And now for the long-awaited sequel to http://arfer.net/microblog/2019#p345 , in which I turn my attention to a more much important art form: vidya gaems.
1. Pathways into Darkness (1993). A first-person shooter that was groundbreaking, but never imitated; Doom was released a few months later. Like its fellow early-bird survival-horror games Alone in the Dark (1992) and Resident Evil (1996), Pathways mixes puzzle-solving with shooting that must be managed carefully due to limited ammo and the player-character's slow movement speed. It has an interesting story that is told mainly through magically assisted conversations with the corpses of previous explorers, who also provide most of your equipment—the game takes place in 1992, but you spend the first segment shooting monsters with an old Walther PPK because you're scavaging from long-deceased Nazis for ammo.
2. Master of Orion (1993). 4X games tend towards complexity, but I find managing a huge number of interlocking mechanics more stressful than fun. Master of Orion is an empire-building game in space with just enough complexity to be interesting, like a ship builder, partly random technological availablity, and ten different races, without getting overwhelming. Thie game was my favorite way to pass the time on six-hour flights between LA and New York.
3. Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001). Yeah, supposedly this is the game that the sequels merely approached the greatness of, but for me, it's just the one that was out when I was a teenager, so it's what I played the most. The winning fighting-game-for-people-who-don't-like-fighting-games formula from the first game was kept and extended, and a huge amount of characters and modes were added to establish a series that is now known for its ambition.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006). I played Link's Awakening and Ocarina of Time first, and for that reason they made a bigger impression on me, but Twilight Princess seems better in virtually every way. Few experiences match the surprise of suddenly finding yourself walking on the ceiling and slowly understanding why. Wind Waker is more stylish and ambitious, but Twilight Princess made swinging a sword fun in a way no previous Zelda had.
5. Undertale (2015). I loved this game, and yet I felt it was somewhat overhyped in the months after its release. In hindsight, maybe the best thing about it is that it's well-rounded. The gameplay is really good; the story is really good; the music is fantastic; and the sprite work is decent. There's something to be said about the unity of creative vision that can be achieved when most of a game is made by one guy.
6. Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead (ongoing). This game started out as a zombie-survival roguelike and became a ludicrously detailed simulator of a whole bunch of things. You can design your own vehicles and buildings, turn yourself into a mutant or cyborg piece by piece, and wear three backpacks at once. The game's development is so rapid that I can start a new game each year and find tons of features that weren't there last time.
7. Liberal Crime Squad (ongoing). What do you get if the author of Dwarf Fortress makes a hybrid roguelike and tycoon game on the theme of conducting domestic terrorism in the name of 2003-era American neoliberalism? You get a game where you can brainwash people with folk music but that also simulates American federal politics at the level of individual members of the House. Come for the terrifying uber-conservative Nightmare Mode in which the police are replaced with death squads that conduct summary executions for crimes such as "flag murder" (burning an American flag), and printing a newspaper may arouse the wrath of the Fahrenheit 451-style "firemen". Stay for the cheesy pick-up lines.
Okay, Randy, your turn. I think you can do this one.