I really don’t know what the hell Nintendo was doing or even thinking during this year as they really lacked a great number of Super Nintendo games. No doubt this was definitely Sega’s year as they released more than plenty of exclusives this year that got everyone fooled to the blast-processing gimmick that Sega advertised and they owned over more than 50% of the video game market. It seems as if keeping your NES at the time was more worth it than SNES if you still had hopes in 1993 because Star Fox and the Super Mario All-Stars wasn’t enough to save them. Not only Nintendo was loosing the competition, but there have been other video game consoles that was released earlier that started to fade away in the North American gaming market like the Turbografx-16. Also, there were other bad consoles debuting like the 3DO, Atari Jaguar, and more! This was just a dark time for everything, not just video games but also comic books (starts to get really mediocre), movies (Jurassic Park, Tombstone, and True Romance are the only exception), and current events (Bill Clinton became president of our country. I can really say that this was a really mediocre year (outside of music), however I’m still able to countdown the best games of 1993 because this was definitely Sega’s best year that they’ve ever had and there were a bunch of surviving developers that did released great titles in this very year.
Number 10. – Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers
I really like to look at this PC classic as one of the very first mature games. Sure there have been disturbing visuals, mature content, and horror in games, but Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers did everything to take itself very seriously. So how was Sierra going to do that anyway? How about getting a storyteller like Jane Jenson to deliver a captivating super natural crime-thriller. How about put it in a genre where casual gamers find it simple to play. And how about getting a very impressive voice cast to give their best voice performances ever? Yep, you got yourself Tim Curry, Mark Hamill, Leah Remini, and so many more! This was a bait to get get the intellectuals to get into video games. For a game that delivers on Supernatural situations and managed to make it so engaging, is really remarkable. It’s all thanks to the innovative sound system that computers are now capable of doing and at the time finally gave us a movie like experience, along with Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle. No doubt this was the best adventure of 1993 and it’s one of the best of the genre for being so intelligent and surprising all at once.
Number 9. – X-COM: UFO Defense
There really isn’t any turn-based strategy game that can go toe-to-toe with X-COM. It really is one of the finest strategy games to ever appear on the personal computer at the time. Putting the player in charge of a worldwide defense against an alien invasion, the original X-COM combined elements of sophisticated base management, high-tech research, engaging roleplaying, thrilling tactical combat and a tense, terrifying story to create an experience that has yet to be duplicated by any other series. Leading your squads on missions to reclaim crashed UFOs or fighting house to house in an effort to repel alien terror attacks on major cities throughout the world were the highlights of the game. X-COM has plenty of other pleasures in store, from juggling personnel and equipment to keeping the nations of the world happy enough to sustain your budget. It really is a thinking game like chess, but you can’t see where your enemies are and when they will show up. But for the fact that never as there a game that takes so many hours of learning curve and so much time to master it, the end result was so ever rewarding.
Number 8. – Mortal Kombat II
How can you be more of a surprise than the original game that was able to be more addicting, brutal, (maybe more) popular, and violent than the king of fighting games called Street Fighter II? How about give us more of everything from the original but with new characters, new moves, new surprises, more speed, harder difficulty, and even more balls to the wall fatality? That’s why Midway has given us Mortal Kombat II because it was much more than the original Mortal Kombat. Though the original started it all, the second one made the franchise an landmark with fighting games and it was one of the pinnacle of the the fighting game boom of the 1990s. I remember fondly on how many times my friends and I would play Mortal Kombat II for hours upon hours when it finally reached to the consoles. Though the Sega Genesis version was the best port at the time, it would take years to actually have the exact version of the arcade version of Mortal Kombat II to finally be released. Sure, anyone who’s anyone can bitch about the difficulty, but Mortal Kombat II is so insane that it takes a master to actually beat it!
