What you’re looking at here is a year that has a lot of great releases ,so it’s a huge step up of 1993. Just like 1991, I’m really impressed by all the history this year has made from the suicide of Kurt Cobain, O.J. Simpson case, the release of Forrest Gump, and the legendary step up for video games. It’s was amazing that Nintendo, after all the faults from Philips CD-i, very little number of titles for the SNES, and Sega dominating the market, this was the year where the competition backfired with an amazing exclusives (many of them made it to the list) for the Super Nintendo. Certainly you can find anything that was released in 1994 and chances are they are memorable, if not great. For video games, this was when the door opened for 32-bit systems to rise (surprising to see 16-bit era didn’t last as long as it should) and 16-bit games showed amazing hardware that not even 32-bit systems could compare. The games in this list are without saying, some of the best games of all time! So it’s really hard for me to choose what in order are the best games released this year but with that out of the way, let’s get on with the list!
Number 10. – Doom II
Since the release of Doom, anything that wants to be in the first-person shooter market were automatically considered a “Doom-clone” and ironically enough, Doom II is a Doom-clone on itself. For those who don’t know it means that it’s almost the exact same game from the first which really is disappointing to see what could the sequel really do that the first one didn’t do already? Well minus the bigger expansive world, weapons like the double shotgun & and beam cannon, and some more powerful demons, there really isn’t anything much different than the original Doom. This felt more like a mod from the original Doom. So with all that bitching aside, why did I put it on the list? Well, this was actually my first Doom game. I remember my friends getting me into this game and I was shocked to see the level of violence and how much madness a game could offer and it still left an impression on me still to this day.
Number 9. – Demon’s Crest
I never realized that a demonic game could ever be so complex to play considering that demonic games are there to over-expose the satanic imagery. Being that it part of Ghouls & Ghost and Gargoyles franchises, Demon’s Crest was actually bearable in the challenge department. It’s the players duty to play as a demon and to find the crest by beating the other demons in a huge adventure. I was amazed on how huge this game was considering that whenever you beat a level, the player is allowed to select whatever level they want to choose next in the map world on the search for another power and ability. I was very impressed to see that Capcom reused the Mega Man formula and enhanced it to a great degree of adventure elements with so many varieties of level design. There are just an extraordinary amount of items that you can find and collect that could get the player many hours of play. There are plenty of boss battles, great range of challenge, and variation of powers. If you still haven’t play this game, what are you waiting for?
Number 8. – System Shock
System Shock was simply an awesome experience. Though the graphics probably got pretty bad with age, it’s the gameplay itself that stood out from being another doom-clone. I really enjoyed playing System Shock because it was almost like my cyberpunk action fantasy come to life. The pointing and clicking gameplay got me very hooked as it was so simplistic when attacking someone or something. I do admit that the controls are very obsolete that it takes time to get used to, but when I got used to it, it does feel like a splendid experience. Also it doesn’t really help at the fact that I got lost so many times that wondering around got me tired after trying to figure out how to get out of the level that I’m in. Though boss fights are left to be desired, however the exploration, hacking, collecting, and action is something that got me wanting to finish the game. Looking at this game in a retrospective view point, I wonder how did they manage to release a game like this. The freedom of degree with your character and letting the player decide how to play System Shock and upgrade characters is something that I’m always interested in playing.
Number 7. – Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Sonic and Knuckles
It’s really interesting to see that both of these games were supposed to be one singular game, but ended up being separate releases in the same year due to development time. I bet everyone remembers the first time playing Sonic the Hedgehog 3 were amazed to see Knuckles taking Sonic’s chaos emeralds. This was one aspect where everyone who finished Sonic 3 wanted to play Knuckles because never before was there a side-character that had so much appeal. So it’s a no brainer that the second half of Sonic the Hedgehog 3, calling it Sonic & Knuckles was released the same year to keep gamers interested in the Sega Genesis. I’ve already stated that Sonic & Knuckles is my favorite Sonic game on the Sega Genesis because of the inclusion of Knuckles. Not only that, you have this Lock-on add-on that came with the game. In addition to being a standalone game, through a system dubbed “lock-on technology,” Sonic & Knuckles acts as an expansion pack to both Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog 3, where you can play as Knuckles or Tails alone in both of those games. The lock-on add-on is one of the best decisions that Sega has ever made and not even the likes of Nintendo could do such a thing! Now, if I were to pick a co-op game with Sonic in it, I’ll always be in tie with Sonic 2 or 3 because the inclusion of Tails being able to fly and carry Sonic to new locations is a helpful strategy to get through these levels. But for a single player experience, Sonic & Knuckles was a fulfilling 2D Sonic experience for me!
Number 6. – Alien vs. Predator (Arcade)
AVP for the arcade, developed by Capcom is one of those arcade classics that still does not have a console port, which is amazing considering how much praise this arcade game got. This is my ranking as one of the best games int the Alien vs. Predator game series for the sake that it did everything that I want to see in a beat’em up. I could never imagine other game in the genre that could be up par with the likes of TMNT 4: Turtles in Time. AVP just has a great selection of characters (either Major Dutch Schaefer, Lieutenant Linn Kurosawa, The Predator Warrior, and Predator Hunter where they side-scroll against greatest amount of xenomorphs ever seen in a video game. It really does a great service to this comic book cross-over that felt so refreshing and engaging all at once. We really don’t need another Alien vs. Predator game to be a first-person shooter because there are just more than enough of them. As of 2013, this arcade classic has been the most requested Capcom game to be released in HD; that shows how good this game really is!
