Top ten N64 games: revisited

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Many moons ago, when blogging was still relatively new to me, I did what I imagine most games bloggers above a certain age have done and wrote a to ten N64 games list. It was a pretty indulgent thing to do but I nevertheless enjoyed it immensely.

Looking back on this now, I didn’t do the best job, not really justifying my picks in any detailed sort of way. Also, I have played a few other games since then which very much need to be taken into account. Therefore I give to you my latest attempt at singling out ten games, out of a plethora of good N64, as the ‘best.’

Naturally I would love to hear whether you agree or disagree, for that nice feeling of shared experience, or passionately and pointlessly arguing against someone else’s perfectly valid opinion.

  1. Super Smash Brothers

The game that launched a franchise which was destined to become one of Nintendo’s most profitable of all time, this game does not need much in the way of introduction. The success of this game was purely down to its simple concept of throwing together the most iconic characters that Nintendo could find and making them beat the crap out of each other. Not only did this settle some childhood arguments about the relative strengths of different characters, but it also allowed a whole generation to fall out with each other and sulk for days. Satisfying gameplay, simple controls and an addictive re-playability, combined with Nintendo’s triple A intellectual properties made this a smash hit paving the way for later instalments. Unlike most of the games on this list however, it doesn’t hold up so well now. Playing it after being used to its more polished, lightning fast successors really does feel both slow and clunky. Or maybe I’m just not playing it properly. Either way, Link for the win!

  1. Jet Force Gemini

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Perhaps one of the few on this list which could possibly be described as underrated (or maybe not, I just don’t know anyone else personally who owned it.) Nevertheless, this game really did show off the huge amount of talent that Rare had at its disposal. Not to mention that the concept of the game is so good. Space heroes, including a flying dog, out to save small bear-like creatures from the predations of giant ants? Yes please! Add buckets of ant-gore, satisfying action and that dark humour which become so synonymous with Rare, and the result is a really excellent third person action/adventure. The only issue with this is that in order to finish the game an incredibly long and arduous process of saving every tribal and finding all of the scattered space ship parts  has to be overcome and completely de-rails the flow of the game. Still an excellent experience though.

  1. Snowboard Kids

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Possibly a game doomed to fade away into obscurity, this game deserves to be on this list and it really was a coinflip between having this game at seven or eight in this list. This polished snowboard racer really does have everything; chaotic items and weaponry, excellent course design, a reward system for pulling off complex tricks, and one of the best soundtracks to feature in any game, ever. Seriously, neighbours could be forgiven for thinking that you were mid-way through a pretty good rave once this game gets dusted off. Really wouldn’t bother with the sequel though…

  1. MarioKart 64

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Does this game really need its merits explained? Well, lets go over them anyway, if only for the sake of thoroughness. Building on the huge success of the first instalment on the SNES, this game has to go down as one of the best MarioKarts to date. Fantastic track design, which really brings out all of the character of the Mario universe, coupled with frantic races, cheating computers and a battle mode, (not to mention the utilising of a number of Nintendo’s best characters) combined to not only create a good game, but ensured the long term success of the franchise. This remains one of my favourite entries to date despite some slight issues with the somewhat slippery handling. It would be reasonably safe to say that this game was a triumph for multi-player gaming, and has created fond memories and excessive combativeness for a whole generation.

  1. Donkey Kong 64

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Another piece of Rare magic, and another IP which made the transition from 2D to 3D seamlessly, this game took a classic and re-made it into a fantastic 3D platform adventure game. The inclusion of 5 playable Kong’s, the innovative and breath-taking worlds to explore, hilarious special powers, and fruit based weapons, and overall feeling of quality, made this an unforgettable experience. The bright levels, unbelievably good level soundtracks, and awesome boss fights ensured that this game was played over and over again (despite the part of the game which demands beating the original Donkey Kong to get to the final boss being SO FRUSTRATING!)

  1. Banjo Tooie

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Seriously, what was Rare on in the late nineties/early noughties and where can I get some? I agonised for a long time between putting this at the 5 or 4 slot on this list. This is definitely one of my favourite games of all time. As an adventure platforming game, this pretty much has everything. Great level design (particularly like Hailfire Peaks) most amazing, kick ass soundtrack (every tune will have you humming for days after), having a character that can split in two and or travel as a pair assisting each other with their respective skills was pretty refreshing for the time, the narrative was smart and, of course, that wickedly dark Rare humour just oozed out of the dialogue. Banjo and Kazooie have some hilarious and dark dialogue which still makes me laugh every time. This game misses out on being my favourite adventure/platforming game only due to the next entry…

  1. Super Mario 64

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For many, this is game that really launched 3-D platform gaming. On a personal level I will never forget the feeling of watching 3-D Mario leaping out of the pipe and then seeing Peach’s castle looming in all its glory. That’s all before you get inside; greeted by Bowser’s sinister laugh to see all the rooms and corridors sprawling off into the distance. This game, more successfully than others of the time, managed to make every world and course completely unique and engaging, including hidden secrets and stars to find and outrageous world bosses. Rather than go on, suffice to say that this game is pretty close to perfect and is held back only by the limitations of its hardware. Then again, would this really be improved with more technical power behind it? Not really, I didn’t like the DS version of the game anywhere near as much (mostly because trying to play a 3-D game on a D-pad is just dump, and don’t get me started on trying to control with the touch screen.) This game still features in many people’s lists of best games of all time, and deservedly so.

