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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

10 Experiences Every Gamer Should Have

1) No One Lives Forever – Feel the breeze in the parachute level. One of the most exhilarating levels in years has you free-falling towards another man’s parachute. Can you kill the soldiers jumping out of the plane after you? Can you steal the man’s parachute before you hit the ground? A very well-done level.

2) Morrowind – Get caught in a dust storm. The sun is blotted out, and you can practically feel the dust in your eyes. Your only thought is to find shelter. It puts you inside the game like no other effect I have seen.

3) Half-Life – The Blast Pit. A giant and blind monster is what separates you from freedom. It hears your steps and slams its beak down in your direction, killing you instantly. How do you avoid it? How do you survive? The answer is in the palm of your hand.

4) Super Smash Brothers Melee – Beat your loud-mouthed friend with a well-timed, fluky throw of a capsule, which makes him throw the controller in anger and punch you in the shoulder. Sure, he’s beaten you repeatedly, and sure, it may just be one win. But man, does it feel sweet.

5) Final Fantasy VII – The End Of Disc One. If you’ve played it, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, you are missing one of the most cinematic, wrenching experiences in gaming history. Don’t let anyone spoil it for you; just play it yourself.

6) Katamari Damacy – Everything about it. The quirkiest, most original game since, well, ever. An indomitable charm that defies description and belief.

7) Donkey Kong Country – Mine Cart Madness. The best mine cart level ever. Combines speed and crazy gambits and danger all in one. The music swells and fills the air with danger. It reminds you why you like games in the first place.

8) Sonic The Hedgehog 2 – The casino level. The first time you set foot in the casino level, you know you’re in for a different experience. Never before had a video game character turned into what amounts to a pinball. The speed and precision of the level is amazing.

9) Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island – Eaten by a frog. You are now in a frog’s stomach, avoiding drops of stomach acid and throwing giant eggs at his uvula. (I said UVULA, you pervert.) An example of when games stop making excuses and just get creative.

10) Rise Of Nations – Crushing your enemies under your jackbooted heel. Something about watching your opponent’s territory shrink, piece by piece, is innately satisfying. It doesn’t get any purer than that.