Number 7. – The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
It’s about time to finally put a Nintendo game on the list, and unfortunately, this is the only nintendo published/developed game that managed to make it in the list of the best games of 1993. We should admit that at the time, when we all heard that the sequel of A Link to the Past was going to be on the Gameboy, we were all skeptical because of the limitations. Even despite such limitations that the handheld has, it still managed to give us the Zelda experience that we all wanted. It really was a different Zelda title where its out of hyrule, there’s no Princess Zelda, and you’re trying to solve the mysteries of the wind fish (not fight Gannon again). Yet, that’s what makes it all so good because it really was one of the Zelda titles that showed their audience that they’re allowed to have different characters, setting, and much more to enhance the Zelda experience. Sure the story is the weirdest of all the Zelda titles, but being able to adventure out of house while playing Link’s Awakening was fun for all Nintendo fans.
Number 6. – Gunstar Heroes
I think the time that I really got obsessed in coming over at my friends house to play Sega Genesis was when my best friend showed me his copy of Gunstar Heroes. This was my frist time playing a run-and-gun, side-scroller platformer and immediately I was hooked. For being that this is Treature’s first game they developed, it shows how much of a great developer they really were. Gunstar Heroes was something special for the fact that it did better frame rates than any Nintendo console whenever the screen is cluttered with too many sprites moving. Oh, did I mention that this 2-player co-op just has more than enough things to destruct? What made this exclusive so memorable was the sheer madness to everything; there was a near-constant stream of explosions and gunfire going on at all times (and your ability to combine weapons made for some interesting gameplay), plenty of bonuses that creates high replay value, yet everything was always clear and comprehensible. Call me nuts if you want to, but I thought that this game was much better looking and playable than the likes of Contra! I can’t imagine making a Sega Genesis game list without including Gunstar Heroes!
Number 5. – Phantasy Star IV
This is one of those aspects where I really hate the gaming industry as a whole for being so damn forgetful because during the days of the Sega Master System, Phantasy Star was the biggest deal when talking about Sega. It doesn’t really help at the fact that Sega Genesis is suitable with all sort of genre except for Role-Playing Games. So what did Phantasy Star IV offer that no RPG at the time offer? How about being anime-inspired, dense story, told with manga-style panels? How about the character variety that had each had their own abilities? And how about an improved turn-based combat system that we can finally actually see our characters attacking the enemies? This was a serious step up from the disappointing Phantasy Star III that was developed by developers who weren’t into the Phantasy Star-lore to begin with. Remember what I said about “the Phantasy Star series taking the series is known for traditional fantasy RPG mixed with science fiction space opera.” Phantasy Star IV totally delivers that concept and just gave us some of the coolest enemy variety that we’ve never seen before in gaming. Imagining having better battle animations with such monsters, you got yourself a video game of a life time!
Number 4. – The Secret of Mana
Very rarely do we ever see a video game that has such a beauty and wonder that gave us an impression that could last for a life time! This game was a spiritual successor of Final Fantasy Adventure on the Gameboy, which made such a fast-paced, action-RPG and expanded it to every bit of space in an SNES cartridge. How big you may ask? It really had better animation, wider space of level designs, a faster recharge attack, and an innovative ring menu system that makes it so much easier to select items and weapons. If that’s not enough, how about being that this is an RPG that was massive enough to even give us a two-to-three player co-op which no other game of the genre could offer. Sure you have to wait till you have another character to come to your party, but for the sake that we still don’t have a video game RPG that offers multiplayer like Secret of Mana does, should tell you how special this game really is. There were so many gameplay innovations which players does get various damages where you can unconscious, get poisoned, shrink, get under a spell, and so many other random consequences when you get hit. All of these gameplay innovations also gives it attention to detail and polish in the game’s presentation. The graphics are colorful, charming, and stylish, and, most of all, the soundtrack is simply stunning. If you still have a sense of hearing, you can grasp into the magic just to urge you to continue to play. There are so much more that I could praise this game for, but what matters now is that if you haven’t played Secret of Mana, you owe it to yourself to finally play it, or if you already have you need to give it another playthrough.
