Bad Games Week #2 Ends

Bad Games Week #2 has now ended.

[“Phew!” you’re probably thinking.]

Here’s a summary of links to what was published:

Chuck Norris Superkicks, ColecoVision,
Cap’n’ Carnage, Atari ST,
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Atari 2600,
The Evil Dead, Commodore 64,
Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy, Atari Jaguar,
Kung-Fu Master, ZX Spectrum,
Jail Break, Commodore 64.

Back to *GOOD GAMES* from this point onward! 🙂

Thank you!
The King of Grabs

Bad Games Week #2

It’s time for another celebration of bad video games on The King of Grabs!

Every game featured on the blog this week is guaranteed NOT to be in your top ten. These are some of the worst video games ever made…

From today onward there will be one sh*te game per day, and we will be returning back to normal in seven days from now. When it’s all over I’ll post a full list of what was published here.

Here’s a summary of links to what was published:

Chuck Norris Superkicks, ColecoVision,
Cap’n’ Carnage, Atari ST,
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Atari 2600,
The Evil Dead, Commodore 64,
Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy, Atari Jaguar,
Kung-Fu Master, ZX Spectrum,
Jail Break, Commodore 64.

Oh, and here’s a link to the last Bad Games Week, in case you’re a connoisseur of terrible video games and want more.

Enjoy!
The King of Grabs

100 Best Level-Grinders Of All-Time

Level-Grinders; Dungeon-Crawlers; Role-Playing Games – whatever you want to call them – they are my (and many other people’s) favourite type of video game.

They allow you to build up your characters via the process of levelling. That is: by gaining experience, which in turn increases your character’s power levels.

Level-Grinders also allow you to hoard virtual items that don’t exist in the real world; accumulate unimaginable wealth in an imaginary world, and solve mysteries while you’re doing it.

Over and over again. For the love of the grind…

So here we go… The 100 Best Level-Grinders Of All-Time

Note: I did think long and hard about whether to include Zelda games or not, and decided to include them, because they are dungeon-crawlers at a fundamental level.

To see the individual games in more detail, click the links.

Enjoy, The King of Grabs

01. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, PC
02. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition, PC
03. Dungeon Master, Atari ST
04. Seiken Densetsu 3, Super Nintendo
05. Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City, Nintendo DS
06. The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind, XBox
07. Fallout: New Vegas, PC
08. Fallout 4, PC
09. Deus Ex, PC
10. Final Fantasy VII, PlayStation

11. System Shock 2, PC
12. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Nintendo 64
13. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Nintendo 64
14. The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, Super Nintendo
15. The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, PC
16. Fallout 3, PC
17. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, PlayStation 2
18. Shadowrun, Super Nintendo
19. Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard, Nintendo DS
20. Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition, PC

21. Earthbound, Super Nintendo
22. Legend of Grimrock, PC
23. Paper Mario: The Thousand year Door, GameCube
24. Dungeon Master II: The Legend of Skullkeep, PC
25. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, GameCube
26. Legend of Grimrock II, PC
27. Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium, Megadrive/Genesis
28. Lufia: The Ruins of Lore, Game Boy Advance
29. Anachronox, PC
30. Shining the Holy Ark, Sega Saturn

31. Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean, GameCube
32. Neverwinter Nights, PC
33. Final Fantasy Legend, Game Boy
34. Mother 3, Game Boy Advance
35. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Game Boy Advance
36. Fallout 2, PC
37. Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, Super Nintendo
38. Final Fantasy VIII, PlayStation
39. Shining In The Darkness, Megadrive/Genesis
40. Skies of Arcadia: Legends, GameCube

41. Chaos Strikes Back, Atari ST
42. Super Mario RPG, Super Nintendo
43. Phantasy Star II, Megadrive/Genesis
44. Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds, PC
45. Wasteland, Commodore 64
46. Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon, PC
47. Vagrant Story, PlayStation
48. Paper Mario, Nintendo 64
49. Fallout, PC
50. Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption, PC

51. Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos, PC
52. Baten Kaitos Origins, GameCube
53. Breath of Fire II, Super Nintendo
54. Breath of Fire, Super Nintendo
55. Golden Sun, Game Boy Advance
56. Golden Sun: The Lost Age, Game Boy Advance
57. Earthbound Zero, NES
58. Final Fantasy Legend II, Game Boy
59. Eye of the Beholder, PC
60. Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, PlayStation

