The Game & Watch series is Nintendo’s first foray into video games and handhelds like the GameBoy Micro, and even the DS drew inspiration from it. It’s also not going to attract the attention of anyone under 25 who isn’t just curious or truly into retro gaming. The original Mario Bros. release was underwhelming as it didn’t have much value for your money. They could have easily added the entire NES Mario library at no extra cost but chose not to. It seems Nintendo listened this time as the entire Zelda NES library is included here in a nice package with extras.
The unboxing experience is quite nice here for such a small proprietary device. The handheld comes out in a display box (more on that later), some of the usual safety pamphlet stuff Nintendo does, and a code to redeem 300 platinum coins on Nintendo.com (which are used to redeem things that actually matter like physical items). The device itself is inside a foam sleeve and that’s your lot. The charger is hidden away inside a “compartment” of the display box and this is a tiny three-inch USB-C cable, but any cable will work. This one just so happens to be Nintendo branded so collectors might want to hold on to it and not lose it. When you power on the device you will be greeted with a splash screen of Link himself and plopped right into the “main” screen which is the clock. If you press the Pause/Set button you can enter the system’s settings that allow you to change the sound and brightness and turn off sleep mode (if plugged in).
Once you have your time set you can go into the game selection screen and can choose between the original Zelda, The Adventure of Link, and Link’s Awakening. You can also play the Game & Watch series Vermin which stars Link himself. You can then use the Timer app as well. So, these sound great on their own right? Well, this entire device is chock-full of Easter eggs and features that you will probably miss or never know about without playing around or reading about them. First, the Timer and Clock screens both have playable games built into them. The Clock features several screens and Link will take 12 hours to complete the “game” or you can control him yourself. There are hidden Easter eggs here such as fairies appearing when the clock says 2:22, and other things happening when all digits are the same number. The game’s lighting will affect the time of day as well which is really neat. There are also several language versions for each game and you can experience their regional differences. This is more of a historical curiosity thing for most, but it’s nice these were all included.
The Timer app has three backgrounds you can cycle through and a time attack mode. Every game has cheats built-in that will give you full hearts if you hold A for five seconds while starting a new game. The Clock screen can switch from the 8-bit ticking sound (which is really freaking annoying by the way) to the game’s music and sound effects. There is also an auto-save feature that resumes right where you left off. You can easily switch between all three games and never lose your spot. There’s also a manual-save mode by holding A+B+Select+Start. Vermin has an extra hard C mode if you press A for five seconds, and the Clock screen will also cycle through 11 different backgrounds before going into sleep mode.
If that isn’t enough to keep you busy for a while (seriously this would be a great stocking stuffer as it’s great value for your money) you get a nice little cardboard display that has a fold-out stand in the back which is made from the tray the device sits in. This isn’t going to hold up over time so I suggest you get a third-party stand or something that someone else made for the long-term. Collectors will probably not want to use this either. And, as a nice little bonus, the rear tri-force logo lights up when it’s on.
So, that’s your lot. Three fantastic and iconic Zelda titles and the Game & Watch title to tie it all in with fun interactive apps. The device itself is what you would expect from Nintendo. It’s lightweight but has sturdy plastic and the screen is gorgeous with sharp colors and a vivid picture. The speaker is great too and spits out 8-bit tunes clearly and doesn’t sound tinny or anything like that. While these games are emulated ROMs they don’t have any issues and work just fine. The D-pad feels amazing and while the two face buttons are a bit rubbery, they’re fine for this device. It just looks gorgeous and is a fantastic piece to display as well. Overall, this is how these need to be done in the future and is well worth the $50.
I’m not a huge Banjo fan. I never was as a kid either. I felt the game was really tedious and easy. The only interesting parts of the game were the platforming and collecting everything, and even that got dull after a while. I personally feel it’s a very much overrated game and is one of the most nostalgia blind games in existence. I tried out Grunty’s Revenge for GBA, and it’s exactly what I expected. An oversimplified version of an already pretty simple game.
The story is mostly nonsense, but Gruntilda has created a robot form of herself and you need to stop her. The end. Yeah, Banjo was never much for the story. I do have the say the yapping voice samples are incredibly annoying and repeat themselves over and over again. It’s some of the most annoying voices I’ve heard in any game. It’s just irritating noises, they don’t even sound like voices. Never mind that though, your goal is to run around collecting Jiggies, musical notes, honeycombs, and various other odds and ends to acquire abilities to gain access to new areas. The levels in this game are fairly small but well designed. I have to say the level design overall here is great and I never got lost thanks to memorable landmarks which are key to a game with no map. You talk to a mole fellow who will grant you a new ability once you have enough notes. I never ran into an issue with this as exploring alone will give you more than enough notes. Abilities range from smacking enemies with your pack to a roll. Once you acquire Kazooie you can get the ability to fire eggs, batteries, a jump glide, and an aerial attack.
I do like how the abilities keep coming and in quick succession. It was satisfying to get back to the hub world and gain access to new abilities such as ladder climbing and diving. Thankfully just exploring on its own saw me collecting and completing 100% of each level with ease. There are boss fights and these are painfully easy and never change. The boss has an electric field around it and you just run around dodging attacks. Once the field is down you can attack. The life counter will go down with each attack and you are rewarded afterward. Enemy encounters are pretty much the same and enemies constantly respawn. Some enemies require more than one hit, but I found it annoying that they would get in the way of a platforming segment after I’ve killed them and only got knocked down to come back around have to kill them again. It was hard to judge depth with some platforms and it would lead to cheap falls.
I do have to say that while the game looks decent the pseudo-3D look makes everything look quite bland. While it’s by no means ugly I never cared for the art style of Banjo. Everything is just green and yellow in this game is it gets old after a while. There are only four large levels and the game can be finished in less than four hours. Thankfully you can save anywhere, and dying doesn’t even reset the area. You just start off at the next closest spot or platform so I didn’t see the point in having a life bar if there were no consequences to dying. The only thing that kept me going was the completionist in me wanting to 100% every level and acquiring the next ability was fun.
Overall, Grunty’s Revenge is a decent isometric platformer, but other games did it better such as Spyro. The visuals are kind of muddy and blurry and a bit hard to see when it comes to platforming, but the levels are designed well. The story is nonsense and there’s zero challenge outside of just the platforming. If you want a short and light-hearted pseudo-3D platformer for your GBA then you can’t go wrong here.
The Nintendo DS. The system that has the better half of itself. The Gameboy Advance 4 because there’s two screens in one. The system your grandma probably at some point may have played Brain Age or New York Times Crosswords on. The system that had a library just as strong as the GBA’s and had so many different models. It could play Gameboy games, GBA games, and then it all went away when they took the GBA slot away to give us cameras. Yeah, no thanks. The DS has a vast library of amazing games, but the system is becoming more and more collectible as time goes on and your favorite childhood DS game may be over $100. Metroid Prime Hunters? Yeah, forget it. Hamsterz Life? Yes! Castlevania? Not going to happen. My Baby Girl? You got it! In all seriousness there are cheap games that aren’t shovelwere, quite a few in fact. Also, don’t even bother with the few horror games on the system Japanese release only or not.
Complete in box games are hard to come by and can be expensive, so I dug into my own collection and will be talking about these games that are under $20. Of course there’s shovelware if your a glutton for punishment, that stuff can be bought by the truck load off of eBay and paid by the pound. There may be a few games here you don’t have or just got a shiny DS or have a 3DS and want to dive deeper into this backlog of goodness.
