Thursday, December 21, 2023

The 1000 Games I've Beaten (#1 - #20)


Coming up on my 1000th game finished, so I'm going to make an attempt at doing a big list. Going to give a quick rundown of my memories of each game, how tricky or interesting they were to finish, etc. 1000 sounds like a lot, but keep in mind that the 30th anniversary of me getting Kirby's Dream Land was earlier this year. So that comes out to about... 33 per year or so. Which I guess IS a lot. Most of them are pretty short.

Things that I played on multiple systems only count as one game. If I finished a port of something that doesn't add any appreciable amount of new stuff or have any major visual overhaul, it didn't count as a new game. A remake of a game that totally reworks the visuals or adds a bunch of new stuff (or both) could totally count as a different game. Or a port that is very very different from another version, that could count too. Like Mortal Kombat on Game Boy is different enough from the SNES version. Same goes for T2 The Arcade Game on Game Boy versus the Arcade.

Some entries might be long, some entries might be short. Some will have screenshots, some won't (maybe, I'm going to try to make sure they all do). For some of them I'll get into whatever the toughest part of beating the game was. Some I might not remember what the toughest part is, or maybe there wasn't one. The early entries are probably going to be longer than the later ones. We'll see how this goes.

#1 Kirby's Dream Land (Game Boy) – Summer 1993

First game I ever got, and first I ever finished. This was the perfect first game, as I've mentioned many times. I totally lucked out that the Caldor didn't have any of the things I really wanted, like the terrible T2 Judgment Day. This had the most colorful and appealing box art out of what they did have, so I got it.

Had no idea what it was at the time or what I'd be getting. Heck I had such minimal game knowledge at the time that I didn't even get a game at first. We got the Game Boy and I went to play it in the car, and nothing happened. Then I realized there was no built-in game (I think I assumed it had Tetris on it) so we went back in to look for something to get. I remember being surprised at how small the Game Boy cartridges were, considering before that point I'd only seen NES and SNES games.

Here's the first boss I ever defeated in a game. I managed to get past this guy on my own, but I couldn't get past level 2. Specifically, the dastardly Lololo and Lalala:

My babysitter ended up taking out the level 2 boss for me so I could continue, and then I managed to beat the game the same day. Not sure how I got past the boss rush later on but I'm guessing my babysitter helped with that too.

Toughest Part: Lololo and Lalala.

Fondest Memory: Probably just turning it on for the first time. Was so cool to finally have a video game.

My first post on the game is HERE. Did another post many years later on the colorized DX hack, which is HERE.

#2 Metroid II: Return of Samus (Game Boy) – Fall 1993

Fast-forward a few months and my second game was another situation where it was the best box art on the shelf and there was nothing there that I wanted. This time it was KB Toys, I think. I had to basically just hope this was good. Well, I lucked out again because this game was superb, and still holds up as a top 5 Game Boy game in my opinion. Significant step up in challenge from the previous game to say the least, and the final boss took me lots of tries.

This game was one my mom and I really liked, so we'd hang out while I played it. It's good that she could see the Game Boy screen, which wasn't the easiest thing to spectate on. Eventually I defeated the Queen Metroid and got really attached to the baby metroid. Little did I know that this had a huge sequel on the way in a few months. That was a huge surprise. We were so spoiled in the 90's with huge game releases one after another. A few years later we got four Final Fantasy games in the span of five years. Just totally spoiled. Nowadays we wait a decade between Metroids and we like it!

Toughest Part: Queen Metroid. Very nasty opponent...until I realized she could be stunned with well-placed missiles.

Fondest Memory: Rescuing the Baby Metroid, with my mom looking on. That entire ending sequence is actually quite beautiful, especially for this era of games. Just listen to the music from that sequence, and you'll get it:

Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. Just straight-up majestic.

Post HERE.

#3 Super Mario Land 2 (Game Boy) – Winter 1993

Third game I ever got, third game I ever beat. This is the first game I got that I actually wanted beforehand, rather than a spur of the moment thing. Well, what I really wanted was a console Mario game, and this basically had to suffice. This was another step up in challenge level from the previous games. KB Toys again, and I remember they had an NES for like $75 (the 90's, so spoiled) along with Metroid and Super Mario Bros 3 for like $20 each. It's actually good that I didn't talk my mom into getting those, because the Super NES ended up being the thing I wanted way more a few weeks later when Super Metroid got announced. Leaving KB Toys with this game was still pretty cool anyway.

