Work Experience Starts Tomorrow

Tomorrow I’m starting my first work placement for university at Highbury Entertainment. I enjoyed it a lot the last time so I’m looking forward to this a lot, and as it could lead to some TGS work and other freelance I’m really enthusiastic. They haven’t even told me what I’ll be working on, although GamesTM would be cool because I know some of the people on it. Naturally I’ll be keeping this site updated with what I’m getting up to as I go along.

I’m also in the process of putting together my top ten movies to go with the top ten games that I wrote yesterday. It’s probably not got as many surprises as the game list, but hopefully it will prove interesting anyway.

My Top 10 Favourite Games Ever

Reading through and disagreeing with large amounts of IGN’s Top 100, I was inspired to come up with my top ten games ever. IGN’s is one of the better lists I’ve seen (infinitely better than their abysmal readers’ list where people apparently couldn’t remember beyond six months ago), but anything like this is hugely subjective so nobody’s going to agree completely.

Making a list like this is always something that I always find very difficult. You have to come up with an initial list and then whittle it down to ten before you can then arrange them into an order of preferences, and inevitably you find games that you’d dearly love to give this little bit of recognition to, but I guess you have to break some eggs. Halo, Skies of Arcadia, Call of Duty, and Return to Castle Wolfenstein (the glorious multiplayer component, at least) are all deserving but ultimately had to be trimmed.

Anyway, without further ado…

  1. Super Metroid (SNES) – Simply my favourite game ever, without a doubt. It’s a massive game with a ton of stuff to find and it still looks great today when you see the enormous, screen-filling bosses like Kraid, drawn beautifully in detailed and vivid sprites. More than that it’s simply fun to play, whether for a quick blast or a long session spent exploring the planet’s nooks and crannies. As good as subsequent titles like Fusion and the 3D Prime series have been, I doubt that they’ll ever recapture the synergy that this game has going inside that little cart.
  2. Shenmue (Dreamcast) – A lot of people hate this game, some didn’t think it was anything special, but there are still few games that have such a passionate community clamouring for some resolution to the series and reminiscing about good times spent playing it. I’m a card-carrying member of this community and enjoy few things more than exploring Yu Suzuki’s wonderful recreation of 1980s Japan. There are now better looking games but I can’t think of any that have such a sense of place and atmosphere, brought to life in some beautiful artistry and a stunningly evocative soundtrack. Now give us Shenmue III…please?
  3. Tetris DX (Game Boy Color) – Tetris is as ubiquitous to most gamers as a controller and Tetris DX, the Game Boy Color’s big draw, is the best version ever made. It didn’t make the mistake that subsequent versions have made by overcomplicating the near-perfect Tetris formula. The splash of colour and inobtrusive animation added some welcome visual sparkle (aided by the sharp screen of the GBC) and the inertia was tweaked until it could almost be played on reflex. It didn’t have that iconic music from the original, but I can forgive that when this game still keeps me going back and gives my GBA SP more playtime than my DS.
  4. Chrono Trigger (SNES) – This one is one of the staples of most “best game ever” lists and when playing it it’s easy to see why. Akira Toriyama’s designs are translated into some gorgeous artwork and some of the most recognisable themes around, but underneath this is a game that seamlessly mixes the best of Square’s turn-based RPGs and the likes of Zelda to create something unique. It might lose steam towards the end but repeat plays never get old.
  5. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64) – Who doesn’t have this in their list? Link made the transition to 3D better than anyone could have hoped for in a game that even today transcends its technical limits into an adventure that few can come close to. Probably Miyamoto’s most cinematic game, and frequently awe-inspiring.
  6. Grand Theft Auto III (Xbox) – Probably the most influential title in a very long time, GTA3 shattered boundaries that most games considered insurmountable with an engrossing jump into the world of organised crime. The newer GTA games may have added more and be technically better, but they don’t match the first time you played this one and realised that you had a whole city to run around and raise hell in. I chose the Xbox one simply because of the tweaks and improvements over the PS2 version.
  7. GoldenEye (Nintendo 64) – Probably the most influential FPS since Doom, it brought first-person gunplay into the living room and made it such a popular genre that it still won’t leave. Not only that, it proved that a movie adaption didn’t have to be a piece of crap that relied solely on its name to sell. Countless hours were spent playing and replaying the missions with new tasks and easter eggs to find on each difficulty and then, of course, that multiplayer mode. Is there anyone who didn’t love getting a group of friends together and cutting them down with a spray from the RCP-90? As Oddjob?
  8. Counter-Strike (PC) – The fact that people still play this game religiously in its various guises should be some proof of just how much staying power it has. While Counter-Strike Source adds all kind of graphical hoo-ha I still prefer the tightly tweaked gameplay of the older CS1.6/Condition Zero. It took me weeks to get over the Everest-size learning curve but once you know the maps and the idiosyncrasies of the gameplay it becomes a game of skill where you know that the guy who keeps killing you is a better player that you’re going to have to work to beat. That, or he’s a cheating little bastard.
  9. Final Fantasy VII (PlayStation) – One of the first “true” RPGs that I played, it wasn’t until fairly recently that a real love for FFVII really clicked with me. I never felt it was as much of a technical feat as it was hailed as at the time, but it still managed to bring to our consoles one of the best storylines in any medium coupled with classic RPG gameplay. It can be convoluted and hard to follow in places but everyone who plays it remembers those iconic moments – Sephiroth disappearing into the fires of Nibelheim, the escape from Midgar, and, of course, Aeris…
  10. Street Fighter II Turbo (Arcade) – Fighting games have become exponentially more technically accomplished over the years but with very few exceptions the basic gameplay has barely moved at all beyond the cardinal rules that Capcom set down in Street Fighter II. Add in some extra speed and the ability to play as the bosses, and you get a near perfect example of the genre. It’s infinitely playable and exists to be mastered, with new combos and strategies to learn for all of the distinctive combatants. The gameplay has a balance between simplicity and complexity that allows for a continual learning curve that carries across all of the countless editions that I’ve bought over the years.

