Welcome to our latest weekly feature, Top 10 Fridays! This is where we will be counting down various topics of interest. For our first go at it, we decided to stay close to home and tackle the best games set in Canada. Now keep in mind, the entire game doesn’t have to be set in the great white north, just parts of them to qualify for this list. So without further ado, we present to you the top 10 games set in Canada!
#10 – MDK 2
Let’s start off this list with a sleeper candidate. MDK 2 is a third person shooter / adventure game where you have to save the world from nefarious aliens. While the premise may be worn-out, the three-pronged gameplay still feels fresh to this day, and the writing is still funny after all these years. While only a small part of the game actually takes place in Canada, it’s a nice homage to the developer’s hometown of Edmonton that it gets to be partially destroyed by an alien war machine. Oh, and that developer just happens to be BioWare. How quickly they grow up…
#9 – Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games
The only game on this list to take place entirely in Canada, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games brought Vancouver to the Wii in a big way. With a whole new slew of events based around the Winter Olympics, the game even went beyond the world competition and introduced Dream Events based on the worlds of Mario and Sonic. Sure, it may be just another Wii mini-game collection, but Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games is still a blast to play with friends.
8 – Europa Universalis III
Ok, ok, maybe I’m stretching things here by including this grand-strategy game of global domination in this list, but it’s just so good. What other games let you take a fledgling Canada and turn it into a global superpower? Europa Universalis III refined the core experience of conquering the world via power, trade, and diplomacy, and helped make the series more approachable to the masses without sacrificing any of the series’ trademarked difficulty or attention to detail.
7 – Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
Anybody who went to a grade school computer class will remember learning their geography with the help of Carmen Sandiego. The 1985 edition was a staple of grade schools everywhere, and helped make learning the countries of the world fun and enjoyable instead of just another subject to sleep through. I still remember the thrill I had when I had to visit Montreal, Canada to find Carmen; I’m sure my ex-teacher remembers it with less than fondness, though, since 6-year-old me kept yelling “I’ve been there!”.
6 – Excitebots: Trick Racing
One of the most overlooked Wii games, Excitebots: Trick Racing brought a new spin to the racing genre by making it more about how many points you could collect instead of just getting across the finish line first. This made for an incredibly fun experience. The game even saved some if its best levels for Canadian locales like the British Colombian Rockies. To add to the fun, the game even features a whole bunch of wacky mini-games, and even a robust online mode. A definite must-play for fans of racing games.
5 – Tony Hawk’s Underground
Remember a time when Tony Hawk games didn’t suck? Well I sure do, and one of the best ones was Tony Hawk’s Underground. The game took you on a globetrotting adventure to become the world’s best skateboarder, and one of the most memorable stops on your tour just happens to be Vancouver, Canada. The game went on to spawn an excellent sequel, but since then it’s pretty much been all downhill for the franchise, though a stop to the Great White North is usually included. For gamers and wannabe skateboarders, this was as good as it got.
4 – Deus-Ex: Human Revolution
It took a long time, but we finally got a sequel to the cult-classic Deus-Ex (that wasen’t awful), and boy was it worth the wait. The shooter-RPG hybrid delivered everything that the PC classic did, but this one came wrapped in a shiny graphics engine and with modern game controls optimized for a console playthrough. Developer Eidos Montreal even included a segment of the game that takes part in that very city. Now if only they could hurry up with the Director’s Cut…
3 – Sly 2: Band of Thieves
The adventures of Sly Cooper, the pilfering raccoon, have always held a special place in my heart. Maybe it’s the sharp gameplay and witty writing, or maybe it’s just that these games are so darn good, but I’ve never been disappointed by any of the games in the series. You can imagine my joy at the mere fact that Sly travels to Canada in Sly 2: Band of Thieves. There’s no feeling quite like seeing a game character I enjoy running around in my backyard.
2 – Mass Effect 3
The Mass Effect series may have closed with a whimper, but the final chapter definitely opened with a bang. The Reapers finally launch their assault on Earth; Command Shepard is trapped in a besieged Vancouver and has to escape in order to build an armada to take back the Earth. Whatever your opinion is on the series as a whole, there’s no denying its place in modern gaming history. The final chapter, despite its flaws, is still an incredible experience.
1 – NHL (The series)
With this Top 10, I realized I could have taken the easy route and included every sports franchise that includes a Canadian team. Well, instead of doing that (we don’t want to give the Blue Jays and Raptors too much credit now), I decided to give the franchise that is most important to Canadians the praise it deserves. Every year, the NHL games are among the most popular in the Great White North; they’re deserving of all the praise they receive, and are most definitely the “Best Video Game Set in Canada”. So here’s to the franchise that puts maple syrup on our pancakes and double doubles into our coffee: the NHL series.
Agree or disagree? Let us know your favourite games set in Canada in the comments below!