  1. Goldeneye/Perfect Dark

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To some, it may appear heretical to lump these two games together, particularly as they are both such outstandingly good titles. However, I really couldn’t call between the two in terms of my own preference, and they largely provide the same sort of thrills. Perhaps more than any of the others, these two Rare titles are the ones which have become synonymous with N64 quality. It is very difficult to say which the better game is. Technically Perfect Dark has the edge, utilising the expansion pack to give a more polished and graphically superior game. By all other standards though, they both are too close to call. Both offer superb and engrossing storylines and excellent FPS action. Goldeneye has all of the Bond charm of the movie; Perfect Dark captures the essence of futuristic government conspiracy. Both have great multiplayers (possibly slightly better in PD due to the ability to have extra NPC combatants.) The only clear difference between the two games is that the enemy intelligence is far better in Perfect Dark.

  1. The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time

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This is the game that really launched my obsession with games and remains one of my favourites to this day. I’m sure there is no need to explain why this game is good; you almost certainly already know why (and if you don’t what was up with your childhood?) This game has literally almost everything. So why is it at second? Well…

1. The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask

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Building on what made Ocarina so good, this game delivers in spades. I know that putting this ahead of Ocarina might be an unpopular choice, but out of the two I really do prefer Majora’s Mask. Sure, it doesn’t have as many temples and the boss fights are a little easy in places, but apart from that I think Mask has the edge. The sheer overwhelmingly large amount of challenges and quests to complete, coupled with the darker, more mature content (dealing largely with loss, regret, fear and death) create a far more immersive world as you get so heavily involved in the lives of the denizens of Termina. The use of masks to give Link different skills and forms adds further depth to an already winning formula. Pure magic.

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Top Ten Grass-Type Pokemon!

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Despite grass type being one of the most common Pokemon types of all, I often feel that it is generally overlooked. Possibly this is due to grass being pretty weak competitively, being weak to flying, fire, bug, Ice and poison. This makes it pretty tricky to use, particularly with most teams running an ice attack user to deal with the many dragon type threats which are commonly used (Salamence etc) and the prevalence of Mega-Charizard and Talonflame in the doubles meta-game. Another possible reason for grass type often being overlooked is that there are just so many average looking Pokemon in this type. However, I think it deserves better, so here is my top ten favourite Grass, or part-grass, type Pokemon.

  1. Snivy

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This Pokemon makes the list due to its cutesy charm and appearance of haughty aloofness. It doesn’t hurt that Ash’s Snivy in the TV series really was amazing (once it got its attitude sorted.)

  1. Vileplume

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I loved this Pokemon as a child ever since I saw it in glorious 3D in Pokemon Stadium, pirouetting around using petal dance, smiling away. It earns ever more marks from me by looking bad-ass despite evolving from one of the dullest basic Pokemon in the game.

  1. Chikorita

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CUTE!! ‘Nuff said.

  1. Leafeon

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I love all of the Eeveelutions. I think they are all so well designed, lots of thought and effort have gone into the look of these Pokemon. They seem to typify their typing in the way that they look, and Leafeon is no exception to this. It’s a pain to evolve if you aren’t sure where to find a moss stone, but well worth the effort. Surprisingly not too awful stats-wise too, with an impressive attack and defence value. Move-pool not too good though.

  1. Bulbasaur

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BULBA-SAUR! I love Ash’s Bulbasaur in the cartoon, its tough and cute in equal measure. I never could understand why Ash leaves it behind…

  1. Cacturne

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Not only is this Pokemon, incredibly sinister looking, its Pokedex is equally disturbing – “Packs of them follow travelers through the desert until the travelers can no longer move.” Looking at its face, I can seriously believe it. Huge style points on this Pokemon.

  1. Abomasnow and Mega-Abomasnow

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Since I first encountered this Pokemon and its associated mega-evolved form in the snowy cave in the Kalos region, I thought its design was pretty special. Which is saying something as I think that the 6th generation has some really great Pokemon design to compete with, so much so that I wrote a post dedicated solely to this shortly after the release of X and Y (if you missed it, the link is at the bottom of this post.) Who wouldn’t love a giant grassy Ice-monster that looks like it could very well be responsible for all the rumours of abominable snow men?

  1. Gourgeist

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Haunted pumpkin that wanders around cursing people? That’s sounds pretty awesome to me. “Singing in eerie voices, they wander town streets on the night of the new moon. Anyone who hears their song is cursed.”