Age of Empires: Age of Kings – Backbone Entertainment/Majesco Entertainment – 2006
Yes, the Majesco that killed off Psychonauts and made the crappy Game Gear re-release in 2000. That Majesco. That’s okay as Age of Kings is a fantastic strategy game on DS and there aren’t many. The touch screen allows for some better controls over buttons and remember this is a tile based game rather than real-time like on PC. It’s a lot of fun, but slow paced and nothing flashy or pretty. It’s great for relaxing on a quiet day and exercising your brain.
Alice in Wonderland – Étranges Libellules S.A./Disney Interactive – 2010
This game came out late in the system’s life, but what is this even?! A good Alice in Wonderland game? A good DISNEY GAME? It looks like Okami?! C’MON! This is a fantastic platformer with a gorgeous art style and thankfully has nothing to do with the terrible Tim Burton movie. I’m surprised it’s not worth more as it’s pretty unknown and was overlooked on the shelves because of the terrible timing of the movie. It’s dark, pretty, and a lot of fun.
Band Hero – Vicarious Visions/Activision – 2009
Band Hero is probably the most peripheral heavy game on the system. They packed an entire band in here! The great thing is you can still pick this up new for under $20 because no one cared about it. Sadly, it’s a great game! It comes with a guitar grip and a weird rubber drum condom. It has great licensed songs and play better than Guitar Hero on DS. It’s a game you can’t really emulate well or watch. It’s an experience of the senses. You of course need a DS with a GBA slot so that pesky DSi won’t due. It’s made by the Crash Bandicoot team so it’s got to be good right?
Big Bang Mini – Arkedo SARL/SouthPeak Interactive – 2009
This is a fireworks shoot ’em up hybrid that utilizes the touch screen very well. It’s super colorful and bright and a lot of fun to get into. There are mini-games and the challenge ramps up as you go on. It’s super colorful and tons of fun with varied boss fights and enemies. This is a must have.
Brain Age Academy – Nintendo – 2006
Well it’s brain teasers, math problems, timing tests, reaction tests, and many things you probably did in school, but it’s fun because it’s a VIDEO GAME. This series was actually quite fun and you can sink several hours into the game and don’t want to stop. Your grandma probably didn’t want to stop either. The entire series is pretty much the same just with new ideas and mini-games and problems. They’re solid and utilize the touch screen well.
Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day! – Nintendo – 2007
Around this time people were tired of Dr. Kawashima’s crap and sales dropped. Brain Age 2 is the best of the bunch and is less mini-game like from Big Brain Academy and more educational. These brain exercises are great for anyone studying in school, children, or just plain fun if you want to utilize that fancy touch screen. It’s nothing pretty to look at but a seriously interesting piece of software that only could be done on the DS.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – n-Space/Activision – 2007
Can you 360 no scope in this game? Probably not, but it’s a great single player experience with decent visuals and it feels like a portable Call of Duty game. The only way to get it portable as Roads to Victory wasn’t too hot on the PSP. This was built from the ground up and n-Space were excellent developers for the system back in the day. These are highly overlooked because they’re not big bombastic console versions, but they are quite solid on DS.
Classic Action: Devilish – Starfish Kaihatsu/UFO Interactive Games – 2007
Well this game got shit on a lot because it was unchanged from the Genesis/Game Gear version, and that’s okay. It just stretches the play field out across both screens, but it’s still fun. This plays like a shoot ’em up mixed with Arkanoid. It’s not an instant classic, but that BOX ART THOUGH! Yeah, it looks nothing like the game, but you can still pick up sealed copies of this game because no one knew it existed. That’s okay. At least you do now.
Well this was a popular Java mobile game series and also on PC and it came to DS. I love time management games as they are so addictive and you can’t put them down. Diner Dash may not look amazing but it’s super addictive and a ton of fun. You will sink more hours into this game than you will want to admit. Guilty pleasure indeed.
Feel the Magic XY/XX – Sonic Team/Sega – 2004
This was a launch title for the system and was super weird. So the game is all about rubbing things, and no you can’t feel up Sonic I looked, and it was rather fun. It was zany Japanese mini-games that utilized the mic and touch screen really well. You won’t sink hours into this, but it’s cheap enough for some quick fun.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes in Time – Square Enix – 2009
One of the few Final Fantasy games on the system under $20. This was the better half of the Crystal Chronicles series released on GameCube. It’s a top down real-time combat action game with RPG elements. It’s rather fun and unique and different from what we’re used to in the series, especially at this point in time. Even if you don’t care for Final Fantasy this is worth a look.
Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings – Square Enix – 2007
One of the other few cheap FF games on the system, this was a turned based RPG with a slower pace than its console brother. It looks good and has 2D sprites which just look good. You can play the entire game with just the stylus so your screen will finally get it’s mileage if it hasn’t already. It’s a longer RPG that takes around 30 hours to finish so it’s a great time sink and if you are already an FF12 nut then add this to your collection.
Glory of Heracles – Paon Corporation/Nintendo – 2010
If you don’t like JRPGs then look elsewhere. It’s about a JRPG-y as it gets here. At least the skills and powers and done with the touch screen which is nice, and it’s nice and lengthy and a good time sink. It was a late bloomer in the system’s life cycle and didn’t see many sales, but the DS is one of the best handhelds when it comes to JRPGs.
GRID – Firebrand Games and Entertainment/Codemasters – 2008
A racing game that didn’t look like poopoo on the DS? Color me surprised. Racing games weren’t a strong suit for the DS due to the lack of power and anyone willing to create a hand-tailored engine for the system. Either you played Mario Kart DS or didn’t. That was it. Then GRID came along and was a game changer for the system. It looked fantastic and ran at a good framerate and was an actual good racing game. It also wasn’t an arcade racer and more of a sim game, or at least as sim like as you can get on the DS. This is a must own for any racing fan.
LEGO Rock Band – Backbone Entertainment/Warner Bros. Interactive – 2009
Well, if peripherals and weird condoms aren’t your thing then this might be. This was a peripheral-less Rock Band game featuring Legos. You used the DS buttons or touch screen and looked good and had some great licensed tracks. It’s one of the better rhythm games on handhelds and shouldn’t be passed up over the kid-like appeal.
Mario Kart DS – Nintendo – 2005
This was an early instant classic on the system. It’s considered one of the best in the series and actually had online play. It’s fantastic Mario Kart goodness and it’s all in 3D rather than the Mode 7 style of the past. It was a big deal as it was the first portable Mario Kart game in 3D and took the world by storm. Everyone was playing it and so should you.
Meteos – Q Entertainment/Nintendo – 2005
A early puzzle game for the system that was a smash hit. It’s bright, colorful, fast paced, has great music, and you can sink hours into it similar to Tetris. It’s honestly one of the best portable puzzle games ever made. It was created by none other than the Rez man himself Tetsuya Mitzuguchi. This is something that can only be experienced on the DS as it utilizes both screens. You match blocks and they shoot up like rockets at the top screen and you need to chain them. It’s a lot of fun for such a small price.
