Tag Archives: best games

Looking Back: Pokemon Crystal Version

Even the game cartridge sparkled with promise. I mean, it looked like it was made out of fucking crystal how cool is that? Of course, now I’m aware it isn’t crystal but don’t go telling that to an eight year old me.

That’s what Pokemon Crystal is to me. Memories. Really, really great ones too. It was the first Pokemon game I ever played, brought from the top floor of a strange smelling comic book store in Nottingham second hand.

The cardboard box was all crumpled, the previous owner was called Sam and he had a level 98 Meganium he had tastefully nicknamed tits.

I can remember throwing my Master Ball at a Skarmory because I thought it was a legendary Pokemon and I very vividly remember getting massively stuck on the second gym every time she brought out Sycther and getting my big sister to do it for me.

Maybe it’s just because Crystal was my first Pokemon game that I remember loving it so vividly and that it is the only Pokemon game I can happily replay without getting bored one bit. But I think it’s more than that. I genuinely think that Crystal was the pinnacle of Pokemon.

For a start, there were some welcome additions to the Pokedex but we hadn’t yet reached an overwhelming and ridiculous number. The starter Pokemon weren’t as cool as the likes of Charmander or Squirtle but they weren’t completely shit either.

The introduction of baby pokemon was also a nice inclusion, even though they were pretty shit and Espeon and Umbreon were and still are the dons of the Eeveelutions.

Then there was a natty little day and night system, a radio and a phone. All awesome things that were weirdly dropped for Ruby and Sapphire. Clock based events, like only being able to catch Lapras on a Friday night added to the immersion of a huge game.

And what more than anything else made this game feel so colossal? Two motherfucking regions. I pretty much lost my eight year old shit when a fat guy first told me I had set foot in Kanto. Further shit was lost when I realised that I could pick up eight more badges and explore an entirely new land just as big as Johto was.

Frankly I have felt cheated from every single subsequent Pokemon entry. I always expect to be told I can go off and explore another land and every time I am dissapointed. An extra eight badges and the chance to go off and lay the beat down on Red, the all time pimp daddy trainer deluxe? I’ll take that over getting to go see maybe one or two more towns or a shitty little island cheers.

I literally cannot get bored of playing though Crystal. It is a faultless game that tugs at my nostalgia strings to the max and has destroyed hours of my life (in a good way, I think).

Looking Back: The Legend of Zelda – A Link to the Past

A Link to the Past is a faultless game. Released for the Super Nintendo in the 90s, a sequel was announced just last month and the internet pretty much collectively lost their minds. That’s how popular this two decade old game is.

And it’s hard to see why people wouldn’t be in love with it. For a start, the game is huge. Two completely different and giant overworlds to explore in the game’s genius light/dark world mechanic added an entirely new level to exploration. Gamers would discover that an action in one world could affect an object or environment in the other. That’s some sophisticated design for the time.

While the original Zelda laid the foundation for mass exploration, ALTTP hands down nailed it. For a start, it was actually worth looking around as it all looked and sounded beautiful, had secret items and upgrades everywhere and was littered with NPCs that added to the rich backstory of the game.

Speaking of the story, this is the first Zelda to weave a genuinely captivating yarn. Eight maidens being kidnapped for mysterious purposes, an evil wizard that assassinates the king, the death of your uncle and a prison break all occur in the first half hour of the game. I haven’t even mentioned some of the genuine twists and shocks that pop up. After games that basically boiled down to “go here and do this”, we had a refreshing change of pace.

It was the first Zelda to offer up huge, challenging and puzzling boss fights. For the first time you couldn’t win by simply going at it with your sword. The bosses required analysis and careful study to pinpoint and exploit weaknesses. Once you’d done that, you could go at it with your sword. But you’d earned it, so it was satisfying as hell.

The sheer amount of weapons to discover in Link’s armoury was truly a joy. Tracking down the bow and arrow, the hookshot and the Master Sword all felt massively rewarding. Add to that optional items like an invisibility cloak and medallions that essentially butchered anything onscreen and you were in business.

People say Ocarina of Time changed the series, but I say it all started here. This was when The Legend of Zelda stopped being good and started being so much more. I would argue that out of every game from this generation, A Link to the Past holds up the best. Check it out for yourself.