Our fellows at the charming (German) gaming website SPIELKRITIK have published an intriguing list of games for the second time now. In January 2020, editor-in-chief Sylvio Konkol handpicked 25 games that were released between 1996 and 2019. He explicitly (also) chose games outside of the big names that have won GOTY awards. Games that were important to him personally, special moments…. basically, the stuff we talk about here on Wall Jump. In August of 2021, 30 more games followed, extending the list backwards up to 1991 and adding the year 2020.
Lists have become increasingly popular on gaming sites, blogs and YouTube. They give an excuse to reminisce, compare, find people with the same tastes, or elevate oneself to an expert and rant in the comments. Now Sylvio, as a good editor-in-chief with an eye for so-called “engagements,” has invited readers to compile their own lists below the posting or to “post them on your own blogs and leave a link. I’m curious!”
Big YouTubers who are “totally excited” about their viewers’ favorite whatevers are lying. They are never interested in the long paragraphs stacking in their comment section, but they do enjoy studying their analytics in great detail. But because this is about SPIELKRITIK, the interest is genuine and a response to the call is warranted. Also, my WJ colleague Joshua pinged me and asked if I, as a list fanatic, could resist. Well, what can I say – I can not.
In addition to Sylvio’s own rules, I imposed on myself that my games must not appear on his lists, which is a stupid rule given his evidently exquisite taste, and so I was not allowed to choose killer7, Terranigma, Majora’s Mask or Knights of the Old Republic, which makes my list a bit bleaker than necessary. But before he pops up with a third list from 1986 to 2021, I’d rather finally shut up and present my own 30 games.
So here’s my indisputable, highly official, very interesting list of 30 games out of 30 years that were important to me or something.
1991 Monkey Island 2 Not only a defining, fun, dense gaming experience back in 1992, but still the genre reference in 2021, despite so many attempts by other games to follow in Guybrush’s footsteps.
1992 Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny Hour-long attempts to loot each and every last house in Daspota, blindfolded navigation through Thorwal from the herb to weapon store, and a dwarf named “Dwarf.”
1993 Doom Actually doesn’t belong in such a personal list, because it is the official flagship of 1993 for more or less everyone, but because I played it for the first time only recently and it still completely blew me away, it is a worthy pick.
1994 Wario Land My very first own game was Mario Land 2, but Wario made a much bigger impression with his giant, mysterious treasure hunt game including a flamethrower and a powerful ram attack.
1995 Donkey Kong Country 2 Gotta write about this one separately on Wall Jump, one sentence won’t work here.
1996 Mario Kart 64 They all think that Block Fort is the benchmark in Battle Mode, but they’re flat out wrong, because Double Deck is much more kickass.
1997 Jedi Knight I can talk along every one of the FMV scenes, know every cheat code, and once had a folder with 700 screenshots.
1998 Banjo-Kazooie In 1998 I climbed a mountain which was very difficult for me and when I had reached the summit cross, my father announced to me that he would get Banjo-Kazooie as soon as we arrived in Salzburg and therefore this random hill in Austria is more relevant than Celeste Mountain.
1999 Unreal Tournament Downloading custom maps via my 56k modem, giving bots custom names like “Leberwurstklops”, pulling out the Flak Cannon and letting the fabulous announcer voice blast through my headphones way too loud.
2000 Anstoß 3 Most played game of all time.
2001 Max Payne Repeating each scene using quickload until Max floats perfectly through the room, obliterating whatever is waiting there in one fluid motion.
2002 Metroid Prime Sylvio has already covered my favorite with part 2, but because 3 is a bit bleh, the universally quite rightly praised prime Prime has to stand in for the series, because if I’m honest, I don’t really like Super Metroid that much *mildshock*.
2003 Freelancer The infinite vastness of space not as an intriguing research adventure, but as a disturbing, oppressive, hostile nothingness that made me feel fear more than any horror game.
2004 The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap It’s a bit nutty to have Zelda being represented by this unassuming handheld title, but Minish Cap is as heartwarming as video games get in its naive innocence.
2005 God of War Broadened my horizons in so many ways, including the fact that a Nintendo-esque gameplay tank can very well be dressed up as a setpiece gore blockbuster, but also just with awesome gore.
2006 Neverwinter Nights 2 That year was a letdown, but I really enjoyed going on this adventure with a friend via LAN and accidentally drinking the healing potion for a sick forest spirit myself.
2007 Portal Perhaps a somewhat bland choice, but because it caught me completely off guard at the time, it feels like I have a very personal relationship with the game.
2008 World of Goo Another lousy year, but the atmosphere of the cuddly, but unsettling bridge-building game was the only thing that carried me through. Like crossing a bridge. That was a total of
two three sentences now.
2009 was a pretty bad year for which I could mention Flower, but I don’t want to and prefer to save the spot for 2019.
2010 Limbo Not quite as fabulous as Inside, but it has less competition in its release year and is good enough to be considered for both games.
2011 was even worse than 2009 and I refuse to put down Rayman Origins, instead saving up again for a third 2019 slot.
2012 Virtue’s Last Reward I don’t know how it came to be that I even touched a very Japanese visual novel, but I thank the person who made me, because I sucked those 30 hours away like a brand new Dyson.
2013 LEGO City: Undercover 2013 had better games, but I expected nothing from this one and received hour after hour of good vibes and delight.
2014 Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Two games from the same series in one list is uncool, but when a remake can trigger the same feelings in a brain that has since aged by 20 years, I don’t give a damn about cool.
2015 Axiom Verge A disquieting, otherworldly isolation experience that even surpasses its obvious blueprint in this aspect *mildshock2*.
2016 Ittle Dew 2 The best dungeons of all Zelda games cannot be found in a Zelda game.
2017 What Remains of Edith Finch When I reflect on the best video game year ever, I’m mostly drawn to a two-hour walking simulator.
2018 Wandersong I have never known more positivity, kindness and warmth from any other game, book, movie or song.
2019 I’ve talked at length here on Wall Jump about Sayonara Wild Hearts, A Short Hike and Horace, all three of which are more than worthy to stand here and therefore do (thx 2009 & 2011 for being so bad).
2020 Astro’s Playroom I bounced through this wonderland of fun and games like a happy kid, and along the way I witnessed what I consider to be the biggest technical leap between two console generations since the transition to 3D.
My next endeavor: Writing a Wall-Jump article for each of the games mentioned here, if not already done. Also: Don’t keep announcing things that are hard to deliver on.
I really am a list maniac. And SPIELKRITIK really is a lovely website.
This post is also available in: German