New Super Mario Bros. – Nintendo – 2006
Well this is why Mario 2D platformers returned. It was the first one in 15 years. New Super Mario Bros. was a mega-hit and the formula of the physics, looks, art style, and identity is all due to this game right here on the DS. It’s an instant classic and just as good as any older 2D Mario game. While the series burned itself out on 3DS it’s feel more energetic and innovative here.
Orcs & Elves – id Software/EA – 2007
I’m surprised this isn’t worth more being an id Software game and an obscure one at that. This was a Java port using the mobile Doom engine from the mid-2000’s. It’s a fantastic FPS game of might and magic and should be owned by everyone who likes Doom or classic dungeon crawlers. It uses the dual screens well and I’m sure it will eventually shoot up in price at some point. You can’t get the mobile version anymore so this is it.
Ridge Racer DS – Nintendo/Namco – 2004
Ok, here me out. A PlayStation exclusive racing series developed by Nintendo for a Nintendo handheld. What kind of sorcery is this?! Yeah, Nintendo made this while Namco published it. So, it’s not Mario Kart that much is obvious and it’s why no one bought it. If you’re a Nintendo racing game and you aren’t Mario Kart you’re going to have a bad time. Here’s the thing, it’s one of the better racing games especially being an early title for the system. It’s not GRID pretty, but it looks and plays really well. The system is anemic with the racers so get this if you can.
Skate It – Exient Entertainment/EA – 2008
Welp, it’s not Tony Hawk. While American Sk8land was much better this tried to bring the Flick-It system to the DS using the touch screen and it mostly worked. It has a high learning curve, but for those patient enough to stick with it you will have a good time.
Super Mario 64 DS – Nintendo – 2004
This was a launch title for the DS and holds up well today. It’s a full remake of the game and is still the best version. There are more characters to play as with different abilities, an expanded quest, and more stars to collect. It’s the definitive version of the game yet not many people talk about it. It’s far superior to the N64 version and is a must own, probably top 5, for the system especially with how cheap it is. You will probably always find at least one copy at every used game store.
Thor: God of Thunder – WayForward Technologies/Sega – 2011
This was released so far into the system’s life it barely sold anything and hardly anyone noticed. It’s made by the talented Shantae studio as well. Ignore Chris Hemsworth on the cover and ignore the movie license tie-in. This is through and through one of the best best platformers on the system bar-none. Don’t believe me? It’s made from the ground up and doesn’t follow anything from the movie. It looks fantastic, isn’t in 3D, bosses fill both screens, and it’s a blast. It’s not a fast paced platformer, and there are a few flaws, but it’s always overlooked.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 – EA Tiburon/EA – 2007
Welp, there was Tiger Woods at the beginning and then there was 08. You can’t get miracles here. The series skipped a few years and returned due to the popularity on the PSP. This is probably the only good golf game on the DS as it wasn’t a popular genre on the system. It looks decent, plays well, and uses the touch screen for the swing meter. It’s dirt cheap and if you are a golf fan then this is a no-brainer.
Tony Hawk’s American Sk8land – Vicarious Visions/Activision – 2005
An early game on the system, American Sk8land on GBA and DS was better than the console versions by a long shot. It had a unique art style, better controls, less dull, and got rid of the stupid skate park building system that wasn’t any fun in the console versions and had a better one. There was wifi mode on the DS which was a blast. This is probably the best skateboarding game on the DS.
Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam – Vicarious Visions/Activision – 2006
Downhill Jam was a pretty awful game, but the limitations of the DS pushed Vicarious to make a pretty good game. While not as good as Sk8land, this downhill racer is just that, but with Tony Hawk stuff thrown in. I much prefer the open levels, but this is still fun and a nice change of pace. Just stay away from the console versions.
Trauma Center: Under the Knife – Atlus – 2005
This game is hard as nuts. It’s solely unique to the DS hardware as you can’t do it anywhere else. Pulling out glass shards, zapping polyps, and stitching up patients. It has a crazy anime infused storyline about terrorism. The last few puzzles are so hard I have never finished them to this day, even on the Wii port. It’s still a lot of fun and has that Atlus difficulty curve thrown in for good measure.
Bullet time. While The Matrix made it popular amid pop culture, Max Payne started it all in the video game realm. You play as a cop, Max Payne, who is framed for murder of another NYPD cop. Your wife and newborn child are also murdered and you are trying to get revenge on the people who did it. The story isn’t anything amazing, but Max Payne’s voice actor, and the well done writing, keep you hooked long enough to find out what happened behind the scenes. The game is told in a comic noir graphic-novel style and it suits the game well. The cut scenes are imaginative and different, and don’t look cheap or like the developers were trying to take short cuts.
Outside of the story, the gameplay is all about shooting because that’s literally it. Max runs around with various weapons such as Barrettas, Ingrams, shotguns, grenade launchers, Molotov cocktails, grenades, and assault rifles to mow down the Mafia and corrupt cops. Bullet time is the main gameplay element here and when activated Max does a jump dodge in the direction you move and you can see him dodging bullets in real-time. This is actually a mechanic you must master as most situations require you to use it to stay alive. You can’t stand in one spot or you will be dead in a few hits and there’s no cover system. I had to quicksave every 2-3 minutes as well because the game is so difficult. It’s cool to jump dodge around a corner, but once Max lands there’s a delay in him getting up and you are completely vulnerable to gunfire. I had to make sure I jump dodged behind cover or across a hallway so I wouldn’t die the second the bullet time finished. You can also activate bullet time and just run your meter down so you can run and gun with it too.
There are very few scenarios in which you do more than press buttons. One scene has Max driving a crate crane around an area, but it’s nothing special, and there are some interactive objects that trigger comic cut scenes, but 95% of the game is just shooting. The weapons themselves feel good and I felt I had to switch up weapons depending on the situation to make my life easier. The locales are varied, but they are a bit too stale and boring for my taste. They don’t quite capture the noir feeling of the comic cut scenes, but there is one level early on called Ragna Rock that was a gothic cult house that reminded me a lot of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, so that’s a good thing. The game really does feel like a first-generation PS2/Xbox game, but it’s very polished. The game flows nicely, but the difficulty is all over the place, you will die dozens and dozens of times in this game.
The visuals are clean and look nice even 20 years later. I installed a texture upgrade patch and some other things to make the game upscale to 4K nicely and play on modern hardware, and it looks pretty good. Even in the original, the facial textures are nice and very realistic, and the over aesthetic of the game stands out over most shooters of its time. The voice acting is great, and I finished the game in about 7 hours. After you finish it there’s literally nothing else to do as the multiplayer mode was scrapped. It’s a fantastic single-player game that holds up well even today despite its insane difficulty and unbalanced gameplay. The story isn’t anything special, but Max is a great character to dive into and it makes for a fun evening.
The very first game I ever pre-ordered. I have never been more excited about a game in my life. Watching gameplay trailers on a PC from 1997 on a 19″ CRT monitor while I stash away allowance bit by bit to get the Premium Pack for PS2. 2004 was an exciting year for gaming and for Mortal Kombat. With Deadly Alliance receiving mostly positive reviews, but a lot of criticism from reviewers, Deception turned everything to 11 and added interactive arenas, more game modes, online fighting. Yes, the online part was the biggest selling point of Deception.
This is the direct sequel to Deadly Alliance. Quan Chi and Shang Tsung have failed to take over and Onaga The Dragon King has decided to rise from Outworld and claim everything as his. A man named Shujinko is now the game’s lead (the first of many to come in later games) who must stop the Dragon King and reverse the actions he made during the Konquest mode that helped give Onaga his power.
