15. River City Ransom (NES)
While I can find fighters to be fun but generally suck at them, beat 'em ups are more of the ones that I can not only find fun but also at least show some sense of skill. They're also low in my collection, so that further explains the reason why I bring up fighters and beat 'em ups. Not only that, but the difference is simply that in a fighter, you're going up against one guy and trying to knock them down. In a beat 'em up, you're usually trying to fend off multiple enemies while also progressing throughout the level. I was trying to figure out which beat 'em up to put on the list as I would when it would come to these sorts of selections on the list. No matter what, my mind seemed to continue shifting towards River City Ransom for some reason. It was not only the most memorable beat 'em up I ever played, but it was the first one that I willingly had an idea of what the genre was. I'm sure that I may have played a beat 'em up before getting my Wii and searching through the Virtual Console, but from what I remembered, those games were usually mediocre. It wasn't until I had this game that I chose more wisely which beat 'em ups to obtain and had a better idea of what one of them was.
It's a relatively simple concept. You're some hip dude out on the streets, your girl gets kidnapped by some bad motherfucker, you gotta kick that guy's shit in by fending off countless goons for different gangs out on the streets. You use whatever at your disposal (fists, items that you have gotten from shops or weapons laying about) to make that tough guy utter some nonsense before turning into a shiny little coin. It basically holds a lot of what the sidescrolling beat 'em up is now. Most of the same concepts still linger in the more recent beat 'em ups with additions being special moves and upgradeable attacks. Technically speaking in RCR you could do that, but it isn't as flashy as it is now. What made RCR really enjoyable for me was the whole look of it. The character designs and the streets integrated really well and it was nice to see a suburban setting displayed in 8-bit form. Some of the chiptune songs were really good, especially the ones going into the shops or the boss battles. The controls were also fairly well, as was the gameplay. Although I found myself in some instances getting hit by an object that has stopped moving, especially in cases of the knockback. That and there are instances where I get ambushed, but that's more on my fault since the idea of a fighter is that you avoid that happening.
14. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle
This is certainly one of my more rose-colored choices on the list. There's only 1/3 of the game that's actually what Sonic does best in this game. Another 1/3 of the game is incredibly tedious and boring. It began the greater incline of pointless Sonic characters. The music ranges from fitting to absurd rap songs that only a game like SA2B could bring. And the story is just...well...it's just very silly. It wouldn't be so bad, but it kind of took itself a little too seriously (which became another fault with future Sonic games). As much as I acknowledge the substancial amount of faults with the game, I still find myself coming back to this game and having fun with it. Mainly because I look at it as the joke it is. You take this game too seriously and you're not going to have that much fun with it. There's a lot that is outlandish about the story and the choices in music. The levels on the other hand are well designed and the games at least play well. While everyone doesn't exactly enjoy the treasure hunts (I won't deny it's the worst part of the game), I still found it enjoyable to glide about the levels. The parts that actually are based in what Sonic is about flow very well and I feel tons of speed. Everything felt so sudden and you had to think fast to maintain the speed. It was very well done in my opinion. That and as somewhat unfitting some of the music, it's still kind of catchy and funny if you imagine that someone had to go through the thought process of writing lyrics for a Sonic-related rap.
That and I loved raising the Chao in the garden. Speaking of which I think they're probably all dead now because I haven't tended to them in quite a long time. 'Scuse me.
13. Paper Mario The Thousand Year Door
Whilst I enjoyed playing Super Paper Mario and would even dare to say that it beats the original, there is without a shadow of a doubt that it's predecessor is the farther superior installment of the series. For one, it continued the RPG element of the original and stuck to it as you could select the badges and partners you want to use as well as get in contact with whatever miscellaneous artifacts you encounter on your journey. What it managed to do better than the original though was based heavily around the story and characters. The first game was a simple "Bowser did an evil act, you must defeat him, bla bla bla". This one on the other hand has a prophecy that is about to unfold and you must collect 7 crystals to open a door to eventually stop the prophecy, bla bla bla. That and there's more subplots focusing around the villains, the sub-villains and the main characters. You could argue that there was sufficient sub-plots in the original Paper Mario, but these one were more plentiful and interesting. There's also the new special abilities such as becoming a boat or becoming a paper airplane that can allow you to enter hidden areas or simply progress further in the game. But last and certainly not least, you can play as Bowser in a Super Mario Bros. esque "minigame" that is very amusing.
Now while I argued that Super Paper Mario had the better story and characters, I'd have to say that Paper Mario TTYD had the better scenarios and gameplay. My favorite chapters are mostly the ones near the middle, with Chapter 3 being my absolute favorite for the wrestling environment and Chapter 4 coming a close second for having a humorous moment and also one of my favorite partners. It was kind of weird knowing the truth about said partner, but Japan is weird in that way. I enjoyed the turn-based strategy that was to be implemented. It allowed me to careful construct what my next move would be. Sometimes in Super Paper Mario, I may panic and use something that I wasn't supposed to. TTYD on the other hand allows me to take my time. That's what made the game fun alongside from the surrounding, quirky humor and the Mario association. I humbly wait to see what Sticker Star holds in store because the only use I find for my 3DS is as a paperweight.
12. Half Life 2
I don't feel the need to explain why Half Life 2 should be on my list. It's one of Valve's greatest games, and knowing that Valve has consistently made wonderful games, this makes it all the better. It may not be my most enjoyed game, but I still love the beauty of it. The sheer mystery of the Gman, the duality of the macabre to be humorous or dramatic, the grotesque alien life-form and the ass on Alyx. The list extends to great lengths, ranging from the Source engine's abilities to the engaging story centering around this dystopian world. I can't find another special way to explain why the form of telling the story works magnificently in HL2, or why the Gravity Gun can incorporate a great selection of aid or hilarity. Although the other games that are on this list have had their fair share of praise and accolades devoted to their magnificence, Half Life 2 has received so much of it that it's hard to write this down without paraphrasing someone else on the matter. The same could be said about the other entry on my list. It's still a game that leaves the player enjoying a lot and asking for more. And while the episodes have done their part to help, we still await further word on what Gordon Freeman's latest adventure will be.
Again, as before, there have been more than enough people that have commented on this accidental magnum opus that it's hard to see what else I can add to it unless I talk about the sequel. While the sequel managed to implement more humor and puzzle elements to the portal-to-portal challenges that you would face, it didn't have that same of grainy feel to it that the last game had. There was a lot to be in awe over, but there wasn't a lot that made you worried about the situation you encountered. Portal worked so well in it's dark comedy because it was a silent victim facing a deranged AI that wishes to eradicate her. There's little known about where she came from, but judging from her surroundings, it doesn't seem like it's an inviting place. Various writings on walls emphasize the impending doom that you're about to face and GLaDOS is constantly tricking you and acting erratic as the game progresses. It's also worth to note that both the hero and villain in the game are female and treated with a great sense of dignity. As much Portal 2 developed the Aperture Science world and is still a fairly great game, but Portal took itself more seriously, even if the fanbase didn't. There's nothing wrong with a game that can make you laugh, but making the humor more subtle and caustic is more fitting. It's short, but everything is crafted to perfection.