As I’m sure many of you have noticed, a lot of us here at Gamnesia, including myself, are pretty hardcore Nintendo fans. While Nintendo is generally always on point when it comes to both their new and established IPs, they are not the only company that has developed exciting and original content. Therefore, for this Top Ten, I’m going to be counting down some of my favorite IPs that don’t come from Nintendo!
You all may be wondering why I chose an unreleased game to put on this list. Well, I’ll tell ya. This game has one of the most original game mechanics I’ve seen in a long time and, while it hasn’t been fully released, there is a demo available on the eShop as a a part of the [email protected] event. The game is a 2D puzzle-platformer where you slip into the role of the HERO and use letters that are scattered around the environment to form certain words. These words then physically do or become what they’ve spelt to help you progress through the game. Typoman is being developed by Headup Games and Brainseed Factory and is set to release in Q3 of 2015 exclusively on Wii U.
9. X-Men Legends
With exception of Disney and Nintendo, not many companies have characters as popular or widely recognized as Marvel. In the X-Men Legends franchise, you select a team of four mutants from a roster of some of the most well-known characters in X-Men history. From there, you take your team on multiple missions around the globe (and even into multiple dimensions) where you fight baddies ranging from anti-mutant thugs and Morlocks to Magneto and Apocalypse. The gameplay follows an action-RPG setup where you fight through waves of baddies to hone your skills and enhance your powers. While the beat-em-up fighting style can get rather repetitive after a while, being able to play as your favorite X-Men more than makes up for it, and that’s why this franchise left a lasting impression on 12-year-old me. Not to mention it’s what introduced me to the world of Marvel comics.
8. Sonic the Hedgehog
Nothing fits the non-Nintendo IP category quite as well as Sonic the Hedgehog. Although I was too young (or not even born yet) to enjoy many of the classic Sonic games when they first came out, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the Blue Blur through Sonic Adventure DX and Sonic Adventure 2: Battle—both of which are among my favorite games that I owned for my GameCube. Since playing those games, I have always found Sonic’s snarky attitude and focus on friendship to be much more endearing than Mario’s silent Goomba-stomping. I just really hope that the franchise can reclaim at least some shadow of its former greatness. SEGA pls.
7. The Conduit
Outside of the core Nintendo franchises, I had a lot of trouble finding exciting games that I was willing spend money on during the Wii’s life cycle. Then, in 2009, here comes The Conduit to change that. Developed by High Voltage Software, this game was promising to bring a level of intense, first-person shooter action to the Wii, and it delivered. The game follows the story of a Secret Service agent named Michael Ford as he fights against an alien invasion and the uprising of a secret organization bent on global domination. Equal parts intrigue and action, The Conduit was definitely a gem in the archive of endless Wii titles. A sequel was released in 2011 that expanded the battle against the aliens to include vistas outside of Washington D.C. Both games also had very fun online play features with strong connectivity for a Wii title.
Never have I found another game to be so simplistic and yet so utterly intriguing as Valve Corporation’s Portal. The sterile environments of this FPS-puzzler franchise, combined with the disturbing, sadistic, and often hilarious monologues from GLaDOS and Wheatley, created extremely deep and immersive environments while never leaving the confines of the Aperture testing facilities. On top of that, add an innovative gameplay mechanic through the use of the Portal gun, and you’ve got yourself a long-lasting and memorable experience.