61. Lufia and the Fortress of Doom, Super Nintendo
62. Phantasy Star, Sega Master System
63. Shadowrun: Dragonfall, PC
64. Icewind Dale II, PC
65. Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition, PC
66. Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, PC
67. Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition, PC
68. Grandia II, Dreamcast
69. The Legend of Dragoon, PlayStation
70. Nox, PC

71. Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss, PC
72. Etrian Odyssey, Nintendo DS
73. Parasite Eve, PlayStation
74. Grandia, PlayStation
75. Dungeon Master: Theron’s Quest, PC Engine CD
76. Eye of the Beholder III: Assault On Myth Drannor, PC
77. Dragon Quest VI, Super Nintendo
78. E.V.O.: Search for Eden, Super Nintendo
79. Amberstar, PC
80. Albion, PC

81. Final Fantasy VI Advance, Game Boy Advance
82. Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls, Game Boy Advance
83. Final Fantasy V Advance, Game Boy Advance
84. SD Snatcher, MSX2
85. Grandia: Parallel Trippers, Game Boy Color
86. Chrono Trigger, Super Nintendo
87. Dungeon Hack, PC
88. Tales of Phantasia, Super Nintendo
89. Dragon Quest V, Super Nintendo
90. Final Fantasy Legend III, Game Boy

91. Arx Fatalis, PC
92. AD&D: Treasure of Tarmin, Intellivision
93. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, PC
94. Secret of Mana, Super Nintendo
95. Dragon Warrior, NES
96. Final Fantasy, NES
97. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Game Boy Color
98. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Game Boy Color
99. Swords and Sorcery, Amstrad CPC
100. Out Of The Shadows, ZX Spectrum

  • This list is subject to change at any time, of course. Why, even the mighty Witcher 3 is sure to be usurped at some point… Maybe with Cyberpunk 2077? Or the next Elder Scrolls game? Who knows? Who cares?! If you do care, please leave a comment below. 🙂
100 Best Level-Grinders Of All-Time

100 Best Level-Grinders Of All-Time

Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition, PC

Planescape: Torment is a highly regarded – if somewhat bizarre – Infinity Engine-driven level-grinder that was first released in 1999.

This new remake – released in 2017 – was developed by Beamdog, using the same enhanced engine as developed for their Baldur’s Gate remakes. Which is great in my opinion because the new engine is brilliant.

Unlike the Baldur’s Gate games, Planescape: Torment‘s gameplay is more structured around conversations, and working out solutions to problems via diplomacy, rather than by force (although there is plenty of combat in the game, if you want some). So the game has a lot of ‘hidden’, experience-awarding conversation options that you can find to boost your levelling. Without a walkthrough, though, you might struggle to find some of it the first time around and may miss it.

Playing as the “Nameless One”, with a floating skull sidekick (called Morte), you must escape the confines of a large and creepy-looking mortuary in order to regain your memory. A group of pseudo-religious cultists dressed in robes (called Dustmen) appear to be running the show and a long and involving mystery involving many quests and side-quests must be unravelled in order to get anywhere near completing the game.

Rather than feature bows and arrows, in this you get to attack your enemies from afar with ‘charms’ that unleash various nasties on them, like corpse flies. You also find many and varied magic items embedded inside bodies (including your own), that are acquired (usually) through conversation. You can also upgrade yourself by stitching yourself up… Planescape: Torment has a dark and humorous – and quite gory – setting, with death and dead bodies being a major part of the plotline. It’s all very light-hearted, though, and not at all distasteful (in the context of the story), or gratuitous. It is definitely quite an ‘adult’ game though. I can’t see many young kids having the patience to play it.

And this new enhanced edition gives Planescape: Torment a new lease of life, which it really deserves. It’s arguably the best Infinity Engine game out there, although it won’t appeal to everyone. Special mention must go to the music, which is haunting, atmospheric and beautifully produced.

Without a doubt Planescape: Torment is an imaginative masterpiece of fantasy weirdness – well worth playing by anyone who loves RPGs.

Click: Original Planescape: Torment on The King of Grabs.

