Tag Archives: good games that are good

Good Games That Are Good: Pokemon TCG (For Game Boy)

I never did manage to really get into Hearthstone.  I think it’s because I kept comparing it unfavorably to my one true card game love: Pokemon.

81sAVrsixqL._SX450_Not only did I love these things “in real life” and have a binder full of ’em, but I also loved the Game Boy conversion.  Yes, that’s right, they put Pokemon Trading Card Game on the Game Boy.  It had this absolutely ridiculous story that involved beating trading card “masters” for legendary trading cards, but frankly that’s all fine because the point of the game was just to make decks and duel people, and that’s exactly what I did.  Because despite the spartan UI and the silly story, there’s a surprising amount of depth in the good ol’ Pokemon TCG.

Oh, and good news everyone: Now you can download the game for pretty cheap in the Nintendo eShop, assuming you have a 3DS.  I did that recently and have been replaying this game and having a blast.  It’s really easy to pick up and go and very addictive.

Also, some of the music is fantastic.  Some of the best you’ll find on original Game Boy.

Good Games That Are Good: Grim Dawn

I said I was going to talk about it, so here we go: Grim Dawn is an ARPG (think Diablo) that is currently in early access.  That means it’s unfinished.  But don’t let that scare you away!  For an unfinished game, there’s a lot to do and a lot to love.

When it comes to the basic gameplay, Grim Dawn is Diablo but with a different set of paint: Lovecraftian monsters rather than demons, and a sort of vague Victorian/Edwardian setting.   Now seeing as I love ARPGs, I’d be sold on that alone, but what I really like about Grim Dawn is the talent point system.

maxresdefaultYou get a talent tree much like you do in other RPGs, but Grim Dawn kind of has this unique system where also have to put points in a basic skill bar in order to unlock better spells and abilities.  It’s tough to explain in words alone, but the result is that leveling and talents feels really proactive.

Also… you can multiclass!  So if you want to be a mage and also a huge warrior type, you can be both.  At the same time.  You can mix and match your talents from both classes you pick, and that, again, gives you a lot of choice when it comes to your chosen playstyle.

Overall I just find Grim Dawn to be delightfully fun to play and I’m excited to see what the final version is like.

Oh, and it’s based on a very similar title called Titan Quest, which I have yet to play but which I have heard amazing things about.  So, there’s also that!

Good Games That Are Good: Super Mario Bros. 2

Ah yes, Super Mario Bros 2.  The Star Trek V of Mario.  That weird game that was originally something different entirely: a non-Mario game called Doki Doki Panic.  Those of you who have played it know what I’m talking about.  Those of you who haven’t, well… it’s a game that involves going around throwing beets at things.

Super_Mario_Bros_2The really fascinating thing about this game, when I was a kid and first played it, is that it’s filled with little secrets.  For example, you can throw a magical potion on the ground to make a door.  This door takes you to an alternate version of your current location for a few seconds, where you usually do things like collect a couple of coins.

gaming-super-mario-bros-2-nes-5Here’s the catch – you can take the magical potion wherever you want (so long as you don’t drop it), and occasionally you’ll find some really unexpected stuff in that alternate universe.  Like warps to levels much farther along than you are currently.

Anyways, this was all very fascinating to me.  More so than any other classic Mario game, SMB 2 felt like the world was full of really weird hidden mysteries.  Sure, the original SMB had the hidden warp pipes in 1-2 and SMB 3 had the whistles, but something about stumbling on warp vases in that dark alternate universe was really mysterious.  It may be the weakest of the original NES Mario “trio”, but it sure made up for it with the hidden surprises factor.

Also you could play as Toad.

Which is awesome.

Good Games That Are Good: Diablo 3

Yup, it’s finally time to talk about the game that has devoured my life recently: Diablo 3.

Diablo_III_coverI’ve long been a fan of ARPG lootfest style games like this, but I didn’t actually start playing D3 until the expansion hit.  Various things about it kind of turned me off to it, and I preferred to stick with spiritual successors like Torchlight.

Then the expansion came out and with it a ton of quality of life changes.  I picked up the game and was pleased to see that it was an extraordinarily fun romp, especially for couch co-op (yes, I first played this game on console with a controller.)

