A long, long time ago, everybody put together a list of their top ten favourite games (here’s Alessandro’s, Darryn’s, Gavin’s, Geoff’s, and Zoe’s if you’d like to take a look). Me? I’ve never gone about doing it because, to be quite frank, it’s a monumental task that I was afraid of tackling. I mean, how is one meant to condense their entire life’s catalogues of played games (for me, 25 years or so) down to such a small number?
I’ve been thinking about my list for a long time now though, and I think I’m finally ready to share it. Just remember, what you see here represents how I’m feeling today. Ask me again next year, next month, or even tomorrow, and I’d bet that this top 10 would look somewhat different. Anyhow, without further adeu, and in no particular order, here are some of my favourite games of all time:
Metal Gear Solid
The very first Metal Gear Solid blew me away for a number of reasons. It had amazing stealth gameplay that was revolutionary at the time, larger than life characters, over-the-top boss battles, and full on voice acting . SNAKE? SNAKE!!!
On top of all this, I think I remember Metal Gear Solid most because it presented numerous “WOW” moments as I worked my way through its solid (HA) campaign. That fight with Psycho Mantis for example? Finding out his weakness (the need to switch the controller to another port, because REASONS) remains one of my favourite gaming memories of all time.
It was so unexpected, and at the time, mind-blowing. It’s just one of many reasons why I love this game so much.
To date, I don’t think I’ve played a game that’s nearly as original as Abe’s Oddyssey. I genuinely was confused by the setting, Oddworld, the first time I laid eyes on it. Its art direction and design is unusual and unique even today I reckon.
Abe’s Oddysee was a notoriously difficult platformer, and after playing it again a year or two ago, I can’t understand how I made it to the end of it as a child even just once. What’s even more unfathomable is that I remember playing the game so often back then that I figured out every little bit of timing, every enemy movement, every trap location and more, to the point where I almost never died on a single playthrough.
One day I’ll visit Oddworld again, in the remake, New ‘n’ Tasty (which I’ve not yet played believe it or not). I need to atone for all those poor Mudokons I mercilessly killed in my childhood!
Final Fantasy VI
For a long time, I always thought my top 10 list would include Final Fantasy VII. It was a no brainer really – it was the first game I ever played in the franchise, and it really was excellent, despite its blocky presentation. It was my introduction to JRPGs too. Levelling up, magic and abilities, a huge world to explore, and hundreds of battles just waiting to happen? It all was something I’d never experienced before, which is why I think of that particular game so fondly.
Many years later however, I went on a quest to play every older Final Fantasy title I had missed. That just so happened to include the stellar VI. To date, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that a cartridge with only a couple of megabytes of storage space could hold an adventure of such grand scale. The story of Terra, all her companions, and Kefka – the best Final Fantasy antagonist to date in my opinion – are all seared into my memory.
Seriously, I played the game what, fifteen years after its original launch? Final Fantasy VI sunk its hooks so deep into me that I played till the early hours of the morning repeatedly until I saw those credits roll. What a game!
Resident Evil 3
For many, Resident Evil 2 is the pinnacle of classic Capcom survival horror. For me though, it’s Resident Evil 3. Why? It’s not because I think it’s explicitly better or anything, it boils down to that I played it a whole lot more than its predecessors. I really did finish this game more times than I care to count.
What made it so memorable for me, and more enjoyable to play I think was its big bad, Nemesis. That towering bastard dogged Jill’s footsteps at every turn. Every encounter with him left me with sweaty palms, and each escape, an enormous feeling of satisfaction, and relief.
Similarly to Abe’s Oddyssey, I played Resident Evil 3 so regularly that I became ridiculously proficient with its dodging mechanic, and unbelievably knowledgeable regarding Raccoon City’s layout. I used to run through the game in a little over an hour – something that I’m still very proud of to this day. I was a kid for crying out loud!
After having some quick time with the first Borderlands at rAge (before it was even out if I remember), I made sure I bought the game as soon as I could because I really liked what I saw. Look, I ended up enjoying it, but I wasn’t completely blown away to be honest. That ending in particular was such a letdown that left a sour taste in my mouth.
Borderlands 2 took me completely by surprise three years later. I don’t know what possessed me to pick it up, but I’m so glad I did. I played through its campaign alone, and then again with a friend, and then again with more friends. I then carried on replaying the game alone, again, and again, until I got my hands on the DLC. I completed all of them, AND THEN, went back to playing more vanilla Borderlands 2, because REASONS. That loop of levelling and looting was my weakness – I just couldn’t get enough of it!
