Mat@MDickie.com
The Hall Of Game












I honestly don't play games anymore, which probably isn't a good idea! However, I have played a lot of games in my time - and many of them influenced what I would go on to do in my own career. So here's a rundown of my favourite games of all time. Not all of them are particularly great - especially not nowadays - but they were certainly very memorable and inspirational...


WWF No Mercy
N64

A lot of wrestling fans are divided between the Playstation's SmackDown! games, and the N64's distinctly different WWF series. Although they're both made by THQ, I prefer the latter 100%. SmackDown offers the shallow WWF experience that plagued the SNES in the early nineties - and for me, leaves a lot to be desired. The N64 incarnations on the other hand are based on superior Japanese wrestling, and pride themselves on strong wrestling gameplay. Also, the limitations of the N64 seem to have forced them to make the game so much stronger. The wrestler animations are created manually, and look stunning compared to SmackDown's motion-captured efforts. Fundamentally, this is as good as wrestling games get and the gameplay should not be abandoned...

Age Of Empires 2 PC
The only real-time strategy game that appeals to me, largely due to its realistic setting. The controls and interface are perfectly designed, making the task of controlling an entire Empire enjoyable rather than frustrating. The freedom to develop, attack and explore is complimented by an inspired selection of units and technologies. If only the game's timeline extended further...


Civilisation 2
PC

It plays like a board game, but its unparalleled depth and historical accuracy make it a hugely involving strategy game. Like Age Of Empires, it makes the task of managing an entire civilization as easy as possible. Especially impressive, given that this game takes everything one step further - even placing you in charge of international politics. 

Colorado Amiga
This adventure game cast you as an explorer, stranded in the depths of Colorado where a hostile Indian community resided. Armed only with a knife, a rifle, and a canoe, you had to navigate the area in pursuit of valuable items. It was a frighteningly realistic experience, because you could interact with anything in the beautiful scenery - from camp fires to the Native Indians. Enemies were few and far between, but they were so formidable (you could die at any moment) that every single confrontation was satisfyingly intense.

Goldeneye N64
At the time, this was by far the greatest first-person-shooter to ever grace a console. Like most licensed games, the expectations were very low but this was a truly great piece of software. As Perfect Dark proved, the James Bond setting was merely a luxury. The graphics were stunningly well textured and smooth, making everything look perfectly realistic - a rarity on the N64's hardware. The visuals didn't hide a bad game either - the stealthy mission-based gameplay of Goldeneye put every other FPS to shame. A captivating multiplayer mode sealed the game's unsurpassed lifespan.


Super Fire Pro Wrestling Super NES
Never had a game been so under-rated for my brother and I. We read reviews condemning it with scores of 20-40%, but we still hunted it down at an import shop. Being real wrestling fans, the official WWF efforts didn't quite cut it - but Fire Pro had 3 times as many characters, an amazing amount of great moves, and all kinds of cool little wrestling details that only a fan could appreciate. Yes, the animation was poor, the gameplay was sluggish, and the one-player game was literally impossible - but hey, we played it more than any other game ever. The influence it has on my games, ten years on, is no coincidence...


Lords Of Chaos
Amiga

A turn-based strategy game, where multiple players each controlled a wizard trying to gather resources and weapons. You could assemble armies by casting monsters, or by stealing those of your enemies. You would then battle for treasures and powerful weaponry, hoping to be the first to escape the level through the magic "Portal". The sheer level of control and freedom made each game unique, and thoroughly compelling.


Jagged Alliance: Deadly Games
PC
Offering similar gameplay to Lords Of Chaos, this too was a turn-based strategy game and appealed to me for similar reasons. However, this game gave you control of a team of mercenary soldiers as they attempted to complete various missions. The tactical gameplay was seminal, in and out of the battlefield, because you had to arrange your team and manage their resources. The game also had great personality, thanks to the out-spoken characters at your disposal.

Grand Theft Auto Playstation
I value freedom very highly in games, and GTA provided it in a massive city full of vulnerable cars and pedestrians. Initially criticized for its dire (but functional) graphics, I didn't think much of the game until I casually came across a free demo. The gameplay is so uncommonly open that you can enjoy the game on many different levels. For instance, I hardly ever played the "missions" - much preferring to roam the streets causing as much chaos as possible, and seeing how long I could avoid the cops for. For me, it wasn't so much a "game" as an interface to simply have fun.   


Wrestlefest Arcade
This wrestling game amazed WWF fans in the early nineties. At the time, the only wrestling games on home systems were particularly dull and cheap - so the sight of this great-looking game in the arcades was stunning. It had all the most popular wrestlers, in glorious cartoon style, complete with special moves and mannerisms. To top it off, the game placed these wrestlers in all kinds of exciting matches: from the Steel Cage to a realistic Royal Rumble (which even had 6 wrestlers in the ring at the same time). Being an arcade machine, the fact that you couldn't play it so often also added to its appeal.