Not only is Diablo 3 a very solid, well… Diablo-clone (to use a phrase coined by the very series itself) but there are a lot of little things about it that I like.  The music is unsurprisingly fantastic, as are the cinematics – those are two things that Blizzard has pretty much always done right.  But I am also very fond of the way that the game’s difficulty is so adaptive.  You can set it on an easier mode or you can make it devilishly difficult, and the latter will have your character rolling, jumping, and teleporting around frantically as you try to dodge the dangers all around you.  Throw in the account-wide paragon system and you have a game that is also very friendly to those with limited time.  The result is a game that is as hardcore as you want it to be.  And that’s a really good thing.

If you haven’t played Diablo 3 yet, then now’s a fantastic time to do so.  The new season recently started so everyone’s kind of getting back into it.  Check it out – and be prepared to get addicted.

Good Games That Are Good: Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri

This is it.  This is my favorite game of all time.  And I say this when games like Morrowind exist.

Alpha_Centauri_coverSMAC does a lot of things right.  The hard science fiction setting, for example, which contains some of the richest concepts and most masterful writing since Asimov first graced us with his presence.  SMAC is also an updated version of Civilization II, which is already one of the greatest 4X games of all time, so throwing in a rich, unforgettable science fiction setting really just catapulted an already great game even higher on the list of great games.

But here’s how I fell in love with SMAC.

I fell in love with SMAC because one day I built something called a Planet Buster.  I had no idea what it did.  Some kind of nuke, it looked like.  So I shrugged and tossed it on the faction I was currently fighting.  I figured it would set her back a bit.

(It was Miriam, which should surprise exactly no one who has played this game before.)
(It was Miriam, which should surprise exactly no one who has played this game before.)

The next thing I knew the majority of her extensive base was gone.  Replaced by water.

Planet Busters, it turns out, are aptly named, because they destroy the planet.

Planet Busters are also a Big Deal and people get mad at you if you use them.

The Planet is not happy, either, for more than one reason.  Firstly because Planet Busters also cause global warming.  And secondly because Planet is sentient (Uh oh.)

So suddenly, just because of some off-handed decision, I was fighting off multiple factions, fighting off the the native life of the planet itself, desperately trying to keep my base afloat as the ocean slowly continued to rise, and ever reaching towards my end goal, which was to merge with Planet itself and become an immortal transhuman god.

All this, and brilliant technology quotes, too!

That’s when I realized that this was it. I was playing the greatest game that had ever been made, simply because I didn’t see how any other game could replicate what I was feeling. I was experiencing the greatest gaming experience I’d ever be able to have. It was perfection.

To this day I’ve yet to experience something in games that felt like that. No other game has been so tense, has wrapped me up in its story (an honest to god story in a 4X!) so tightly, as Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. Maybe someday I’ll run across a game that can pull it off, and you know, that would be awesome.  But until then, it’s okay, because every time I play SMAC it enthralls me yet again.

And that’s true video game magic right there.

I94hB(You can, and should, buy SMAC on GOG.)

Good Games That Are Good: Endless Legend

I’ve had this game sitting around for a while (like some 300-odd other games on Steam), but I didn’t actually install it until a few days ago.  You see, I was feeling a 4X scratch that needed to be itched, and since everything I’ve heard about Endless Legend has been overwhelmingly positive, I decided to try it out.

It’s only been a few days and I’m already confident that this is probably the best 4X since Civ IV.

urlEndless Legend is vaguely set in the same universe that Endless Space was.  The main difference is that Endless Legend gives us more of a fantasy spin on what is still probably ultimately science fiction, where Endless Space was planted pretty firmly on the spaceships side of that scale.  In addition, many of the gaming mechanics and aspects of the UI are similar, so if you’re familiar with Endless Space, jumping into Endless Legend is pretty easy.

But Endless Legend definitely improves upon and refines what Endless Space did, and the result is a game that is actually one of the best in the genre, rather than being a pretty good attempt.

As a ground-based 4X (as opposed to a space-based one) , this plays very similarly to, say, Civilization.  But it really shines in flavor lore and also in battles that you can actually run yourself!  It’s like a tactical mini-game in the midst of your big strategy game.

endless legendAnd yes, that delicious flavor lore.  Endless Legend takes a page from RPGs here, offering a variety of quests (including a main quest for each race) as well as hero units that gain experience and have their own talent trees.  I always appreciate a strategy game with good “other-worldly” lore, since so often you either get history (think Civ and most Grand Strategy games) or you’re just expected to go in and kill the bad guy without thinking much about the why (Warcraft before III, basically.)

Also in one of these quests you’re a robot, so that’s cool.

I AM A ROBOTAnyways, if you’ve ever enjoyed a Civ game, I recommend looking into Endless Legend.  It’s a lot of fun so far and overall a very smooth and polished gaming experience.

