Some Kind Of Favourite Games Meme

Talking about the Nintendo Wii the other day made me start to reminisce over the different games-playing machines I’ve had, and stop to think about what have been my favourites, and why. It occurred to me that this could quite easily be transformed into some kind of favourite games meme, so here we go.

The rules are simple: list your top three games for each platform you’ve owned (but feel free to list “nearlies”). I’m going to use the definition of platform to mean game incompatibility: I’m counting a PC once as a platform; the ZX Spectrum once despite having a squelchy-rubber keyboard jobbie and the +2, but if I’d had a Playstation 1 and 2, I’d be counting them separately. But if you want to join in, tweak the rules to suit yourself. I wouldn’t recommend talking about each game in as much detail as I have either, but that’s up to you.

Right then, here goes:

ZX Spectrum


Introducing Sabre Man! Sabreman was a character from the Ultimate Play The Game stable (simply the best Spectrum games developer) who went on to appear in more of their games after this.

Basically, you had to run around a big maze trying to collect pieces of a wolfy amulet, picking up temporary power-ups by trampling over flowers in a not particularly environmentally-sound way (which ranged from making you invulnerable and faster, to making you fall asleep or reversing your controls), stabbing some wild animals and avoiding others.

Absolutely fantastic. Immense fun. And this was back in “the day”, when a top of the range computer game like this would set you back about £6.


One of Ultimate Play The Game’s earlier titles, this couldn’t really have been much simpler. You could move left or right, fall to the ground or thrust upwards and you could only fire in your direction of movement.

The premise — and indeed the entire screen layout — was identical on every level. One flat piece of ground on the bottom of the screen, three platforms above it. Your job to drag fuel and/or pieces of spaceship over to your launching area while avoiding/shooting whichever variety of nasties inhabited that level.

Different level, different nasties. Every now and again, different bits of spaceship. After a while you looped back round to the beginning. And that was it. Very simple but very moreish…

Manic Miner
An early platform game, this introduced Miner Willy, who we would meet again in the Jet Set Willy series (stop sniggering at the back!). You jumped around each “cave”, avoiding the nasty moving things and the nasty stationary things, had to collect all of the keys to open the exit door — and had to do that before your air ran out.

That’s it. No photo quality graphics, no advanced control system — as I recall you could walk left, walk right or jump — and only about four colours on screen at any one time, as opposed to the sixteen squintillion shades you get these days, but believe me, it was one heck of a lot more playable than much of the stuff today.

Of course, when harking back to the Spectrum, the relative newness and originality counted for a lot — try releasing Manic Miner as a £40 console game today and see who’d buy it — but there’s certainly still a place for easy to control and playable games. Not everyone wants to have to put in eighty hours of gameplay practice before you can get past the Big Boss at the end of level two…

Bubbling Under

Now for some reason, I can remember loads of Spectrum games I loved, even though that was longer ago than any of the others. Here’s a few that nearly made it:

  • Underwurlde
  • Way Of The Exploding Fist
  • The Warlock Of Firetop Mountain
  • Kokotoni Wilf
  • The Double — my first football management sim
  • …and pretty much the entire output of Ultimate Play The Game

Commodore Amiga

Sensible Soccer
Now this was a tricky one to call because I was a fan of the Kick Off series, but Sensible Soccer was more fun. It was more cartoony, it was simpler to control, and unlike in Kick Off 2, you didn’t have my mate Geoff scoring ridiculous goals against you from the half-way line in every match because he’d worked out there was a flaw in the goalkeeper’s AI. Ah, those were the days. Playing on the Amiga was certainly one of my favourite activities as a teenager.

…yes, you’re probably right.

Eye Of The Beholder

As a long time fan of Dungeons & Dragons, a proper RPG sim was always going to go down well with me. You created your party, you set off, and as I seem to recall, you then got poisoned by the bastard spiders on the bastard spider bastard level. Okay, I got past it eventually, but it was one of the most aggravating parts of the game.

There was a great trick to use in combat, providing that you could keep your enemy at bay — it wouldn’t work if there were more than a couple of them as they would just surround you — but basically you just move to one side. The enemy then steps in front of you, and before they could turn round to attack, you give ‘em a quick bash and then step off to the side again.

… and then at the end of the game, you’ve got to fight this beholder, which is basically a floating brown football with lots of eyes coming out of it on stalks and it can cast spells could kill your (by now rather powerful) character party stone dead. So remember what I said. Step, attack, sidestep, wait, attack. And repeat.

Ah, nostalgia…

Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck’s Revenge
For sheer oddness, this game ought to win awards. It was a puzzle-solving game. It was quirky, it had a lot of humour in it. You played Guybrush Threepwood. It also had dialogue like this:

Guybrush Threepwood
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
A woodchuck could chuck no amount of wood since a woodchuck couldn’t chuck wood.
Guybrush Threepwood
But if a woodchuck could chuck and would chuck some amount of wood, what amount of wood would a woodchuck chuck?

You couldn’t die — you were in fact acting out a flashback so you knew you had to be alive at the end of it — but you could get very stuck!

What more could anyone possibly ask for?

