Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Favorite video games of all time: 10-1

By Jeff

We've made it. We've gone through 90 amazing games and only have 10 more to go. It was quite a journey down memory lane for me. Yes, there were plenty of typos along the way. And for some reason I started writing in the present tense telling you all how good a game "is", but at some point decided to switch to past tense as if the games no longer exist. Moral of that story? Don't blog early in the morning or late at night.

The following games are all tremendous. If there is criticism, it is just nitpicking. I love all these games and still play them today from time to time. You'll see quite a few RPGs. These are the types of games I enjoy the most. The great ones have incredible stories and feature strong characters that you grow to love or hate. The hate is the good kind of hate, where you are driven to beat them because they are just bad dudes and the world would be better without them. There are characters that you hate in the bad way, in that you wish they never existed because they are boring, stupid and or pointless (Cait Sith must die...), but the strength of the others allow you to overlook these screw ups.

Again, these are my favorite games. There are probably dozens of games out there that I haven't played that would have made this list if I had. If you love "Bioshock", "Mass Effect", "Portal" and "Half-Life", you will be disappointed that they are not on this list. I've never played them. Don't hold it against me!

You can see 100-91 here, 90-81 here,  80-71 here, 70-61 here, 60-51 here, 50-41 here, 40-31 here, 30-21 here and 20-11 here.

10: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64) - This may be the best game ever. It took a great series and took it to a level that no one had seen before. Yes, a lot of the things that made "A Link to the Past" great were just recycled here and made better. But everything is so much better, from the story, the use of weapons and the gameplay, that you ignore this fact and just enjoy.

The freedom of battle is incredible. You went from an overhead shot that doesn't allow you to move diagonal, to being able to lock onto enemies and use a variety of attacks. A press of a button can cast a magic spell and you can actually aim your projectile weapons.

This game has everything but one thing, and that's why I don't put it at No. 1. While Link is an iconic character in the gaming world, we know nothing about him. I love that he is just a regular guy who is doing courageous acts just because it's the right thing. It's not for love, money or prestige. He is just doing what is right. But, he never says a word. We never know what he's thinking, or how he feels about the situation he's dealing with.

And Zelda, who the game was named after, is just some woman in the background. We know she knows Ganondorf is evil and she wants to stop him. That's about it. We know Link wants to help her, but that's it.

While this lack of character development is why I moved the game down the list, it goes to show how strong of an overall game it is. It has very little character development for the main cast, as everyone is very one-dimensional, yet you are still compelled to play it nonstop until you beat it.

9: Chrono Trigger (SNES) - Just like Link, this game's main character, Chrono, is silent. And just like Link, he is the most goodly person in the world he inhabits. He sacrifices himself to save his friends. He literally dies and you have to go back in time and save him. We learn about Chrono through the other playable characters. He helps a robot be human, an evil dude question his ways, a depressed knight find his honor again and really just make everyone around him a better person.

The game itself is mind blowing. You can get something along the lines of 12 or 22 endings. I can't remember. You can fight the end boss at many different stages with different characters, which then leads to different endings. I don't remember any other game of its time like this.

While I prefer a few other RPGs, which you'll see soon enough, the battle system to this game is one of my favorites in an RPG. Why? Because everyone is different. The characters specialize in different elements and then certain combinations of characters in battle can do different kinds of combo attacks. It's brilliant and keeps the game fresh and fun for multiple play throughs.

8: Secret of Mana (SNES) - It's like "A Link to the Past", but bigger and better.

Swan and I have probably spent 100 hours or so playing this game. And that's why this game is higher than the two games at 9 and 10. It's made for two players. so you have a buddy to explore the most massive world (at the time) that I'd ever seen in a game.

The leveling system helps keep the game fun to play through multiple times. Why? Well, not only do the character level up to become more stronger and get more hit points, but you level up different weapons and magics by using them.

While the boy (Three playables don't have names) never says a word (Seems like a trend), you learn that his parents sacrificed themselves and he never got to really meet them because of these sacrifices. Like Link and Chrono, he takes on evil without a second thought because it's the right thing to do.

The secondary characters, from the sprite to Dyluck, all have compelling stories as well. Just look at the sprite. If he and your company destroy the Mana Beast, he will cease to exist in your world. Which wouldn't be so tragic if his entire village was not massacred. So he goes from having close friends for the game, then you beat the game and he must now live a life of solitude. It's heart breaking. He knows he's doing to be alone if the Mana Beast is killed, but knows that if the beast is not slain, the world will be destroyed. It is a selfless act and the player really feels for the little dude.