  1. Ludicolo

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This Pokemon makes it all the way to the top purely because it looks like it is the most cheerful creature on the planet and dances pretty well. Making it dance slower when it has a status problem was a fairly nice touch.

  1. And the winner is…Trevenant!

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This Pokemon has a great little Pokedex entry, stating that it will willingly protect its forest from harm cause by people and Pokemon, which instantly conjures up memories of Ents from Lord of the Rings or Tree Guardians from the Warhammer Wood Elf army. Add in the fact that its design really is perfect, then this ways always going to be the standout winner.

https://theinverselook.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/6th-generation-pokemon-design/

Top ten mega evolutions!

Sometimes you just need a good top ten and this is one of those times! Just to be clear, this is based purely on aesthetics rather than competitive viability, as some of these Pokemon really are not cut out for competitive play.

  1. Aggron

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Looking like a tank which decided to have a baby with a rhino, Aggron looks like one of those Pokemon which, if real, would be far too dangerous to be allowed to live. All blades, all edges and titanic size, this is somewhat reminiscent of a Dark Souls boss….to be feared.

  1. Houndoom

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Cujo much? Houndoom has a good design anyway and is only improved by becoming mega. The black, white and red colour scheme, coupled with the huge ram horns and pointy tail give more than a vague impression of devilishness. Way cooler than Mega Absol’s emo fringe look…

  1. Steelix

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There is something hypnotic about the tiny shards of metal orbiting Steelix’s face, endlessly moving and supported by seemingly nothing at all. That coupled with Steelix’s serpentine shape and vaguely unsettling grin combine to make this a pretty awesome visual spectacle.

  1. Ampharos

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Because you’re worth it too! Mega Ampharos really does look like an advert for Pantenne or Herbal Esseences with that wavy, majestic hair and ‘I’m so much more awesome than you look.’ Pretty cool, in other words.

  1. Banette

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This Pokemon could quite easily be something fished out of the Warren’s basement or straight out of the mind of Tim Burton. Childhood fear mixed with the everyday made terrifying doesn’t even come close to describing the horror that would be if this Pokemon were actually to exist.

  1. Blastoise

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Huge reptile with a howitzer sized cannon on its back? Enough said.

  1. Altaria

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IT’S SO FLUFFY I’M GOING TO DIE!

  1. Beedrill

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All menace, all pointy, all badass! I have always liked the design of this Pokemon, and going mega has only made me like it more edgy.

  1. Charizard X

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I love the colour scheme; the blue balefire streaming out of the mouth makes this design seem to be a little ethereal.

  1. Gengar

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Gengar is one of my most favourite Pokemon designs, so I really couldn’t see how it could be improved upon. The hellish underglow lighting up the Gengar as if it was emerging from the pits of the underworld managed to do it though.

Agree or disagree? Did I miss anything off my list? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll Show You Who’s Boss! Top Ten Boss Fights

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Whether you love them or hate them bosses are an integral part of many genres of video games. There are many different ways to make a boss fight entertaining, climatic atmosphere, dramatic music, stunning visual effects or even just straight up difficulty (I’m looking at you Dark Souls.) In order to celebrate the art of boss battles, I have out together a list of the top ten boss battles from games that I have played. These are not necessarily the most challenging bosses that I have faced (although some are), but many are included in the list for their sense of drama, narrative qualities, visuals or, in some cases, out and out hilarity. Obviously, there will be many great boss battles from games I have not played that I can’t include in this list, but if you have any that you think rival or beat the ones in my list then let me know so I can give them a go!

10. Taurus Demon (Dark Souls)

As most of you know, this game is terrifying and unforgiving in equal measure, the slightest mistake resulting in swift death. This is doubly so at the beginning of the game when you are just getting used to the controls and the combat system and just the kind of combat technique that Dark Souls requires in order to be successful. So you fight your way through the first level (of sorts) dying many times until finally you reach the pinnacle of the keep with a bridge leading to sweet, sweet freedom. NO! Out pops a huge demon boss ready to smash your face in. And smash your face in he does. This boss fight is terrifying for those just starting out in the game. Not only is your foe huge and powerful, but the confined space makes it so hard to stay out of its way. The damn thing is as wide as the bridge and there is nowhere to run. Suffice to say on my first run through I died several times to this. It really is a hard boss considering how close to the start of the game it is. Very few gaming experiences will equal the triumph of defeating this boss though. You really do feel like a hero.

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9. Trevelyan (Goldeneye)

Trevelyan himself is not that hard to face down, but when combined with the rest of the level on the hardest difficulty, this can be a real pain. Trevelyan essentially runs around the cradle as his endlessly spawning minions shoot the crap out of you. They wear armour. They re-spawn. Their guns are powerful. It is actually all too easy to run out of ammo just trying to get near enough to Trevelyan to wear him down. Eventually, (assuming you live that long) he makes a break for the final showdown at the base of the level. There is a pretty good chance you will get shot in the back by minions on one of the narrow sections were dodging is impossible and distance makes no difference to enemy accuracy. Still, once you have him cornered its a simple enough task to shoot him off the satellite to his painful death. Unless your foolish enough to try and use the ladder to get to him. Then you die 100% of the time as one hit will see you off the edge. Beware.