Bubbling Under

I don’t remember many of the Amiga games to be honest. It was mostly Kick Off 2, Kick Off 2, Kick Off 2, with the occasional “Player Manager” thrown in. The only other ones that stood out for me to any great degree was encountering Tetris for the first time, the endless fun of using Lemmings to blow up pretty shaped holes in the landscape (and rescuing them sometimes), and some really odd “Save the Planet” type environmental game that had come with the Amiga in the first place. Oh, and Treasure Island Dizzy.

Sony Playstation

Tomb Raider II

Well, obviously Lara Croft is a foxy babe, and if you believe my GLW, that’s the primary reason I would play the games. This was not of course true. Yes, she’s a foxy babe. But it was the gameplay that did it for me. It was great fun jumping around, climbing up things, falling off things, swimming through things and in particular shooting things.

My favourite part were the levels set underwater: “The Wreck of the Maria Doria”, as the games designers had taken the time to have whole rooms on a slope, or upside down, various underwater sections and so on. It was like the Poseidon Adventure computer game, only with Lara Croft in it. Fantastic.

Plus the way she can leap somersaults through the air has to be seen to believed. I’ve not seen anyone else able to jump like that — save maybe Lomana LuaLua or Obafemi Martins who have been known to somersault after scoring goals — but never across a deep drop full of spikes while been chased by someone with a harpoon gun, I’ll bet.

Oh, and I completed the game, and then when I thought I was enjoying the cut-scene at the end, I had a brief panic when I realised I had control back and there was lots of burglar people coming into the house. Fortunately I managed to shoot the bastards, so I won. Hurrah!

Anyway, Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, fantastic series.

The Unholy War

Part turn based strategy, part platform game and part shoot-’em-up, this game had a truly original concept that I felt worked well, even if it seems I was one of only about four people to ever play it.

Basically, you chose to play as either the Teknos (robots with big guns) or the Arcane (magical beasties). You then moved your set of characters about a hex map, a couple of turns at a time. If you landed next to someone else’s square, you could go and battle with them. Different characters had different strengths and weaknesses, so part of the strategy was to ensure that your characters going into battle were better in a particular environment than theirs. And after that it was down to combat skills, brute strength and manoeuvrability.

Tomb Raider III

Look, I did say I was a fan of the Tomb Raider series, didn’t I? I’ve got to admit, I didn’t manage to complete this one, getting stuck near the end in the Lost City Of Tinnos, which was a bit of a bugger, as that was the second last level, but that’s life, matey.

Bubbling Under
Okay, so I can remember loads of Spectrum games — if I’d been asked to name them I could probably have done one hundred plus easily, but ask me about something I’ve had in the last six years or so and I’m struggling. I remember a Colin MacRae rally one that I liked because unusually enough you were expected to go off the road from time to time, but beyond that it’s all a blank.


I’m afraid I can’t really do a bubbling under here. There were three games I played on the XBox with any degree of regularity. The first two were great, the third was okay and the other three or four games I had for it were fairly crap. That’s not to say the XBox was a problem — it’s just that I didn’t buy many games for it.

Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

I ended up buying the PC version of this, simply because the PC version came with expansion packs that (at the time) weren’t available for the XBox. Prior to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, this was the RPG to play.

You could customise your character pretty much how you wanted — learn the skills you wanted, solve the quests you wanted, get the armour and weapons training you wanted, and cast the spells you wanted. Admittedly, the main quest series was linear, but there were so many different strands of quests — location based quests, half a dozen guild based quests, miscellaneous quests and daedric shrine quests available to you at any one time that it never felt like you were being pushed down a particular route.

Oh, and you could cast spells to fly, which was great for getting over obstacles and made travelling a lot easier, even if you did sometimes find yourself being harried by a pack of Cliff Racers. Time to unpack my trusty sword Eltonbrand and go to town, methinks…

Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance

By this point, I’d already played the multi-character quest-solving Baldur’s Gate on the PC, which was required problem solving and strategy. This took the same basic RPG concept, but reduced it down to one character, cut down the quest-solving considerably, and made it much more about going round whacking things on the head with your axe or whatever weapon you have.

I found the gameplay for Dark Alliance too easy, and except for the odd occasion when I was overwhelmed by sheer number of beasties, normally managed to beat everyone off without too much difficulty in order to get round, pick up the Onyx sword and complete the game.

One of the nice things was that you could export (i.e. save) your character. So just before you were about to go into the final battle on one difficulty level, save and export the character. Once you’ve completed it on that difficulty setting, just import your character back into the start of the game at the next difficulty setting. Nice.

Despite the gameplay being straight-forward, and the quests being so easy you could do them with your eyes shut:

Hmm, I need three things before I progress to the next part. There are three paths from here. What do you reckon the chances are that one of them will be at the end of each path?Internal Dialogue Playing Dark Alliance

… but despite all that — or maybe because of it, meaning it was a game you could switch your brain off to play — it was great fun. It really was. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who is planning on buying the original XBox. Anyone? Anyone? No…

The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring

You had to start of by basically running away from the Black Riders that were out to get you. Then you… ah, tell the truth, I didn’t like this one much either.