Let’s talk about Konquest mode first as most people will dive into it right away. It’s awful and should never have existed. It’s an expansion on Konquest from Deadly Alliance in which Raiden just walks along a path and each “level” is a training tutorial for all the characters. This is an adventure mode where you get quests, find the treasure for the Krypt, hidden secrets, and find out the back story to Deception, as well as meet many MK fighters and surprises. Sounds great on paper right? Well, it’s horribly executed as one of the worst attempts at a free-roaming RPG/adventure hybrid I’ve ever seen. Shujinko runs around in supersonic fast forward motion, the realms are void of any life, they are terribly laid out, and the worlds rely on a grid system to figure out where every secret and item is. The problem is that the map is useless with no actual grid on the map so you run around for 10 minutes trying to find D2 or H8 only to realize it’s locked away and you can’t go there until you complete the Konquest.
That’s the main downfall of Konquest. Quests aren’t logged and the entire game has to be played with a guide. It would take dozens and dozens of hours to figure everything out yourself as locations to solve quests and even chests are incredibly cryptic or specific. Some chests with Krypt keys only appear on certain days of the month and times and you would never know without a guide. You can meditate to make time move by faster, but this whole entire game mode is just frustrating, messy, and irritating. Doing the actual main quests is fine as there’s always a large green pillar of light pointing where to go, but talking to a random character and getting a one-sentence quest saying to find a gem is not how quests should be done.
On top of all this, the worlds are terribly laid out. They try to force a look onto each realm such as Chaosrealm having magic portals that project to you various little floating islands that are “chaotically” made up and don’t make sense. Orderrealm is just a giant circle floating in the sky with “order” to the layout and it looks nice and dystopian. It’s a little corny with the way the worlds are represented, but it’s kind of cool to finally explore these areas despite there being nothing to do in them. The visuals are also abysmal as this looks like an early PS2 game that launched, even a little worse than that. Horrendous textures and models, awful voice acting, and laughable animations. It looks like an amateur game developer made this in a weekend.
Outside of Konquest is when things are much better when you actually get to fighting. If any game were to use realistic martial arts it’s Mortal Kombat. This fighting system and this era of games aren’t most peoples’ favorite. The realism is nice with some good animations and each character having two martial arts and a weapon style. You can branch into these styles with long combo strings, but that’s where the issue lies. This realistic slower fighting style is in contrast to the fast-paced action of the 2D games. The characters look like stiff plastic dolls and the combat is all about memorized combos. It’s fun, and it works with Mortal Kombat, but it’s also not the best way to play these games. The slower fighting pace means more strategy is involved and a new Breaker system has been added to quickly get out of combos.
The interactive environments are some of the coolest features of Deception as they are basically fatalities within a stage. There are yellow lines that indicate when a player can get knocked out and take damage to a new tier and red lines that will kill the player. The arenas are large enough to where a game of tug-of-war always ensues and it makes playing tenser, especially online. Do you just knock them into the trap or play with them so you can do a fatality? Speaking of fatalities, each character has two unique ones and some are great and some are lame. Li Mei, for example, has two fatalities that are just boring. Super punches to the chest and you explode? Yawn. Kick your head off? Seen it before. Some others are rather runny and unique, but there are also Hara Kiris that allow the loser to do a fatality on themselves taking the glory away from the opponent. Whoever inputs their code first gets to take the fun.
Outside of combat, you can play Puzzle Kombat which is just Street Fighter Puzzle with MK characters. At the end of each round there is a fatality unique to the player, but getting your power level up means you can perform a special move that each character has. It can be played online as well and is super addicting and can be a game on its own. The last mode is Chess Kombat which is one of the most unique modes to ever grace a fighting game. Just like a game of chess, you can pick which character is what piece and you play chess, but instead of just knocking a piece over you fight it out MK style. Each piece gets a certain amount of health so pawns of the least amount of health. It’s a great twist that adds more skill to the game and can also be played online. It’s a ton of fun and I hope this mode returns to future games.
Besides the Krypt where you can unlock various stuff for fans like promo videos, behind-the-scenes art, and various goodies, there’s not much else. Online play is incredibly smooth with a full lobby that you can talk to other players in, challenge players, and you have a win/loss ratio next to your name. I never had any connection drops and playing online extends the longevity of the game tenfold.
I also want to talk about the new characters. Since MK4, Midway has had trouble adding interesting new characters and that trend continues for the third time. Dairou and Havik are just boring awful characters that don’t have any personality or soul. They feel forced and I’d rather have a classic character put in than these two.
Overall, MK: Deception is a fantastic fighting game that is only hampered by slower combat, and a horrible Konquest mode that must be played to unlock half the game’s roster and extra costumes. Puzzle and Chess Kombat are excellent modes that add dozens of hours of fun, and online play is always welcome.
Note: As of May 31, 2014, you can no longer play Deception online due to GameSpy servers being shut down. Even then, not a single person played this online past 2006-2007. As Armageddon and other fighters came out Deception’s user base quickly fell after the first 18 months and never went back up. Get a buddy to play next to you instead.
Resident Evil has been more about tense action, inventory management, and puzzles than horror. RE3 polishes up the already not so smooth gameplay of Resident Evil and ports it over to the Dreamcast to make another buck off of it. RE3 doesn’t really have much of a story, but the tense action, puzzle-solving, and always looming Nemesis boss make this one of the tensest games of the era.
You play as Jill Valentine (the star of the first game) and are back in Racoon City this time to try and find out what happened during the outbreak. Being a direct sequel to the second game, you visit a few familiar areas and some Easter Eggs are tossed in. Outside of running around collecting ammo, healing items, documents, and various things of that nature you solve puzzles and mow down armies of the undead and genetically modified. New enemies crop up that are freaky and challenging and the only boss in the game is Nemesis who is a tough monster and choices are thrown into the game on where the story goes. These choices impact where you start in locations and how you approach fighting the Nemesis. One choice kept the Nemesis from chasing me around town, but I was going to have to fight him early on. You can totally avoid fighting him in most cases, but he becomes stronger the less you fight him.
I honestly recommend playing this game on easy mode the first time as you get tons of healing items and weapons at the start as well as infinite save ribbons. This mode should be used first for another reason and that’s to learn the layout of the game. Resident Evil is a game where enemy location, map layout, and puzzle-solving are a must before attempting harder modes. Now with all that said, I do find earlier Resident Evil games tough outside of just combat as without a guide you can get lost and frustrated quickly as puzzles are obtuse, there might be objects you saw hours ago that you have to go back and get such as the Downtown/Uptown maps in this game. It’s imperative to write things down if you don’t have a guide as you will run around for hours trying to find that one item that you can’t remember.
The story and characters are nothing special but the voice acting is surprisingly decent for its time. We don’t learn much about Umbrella outside of someone going in and trying to pop off the supervisors throughout the city and cover up the T-virus outbreak. There’s no character development or anything like that so you’re mostly playing for the action. The visuals are rather nice, but at this point, the pre-rendered backgrounds were getting tiring and the Dreamcast version is a slightly smoother PlayStation version, but there’s not much of a difference. I would have liked to have seen more modes, better visuals, and new content for a new $50 release, but what we get is mainly for newcomers.
