Ryan Smythe ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
One of the very oldest styles of games, turn-based games have always been a staple in entertainment. They have entered a golden age with the introduction of video games, so here’s a brief look at some of the very best.
One very quick disclaimer: the majority of these games are part of a series, so they will be grouped together under one title to avoid half of the list being one title. A special mention will be given to the best in the group, but unless otherwise noted, all games very much deserve a play through.
10.Total War (PC, Mac)
Civilization was the first superstar of this genre, but when Shogun: Total War hit shelves in 2000 it brought something very unique: samurai. Utilizing aspects of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War to improve the game’s artificial intelligence, it became the foundation for a fantastic line of games, the most recent being 2013’s Total War: Rome II.
Best of the Bunch: Rome: Total War (PC, Mac)
9. Heroes of Might and Magic (PC, Mac)
The art style for all six of these games has always been top-notch. The gameplay is fun and, despite their failed attempts at quality releases on the Game Boy and various consoles, it continues to deliver quality content. The OSX support has been shoddy, but it exists – which is more than can be said for a staggeringly large portion of PC games.
Best of the Bunch: Heroes of Might and Magic III (PC, Mac)
8. Disgaea (PS2, PS3, PSP, DS, PS Vita)
It’s ridiculous, it’s over the top, and it’s an insane amount of fun. Conventional morality is thrown out of the window from the get-go, and this game embraces the craziness that allows for screen-covering explosions and makes it so good. It’s popular enough to have spawned an anime series as well as a manga, and it should make everyone’s must-play list.
Best of the Bunch: Disgaea: Hour of Darkness (PS2, PSP, DS)
7. Advance Wars (GBA)
This series almost never made it to America, with Japanese developers believing that Western audiences wouldn’t like such a complicated game/turn-based strategy. Strangely enough, it was North America-exclusive from September 2001-January 2002 when it made its way to Europe. Japan never got to see this game until November 2004 when it was a dual Advance Wars 1+2 release. Luckily, Western audiences fell in love with this game and it has become a handheld staple ever since its release.
Best of the Bunch: Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising (GBA, Wii U Virtual Console)
6. Final Fantasy Tactics (PS, GBA, DS, PSP, iOS)
Nothing compares to the main Final Fantasy games, but this series tries its hardest to live up to the name. The original Final Fantasy Tactics for the PlayStation was amazing, but it was the GBA’s Tactics Advance that really solidified its place in the gaming world. The War of the Lions has even followed Final Fantasy I-VI to iOS, making it incredibly easy to jump into for anyone with a smartphone.
Best of the Bunch: Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (PSP, iOS)
5. Worms (Game Boy, SNES, GameCube, Wii, PlayStation, PS2, PS3, PSP, PS Vita, PSN, PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox Live Arcade)
It’s everything Tanks wanted to be. Until 2003, it was stuck in a 2D plane, but once it made the shift to 3D there was nothing holding this game back. It’s offered on nearly every system, making it a must-have for anyone who even remotely considers themselves a gamer. Grab three friends, and let the hilarity and mayhem commence; you won’t be disappointed.
Best of the Bunch: Worms 2: Armageddon (Xbox Live Arcade, PSN, iOS, Android)
4. Sid Meier’s Civilization (PC, Mac, IOS)
Like there was any chance this wouldn’t make the list. This is possibly the most famous turn-based game out there, and for good reason. For over two decades, it has entranced players with its awe-inspiring depth and customizability, with one game of Civilization II famously lasting for over 10 years. With a Grammy win for “Baba Yetu”, the theme song to Civilization IV, it’s safe to say this game has done amazing things within as well as outside the gaming world.
Best of the Bunch: Civilization V (PC, Mac)
3. Pokemon Conquest (DS)
One of the first of Nintendo’s ___ x ___ titles (others include the upcoming Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem and Hyrule Warriors), it crosses Pokemon with Nobunaga’s Ambition. As great a game as the latter is, it becomes something extraordinary when paired with the outrageously popular Pokemon franchise. Starting out with an Eevee, players look to expand their territory by taking over other nations, and eventually recruit the warlords assigned to each area. This game by itself is worth buying a DS for.
Best of the Bunch: Sadly, this is the only one. Rumors of a sequel are out there, however.
2. X-COM (PC, Mac, Xbox 360, PlayStation, PS3)
There was a 12-year gap between 2001 and 2012 where it looked like this series was dead. With two cancelled games (X-COM: Genesis and X-COM: Alliance) following the poorly received X-COM: Enforcer, there wasn’t much hope for the series. When X-COM: Enemy Unknown was released in 2012 to high praise and multiple awards, it revived the franchise and produced an incredible expansion with X-COM: Enemy Within. No sequel has been announced yet, but expect one to come to this iteration of consoles soon.
Best of the Bunch: X-COM: Enemy Within (Mac, PC, Xbox 360, PS3)
1. Fire Emblem (GameCube, Wii, Wii/Wii U Virtual Console, GBA, DS, 3DS)
No game employs the rock-paper-scissors battle system better than Fire Emblem games. Sword beats axe, axe beats spear, spear beats sword. It seems like such a simple system, but it is in fact just one layer of the onion that is this series. No game (except maybe X-COM) is more unforgiving of mistakes. Restarting a level 45-minutes in will become almost second nature after a favorite character dies yet again. This is one of the single best game franchises of all time, with more brilliant options to choose from than titles on this entire list.
Best of the Bunch: Fire Emblem (GBA)