Tuesday’s Top Ten: Let’s Plays


Yes, friends, here it is—another Tuesday’s Top Ten.  Each week we go through the top ten something-or-anothers relating to video games.  This week, we’re going to list the top ten Let’s Plays, which, as we’ve discussed before, is a phenomenon quickly sweeping the video game world.  It’s only taken a few years, but it’s quickly becoming renown amongst gamers of all definitions.

There are nearly as many Let’s Players as there are games, if not more.  They all have their own style, too—playing bad games to rip into them, making up humorous and farcical “plots” as they go along, more informational, and whatever else can be thought of.

One thing that makes a Let’s Play interesting is that they can be enjoyed by nearly any gamer.  Some gamers don’t like watching games being played; sometimes they find the fun in playing, in actively interacting with the game, so passively sitting there and watching it be played by someone else doesn’t hold their interest.  Others may be curious about a game they haven’t played, but would like some context, some background information on the game.  Let’s Plays tend to provide extra information, and the intrinsic nature of simply having fun—as opposed to making a video walkthrough—helps keep the viewer’s interest.

You’ll see the a Let’s Player listed twice, here, which was difficult to avoid, even though there are numerous great Let’s Players out there.  You’ll also find mostly YouTube links here, when possible.  This is out of deference to anyone who might have Firefox loaded with add-ons like NoScript, FlashBlock, and other add-ons that require the user to set permissions and such for what can and can’t do this or that and when.  Chances are good such people have permissions for YouTube sorted out, but a new site obviously wouldn’t be.  Many of the Let’s Players listed here have sites elsewhere, which will be linked in their entry.

With all of that said, let’s kick it off with…

10. Donkey Kong 64 by Dazzling Addar
Donkey Kong 64 can be said to be a retooling of Rareware‘s earlier hit, Banjo Kazooie, and it could be said fairly.  Still, Donkey Kong 64 brought a good few new tricks to the table, including the ability to switch between characters.  The story was—well, it was what you expected of a game starring Donkey Kong, which is to say humorously odd and centered on bananas.

Dazzling Addar, aided by Vicus and Brother Entropy, takes the viewer through the game with plenty of jokes made, at the expense of the game and themselves at well. They strike somewhat of a balance between information and invective-laden jokes, but it’s an interesting balance.  One that works rather well and makes the Let’s Play fun to watch.

09. God of War by Limpcheese
God of War was received incredibly well and for good reason.  The puzzles were intense, yet was violent as you could ask for from a game loosely inspired by ancient Grecian mythology.  It was also a very mature game, with an infamous sexual mini-game (that didn’t actually show anything) to bared female breasts of various humanoid species.  It was a mature game that didn’t pander to adults; it was designed with the knowledge that games really aren’t just for kids.

Limpcheese’s Let’s Play series is a more informational one than humorous, but it’s still not really a walkthrough.  Being more focused on information, it can certainly be used as one, but like most Let’s Plays deaths and other mistakes are left in, and it was created with the idea of entertainment.  For example, as he says in the first video and the series description, he chose to play on the next-to-hardest difficulty just so it’s not boring for the viewer.  It’s a great video for such a different game.

08. Viewtiful Joe by Gherakai
Viewtiful Joe was an interesting game for its time.  It was downright odd and silly, yet undeniably fun.  It hearkened back to games in the ‘Nineties, which, as a decade, might well best be remembered for the sheer oddity of the games it saw.  From the height of the Donkey Kong series to the early Crash Bandicoot series to the Vectorman series and beyond, many games of that era were innovative yet interestingly odd.  Viewtiful Joe was certainly no exception.  It can best be described as a side-scrolling beat-’em-up-slash-platformer, but the storyline was interesting, the game play well-executed, and the visuals superb.

What makes this Let’s Play worth watching is Gherakai himself.  On its face it’s another combination of an informational Let’s Play and a humorous one, but what really sells it is the undeniable fun he’s having.  While this might not be his default game it’s obvious that it’s one he at least has incredible fun simply playing, and that enjoyment bubbles over into the video so as to entice the viewer to enjoy it as well.

07. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Proton Jon
This game—it’s—well.  To say it’s frustratingly, hair-tearingly, mind-numbingly difficult would be a severe understatement.  Based off of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, it was as an odd exploratory platformer.

Proton Jon does this Let’s Play more on the informational side than humorous side, though not quite as much as his later entry on this list.  Still, he worked through a game that, by any standard, is not easy, whether compared to its peers or even games nowadays, and he did it with his usual gusto and verve.

06. Thief: The Dark Project by FrozenFoxy
The first entry in the Thief series, the one that started it all.  It was a stealth game that actually lived up to the concept—stealth first, everything else second.  There were a few archery-related weapons that would make Hawkeye or Green Arrow envious.

