What's the Weirdest Game in Your Top 10?


#1

Austin, Rob, and Danielle get together to discuss their personal top ten lists: their favorite games of all time, and look for trends and outliers. In the process, you'll understand that these are, without a shadow of a doubt, the most Austin, Rob, and Danielle lists you'll ever hear about. Thanks to Skyridge on the Waypoint forums for the thread that inspired the topic!

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/wjbq34/waypoint-radio-top-ten-games

#2

C&C Renegade, but specifically the online multiplayer


#3

The love for King of Dragon Pass in this podcast did my heart good. Also, the mention of old, creative text Let’s Plays, some of which unfortunately haven’t held up, but still.

I don’t know if I’d put the Zeno Clash games near my top ten but they’re always the first games I think of when I think of barely remembered, strange games.


#4

So tried to make my own top 10 but I ended up having to cheat a bit and expand it. Didn’t want certain franchies dominating the top 10. Along with that decided to make a list I’m confident on because I’ve both played them and also let them sink in as well as one with all them. Then a few honorable mentions.

Top 12(ish) restricted to those I’ve played more recently and also have had time to think about:

  1. Fallout 1 / Fallout 2 / Fallout New Vegas (Depending on the day I’ll say one of the three is my favorite)
  2. Morrowind
  3. Planescape: Torment
  4. Burnout Paradise
  5. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. SoC
  6. Majora’s Mask / Windwaker (Flip flop so kept them both)
  7. Far Cry 2
  8. KotoR 2
  9. RDR
  10. Sleeping Dogs

Top 11 including all games:

  1. Fallout 1/2/NV
  2. Morrowind
  3. PS:T
  4. Nier: Automata
  5. Burnout Paradise
  6. STALKER SoC
  7. Majora’s Mask/Windwaker
  8. Night in the Woods
  9. Super Metroid
  10. I have no Mouth, and I must Scream

Overall I’m generally rather fond of RPGs especially open world games. The outlier in the first crop is certainly Burnout Paradise. As per the latter, I’d have to say I have no Mouth, and I must Scream Stands out the most.


#5

FUEL and Miasmata are two incredibly special little things.


#6

Honestly, probably Final Fantasy VII. I don’t think people who haven’t played it as adults, and certainly people who haven’t played it since it came out, realize just how bizarre that game is. I’m still mystified at how mainstream it got at the time. It certainly wouldn’t be as well-regarded today.


#7

For me its The Surge 2017, yes this game is flawed and all (though I think patches and dlc have helped mitigate some of those flaws), but there is just so much that I love about the game. One aspect about the game is particularly under appreciated is how well it ties the main theme of the game which is, the importance of planning for the future even if it means making the present more difficult," by rewarding you in the long run for making fights more difficult for yourself by targeting and harvesting armored limbs.


#8

Listening to Austin’s list helped crystallise why I feel such a massive chasm to discussions of BotW.

It’s an outlier but I’d not point to extreme polish as a reason. The rest of that list is flavourful, tasty; nourishing despite the occasional sharp edge. BotW is this enormous bowl of gruel sprinkled with the hints of (previous) great meals (you’ve enjoyed). And it doesn’t even have the uniformity to actually sand off the sharp edges: there’s still that jank in there, but lacking a depth that excuses it. It’s not even a sustaining form of blandness that makes up a lot of modern games - it’s the ultimate of missed opportunities because there are those tiny hints, under the weight of thousands of copy-pasted nothingness elements or the wasted story (eg gender essentialist both in the moments and the broader arc - at either scale it fails) which weigh it down. It’s not been sanded down to a mirror finish, but it’s also missing any of the deep flavour of everything else on the list.


#9

Impulsively posting this while walking and listening to the podcast but YES THANKS FOR MENTIONING ANODYNE

That game is v underrated and the creators responded very kindly to a blog post I wrote about it yonks ago


#10

I don’t know if it’s “weird” or not, but Space Invaders Extreme for the ds is in my top 5 and nothing will every convince me to take it off of there. It’s a faster-pace techno wonderful adaption of space invaders that hits an arcade sweet spot. There’s branding paths, and you make the music to the game by playing the game (color combos, what powers you’re using, etc). There’s a system of matching colors and enemy types that’s surprisingly deep


#11

I can’t really think of a top 10 list for games (or anything, I’m both indecisive and not that bothered about ranking things / declaring anything the best or whatever), though it led me to think of gaming experiences I hold in high esteem for weird reasons.

