The 50 Best Video games: A Legend In Your Own Living-Room

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The Independent Culture
When real life begins to pall, game boys and girls simply turn on, tune in and drop out with the best that the video world has to offer. David Gordon and his team of experts round up the classic games that allow you to do battle with demons, race with rally champions or cosset cuddly crocodiles - all at the touch of a button

The Experts

This week's 50 Best panel comprised Ed Lomas, a senior writer at Computer and Video Games magazine; Dave Perry, who starred in Channel 4's Games Master and now works at Rapide Publishing; Jon Evans, the editor of Ultimate PC magazine; Joao Sanches, the reviews editor of Edge magazine; and the entire cast of Kuju Entertainment - Simon Carless, Gabriella Diffley, Dave Millard, Colin Chung, Chris Roberts - a computer-games company whose next production, Tank Racer, should be in the shops by March.



Proof that hype means nothing comes in the form of Half-Life, an unheralded 3D shoot-'em-up that stole the show on its release thanks to a combination of amazing graphics, endless gameplay and 32-person multiplayer option. Like in Quake (see No 16), players enjoy a vast gaming environment, picking up weapons and completing tasks. "If GoldenEye [see No 11] is the equivalent of being in a Bond film, then Half-Life is the Hollywood-blockbuster experience," says Joao Sanches. "Technically brilliant, its atmosphere, innovative touches and endless surprises should captivate the most cynical individual."

By: Sierra (1998). On: PC-CD. Price: pounds 39.99.



Anyone who does not know the name Street Fighter must have been living on a desert island. The player has a choice of fighting experts, from kung fu to wrestling, with whom to beat the life out of opponents and complete quests. Though still going strong with new releases on the Play- Station, Street Fighter reached its pinnacle in Street Fighter II. "Essentially, SFII is the grandfather of today's Tekkens and Virtua Fighters [see Nos 7 & 12]," says Joao. "There were other 2D beat-'em-ups before it, but none has been as influential." By: Capcom (1991). On: Megadrive & SNES. Price: around pounds 20.



When you're talking about classic video games, few spring to mind ahead of Super Mario Kart. This takes the "Mario World" crew go-karting, with special weapons like mushrooms and bananas for knocking opponents off the track. No other racing game has come close to the playability of this golden oldie. "Though it looks like a kids' game, Super Mario Kart is one of the most skilful games ever," remarks Ed Lomas. "There are so many little tricks and techniques to learn that people are still playing it today." Sadly, the new N64 version has not lived up to the legend.

By: Nintendo (1992). On: SNES. Price: around pounds 15.



Zelda's first release on the NES, back in 1987, was a landmark in role- playing games. The player took the role of an elf-like character, and had to travel around a mystical, medieval land collecting weapons, solving puzzles and killing monsters. Now on the N64, everyone's favourite elf has made jaws drop all over the world with his latest and greatest adventure, Legend of Zelda. "As close to perfection as a game has got," says Joao. "It boasts an amazing combination of superlative graphics, flawless structure, and outstanding playability."

By: Nintendo (1998). On: N64. Price: pounds 44.99.



When Command & Conquer (see No 22) first came out several years ago, it dominated the strategy war-game genre - till the release of Total Annihilation, the war game to end all war games. The theme is simple: two or more armies battle it out in some of the most advanced warfare yet. Its main advantage over C&C is a fully interactive battle-zone, with hills and rivers to use to your advantage. Joao describes it as "a landmark among real-time strategy titles. Despite numerous clones and contenders to its throne, TA is way ahead of the competition."

By: GT Interactive (1997). On: PC-CD. Price: pounds 19.99.



Arguably the best arcade game to date, Time Crisis transferred almost flawlessly from coin-op to console. This is the definitive shoot-'em-up: players are given a light-gun, and have to shoot the enemy before they shoot you. Although the graphics may not be much to look at, the fast-moving action never loses its appeal, and the Sundance Kid himself would have problems completing the game. In the words of Dave from Kuju, Time Crisis took "the light-gun game to its extreme, and reinvented it with the addition of the duck pedal".