Exile Amiga
A side-scrolling space adventure, where you controlled an astronaut who was stuck on an alien planet until he could gather the resources to fix his ship. You had complete freedom of a massive planet, and felt that you could explore any avenue. To top it all off, the impressive gravity and wind effects were enjoyable to play around with.


Shadow Run Super NES
This Bladerunner-inspired RPG/adventure was an absolutely chilling experience. Its futuristic setting didn't soften the feeling of poverty as you roamed the mean streets of a lawless city. There was a great sense of vulnerability, because it was easy to die (and painfully harmful to your progress) and enemies would appear at the most unexpected times. The eerie music, dark graphics and disturbing story enhanced the tension further. To top it off, the premise was also highly original and creative: good progress forced you to visit bars in search of "Shadow Runners" that would protect you for money. Very cool...

Another World Amiga
Way back in its time, this was spookily realistic and consequently extremely entertaining. Beautifully animated graphics, great atmospheric detail and eerie sound effects gripped many gamers. Giving a nod to Prince of Persia, the game revolved around calculated jumps and attacks - best described as a stealthy, realistic platform game. As with Shadow Run, what I liked about it was the vulnerability. A foolish move or a stray gunshot could end your game in a second, so it had some very tense and absorbing moments.  

Flashback Amiga
The sequel to Another World delivered the same realistic gameplay with even more style. The graphics finally looked realistic, which complimented the smooth animations and produced a more convincing world. At the time most platform games were from the Mario mould, so the sheer realism of this game was compelling. Unfortunately, the 3D incarnation Fade To Black didn't make quite the same impression...


Carmageddon
PC

This game took the tawdry racing/car genre and shook it up in a major way by placing less emphasis on the "racing" aspect. Here you competed against other cars in what could either be a race around the circuit or a destructive war. The most fun being the latter, as you freely crash around the level seeking to destroy your competitors with calculated knocks and smashes. The comical car physics made every single incident fun, amusing and strangely realistic.  

Street Fighter 2 Super NES
This was an incredibly stressful game for me, but its gameplay was so perfect that you never blamed it for your failures. The line between success and failure was always so thin that each round was agonizingly tense and engrossing. The characterization was great, the moves were revolutionary, and the whole concept was very fresh at the time.

Mortal Kombat 2 Super NES
I was always intrigued by the Mortal Kombat series. The relentless violence, the basic control system, and the "Fatalities" that ended each bout culminated in the most original fighting game ever. However, throughout the ever-improving series, the second game was the only one that I truly liked. The first one was far too primitive, and the more recent ones over-complicated things a little too much. The pure brutality of the gameplay was its appeal, so simplicity was very important.


Super Mario World Super NES
All of the Mario games are "good", but this is the only one that I consider to be great - including his N64 outing. It just seemed to be the perfect blend of everything that had gone before, with a plethora of great new features to boot. The graphics were perfectly suitable, the sounds were charming, and the responsive gameplay shamed every other 16-bit platform game. Best of all, this great game was wrapped up by a huge unfolding map of unique levels.   

Sensible World Of Soccer Amiga
The distinct style of this football simulator, in terms of both graphics and gameplay, pushed it way ahead of its unoriginal competitors. It had all the fun of an arcade game, yet still managed to be the most engrossing simulator around. Great design, with a penchant for simplicity, made it accessible to all.


IK+
Amiga

At the time, this was a great concept: a three-way fighting game starring martial arts students competing for honours. Having your scores translated into belts/dans was a great touch. It had a surprisingly good selection of attacks, and benefited from some cool training sub-games.

Lemmings Amiga
The most original concept ever: guiding lemmings home by commanding them to manipulate their environment. The sequels always seemed to over-complicate this basic premise.

Worms PC
The game I could see coming, and wanted, the minute I played Lemmings. It took the destructible landscapes of the said game, and filled it with armies of worms trying to kill each other in turn-based combat.


Super Star Wars Super NES
Licensed games rarely turn out to be anything more than a cheap cash-in, especially in the 16 bit era, but Star Wars broke the mould as a genuinely good shoot 'em-up. Granted the Star Wars setting added a lot, but this was still an extremely entertaining laser-fest. The furious pace of the action was complimented perfectly by the responsive controls and graceful animations.   


Secret Of Mana
Super NES
This innovative RPG was a perfect compromise between Zelda's action and Final Fantasy's depth. Players explored the huge world and fought battles in real-time arcade style - yet the statistics behind it all were satisfyingly complex. It even took the arcade gameplay a huge step forward, by allowing up to 3 players on screen simultaneously.

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