And now for something very near and dear to my heart – here are 10 of my favourite games of all time… give or take a few.
I have a confession to make. A big one. Are you ready? I hope your opinion of me doesn’t change, but… I am actually a massive nerd. Actually, most people do know that about me already. Over my life, I’ve had or shared 13 game consoles. I have first class honours in IT, majoring in Games Technology. I work in the IT industry. I have a massive movie collection spanning multiple genres. Although I love spending time with people, I’m actually a massive introvert. After I’ve been with a big group or had a big conversation either in person or even over the phone, I can’t sleep straight away after returning home. I need time to myself to unwind. I love going out for drives to the mountains and pondering the universe. Saturday afternoon after an engagement party I went out to a pier and just stared out into the water for an hour processing my life. All true.
In the book Love And War by John and Stasi Eldredge, the couple discuss the power of the things that are closest to our hearts. They talk in particular about the power of your favourite movie scenes. Although seemingly trivial, the things we hold closest to us actually say a whole lot about who we are. I like to write about the big topics in life and I’ve actually shared quite a lot of those sort of details about my life (you can even check out some of those movie scenes and movies right here), and I thought it was time to open another set of things I enjoy the most. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn something about me you didn’t know before.
So whether you’re a big nerd, a casual gamer, a friend or a casual Shoreline reader, here are my 10 favourite games of all time. Plus or minus a few. I’ll try to group related franchises together and I won’t necessarily list them in any particular order.
Command and Conquer Generals: Zero Hour (PC)
When I was asked a few weeks ago what my favourite strategy game ever was, I really had to think about it. I’ve always enjoyed the Age series immensely (Empires, Kings, Mythology, Empires III). I enjoyed Empire Earth and played that a whole stack. But the one I kept returning to and have played over and over and over… easily the brilliant Generals: Zero Hour.
Probably the first (and in my opinion the last) strategy game to truly nail the RTS genre using modern to futuristic weapons of war, Zero Hour was stellar. So many different combinations as you battle it out between the USA, China and GLA. Unlimited resources meant the game could keep going. No population limit (until your memory exploded). The excellent Zero Hour Reborn and Project Raptor mods significantly bolstered the number of generals and play styles. I couldn’t even tell you the number of times I replayed the Generals Challenge trying to beat it with every general. The Air Force General was always my staple.
“You destroyed my command centre! Ah well, I always hated my commanders anyway”. Classic.
Super Mario Galaxy 2, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (Wii/SNES)
Spoilers – I’m a massive Nintendo fan. You’re going to see a lot of Nintendo games on here. And the Mario series has to be on here in some way. Most people would tell you Super Mario World or Super Mario Bros 3 were the best Mario games ever made. However, for my money, there’ll always be two that far surpassed them all.
First up – Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the Wii. It was like playing a Pixar movie, especially playing it on the Wii U with the upscale. More than that, the soundtrack was brilliant and the gameplay variance is probably the most diverse I’ve seen in any game… ever. The soundtrack – unreal. The fan service was off the chart. From a gameplay perspective, arguably one of the best ever produced.
And Yoshi’s Island. Man. I can’t count the number of times I finished the game. Once again, gameplay and soundtrack – amazing. The storybook art style has aged better than most games ever will. The final boss fight is unforgettable for its start contrast from the rest of the game.
As an honourable mention, I’d have to whack Super Mario Sunshine on here. Controlled amazingly well and the gameplay options were unreal. Plus that draw distance on that little Gamecube. Unreal.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 1 & 2 (PC)
Now it’s getting real. And if you are wondering, yes, I actually did love KOTOR 2 that much. The Knights of the Old Republic games are some of the best RPGs ever put together. While the gameplay isn’t super sophisticated in a lot of ways, what really drives KOTOR is its story. Set 5000 years before the Star Wars movies, they chronicle the tales of two different Jedi with some fascinating characters to get to know. Your choices changed the game, your character, the mission structure and the ending, and had real weight to them. You drive every conversation, every act of battle, every discovery. If you’re a fan of the Star Wars lore, you get far more than you bargain for here – travelling to all the planets, discovering the foundations of the Jedi and the Sith, and some of the greatest twists in any games ever. Bravo. There is a reason they both won so many awards.
These games are now available on mobile devices so make sure you get on that.