I highly recommend RE3 on the Dreamcast. At this point is the definitive version of the game and the best the series has to offer up until this point. Don’t expect a deep story, have a guide ready, and you’ll be in for a good 8-10 hours of intense action and fun.
Reboots are usually good for a game franchise as it allows new ideas and advance the series to new heights, but sometimes it’s not successful. Medal of Honor was a hyped-up generic military shooter where you play as Tier 1 specialists in the Afghani war, and it was a bug-ridden mess. The game was also ugly, stale, and just felt like a total Call of Duty rip-off. This was easily the worst game in the entire series.
Rising Sun was riding on the success of Frontline and its newfound glory with console gamers, but what we got was an ugly rushed mess of a game. Rising Sun tried to show us the frontline in Japan, but what we had was just some dated gameplay and some of the worst level design the series has ever seen. I don’t know what happened within a year, but the development rush is obvious here.
The first game in the series to try and reboot it with little success. Using next-generation hardware, the game looked impressive but used a weird multiplayer map style layout and open-ended objectives that just led to the generic level design and frustrating gameplay. The guns were highly inaccurate, and it was ridiculously difficult and plain boring. It’s clear that this series just can’t hit the reboot stride correctly.
Warfighter was a slightly more successful game with the new modern warfare formula with a much more entertaining campaign and better visuals, but overall it still felt generic and pointless in a bloated military shooter scene.
Best Version: PC
9. Medal of Honor: Vanguard – 2007
Vanguard is a much-forgotten game in the series as by the time this came around Modern Warfare was already out and the next generation of consoles was in full swing and no one cared. Using an old engine and gameplay, Vanguard was the last in the series to use the typical Medal of Honor WWII formula. The game wasn’t awful just super generic, boring, and just standard affair that we have seen before.
Frontline was the first game in the series on consoles, and this game is one I have fond memories of. I remember the opening scene just blew my mind and was incredibly cinematic for the time. Sadly, there was no multiplayer, but at the time I didn’t care. It still wasn’t the best game in the series, and it was clear the less powerful consoles held the series back some, but it was a good start.
Best Version: Xbox
7. Medal of Honor: Heroes – 2006
A strange game stuck in a weird time. The next-generation consoles were already here and Heroes stuck to a gameplay style designed for handhelds and the Wii. It was a decent game and felt good on each console it was on, but this was as generic as WWII shooters come. Even the production values were lacking on a dated engine and gameplay.
Best Version: Wii
6. Medal of Honor: European Assault – 2005
European Assault was not so much overlooked but overstepped. Everyone was starting to wane with the WWII shooters and European Assault was a mildly generic form of the genre that played well but didn’t add anything terribly new to wow anyone.
Heroes 2 was a rushed sequel, but somehow improved upon the first game and continued to use the dated engine and gameplay style of its predecessor. This and Vanguard were the last of their kind and were washed away with the new generation of consoles and graphics that just made everyone forget about these games.
Best Version: Wii
4. Medal of Honor – 1999
The original isn’t always the best, but it was really impressive on the PS1 back in the day and helped pave the way for modern FPS games to this day. It was a little clunky and basic, but did its job well and is still fun to play to this day.
3. Medal of Honor: Underground – 2000
It was a much-improved game over the first one, but was released right when the next generation of consoles was out and was kind of overlooked by the PS2, Dreamcast, and GameCube. It looked amazing on the PS1 and added a totally new campaign, but everyone was mostly over this generation of consoles by now.
Best Version: PS1
2. Medal of Honor: Allied Assault – 2002
The game that made Medal of Honor was it was released just before its console debut. It looked fantastic on the PC and was followed by two expansion packs. AA remains many players’ favorite game in the series for its PC-specific greatness such as solid controls, visuals, and scope.
My personal favorite game in the series due to the sheer cinematic quality and visual flair of the game. It was the last PC exclusive game in the series but felt and played amazingly well with a fantastic campaign and fun multiplayer. Medal of Honor, sadly, reached its peak early on, but it did it well and with a bang.
At this point in time Call of Duty had already gone way off the deep end and the futuristic warfare and yearly releases were becoming a joke. Black Ops III has the absolute worst campaign in the entire series and the multiplayer is a joke. While zombies are quite enjoyable, it’s not enough to justify a purchase. The AI is insanely stupid, there’s zero challenge, and the environments, story, characters, and weapons are all generic, boring, and poorly designed. The cinematic moments are gone, the maps are stupidly generic, and it feels so bloated and on life support.
The last entry in the Modern Warfare timeline was a huge disappointment. The campaign was a boring generic slog, the multiplayer had lame maps, and it didn’t distance itself enough from the last two games. It was the same weapons, the same type of maps, menus, and multiplayer setup. There just wasn’t enough here to make the series stand out anymore and this marked the beginning of a steep decline for the series. While it’s playable, it’s not fun or memorable at all.
Best Version: PC
16. Call of Duty: Roads to Victory – 2007
While enjoyable for sure, the game is very rough around the edges and was released during the end of the tiring World War II craze that ran for over 10 years. Everyone was tired of it, Modern Warfare was about to come out, and the PSP wasn’t a great system for shooting games. It was a very generic and forgettable Call of Duty experience and wasted the portable opportunity. At least it had some fun online multiplayer but was short-lived.
Black Ops II dropped the ball for this new timeline. The first game was amazing with great cinematic moments, fun multiplayer maps, and a whole new Vietnam War feeling to it, but Black Ops II tried to shoehorn a silly story into generic gameplay and some very boring multiplayer maps. It was a huge disappointing mess and marked the end of this timeline. It’s playable, but there’s no redeeming value to this game that makes it stand out.
Best Version: Wii U
14. Call of Duty: Finest Hour – 2004
The very first console Call of Duty game. I remember getting this for Christmas in 2004 and was so incredibly excited. Console gamers could finally play Call of Duty, however, Finest Hour was far from the series’s finest moment. There were huge technical problems, the game felt like a step back for the series, and the campaign was generic and forgettable. It at least had some fun online multiplayer, but it was a good effort.
A surprising console-only release, Call of Duty 3 was the third game in the original timeline and was better than most people expected. While it didn’t look that great it played fairly well, felt like classic Call of Duty, and was fast-paced and fun. It was very forgettable, however, and was at the tail end of the WWII craze that everyone wanted to die. There was something strange about this game as it felt dated, yet somehow still cinematic and fun, and had decent multiplayer as well.
Best Version: Xbox 360
12. Call of Duty 2: Big Red One – 2005
Riding on the financial success of Finest Hour, Big Red One turned out to be a much better game, yet didn’t get as much attention. It had a cinematic and well-thought-out campaign and was much more enjoyable this time around.
Ghosts was a more boots-on-ground return to the series and felt a little closer to the original Modern Warfare series, but was too little too late. The additions of canine partners and some great cinematic moments just weren’t enough, including the first game in the next-generation cycle of consoles. The multiplayer was decent, but it felt like it was stuck in limbo and trying to be two different games at once.
Advanced Warfare tried pushing big-name actors to sell copies, and Advanced Warfare had some awesome cinematic moments, but the story and characters were garbage, and the multiplayer was extremely unbalanced due to the jetpacks and weird futuristic gameplay. It looked really good, as it used a brand new engine for the series, but it was just too weird and too much of a departure from what fans loved.