But that’s not all that made Borderlands 2 amazing. It also happened to have some great humorous writing, delivered by a hilarious cast of characters, one of which was the amazing antagonist, Handsome Jack. I doubt I’ve giggled in any other game nearly as much as I have in this addictive shooter.
Super Mario Galaxy
Say what you want about Nintendo’s mascot plumber (I get it – they do like to rehash him over and over again), but he features in some of the best games ever made. He’s been through loads of memorable games, but none to me are as epic as that of his first Wii outing, Super Mario Galaxy.
The game is classic 3D Mario, albeit with some head turning, neck clicking twists. Every topsy turvy world within Super Mario Galaxy bursts with character, colour, and as usual, great, innovative game design that Nintendo often nail.
I don’t know if they’ll manage to top this game for a long time, though I must admit, Super Mario Odyssey on the Switch is looking mighty fine. Will it be better than Galaxy? Only time will tell I suppose. A part of me doubts it however, because the the plumber’s Wii adventure is damn near perfect.
Portal shipped with the Orange Box as nothing more than an experimental puzzle game involving its namesake. I don’t know if Valve had any idea it would be received that well, but people really loved it. This naturally, prompted a sequel.
And what sequel it was! When I dived into Portal 2, I really just expected, I don’t know, more blue and orange doorway shenanigans with antagonist GlaDOS along for the ride. What I got however, was a fully fledged campaign with even more mind-boggling puzzles, along with some of the best gaming characters I’ve ever encountered.
GlaDOS was back, along with Wheatley, a robot who turned out to be even more evil, and Cave Johnson, the founder of Aperture Science Laboratories who serves as a humorous guide from beyond the grave (actually, it’s unconfirmed as to whether he is dead or not). Hopefully we’ll see more of them all in future, though I suspect that may only be when Half-Life 3 releases (basically never sadly).
Ori and the Blind Forest
Ori and the Blind Forest is simply put, a beautiful work of art. If I ever want to show any non-gamer that the medium is anything but mindless popcorn entertainment, this is the game I show them.
More than that though, Ori and the Blind Forest is a damn near perfect platformer. It takes heavy inspiration from Metroidvania classics and more modern titles, and brings it all together into a package that’s not only a dream to play, but a visual treat to behold. There’s just something about it all that sings to my soul. I can play the game again and again, and I find myself smiling each and every time, outside of that heartwrenching opening chapter of course.
There’s a reason I go out of my way to buy copies of Ori and the Blind Forest and give them away to people at random. I feel that strongly about it that I’m compelled to get others to play it.
Over my gaming career, I’ve played many a shooter. I’ve enjoyed classics like Quake, Unreal Tournament, Counter-Strike (1.6 and beyond), Team Fortress 2, and many more. They’re all very good in their own way, and many deserve a spot on this list. I just can’t not give it to Overwatch however – my latest poison of choice in this genre. I can only sum it up in the same way I concluded my review of the game:
Blizzard have set a new example for the FPS genre that others will need to follow. Overwatch reaches near perfection with its polish and charm. It’s fun, addictive, and will keep players hooked for a good, long time.
Blizzard have outdone themselves, and they continue to go above and beyond with consistent balances, new heroes, and regular themed events. I’m hooked on Overwatch, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon!
Ha, and you thought I wouldn’t include Dota 2 on this list! Don’t worry, I saved the best for last. Just kidding, I don’t think Valve’s MOBA is the best game ever made, but it is one that’s sucked the most hours out of my life, and for that, it definitely deserves a spot.
So, how many hours of Dota 2 have I played? It’s er… *cough* only 4000 or so according to Steam. That’s not a lot, right? It’s only actual months of my life that I’ll never get back.
Do I regret it? Not at all! Between all the name calling, and underneath all the salt, lies one of the most satisfying and enjoyable games I’ve ever had the joy (and despair) of playing. Despite having managed to shelve my addiction over a year ago, I find myself heading back now and then for just one more game. Just one more. Just. One. More.
That’s all folks! So, what do you think of my list, is it at least acceptable in your eyes? Of course it’s not – we all have our own unique tastes, so chances are, you think I’m the biggest moron and that I have poor taste.
Still, I’m glad that’s out of my system. Maybe I’ll come back in a year or two to see if any of these games have changed. For now though, they all have a special place in my heart.