  • Silent Hill 4: The Room - which, to be fair, I hold in high regard (based admittedly on having last played it probably over a decade ago). It’s a pretty strange and kind of brave addition to that series, though with some glaring flaws (why, in a series famed for its sound design, do some enemies comically belch upon being hit? escalator arm monsters; backtracking; etc.). The thing my mind keeps coming to, though? The reason it holds a special place in my memory? Hanging out in the apartment, looking out the window. I’ve loaded up YouTube videos of it, just to see some Let’s Player looking out the window at that normal, everyday (yet curiously atmospheric) city outside.

  • Mass Effect 3: I can’t really remember that much of what the actual story or anything was like, but I had my first post-university Christmas temp job at this point. So my days (six of them a week, with one day a week off) would consist largely of playing ME3 in the morning, getting a lift up to the mail sorting warehouse in the afternoon, and coming home hungry and tired at night. During this time, I discovered the joy of Kinect voice controls (when standing at a door, I’d think of ways to worm the word “OPEN” into convoluted sentences to see if it would work; I ended up following more renegade options because it was fun to shout mean things at the screen; when standing at other doors, I’d yell “OPEN” and then call the door a bastard), and for no good reason, started improvising rubbish lyrics over the soundtrack at the ending sequence.

Aye.


#13

Rob

  1. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
  2. STAR WARS™: TIE Fighter
  3. Dishonored
  4. The Last Express
  5. Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri
  6. Freespace 2
  7. Medieval: Total War
  8. Close Combat 2: A Bridge Too Far
  9. F.E.A.R.
  10. Silent Hunter III

Austin
King of Dragon Pass
Invisible Inc
Dragon’s Dogma
Far Cry 2
Knights of the Old Republic 2
Streets of Rage 2
Breath of the Wild
Morrowind
Tecmo Super Bowl
Romance of the Three Kingdoms X

Danielle (soft order)

  1. Psychonauts
  2. Bioshock
  3. Prey
  4. Donkey Kong Country (maybe all of them)
  5. Banjo-Kazooie
  6. Gone Home
  7. Anodyne
  8. Majora’s Mask/Windwaker
  9. Mass Effect 2
  10. Super Mario 64
    fez
    mario kart 64
    into the breach
    breath of the wild
    soma
    crazy taxi 1/2
    diddy kong racing
    brutal legend

#14

It has to be a tossup between monster rancher 2 and steel battalion. I like MR2 way more and it’s certainly weird but steel battalion with that controller is something else.


#15

I feel that BotW has more depth than you’re giving it credit for, but that depth is mechanical as opposed to narrative. BotW for me kind of made me understand what people were talking about all those years ago when they raved about Halo and the “combat puzzle” it created. I found Halo’s combat shallow and passable at best, I never got into that mindset of “there are so many possibilities.” No there aren’t. Peek around corner, shoot enemies in head, dodge psychic grenades.

BotW is a game I’ve put between 60 and 70 hours into, and I’m still running into weird solutions and possibilities I didn’t even know were possible. I discovered you could drop bombs while gliding by accident, and I told someone who had played the game for over 100 hours and they had no clue. I would bomb strafe encampments just for kicks. There are tons of videos out there of bizarre interactions and contraptions you can pull off that would never even occur to me to try, yet they all work because the game lets the objects interact and the chips fall where they may.

Yes, the story is problematic and has all the depth and substance of a grease stain, but that’s not where I’m finding enjoyment in BotW. That’s all barely relevant set dressing to the main show, which is the limitless possibilities I’ve conjured up to deal with problems and encounters. I finally understand the mentality of “the puzzle” where I have a blank canvas to paint my own solution, as janky and terrible as it may be. It’s why the four divine beasts are the least interesting parts to me so far, because they have a defined solution I’m not interested in finding.