Infinite Warfare has received more flack than any other game in the series, but it’s not the worst. For a series receiving so much resistance and backlash, it did some different stuff in the campaign that was quite interesting. Some of the characters were actually quite interesting and I cared about them a little which was odd for the series. The multiplayer was a generic feeling, as usual, but the campaign was a nice change of pace and the experimentation was a breath of fresh air for the series.
Best Version: PC
8. Call of Duty – 2003
I never got a chance to play this until much later after release, but in 2003 this game was a graphical powerhouse, extremely cinematic, and set the standard for historic shooters. The campaign felt realistic, varied, and had some memorable moments. It was later released on consoles but remained exclusive to PC for nearly a decade. It gave PC gamers a proud reason to be so as this game would have crippled consoles back in the day.
Being a port for Xbox 360 from a 2-year-old game was risky, but this game helped sell Xbox 360s and looked fantastic on the system. On PC, as it was exclusive for, was a great sequel to an already great game. It pushed hardware to its limits, had some fun exciting cinematic moments, and was decent multiplayer. It took everything everyone liked from the first game and expanded upon it, but it was a little more forgettable this time around.
United Offensive is one of the best games in the original WWII storyline as it was intense, extremely cinematic, felt varied, and kept you on your seat. I played the campaign straight through and I usually don’t do that in this franchise. The game had an incredibly cinematic and tense campaign, probably one of the best in the entire series, and was highly overlooked. Everyone was gearing up for CoD 2 and United Offensive was sort of mulled over, sadly it was never ported to consoles.
World at War was a call to long-time fans and something to really look forward to. They made a huge risk by bringing you back to WWII, in the Japanese theater, and somehow creating one of the best games in the entire series. It was really looked over and a lot of fans never played this because of the WWII roots, but the campaign is spectacular and had some awesome moments as well as weapons and beautiful locales.
Black Ops was the one and only good game in that timeline. The campaign was exciting, cinematic, had a crazy story and characters, and the multiplayer had some fantastic maps and great new era weapons. The brand new Zombies mode pretty much kickstarted a whole new series in the timeline and became the most popular multiplayer mode in the entire series. It’s seriously the last amazing game in the series and playing this reminds us why.
Another great risk, and desperate attempt to get people back into the series, the game followed Battlefield’s step and went back to its roots. WWII was a fantastic attempt at everything from a beautiful new next-generation engine, cinematic gameplay, and interesting characters. While the campaign lost steam partway through, it’s more enjoyable than most of the games in the series and reminds us what Activision can do when they are actually inspired and put some thought and love into a game.
The game that really started it all. It revolutionized first-person shooters on consoles as well as multiplayer that almost every military shooter has copied since. The careful detail to level design, cinematic moments, characters, and pacing was something Infinity Ward was masters at. The multiplayer is also something everyone has copied for the last 10 years and it’s clear why. The maps are perfectly designed, memorable, and a blast to play.
Why is this the best in the series? It took everything that made CoD4 amazing and stacked on top of that, plus the series hasn’t done something like that since. It’s sad to see a series lose steam too fast, but MW2 took risks and controversy proudly and even made some of the best multiplayer maps ever created in a game. It was perfect with well-balanced weapons, a fun and fast-paced campaign, and a multiplayer mode that hasn’t been as good since.
My favorite video game of all time is Mortal Kombat. Something about the characters, violence, lore, and overall atmosphere that the game brings is just so satisfying to me. It was also the first video I ever played at 2 years old which was the original game on Sega Genesis back in 1993. From Fatalities to special moves, stages, and rocking industrial techno music, Mortal Kombat is one of the best, and longest-running, video game franchises of all time. That’s not to say the game went through some ups and downs. I have listed every main Mortal Kombat game from worst to best. I didn’t include various ports as they varied by quality, and discluded any handheld version as they were just dumbed down ports of larger games. I will also list the most superior port or version of that game as every port varied wildly due to various hardware limitations.
16. Mortal Kombat: Special Forces – 2000
Is this really a surprise? Only beating out Mythologies by a fraction, Special Forces was a 3D action game disaster created by co-creator John Tobias and putting a damper in any future Mortal Kombat spin-offs. The game was near unplayable with awful graphics, terrible controls, a lame story, and nothing to really do with Mortal Kombat itself. It’s worth a play just to see how far down Mortal Kombat got, but this is by far its lowest point, but not the lowest timeframe.
15. Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero – 1997
Not much better than Special Forces, but at least the game was somewhat playable and felt more like Mortal Kombat. a 2D side-scrolling platformer, you play as Sub-Zero and run into awful live-action cut-scenes (the N64 version was spared of those) terrible controls, and boring gameplay. This game is probably not even worth touching unless you’re just curious.
Best Version: PlayStation
14. Mortal Kombat Gold – 1999
A direct port of MK4 and Dreamcast exclusive, Gold was too little too late with Soul Calibur and various other fighters pushing the genre into the next generation. It was clunky, tiring, old, and just didn’t feel right on the system this late in the game. It’s very playable, and MK4 fans will enjoy newcomers like Cyrax and Mileena, but it’s probably the worst game in the main fighting series.
13. Mortal Kombat: Armageddon – 2006
While being the next-generation MK Trilogy of sorts, Armageddon was a lazy cop-out for keeping the series at its yearly releases and was the end of this generation of 3D MK games. It featured every single MK character ever made up to Deception and shoved them all in the two-style martial arts that this trilogy of MK titles gave us. By this point, MK was really going downhill and fatigue was setting in with a bloated disc full of weird mini-games and cheap generic Kreate-A-Fatality that was more complicated and irritating than ever. Press certain button combos to create the same gory move for every character and just string them together as quick as you can, yeah what a waste. A few years of development and this could have been a game to remember. The Kreate-A-Fighter mode was the only new and original part. Mortal Kombat Kart racing was awful with shallow race tracks and no thought put into it, the Konquest mode was much better than Deception’s but was still a weird thing to even exist. Overall, it’s very playable and fun, but it’s just the most generic MK game ever made.
Best Version: Xbox
12. Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance – 2002
Deadly Alliance shot the series into the next generation with brand new fighters and an all-new realistic martial arts approach to the game. With a story mode that’s really just a giant training mode, a fun Krypt area to unlock extras, and two awesome Fatalities per character, it only beats out Armageddon due to the originality within the game. The new characters are great and mostly untouched throughout the later games, however, the graphics were dated and everyone looked like plastic dolls with blood that looks like Jell-O. It was still gory and fun, but far from the greatness, the 2D games offered.
Best Version: Xbox
11. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe – 2008
This threw fans for a loop as MK mashed with DC to create a weird and forced fighting game no one asked for. The biggest hit was the Teen rating with the DC character performing “Heroic Brutalities” as they never kill and the MK character performing the most basic “Fatalities” that felt more like Wile E. Coyote ACME stunts. The fighting core was a slight departure from the previous games with a 2D plane and seemed pretty solid, but there was something off about the whole game. It’s decent, and quite playable, but very forgettable.
