20. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge
I was extremely surprised to see Monkey Island 2 this low down. The Amiga version is probably not, if we’re being completely honest, the optimal way to play it these days but it’s still utterly superb, being one of the most influential adventure games ever. The writing, the jokes, the puzzles, the interface… all of it is timeless and holds up to endless replaying, as I’m sure many have done. I’m also reasonably confident that the 11 (count ’em) disks it came on put off many a single-drive Amiga user and – spoiler alert – I imagine that its predecessor was voted for to represent both games in many voters’ lists. If you’ve been living on Mars for the past 30 years and have avoided encountering these games, you are virtually legally obliged to rectify this, one way or another.
19. Slam Tilt
When you think of Amiga pinball games, your mind will immediately turn to the Digital Illusions trilogy of Dreams, Fantasies and Illusions. After that, the publishers, 21st Century, put out a couple more before leaving the ailing Amiga market; Pinball Mania was a horrible ‘effort’ bundled with the A1200, but the magnificent Slam Tilt more than made up for this. For my money, this is the best of them all – all four tables boast loads to discover, a superb high-resolution multiball, some fun little LED mini-games and a healthy dose of humour. Every aspect of the presentation is top-notch, and had it existed a couple of years earlier it would have been the monster hit it deserved to be.
18. Dyna Blaster
Unsurprisingly, when it comes to social events, there’s no beating Dyna Blaster. Known to the rest of the world for the entirety of human history as Bomberman, the concept of blowing up walls and baddies with bombs is an okayish single-player game, but let’s face it, who plays this on their own? Nobody, that’s who, and the Amiga incarnation supports up to five humans at once, meaning the absolute chaos of explosions, accidental suicides and cunning traps can keep you sat at the computer for just one more grudge match for hours, if not days. You will probably forget to eat and drink, and play until you all die from hunger or dehydration. So good it should come with a health warning.
17. Kick Off 2
It is, unluckily for Kick Off 2, impossible to talk about this without referencing a certain other top-down football game released a couple of years later. Both games have devoted fanbases and it became a huge bone of contention during the Amiga years. As evidenced by its placing in the top 20, Kick Off 2 still commands a huge following and tournaments are still held across Europe, attended by hardcore players. For me, it’s an uncontrollable nightmare to play, and I much prefer, well, the other game. Its influence can’t be denied though – without this, Sensible Software’s defining moment may not have ever happened.
16. Turrican II: The Final Fight
Another truly famous Amiga game, and one that technically stood head and shoulders above most, as well as sporting an excellent soundtrack. It undoubtedly improved upon the original Turrican‘s run-and-gun formula, and became even more expansive and frantic; but for some reason I’ve never been able to put my finger on, it’s always left me feeling cold. I’m probably just not too fond of this genre, but for many Amiga users worldwide, the Turrican series is defintiely a huge deal that peaked with the second instalment.
15. Sensible Soccer
It was a close call in the poll, but the original Sensi edged out Kick Off 2, securing victory after extra time. Sensible Soccer is a game that transcended the Amiga, such is its fame and iconic status, and it’s one of a very rare breed – a football game that non-football fans enjoy too. It’s fast and easy to get to grips with the basic idea, but as a two-player game it’s simply timeless – the gameplay almost perfectly balanced, the zoomed-out view being just right, and the feeling there’s more skill required than the pinbally nature of Kick Off 2 (if proving slightly too easy to score goals). The concept would, of course, be refined and improved even further, but it all started here in near-immaculate form.
14. Pinball Fantasies
One genre the Amiga had the monopoly on was pinball simulators. This was largely thanks to Digital Illusions (now Dice) who scored an impressive hat-trick with their games. Fantasies was the second and arguably the best (not that this list reflects that opinion). It’s more of a Pinball Dreams 1.5 in all honesty – the ball physics feel more realistic and the tables are bigger, but it’s not a massive departure. Not that it needed to be, for it was great in the first place and of the four tables, arguably only Speed Devils doesn’t cut any mustard lying around (not that it’s terrible in itself). The others provide endless replay value and entertainment, with the excellent Partyland proving the real highlight of a superbly attractive and slickly-presented package.
13. Dune II: The Battle For Arrakis
The only similarity this has with the original is the name – otherwise this is entirely different and more or less spawned the entire real-time strategy genre. I’ve used the word ‘influential’ with reckless abandon in this article, but it’s hard to think of a better way of describing Dune II. Especially when you haven’t played it much, like me (ahem). A game that its many fans will tell you holds up well even now.
Emerging at nearly the same time as Dune II, Syndicate offers a different yet utterly brilliant take on strategy and action. It perfectly captures that cyberpunk, dystopian future feel, and allows you to be as terrifyingly violent as you like – to hell with the consequences, as long as you’re able to take over the world and deal with anyone who has the temerity to be against you. Leave your morals and any remaining goodwill at the door in another near-perfectly executed Bullfrog classic.
11. Lotus Turbo Challenge 2
The second Lotus game appears to race off into the distance in the popularity stakes and it’s easy to see why. Compared to the original, it uses the full screen, runs even quicker and contains a wonderful four-player link-up mode. It’s even more of an arcade game this time round as the tracks are all based on checkpoints and driving against the clock, which poses questions over its longevity, but the overall accessibility and the sheer fun it offers makes you wish that Magnetic Fields, having clearly got the better of the Amiga, had a stab at converting Outrun or Chase HQ rather than the tat we were lumbered with.
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