Finally, the continuation of this series.

1.) Tetris DS (Nintendo) – The problem with Tetris in general is that there are so many versions of this simple puzzler, that it’s hard to say which one is the best. After joing a group of friends in multi-player in a coffeeshop environment and whiling away the evening, I think this one is one of the strongest entries in the series. This also coupled with some entertaining new modes based off the touch screen feature of the DS, and my love for old Nintendo nostalgia…. Well, there you are. Tetris itself is gaming in its purest form (one of the “Top 3” in my opinion – the others I shall cover later). It’s what created the Game Boy empire, and absolutely anyone can play it. Over the years, designers have tried to “update” Tetris with, quite frankly, largely miserable results, but this version is done very well, even with all of the modes that allow for power-ups and gameplay tweaks. The beauty of this game that it never repeats itself, allowing for a new experience every time, and for this, combined with its simplicity and accessibility by anyone, is why it’s remained so universally revered.

2.) Mortal Kombat 3 (Midway) – I would be remiss in not mentioning this game, if for no other reason than it being my first professional entry into the video gaming industry. But the truth is, through very even mixture of gameplay enjoyment and fond memories of a youth who finally entered his own version of “Oz”, via working on a video game. I still enjoy this game. The fighting became very intuitive with practice, and while I didn’t find the story and character selection quite as compelling as Mortal Kombat 2, I preferred the gameplay more, and I certainly have felt it was the apex of the series, and certainly one of the best games via Midway throughout the ’90’s.

3.) Gauntlet (Atari) – When I first saw Gauntlet in the arcades, it blew me away. The then-seeming madness of a game that allowed me and three of my friends to play all at the same time. So novel then, almost mandatory for a game now. It was one of the first non-PC dungeon crawl games, that forced players against scores of enemies with little hope of survival unless a handful of quarters were on tap. The days of working your way through a maze-like dungeon with Death at your heels and wondering if your partner was going to save you that food or eat it for themselves made for some great memories. Primitive now with it’s sythesized (but unforgettable) speech, this was always one of the titles I would actively seek out when entering the arcade. And for those wondering, I always played (and still do) Questor the Elf.

4.) Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (Nintendo) – I am the last person you would want to consult about sports games. I’m usually just not interested. I’d rather play something that I normally can’t do in real life (which would explain why I’ve still not gotten that return call from the NHL). But Punch-Out!! was captivating for a lot of reasons: Great characters, memorable music, fast gameplay… one felt like there was more strategy to fighting these boxers than punching blindly and eventually you would wear the other fighter out. Each boxer had their own specific strengths and weaknesses, not to mention a lot of personality. Sure, I never did get around to beating Mike Tyson (which in my defense, I am fairly convinced that he gained his inhuman speed and strengh from the Dark Lord himself), but this is the other Nintendo forgotten title that I wish they would make an update for.

5.) Ecco the Dolphin (Sega) – When the Genesis debuted this title back in the day, I passed on it for the “better” version on their Sega CD. While the CD version was little more than a port, it had one whopping advantage over the cartridge version: The soundtrack. The Sega CD version of Ecco has one of the most beautiful game-created soundtracks ever made. If there was ever a soundtrack that captured the epicness, isolation and beauty of what the gameplay was meant to represent, it pulled it off like no other game of its time. Ecco itself was different. Not a shooter, not a platformer, not like anything else during its time, really. Sega was known at the time for making unique games that you couldn’t find anywhere else, and this was a prime example of that. If an adventure game could be interesting and relaxing at the same time, this was it, not to mention the graphics were just gorgeous. Sega has been remarkably quiet with Ecco, other than his Dreamcast outing a few years back. Here’s hoping that he will make his return for the new systems one day.

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