Best Version: PlayStation 3
10. Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks – 2005
Shaolin Monks would be the last MK spin-off and actually did it right. Created by another development team, Monks lets you play as Liu-Kang and Kung-Lao with an over-the-top 3D brawler that is set in the MKII storyline. Using assets from that game such as stages and characters and even lore, the game recreated the MK experience with a fantastic fighting system that was fluid and even more fun with a second player. There were many secrets and the game is highly replayable. The only issue was the game was only 4 hours long, had awful voice acting, and a stupid story. Other than that, this is a must-play for MK fans.
Best Version: Xbox
9. Mortal Kombat 4 – 1997
This was the biggest turning point for the entire series. The game went forward into 3D forever and the result was some weird clunky stuff, but it was fast-paced and violent and somehow just worked. Not many games did 3D fighting very well at the time and the great roster and some of the best Fatalities in the series make for an awesome fighting game. The use of weapons was introduced for the first time as well.
Best Version: PlayStation
8. Mortal Kombat 3 – 1995
MK3 had a lot riding on it at this point in time as it had big shoes to fill after MKII. The game was darker, more realistic, and added some mechanics such as running, Brutalities, and a secret code menu. MK3 also had some of the most memorable characters the series will see such as Sheeva, Kabal, and Smoke. The problem was the combos were so difficult to pull off a lot of people were turned off that the game relied on this system, not to mention the cheap ass AI.
Best Version: PlayStation
7. Mortal Kombat – 1992
The original is far down the list due to the fact that so many games in the series improved upon it, but it’s higher than others due to the originality and the fact that it has a one-of-a-kind atmosphere that no other game in the series nailed. The original roster and Test-Your-Might combined with the Fatalities and simple moves make this one of the best video games ever created. There’s quite a story behind this game and the fact the ESRB was created because this game says a lot. It’s a very simple and basic game, but it holds a huge piece of gaming history.
Best Version: Sega CD
6. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 – 1995
An upgrade version of MK3, UMK3 is widely considered the best 2D MK game ever made as it perfected what they were trying to do with MK3. Adding new characters such as Rain, Noob Saibot, and Khameleon, and adding an Aggressor meter as well as making combos much easier, UMK3 was fast, looked good, and was dark with everything the series had to offer up until then.
Best Version: Nintendo DS
5. Mortal Kombat II – 1993
Most people will say MKII is the best game in the series due to the perfect balance and style between MK1 and MK3. It was a little darker, more sinister, and had an imaginative roster of new characters such as Baraka, Kitana, Mileena, and Jax. The stages were amazing and the introduction of Babalities and Friendships helped set the tone for the series from here on out. The controls were tight and the game looked amazing.
Best Version: Sega Saturn
4. Mortal Kombat Trilogy – 1996
MKT was a best-of compilation of the series up until that point. Taking every single character, stage, and mixing several -Alities together, the game was a massive success and was a blast to play. You could also play as the bosses which were completely unheard of back in the day and it was so much fun. Trilogy remains one of my favorite MK games of all time and I spent hundreds of hours perfecting this game.
Best Version: PlayStation
3. Mortal Kombat: Deception – 2004
Deception was the best 3D game up until this point and had a lot to offer. It improved immensely on Deadly Alliance’s realistic martial arts and added new game modes and some amazing characters and stages. The game was just dark, gritty, and hit that perfect style that people loved. While the three martial-arts styles were a bit clunky and memorizing long combos was silly, most people forgave it for the amount of content available. Chess Kombat is still one of my favorite MK game modes of all time. Play chess like normal and then duke it out to take over the square. Puzzle Kombat took the Street Fighter version and added Chibi MK characters duking it out on screen. However, Konquest mode was a nasty ugly chore to unlock stuff in the Krypt. It was also the first online fighting game ever made and was buttery smooth across the board with a lobby room, ranking system, and various other features. I played this game for so many hours I lost count. The Fatalities were amazing and the new Hara Kiris which were “reverse Fatalities” blew my mind away. It was as competitive as it got and holds a special place for me as it was the first game I had ever pre-ordered as well.
Best Version: Xbox
2. Mortal Kombat – 2011
With DC Universe disappointing fans so much we had all lost hope. Thankfully many consider this version to be the best 3D MK game to date and rightfully so. It builds off of MKII’s balancing and uses most characters up through MK3 so it keeps it old school. The X-Ray moves shook the industry and added a whole new meaning to gore and violence to video games. The new Challenge Tower was a blast and it featured the best story mode in any fighting game to date with halfway decent voice acting for once. Sadly, the game was quickly abandoned and only featured 4 DLC characters before being cut loose.
Best Version: PlayStation 3
1.Mortal Kombat X – 2015
MKX not only pushes the entire series in a new direction but shows fighting games a whole new level of production values and content. Taking the best from MK 2011 and the 2D games, MKX feels heavier, chunkier, and more violent than ever and that’s a good thing. Using Unreal Engine 4 and creating some of the sickest Fatalities to date, MKX also introduces some great new characters for the first time since Deception. The stages are awesome, the DLC characters rock, and the story mode is actually quite amazing and pushes the last game in the back corner. The new Krypt mode is more interactive and can almost be a game all on its own, and the new online towers make the game feel like it’s 1992 all over again.
Assassin’s Creed is one of my favorite franchises of all time, and despite all the hate it gets for its yearly releases, there truly isn’t an actual bad game in the series. Each game has high production values, large open worlds, fantastic visuals, and the only bad thing is that it may not be as good as its predecessor or core components are just lacking. Assassin’s Creed is always held to incredibly high standards by the gaming industry because of what the first game achieved. It was a revolutionary game that completely took advantage of next-generation hardware and created a fantastic immersive experience that no other game had done before. Ubisoft rode this success a little too hard and the game’s quality varied wildly over the years, but in the end, they are all quite playable and somewhat enjoyable. I’m going to go all the way back to 2007 to today and rank the Assassin’s Creed games from worst to best.
NOTE: Mobile games will be excluded (Pirates, Identity, Rebellion, Towers, etc.) as none of them are good and I can’t even count them as the main games in the series. Portable entries will be included, however.
14. Assassin’s Creed Unity – 2014
This is probably the lowest point in the entire series so let’s come out swinging. Unity was highly anticipated as it was the first entry in the series to use next-generation consoles and technology with an entirely new engine. The four-player co-op experience got people excited and man did it look gorgeous. Fast-forward to launch day and you have one of the buggiest and ugly launches in gaming history. The entire game was completely broken with glitches, crashes, entire consoles being corrupted, save data lost, servers crashing, you name it.
Get back into the game today and most of the issues have been patched out, while still full of bugs and problems, the game just wasn’t that interesting. The main character was boring, the French Revolution setting rode too hard on Assassin’s Creed III’s coattails. The combat was pretty much the same, and the bloated activities were ever-present and even copied from previous games. Chase these song notes, collect all the chests, collect all these medals, etc. It was tiring and overwhelming and not satisfying anymore. Then on top of that include a crowded UI, irritating side missions, and “investigations” as an excuse to use Eagle Vision more, and you have Unity. It’s still very much enjoyable, but the fatigue was really high with this game and it makes it the worst in the entire series.
13. Assassin’s Creed: Chronicles – China, Russia, India – 2015-2016
Assassin’s Creed had dabbled in the 2.5D realm before with the very first mobile entry and Discoveryfor DS. While they weren’t awful, it took away what made Assassin’s Creed grand in scale and only concentrated on half-baked combat and stealth. The problem here is that Chronicles didn’t have anything interesting going for it. The gameplay was solid and felt like an Assassin’s Creed game, but the story, characters, and the world were void of anything fun or interesting. Not to mention the game was riddled with bugs, had performance issues on portable systems, and was squeezed into a release window right at the peak of the Assassin’s Creed fatigue, so basically it was a game no one wanted or cared about.
