So, I am a gamer. Anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time knows this. I am a gamer, and I thought that I would do a post of my favorite games. I wanted to keep it short, but I have failed at that. I have been doing those too much lately, and I wanted to give you the top ten games that at any time, I can sit down and be totally entranced by. For real, if you take my ass and sit it down and put any of these games on, within moments, I am having fun. Which is what any game should be. These are the top ten games that brought me the most fun, the most laughs, and the most time in my insomnia-driven childhood. Enjoy.
15. Skies of Arcadia: Legends
Now, there are a few things in this game that were missing from the Dreamcast version that I wish had been in this game, like the fact that the ship you had wasn’t the only one that you could have. You could buy and sell your airships, meaning that you could get a better one. There were more customization options. There was more that one could do with the crew. But this game was still pretty good. It is a fantasy game set in a world that flies in the skies. The story is generic enough – a young man dreams of being better, goes through hardship, becomes great, defeats an evil bad guy. We’ve heard that one. But the execution and the world that this game makes are definitely worth it. All the extras that make the mythos of this world grow and make it come to life are definitely fun. And the airship-to-airship battles are so much fun. There is a LOT of strategy involved in them, along with the personal combat. This game was lots of fun, and I look forward to playing it again.
14. Final Fantasy X
This is another great fantasy game. I love this game so much. This was back when Square Enix was Squaresoft, and back then they actually gave a shit about this series, instead of now, when they are milking their most recent game for all its worth, not giving us the one we want. They have become cash-cows, and they aren’t even going for the good cash-ins. Jerks. But this game was great. The story was awesome. A young man named (you make your own) lives in Zanarkand. He is a blitzball star, total hit with the ladies, but is living in his late father’s shadow. Through a bad turn of fate, he is teleported away from Zanarkand by the giant monster Sin. Sin destroys the city, sending him 1000 years into the future. From there, you learn about this world, the main character’s place in it, and has one of the best love stories of any game that I have played, ever. But aside from the story, the battle system is loads of fun, the characters are great, and the world is amazing. I loved every single minute of this game.
13. Starfox 64
I have never been a really huge fan of air combat simulator games, but this game was definitely an exception. Starfox 64 is an awesome game. There are tons of missions, and to get to some of them, you have to be very clever and do special events. It is loads of fun, and quite a challenge once you get to the later missions. There was a sequel game that was made, Starfox Assault, but that game was severely lacking. The mission structure had no surprises. There were no alternate missions or endings. It was all the same. But this was the original, and the best. The bosses were loads of fun, the gameplay was awesome, and the characters were loads of fun. The dialogues between Fox and his scoobies were some of the most entertaining characters of their day. For an air combat (along with space combat) simulator, I have a lot of love for this game.
12. Tales of the Abyss
Fantasy games and I have a very…love-hate relationship. I either really like them, or I really hate them. This is, as you can probably assume, one of the ones that I love. This game is loads of fun. The story is really engaging, even if it is just a typical good vs. evil. The combat system is loads of fun. It combines unique combos with the use of magic and interesting combinations of magic and physical combat. But the thing that really gets me about this game – the characters, and the relationships. This is another game with a very convincing romance. The main character Luke and a woman named Tear get whisked across the world at the beginning of the game by accident. Thus begins their relationship. It is very much in the same vein as Han Solo and Leia from Star Wars. There is genuine animosity between the two, but you can feel a deeper attraction. Over the course of the game, you grow to care about the characters, and their relationship, until the end, where you are practically screaming at them to kiss already! This game was fun, and I have enjoyed it every time I play.
11. Dead Space 2
I love Dead Space, don’t get me wrong. But this game is better in every way. Horror games are something of a lost art to make. At least, ones that are legitimately scary. Dead Space and its sequel do it without a hitch. These games are terrifying, which is something I love. I still often play them at 2 in the morning. My poor nerves. My only real problem with this game is that the main character talks. A lot. WAY too much. Aside from that, the characters are loads of fun. The combat system is excellent. The setting is both creepy and engaging. The weapon selection is loads of fun. Oh, and getting around in zero-gravity is WAY more fun than the first game. Getting to float around is exactly what this game needed, where as in the first one, you had to just jump in a straight line from place to place. I love this game, for everything it has to offer. Except the chatty main character. That was something that the first game did better. In the first game, he didn’t talk at all, which was kind of fun because it let you insert your own voice. Oh well, loads of scary, action-filled fun!