5. The Arkham Series
Everyone wants to be the Batman (don’t lie, you know you do). Well, Rocksteady Studios’ Arkham series is the closest you can get to being him without donning cape, cowl, and bat-nipples. With a heavy focus on stealth and hand-to-hand combat, Arkham Asylum raised the bar for Batman games by pitting you against some the most devilish rogues in the gallery. However, I don’ think the series didn’t fully hit its stride until Arkham City. The game world was expanded from a tiny island to half of Gotham City, and there was a much heavier focus on cape gliding and exploration. Arkham Origins doubled the size of the map by encompassing the entirety of Gotham City while putting you in the boots of Bruce Wayne soon after he first donned the Batman identity. Unfortunately I must stop here as I have not yet gotten the chance to play Arkham Knight, but I’m sure it lives up to its predecessors quite well. Except, maybe, on PC…
4. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
I never got into Blizzard’s World of Warcraft as a kid, as I was always (and still am) more of a console gamer, but I did always enjoy looking at the box art when I was in that section of Best Buy. I also enjoyed playing trading card games like Yu-Gi-Oh! Well, in 2014 these worlds combined with the result being Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Hearthstone is an online card game where you play as your favorite WoW class and use popular characters as minions to do battle against your opponents. The coolest thing about Hearthstone is that it can do a lot of things that normal trading card games can’t, like summon random minions and reward players with golden, animated cards. The user interface is also well-refined with simple drag-and-drop mechanics. With easy-to-learn gameplay, an incredible universe, and deep strategy, it’s not hard to tell why Hearthstone has become so popular over the last year and a half.
I love gothic horror motifs, and I love video games. So, what better way is there to enjoy both in one package than with Konami’s Castlevania franchise? Released in 1986, the first Castlevania was a difficult but compelling action-platformer where you adventured through Dracula’s castle while fighting hordes of horrific enemies in order to come face-to-face with the king of vampires himself. Since then, the series has taken on a couple different forms, but the most popular is the lovingly coined “Metroidvania” subgenre. As the term suggests, the Castlevania series took a turn towards a more adventurous style of play, like that of the Metroid series, with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. This style essentially became the standard for the series after Symphony of the Night. However, each game comes with its own gameplay variations, my personal favorite being the “Tactical Soul” system from Aria of Sorrow and Dawn of Sorrow.
The Borderlands franchise is badass, end of story. Developed by Gearbox Software, this FPS-RPG franchise has such an original story and game world that I can’t help but love it. The entire series is very well-written and full of some of the most memorable characters I’ve ever come across in video games. The first game starts off with four Vault Hunters on a bus driving across the planet of Pandora. You then pick your Vault Hunter and begin to lay waste to bandits and skags as you perform missions for the locals. The RPG elements come into play with the Vault Hunters’ varying skill trees and the massive amount of equipment and weapons you can find. Borderlands 2 ended up perfecting the franchise by adding Badass Ranks, even more weapons, better skill systems, and just having much more exciting gameplay all around. Not to mention Borderlands 2 introduced Handsome Jack, who is, in my opinion, one of the best villains of all time. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel tried to capitalize on the success of Borderlands 2 by telling the backstory of Handsome Jack, but the game ultimately felt like it was lacking something, although I can’t exactly figure out what that something is.
Irrational Games’ BioShock is my number one favorite franchise of all time. The dystopian, alternate history motifs are deeply engaging, especially with the amount of lore packed into the backstories of Rapture and Columbia. BioShock 1 and 2 are set in Rapture, an art deco-inspired, underwater utopia that is falling to pieces due to civil war and the insane, Adam-addicts called splicers. Both games pit you against hordes of these splicers as well, as the hulking behemoths called Big Daddies, as you fight your way through to the game’s mastermind. The real hook of this FPS is the use of Plasmids, which are special serums that give you certain powers like telekinesis or the ability to ignite things with a snap of your fingers. BioShock Infinite changed things around by being more focused on character relationships than with the city itself (you can see what I mean in our previous Top Ten on Best Friendships in Gaming). The setting was also changed from Rapture to Columbia, a hyper-conservative city floating in the sky that was commissioned by the United States as a symbol of the country’s religious and political ideals. Vigors also take the place of Plasmids in BioShock Infinite, though I find them to be less useful. Thanks to ingenious storytelling, amazing settings, and very unique gameplay, the BioShock series will always hold a special place in my heart.
What did you think of my list? Do you agree with my choices? Do you think you know of some better ones? Feel free to tell us your thoughts in the comment section below!
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