A few weeks ago Shelby sat down and compiled the list of his favorite 10 games of all time so I only thought it fair that I do the same. I’m actually doing very much the same thing that he did. It’s close to bed time and I’ve been at work all day. I’ve got cats meowing in the background and a police helicopter flying overhead. Despite all that I’m going to give you the list of my favorite games of all time.
My criteria for selecting the games will be a little different from Shelby. Rather than looking at my collection I went through every console I’ve owned and listed the games I remember most fondly from every system. I figure if I can’t even remember the name of the game it probably didn’t have that great an impact on me. That gave me a list of 15 games to choose from so I’ve got a little bit of paring down to do. The games range across nearly every Nintendo system (with the exception of the Nintendo 64 as there aren’t really any games that I can remember enjoying very fondly).
From there it came down to how much fun did I have with the game. How often do I go back and want to play the game over again. Are there any fond memories that I have associated with that game? From there I pared the list down a little bit to the games that I remember fondly, but just don’t hold as special a place in my heart. That means games like Super Mario Bros. for the NES got removed because,while I play it on a nearly weekly basis, there are better games that came along that take a spot higher on my list.
The hardest part was to put the 10 games that I narrowed the list down to in a numerical order. First off, let me say that all of these games are amazing experiences and it’s really hard to put them in an order saying that I like this game over that one. All of them are games I remember very fondly, but here is the list of my 10 Favorite Games of All Time.
#10. Duck Tales There are few platformers on the NES that have more charm that DuckTales. Maybe it’s because I really loved watching that cartoon as a child and back then it really made me feel like I was Scrooge McDuck searching for treasure as I played through the five levels that were present in the game. Combine some really fun and challenging platforming with some of the best video game music I’ve ever heard and you’ve got a recipe for one of the best games of all time.
#9. Mario Kart: Double Dash For as much as I like the Mario Kart franchise there are so many more games that I like a lot more. Mario Kart: Double Dash takes the spot as my favorite racing game of all-time for a number of reasons. The first being I really enjoyed the two player kart racing that the game presented and wish it had been kept as an option going forward. This is the first game that brought my family to the TV together to play games and it’s still a tradition to this day for us to gather and play 16 (and now 32) track races to see who could win the most. It’s the first game that my son and I played together with him taking item duty while I drove the kart. The new character specific items are something that really made the game unique and while they’re no longer around some of the items introduced in that game live on today. Baby Park was the best tracks that’s ever been created for the franchise because it’s simplicity of design led to some really crazy races that I still have fond memories of.
#8. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door Now we hit the RPG section of the list. The Mario RPG franchise has seen quite a few different entries over the years. They’ve come from famous RPG developers like Squaresoft and they’ve explored the bizarre concept of multiple generations of the Mario brothers together in action. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door took everything that had come before it and polished it up. The battle system from Super Mario RPG advanced slightly throughout the years and kept you involved in every attack. The visuals were cleaned up, smoothed out and filled with tons of character. The crazy story and locations were always fun to explore. Nooks and crannies were literally everywhere and some of them had entries that were literally paper thin. Many of the characters were rehashed from the previous game with new faces and names, but I liked this version of the crew better than the N64 edition of the game. This was a Christmas present that my mom actually mailed to me two weeks before Christmas and told me not to open. I had the game finished and put back into the case a week before Christmas and I played it again after Christmas Day.
#7. Final Fantasy IV There’s no denying that Squaresoft, now Square Enix are the masters of the Japanese RPG. They’ve put out more software on more platforms and kept the quality mostly consistent along the way. My first experience with the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy IV and that may be why I enjoyed the game so much. The experience was bigger than anything I’d ever had before. The Active Battle System made me rethink the way I played role playing games. From the moment that familiar title song hit to the very end of the game I was hooked. Then just a few years ago I got to experience the sequel on WiiWare (a service that is severely lacking in this style of game) and it brought back so many memories. Shortly after that I purchased a copy of the Game Boy Advance update and played through it again.
#6. Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest IX This one is a bit of a cop out because I had to take two different titles from the Dragon Quest franchise. It was Dragon Warrior back on the NES that sparked my love for the Japanese RPG. It was the first game of that type I’d ever played, even before I got my hands on Nintendo’s Zelda series. I can still remember leaving that castle for the first time and seeing the vastly different types of landscapes where the trees outside the castle jut out just a little bit into the plains that are next to them. I was amazed that everyone in the game had something to say. It didn’t matter who they were they wanted to talk to you and tell you something that might help you along the way. The very first enemy I ever encountered was the iconic Slime and that experience has stuck with me to this day. Then as the franchise grew Dragon Quest IX streamlined many of the systems that had been in place since the beginning. It allowed for multiple people to create amazing characters who I actually grew to like. I’m actually very happy that the series has managed to maintain so much of what has made it the franchise it is today. It’s that knowledge that every time you boot up a new game in the franchise you know what to expect, but you still want to explore every inch of the worlds that the developers have crafted.