12. Assassin’s Creed: Rogue – 2014
Rogue isn’t a bad game at all, in fact, it uses one of the most interesting characters in the series, but the gameplay, design, and overall feeling were right at the lowest point of the series and no one cared about this game. It was released the same day as Unity and felt completely unnecessary as it was more of an expansion to Black Flag. So it felt dated compared to Unity’s newer features. The game focused more on the pirate stuff and was a literal copy and paste of Black Flag, so you had a slightly interesting world with varied locales, and a better story than Unity, but so much dated content including the visuals as it was using the previous generation engine instead of Unity’s. It’s a very playable game, but it feels the most generic of the entire series.
11. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate – 2015
Less than a year after Rogue and Unity we got an entirely new game in a new setting so it was a little promising, yet still, no one cared anymore. Not to mention, the Chronicles games were still being released so it was just so bloated and tiring at this point. Syndicate only ranks higher as it’s slightly more interesting with better main characters and a more interesting setting. The gameplay pretty much remains the same as Unity with slight tweaks, but it’s not enough to save the series from the staleness. The game looks fantastic and isn’t nearly as buggy as Unity, but at this point everyone wanted the series to die. You had an entire formula of collect-a-thon nonsense, the same Assassination scenarios, co-op that most people didn’t play, and controls and combat that had been used to death. This was the turning point in the series.
Being the one and only Assassin’s Creed on PSP, and never ported to other systems, people were excited to go back to Altair was we never really saw him again. This game actually had a fantastic story and rode that more than gameplay. The game itself was really flawed with small little areas rather than an open world, clumsy controls, and dated gameplay, but it looked good doing it. Bloodlines gave us closer to Altair’s story and sadly most fans of the series never played this one.
Riding off the success of Assassin’s Creed III, Liberation was a portable spin-off for Vita and gained a lot of steam and momentum of being a true Assassin’s Creed game in portable form. We got one of the best protagonists in the series, and a decent-sized world in an entirely new setting. New Orleans was great to play in, and despite being short, Liberation pleased many fans. Now, it was maybe too similar to III on consoles and was stripped down of some features that the game had, but it was just right for a portable form and looked amazing on the Vita.
Revelations was a surprisingly excellent game and gave us a satisfying conclusion to Ezio’s story. Revelations felt like a “best-of” up to that point with smaller open areas rather than a big world and were short and sweet at a steady pace. The game was honest with itself and did what other games in the series, later on, should have done. It felt like a short story or a small expansion to Brotherhood rather than being a bloated monster that no one cared about. The new gameplay ideas were fun, and it was just a solid game despite being so short. It also marked the end of the first-generation Assassin’s Creed games and would go on to be segmented from the rest.
The original should be at the top right? Not necessarily. The game had a split divide on whether you love it or hate it. This game, if you play it today, has the core Assassin’s Creed elements and nothing else. Stealth assassinations, parkour, and an open world. There were no side quests or anything to do except collect feathers and flags. It was a revolutionary game for its time with a game engine like no one had ever seen, and a fantastic protagonist and art style. The game is great as the sum of its parts rather than when you break it down. It feels pretty stiff and dated today, but in 2007 Ubisoft was one of the few companies that took a plunge and created a revolutionary game.
Brotherhood was only the third game in the series, but fatigue was starting to show, however, Brotherhood did what future games should have done, and that just gives everyone the world they love while expanding on a great character and giving more content and new ideas. Brotherhood had enough ideas to create a new branch, but instead, they expanded Italy, added a great multiplayer suite, and threw in assassination crews to help during stealth gameplay, some small strategy elements, and a great side quest to collect some ancient armor. Brotherhood was incredibly fun and didn’t feel bloated or overdone. It was just right and rode the success of its predecessor correctly. Sadly, this was the only time that was ever done, but Brotherhood remains most fans’ favorite.
This was the first turning point in the series marking Revelations and back as the first-generation Assassin’s Creed and the end of Ezio’s journey. III was divided as it didn’t feature a rich story and characters but focused solely on exploration. III was the first game to have an organic open world rather than just plucking you in a large city full of buildings. There was a wilderness, mountains, the ocean, and everything could be explored. It was amazing and felt great, but fans missed the good story and characters. While the American Revolution was perfect for the series, and Boston is actually one of the best worlds in the series to explore, the reasons behind it were lacking. The gameplay was also improved with before parkour animations, controls, but the combat had not changed much and there was more collect-a-thon stuff that the rest of the series took and ran with.
Considered the best game in the entire series, Assassin’s Creed II is also the reason why the series took such a steep decline. They literally perfected the first game to the point of not needing more perfection. It expanded on the first game so much that it blew people’s minds away. Animations, character, story, content, weapon and armor upgrades, a larger open world, dual assassination takedowns, ranged weapons, etc. This all seems silly now, but that’s a lot to add to a game and then make it a staple for the series even to this day. This game is both beautiful and terrible as how could a game be so perfect? It’s one of the highest-rated games of all time for a reason.
3. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – 2013
Considered by most to the most wholesome and fun game in the series, Black Flag took out what everyone hated in III and added some of the best characters and stories in the series, game everyone the amazing marine battles, and a giant open world with wilderness just like III. It was the first game to feel truly bloated with mode-side stuff that you can shake a stick at, but it also had the best feeling of exploration and discovery. Large empty caves and chasms, derelict ships, and a wide variety of environments to explore made Black Flag the end of the second generation of Assassin’s Creed game and probably the peak of the entire franchise.
2. Assassin’s Creed Origins – 2017
Origins marks the beginning of the third generation of games and the latest turning point in the series. Origins were set in an entirely new era, environment, and added and changed so much it has started to turn into more of an RPG than an action/adventure game. The game is using the next-generation engine from Ubisoft and adds more RPG elements such as equipping armor and weapons on every part of the body, and making it visible, but also giving the player levels and stats. The world also feels more organic and focuses less on traditional elements in the series like Towers, collecting, and faction stuff. Instead, the world is more explorable with question marks riddling the map for you to explore at your own pace and keeping the world a mystery. The world feels more like an actual world and not just cities with some open areas to funnel you to the next city. There are actual activities and life in-between large areas and the combat is immensely improved. The entire control scheme changed with less of a parry/counter-attack fest and more on skill and execution. Timing is key, enemies have levels, and different weapon types mean more in this game. Origins is just a whole new beast and so drastically different from the last ones it can be an entirely new series on its own.
1. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – 2018
While the game was just released, and from only playing a few hours, you can tell this is the best the series has to offer. It takes everything from Origins and does what Brotherhood did for II. The world of Greece is the most organic world in the series and the largest with the series going into more of the RPG territory than ever before. Dialog options, better horseback riding, and less hand-holding encourages exploration and discovery. The game is also just stunningly beautiful with so much detail crammed into every nook and cranny, it’s mind-boggling. The animations are uncanny, the combat has been improved to include abilities and passive stats, but the skill tree is also improved upon Origins. Odyssey is moving the series in the right direction, but let’s hope it doesn’t repeat the problems of the last 10 years.