Best Video Game Moments is a series about memorable moments and mechanics in video games.
“You’re a hero … and you have to leave.” …For Fallout
The true ending in Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game finally comes when players wipe out the Super Mutant menace and repair Vault 13’s water purification system. These heroic tasks will take your Vault Dweller to hell and back, but upon triumphantly returning home to Vault 13 at the game’s conclusion, they’re promptly kicked out again!
At the end of it all, the Overseer calls the Vault Dweller a hero, but they’re a hero the younger residents of Vault 13 would want to emulate. He doesn’t want anyone else being inspired to leave the sheltered community, so by saving their people and doing the right thing, the Vault Dweller has also condemned themselves to exile.
What follows is an unforgettably downbeat ending where the Vault Dweller marches back into the hostile wasteland; the place that changed them; and the same place they must now call home. It’s a poignant ending that nails the brutal vibe Black Isle was going for in this retrofuturistic classic.
Capturing an “Average” boss …For Darius Gaiden
Considered by some to be the peak of the Darius series, Darius Gaiden introduces a novel mechanic for a shoot ’em up: the ability to kidnap bosses!
Instead of destroying a mid-level “Average” boss, players can focus fire on their control ball instead. If they manage to dislodge and capture this precious item, the huge enemy will switch sides and join the player for a time, spewing flames and missiles from their fishy appendages in tandem with the Silver Hawk’s own guns.
Now that’s what I call an Option!
Busting radars …For Speed Devils
This underrated racing game for Sega Dreamcast is great for many reasons, but something I especially like are the radars which encourage players to drive very fast through police checkpoints. Do it fast enough and the radar gets “busted” and players are awarded bonus cash that scales with the speed they were going.
With more cash comes the ability to purchase faster cars with bigger upgrades, so busting a radar always feels good, whether you end up winning the race or not.
Opening cutscene …For Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
This entry is proof that sometimes even the worst video game can have one or two saving graces. For Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) you actually have two: the excellent soundtrack and some quality pre-rendered cutscenes like this one.
These CGI animations still look stupendous today, though the opening cutscene is also quite effective in kicking off the story in a suitably fast and dare I say, nuanced way, as characters get introduced, future events get foreshadowed, and Sonic drops in to foil Dr. Eggman’s villainous plans as per usual.
Shame the entire game goes downhill from there!
Cerebral Bore …For Turok 2: Seeds of Evil
Like the flamethrower featured in Volume 4, the Cerebral Bore is another weapon getting praise simply because of how entertaining it is to use.
This sinister device locks on to an enemy’s brain waves using a tracking crosshair. After firing, a blue orb homes in on the target’s head and drills into their skull, excavating bloody brain matter in a gross stream before exploding in superfluous fashion.
To quote from my retrospective on the game itself, “Don’t stop playing Turok 2 until you’ve fired this weapon!”