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8. Krauser (Resident Evil 4)

This is one of my favourite games of all time, and Krauser is just a pretty entertaining, hilarious friend turned enemy. This battle is not especially difficult, but it is a lot of fun. The first encounter is done entirely through cut-scenes and quick time events, which at the time was very innovative, and is incredibly tense, one wrong move seeing Leon stabbed viciously to death. The dialogue between these two former friends is great and full of emotion. The second encounter sees Krauser morph into a powerful and quick mutant with a huge claw. Going toe-to-toe with Krauser at this point is great, using quick time events and doges to avoid his powerful strikes before catching him off guard and putting a few rounds into him. His attack patterns are varied and quick enough to catch you off guard many times. This is by far one of my favourite parts of this game.

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7. Fyrus the Fire Demon (Twilight Princess)

I think that this game is underrated generally, the visuals are great, the music is fantastic and the dungeon design is some of the best that I have seen. Yet people seem to have a real downer on this game and I can’t understand why. Sure it doesn’t have the same charm as Ocarina or the absorbing weirdness of Majora’s Mask, but it is still a well designed and entertaining game. The dungeons are fantastic and the bosses are very well done. My favourite though is the Fire Temple boss. A huge, possessed Goron elder this boss just looks so menacing and beautiful that it really deserves a place in this list. It also has more than a whiff of a Balrog about it which for me only adds to the overall awesomeness of this boss fight.

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6. Mr Patch (Banjo Tooie)

If i had to try and list my top 5 favourite video games ever, this game would almost certainly make the cut. I love it that much. Its one of the best adventure platformer games out there. The boss fights are all good, but I have chosen the fight with Mr Patch as the best of them. The witty dialogue between our heroes and a self-important, smug inflatable dinosaur is hilarious and there is something inherently fun about flying around inside a big top circus tent shooting egg grenades at a dinosaur. There is also a certain degree of satisfaction in watching the boss slowly deflating to a humorous paaarrrp noise before exploding.

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5. The Bounty Hunters (Metroid Prime 3 Corruption)

This game is brilliant but, way, way too short. That being said the boss battles are beautifully designed, a visual feast and always challenging. My favourites though are the battles against your former bounty hunter allies. I absolutely love seeing the way that their Phazon corruption has altered their forms into twisted, energy charged versions of their former selves. The friends you knew are gone, time to take them out and give them peace.

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4. Ganon (Ocarina of Time)

So, you have fought your way through Ganondorf’s keep, killed his minions, climbed his tower and beaten the crap out of the evil sorcerer and freed the princess. You are feeling good at this point, just starting to relax after a job well done when suddenly a huge monster erupts out of the wreckage of your enemie’s ruined castle, wielding two enormous swords and angry as hell. Oh, and he takes your sword away and traps you in a ring of fire. Great. This boss battle looks fantastic. The figure of Ganon was designed so well, he looks evil as anything and really is huge and threatening. More than that, though, is the feeling of pressure which comes along with this boss, the feeling of being suddenly put upon and attacked is very real at that point. When you finally retrieve your Master Sword and drive it into the King of Evil’s face…..priceless.

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3. The Star Magician (Golden Sun 2 GBA)

In my opinion, this is one of the best RPG’s ever made, I love it so much. I may do a separate post about this game so I won’t say too much here, but suffice to say that it does so many essential RPG elements well creating an absolutely fabulous game. It was a toss up between the final boss and the Star Magician for this spot on the list. The final boss certainly feels dramatic and climatic, but I have gone for the Star Magician because it really is just so challenging. He possesses numerous attacks and spells that can wipe out most of your party’s health in one go, but he can also summon familiars to aid him. Some of these attack you with magic, others just straight up explode for huge damage; but worse than these are the healers. They can heal almost all the bosses health back in just a few turns of combat, making all your work up to that point useless and essentially restarts the combat. This means that you have to really fight tactically and oh so carefully. You need to strike the right balance between attacking the boss, killing the familiars (he can summon these many times) and not leaving yourself vulnerable to counter attack. You definitely need to have at least one party member spamming party heals every turn just to stay alive. This sounds frustrating; it isn’t. it’s very fun, and the sense of reward is proportionate to the difficulty of the task.

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2. Bowser (Super Mario 64)

Earning enough stars to climb the endless staircase and confront Bowser for the last time is a hugely fun journey. It was, and remains, one of the best games ever. The level leading up to Bowser with its dramatic and tension building music is just perfect. It really creates the atmosphere of a reckoning, an evil doer about to face justice through a final confrontation. It manages to successfully impart the feeling that every action in the game so far has been leading to the pivotal moment, this final clash. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.

