OK, this is the last email I will be answering for a while. So busy lately!
Dear Master Malstrom,
I hope you are still enjoying BoW “WOW!” I’ve decided, as a broke college student, that my scant money may be better spent on other amazing games. I came close to buying a Switch, but $370 for one game seems underwhelming (that’s Switch+Screen Protector+Zelda). The coming Switch games aside from Zelda sound somewhat appealing to me, but at that point, my budget for gaming for much of this year would have been exhausted.
I may go ahead and get those 5 Games Sean Malstrom Cannot Stop Playing that you listed (https://seanmalstrom.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/the-five-games-i-cannot-stop-playing/). Those were:
(1) Master of Magic
(2) Star Controls
(3) Master of Orion 1+2
I also bought much of the Myst series today for $8 on GOG.com. Ultima looks amazing right now, and since the new Zelda takes indirect inspiration from it, I feel it is a good substitute for the time being.
The reason for this email is because I remember several years ago you mentioned alongside the Top 5 a lower tier of games you cannot stop playing. A second 5, which I can remember you teasing that you never got around to sharing about. I am trying to find this on your website, but since the search system has made links randomized, it’s rather hard to find specific phrases in your older articles (though I find all of your posts to be rather informative and entertaining even today and hope that we can store them somewhere for posterity).
If you’d still like to share, it would be most interesting for me, the reader, to hear. You are preparing to retire from game blogging, which is sad to hear. Maybe this would be a good parting gift to us gamers alongside the Zelda articles. If you have already made this article, I apologize for not finding it and hope you might share it with me.
I still agree with that list. However, it may be difficult to get into those games initially. Let’s do a quick look:
-Master of Magic-
Terrible PC speaker sound effects. Very old graphics. However, everyone keeps trying to remake this game. The reason why is that MoM sold extremely well back in the day. This game is fantasy version of Civilization. I like making tons of magicians and just mowing down everything.
-Master of Orion-
Everyone keeps trying to remake MOO but cannot match the AI. There are no space lanes here. GOG version includes both MOO and MOO 2, both are worthwhile. MOO is simpler but more macro, MOO 2 is more base building with individual planets. I prefer MOO 1. Some prefer MOO 2.
This is the apex of Commodore 64 games, and I do not know how to buy this today (it did appear on Virtual Console for Wii briefly in Europe). Just grab it on emulator. Paradroid is about your little robot guy trying to take over other robots and reconquer the space ship. Insanely hard, insanely good. Ingenious game design here. I can never crack this game.
Star Control 1 and 2 are available in a package from GOG. However, you can download Urquan Masters (which is Star Control 2) for free and have it updated for today’s computers.
Star Control is a hybrid game. The core gameplay is Space War (think Asteroids but with space ship versus another space ship). Star Control 1 was combining Space War with a turn based strategy game. It is incredible.
Star Control 2 went a different way. They combined Space War with Open World RPG. That’s right. Open World RPG with space ships! The story line is as rich as Babylon 5. This game plays like Star Trek where you fly around, meet new races, blow them up, etc.
Read the manual’s backstory for this one. It is worth it.
The developers for Star Control would later make the Skylanders franchise. Paul Reiche III is genius. You have to see the dialogue in this game to believe it.
GOG gives you Ultima IV, Savage Empire, and Martian Dreams for free. I would not recommend those to a newcomer.
What is fun about Ultima is that all their game’s lore is interconnected. Playing III gives you more insight in VII, for example, and vice versa. IV gives more insight in VI, V more insight in I, and so on and so forth. This is the same game universe revisited, not Final Fantasy where everything is reset with each game.
Ultima VII (with expansion) and Ultima VII Part 2 (with expansion) is what I would recommend to a newcomer. Be warned. This game does not revolve around combat or ‘stats’. It revolves around an Open World. Be sure to read the manuals on this one. It is worth it. All this in one package on GOG is very well worth it.
Ultima Underworld I and II is another great package and worth it for newcomers. Ultima Underworld inspires Elder Scrolls and so many other RPGs today. It still plays great today.
You want another five games I cannot stop playing? Here you go:
I think Civ 4 does too much. Civ 5 and 6 do other things weird. But Civ 3 is the traditional Civ formula. It costs about $5 everywhere. In terms of entertainment time you get from it, it is an absolute steal. Civ 3 includes multiple expansions. There are also some mods available.
This came out right before Civ 3 did. It includes the expansion. It is a sci-fi take on Civilization. The units are modular which means you design them like Master of Orion (or game does it for you). The sci-fi nature makes this game harder to get into than Civilization, but it is worth it.
From the Bnet shop, you can buy Warcraft 3 for $10 and its expansion for $10 for a combined total of $20. The game is worth it.
The game and expansion has a long single player campaign which actually has good story going on. This entire game sets the stage for vanilla World of Warcraft. Warcraft 3 combines RTS with some RPG elements. The game has aged well.
There is still a robust multiplayer scene with Wacraft 3.
More interesting are the custom maps for Warcraft 3. Tower Defense. DOTA. These games are available within Warcraft 3 complete with AI additions so you can play by yourself if you want. There are so many custom maps that turn it into a new game. My favorite is Fulgore’s Epic Castle Siege 1.9. It is like a MOBA but two castles against one another with RPG elements throughout. I love how you can take over the fort in the center.
Unreal Tournament 2004
The original Unreal Tournament also works for this too.
Unreal Tournament includes Unreal Tournament 2003. The game still has an active online base. There are so many different game modes (my favorite is Onslaught where you can pilot different vehicles in a massive battleground). There are many ways to alter your game experience by using mutators (e.g. instagib where one shot kills, double jump, everyone has a sniper weapon, etc.). This is classic FPS!
The bots really know how to move in Unreal Tournament games. Single player can play like multiplayer. There is a single player campaign, kinda, but that is not what you’ll be playing.
There are tons of free maps for this game. There are also tons of free mods that turn it into another game. You can get this from GOG.
Definitely one of the best games released in the last 30 years. Rogue Legacy plays like Metroid combined with Castlevania combined with Rogue elements. The castle is randomized each time you enter. The game, during development, was called Dark Souls 2d. The game is very hard. You will die. But your next character gets to spend all your gold on upgrades. This means each character should be getting further as you keep upgrading your character. This game is very skill based. If you win, there is New Game +. Then New Game ++. Then New Game +++, and so on.
This game is as close as we’ll get to a Zelda 2 type combat again.
All these games are obtained from GOG except for Warcraft 3 which is from Bnet Store.
Starcraft + Broodwar is going to be free and you can play with those who have the remastered version. Since it is free, I would check it out when the remaster comes out soon.
Those are five more games I cannot stop playing. I think everyone should try them out. They are very accessible, very addictive, and cheap to buy today.