I fondly remember the 32/64 bit gaming era. I started it with a bundle purchase of a Sony PlayStation, Ridge Racer and Tekken from Toys R Us. It wasn’t for a few months that a memory card was purchased, but that never saw my enjoyment cease. A year after the Nintendo 64 was released I had one in my possession. Unfortunately it took me until 2008 to call a Sega Saturn system my own, as the price and library never seemed enticing enough. While there were a few Saturn titles I enjoyed, none reached my top 25 list.
The 32/64 bit era also gave birth to my all-time favorite game, Suikoden. I know that seems like a spoiler, but the number of times I’ve mentioned my man crush with Konami’s RPG have been well documented, so sorry if that ruins any kind of non existent anticipation. But with that, lets take a look at my Top….25 – 2 32/64 Bit Games:
05. Super Mario 64 (N64)
There are only a small handful of video games that have evoked such an emotional response from me. The first time I ever played Super Mario 64 was as a demo months before it was officially released. My eyes watered up as the castle theme played and I piloted Mario wound in his new 3D universe. It was an evolution to a beloved franchise and character that remains one of the most profound that I’ve witnessed. As with most 3D titles during this era, the camera controls weren’t very reliable, but that was okay – not only was Super Mario 64 still more than playable, but the adventures through each stage were not only memorable, but groundbreaking for its time. To this day it’s still a magical joyride through a world that can never be forgotten.
04. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (PSX)
While writing reviews for GameSages (which was purchased by IGN and renamed codes.ign over a decade ago) I was able to obtain Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater as my first review copy of a game. It was a pleasure to lose my review copy virginity to such a brilliant title. Back then it was a new standard for a sub-genre that just started to explode in popularity, with fluid controls, imaginative stages, detailed visuals, and a soundtrack that still kicks to this day. Years later, it’s still demolishes nearly every other title within the sub-genre, though THPS2 is a success in its own right and Tony Hawk Underground expanded on the formula in so many ways. Do yourselves a favor and pick this one up on either the Sony PlayStation or Sega Dreamcast and experience the beginnings of something magical.
03. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
Rating: 9.5 (3DS)
Another title that could have been a number one selection to a large portion of the gaming community, regardless of whether this era or all eras were in consideration. Like the previous three console Zelda titles, Ocarina of Time was a grand adventure through a gigantic gaming world, with just about every facet of the game working together in such harmony. Even the camera controls, a major sticking point in any 3D game during this era, worked quite well, thanks to the Z-targeting system. For me, and for quite a few Zelda fans out there, Ocarina of Time remains their single greatest adventures with Link through the world of Hyrule.
02. Perfect Dark (N64)
To this day, I swear by Perfect Dark. A technological marvel for the Nintendo 64 and its cartridge format, the mix of its visuals, voice acting and chaos abound was something to behold, even if the game chopped down a bit when things got hectic (even with the 4MB memory expansion.) The weapon selection remains the most creative I have experience in the genre, with secondary features that further differentiated its self from the rest of the pack. Most N64 gamers would peg GoldenEye as their one “go to” FPS on the system, but Perfect Dark had more substance, the ability to add bots to the fray and, excluding the wicked maps carried over from GoldenEye, some creative and outstanding maps. The biggest crime however, comes from the fact that no one supported the multiplayer on the Xbox Live Arcade version, which ported the game over so well, with a visual boost that augmented the experience. The gameplay, speed and atmosphere might not be as appeasing as the faster paced, somewhat dumb down FPS of recent years, but I will always recommend Perfect Dark on either the Nintendo 64 or Xbox Live Arcade, not only as a history lesson, but a lesson in fun.
01. Suikoden (PSX)
I’ve clamored over Suikoden so many times over the years. I still find it fascinating that I’ve yet to encounter a game that came close to superseding it as my all-time favorite game. It’s just that Konami crafted something so profound, that they themselves still have not managed to recreate in their subsequent sequels. It’s definitely not a pretty game, and the controls are stiff, but where players will be captured is with its combination of gripping story, mixed with the greatest soundtrack I’ve heard from a video game. Each song fits each scenario like a glove, driving the emotion of each scene in ways that’s rarely been seen before or after its release. The brief ending piece that leads into the final musical piece and ending portion, to this day, still evokes such an emotion response for me, that I can’t help but to tear up. When something can tug on your strings in such a way, each and every time you experience it, it seems impossible that anything else can ever reach such a status.The original PlayStation title is quitr rare and sells for a high price, but if you have a PlayStation 3, I implore any video game lover with an appreciation for story progression and perfectly suited musical pieces accompanying your journey, pick this. If there any one game I could ever hope that folks could heed my advice on, Suikoden is it.