I’ve been playing videogames for an alarmingly long time, and my love for the medium remains inexorable. In my very nearly 30 years of gaming, I’ve played all manner of game across all manner of genre – so being asked to compile a list of my top 10 sent me in to a blind panic; how would I whittle down hundreds, if not thousands of games to just 10? I still maintain that it’s an impossible ask, but I’ve tried my best. The game’s you’ll see featured here aren’t necessarily the best games, but they’re some of my favourites for a variety of reasons. Most of all, they’re here because they mean something to me.
10: Gunstar Heroes (1993, Treasure, SEGA Megadrive/Genesis)
Now famed developer Treasure’s debut game hit the Mega Drive in 1993 and, like most of its games to follow, featured insanely frenetic gameplay. What made Gunstar Heroes so special was its brutal difficulty, which you’d overcome by combining melee attacks with the futuristic weapons on offer to create more powerful blasts. With variety and superlative design in both levels and gameplay and slick anime inspired visuals, Gunstar Heroes still make gaming connoisseurs shed a tear.
9: Betrayal at Krondor (1993, Dynamix, PC)
Dynamix take on the world created by Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar novels was not only the first 3D western RPG, but the first game in the genre to make me sit up and take notice, with tree-based dialogue that would allow me to actually affect the outcome of the story. It was so good that Feist even made it canon, writing a novelisation of the game.
8: Silent Hill 2 (2001, Konami, PlayStation 2)
I was originally going to have Resident Evil 2 in here, but Zoe got there first, and it got me thinking that it was the sequel to the other survival Horror that struck a lasting chord with me. Clever, frightening and filled with unsettling atmosphere, silent hill 2 still stands as one of the very best survival horror games ever made.
7: System Shock 2 (1999, Irrational Games and Looking Glass, PC)
I love Bioshock, from Ken Levine’s Irrational Games and I had to include at least one of them. It wouldn’t be Bioshock 2, that’s for sure…and seeing how Infinite left me wanting more in terms of gameplay, it could only be the first one. I started thinking more though, and I realised that that game itself owes so much to its forebear, System Shock 2. With tense atmosphere, complex and open-ended RPG gameplay, great characters and a shocking narrative, System Shock really is a masterpiece. And Bioshock wishes it could be as good.
6: Symphony of the Night (1997, Konami, PlayStation)
After 10 years existing as a (mostly) linear monster-killing game, the Castlevania series took some cues from another great game, Super Metroid to. Koji Igarashi’s direction and influence over the game broke convention, adding a number of RPG elements and back-tracking, explorative gameplay to produce one of the finest action adventure games ever made. And then there was that mirrored castle…
5: Fallout 3 (2008; Bethesda; PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
I’d expected, because I’m such a fan of the series, to use one of interplay’s classic CRPG’s as my absolutely mandatory Fallout Entry, and I suppose they’re actually superior games. Fallout 3 though was one of the few games this generation that I really got lost in, and returning to the post-nuclear wastelands in a full three dimensions was a treat..and that soundtrack? Just incredible.
4: Chrono Trigger (1995, Square, SNES)
Though Zoe stole this one from me already, I have to give it a mention as one of the few JRPG’s that I still revere. Chrono Trigger had great characters, a captivating story, and genuine innovation in a genre that was honestly becoming a little stale. And though it still had every conceivable JRPG cliché in tow, it made up for it with clever time travelling mechanics and fantastic combat.
3: Mass Effect (2007-2012; Bioware; PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Mass Effect made me recall just how damned brilliant Bioware’s Knights of the Old Republic was; only it was better. It allowed me to create my own hero and kick ass all over the galaxy, playing it by my rules, my way. And though it ditched much of the actual RPG for more action, and distilled three games down to a triad of just three choices, the overall experience was incredible, and probably my gaming highlight of this generation.
2: Street Fighter II (1991, Capcom, Arcade)
There’s really very little to be said about Street Fighter II and its influence not only on me as a gamer, but on games as a whole. It’s the single most important fighting game in history, and one of the most influential games ever made – revitalising the arcade scene, popularising face-to-face battling and paving the way for competitive multiplayer. That and it’s what I spent just about all my money on when I was growing up.
1: Super Mario Bros 3 (1988, Nintendo, NES)
You all knew this was coming, right? It’s right here, in my bio. Super Mario Bros 3 was the first game to make me fall in love with videogames; the first to open my eyes to the fact that they could be about more than just high scores. It’s still eminently playable to this day – which can’t be said for very many games from the era. Without the benefit of Rose-tinted nostalgia glasses, I have come to realise that Super Mario World on the NES is probably a better game, as is New Super Mario Bros U on Nintendo’s newest system. In my heart though, nothing will ever replace Super Mario Bros 3.
And that…that’s it. But the list only looks like that because I wrote it today. Ask me tomorrow, and the whole thing might be different – because I know there are so many games I’ve left out because of how I feel today. Tomorrow the list could possibly include Megaman X, or Day of the Tentacle, or Deus Ex, or Portal or Dune 2.
And it probably should have. Aww, crap…Can I start over?
Last Updated: November 13, 2013