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1. Ornstein and Smough (Dark Souls)

This is probably the most intense moment in a video game that I have experienced so far. Cliche as it sounds, this boss battle really will have you on the edge of your seat as you desperately try and stay alive. Either one of the two enemies alone would be manageable, but together they are a brutal and remorseless boss fight. One huge and powerful, the other quick and deadly. Focusing your efforts on one of them while avoiding the other is the only way to go if you want to survive. You kill one of them and think “Success! One down, this is going to be easier now!” Wrong. The surviving boss pulverises the body of its former ally and absorbs its energy, mutating into a massive version of itself. It’s debatable which one is worse to face as a mega boss, but I always ended up with Smough, and it was hard. Its so nerve wracking, knowing that if you fail (chances of that are pretty good) then you will have to do the whole thing all over again. Even killing one of these foes can be health sapping. Then there is just mega Smough to deal with. Already big and powerful, he becomes only more so, and is quicker than you would expect, with a huge reach using that giant hammer of his. A tough battle then, but its hard to get anymore enjoyment out of a video game than this boss battle offers.

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Honourable mention: All the bosses from Jet Force Gemini (N64) they are all just hilariously fun.

6th Generation Pokemon Design

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Still brimming with enthusiasm for the newly released X and Y I have decided to have a closer consideration of the new 6th generation Pokémon. In total 69 Pokémon were released (so far) for this generation, the fewest number of new Pokémon with any new generation release. But are they any good? Well, on the whole, yes I think they are. The final evolutions of the starter Pokémon are all excellent, featuring a fire wizard, water ninja and a grass/fighting golem figure respectively. Obviously, it is crucial to have starter Pokémon full of personality and, uniqueness, but it is also important to have a strong roster of supporting Pokémon alongside them. With this in mind here are my top ten Pokémon designs from the 6th generation:

 

Aegislash:  Steel/Ghost Type

Joining the ranks of excellent looking ghost Pokémon is the sword Pokémon Aegislash and its prevolution Doublade. It’s a ghostly, floating sword and shield with a single staring eye. Switching between sword and shield stance this Pokémon is tactically very useful and looks sleek and deadly.

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Dragalge: Dragon/Poison Type

Evoking memories of the awesome Kingdra, this Pokémon is of a similar design and then some. There are some excellent looking Dragon type Pokémon out there and Dragalge deserves to be counted among one of the better designs.

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Aurorus: Rock/Ice Type

This resurrected fossil Pokémon is pretty awesome. Big, almost Loch Ness monster esque in its appearance, this Pokémon just looks perpetually cheerful looking and good natured. It also has sails on its head.

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Tyrantrum: Dragon/Rock Type

Another resurrected fossil Pokémon, this Pokémon could not be more different Aurorus. Where that Pokémon looks cheerful this Pokémon looks permanently bad tempred. A T-Rex figure, this Pokémon brings to mind the terrifying dinosaurs from Jurassic Park. It is not hard to imagine this Pokémon hunting people across jungles and fields.

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Goodra:  Dragon Type

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Big, giant, purple dragon. Job done.

Trevenant Grass/Ghost

Not only does this Pokémon look scary and bad-ass but its Pokedex entry makes it sound like an Ent, and Ents are amazing. The size and ferocious looking nature of this Pokémon and its slightly ethereal looking appearance have made this a regular on my online team.

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Gourgeist: Grass/Ghost Type

Another excellent ghost type, this Pokémon is made to look like a macabre, sinister, flaming Pokémon.

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Yveltal: Dark/Flying Type

It was a hard choice picking between the two main legendaries in this game, but on balance the poised and dynamic look of this Pokémon just managed to edge it. Don’t get me wrong, this Pokémon is a pain to play against online and I refuse to use it, but it looks amazing.

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Zygarde: Dragon/Ground Type

This Pokémon reminds me a bit of the serpent mages from Dark Souls and that in itself is enough to make this list.

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Sylveon: Fairy Type

I like all of the previous Eevee evolutions, and this latest evolution doesn’t disappoint. It was one of the first fairy types to be confirmed and, I think, is one of the best!

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Agree/disagree? Let me know! Happy Pokémon catching! If anyone wants to battle online then comment below and we can sort something out!

Top Ten Video-Gaming Moments

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Several weeks have now passed since the chaotic releases of the now current-gen consoles, to rather mixed receptions, some glowing, others less so. The main gripe that people have had so far revolves around the lack of hard hitting exclusive games on each platform. This is not terribly surprising since launch titles are never usually the best a console will offer. As we head towards the New Year and a 2014 filled with brand new gaming experiences I’m sure that both platforms will step up with a whole host of games filled with exquisite gaming moments. In honour of the occasion I have compiled my top ten gaming moments, moments which remind you why you love gaming in the first place. This list is obviously only my opinion based on the games I have played but I would love to know which moments make your top ten.