My favorite part of this game was actually the intro level, seen here. It's the only real "traditional" Mario level as most of the rest have gimmicks and themes. Which is most of the charm of the game. I wanted a traditional Mario game, though, so this level was what I played a lot of.

It's a really happy, fun game, as is Mario tradition. I liked the whole idea of a stage select a lot as a kid, still do. The whole premise of being able to go around and try other areas or bosses if you reach an impasse with one is something that makes games a lot more fun to get through. One of the reasons I've always been such a big Mega Man fan, though that type of game design goes right up to the modern day with things like Elden Ring.

Toughest Part: Beating this game was tougher than the previous two, but since it's a stage select game, the levels are pretty uniform in difficulty until the end. The last stage is like 90% of the difficulty and the part I struggled with before eventually pulling off a win. Wario is a tough opponent for someone who only has a couple games under their belt.

Post HERE.

#4 Wario Land (Game Boy) – Spring 1994

Now this was a fantastic game. Enjoyed this one a lot more than the previous game, and got through it pretty fast compared to the weeks it took to beat the first few games. I really like the world design in this game. Places like Mt. Teapot and Sherbet Land were so unique and cool.

Also, for some reason, I always thought there was some hidden boss at the end of this game. The genie didn't seem like the real final boss, and I think Nintendo Power might have hinted there was more (they did that a few times with a few things I played). So I went and collected EVERY treasure throughout this entire game to see if there'd be a new boss at the end. Nope, but I did get the best ending. In that sense, this is the first game I ever "100%'d" (that could be 100%'d, that is).

Fondest Memory: My main memory of this one is teaching my mom how to play it. She got through the first world, up to the first big boss. The good news is that it was on the Super Game Boy at least because playing on the original Game Boy screen would have been a big disadvantage.

Post HERE.

#5 Super Mario World (Super NES) – Summer 1994

My mom got me a Super NES as my "finished the school year" present and this was the pack-in game. $180 for a brand new current-gen system (with a game and two controllers) in 1994, compared to now when new systems sometimes run $500-600 with one controller and no games. I got to play it for one evening, then there was a two-week wait to play the rest (the school year wasn't over yet) which was torment. On that first evening I did clear World 1 and the main thing I remember is the giant bullet bill.

Also, one of the first Nintendo Powers I read covered this game. My favorite part of the coverage was this bit here. Being able to finally fight Bowser in a game was something I was really looking forward to, since my friends and I never got to the end of Super Mario Bros 3. So I finally got to do that, and went beyond that by also clearing the Special World. This was a huuuuge step up in gaming challenges and probably the biggest challenge I faced for a while.

Toughest Part: Special World, specifically the "Tubular" level. That one caused me all kinds of grief, with Balloon Mario being so unwieldy to control. Honorable Mention goes to the Vanilla Dome Ghost House, the one with the giant green bubbles. I didn't realize you could spin jump onto them, so they gave me trouble. IIRC that's where my second session with the game ended (first ended at 2-1) and it took me a few days to get to the rest.

Fondest Memory: Getting to World 2-1 and getting to play around with the flying cape for the first time. What a cool powerup.

Post HERE.

#6 Super Metroid (Super NES) – Summer 1994

The game I got a SNES for, and one I waited months to play. Following up on the baby metroid that I liked so much was something they didn't have to do, and it felt like the game was made specifically for me. So that was cool. Also lucked out by having this be one of the best games in its class.

There's a good reason why to this day Nintendo has never remade this game like they did with the first two Metroid games. That reason? There's no need to. The game holds up and is still as good as it was in 1994, so a remake might actually detract from it. Even the visuals manage to not be the least bit dated.

So many great memories from this game, but I think first landing on the planet in the rain has to take the win for favorite moment. I found this game to not be nearly as challenging as Super Mario World, so the nearly-perfect ascending difficulty of my first few games had peaked.

I also probably have the Nintendo Power articles on this game burned into my memory. Every month in early 1994 they had a new Super Metroid preview, with concept artwork and screenshots, and I probably spent hours reading and re-reading all of that stuff.

The Grappling Beam was super fun to play around with and this game was full of things to discover. It took me a while to 100% it because there was ONE missile that I just couldn't find anywhere. Turns out it was hidden in a wall in a nondescript lava pool in Norfair. I was at 99% in this game for months.