Another horror game that I just love. It combines the fear of horror with first person shooting. It isn’t the first game to do this, of course, but I think it is the most engaging. The setting of this game is the underwater city of Rapture. That alone is enough to make this game fun, but the creators of this game decided to go a lot further. They created a lot of really interesting characters, and how they did this is through audio logs and radio communications. That is also how they established this incredibly engaging world. The world of Rapture has an incredibly deep and engaging mythos, which you learn about entirely through audio logs. There is no concrete history, only what you hear about through the various characters. And it is great. When one does audio logs in a game, you have to make them really well. If you don’t, it just comes off as cheap and dumb. This game doesn’t suffer that problem. The voice acting in this game is top of the line, and it makes the world much more interesting. And the gameplay is no slouch, either. The combination of Plasmids and guns is just great. This is a great game, and also disturbing as hell.
9. Mario Kart 64
It isn’t a mystery that I am not a fan of racing games. I mean, it is going around a course, trying to beat the other people to it. But this game is a complete exception to that. Everything about this game is good. The racing isn’t so serious and endlessly complicated as in car racing games. The controls are simple. It also adds the ability to use weapons, which makes the races a lot more interesting. The racing characters are a lot of fun too. My personal favorite was Toad. And the courses are also a lot of fun. Part of the fun of playing this game is finding out how to use the courses to your advantage. There is a lot of strategy involved in this game, not just racing. I used to own at this game, and I loved every minute of pwning my friends to death as I played. This is a great game, and all the sequels that I have played have sucked. Badly.
8. Metroid Prime
This series of games and I have a very nice relationship. It combined all the fun aspects of playing as Samus Aran with a first person shooter. Bless this little game’s heart, because it is such a fun game. The mechanics are fun. The varying enemies are fun. The mythos of the world and the scannable segments that fill you in on the history of the Space Pirates, the Chozo, and the various other groups are fun. Another great part of the game are the boss fights. These are some of the most entertaining boss fights that you will ever find in gaming. The different uses of weapons and terrain is great. This is a low on brains and high on action game, and I love every minute of it.
7. Shadow of the Colossus
I have only one regret about this game – that more were not made. This game, this concept, and this style is just awesome. This is one of those games that I put in the category of art. The visuals are amazing. The story is amazing. But by far the best part are the bosses. This game is unique in that there really isn’t anything else going on except boss battles. See, the premise of this game is that you are a young man. You are heading to a foreign land with a young woman in tow. She is dead, and you are looking to resurrect her. You place her on an alter, and a mysterious voice tells you that you can bring her back, but you have to kill 16 giant colossi to do it. Man, this is such a great premise. And how it all plays out is awesome. Each battle with the giant (and sometimes not so giant) Colossi is amazing. The strategy in this game is finding out what kills them. And these monsters are simply amazing. Each one of them looks amazing. And how these fights play out is just great. Some of the best visuals in any game. I really wish that they could have made a sequel to this, or that another game series would have picked up the concept, because it is amazing. A genuine work of art.
6. Silent Hill 2
It isn’t exactly a secret that the survival horror genre is on life-support. And this game is one of the great accomplishments of its golden years. Silent Hill 2 is a profoundly disturbing experience. Everything about this game shows success in using great themes and dark elements to their advantage. This is a very slow game. And when I say slow, I mean SLOW. This was done deliberately. This game was made as a very harsh look into the human psyche. The story goes that a man, James Sunderland, returns to Silent Hill. He does so after getting a letter from his wife. The catch is that his wife is dead, and has been for over a year. Now, he is trying to figure out why he is back in this town, and what the connection of Silent Hill is to his mind. This game is an incredibly intense and personal experience, diving in to James’ mind, and giving the player a glimpse of the demons at work inside of this man. Because the demons at work inside of him grow to become the demons at work outside of him in the town, often trying to kill him. This game is such a visceral experience, and I love every minute of it.