More: Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition on Wikipedia
Steam: Planescape: Torment Enhanced Edition on Steam
GOG.com: Planescape: Torment Enhanced Edition on GOG.com

Icewind Dale II, PC

Icewind Dale II is an Infinity Engine-based RPG released by Interplay in 2002. This sequel was developed by Black Isle Studios and was the final game to be developed for the Infinity Engine.

Unlike the first Icewind Dale – and all the other Baldur’s Gate games – Icewind Dale II uses the Wizards of the Coast 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons ruleset (not the 2nd Edition AD&D ruleset, as the others do), and the Infinity Engine has been reprogrammed to allow for this (note: with some limits. The programmers were apparently forced to drop some of the 3rd Edition’s rules because of the engine’s “outdated nature”). This employment of a new ruleset does make the game feel different to play than the previous Infinity Engine games. And, as this was the last Infinity Engine game, you would have to ask if this ruleset change ultimately contributed to the series’ demise. It could be argued that it did.

Thankfully the interface has been cleaned-up a bit and feels easier to use than the first game. A lot of the character portraits and graphic styles have been carried over, though, mostly because they are canon to the Forgotten Realms campaign setting that Icewind Dale II is based upon.

Icewind Dale II begins with a goblin raid and leads on to other quests as you explore. After the initial excitement you’re then assigned to much more menial tasks before the game will let you move on. Which is a little frustrating. The main ‘meat’ of the story revolves around a group of mercenaries who are caught in a war between the Ten Towns of Icewind Dale and a coalition of persecuted races and religions.

Combat is beautifully simple once you’ve gotten the hang of it, and the game is challenging from the outset, but rewarding in a miserly way. It takes a while to get a real foothold.

Otherwise: this is a decent isometric role-player and a fitting end to the Infinity Engine reign. Not sure why it’s currently not on Steam, but it’s available on GOG.com. An enhanced remake by Overhaul Games has not yet emerged, at the time of writing (May 2019), due to the whereabouts of the original source code being unknown.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icewind_Dale_II
GOG.com: https://www.gog.com/game/icewind_dale_2

Baldur’s Gate II: The Black Pits II, PC

The Black Pits II: Gladiators of Thay is an arena combat-based add-on for the Baldur’s Gate II series, given away free with the Enhanced Edition in 2013.

It’s sort of a Spartacus-type story, where you begin in a gladiator school and work your way up to the top by killing with swords, and magic, and anything else you can lay your hands on.

You can play the game with a single character, and give yourself a serious challenge, or you can add five more characters, and have a party of up to six. Combat is the usual Infinity Engine clicking, and is therefore not that challenging. Where combat does become challenging, though, is in getting your spellcasters to cast properly. Not a particularly easy task if you’re new to the Infinity Engine, but simple enough if you’ve had some practise with the game.

Every round of arena combat that you win will net you a pot of gold, which you can use at the various shops found dotted around the rest area. Buying new weapons and armour, and also magic items and potions, gives you an edge in the next round of combat. There’s also an interesting escape conspiracy storyline going on too, plus a variety of smaller side-quests. Of course your enemies get more difficult with every round of combat. Initially it’s all too easy, but by round five you’ll start to get some larger monsters, or spellcasters, set against you. And that’s when it gets interesting. I would say that aggressive spellcasters are your greatest enemies. Well, combinations of enemies will later cause you problems.

Overall: The Black Pits II is a decent little add-on.

The Black Pits II is a fun addition to the Baldur’s Gate II series, and Baldur’s Gate fans will probably get a decent kick out of it. I didn’t quite understand what was going on with levelling though. The characters I was given were rarely awarded any upgrade skill points. No one I had could pick any locks either. Or maybe I just didn’t understand the joke?

More: Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn on Wikipedia
Steam: Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition on Steam
GOG.com: Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition on GOG.com

Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, PC

The second of two Baldur’s Gate II titles, this one released by Interplay in 2001. Throne of Bhaal is a real-time Role-Playing Game, based on the BioWare Infinity Engine, and it completes the main plot of the Baldur’s Gate series of games.

Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal uses a licensed Wizards of the Coast Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) 2nd Edition ruleset, set in the Forgotten Realms fantasy world.

After generating a party the game begins inside a city under siege, with the occasional gigantic explosion going off nearby, due to incoming artillery fire. Which is quite exciting for about five minutes. After which it’s just annoyingly loud. Moving onward is then a matter of talking to the right people. These are usually found by initiating dialogue with various characters that you encounter as you explore. As the story progresses you’ll then find a temple and a quest to kill off a local giant and his crew. Plus many more quests which are there for the taking.

