This was meant to be weekly, and now it’s been on hiatus for too long a time. Resuming program.

1.) Crazy Taxi (Sega) – As my gaming tastes have evolved over the years, I still have an incredible soft spot for “twitch gaming”. In the days of epic games with side-quests, “sandbox” environments and multi-disc sagas, it’s a breath of fresh air to see a game that only takes a few minutes of your time, yet you can come back to it repeatedly. Crazy Taxi has a great “in your face” sense of humor, and it’s not the kind that a lot of marketing execs try to fabricate. It’s “cool” without people telling you why it is. There’s a lot of things that are gratifying about this game, mostly the sense of disregard the rules/do whatever it takes to reach your goal. And if you don’t, it’s nothing you can’t try to attempt during the next game. Between this and Dance Dance Revolution, this game perfectly recreates that addictive feeling that the classic arcade games of the ’80’s so masterfully created. It hooks you in like an oldie, but with a modern day look.

2.) Spider-Man 2 (Activision) – With the current generation of systems, movie-based games became less of a licensed joke, and more of something to actually pay attention to. Spider-Man the character seemed natural for the video-gaming world, but every game before (with the exception of Sega’s Genesis attempt), but with pervious companies placing so many restrictions on the wall-crawlers abilities, he never could shine like he should, could and might have. With the release of the second movie, we finally got a good game. No, make that a great game. The sign of a well-designed game is when the player will actually stop progressing in the game temporarily just to simply enjoy being the character. Even after seeing the game through from start to finish, the call of skyscraper jumping, webbing through the city, thrashing bad guys in every creative way possible… it just never really got tiring. The game very looself followed the movie’s plot, which was fine, as this became more of an “Extended Edition” of the movie. The game has a few nits and picks at times, but it holds up as a thoughtful, intelligent and proper use of a licensed character.

3.) Parappa the Rapper (Sony) – When I first saw this game at E3 ’97, I dismissed it as silly. Then as fate would have it, I played the demo… and kept playing it. Enough to buy the game. My friends scoffed at my seeming lapse of sanity, and then they tried it… and it took them as well. Parappa is a hard game to describe. It just is. It all starts with the music, and the fun characters, and then it gets weirder as the situations continue (rapping to use a toilet comes to mind). And then you learn how to freestyle to earn crowns to show off how “fly” you really are. It’s another prime example of how you don’t need a complex story, graphics or controls to have a good time with a game. It just has to be fun.

4.) Tass Times in Tonetown (Activision) – Ah, the days of ’80’s graphic adventure based computer games… with the style of New Wave (read: Flock of Seagulls) music. Maybe it was that funky little opening ditty. Maybe it was the fact that Ennio the dog wore a fedora. Maybe because it was so weird and so much thought was put into the backstory of Tonetown, all I know is that I thought this game was the pinnacle of good times for my Apple IIc. There were plenty of graphic adventure games back in the day, but this one has always remained in my memory for being so humorous, clever, and unique. As I kid, I thought it was based on an alien world, and in reality, it was based on the style of the ’80’s. Perhaps they really did go hand in hand.

5.) Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Konami) – If I ever got around to making a “Top 10” like I ever said I would, this would be in the Top 5. Without a doubt, my favorite of the Castlevania series, one of my top two favorite side-scrolling adventures, and I regard this game as a true work of art. The beautful backgrounds, the stunningly diverse musical score, the detailed animation, gameplay that was served in hearty fistfuls…. There simply isn’t enough good to say about this game, and in came during a time when it said 2D gaming was a dying breed. You can spend uncounted hours exploring every nook and cranny of the castle, and love every minute of it. It is probably one of the best homages to the entire Castlevania series, honoring everything that came before, and setting the standard for the games that followed. The series was great before this title came out, but this firmly secured a place for the series to remain a “classic”… at least in my game library.

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