By: Sony (1998). On: PlayStation. Price: pounds 60.



One of the most hyped video games of 1998, Tekken 3 fully justified the fuss, boasting the most accurate and fluid graphics ever to hit the Play-Station. With a similar plot to Street Fighter (No 2), it's by far the best 3D beat-'em-up to date. The moves are amazing, and hidden options, from "Tekken Ball" to "Tekken Force", mean that, just when you think there's no more to do, another surprise pops out of the woodwork. "Tekken 3 is a lesson in playability," remarks Joao. "It's easily one of the most addictive beat-'em-ups to have graced our TV screens." By: Sony (1998). On: PlayStation. Price: pounds 39.99.



Well, what can you say about Gran Turismo? This driving simulator allows players to purchase and race some of the best cars available on the real- life market. The realistic graphics and gameplay took it straight to the top of the charts on its release, and the diversity of tracks and cars ensure you'll be coming back for more. "The most detailed and enthralling driving game yet," explains Chris from Kuju. "Get a licence, buy a car, tune it up, win some races, win some money, buy a better car. Brilliant!" adds his colleague Colin.

By: Sony (1998). On: PlayStation. Price: pounds 39.99.



When Ms Croft exploded onto the PlayStation a few years back, Tomb Raider single-handedly changed the face of platform games forever. Players can run, leap, climb and swim their way around a vast 3D environment for days on end. The array of guns, vehicles and baddies made it an instant hit, and spawned two great sequels. "Lara's animations and gorgeous vistas make this compelling," says Colin. "Some people complain it's too long [40-50 hours], but I'd call that value for money."

By: Eidos Interactive (1996). On: PlayStation & PC. Price: pounds 19.99.



After considerable hype, and having been lapped up in Japan for almost a year, the release of Final Fantasy over here was by no means a disappointment. The aim, in this turn-based action adventure, is to guide the hero, Cloud, around a fantasy world in search of his past. The amazing plot, with more twists than a roller-coaster, has placed the game firmly in the strategy history books. "This role-playing title shook 1997 to the core," says Dave Perry. "Final Fantasy VII continually topped the charts as one of the undoubted games of the year."

By: Eidos (1998). On: PlayStation & PC-CD. Price: pounds 39.99.



Almost a year into the release of the N64, gamers everywhere were desperate for a great game, and just when it looked like their prayers would go unanswered, along came GoldenEye, based on the eponymous James Bond movie. Players take on the role of 007, and have to defeat the evil 006 to save the world. This is one the greatest 3D shooters ever. Graphics are superb, environments are huge, and the four-person multiplayer makes for some intense gaming. Kuju's Dave says, "This gave the general public the chance to sample the delights of the first-person shooter, but it takes that one step further by improving the genre."

By: Nintendo (1997). On: N64. Price: pounds 34.99.



While the Saturn is slowly fading away, Virtua Fighter is still going strong. Now into its third, and finest, incarnation in the arcade, Virtua Fighter remains one of the most successful 3D beat-'em-ups to date. The basic idea is that two fighters go one-on-one, and the last man standing is the victor. The graphics are outstanding, and the gameplay is more fluid than engine oil. Judge Ed rules this "the best fighting game around because of its fantastic characters, numerous fighting moves and brilliant control".

By: Sega (1996). On: Saturn. Price: pounds 20.



You cannot talk about futuristic racing games without mentioning Wipeout 2097. "Along with the original Wipeout, this futuristic hovership racing game helped build the PlayStation into the success it is today," says Ed. This is the fastest racing game ever seen on the PlayStation, and makes for some incredibly hectic action. When you couple all this with some very impressive graphics, and the toughest competition available, you're left with a magnificent game.

By: Psygnosis (1996). On: PlayStation. Price: pounds 19.99.