#5. Portal 2 Ah Portal, how I love thee. GlaDOS is one of the most iconic characters to come along in quite a while. Her amazing lack of caring and the subtle way she seemed to manipulate you into doing everything she wanted up until the very end was such a great experience. Then, just when you think you’ve gotten rid of her she’s back for more. This time though, you become the pawn in a game between to Artificial Intelligences that are vying for power. The levels got bigger. The puzzles got harder and you loved every second of it. Everything about this game screamed quality and a love for the material. This is truly one of the funniest games you’ll ever play. They managed to take this really basic concept of point A and Point B and making it so that those two points could connect any two places in the environment. It was hard to wrap your head around at first, but once you did you discovered how brilliant the developers of the game were. Valve managed to take the sterile white environments of the first game and make them fresh again and then on top of that to expand the world so you felt like you were exploring the whole of creation. The way they make the game feel like a first person shooter while keeping you from fighting anyone was amazing. This game truly stands out as one of the best games of the year, if not of all time.
#4. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past For a long time I’ve been able to say without a shadow of a doubt that this was my favorite Zelda game of all time. Then the remake of Ocarina of Time came along and threw that certainty into question. I’ve had some time to reflect on both experiences now and I still come to the conclusion that I like the Super Nintendo entry into the franchise better than any other. I just really like the experience of the top down Zelda games so much more than the 3D adventures that Link has been on. I like the colors. I like the characters. I like the way that the developers took a two dimensional system and really gave you the sense that you were in a 3D world. The multiple levels of the dungeons and how they worked together were something we really hadn’t seen at the time. The puzzles were some of the best that the franchise has ever seen and the way that game begins is still one of the best in my memory. I’ll never forget waking up to the sound of the rain and finding Link’s dad in the basement of the castle. I’ll never forget getting thrust into the conflict I never really wanted to begin with.
#3. Super Mario Galaxy 2 We talked about this game recently on the Nintendo Okie Podcast and we all marveled at how Nintendo was able to take so many different ideas for level designs and bring them together into one cohesive experience. The vibrancy of the worlds was so great. The level design was much more cohesive than the previous game, which was incredible in its own right. I’m generally a fan of the side scrolling Mario adventures, but Super Mario Galaxy captured me in a way that no other 3D Mario game has to date. The level progression just felt like classic Mario and the unique controller for the Wii was used in some very clever ways.
#2. Plants vs. Zombies There is no game that I own more copies of than Plants vs. Zombies. I’ve bought it now five times across four different services. I’ve played through the campaign dozens of times, but my love for the game actually pales in comparison to that of my wife. I’ve had marathon sessions of the game where my son and I would take turns completing levels and passing the mouse or the controller over to the other person. The game is simple in it’s mechanics, but the various zombie types and plant defenses really make for a fun and challenging puzzle game. Add dozens of different mini-games on top of that and I’ve probably spent as many hours playing Plants vs. Zombies as Shelby has playing Borderlands. I’ve bought the game on every platform that I own and its available on just to have access to the platform exclusive mini-games. The core concept of the game hasn’t changed through all the iterations, but it’s addictive no matter how many times I’ve played through it.
#1. Luigi’s Mansion There’s no way that I can deny this entry into the list. I’ve been touting my obsessive love for this game ever since we created Nintendo Okie. This game holds a very special place in my heart because I was actually playing it on the day that my youngest daughter was born. I can remember my lovely wife spending hours sitting next to me on the bed as I captured ghost after ghost and uncovered the dark secrets of Luigi’s prize mansion, that he never actually won. To this day I replay through the game once every October and it’s the only game that my entire family will stop what they’re doing and watch me. Part of my love for the game comes from the fact that Luigi is my all-time favorite game character. He’s the younger, taller, and ahem better looking of the Mario brothers, much like I am in my family. [=^) I’m stoked about the idea of getting to finally get the chance to play the sequel to the game, though I am a tad bit sad that it won’t be on a home console because it will mean less of a family experience for us this time around.
Honorable Mentions: Shadow Complex, Super Mario Bros., Drill Dozer, Monster Tale, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time