10. First exploration of Peach’s Castle in Super Mario 64

This is one of the first games that I owned on the excellent N64 and remains a favourite to this day. The game is filled with many great moments but for me, the most stand-out moment is entering Peach’s Castle for the first time. This is one of the first games to use a 3D explorable hub as a means of moving from level to level and, I must say, did it beautifully. The sense of space and scale was incredible. Seemingly infinite rooms branching off in all directions, massive gardens (filled with Boos) and basements to work through, and huge Mario themed artworks festooning the walls, all enjoyed to the backdrop of a regal musical accompaniment. The levels themselves are perfectly designed, but the addition of the hub lends a wonderful cohesiveness to the game.

9. Arrival in Oblivion/Skyrim

I have put these two together because the positives that they have are identical. As you emerge from the sewers (damn sewers) or dragon ravaged towns to emerge on the main world map, the feeling of freedom within the game is brilliant. You are given vague directions towards a main goal but equally you are free to just wander off wherever you like. Not many games have done this as well as the Elder Scrolls games. In Oblivion you are faced with a vast beautiful expanse full of colour and burgeoning possibilities that just demand to be explored. It is the same for Skyrim although, of course, the world seems harsher and starker, but no less beautiful. Both games offer a huge and, at first, seemingly overwhelming amount of freedom and choice, and this is most apparent when you first venture out into the vast wilderness.

8. Finding the last mask in Majora’s Mask

This game was slated by many fans of the series for being too small as it only contains 4 traditional Zelda dungeons. However, this game was far from small. Every mask that you had to collect involved the telling of a mini story, which gave a real depth to the world of Termina and its inhabitants. They became real people with real problems and not just irrelevant NPCs to interact with. By the time that you have found the last mask out of 20, you have completed 20 mini side quests, helped dozens of people, performed a complex array of tasks, and travelled back and forwards in time more times that you could possible count. You have changed the world of Termina for the better. The attainment of the last mask is the end of a long and immersive journey, and never fails to feel well earned.

7. Defeating the Elite 4 and Lance the Dragon Master in Pokémon HeartGold

Defeating these opponents feels hugely satisfying. You started out with one weak level 5 starter Pokémon, but through innumerable battles and showdowns you have raised it and at least 5 other Pokémon from humble beginnings to fully evolved and strong Pokémon. As such you really care about the Pokemon under your command and the sense of achievement is strong as you face down and defeat the very toughest trainers that Johto and Kanto have to offer to take your place in the Hall of Fame.

6. Defeating the first boss in Dark Souls

This game is littered with amazing moments so picking just one is particularly hard. I initially thought that the showdown with Lord Gwyn at the end of the game, but after reflection settled on the killing of the first boss. At this point you are new to the game, still finding your feet, cutting down hollows and knights, but still dying a lot. At first the demon boss occupying the bridge seems to be an unbeatable foe, but after many attempts you learn the skills to take him down and kill him in a furious and hair-raising struggle that leaves you out of breath and exhausted but full of triumph. If you haven’t played this, go do so, you’ll see what I mean. The sense of victory against impossible odds is great.

5. Becoming adult Link in Ocarina of Time

After opening the Door of Time Link steps forward and grasps the Master Sword, and makes videogame history. The moment that Link awakens and realises his adult self is stunning as you transform from a child to the Hero of Time, Master Sword in hand, is one that I, and many others I’m sure, will never forget.

4. Defeating Bowser for the final time in Super Mario 64

After climbing the previously infinite stairway, the final confrontation with Bowser awaits. You have explored numerous worlds, collected 120 stars, and defeated countless numbers of Bowser’s minions. The moment when Bowser starts moving towards you to attack sent a thrill down my spine. You have chased him across worlds to this point, but you both know that there is no escape for either of you at this point, it’s the final confrontation. The feeling of elation when you throw Bowser into a bomb for the last time is huge; the last act in an amazing game against the most iconic villain in video-game history.

3. The village scene in Resident Evil 4

Like Dark Souls, this is a game which is crammed full of great moments, but for me the best moment has to be Leon’s first trip into the village. So far only a handful of Ganados at a time have been attacking you and you’re thinking, this OK, nothing I can’t handle. Then you go through the gate and suddenly a whole village is after you, your safe refuge being broken into by a huge maniac with a chainsaw and a bag over his head, intent on beheading you. This was shit scary the first time. It feels as if there is nowhere to hide from a whole village full of pitchfork wielding locals all trying their very best to kill you. This scene exemplifies the qualities that make this game great, it’s fast paced, action packed, scary, brutal, and makes you feel terribly alone against overwhelming odds. Surviving it makes you feel like a hero. Only 900 more Ganados to go, eh?

2. Killing Trevelyan in Goldeneye

This is the climax to one of the best games ever and really feels that way. You have finally cornered this shadow, this phantom that you have been pursuing for the whole game. The race through the cradle is brilliant, and, is actually still tricky on the higher difficulties. The enemies are numerous with powerful weapons, infinitely respawning. You have little ammo and limited health, and all the while you have to keep pace with the fleeing figure of Trevelyan, trying to damage him enough to make him take his final stand and trying to keep yourself alive. It’s not easy. Hence the elation when you finally blast him off the satellite. How many times did you die before figuring out not to use the ladder?