In terms of an overall package: there’s a multi-levelled dungeon, called The Watcher’s Keep, to take on; a higher level cap; a further, refined Infinity Engine; and a lot of new weapons and items to play around with, so a lot of good content in Throne of Bhaal. Not to mention a storyline that ties itself up (if you’re following it). This so-called “expansion” could be the best game in the series.

There are so many Infinity Engine games available in total that it is easy to dismiss them as “mainstream” adventure fodder, but every single one remains close to their hardcore tabletop RPG roots and are decent enough and entertaining level-grinders in their own right. This final Baldur’s Gate game pushes the series about as far as it can go on that front and is well worth a play.

Both this, and its predecessor – Shadows of Amn – are available together (alongside The Black Pits II) in Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition.

Note: These grabs are from the enhanced remake, first released in 2013.

More: Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal on Wikipedia
Steam: Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition on Steam
GOG.com: Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition on GOG.com

Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn, PC

Part one of a two-part Baldur’s Gate II series, first published by Interplay in 2000. Shadows of Amn uses an updated version of the Infinity Engine to provide isometric, real-time combat and adventuring.

Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn uses a licensed Wizards of the Coast Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) 2nd Edition ruleset, set in the Forgotten Realms fantasy world.

The game carries on the story of the same character from the previous game (“Gorion’s Ward“), but this time wandering around looking for quests in the kingdom of Amn. The game of course allows you to generate a party of up to six characters at the beginning, and the generation process is uniform and user-friendly across all the Infinity Engine games.

The interface is much nicer than the first game – it’s been noticeably upgraded – and this refinement makes Baldur’s Gate more enjoyable to play.

A second Baldur’s Gate II game – an expansion, really – came out in 2001, entitled Throne of Bhaal. Like its predecessor, Baldur’s Gate II proved to be a big hit with gamers and is fondly-remembered by many level-grind enthusiasts.

Both this, and its sequel – Throne of Bhaal – are available together (alongside The Black Pits II) in Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition.

These grabs are of the enhanced remake, released in 2013.

More: Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn on Wikipedia
Steam: Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition on Steam
GOG.com: Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition on GOG.com

Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition, PC

This Enhanced Edition of Icewind Dale brings the Infinity Engine up-to-date, with nice zooming and screen movement options, and clearer icons, so playing the game has never been easier or more fun than this.

And does Icewind Dale succeed as a remake? Yes it does. On many levels. Number one: the game feels a lot less clunky to play than the original. Number two: Icewind Dale is significantly different to the Baldur’s Gate games that it is worth playing in itself. Number three: the game is a great challenge, requiring tactical prowess during combat in order to survive. Number four: it’s also an item-hoarder and level-grind fanatic’s wet dream – there’s just so much stuff in the game. Number five: Icewind Dale‘s inventories are different to Baldur’s Gate‘s inventories, although the basis of the game is the same: talk to people using a multiple choice menu system to find quests that you must complete to gain experience. The usual ‘Fog of war’ and day and night cycles are present, as they are in every Infinity Engine game, new or old.

While none of the wonderfully-drawn original graphics are disrespected in this remake, it is a bit disconcerting that the graphics go blurry when zoomed right in. Why Beamdog didn’t use a different kind of interpolation in their engine I don’t know. Other than that fault, though, I think the enhanced Infinity Engine works brilliantly. Having a mouse wheel and a middle mouse button (to ‘drag’ the screen into view) speeds up gameplay no end.

Personally, I think I might even rate the Icewind Dale games above the Baldur’s Gate games, because they’re different to the ‘generic’ medieval fantasy style of Baldur’s Gate, and because the interface is slightly better, IMHO.

Levelling-up your characters seems to take a while. I think I played for seven hours before I got my first characters to level two, and even then the game didn’t seem to apportion them any extra skill points to spend. So not quite sure what to think of that.

The Enhanced Edition also features the Heart of Winter expansion pack, which is played separately when chosen from the main menu. It’s another set of landscapes to explore and quests to fulfil, based on the tribal clans of Icewind Dale.

Click: See grabs from the original version of Icewind Dale.

More: Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition on Wikipedia
Steam: Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition on Steam
GOG.com: Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition on GOG.com