kihou: (Dr. Morden clone #187)
[personal profile] kihou

Playing Undertale made me think about what video/computer games I find particularly meaningful or impactful. So here's an annotated list of questionable interest to anyone else.


  • Chrono Trigger: This is my choice for "canonical JRPG". It's noteworthy for a few places that break your assumptions, and time travel is great. (Also, I played it on the Shinkansen from Tōkyō to Ōsaka.)
  • Earthbound: Fun, quirky RPG with basic mechanics that are reasonably standard but a lot of straight-presented weirdness that gives it something of a Jenna Moran vibe.
  • Mother 3: Takes the stuff that made Earthbound cool and added extra layers of emotion an expectation-subversion. Fun, has impact, has some interpretation possibilities, and fundamentally solid.
  • Undertale: Goes without saying. Also, hard to say much about why its great without spoiling things, though it's a progression from/response to games like the above.
  • Planescape: Torment: super-cool and elaborate setting and use thereof, excellently done amnesiac-hero-that-learns-their-deal-over-the-course-of-the-game, best integration of philosophy and plot. Glad I eventually jumped through the hoops necessary to play it.
  • Persona 4: I must like it, I've written multiple LARPs inspired by it. The divide between the slice-of-life social day world and the monster-fighting night world is cool, though it's a bit on-rails for the relation between the two to reach it's full potential.
  • Honorable Mention to Kingdom Hearts: I feel like the metaphysics have lots of potential, but then they just keep introducing new classes of stuff instead of realizing that potential, and the metaphysics doesn't really impact the gameplay much.

Interactive Fiction:

  • Spider and Web: an excellent story that takes advantage of its medium well and depends on the player being clever and understanding what's going on beneath the surface.
  • Counterfeit Monkey: a really fun and zany mechanic of word manipulation that I totally want to put in a LARP sometime.
  • Gone Home: the 3D-exploration-based presentation made what might otherwise have seemed like a pretty standard linear story much more impactful and personally-connected, for reasons that are hard for me to full conceptualize. Definitely unique.
  • Spelunx: it's hard to imagine a game that's had a bigger impact on me, in terms of being a large part of inspiring me into a life of programming. It's a shame that modern games don't make it so easy to look under the hood and see how the game itself was made.
  • Honorable Mention to Spellbreaker and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: a lot of the classic Infocom games are really good. Those two are probably the ones I've played with the most conceptually interesting bits.


  • Braid: puzzle platformer with great exploration of different ways of doing time manipulation that holds together really well and ties in with the story well.
  • Link's Awakening: Link to the Past is probably my favorite Zelda game overall, but Link's Awakening is definitely the most philosophically interesting.
  • Ossuary: Most Discordian game ever!
  • Honorable Mention to Portal: I liked it a lot, and it's got great characterization. "But it's too mainstream."

Date: 2016-06-26 02:46 am (UTC)
l33tminion: (Pwnt)
From: [personal profile] l33tminion
My list overlaps a lot with yours (at least in what I've played).

Along with Chrono Trigger I'd definitely add Secret of Mana: Great aesthetic and story, co-op multiplayer, that brilliant, brilliant Hiroki Kikuta soundtrack (check out the intro theme, this theme from the leadup to the final stage, and the best boss battle theme of the SNES era).

Along with Planescape: Torment I'd mention Fallout and Fallout 2. While the writing and setting isn't quite as amazing as that of Planescape, the 50's retro-future extrapolated out to the 50's retro-post-apocalypse is a darn good setting, the writing is really strong, and it's combined with some interesting and very well designed turn-based tactical combat (the combat mechanics in Planescape are a bit of a weak point).

I'd go with The World Ends with You above Kingdom Hearts (though there's much to like about Kingdom Hearts). I thought that also had a great setting and premise, a great aesthetic, and the split-screen combat mechanics in the original DS version were quite interesting and clever.

Along with Portal, I'd put Mirror's Edge. Sure, the execution on that game wasn't perfect, but I found something really compelling in a first-person game that gave the character a real sense of physicality. The two games share a focus on traversal over combat and have a colorful aesthetic, both things that set them apart from trends in first-person games of the time.

Link's Awakening is great, but in terms of "most philosophically interesting" Zelda game, it doesn't hold a candle to Majora's Mask. That's a phenomenal game that does interesting things with its time-travel mechanic, and has very deep themes about how people cope with their knowledge of the inevitability of death. Not exactly what you'd expect to see in the immediate sequel to Ocarina of Time.

A few others:

Super Metroid: Great exploration-focused adventure game that for me seemed to really capture the feeling of being alone on a hostile alien world.

Super Mario 64: I was amazed by this game when I first played it. It's a great example of a 3D platformer, which is remarkable because that was basically a new genre at the time. The really interesting thing to me is how well it retains it's mechanical and aesthetic identity as a Mario game despite so substantially transforming the mechanical structure and the graphical style.

Monument Valley: A jewel of a perspective-illusion puzzle game. It's short and the puzzles aren't that complicated, but it's incredibly elegant. Very worth a play, including the Forgotten Shores DLC.

Katamari Damacy: Clearly the product of divine inspiration or at least "the good drugs".
Edited Date: 2016-06-26 02:47 am (UTC)

Date: 2016-06-26 03:42 am (UTC)
ext_81047: (Journaling at Stonehenge)
From: [identity profile]
I'd probably put Majora's Mask, except… I haven't actually played more that 5 minutes of it. That should go on my "to play" list, probably above Bastion.

Katamari Damacy probably makes my list through sheer weirdness.

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