1. Ganon Attacks! (Ocarina of Time)

So, you have freed all the sages, cleared all the temples, stormed Ganondorf’s castle and tower and defeated the man himself. So its over now, yes? No. Just as you go to make your escape the figure of Ganondorf emerges from the ruins of his castle and uses the power of the Triforce to transform into the monstrous Ganon, revealing the actual final showdown of the game. It’s a huge moment in video-gaming and was actually surprising the first time through, his appearance enough to quash the triumph that you were feeling at defeating Ganondorf. The Master Sword is knocked out of Link’s hand making you feel utterly defenceless against this huge monster. Perfect.

GameCube isn’t retro is it? Oh…..

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I was in a marvellous store the other day which had a massive collection of games and consoles dating back to the NES era and even a few odds and ends from before the NES. I was also rather impressed by a beautiful set of Zelda pins and a Majora’s Mask cushion. I was happily browsing some old games when I heard someone say “Hey a GameCube! I used to have one of those, seems so retro now.” My initial thought was that this was a stupid thing to say, the Cube was only released in….. oh. What do you mean twelve years ago?! Upon, reflection I conceded that this console may well be straying into the realms of retro-ness. I also feel that this console was also heavily underrated. True it sold 20 million units overall, but I know that in my school at least, buying one made you a little uncool. Its a shame really, many people will have missed out on this console, and their was actually a large selection of very high quality titles on this platform. I’ve listed ten of my favourites that I think that everybody needs to play. I’m not saying they’re the best games; I can only speak for games that I owned, being unable to afford all the great games on an 11 year old’s budget. In no particular order I begin with:

 

Second Sight:

 

 

This game, created by Codemaster and Free Radical Design (incidentally made up of people who worked on the N64 Rare titles) is an underrated and relatively unknown classic. Released on a multiple platforms, this third person shooter look great on the GameCube’s more powerful hardware. This game’s particular draw was the ability to use psychic powers on the surrounding environment and enemies such as healing, telekinesis, psi attack, projection and possession. This game was fairly ahead of its time featuring NPC team mates, rag-doll physics, using the environment for cover, and of course, the ability to choke enemies Darth Vader style and throw them out of windows. The storyline is engaging and innovative as the playable character tries to regain his memories and discover the cause of his psychic talents. Uniquely, the actions you take in the levels in the past can change the present. Wonderful stuff.

 

Donkey Konga:

 

 

Yes, this game was expensive at the time to factor in the cost of the bongos, and yes if you wanted to play multi-player you had to buy more bongos, but it was worth it. This game is hilarious to play. Essentially it works in the same way as guitar hero or tap tap revenge. Notes play across the screen and you have to left drum, right drum, both drum or clap as the icon indicates. Sounds simple. And it is, on easier difficulties. On harder difficulties you have to move and flail like a maniac to try and keep perfect time. The song choice is great, featuring a variety of styles and time periods. Put simply, this game would cause you to grin hugely while playing electronic bongo drums. Brilliant.

 

Timesplitters 2:

 

 

Again released on multiple platforms (but I think looked the best on the Cube) this game is an absolute classic. The best in the series by far, this game had it all. Made by the good folks at Free Radical this game had a brilliant story made with excellent and atmospheric levels from time periods both in the past and future and even on alien worlds. This game has a charm all of its own and is without a doubt the best first person shooter that I have ever played. The realistic graphics and game-play of Call of Duty and the like does not even come close for me. The story mode is superb, the multi-player is very fun indeed with a huge variety of modes to play and also features a challenge and arcade mode which could almost be a separate game by itself and is addictive as hell. If you like FPS games, you need to try this game. If you don’t, this may be the game that wins you over.

 

Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron 2:

 

 

One of the very first games to be released for the GameCube, this game is still one of my favourites today. It offers you the chance to pilot all the crafts that you see in the Star Wars movies, play through all the major battles against the Empire, take on Death Stars and Star Destroyers and visually looks gorgeous too. Fans of the franchise will go nuts for the Star Warsiness of this, and for everyone else it is actually a great action game. The star ships feel smooth to control and the dogfights are manic and exciting in equal measure. Certainly this is more of a spiritual successor to Lylat Wars 64 than the awful StarFox Adventures anyway.

 

Metroid Prime 1 and 2

 Ok, so technically this counts as two games but I am putting them together because they share the same good points. The leap from 2D to 3D worked well for the Metroid franchise, offering Samus a wealth of gorgeous looking 3D environments to explore and also allowed the combat to evolve somewhat while still retaining the overall Metroid atmosphere. The puzzles are great, the worlds are a delight to explore, the combat feels fluid and challenging, particularly against the Space Pirates, and the boss battles are entertaining and suitably tough. This game really does look beautiful too, and really pushed the boundaries of what the GameCube could do. This game is an almost perfect example of a series evolving and re-inventing itself and is a great action adventure game.