Nobody could have anticipated that one Italian plumber would change the world. The original plot had Mario jumping from platform to platform, collecting power-ups and killing baddies by jumping on their heads or chucking tortoise shells at them. Its instant playability ensured that, from the NES to the N64, every release of Super Mario World has been a bestseller. The introduction of 64bit graphics gave Mario 64 not only incredible looks, but also the first environment that allowed the gamer to go absolutely anywhere. "The impact on the video-gaming world was remarkable, and to this day Super Mario's position as the best platform game remains unchallenged," states Joao.

By: Nintendo (1997). On: N64. Price: pounds 39.99.



When Sid Meier's Civilization was originally released, it gave all those men in suits the one thing they had been striving for - the chance to build and rule their own world. And when Civilization II came out, we finally had proof that the best actually can get better. The deeply entertaining gameplay places even the famous Sim City in the shade. One of its biggest fans, Joao, feels that "Civilization II is not only prettier than the original, but it offers hundreds of gameplay improvements to create a highly detailed world."

By: Microprose (1996). On: PC-CD. Price: pounds 19.99.



It seemed as though the Doom (see No 31) era would never end, but the release of Quake rejuvenated the genre. This is yet another first-person shooter where the player has to wonder round various realms, killing anyone and anything that gets in the way. The graphics are amazing, and although they have now been surpassed by titles like Half-Life (see No 1), they still create a dark atmosphere that'll have you jumping out of your seat with every turn of a corner. "One of the simplest games ever," remarks Ed. "You are a man in a dungeon and have to shoot everything. Quake was the title that kick-started Internet gaming."

By: id (1996). On: PC-CD, N64 & Saturn. Price: around pounds 15.



Final Fight is a classic beat-'em-up that sparked off a whole variety of fighting games with its two-on-two hard-core action. The aim is to beat the living daylights out of anything that stands in your way, using your fists, your feet, or any object you can get your hands on. "Final Fight is the original street-fighting game," confirms Ed. "Although it seems very dated these days, it was massive when originally released because it was so far ahead of anything seen before."

By: Capcom (1990). On: Amiga, SNES & Megadrive. Price: around pounds 10.



This is possibly the greatest series of football games, even though it is only in its second term. International Superstar Soccer revolutionised the console version of "the beautiful game" by furnishing it with the most realistic graphics ever seen and some simply awesome gameplay - it came as no surprise that this shot to No 1 on its release. "It may not offer all the options found in a manager simulation, but Konami has created one of the most playable football titles of all time," says Joao.

By: Konami (1997). On: Playstation & N64. Price: ISS Pro pounds 19.99.



Although this game is only available on import at the moment, it has still kicked up enough of a stir to be included in our top 50 games. Set in the same style as Tenchu: Stealth Assassins, you have to sneak around an Alaskan military installation and kill anything that moves. With stunning graphics and gameplay, this is sure to sell like hot cakes. Dave from Kuju believes it is "the ultimate cinematic experience. Fall into its feast of intrigue and plot twists, and you will have the most enjoyable gaming trial of your life."

By: Konami (available on import; UK release in March). On: PlayStation. Price: pounds 55 (will be pounds 44.99 on UK release).



This is the series that sparked off the whole war-strategy genre, achieving huge hits with every release. The simple gameplay makes war great, quick- paced fun. Players have to build up an army and defeat the opposition through pure attrition. Strategy is all important, and quite often the best form of defence is attack. While titles like Total Annihilation may be dominating the genre now, C&C: Tiberian Sun, soon to be released, looks set to destroy anything in its path. "As strategy games go, they don't come any finer than this series," says Dave. "For the armchair generals among you, there is no substitute."

By: Electronic Arts (1994). On: PlayStation & PC-CD. Price: around pounds 10.



From arcade to Saturn, Virtua Cop oozes class from start to finish. The plot of the game is almost identicle to Time Crisis (see No 6), with only a few minor differences in presentation. The graphics were exemplary for its time, and, with bad guys popping up from all angles, concentration is all important. The next generation, Virtua Cop 2, is also a classic, but, in the opinion of Ed, "the original is certainly the best light-gun game around." He goes on, "while it's fun enough to just play through, shooting at terrorists as they pop up from behind bits of scenery, there's an enormous amount of skill to it as well."

