video games

Games I love for the story and/or ambiance (in reverse chronological order):

Bastion : love the voice acting. love the story telling technique, though the story itself was a bit disappointing somehow. love the use of color manipulation in the dream sequences, making all the colors become more saturated.

LIMBO : love the stylized greyscale art and general ambiance, though the story didn't feel as solid as Braid.

Machinarium : great art, cute story. I lost patience with many puzzles and looked them up -- this happens to me with adventure games. They have puzzles to keep you from moving through them too quickly, but the puzzles often amount to just trying to do every possible thing, at which point I look them up.

Portal and Portal 2 : omg, what a great game. great story, combined with humor. I wish the story was more meaningful in the multiplayer part of Portal 2, though I understand why it isn't, since many people won't be able to play it, lacking a partner.

World of Goo : great bridge-building puzzle game with art that conveys a story.

Psychonauts : omg, wow. I played this before portal, but it is similar in that it has a great story, told with a great sense of humor, along with great gameplay.

Braid : fantastic. braid is like Mario Brothers for adults, where the story is as deep and meaningful as the puzzles. I love the stylized nature of the story, where the story seems real, even though the puzzle levels themselves are not taken to be stuff that the character in the story actually did.

The Longest Journey and Dreamfall : the longest journey is perhaps my favorite game of all time -- definitely my favorite adventure game. I love it for the story. The puzzles were too random and hard for me, and I think I looked up answers online. But the story was awesome. Dreamfall is good. not as good as the longest journey, but continues the story, and I will play the next game if it ever comes out to hear the end.

Grim Fandango : second only to the longest journey -- and I'm not sure it should be second. great humor -- one of the best intro-cutscenes ever. I played this with my sister. we didn't look up any answers.

Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars
 : classic adventure game. very good, though if I had to rate them, I'd put King's Quest 6, Grim Fandango and The Longest Journey all above this one.

Myst, Riven, and Exile : I don't actually think the story was that great in these, but they were beautiful with good puzzles. I think I beat Riven and Exile all on my own, but I had seen some people play Myst before playing it myself.

Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate 2 : this is the closest I ever got to playing Dungeons and Dragons. note that I never beat Baldur's Gate 2. not sure why. I remember choosing a male character in BG2 specifically because there was a female character that the game would let your main character fall in love with. She was evil though, so I had some moral qualms being evil enough for her to fall in love with me. I forget if I succeeded. I think I failed.

Exile : a low-budget share-ware tile-based rpg. I loved it though. I loved the mystical eastern-inspired people with the brightly colored baggy clothes, and wave-blades. I never beat it though. I think it was too hard. The way these games go, you sometimes need to level up your characters quite a bit to beat the foes further in the game, and I wasn't that into "grinding". I wanted to go as quickly as possible through the main plot-line. I think this may have hurt me in Baldur's Gate 2 as well. I think the reason I got through the original Baldur's Gate is that summoning creatures was broken -- I would just summon a crap-load of creatures, and the foes couldn't get to me.

King's Quest 6 : this was my first introduction to adventure games, and I fell in love.

Real-time Strategy Games (in reverse chronological order):

StarCraft and StarCraft 2 : I'm not sure I beat either of these, but I played them both a lot online. I was never that great, though I did get into a "gold" league in StarCraft 2. My strategy was generally: 7 roach rush, and then mutalisks. On a side note: I played StartCraft 2 a lot while finishing my thesis. Thankyou StartCraft 2!

Command & Conquer, and Red Alert : I remember thinking these were both a poor-man's version of WarCraft, but they were fun in their own right, and you could select any number of units at once. I played both of them all the way through, waiting for StarCraft to come out. I remember waiting so long for StarCraft.

WarCraftWarCraft 2, and WarCraft 3 : I remember the first time I saw WarCraft at a friends house. My friend clicked a guy, and told him to go chop wood. And off he went with some cute remark, "o-kay..". I was in love. Multiplayer was also great, though I feel like WarCraft and WarCraft 2 were both broken. WarCraft was broken with Daemons. They were unstoppable. WarCraft 2 was broken with blood-lusted ogres. They were unstoppable. I never got too into WarCraft 3 multiplayer -- I didn't like trying to micro-manage my heros.

Dune 2 : this was the first real-time strategy game I played. You could only give commands to one unit at a time, but it was amazing. especially the wave-tanks.

"Other" (in reverse chronological order):

Plants vs Zombies : I usually don't go for these "time killer" games, but I played this one all the way through. good game mechanics. I felt like I could "be creative" in how I beat the levels.

The Sims, The Sims 2, The Sims 3 : all amazing. I bought it because it was sooo popular, and I didn't understand why. I'm not sure I could explain it even now, but I love designing the house and making it pretty, I love designing a good looking sim, I love the cute animations, and I love watching them succeed. Note that some of the career paths require having lots of friends. In the Sims 3, you can get lots of friends by throwing a party. That may have worked in the older sims, but not for me. What I would do instead was, every day I would invite the person who hated me the most and get them to fall in love with my sim.

One Must Fall: 2097 : the only fighting game I ever got into. You could upgrade your robot, and change it's colors. I learned all the moves for my favorite robot type, and I could beat all the special players that would show after winning tournaments.

Ultima Online
 : my first introduction to Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. this game had such a big impact on me that apparently I wrote a post about my experience.

SimCity 2000 : oh my freaken god, this game was unbelievable. My sister invented a technique of terraforming the land before starting a game, so that you didn't have to pay for the adjustments. She would plan out each city block, complete with a pond in the center of each one, so she could place pumps next to it to supply water to that block. Later, a cousin discovered a waterfall mountain, allowing for a mountain of hydroelectric dams -- as cheap as coal, but they never blow up.

Console Games (in reverse chronological order):

Mario Kart 64 : this is probably the only racing game I ever beat, and the only multiplayer console game I ever enjoyed.

Mario 64 : when they started making 3d games, I thought they were actually less fun, and less good-looking than 2d games. Mario 64 was an exception. I loved it. I got every star, though I had a magazine telling me where they were. It was hard enough to get the stars even knowing where they were.

Sonic the Hedgehog : best platform game since Super Mario Brothers. On my birthday, I beat this game, while getting all the chaos emeralds.

Tetris : if you get a high enough score, it shows the kremlin with a rocket off to the side, and the rocket blasts off. The rocket gets bigger and bigger the higher your score. One time, I got a really high score, but the rocket reverted back to the smallest rocket. I was a bit disappointed, until the kremlin itself blasted off.

Zelda : I did not find everything myself. I would get hints from neighbors and friends. But at some point, I mapped out every screen and every dungeon using graph paper. After that, I put away all my maps, and I beat the game beginning to end without dying in one sitting. I think it took me six hours. I'm surprised my mom let me do it. Usually we could only play nintendo 30 minutes a day.

Super Mario Brothers, Super Mario Brothers 2, Super Mario Brothers 3 : perhaps the defining video games of my childhood. while playing the original Super Mario Brothers, I thought to myself, "if I was in a little box floating in space forever with just this game to entertain me, that would be fine." I don't think I ever beat Super Mario Brothers 3 by playing through all the worlds in one sitting, but I did beat every level, and I could beat the whole game in 18 minutes using warp whistles. I recall one level that only my sister could beat for a long time. It involving holding B to run, and pressing A while still holding B.

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