Toughest Part: Draygon, who pretty much ended my day one run at the game. Just could not win that fight. A couple days later my mom and I were in an Electronics Boutique talking about the fight, and this random guy overheard us and told me the secret to beating Draygon. It involved letting it catch you and then zapping the walls to electrocute the boss. Kinda crazy just having a random person help you out like that. The rest of the game was smooth sailing. As an adult I have more issues with the final Ridley fight than anything else.

Fondest Memory: Probably going to get the game with my mom. We were both excited for it. Then we went grocery shopping and I used that time to study the manual (which is one of the best manuals on the SNES, IMO).

Post HERE.

#7 Donkey Kong Country (Super NES) – Fall 1994

Main thing I remember about this one is playing it with friends. Was probably the first time I really played a game at home socially (played a bunch of NES games at friend houses before this, but this was the first time I really had a gaming get-together where I lived). Stunning visuals, stunning music, good controls. Just top-to-bottom an evolution on the Mario formula. I still occasionally pick this up and see how much of it I can plow through in a half hour or so. It's just plain fun.

Fun Fact: This was the first game I ever beat on a rental. Not sure if it was the first game I rented altogether, but it might have been because I can't remember anything being rented before this. This was the biggest game on the planet for a few weeks, so I had friends over and we played this pretty much nonstop until we got to the end.

I didn't actually beat the game on the first pass, though. I got to the final non-boss level of the game (Platform Perils) and simply could not beat that level. It wasn't until a second rental a few weeks later that I replayed the game and got the win.

Dishonorable Mention goes to Nintendo Power for portraying Gangplank Galleon as World 7. Nope, this game has six worlds, and Gangplank Galleon is just a boss fight. At least DKC2 would kind of rectify this by having it be an actual world finally.

Toughest Part: Platform Perils. The somber music in that level still depresses me and gives me flashbacks to simply not being able to clear it, when I was so close to seeing the end of the game.

Fondest Memory: Listening to the music pretty much any chance I got. Doing homework? Just hanging out? DKC is on pause with the music going. Whoever decided to have the music keep playing while the game is on pause... really earned their pay.

Post HERE.

#8 Mortal Kombat (Super NES) – Fall 1994

I just recently did a post about this game and I think I said pretty much everything there was to say about it there. Suffice to say, pretty much everyone at school was obsessed with this game and it was all we talked about at recess for a while. So when I started renting games, this was at the top of the list of things to get ahold of. Another very social game where I had people over to play. In retrospect it's a fairly basic game, with a mere 7 characters, but all of them are great and it has everything it needed.

A snippet of the Nintendo Power coverage of this game, which was in the very first issue I got on my first subscription. Lots and lots of "firsts" in this part of the list. Beating this game was no problem since it's a fighting game, but I will say the Endurance rounds are a pain to this very day. At least the SNES version gives you unlimited continues, which makes a world of difference.

Toughest Part: Endurance rounds. Man, I hate those.

Fondest Memory: "Playing Mortal Kombat" with other kids at school. We'd pantomime things like Scorpion's Spear and Sub-Zero's Freeze and actually sell the moves for each other. Being a kid was awesome due to how damn easy it was to just pull things from your imagination compared to later in life.

Post HERE.

#9 Super Street Fighter II (Super NES) – Fall 1994

As a kid I was back and forth between homeschooling and regular school. The main memory I have of this game is that I had to write a sort of "book report" for homeschooling about both this and Mortal Kombat. Specifically their characters and overall stories. I remember liking Mortal Kombat a lot more because it was so...out there. This game was cool too though. I liked playing as Fei Long, so I pretty much went through the whole game as him. The "book report" for Mortal Kombat was considerably longer, but I got a kick out of this one and it was fun to compare them. In retrospect this game probably does play quite a bit better than MK, but back then the kids just wanted more Kombat.

This is the first game on this list that I don't have any post for. I'm pretty astonished at just how many games I have listed that DO have posts.

Toughest Part: M. Bison was a super tough customer. I think that was my first experience with a fighting game having a super-hard final boss (compared to the rest of the game) considering I never had any trouble with Goro or Shang Tsung. Goro falls to straight jump kicks and Shang Tsung is less challenging than an endurance round. This game, though? M. Bison whooped me the first few times I played. And Sagat was a struggle to get by as well.