Number 5. – Super Metroid
This game is one of the pinacles of 16-bit gaming. You can say that this game is more of a revamped version of the original Metroid, though it is in the same planet Zebes, but it was so perfectly revamped at the point where it really does feels like no other game in this era could even beat. Even after all of these years, Super Metroid is consider considered the finest game of all time for reasons of have a large expansive world, variations of boss fights that is simply unforgettable, and power & abilities your character gains is extremely satisfying. It controlled a million times better than the previous games where you can shoot in eight directions and gave us wall jump. From the opening sequence you can tell that you’re in for a treat and by the end, after putting so much time figuring out what to do next, you’re left with complete satisfaction after you escaped Zebes from detonation.
Number 4. – Shining Force II
Just like the first one, this game gave me that epic fantasy warfare that I always wanted to see. While everyone around the world still has no idea that there was Fire Emblem at the time, it’s amazing to see a sequel of a strategy-RPG this good. I’m still conflicted if I still like the original Shining Force or the sequel. The original just had a very complete party of fighter as they all have their pro and cons, and the sequel just had a better story than the original. In Shining Force 2, I was able to know who each of these characters were and what their motivations where in joining your party as you venture off to armies of monsters to protect King Granseal. The game is much longer than the first, and more free-roaming.While it only strove for subtle refinements to its predecessor, Shining Force II marked the sweet spot for the series. A far cry from the complex strategy of today’s games, it sported a devious simplicity that still managed to pack a challenge later in the game. Like the first, it also had exploration and character interaction like a traditional RPG, which further helped to make this relatively new genre less intimidating. There is no shortage of Strategy-RPGs, but for some, the addictive and straightforward gameplay of the classic Shining Force series would be a welcome alternative to drowning in the depth of the genre’s contemporaries. That’s why it’s on the top of my favorite Sega Genesis games of all time!
Number 3. – Final Fantasy VI
This game is regarded as one of the best RPG’s of all time and I can really see why. It had a narrative and an adventure that no video game since and after could ever replicate. Though the gameplay is similar to previous Final Fantasy games when using the active time battle mechanics, it was the pinnacle of video games that uses the post-apocalyptic and steampunk setting. From graphics, to gameplay, to plot, it all feels like it nailed what they were going for to be done perfectly like a well-done steak. Though this game doesn’t have class customization like the original Final Fantasy or Final Fantasy V, but you have relics that totally upgrades your characters abilities depending on what relic you choose. It casts spells on hostile situations when you’re about to die that simply makes the game so much bearable considering the other Final Fantasy games were really difficult. And let me say that even the game’s presentation is some of the richest aspects of the whole game. Even the game’s opening captures the audience to engage on the epic adventure that only this game can offer. Final Fantasy VI is blessed enough to be recognized are a true classic because it has been released so many times outside of the Super Nintendo and it still is being re-released or remade so that anyone who’s interested in the Final Fantasy series could play the peak of the entire series. This classic stood the test of time showing that survived countless generations of gaming and it will be continued to be played and loved by many generations to come!
Number 2. – Killer Instinct (Arcade)
When the fighting game boom started to stop trying to being either Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, or Virtua Fighter was when Killer Instinct launched in the arcades. This simply was a fighter that still is like no other. It had the fastest pace action in the whole genre, best quality of animation of that 1990s video games ever had, and the fun factor was ever more satisfying. It’s really sad to see that the arcade port of Killer Instinct still never reached to home consoles. I remember everybody lining up to play this game and hear the commentator narrate how many combos a player has made. Who can ever forget “Ultra Combo” when the player reaches over 60 combos to put insult to injury upon his/her opponent. It’s moments like that that makes player want to master a fighting game like this one. Easily, I can put the arcade version of Killer Instinct 2 to be Rareware’s finest game that they’ve ever made. Since then, every fighting game today became it’s own thing getting developers out of the box when tackling this genre. It sucks at the fact that since Rareware is now sided with Microsoft, it won’t be the same as that wonderful feeling we had when we first played this classic.
Number 1. – Donkey Kong Country
I bet some of you who grew up with this game, like I did, knows that this game should remain as the best game of 1994. I gave so much praise to all the games lower on the list for how fantastic they are, but Donkey Kong Country isn’t just fantastic, it’s simply lovable. It has probably the best appeal I’ve ever witnessed in a video game because of it’s colorful graphics, wondrous and magical score, and even the platforming variety of challenges that this platformer offers makes me weep. This was a fantastic comeback of a forgotten mascot since Jump Man now known as Mario took the spotlight and became more recognizable. This is the singular game that really save the Super Nintendo from loosing to the Sega Genesis because it showed that you don’t really need to have great graphics and gameplay with these add-ons, peripherals, and other separate object to improve anything. This singular cartridge game totally captures what I love about video games. The fact that this game is loaded with secrets, so many challenges, great enemy variety, breath taking visuals, and even fantastic sound system, Donkey Kong Country was lucky to have this much production value. I doubt that without this game, no one would ever recognize Rareware as that great gaming company that we all remember for. It showed that mode 7 isn’t the only graphical capabilities that the SNES can show and it also showed Sega Genesis’s blast processing (and all of their add-ons) to look more like a whimper. Because of it’s well-crafted design and giving more variety and challenge to the basic platformer gameplay, it holds special place in video game history as the best game of 1994 and quite possibly one of the best games of the Super Nintendo!
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