By: Sega (1994). On: Saturn. Price: pounds 34.99.



When it was released, many years ago, Soul Blade was the best thing since sliced bread. This was one of the first beat-'em-ups to successfully integrate specialised weapons for each character into a fighting game. Nowadays, Soul Blade is a little past its sell-by-date, but games-master Dave still rates it highly. "Soul Blade successfully captured people's imaginations with its engrossing storybook format," he says. "Although not as polished as Tekken (see No 7), I definitely prefer this as a game."

By: Sony (1996). On: PlayStation. Price: pounds 19.99.



No other game is easier to pick up than Sensible Soccer. The simple one-touch passing and easy shooting, together with the cute, simple graphics, make this is by far the most playable footy release available. The addition of a management option in Sensible World of Soccer has earned this series a following among players everywhere, and should make Sensible Soccer 2000 hot property on its release next year. "Though years old, and one of the most basic-looking games around, Sensible Soccer is a classic football game," says Ed. "With practice, you can do incredible passes and plays, and score some amazing goals." By: Sensible Software (1990). On: Amiga, PC-CD, SNES, Megadrive & PlayStation. Price: around pounds 10.



These psychotic insects have won fans all over the world with a combination of simple playability and crazy action. The basis of the game is to blow all your opponents away, whether you use an Uzi or a Holy Hand-grenade. The number of weapons and large variety of manoeuvres mean that victory will only go to the master tactician. Dave Perry feels Worms is "a throwback to the simplistic, golden days of video-gaming. It's fantastic fun, especially in multiplayer mode."

By: Team 17 (1994-1996). On: PC-CD, Amiga & PlayStation. Price: pounds 10.



Battlezone is a futuristic tactical game that has introduced some of the best 3D graphics to complement some amazing gameplay. The player can control one of a number of units in this combination of first-person shooter and war simulation. The complexity of a game like this means that it takes a lot of training to master it, but when you do, you are truly rewarded. Jon nominates this game because of its mixture of strategic warfare and stunning graphics, both of which made this game a must for Napoleon wannabes.

By: Activision (1998). On: PC-CD. Price: pounds 29.99.



Turok was the dinosaur-slayer that started off the 3D shoot-'em-ups genre on the N64. Players have to fight their way through a game that's similar in style to GoldenEye (see No 11) but set in prehistoric lands. The original game featured some fantastic graphics with somewhat limited gameplay. A few years on, its developers, Acclaim, have produced a new, improved sequel, Turok 2. "Once again, you have to go hunting dinosaurs," reveals Dave Perry, "only this time the action is far more furious and even bloodier. A must-have title, if ever there was one."

By: Acclaim (1998). On: N64. Price: pounds 44.99.



Streets of Rage has a classic, cheesy plot - it's good guys versus baddies in a scrolling beat-'em-up with a final big, bad boss to defeat. This is the Megadrive's wonder fighting game, with a vast array of moves and special effects to keep the player entertained for days on end. With up to 40 opponents on screen at a time, this is mayhem at its very best. "The Streets of Rage games were created to rival Final Fight [see No 17]," says Ed, "and they did their job very well. The characters look great, and the music is some of the best ever in video games."

By: Sega (1990).

On: Megadrive.

Price: around pounds 10.



The rivalry between Sensible Soccer (see No 23) and Kick-Off has spanned many years. The main difference between the two is the camera angle, with Sensible Soccer adopting a high and slightly angled picture, and Kick- Off using a bird's-eye view. As for gameplay, Kick-Off has a much more frantic style, with a slight lack of control that makes this a lovably awkward title. Dave Perry calls this "the greatest soccer simulation ever programmed". Just a shame that Dino Dini and Steve Screech, who originated the game, went their separate ways - the series has never been the same since.

