My 50 Favorite Video Games of All Time. (Part 1/5)

Any Gamer ran rattle off a “Greatest Games of All Time List” and most of them will probably look pretty similar. I’ve never been a fan of objective lists for subjective content. One person’s “Amazing” is another’s “Mediocre”. So with that being said, here’s a list, in no particular order, of my 50 favorite video games of all time.

-Halo 2-

Xbox, PC, Xbox One

halo2

Developer: Bungie

Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios

Release: November 9, 2004

Metacritic Rating: 95/100

On my 14th birthday party I had LAN-party in my basement with ten of my friends, my dad, and my older brother. We stayed up until 3 a.m. playing every game mode packed into Halo 2 and to this day it’s still one of the best nights of my life.  This game completely changed  how I played video games. From the epic soundtrack to the enthralling visuals to the brilliantly paced story. I no longer just played to beat the game. I drank in every detail of this masterpiece. The groundwork that Combat Evolved set was built upon marvelously, and this continuation kept the good and added the great. Dual Wielding. Boarding vehicles. Wielding energy swords. New enemies. New allies. A ridiculous amount of multiplayer and online content. God this game is good. In a series that I still follow faithfully, Halo 2 still stands out as not only my favorite Halo game, but one of my favorite games period.

-Golden Axe-

Sega Genesis

goldenaxemain

Developer: Sega AM1

Publisher: Sega

Release: May 1989

Metacritic Rating: 68

Some of my earliest memories are fighting through this side-scrolling fantasy beat-em-up with my brother. Of the three playable characters, he was always Gilius Thunderhead, the lightning-controlling dwarf. I had my pick between Ax Battler, the earth-moving barbarian, and Tyris Flare, the Amazonian fire-charmer. I usually went with the former as she had the strongest magic attacks of the three. We would get lost in this relatively short arcade game, pouring countless hours into countless playthroughs. The simplistic gameplay wasn’t perfect, as is the case with many arcade games, and it forced us to develop our own tricks and tactics to succeed. But that was half the fun. Perfectly-timed sprinting shoulder charges against bosses, saving magic for specific enemies, letting overzealous foes charge to their death by standing in just the right points near cliffs. To this day, all these years later, I’ll occasionally pop in the old arcade game and make a quick run at the evil Death Bringer. That, to me, makes a great video game.

-Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time-

N64

ocarina of time.jpg

Developer: Nintendo EAD

Publisher: Nintendo

Released: November 21, 1998

Metacritic Rating: 99

Widely considered to be the one of, if not the, greatest game ever made. There’s not much I can say about this game that most gamer’s don’t already know and probably agree with. The incredible story thrusts you into an engaging and epic story that grips tightly and doesn’t let up until its emotional and cinematic ending. Endearing characters and relationships that evolve and develop with time. From the first moment you walk into the Great Deku Tree you knew this journey would be unlike anything you’d ever experienced. While many could argue that Ocarina‘s successor Majora’s Mask is a superior game (and they may be right) there is nothing quite like the first time Link steps into Hyrule Field. The glorious open world, welcoming and enchanting score, and the almost palpable presence of adventure combine to make a true thing of beauty.

-The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind-

PC, Xbox

morrowind_1

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Release: May 2002

Metacritic Rating: 89

Skyrim was absolutely fantastic. There was not much, outside of the expected Bethesda bugs, to be unhappy with. But, for my money Morrowind is the pinnacle of the Elder Scrolls’ adventures. The game didn’t hold players’ hands, forcing them to unravel the world on their own. There was a sense of awe and mystery in each new area explored.  Each new encounter was an entirely new chapter in the world and engulfed the player only further. There’s no waypoint telling the player where to go for each mission, instead simply giving directions in the quest description. You are required to breathe in the atmosphere and constantly be aware of your surroundings. I’ll never forget walking out of Seyda Neen for the first time, into the wild unknown, and seeing a wizard plummet from the sky to his death. I looted his body, picked up a scroll of Icarian flight and found out the hard way how unforgiving this world was. I met the same fate as the wizard, but fell in love with the game then and there. Morrowind definitely has its flaws: the dated graphics, somewhat clunky  combat, and those damned Cliff Racers. But, despite all of that, I don’t think I’ve ever had a more engaging and fascinating adventure.

-Super Mario Bros. 3-

NES, Game Boy Advanced

mario3

Developer: Nintendo R&D4

Publisher: Nintendo

Release: October 1988

Metacritic Rating: 94

Super Mario Bros. was the original. A followup to the classic arcade Mario Bros. Everyone knows it. Everyone loves it. The sequel: Super Mario Bros. 2 was an unexpected and odd change of pace taking an existing game Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic and converting it into a Mario sequel. Super Mario Bros. 3 took all the games that came before it and improved upon them. The addition of the new suit upgrades and the Koopaling minibosses supply the player with plenty of new ways to experience the Mushroom Kingdom. The gameplay is crisp and tight with responsive and simple controls which is necessary to master the wide variety of maps and enemies.  As you run and jump, scrolling from left to right,  it just feels right. This game provides exactly what you’d want: fun, challenges, and replay-ability.

