Greatest Game of 1994: Runners Up

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Super Metroid
Super Metroid is not only the best game in the Metroid series but one of the greatest games of all time. The atmosphere is what sets this game apart. With its emphasis on exploration and intense boss fights, Super Metroid had a unique feel that distinguished it from other games of its time. The term “Metroidvania” is used to describe games that play like Super Metroid or the newer Castlevania titles. I believe this term insults Metroid, which pioneered the style that was then stolen by Castlevania. This style of gameplay focuses on exploration. The player may see different paths to go down when  first running through a level, but the player is forced to upgrade their character before being able to access these areas. The constant rewards and power-ups that you receive throughout the game propel you forward. While Super Metroid is not an easy game, it is much easier than its NES predecessor and thus much more accessible. Obviously, with the added power of the SNES, the game was much cleaner and easier to look at than Metroid, but you also don’t die nearly as often in Super Metroid as in Metroid. With perfect level design, incredible atmosphere, dark and ominous music, and fun gameplay, Super Metroid is still fun to play today.

Donkey Kong Country
At the time of its release, Donkey Kong Country was one of the most visually stunning games I’d ever seen. The game came out right around Thanksgiving in 1994, and I remember wanting nothing more than to get up from the dinner table and get back to the game. The level design was top-notch, and the music was great, too. The first underwater level brought together the visuals, the music, and the level design perfectly. DKC also provided a fun co-op mode that gave the game legs. Two excellent sequels followed, but I always preferred the original.

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Super Bomberman 2
I played Super Bomberman 2 more than any other Bomberman game. I owned a multitap for the SNES, and SB2 supported it. Many of the Stew Over contributors and I would spend quality time in our younger years blowing each other up time after time after time. Many of the later Bomberman games would add more power-ups, but I preferred the simpler, more streamlined approach of Super Bomberman 2. In addition, the use of Gold Bomber, a perk for the winner of the last set of matches, added an additional incentive for winning a round.
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Mega Man X
Mega Man X was one of the last Mega Man games I ever played, but I enjoyed it much more than the other games in the series. I assume this is because the game was much easier than the punishing difficulty of the previous games. Mega Man’s typical gameplay was present– you defeated one boss and then used his special power to help you get past the bosses that followed.
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Doom II
The game that received the most love from our panel, and might have won game of the year if it hadn’t been for my strong push to get Final Fantasy III the win, was Doom II. Personally, I don’t understand all the love for this game. While it was certainly a fun shooter, the groundwork for first person shooters had been laid previously with Wolfenstein and the original Doom. I was never a huge fan of id Software’s work, however, so maybe some of the PC fanboys who read or contribute to the site can add their feelings in the comments.
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Crusin’ USA (Arcade)
After TMNT, the arcade game I spent the most quarters on was Cruisin’ USA. Between the ages of 12 and 14  and before the game came to home consoles on the N64, I would play Cruisin’ USA whenever I found it at an arcade, in a bowling alley, or even in a hotel arcade. This was one of the first arcade-style racing games that I  remember playing heavily. Cruisin’ USA also had a Chicago-themed level that I loved.
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