By: Anco (1990-1991). On: Amiga, Megadrive & PC-CD. Price: around pounds 10.



Sega's main weapon against Nintendo's plumbing brothers (see No 14) is a small, blue hedgehog by the name of Sonic. While nowhere near as successful as Mario, Sonic is still one of the most compelling platformers ever. His aim is to defeat the evil professor and free his cuddly little friends from their mechanical prisons. "There has never been a faster platform game than this," says Dave Perry. "At the height of `Sonic fever', it was said that only Mickey Mouse and Michael Jackson were more recognised the world over."

By: Sega (1993). On: Megadrive. Price: around pounds 10.



Commandos is by far my favourite PC strategy game to date. The player is given a team of commandos, each with their own special skill, and has to complete various missions in order to destroy the Nazi threat of invasion. As if the superb graphics are not enough, the gameplay is the most intense you are ever likely to encounter. Every little detail is catered for, even the sight range of your enemy. Another one of Jon's recommendations, Commandos is the most stunning title of last year. The sniper rifle is a particularly nice touch...

By: Eidos (1998). On: PC-CD. Price: pounds 34.99.



The groundbreaking successor to id's very own Wolfenstein 3D, this is the game that spawned all the 3D shooters we know and love today. Although it may look rusty now, Doom is undeniably a classic, and marked a milestone for PC gaming on its release. This was the original first-person shoot-'em-up, with players walking round blitzing the ugly monsters that jumped out from every nook and cranny. Compared to some of the recent releases, it looks more like a day at Disneyland, but, in its day, Doom had us on the edge of our seats. "This is one of the most important games ever," recalls Ed. "It was one of the first games to use 3D graphics to really draw the player into the action."

By: id (1993). On: PC-CD. Price: pounds 9.99.



Mortal Kombat takes first prize for being the most gruesome and controversial series of computer games ever. Not only are the normal moves blood-thirsty, but when you have defeated a player, you are given a chance to pull off a fatality in any one of several gut-wrenching manoeuvres, from biting their heads off to ripping their spines out: the 18 certificate is well deserved. "Midway's regularly entertaining Street Fighter-inspired [see No 2] beat-'em-up is hardly sophisticated," says Simon of Kuju, "but it's highly amusing."

By: GT Interactive (1993). On: Playstation & PC-CD. Price: Mortal Kombat 4, pounds 39.99.



While real-life rally driver Colin worked his magic on the track, Codemasters worked their magic in the development lab and created one of the best driving games ever. Behind the wheel of one of a number of high-performance rally cars, the player charges around realistic tracks in pursuit of the championship title. On its release, the graphics were by far the best of any around, with advanced techniques used for the suspension alone. "No 1 in the PlayStation chart for months, this is still the king of rally simulations," says Dave Perry. "The feeling of control and realism is superb." By: Codemasters (1998). On: PC-CD & PlayStation. Price: pounds 39.99.



The latest Crash Bandicoot adventure is one of the weirdest, wildest platformers ever to grace the PlayStation. Our hero, Crash, has to travel from world to world collecting apples and jewels in order to save the universe. But look out for those bad guys, because everything, from goats to medieval knights, is likely to be thrown in the way of your path to victory. The folks at Kuju reckon this game looks even better than previous Crash incarnations, and find it "crammed with fun-packed action". "My favourite new feature has to be the apple bazooka," adds Gabriella.

By: Sony (1998).

On: PlayStation.

Price: pounds 39.99.



Everyone who thought that a game based on building up a theme park would be an instant flop was put firmly in their place when this title was released. Theme Park fever spread thick and fast across the games world, and it is still the only one of its kind. Players are allowed to bring in new rides, set ticket prices, and employ people to clean up the park, which all makes for riveting gaming. "The designing part is a lot of fun," says Ed "Excellent graphics and sound really add to the atmosphere."

By: Electronic Arts 1995. On: PC-CD.

Price: around pounds 10.



