capcom, first released in 1989.

Strider is a side-scrolling, run-and-hack platform game featuring the popular ‘Hiryu’ character, and who is armed with a plasma blade called ‘Cypher’. Hiryu is fast and acrobatic. He can run, jump, spin, climb walls and ceilings, and can execute sword manoeuvres quickly with fast button presses.

Strider still plays great now, and when you get a hang of the movement you can really give the enemies hell. Strider still looks ace too, with stylish graphics that are beautifully drawn, coloured and animated.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strider_(arcade_game)

Dig Dug II, Arcade

Namco‘s fairly unassuming 1985 release, Dig Dug II, is a fun sequel to the classic digging game, except in this game you are (the character) Dig Dug – on an island, with either your hose or your drill as weapons – and must defeat all the monsters to progress.

As in the original Dig Dug: if you throw your hose at an approaching monster it will allow you to inflate and defeat it, although this takes time and you can be killed by touch during the inflation process. So you have to be quick. If you’re even cleverer you can beat the baddies by trapping them on a piece of island that can be levelled into the sea, by drilling at key points in certain directions.

At first, Dig Dug II starts off fairly easy, and rapidly becomes very hard. Furthest I’ve got so far is level thirteen. Unlucky for some…

Dig Dug II does have its fans, and was also an influence on other games that came after it (for example: 1991‘s PC Engine classic Splash Lake).

It’s still well worth a play now.

It’s also worth noting that there are two versions of the Dig Dug II arcade game floating around. An easier “old” version, and a harder “new” version. These grabs were taken from the “new” version.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dig_Dug_II

Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom, Arcade

Sega‘s Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom was first released into arcades in 1982, and – to play it now – you’d wonder what all the fuss was about, but this game made waves when it was first released.

It was an early, colour video game, featuring a Star Wars style “trench run” and even a mothership battle, and it dazzled young gamers back in the olden days.

Now it plays like… Well, let’s just say that Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom is not the best game in the world… but it is still important and was influential.

More: Wikipedia

Ultimate Race Pro, PC

It might seem like an innocuous title (and a bit of a Daytona clone), but Kalisto Entertainment and MicroProse‘s Ultimate Race Pro was a great, early pioneer of multiplayer online racing games.

It was one of the first Windows games to feature 16-player network gaming, including a brilliant, all-action, funny-as-hell “battle mode” in the “Ultim@te Aren@”… Hate those extra ampersands… Anyway, in battle mode you can ram the hell out of the each other in a gladiatorial arena, which also has stunts in it (ramps, for jumps, et cetera). With four to eight players it is amazing fun.

Ultimate Race Pro was also one of the first PC racing games to use 3D graphics acceleration. If I remember correctly, the game came free with every PowerVR card sold, and Power VR cards were quite popular in the very early days of 3D graphics acceleration.

I remember spending many hours in 1997 playing Ultimate Race Pro in the PC Zone offices with the staff. It was a big hit with everyone.

Playing Ultimate Race Pro now, though, is not particularly easy, but still possible in Windows. No one has yet re-released it, although there are old discs floating around on eBay.

Ultimate Race Pro is still fun as a single-player racer, but getting a network game together is a bit of a challenge, and that is where the real fun is.

Super Mario RPG, Super Nintendo

Squaresoft turned Nintendo‘s figurehead character, Mario, into a level-grinding RPG in 1996, much to the delight of games-players world wide.

All the elements of a great dungeon-crawler are here, including turn-based combat, shops, magic, potions and monsters – all held together with a bit of Nintendo magic.

Only thing that does date Super Mario RPG are the pre-rendered graphics, much beloved of developers in the 1990s, but looking quite lame these days. How were they supposed to know they would date?

Graphical gimmicks aside: Super Mario RPG is still a brilliant game. Like an early Final Fantasy game with a Mario wrapper. And still fun to play nowadays.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Mario_RPG

Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Dreamcast

Or – to give the game its full title – Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes.