 

 

Super Smash Brothers Melee:

 Well, you all know about this by now, you don’t need to hear anything from me on this one.

 

Resident Evil Remake:

 This is the game that really launched the Playstation to success, games were no longer ‘just for kids’ and could be mature (whatever that means.) Irrespective of gaming labels, this game was phenomenal and delivered scares by the spadeful. The remake only made it better. The graphics of the game are gorgeous, making you feel like you could reach out and touch the wonderfully textured backgrounds. The zombies looks so detailed they really could be fresh corpses and the audio team outdid themselves to create a real atmosphere of terror, from zombie moans to creepy music and dramatic crows. The small improvements and touch ups to the game coalesced to form a truly wonderful and scary game. For more detail see here: https://theinverselook.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/survival-of-the-fittest/

 

Eternal Darkness:

 A real gem from Silicon Knights this game had some truly innovative features to it. A third person action/explorer game bases around a mysterious book called ‘The Tome of Eternal Darkness.’ You explore an inherited mansion to find out more clues about your grandfather’s brutal murder only to discover the book and chapters from it in the form of stories from across history. The real hook to this game was the introduction of a sanity meter. When this drops too far after monster encounters all kinds of insane effects can happen from blood dripping down of ceilings and walls, distant crying, disembodied crying, your characters head falling off etc. Some effects will momentarily think the game has broken, they are that good. Add to that a clever magic system and entertaining combat and you have a real winner of a game.

 

Super Mario Sunshine:

 The successor to the classic Super Mario 64, this game only just falls short of living up to the quality of its predecessor. For me the only let down in this game is the lack of level variety. The levels themselves are very well designed, but they all feature the same style. Whereas 64 had a huge variety of levels (Snow, volcano, giant fortresses etc) Sunshine’s levels all used the tropical theme which overall means that no levels really stand out (except the theme park perhaps.) Aside from this the game is a masterpiece with great graphics, the water and paint effects are gorgeous, clever game-play with the FLUDD water cannon mechanic and excellent retro mini levels which paved the way for Mario Galaxy. I prefer 64, but this game is still so high quality and such fun to play, particularly on horrible winters evenings.

 Resident Evil 4:

One of my favourite games of all time, combining the scares of Resident Evil with slick action, fun combat and immersive story telling. This game is so successful at making you feel like you really are isolated and taking on impossible odds that it creates actual tension an fear for Leon’s survival. The enemies are constantly swarming you, from lowly villagers to chainsaw wielding maniacs with bags over their head. The system of acquiring and upgrading weapons allows you to vary your combat options a lot and adds an element of treasure hunting to the game which adds a bit of relief from constant fear of death. This game was almost universally well received, and for good reason. I imagine that you have played it. If not, go buy it right now, it is one of the best games of the last 15 years.

Honourable Mensions:

There are so many good games for this list, those which just missed out on my admittedly fairly arbitrary decision making include; Wave Race Blue Storm, MarioKart DoubleDash, Mario Power Tennis, Soul Calibur 2, Smuggler’s Run.

Top Ten N64 Games- A Shameless Indulgence

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Since starting this blog a few months ago I’ve tried extremely hard to avoid doing a top ten N64 games post. I thought it to be the type of post which has been done a million times before and is shamefully self-indulgent. However, curiosity has overcome my reservations. I am very interested to find out whether people will agree or disagree with the choices that I have made or will think me a total lunatic for not including their favourite title on the list. Please look over my list and comment if you agree or disagree with the titles listed below.

  1. Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask
  2. Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time
  3. Goldeneye/Perfect Dark
  4. Banjo-Tooie
  5. Super Mario 64
  6. Donkey Kong 64
  7. MarioKart 64
  8. Snowboard Kids
  9. Jet Force Gemini
  10. Super Smash Brothers.

 

The thing that I find most interesting about lists of top ten N64 games is that all of them are 5 star games. For the time (and to some extent even by standards of gaming today) they are all very high quality games indeed; and the reality is that there are a host of other games which could just as easily have made the list which are of an equally high calibre. Off the top of my head Pokémon Stadium, Turok 2, Paper Mario and Lylat Wars could arguably be on anyone’s top ten list. The staggeringly long list of AAA titles is pretty impressive considering that many consider the N64 to be a bit of a flop. For the record, choosing which Zelda title was going to occupy my top spot was insanely difficult and could pretty much have gone either way. Comment and let me know what you think!

Top Ten Annoying Multiplayer Moments

Ok, so here is a great video explaining the only slight downside to multiplayer gaming, courtesy of FlamesOnFire1212. Many of these moments have happened to me on numerous occasions; some of them have been perpetrated by me. (I have to admit to being a Pikachu user on Smash Brothers. However, I do not usually spam lightning.) Please comment and let me know some of your most annoying multiplayer moments.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqfFyX-POo0

 

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