This is one of the more recent Quake-style games, with an extremely impressive graphics engine that has proven very popular with both gamers and pundits. Like in Doom, Quake and Half-Life (see Nos 31, 16 & 1), players have to make their way through each level by finding objects and neutralising threats. The atmosphere generated by the backgrounds, moody music and evil monsters is very sinister, but the weaponry supplied gives you a great sense of security and confidence. "Epic's entry into the first-person shooter genre is, well, epic," agrees Simon Carless. "A great 3D engine and a clever interactive soundtrack make it ground-breaking."

By: GT Interactive (1998). On: PC-CD. Price: pounds 29.99.



Another descendant of the Street Fighter series (see No 2), Marvel Super Heroes has proven more popular in Japan than over here, but that doesn't stop it being a classic beat-'em-up. The combos are countless, and the pace leaves other titles in its wake. But the best aspect of this game is the superb array of characters. From Spiderman, to the Incredible Hulk and Wolverine, this has some of the world's most famous comic-book heroes. "Because it is by the same people that made the classic Street Fighter games," says Ed, "each character has a brilliant selection of over-the- top special moves that fits their comic-book persona perfectly."

By: Capcom (1996). On: PlayStation.

Price: pounds 19.99.



10800 has managed to win the acclaim of experts worldwide with its accurate representation of one of the most thrilling sports known to man: snowboarding. There is a grand variety of boards and boarders to choose from, and some of the trickiest tracks to test them on. "Nintendo's effort remains in a different league to countless imitators," reports Joao, "ensuring you'll be playing this late into the night, most nights."

By: Nintendo (1998).

On: PC-CD.

Price: pounds 39.99.



Croc was by far the cuddliest game of 1998, with its blend of cute creatures and non-gruesome gameplay. And it was the first "happy" game on the PlayStation that was a big success, as fans everywhere flocked to guide Croc, an orphan crocodile, around a superb 3D world, in order to defeat the evil Baron Dante. "I was hooked from the first time I played it right through to completion," admits Gabriella at Kuju. "The graphics are among the best on the PlayStation, and the attention to detail in the background and characters keeps you coming back for more."

By: Fox Interactive (1998).

On: Fox Interactive.

Price: pounds 39.99.



Few single releases have caused as much of an uproar as Grand Theft Auto. This game has the player taking on the role of an unestablished gangster who has to build up his, or her, reputation in order to take over cities and complete the game. From stealing cars to bombing buildings or hoarding drugs, this game has it all, and comes with an 18 certificate. Simon Carless recommends Grand Theft Auto for its "amazing soundtrack and the massive city that you can drive anywhere around".

By: DMA (1997).

On: PlayStation & PC-CD.

Price: pounds 19.99.



This arcade classic made a giant leap onto the PlayStation last year, and with great results. The Mad Hatter-style light-gun action makes for superb entertainment. With a testing multiplayer option, as well as cute graphics and extremely fast-paced, competitive gameplay, Point Blank became an instant hit. "Without doubt the most fun you can have at home with a pink light gun," notes Dave Perry. "Level after level of brightly coloured targets parade themselves across your sights so that you can pull Dirty Harry poses to your heart's content."

By: Sony (1998).

On: PlayStation.

Price: pounds 39.99.



Prior to the release of its much-hyped Tekken 3 (No 7), Sony had a gap to fill, and so brought out Dead Or Alive. This is a 3D beat-'em-up that looks amazingly similar to Sega's Virtua Fighter (No 21), though it has fewer moves than Sega's heavyweight game. Even so, the superb graphics and responsive gameplay have made this a popular title. "It's not as easy to play straight away as the Tekken games," suggests Ed, "but with a bit of practice, Dead Or Alive can be even more fun."

By: Sony (1998).

On: PlayStation.

Price: pounds 39.99.


FIFA '99

When it first came out on the Megadrive, Fifa Soccer was the hottest property around, with its realistic gameplay and graphics. As the years went by, improved consoles meant better graphics, as well as the birth of the next generation of Fifa games, the latest addition to which is the superb line Fifa '99. Dave Perry declares this "without doubt the most successful series of footy games ever. Fifa '99 oozes class from every pore, and is certainly the most fun you can have with your mates without getting arrested."