FrozenFoxy’s Let’s Play is a little bit of everything—it’s informational, as he will point out easy ways to do this or that; it’s tongue-in-cheek, as he “talks” to the guards and such; it’s also humorous as he doesn’t remember every single bit so figures out some things as he plays.  He submits his videos to YouTube as well as Game Anyone.

05. Ōkami by NakaTeleeli
Favorably-received but selling poorly, Ōkami is rife with Japanese mythology, which I think may have been a contributing factor to its low sales.  Certain things just don’t translate well.  Another mark against it is that it’s such a long game.  Even if you don’t worry about sub-quests and such, you will be playing for a very long time.  That said, it’s a very fun game, if also incredibly easy.

NakaTeleeli is more of an informational Let’s Player, in this case taking the time to detail certain elements of the mythology behind the game.  There’s so much that the game references or outright displays, for anyone even vaguely interested in the mythology behind the game it’s worth watching this Let’s Play.

04. Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins by Hildegain
In the world of stealth-based games, I think it’s fair to say that the Tenchu series is one of the top five most popular franchises, and Tenchu 2 I think helped that.  It took everything that had been established in the previous game and expanded on most of it—better graphics, better animation, a much better plot—and on top of all of that added an insanely robust mission editor system.

Hildegain plays through all three storylines and discusses his thoughts on the series.  There’s quite a bit of humor in this Let’s Play as he flubs a bit of sneaking, tosses out a few quips based on what a non-player character says, and so on.  The discussion is one of the more interesting elements; he’s played through the first game as well as the third game, and between giving bits of information on this game specifically he compares and contrasts game play elements, plot elements, and so on.

03. Earthworm Jim 2 by Phiggle
The Earthworm Jim franchise, though comparably small, is one of the series that best exemplifies just how downright odd and strange many games of the ‘Nineties were. You played a worm who happened across a suit that fell from space, and who eventually falls in love with an insectoid princess and has to save her from a psychotic crow while launching cows here and there and shooting things with a ray gun.  A lot of the games of that era were simply strange, but this series shows why there were so many of them—they were downright fun.

In this Let’s Play, Phiggle shows how sometimes a sequel can be almost as good as the original.  Earthworm Jim retained the fun and oddity of the original, and Phiggle takes us through it with corny jokes a-plenty, interesting video inserts, and more adult innuendo than you can shake a monkey at (though why you’re shaking monkeys in the first place is an interesting question).  Phiggle is yet another who blends humor and information into a video series very well worth watching.

02. Superman 64 by Proton Jon
It’s hard to like this game, it really is.  The controls were terrible, the plot nonsensical, and the game play repetitive to the point of frustration.  Yet—there was a lot of history behind why it’s so terrible that many gamers might not know about.  It was plagued with executive meddling out the wazoo, which is never an ingredient for a good product of anything, video game-related or not.

Proton Jon makes no bones about it—the game is terrible, whatever the reason behind it.  However, he has a certain affinity for it, going so far as to actually say in the very first video that for him it’s so bad it’s good.  He also put a lot of effort into each video, not only the research for the moments when he inserts a bit of information or history or the like, but also in the video design itself.  That’s a lot of effort, almost inversely worthy of the game this particular Let’s Play is about.  It’s not completed yet, but this Let’s Play was just too fun to not include in this list.  That he’s making a Let’s Play of one of the worst Superman games in history—if not one of the worst games, period—earned him and this Let’s Play the number two spot.

01. Mirror’s Edge by Mugenmush
Admittedly, it was a tough call to even include it on the list.  The game was published in ‘Oh-Nine, a bit more recent than I’m normally comfortable with.  It could even be considered “current”.  However, since part of the enjoyment of Let’s Plays is watching a game being played that you don’t own, I felt this Let’s Play was an acceptable exception—that I was laughing like a lunatic at some parts helped that feeling and made it take the number-one spot.

While how well the game worked is pretty much up to the individual, it tried to use third-person platforming elements in a first-person shooter control scheme.  It also tried to incorporate Parkour, which is an element not usually seen in video games.

Mugenmush plays it for nearly the first time, so there is some back-tracking, some “…whoops.  Well, now we know that leads to death,” “Wait, what sort of lunatic designed this building?!” and so on.  It’s one of the ways a Let’s Play is interesting, experiencing the game more or less as the Let’s Player does, without possessing much if any information going in.  There’s plenty of humor as he points out interesting and weird aspects of game play.  There’s also plenty of cursing; most of the others on this list keep it sparse or non-existent, but Mugenmush—doesn’t.  Whether that’s a bad thing or not is left up to the viewer.

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