#10 Mega Man X (Super NES) – Winter 1994

First Mega Man game. I was really into Mega Man as a kid, much like Mario, so it's surprising it took this long to actually get one of the games. I got the best possible first one though, that's for sure.

This was a tough one to beat and I remember having a ton of trouble with the fortress levels. Mainly the first one, with the metal spider boss. Once I finally got past that (after many, many, many tries), I managed to get all the way to the final boss in that session. I kept writing down the password after every fortress level, thinking I was making progress. Little did I know that the passwords didn't actually maintain your fortress progress. So when I eventually turned the game off and tried again later, I was astonished to be back at the beginning of Fortress 1.

It took some doing but eventually I got back to Sigma and got the fight down. The fact that the game gives you a really easy way to fill all your Sub-Tanks right before the final fight makes it a lot less tedious to retry compared to other series final bosses.

Toughest Part: Metal Spider boss.

Fondest Memory: Getting to the last level and writing the password down, thinking I'd made it, and turning the game off. Except the next time I played this turned into an un-fond memory as I was back at Fortress 1.

Post HERE.

#11 Mega Man X2 (Super NES) – Spring 1995

This was one of those situations where you finish a game, want more, and then find out there's an imminent sequel on the way. I always liked this one more than the first because you start with the dash and can get an air-dash later on that makes you even MORE agile. The first game has a better boss lineup and slightly better level design, though. So nowadays it's a tossup / tie between the two for me.

Also really liked the idea of the X-Hunters. A bunch of powerful reploids whose goal is basically to avenge Sigma by destroying Mega Man. Having them try to hunt you down in the levels was pretty awesome. While the first Mega Man X was a buy, this one was a rental, but I finished it just the same. Had a much easier time with this one, maybe because I had practice from just recently finishing the previous game.

Toughest Part: Serges in Fortress 2. That giant Wily-mech type thing that he's piloting was a real problem to fight originally, until I realized what a number Silk Shot (wall phase) and Sonic Slicer (post-wall phase) do on him.

Post HERE.

#12 Super Adventure Island II (Super NES) – Spring 1995

Best game in this series, and very different from the rest. Instead of a basic action platformer, it's more of a Metroidvania where you collect new weapons and armor while exploring sprawling locations. Not many people know about this game, but it's absolutely a hidden gem.

Toughest Part: Final boss. Far and away tougher than anything else in the game. The way he splits into two also becomes disorienting because I didn't know which half to go after. Took a few tries to get this one down.

Fondest Memory: Getting completely lost. This game has so much stuff to find that just wandering around the game has its own kind of mysterious quality. You always feel like you're progressing by finding things, even if you're wandering aimlessly.

Post HERE.

#13 Faceball 2000 (Super NES) – Spring 1995

Probably the first "weak" game on this list. But not really. I mean, it's a fun game for sure but it's the first thing that isn't a full-on classic. It deserves props for being a VERY early 3D game and actually playing half-decently.

This game is all about running around in 3D mazes and shooting at faceballs before they shoot you. It gets VERY challenging later on, with like a hundred levels to go through. Luckily it lets you start at later levels once they're reached, which is the only way I was able to get to the end of this one. The faceballs get really vicious later on, chasing you down and rapid-firing.

Fondest Memory: Getting pretty far into the game and eventually finishing it, after thinking it was way too difficult for me at first. Always cool when you surprise yourself.

#14 Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure (Super NES) – Spring 1995

Fantastic game here and I played it to death over a few weeks. Lots of Mayan ruins and interesting tropical locales to explore while battling animated skeletons, alligators, and giant cats. It really brings out your Warrior Spirit, which is incidentally also the name of the final boss.

Toughest Part: The Jaguar God guy near the end of the game. Totally outshines the final boss IMO, both in impressiveness and difficulty.

Fondest Memory: The end credits. Warrior Spirit.

Post HERE. It's mostly for the superior Sega CD version but also has quite a bit of the SNES version.

#15 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Super NES) – Spring 1995

The main thing I remember about renting this and playing through it... is how much I wanted Link's Awakening instead. Then later when I actually got that game, I ended up really wishing I had A Link to the Past again instead, probably because I wouldn't need to equip a bracelet to pick up pots. Then eventually I got this game back and appreciated it a lot more the second time around. I also associate it a lot with the War of the Worlds TV show from the early 90's. Which was an excellent show that still has some really freaky moments.