By: Electronic Arts (1998).

On: PlayStation & PC-CD.

Price: pounds 44.99 (PS) & pounds 39.99 (PC-CD).



This is something of a follow-on from Sonic (No 29), though not as popular as its predecessor. The player takes on the role of Night, a weird purple character who lives in children's dreams. The aim is to stop nightmares from invading the children's sleep by racing against the clock around some bizarre courses. "The best thing is that you can keep coming back to it, trying to beat your score over and over again," says addict Ed. "The style of graphics, the music and the whole game is totally absorbing."

By: Sega (1996).

On: Sega Saturn.

Price: pounds 20.



One of the better known classics on the PC, Monkey Island is a comical role-play game in the style of Broken Sword. The main character, Guybrush Threepwood, is searching for the mythical Monkey Island, so the player has to go around collecting clues and items to solve the puzzles and complete the story. Just watch out for the scary ghost of Pirate LeChuck. "The adventure is enormous, and will take a long time to finish," says Ed. "Also, the script is hilarious."

By: Virgin (1989).

On: PC-CD & Amiga.

Price: pounds 15 (includes Monkey Island 2).



Not the most well known of games, Panzer Dragoon is certainly one of the strangest. The game casts the player as a young boy who has to fly through mysterious worlds on the back of a dragon, killing monsters on the way. With loads of different paths to choose from, and the opportunity to build up your dragon's size and power, Panzer Dragoon is one of the best titles on the Saturn. "Amazing graphics and a magnificent soundtrack make Panzer Dragoon Zwei a very impressive game," says Ed.

By: Sega (1996).

On: Saturn.

Price: pounds 20.



This is the most recent of the Street Fighter (No 2) spin-offs, as Ryu, Ken and company have been miniaturised to kung-fu each other once again into the grave. Of all the beat-'em-ups around, this is the easiest to play - just one tap of a button gets these pint-sized nutters pulling off some extraordinary moves - involving everything from beach-balls to dragons. "Pocket Fighter looks like a kids' game but is actually a lot of fun for everyone," says Ed. "It's very easy to play and enjoy, and especially good fun if you are already familiar with the Street Fighter games."

By: Virgin (1998). On: PlayStation.

Price: pounds 39.99.



Waverace was one of the first games to be released on the N64, and is still one of the best. As the name suggests, you, the player, have to speed around sea-based circuits on a jet-ski. As well as the conventional racing format, the ability to pull off stunts provide the extra spice to make this a quality game. "Super fast, packed with stunts and featuring water effects that have not been surpassed on any format to this day. "Waverace is the finest water- based racer available," declares Dave Perry.

By: Nintendo (1997).

On: N64.

Price: pounds 34.99.



When Abe's Odyssey came out, nobody expected one little alien to make a big impression. Yet, now into its second instalment with Abe's Exodus, Oddworld has gathered a healthy following. The plot has Abe travelling through the vast 2D platform setting that is Oddworld, saving as many of his friends as he can. The graphics are pleasing on the eye, and the sound-bites, such as the whistling, speech, and even breaking wind make this an extremely amusing platformer. "Definitely one of my favourite games of last year," proclaims Dave Perry. "Making his way through level after level of almost cinematic action, Abe is one weird, crude dude."

By: GT Interactive (1998). On: PlayStation & PC-CD. Price: pounds 39.99.



Age of Empires is one of the most in-depth real-time strategy games ever, spanning over 10,000 years of evolution. You are given control of a stone-age tribe, and have to build up their civilisation in this epic, Sim City-style title. To keep you coming back for more, each game is randomly generated, so it's different every time. This is the final game put forward by Jon, who nominates it for the clever balance of smart graphics, complex gameplay and cool sounds.

By: Microsoft (1996).

On: pounds 19.99.

Price: PC-CD.