5. Kingdom Hearts II
Again, I love Kingdom Hearts. It is a great concept, and the characters are fun, and the worlds are great. This game, however, is much better for a lot of reasons. For one thing, the first game didn’t feel like it had a direction. You were doing things, and they were fun, but it never felt like it had a concentrated direction. This game, on the other hand, felt like it had a very firm direction and you knew where it was going. Plus, there were a lot more Final Fantasy characters, which was a lot of fun. There were more worlds, which was fun. And you know what, I liked the play mechanics. A lot of people bitched about how simple the combat was. And especially the quicktime events. I happened to like those. The animations in them was usually a lot of fun, and I was more interested in the story than the fighting. Oh, and the boss battles were just awesome. Some of the best that I have seen in any game. This was a great game, and I liked it a lot more than I did the original.
4. Assassin’s Creed (series)
I couldn’t pick a single favorite out of these games. I love this series so much. The concept behind it, of being able to look into your own bloodline, and be able to live through that person’s life. Looking back through history. This series has a lot of great elements. The first is the gameplay in general. The parkour elements are just great. This game was made by Ubisoft, whose previous cash-cow had been the Prince of Persia series, which used much the same elements. The next element I love is the combat. All the unique ways that you can kill your enemies is just great. Granted, the combat elements got better and better with each game. At first, they were a little rough. I also loved the characters. Both the main character, Desmond Miles, voiced by my favorite video game voice-over, Nolan North, and each of his Assassin ancestors. They are all awesome. I cannot wait to see who they are going to have for the next game, coming out this October.
A game that few people have probably heard of, this is one of the most unique gaming experiences that I have ever had. Made by a very indie company called thatgamecompany, this game is so peaceful. The premise is that you are a man at an apartment. He is bored with his life, so he goes into his imagination, as a gust of wind, carrying flower petals to various locations and solving simple puzzles, always as a gust of wind. You wouldn’t think that such a concept could be good, but this concept is amazing. The visuals are so great, and the music is peaceful. I really don’t have much to say about this game aside from how amazingly beautiful and peaceful it is. I haven’t seen anything like it, and I now have a very nice relationship with thatgamecompany.
2. Batman: Arkham City
Oh my god, where do I even get started? I love this game so much. I love the story, with its incredibly dark twists and turns. I love the voice acting. The final work of Mark Hamill’s Joker was incredible. He truly is the character. Siskel may not have liked his character, but I thought that his performance cemented the fact that Mark Hamill is the greatest small-screen Joker who will ever, EVER, be! I love the visuals. This world in this game is so gritty, so harsh, so ugly. You feel the harshness of Arkham City in every single segment of it. The designers of this game didn’t waste a frame of making this game look good. The character models are also really great, and reflect the dark themes at work in this game. I love all the voice-acting, not just Mark Hamill. Batman’s character especially was great. There were some great examinations in this game of just how dark this character really is. Batman literally was about to just let a thousand people die in order to save his girlfriend. And the ending to this game is the greatest ending to any game that I have seen ever. I literally was in shock at how profoundly dark and powerful it was. Watching Batman and the Joker share a moment, an honest-to-god moment together was just amazing. I was and still am dumb-founded by it. This game was incredible. Every single moment of it was great. I liked this game more than I did the film The Dark Knight. It was great.
And my #1 pick for my favorite game is…
Another game by thatgamecompany. You ever see the film Fantasia? I call that film an emotional experience. That is what I call this game. This is a game of simplicity. Yet for how simple it is, it is also ambitious. The concept is that a cloaked man is making his way across a vast desert to a distant mountaintop. For what purpose, you never have a clear answer. Nothing in this game is spelled out. It is all open to interpretation, and that’s what I love about it. But the things that I love most in this game are the visuals and the music. Truly, the visuals are the best part. This desert looks and feels real. You can almost feel all the grains of sand in it. You can see the sun and feel its heat as you traverse it. The darkness feels like actual darkness. It is so amazing. And the music is so soft and subtle in places, yet uplifting and sometimes harsh in others. The piece on the last level is just great. I love it. This game is an incredible experience, and it made me feel so emotionally attached to a character who never speaks, and who has no story at all, yet you feel the passion in his journey. This was a game that proved that not all of those who wander are lost. I love every minute of it.
Video games are a great medium, a true form of art, and what is amazing is that I have gotten to watch this medium grow around me. I have watched it grow and evolve, and I continue to watch it evolve. It is amazing. I love every minute of it.
Until next time, a quote,
“I would define art as a way of communicating ideas to an audience in a way that the audience finds engaging.” – Kellee Santiago, TEDxUSC