First released in arcades in 2000 and ported to the Dreamcast that same year, Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes really shows off the Dreamcast‘s amazing 2D (and 3D) graphics capabilities, with huge, detailed sprites jumping around the screen and incredible visual effects, amongst all the violence.

And there are some great match-ups in this beat ’em up too. Spider Man versus Guile?! Wolverine versus Chun Li?! The Hulk versus Zangief?! Venom versus Dhalsim?! The match-ups are truly sick!!

Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes is a must-play game if you’re a fan of beat ’em ups!

More: Marvel vs. Capcom 2 on Wikipedia

Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike, GameCube

Throughout history, man has always strived to recreate the original Star Wars battles on video-gaming hardware, to enable grown men to act like children…

And 2003‘s Rebel Strike is a veritable ORGY of Star Wars-related combat, from run-and-gun style, third-person shooter sections, to piloting virtually every craft in the Star Wars universe (including an enemy scout walker). There’s Co-op play, Versus combat, and split screen for up to four players. It’s great fun, but Rebel Strike is no X-Wing (or TIE Fighter), because there isn’t a great deal of depth. I actually thought that some of the sections were a bit too short. Oh well. I guess that’s modern attention spans for you.

More: Rogue Squadron III on Wikipedia

BioShock Infinite, PC

120 grabs is about the limit I’ll go to, but this game looks so good that it is worth it…

BioShock Infinite (2013) is the third game in the BioShock series, and it is one a hell of a game! It is a bright, imaginative, funny, touching, emotional, violent and downright SURPRISING adventure, set in a steampunk-style cloud city called Columbia.

The DNA of the game feels like BioShock, but you’re not underwater this time – you’re in the clouds. And you’re swinging from building to building like a Victorian Spider-Man, and toting First World War style weapons.

The world you’re exploring feels like history gone wrong, because it IS history gone wrong. Everything about BioShock Infinite is stunning: the story, as it unfolds; the action (which is breathtaking, and shockingly violent in places); the graphics (a staggering level of detail in the 3D modelling, and the lighting is phenomenal); the sound (the soundtrack – by Garry Schyman – isn’t quite as iconic as his previous two BioShock scores, but is still superb); the gameplay mechanics (zipping along rails and jumping around is easy, intuitive and fun). It’s hard to describe just how good playing this game is, other than to say that it is still unparalleled in its detail and beauty.

BioShock Infinite is very re-playable too. Other than the awkward autosaves: it’s pretty much a perfect single-player story experience.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BioShock_Infinite
Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/8870/BioShock_Infinite/

BioShock 2, PC

BioShock 2 was first released in 2010 by 2K Games.

Personally, I think BioShock 2 just edges it over its predecessor, because the setting is really interesting (rather than hunting Big Daddies, in this one you get to play AS a Big Daddy), and also because this sequel has a decent multiplayer side (the first BioShock had no multiplayer). And also because the game mechanics are slightly more detailed than the first game. I also think the ending is better in BioShock 2. Of the three possible endings, the one I got I thought was absolutely brilliant. Brought a tear to the eye…

BioShock 2 carries on a fine tradition of emotional, dark action adventures on the PC (and other systems), and is still well worth a play any day of the week.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BioShock_2
Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/8850/BioShock_2/

BioShock, PC

BioShock was first released in 2007 by 2K Games.

It has garnered something of a reputation over the years – for being a game with real drama and emotion. And it is true to say that BioShock is not your average type of first person shooter.

You arrive in dramatic fashion: a fiery plane crash into the ocean, but near a single lighthouse – the entrance to an underwater city: Rapture. And from there your worries really start to begin…

BioShock is dark, humorous and clever, and the game mechanics are enough to keep you gripped until the end. Amazing soundtrack too.

Definitely a PC-gaming classic.

See also: Bioshock 2

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BioShock
Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/7670/BioShock/