I’ve thought about adding new “features” (As any good game these days is known to have). One of which being sickeningly huge game rooms from collectors that make me jealous. The other….

For years, I’ve toiled over creating a “Top 100 Best Games Of All Time” list. I never could do it. Something new would come out that would catch my eye, what if I liked a game that was too obscure for only me, I was always afraid that when I finished, something else would warrant a place, and then what do I cut out of the list….

So I’ll do five games a week that really caught my attention, and think is worth someone’s time. This will go from the most popular and established games, to the obscure. From the ’70’s to today. From Atari 2600 to whatever is released. If it’s good, an eye-opener to me, or just something that redeifned how games played, I’ll make nods to various titles. And I likely won’t do all the obvious ones first. And to make it clear, I’m not going to rate compliations. It’s a skewed review. So without further explanation, here’s my “Top 5” for this week.

1.) Space Harrier (Sega) – As far as shooters go, this remains one of my favorites. As a game today, it still holds up remarkably well for being fast-paced, challenging and fun. The graphics are still impressive in their level of detail and the speed that they come whizzing past the Harrier, and I still love the main theme as one of my favorite gaming tunes. Why they never released Planet Harriers to home (other than the early demise of the Dreamcast), I’ll never know. Surprisingly, the Game Boy Advance’s version is the most recent re-release, and is very accurate to the arcade (along with Shenmue‘s rendition). It remains my favorite shooter.

2.) Tempest 2000 (Atari) – Ah, the game that suckered me into buying a Jaguar. One of two games that made the little system almost worth it’s money (the other I’ll cover in a later entry), Tempest 2000 blew me away at a giant-screened display at Incredible Universe (remember those?). Even today, it’s still an extremely competent game. The original Tempest was addicting as it was, but to add all these rich colors, cool effects, and that amazing CD-quality soundtrack, it was a sight to behold, and a wonder to hear. Even on that moose-handed controller, it played like a dream. And it kept me up many a night. This is the best example of how a remake should be done: Keep the elements of the original game, and enhance it with new features or style. I’ve always hoped the new Atari would re-release it. At least for a handheld.

3.) Kid Icarus (Nintendo) – I was one of the few that genuinely loved Kid Icarus. I even have the original Game Boy sequel, if you remember that. The “sister” game of Metroid, it featured Nintendo’s tried and true platforming genius. Frustrating at times, but even after the vows of never playing it again were etched is stone, the controller found its way back into my hands regardless. It was like Super Mario Bros. in the sense that it was a linear experience, and there was no revisiting levels, but like Metroid, had the item collection and power upgrades. Not to mention those vertical climbing levels where even if the ground was two feet below you, if you didn’t see it, you died. I was saddened when Nintendo didn’t include it in the NES Classics series for the Game Boy Advance like they had in Japan. But it’s a safe bet that I’ll be playing him in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Dear Nintendo: Wii sequel, please.

4.) Revenge of Shinobi (Sega) – To be blunt, ninjas are cool. This simply can’t be argued. As one the earliest Genesis games, it didn’t get much better. And Joe Musashi showed why ninjas are inherently such bad-asses by taking on Batman, Spider-Man, the Terminator and Godzilla all in a single quest to save his girlfriend. If that’s not true love, I don’t want to know what is. In all seriousness, the game was fun. Great graphics, diverse levels, and an impressive soundtrack that really ramped up the “wow” factor to show the difference between the NES and the Genesis. Of all the entries in the Shinobi series, this one remains my favorite to this day.

5.) Pitfall! (Activision) – In looking at the current gen’s antholgies for the Atari and Activision titles of the Atari 2600, you can see the difference in quality. Sure, Atari has it’s share of gems (and clunkers), but with Activision’s titles, they really pushed the boundaries of what the system could do. Pitfall! is another title that is simplistic by today’s standards, but to stay alive through those 20 minutes of gameplay, much less score all of the treasures, that was a feat to be proud of. While Pac-Land and Super Mario Bros. are usually credited as being the first two side-scrolling adventures, Pitfall! took the action off of just one screen and moved it into a full jungle, teeming with dangerous creatures and obstacles. Pitfall Harry could jump, swing, and climb through all of this, and while this is a no-brainer for modern gen adventurers, this was a big step from the one color heroes of the time where it was pretty cool if they just simply jumped. Pitfall! still retains that addictive “just one more time” attitude that quite a few games miss now. I can always pick this game up and know that I’ll be given a few minutes of entertainment.

Well, so begins the long journey through a very in-depth “Hall of Fame”. As I said, I’ll pull five titles a week that come to mind from any decade, any genre, any system. This should be a surprising feature to see what comes next.

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