-Pokemon: Yellow-

Gameboy Color

250px-yellow_en_boxart

Developer: Game Freak

Publisher: Nintendo

Release: September 12, 1998

Metacritic Rating: N/A

I, like many from my generation, was completely obsessed with Pokemon. I lived and breathed pocket monsters. I collected and battled with cards, watched the show, watched the movies, and played every available game I could get my hands on. Pokemon Red, Yellow, Gold, Silver, Snap, Stadium, Stadium 2, Hey You Pikachu!, Pinball, you name it, I probably played it. My interests gradually shifted and, until the (admittedly disappointing) Pokemon Go was released in 2016, I had mostly thought Pokemon was a phase I wouldn’t revisit again.But I felt a brief glimpse of my childhood joy while I was running around outside looking for rustling leaves and gyms to battle at. So, after the novelty of “Real-world Pokemon” wore off, I dug out my Game Boy Color and started up my Pokemon Yellow save. All the memories instantly came flooding back. The friendships I had built with my “starting six”, each with a unique nickname. The badges that I worked and trained and schemed so tirelessly to earn. The rivals that seemed nearly unbeatable until at once they simply weren’t. I had my own Pikachu following me every step of the way.There was definitely something special about these games and I think anyone who has played them can relate in some way.

-Resident Evil 4-

Playstation 2, Gamecube

resident-evil

Developer: Capcom Production

Publisher: Capcom

Release: January 11, 2005

Metacritic Rating:  96

I’ll admit: I’m not a huge fan of the Resident Evil franchise. I don’t think I really appreciated the first one for what it was and expected it to be something it couldn’t be.  It wasn’t until the fourth entry in the series came along that I decided to give it another shot. This time with a much more open mind. Man, was I surprised. The game was incredible. Scary in all the right ways, action-packed while not overdoing it, and the perfect amount of suspense in each level.  Of course, the story can be a bit bizarre at points, but by Capcom standards it’s pretty grounded. The variety of enemies kept the action exciting with the terrifying Regenerators, the towering El Gigante, and the classic “Chainsaw Man”.This game also has one of my favorite video game missions ever, in which you, with an ally, must barricade yourselves in an old farmhouse and then survive against waves of  attacking zombies. It’s pure, cinematic suspense at its finest, and I haven’t played anything that feels quite like it since.

-Shadow of the Colossus-

Playstation 2, Playstation 3

why-shadow-of-the-colossus-is-brilliant-3

Developer: SCE Japan Studio

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Release: October 18, 2005

Metacritic Rating: 91

I had no clue what I was in for when I first played Shadow of the Colossus. I had heard nothing about it, but was looking for something new to play and, as I walked down the aisle in Family Video, it caught my eye. Looking back, I’m very glad that it did. Shadow of the Colossus captures a sense of scale and adventure better than most games can claim.  There are very few experiences I’ve had in gaming that come close to the first time I took down a colossi, and even less that can compare to when the last cutscene came to an end. This game was pure art from beginning to end and it remains, aesthetically and emotionally, supremely powerful.

 

-Mario Kart 64-

N64

Mario Kart 64 (U).png

Developer: Nintendo EAD

Publisher: Nintendo

Release: December 14, 1996

Metacritic Rating: 83/100

Anyone that has gone to college since 1996 probably has played their fare share of this game. There’s not much to say about it that hasn’t been said countless times before. Simple. Addictive. Fun-as-hell. It packs an incredible amount of replay value in a concept so basic. You’d think, after countless playthroughs of the four cups, unlocking mirror mode, and dominating friends in the, in my opinion, underrated battle mode, you’d think this game would get old. But it just doesn’t.  There are eight entries in the Mario Kart series and there is some contention about which is the best, but for me, this one comes in first place.

-Game Dev Tycoon-

PC

gdt

Developer: Greenheart Games

Publisher: Greenheart Games

Release: December 10, 2012

Metacritic Rating: 68

Create, market, and sell your own video games. Expand your development company from a small-time garage operation to a billion dollar empire. Change the landscape of gaming by being a part of history and helping write the future. Pretty exciting stuff. Now, Game Dev Tycoon is by no means a perfect game. Eventually it gets pretty formulaic and it doesn’t quite offer all the options that you’d like it to, but what it does it does well. It can be insanely addictive and offers a realm of creativity that is expected of tycoon games. Greenheart games has definitely made a fan out of me.

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

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