Compare that to other open world games like Skyrim or Fallout where people wax on about the possibility space, but in reality any relevant possibilities are meaningless. Yes, I can build a little shed and fill it with every skull I find in the wasteland as a fun little gag, but who cares? No one in town has concerns about my growing skull pile, and I can’t share it with others, so it’s meaningless window dressing. Actual, meaningful interaction with the world is reduced to murder or persuade.


#16

Here’s the thing: lots of games give you masses of things you could do but no reason to ever find them. Hell, Austin talked about exactly that issue with Horizon: Zero Dawn as a major knock against the game. BotW is the opposite of exceptional in that (although it has exceptional PR in selling it as “inventing a chemical engine” and all the other nonsense that was said around release to pretend this isn’t the same engineering solutions that have been developed over decades for every other emergent system in every other open game that did it first).

Edit: People are extremely eager to give BotW lots of credit (Go go Nintendo Power!). What if… we don’t actually have to because it’s extremely easy to argue why it doesn’t require it.

Halo’s combat is talked about because of how the AI reacts, flanks, runs away, and forms a puzzle at higher difficulties (see also F.E.A.R. etc - shockingly effective smoke and mirrors). It is the timing of the limited verbs you have access to and how the world reacts that generates the praise. BotW has many verbs and they all don’t really mean anything 30 seconds later because the AI is extremely limited and gives you MMO feels (especially with how the optimal play often works with “leashing” exploits). A Zachtronics game has very few verbs but creates complex puzzles and systems from those verbs. I’d say the core to most immersive sims is not simply verb count but how everything is deeply reactive to them (and that failures in that genre look to verb count and the surface spectacle of interaction without long-term effects of any choice). If I want a playground of pure systemic interaction, Besiege is sitting there with far more depth than BotW or anything in this systemic RPG pile can ever come close to. But the most important part: I care about the space I’m walking around in Prey. The total collapse of the narrative (both moment to moment and the broad strokes) is what meant digging into the systems was always going to be a tough sell in BotW. When all characters looked like flat cutouts or offensive caricatures, the dreary quests stood out far more. The copy-paste of so much of the world and things to do in it.

As I’ve talked about before, what ultimately broke BotW for me was Eventide. Another pile of MMO-style mini-quests which aren’t actually difficult with, at best, meaningless window dressing applied to make it seem like slightly more. A world reduced to murder and collect quests, surrounded by a load of verbs that all don’t actually change the ultimate goals or how things react to you.


#17

I started putting together my own list, and halfway through I realized I was building it out of almost nothing but “won’t be on other people’s lists”, to the exclusion of more popular games that I might even like better. In other words, is Ghost Master a better game than Chrono Trigger? Of course not. But Ghost Master might end up on my list and Chrono Trigger probably won’t.

My early contenders:

  • Orcs Must Die 2 - A tossup between 1 and 2. 2 is better in almost every respect except for the way the maps are designed with co-op in mind, which is a bummer as a solo player
  • Heroes of Might and Magic 5 - Sorry, HoMM 3
  • Ghost Master - A strategy puzzle game where you build a team of cartoon ghosts to traumatize Sims
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night - Most likely to be on everyone else’s lists
  • Capcom vs SNK 2 - Like C:SotN, it’s just a good-ass game that’s popular for a reason

#18

I really need to replay Anodyne at some point, I think I played it at a point where I didn’t really get it.


#19

I’d quite like to give it another go. I never finished the very last bonus extra dungeon thingy (too many incredibly difficult jumps). The new game +, i found really inventive.

It definitely deserves to be held in the same regard as other (what I’d refer to as hypnagogic) games riffing on twisted dream versions of old-school RPGs like Undertale and Yume Nikki (I think Anodyne is probably my favourite of these three)


#20

Hmm weird? Hard to say, as I wouldn’t find it weird, but maybe Kingdom Rush?


#21

Mandatory linking of GB’s Quick Look for King of Dragon Pass

Also I’m fairly sure this is the LP Austin was talking about.