7: Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES) - I don't know why a leaf turns a Mario into a raccoon that can fly. I also don't care. This game is incredible. The different worlds are so unique. You're in the desert, then a water world, then a land where giants live. I really don't know what else to say about this game. The details and variety this game provides is amazing for any game, let alone an 8-bit, NES game!

6: Twisted Metal 2 (Playstation) - Never mind the cars. You can blow up the Eiffel Tower. You can blow up the Statue of Liberty. It seems like everything is fair game.

This series is so creative. Who would have ever thought it would be a good idea to get a bunch of cars, create some crazy personalities for the drivers, load the cars with weapons and then just cause mass destruction? I don't know how they came up with it, but I'm so glad they did.

This game is so good on so many levels. The variety of vehicles makes you want to beat the game with every one of them. They all have different endings. Some are really silly, but some are dark and totally satisfying.

Then there are the two bosses. Oh. My. God. When Minion (Last guy of first game) shows up in the fourth level, and he is a tank that can destroy you in five seconds, it's terrifying. He seems impossible at first and makes you want to cry. You beat him, and then you have to go through four more levels! Then you get to Dark Tooth, and he's taller than buildings. He and Minion are just so intimidating to see, never mind trying to fight them. I think I just hid when I fought them for the first time. Yes, I didn't get to the next level, but I didn't explode and burn either.

5: Mega Man 3 (NES) -The worst gaming experience of my life revolved around this game. It wasn't any content in the game, it was the fact my NES copy stopped working. I was devastated. This was my favorite game ever at the time, and to not be able to play it was soul crushing.

Then came the Mega Man Anniversary pack for Playstation. It has every Mega Man game released for NES all on one disc. First game I played was "Mega Man 3" and it was just as good as I remembered.

The game is our intro to Proto Man, Rush and the slide. The robot bosses are cool, other than Top Man. The game was the longest of any of the NES titles and very challenging. It's not cheap challenging, but challenging.

"Mega Man 2" broke all new ground and is considered by many to be the series' best game, but "Mega Man 3" is superior in every aspect but the music. Hell, you even have to fight the robot bosses from "Mega Man 2" in the first set of Wily levels. So really it combines the best of two worlds!

4: Resident Evil (Playstation) - OK, ignore the TERRIBLE voice acting. "Barry? Where's Barry?" My god, it is so bad.

But once this terrible sequence is over, one of the greatest games ever begins. There are so many memorable scenes that still haunt my dreams. That first zombie, the dogs jumping through the windows, a giant snake, the first Hunter who just walks up and chops your head off and the Tyrant busting through the glass and stalking you around a lab. Terrifying.

The zombies and the monsters are just part of this game. The constant fear of what is around the corner makes every moment intense and has the player very tense the entire game.

Then there is the story. What starts as a special forces romp turns into a crazy game of betrayal and realization that there is something sinister and evil (Wink, wink) going on. At first it's just about finding your team. Then you learn all the wacky shit going and you just want to get out. But there are dogs outside! So now you're looking for a different way out, but there are more lab experiments ready to rip you apart. But as you find more teammates, dead, you find out there is a terrible plot to create biological weapons and someone in your team may be in on it!

See! It's intense!

3: Final Fantasy VII (Playstation) - Call me a fan boy. I don't care. And yes, other than weapons and limit breaks, characters are not diverse in battle. But the characters are incredible.

Cloud is a bit of an ass in the beginning, but he was impaled by a massive sword and then experimented on by an evil genetics scientist that messes up his memories. So yes, I feel bad for him. He overcomes this and becomes a true hero that you root for. He is not perfect like Chrono, Link or the boy, but that allows the player to relate to him more than the others mentioned above.

I have also read several blogs/articles hating on Sephiroth. They are entitled to their opinion, but he is a great bad guy. It's not the physical/magical power he wields. It's the mental games he plays on Cloud and others. He is manipulative and just evil because he thinks he is the superior being. He looks down on others and takes joy in not only killing them, but making them suffer mentally.

The majority of the other characters strong as well. Life Cloud, they are not perfect. They are all flawed in some way, but together they make it all work.y

Cait Sith sucks, but nobody's perfect.