I think part of the problem was I was expecting to love it, being such a LOTR fan (books and films). Unfortunately it never managed to engage me and therefore only really got fired up when I was desperate to play something different for a change…


The Championship Manager / Football Manager Series

What can I say? If you’re looking at the total amount of gaming time spent playing a particular game, then this series has probably consumed by far a greater proportion of my life than any other game.

For those of you not familiar with football management simulators, you either are given a football team to manage or choose one yourself. From there, you have to organise training, buy and sell players, sort out your match tactics, sort out player contracts, and in more recent versions deal with the media. As it can take around twenty-four hours worth of playing time to play a single season (depending on how in-depth you want to go, and how fast your PC is), by the time you’ve taken Hartlepool up to the Premiership, taken over as manager of Newcastle and led them to European cup glory, you could easily have spent two weeks of your life playing the game.

Personally, I think they should bring out a version of the game that exercises your muscles too, so they don’t atrophy while you sit in your chair contemplating whether or not to arrange that pre-season tour of Norway.

Dark Forces
Dark Forces was a mission-based first person shooter set in the Star Wars universe that I played somewhat extensively whilst at University when I should more likely have been writing essays and so on. It was one of those things were you think to yourself “I’ll just finish this level” little realising it’s going to take your four hours.

Any game where you get to shoot storm troopers, get attacked by sludge monsters and so on just has to make it to a top three — and this one just pipped the other FPS that I used to play a lot at University — Doom II.

Incidentally, if Steve or Loz (my old housemates and fellow Dark Forces players) are reading this, hello!

The Elder Scrolls IV : Oblivion

I talked about this earlier in the year, with the post title fear and loathing in cyrodil city where I was raving on about the game. I’ve not actually played it much since, to be honest, having been distracted by the time-eating monstrosity that is the Football Manager range, but it’s still tucked away in a little corner of my head, waiting for me to return.

The graphics are amazing. The gameplay is amazing. It truly is like being immersed in another world — when you’re in a city, people go about their day to day business, stop and chat to each other and so on. And when nobody is watching, you get to nick all their stuff and sell it heh heh heh. Not that I’m in the Thieves Guild, of course. Why I’ve never even heard of such a thing, honest.

And what I was saying about it last time still stands — yes, even though I’m getting a Wii — I’d still love them to bring out some expansion packs for this game. It has to be the most in-depth fully immersive RPG I’ve played to date, and it’s bloody fantastic.

5 Responses to “Some Kind Of Favourite Games Meme”

  1. Rich Pedley responds:

    Trying to remember back 20+ years is going to be difficult, naming just one is a feat. Anyway -

    ZX81 - 3D Monster Maze and 1K chess :-)
    The first was awe inspiring for it’s time, the second was an unbelievable 2 player game.

    Electron - Elite!!
    Commodore 64 - Elite (again!!)
    A Classic game.

    Megadrive - Sonic the Hedgehog
    Lastability, and kids today still like to play it.

    GameCube - Mario Sunshine! MarioKart Double Dash (but only because I actually managed to finish these)

    PC - hmm more difficult because I don’t play games that much on it and nothing really sticks out but I am enjoying a multi-player Tron game at the moment.

  2. Karl responds:

    Not sure if I can remember 3 but here goes:

    Atari 2600:
    Defender, Joust

    ZX Spectrum:
    Gunship, Elite and The Great Escape.

    Atari ST:
    Falcon (as in the F-16 Fighting Falcon) - my first networked game.

    NHL 9?, Madden 9? - can’t remember the year now.

    Final Fantasy VII, Syphon Filter, Metal Gear Solid.

    XBox/XBox 360:
    Splinter Cell, Need for Speed, Gears of War.

    Thief, Mechwarrior, World of Warcraft. Near miss - Star Wars Galaxies (before it went down the toilet).

  3. Mike Cherim responds:

    Atari 2600: Frogger, PacMan, and ???

    PC: The original Wolfenstein 3D (I still have the shareware floppy).

    Xbox: Rainbow Six 3 (wow, FPS multiplayer online), Splinter Cell (like an action movie), Burnout (fun, fun, fun).

  4. Dan responds:

    Atari 2600: Maze Craze, Circus, Adventure

    ZX Spectrum: Ant Attack, Orbitor, The Hobbit (nearlies: JetPac, Manic Miner, Election)

    Commdore 64: Space Taxi, Archon, Elite (nearlies: Way of the Exploding Fist, Wasteland, Leaderboard)

    Atari ST: Captive, Player Manager, Dungeon Master (nearlies: Falcon, Populous, Monkey Island series, Ultima V)

    PC: Civilization series, Championship Manager series, Quake 1 (first and best online gaming experience) (nearlies: Unreal Tournament, GTA 3, Solitaire’s Journey, Zork Trilogy, too many others to mention)

    PS2: Burnout 3, God of War

    GBA: Advance Wars, WarioWare Inc

  5. ThePickards » Blog Archive » Roger’s Top 10s responds:

    [...] Games …hmm. I’ve got a feeling I’ve done this one before. In fact my earlier post some kind of favourite games meme pretty much covers it. Okay, maybe they aren’t broken down exactly into tens of this and [...]

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