Game 1. Actraiser.
What a curious little game this is. Made in 1990 by Enix (Now currently in bed with Squaresoft, making the slightly popular Final Fantasy series), this game was something else. Part side-scrolling Platform/Brawler, part Populous. This game was a very weird combination, and one that I personally enjoyed greatly.
The whole concept of the game was based on being a god, and trying to sort out a world full of monsters and evil things, meanwhile dealing with simple townfolk, who constantly need direction. Basically like an outsider going to Blackpool.
The platform fighting bit involved inhabiting the living statue of a sword-wielding badass, and storming through some haunted wood/ruined temple/whatever, and having a ruck with a boss at the end. Personally, as a 13 year-old chap, these levels were HARD. I've never been a gamer of great skill, and some of these levels have me cringing with horror, even now. That FLIPPING Centaur with the spear towards the start of the game used to wind me up no end. Here's the jerk:
What. A. Douche. Look at the dude on that screen. 2 health left, can't even get close. You have very few special powers at this stage too, so it makes it a right ballache. But I persevered, and for very good reason.
When you're not battling ManHorseBeastsFromHell or other weird multi-coloured specimens of Greek Mythology, you're in Sim mode. For some reason unbeknown to my level of rationality, you play an angel, wandering around chatting to villagers, and helping them set up shop, making villages flourish through whatever means you deem necessary.
Everything stands in your way. Giant bats that steal people, Snow blocking the progress of civilization, and volcanos causing a right ruckus. You're job as the overly-cute angel is to be a middle-man, sorting the problems, and speaking with the villagers. As they progressed, so did the buildings, and you saw it happening before you omniscient eyes. For an older game with a lot going on, the Sim aspect of the game was suprisingly deep.
Here was a game that was special. It was a gateway game. One that introduced to me to Sim games, and one that rightfully deserves it's place in the history of gaming. It had the charm, it hand the uniqueness and it contained the essence of a game willing to take risks, and ambitious in it's storytelling. It really captured my young imagination, and I'm sure it did the same for many people my age.
And the best news? It's on Virtual Console.