And while I love the use of swords, spears and other classic weapons, they seem a little silly in the Final Fantasy worlds. There are rather advanced weaponry in these games like machine guns, lasers, rockets, etc., yet you are charging these well armed bad guys with a sword. How does that work? Someone ask the Light Brigade how that strategy worked out.

Whatever. Final Fantasy is awesome.

2: Final Fantasy VI (SNES) - Characters are the first thing I look for in a video game. Graphics are cool, fluid gameplay is a big plus, but my favorite games all have one thing in common. I actually care about the characters, just like I do with those in books and movies. I love plenty of games with no character development, but they don't bring the same satisfaction as games like "Final Fantasy VI".

This game has the biggest cast of playable characters the series has ever seen. And they all have a good story to them, other than Umaro and Gogo. They all have their reasons for fighting the most evil character video games have ever seen in Kefka. Even if you don't like playing as certain characters (Gau and Relm), their stories are still compelling. Relm never knew her parents; Gau was thrown to the wild by his crazy father; Locke wanted to protect those who couldn't protect themselves; Shadow was trying to redeem a life of mistakes and selfishness; and the list goes on. You get attached to all of them.

Unlike "FF7", each character also has their own special skill, making strategy and different combinations more important (Unless you have everybody learn Ultima).

I really have nothing bad to say about this game.

1: Final Fantasy Tactics (Playstation) - Yeah, another Final Fantasy title. Hate all you want. This is my list.

Once again, it's all about story and characters, as well as a cool battle system and addictive job system.

The story, before it gets a little nuts at the end, just sucks you in. The country is filled with corruption in politics and the church. The characters never know who to trust and there's just a very mature them that I had never really experienced before in video games. I'm not talking blood, gore and language mature. I'm talking about how there is much going on. Most Final Fantasy games revolve around saving the world. There is some evil wanting to destroy/control everything and you need to stop him. This game is smaller. It's a continent that has been ravaged by war and different factions are vying for power. And your character is caught in the middle of these events.

Ah, the character. Ramza is my all-time favorite video game character. Like Link, Chrono and the boy in "Secret of Mana", he is just a good person. He is not tempted by evil and goes into battle because he has to fight for others. But here is where he differs. Ramza is not the strongest guy out there. You can make him strong, but his unique skill set is not that special compared to people like Orlandu and Agrias. He is an everyday man who is put in a unique and difficult situation.

He does not run from this, he keeps going forward to fight for justice and to save his sister and friends. We learn about who Ramza is and why he does what he does, which allows the player to become more connected to him.

And in the end, Ramza saves the day, but is considered a heretic. People of his generation are left to think he was a bad guy. Instead of charging back to clear his name, Ramza just rides away. He doesn't need to set the record straight. He did what he had to do, the right thing, and that's all he needs.

The whole Delita storyline creates intense emotions as well. Sometimes you think he is a good guy and hold out hope he will join you. Then you realize he is out for himself and may be the most evil of all the characters. Sure, he doesn't get possessed by demons like some (Told you it got a little silly), but he knowingly manipulates his former best friend (Ramza) for his own gains. The same best friend who threw away his standing with his family and life of luxury because he tried to rescue Delita's sister when no one else would. Yeah, Delita is a dick.

I can pick up this game any day of the week and find the same enjoyment I found the day I first played it. That's why it's No. 1.

1 comment:

  1. This is why I love reading these lists of personal "top whatever" lists because of the connections that are made and stories why they are so great to them. It's so much more interesting this way than having somebody trying to convince me why X is better than Y for some cookie cutter reason.

    For me, my top list has a bunch of the same games, but are different because of what games I grew up on, not necessarily which was the "best game". For me, by far my favorite game is Chrono Trigger. Is FF VI/III a "better" game? Probably. But I grew up with Crono & co, and got all the endings multiple times, all because it was a game I grew up with. Nobody will say Secret of Evermore is as good as Secret of Mana, but that's what I owned and I enjoyed it just as much. I don't remember seeing Earthbound on here at all and that would be in my top 5. I would argue that Megaman 2 is better than 3, but again, that is the one I owned.

    Loved reading through this entire list, and if I ever get some time, I'm hoping to post a list of my own. I hope you're thinking of doing other top lists like this, and I'd be glad to help with ideas.