Number 3. – Shining Force
If you lived outside of Japan in the 1990′s, there was no way that you could even know what the hell Fire Emblem was, but Sega wasn’t stupid enough to not let the whole world know the Shining series. This was the first time that the general public got to play strategy-RPG’s as it was a fulfilling war-fantasy experience like we’ve never seen before. Rather than having to worry about small details and equipment, you’re free to concentrate on the proper troops and the perfect plan of attack. It keeps the complex strategies while stripping away the unnecessary busy work and creates a strategy game that is just plain fun to play. It just had a really complete set of troops on your team and each of them have their own abilities & pros and cons, all in which makes fighting strategically feel very involving. There’s plenty of entertainment to be had with loads of missions (many of which can last for well over an hour) and some mildly diverting ‘town’ sections, which fall into the traditional RPG format of locating an item/person in order to further the story. I really understand that some would say that putting so much investment upon one game is already too much, but what other Sega Genesis game would give you this much time to play and invest? Considering that many 16-bit games back then are shorter than your standard games today. Shining Force was so simple to play, but it takes a hardcore gamer to know how to beat it as it takes lot of strategy to even do it. By the end of the day, you can easily say that this has to be one of the best games that Sega has ever made!
Number 2. – Castlevania: Rondo of Blood
Originally, it was released in 1993 as a Japan only title for the PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16). It had multiple paths, a super ability that let you go berserk with sub-weapons, some of the best level design in any Castlevania game, and the ability to play as both Richter Belmont and Maria, my favorite character of the series. In short, it was hectic, and one of the better games from a pure action standpoint. Not content with keeping the game in Japan, Konami remade the game on the SNES into the version most Americans are familiar with today — Dracula X. There are a total of 12 stages in Rondo of Blood, and you have to go through at least 8 of them, but they all have high replay ability and many of them have alternative paths just like in Dracula’s Curse. When you rescue Maria Renard, you have the option to play as her, and you can alternate between she and Richter when needed. Maria turned out to be some of the best characters to pal in the whole series because she is able to summon some of the coolest monsters that just obliterates any sort of enemy on screen. Richter and Maria each have their own separate Sub-Weapons, with the exception of the Stopwatch, which can be used by both. The castle design of Rondo of Blood is one of the greatest of all the 2D side scrolling Castlevania games, and the soundtrack is magnificent. It’s a damn shame that America never did have this very version of the game it took us many years later till we got the full version. When Dracula X was released, we were divided, some calling it a serviceable remake, and others calling it an inferior port. Years later having played the original Rondo of Blood, I tend to agree with the later sentiment, but Dracula X is still a very playable game if you haven’t tackled it already. Even still, Konami wasn’t done with Rondo. Years later, they released Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, a 2.5D PSP remake that also included the sequel, Symphony of the Night in one package. Chronicles as a port is closer to the original, and it’s a better experience than Dracula X.
Number 1. – Doom
It’s one word and it says it all. Who really needs a sequel of Wolfenstein 3D when all you have to do is to revamp the whole structure and formula, enhance the gameplay, and change the entire settings and sprites to hell filled with demons, zombies, and demonic aliens. I’ve had my say on Wolfenstein 3D being the founder of the first-person shooter genre, but Doom totally popularized it in ways nobody could imagine it! If adventure games didn’t interest people of the 90’s to start getting a computer and play games on it, Doom will! Sure Mortal Kombat got the world to recognize violence in video games, but Doom capitalized it because of its incredibly well detailed gore, haunting imagery, and even hardcore action gameplay. I never seen a game so insane and so imaginative that it’s still worth coming back for another replay. It allowed players to find secrets, use pistols, chain-gun, rocket launchers, chainsaws, and the BFG 9000 to kill as many enemies in first-person, and so many more! To even expand on the game, Doom popularized modding as to redesign character’s skins, create their own levels, and so much more that’s still continuing to this day. Not only that, but it’s one of the pioneers of internet-connected multiplayer for computers as well! This game was so massive at one point, any game that was influenced or trying to get in the first-person shooter market were automatically called “Doom-clones” and we had more than enough of them throughout the 1990s. However, Doom prevails because it is never once boring! No matter how much better modern game’s graphics get, how much better game presentation presents itself, and no matter how many more innovations later game and future games succeeds, Doom’s still is enjoyable because it’s an everlasting entertainment that is immortal! Very rarely I can say that same thing with any other video game…
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