For example, one of the bosses looks just like...

...the alien god from the show. Another funny thing is that just recently I popped on a random episode of the show and one of the first things I saw was a big Triforce symbol on an alien pod. It's a great show for 1990, and it's too bad it was so short-lived. One season, then another season that was basically a different show. So depending on who you ask, it's more or less a one season show.

As for the game, this was a game that really unlocked some of the creative impulses of my brain. Favorite part was the beginning with the storm. I ended up writing a whole series of novella about this game when I was in 6th grade. They're in notebooks somewhere, possibly lost to time.

This artwork specifically drove a lot of my impulse to write about the game. First game I ever took any serious time to write about, so there's another first. Don't remember the details of beating the game, just that it took a while.

Fondest Memories: Playing the game in general, writing novella about it, letting the mind wander as far as wondering what it'd be like to be Link and live in this mystical land.

Post HERE.

#16 Super R-Type (Super NES) – Summer 1995

Decent shooter, shows off the SNES' visual prowess pretty well for a game from 1991. It's also difficult, so being able to finish the game this early was an accomplishment. Unlimited lives helped a lot. R-Type III later was astronomically more difficult, though again unlimited lives saved the day. More on that later. Don't remember the details of beating this game, except that it was on a rental and I got really absorbed with it for a couple days. Was this my first space shooter? I think it was.

Post HERE.

#17 Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels (All-Stars Remake) (Super NES) – Summer 1995

It's kinda weird that the first game I beat in the Mario All-Stars collection was also the hardest. There is one reason for this: Saves on every level. The other ones only record your progress up to the beginning of the current world, while this one goes right up to the very level. This made what is ostensibly the hardest of the four into something I could handle more easily than the others as a kid.

Also I came down with a pretty bad flu during this whole deal which is unfortunate. So the main things I remember about the game are the poison mushrooms and being really sick while playing it. TBH this game is probably better than the first game in the series on level design. It's just SO TOUGH though. There are some really neat secret areas in the lategame, so getting there is worth it.

Toughest Part: The whole thing, lol. Well, most specifically, any level with wind gusts in it. That mechanic was rough.

Fondest Memory: Getting to World 9 and discovering that a World 9 existed. They went off the rails a bit with that one and did some really interesting stuff.

#18 Super Mario Bros (All-Stars Remake) (Super NES) – Summer 1995

This is basically just a much easier version of the previous entry, so once I got over the save system and got good at Lost Levels, this just became a mop-up situation. My main memory of it is struggling with World 8 but not much else. While the NES version of the game was the first video game I ever played, I didn't actually beat that version for almost 20 more years. Gotta say, Mario All-Stars was a pretty incredible thing to get right after the school year ended (a year after Super Mario World).

Toughest Part: World 8-3, unless you make it there with a fire flower.

Fondest Memory: Finally beating this game after getting to play the NES original a bunch of times with friends over the years.

#19 Super Mario Bros 2 (All-Stars Remake) (Super NES) – Summer 1995

Certainly the weirdest of the group, but a great game nonetheless. I think this was probably the easiest to beat for one reason: The Princess and her completely OP hover ability. Playing as her made the game really enjoyable. Don't remember too much else from it and I never played it as anyone else. It's also notable that I played through the entire game start to finish rather than using any warps like I did the first time I beat SMB1 and SMB3. Only having 7 worlds with 3 levels each (and World 7 only has 2 levels, curiously) made this one a good bit shorter than the others.

#20 Super Mario Bros 3 (All-Stars Remake) (Super NES) – Summer 1995

I left the best one for last. This game was AWESOME, and to this day I still am not sure which I like more between this and Super Mario World. The graphical update puts them visually just about on par, which makes it a close competition. I remember that my illness was finally gone by the time I got to this game, so it was a more enjoyable run than the others.

Toughest Part: The level in World 8 with a whole armada of small airships. The autoscrolling in that level gets really fast. Course, a P-Wing can nullify virtually any level, that one included.

Fondest Memory: World 8. That was a WAR and every level I advanced was winning a battle and gaining ground.

More of this list later. This is gonna be a PROJECT. We'll see if I totally flake out or not!

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