Good Games That Are Good: Earth Defense Force 2017

Earth Defense Force 2017 is about bad physics, bad voice acting, bad dialogue, and giant ants and spiders and dinosaurs and mechas inexplicably attacking Japan for no reason.

And it’s the greatest couch co-op game of all time.

Earth_defense_force_2017_box_artThe entire point of this game, you see, is just to shoot things.  Shooting things has never been easier because basically you have two buttons, one to shoot and one to swap between two weapons of your choosing.  This straightforward, arcade-style simplicity is one of the biggest draws of the game and why it’s so easy to pick up and play.

The other draw is the wide variety of ridiculous weapons you can collect in this game (like missiles that you can literally outrun, or bullets that bounce off of cave walls like ping pong balls), and even after hours and hours of playing you’ll still be excited when you happen to snag a new bizarre weapon.

189130-edfUltimately, this game is just utterly absurd.  It’s the very embodiment of a shoestring budget in video game form.  And that’s exactly why it’s so freaking good.

I’m not sure what else I can say about it, because you really have to experience the magic for yourself.  Grab a buddy and a couch and this game.  You won’t regret it.

Good Games That Are Good: Yars’ Revenge

Ahh, the good old Atari 2600.  You know, no matter how classic it is and how many hours you may have dumped into it back in the day, I’d imagine that most people these days probably wouldn’t think that there’s much of a reason to spend hours and hours on one of these games in this day and age.

And readers, that’s where I’d like to introduce you to Yars’ Revenge.250px-Yars_Revenge_coverIt doesn’t matter what year it is because this game is still great some thirty-odd years later.  I can still pour hours into it.  I don’t know what, exactly, it is about it that makes it so addictive.  I think because it packs a surprising amount of depth for an Atari 2600 game.  You have to shoot the guy at the opposite end of the screen but you also have to break down his shield and avoid his missiles, while using the colorful ribbon across the screen as a tactical advantage.  Like many old games, the point is just to get your score as high as it can go– and boy, I have definitely spent hours trying to do just that.

275239-yar3If you don’t have a 2600 or don’t feel like digging it out, don’t fret: you can play the game online.  Granted, playing it with the keyboard doesn’t compare to playing it with a real joystick, so get yourself an Atari Flashback because it’s worth it for this game alone.


Good Games That Are Good: Starcraft Brood War

This game

Starcraft 2015-06-19 13-29-58-14

Is very, very, very

Starcraft 2015-06-20 15-21-29-69

important to me

StarCraft 2015-06-21 13-02-38-44

I stumbled across Starcraft not long after it first came out – this would have been, oh, 1999 or 2000 or so.  I was like sixteen years old.  This game rocked my entire world.  It was basically all I played for like the next three years.  Disregard high school, acquire the greatest RTS game ever made.  I got my first “real” computer as a high school graduation gift in 2002 and that summer Starcraft was all I did because now I could use my own computer and run this gorram game like 14 hours a day.

And that’s exactly what I did.

So that summer after I graduated was absolutely amazing.  I had a summer job and I did it and then came home and played this stupid game.  Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours poured into it.  I loved it; I memorized every detail; I knew all about the lore and the characters but most importantly the mechanics.  I wrote (horrific) fanfic and dreamed of going to South Korea someday so I could watch those proto-eSports celebs work their magic.

it is timeIt’s very difficult to explain what, exactly, was so magical about this game.  Was it the fact that all three races, despite being so different from each other in playstyle, were all perfectly balanced?  Was it the atmosphere?  The music?  All of the above?  I’m going to go with all of the above.

I’ll tell you what, though.  I reinstalled this the other day and now I’m replaying it in all its pixelly glory on my huge new widescreen monitor.  It scratches the itch where Starcraft 2 doesn’t quite do it.

This is, without a doubt, one of my all time favorites and I think it always will be.


Every day for the sale, Steam is holding a little minigame for users to play.  It’s a clickfest game where you gather gold to upgrade your clicks.  You know, like those idle browser games that were all the rage for a while last year.  Anyways, you can idle with this or actively click – either way you’re going to get gold and upgrades.

cyborcAnd that’s it.  That’s the entire game.  So why can’t I stop playing it?  Why do I keep going back over to check on it and buy dumb upgrades?

Because Gaben.

That’s why.

Because Gaben.

Also there are some dang good chiptunes.

Anyways, to play it, just open up Steam and you’ll see it on the store page.  Have fun clicking!