Well there you go. Some might be surprising, some not so, but those are my favourite games that I’ve ever played. I’ll be interested to hear any feedback that you might have because it took a bloody long time to put together.


In probably the least surprising lawsuit in a long time, the first person who can smell easy money is suing over the sex content in GTA San Andreas (The Register). Chances are that they’ll win and open the floodgates since the industry has become such a fashionable target, but I’m going to be pissed off if no-one notices the obvious holes in her argument and doesn’t at least advise the judge to throw the case out.

First of all, she’s suing because a game rated 18+ isn’t suitable for her 14 year-old grandson whereas one rated 17+ was. She didn’t know that it contained “explicit” (assuming “explicit” means “fully clothed”) sexual content despite the fact that the content was disabled and could only be opened by various hacks, and it was apparently OK that it did contain the whole gamut of illegal activities – murder, assassination, drug dealing, gang warfare, solicitation of prostitutes, bribing police officers, carjacking, burglary, arson, interfering with a witness, theft from a military facility, etc.

She also seems to have overlooked the fact that the ESRB guidelines for M and AO aren’t actually very different, and the M rating allows for “intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content, and/or strong language”. The only difference is that AO allows for prolonged and graphic scenes, and you really can’t call Hot Coffee “graphic” if you’ve seen God of War with Kratos’ concubines.

Unfortunately this sort of thing is now inevitable with much of America apparently finding sex far more abhorrent than the murder of civilians.

Arr, Matey!

I’ve just seen a study from Brunel University being reported on over on Joystiq which suggests that, not particularly shockingly, the majority of UK teenagers possess or regularly obtain pirated software. That’s not exactly news to anyone who’s been to school in the UK and seen the amount of piracy going on whenever a new Championship Manager (now Football Manager) comes out, but what I think the industry really needs to take heed of is the statistic that cost isn’t the main issue for them, even if it probably should be.

The reason why so many of them pirate software is because they’re sick of the delays in bringing certain things to the UK, if they make it at all. Things are definitely better than they were and things like the Xbox 360 making it here within six weeks of the US release is unique in that it actually treats us with some respect, but just look at Sony and the debacle surrounding the PSP release. They’re taking independent retailers to court – the same retailers that their own reps are buying PSPs from – and the whole thing could have been avoided if it was out here now for a decent price, not when it’s pushing its first anniversary in Japan for £70 more.

Good work, Brunel. Too bad the industry will probably just bury its head in the sand as usual.

Advent Children Limited Edition

Wow, why can’t we get DVD editions like this?

Possibly because it’s ¥29,500 (£151.45 or $264.55 US), but they’ve absolutely crammed it with stuff. The film, the trailers, Cloud and motorcycle figures, cup, T-shirt, keychain, behind the scenes footage (full list here). I was going to pick it up but when even the standard edition is the price of a game, ¥4,800, I don’t know if I can justify picking one up while I’m out there.

Who knows, though? I’m weak when it comes to things like this…