Also, honourable mention to The Force Unleashed, which was fantastic. I just love great Star Wars stories, and this one to me was just as interesting and compelling as any of the movies.
Legend of Zelda… almost all of them (Various)
Ah man. The Legend of Zelda. What can I say about this series? I couldn’t even pick one game here. I’ve loved almost all of them. I’m sorry, Link to the Past fans… I kinda consider that one the most overrated. As for the others… let’s see how I go here.
Ocarina of Time I have played at least once a year since 1998. Majora’s Mask since the year 2000 in a similar fashion. The Oracle games were beautiful and massive for portable games. Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword took the story telling aspects of the series to new levels.
Ultimately, the franchise is about growing to become the hero you were born to be. You start the game fairly weak and naive, you are faced with an insurmountable challenge, and you grow to become the hero you need to be. There are no other games with a greater sense of character progression and growth than the Zelda franchise. Fact.
Donkey Kong Country 2 (SNES)
Not much to say on this one. One of the best platformers ever. Another great soundtrack. Another one I’ve played to death. If you’ve played it, you know what’s up.
Mass Effect 3 (PC/Wii U)
Uh oh. Controversial pick.
I love the Mass Effect series. In the same way that KOTOR gave you branching options, Mass Effect does so even moreso. The gameplay is decent enough, but the story – my goodness. People have always said, “Imagine if they made a game that was like playing a movie”. Mass Effect blows that notion out of the water, because it’s 100+ hour cumulative quests with innumerable branching paths and options make movies look like the inferior medium… by far.
Specifically, Mass Effect 3 to me stands out the most. I know I know, people didn’t like the ending. I did though. The notion of fate is at its centrepiece. As Commander Shepard, you command an elite squad of mercenaries charged with saving the galaxy from an ancient race of sentient machines. The Reapers provide some of the most unreal moments I’ve seen in any video game. All of Mass Effect 3 I was waiting for Harbinger, one of the main characters of Mass Effect 2, to make an appearance. When he did finally appear in ME3, I dropped my controller in awe. The impact was amazing.
Also, the best voice cast ever assembled for a video game. Jennifer Hale as Commander Shepard delivers probably the best voice acting performance ever. Martin Sheen. Keith David. Steve Blum. Carrie-Anne Moss. Just. Look up the cast. Even the “less famous” cast members are still big time players. And they’re all brilliant.
Renegade FemShep for life. She’s had enough of your disingenuous assertions.
Syphon Filter 2 (PSX)
Here’s a sleeper hit. I was thinking back to my PlayStation days and remembering the games I played the most. I think Syphon Filter 2 took me by complete surprise and was my go-to PSX game for years. Centering around two stealth agents, Gabe Logan and Lian Xing, you’re charged with the discovery and destruction of a deadly biological weapon known as the Syphon Filter virus. I just remember this game feeling like it was way ahead of its time. I never really did enjoy the Metal Gear Solid series too much personally – I enjoyed SF2 far more for whatever reason.
Get this door open, now!
Marvel Vs Capcom 2 (DC)
Had to put a fighting game on here. After years and years of spending way too much money on this game in the arcades, I finally picked up a Sega Dreamcast in Japan last year and finally have this classic fighter at home. 56 characters from the Marvel and Capcom licenses. Crazy combinations. Not much else to say. Just heaps of fun.
Metroid Prime Trilogy, Metroid Other M (GC/Wii)
Oh gosh, I think I just broke the internet by mentioning these two sets of games in the same sentence. Hear me out.
Metroid Prime 1 and 2 I played to absolute death on the Gamecube. Prime 1 I probably finished 14 times, Prime 2 probably about 20 times. When Prime 3 came out on the Wii and then Prime Trilogy with the repackaged earlier entries, I was in heaven. You play as Samus, a bounty hunter sent on numerous missions investigating a mysterious sentient substance known as Phazon. The worlds that were crafted by Retro Studios across all three games were a true joy to explore. The attention to detail was staggering. I loved how the story wasn’t really forced on you – you actually had to go looking yourself to find out the truth of what had happened on these planets. Special mention to the soundtrack of these games once again. Phendrena Drifts from Prime 1 is a particular highlight.
And Metroid: Other M. I swear I am the only person who actually loved this game. Having played Metroid Fusion and having a high level understanding of the story of the Metroid manga, I thought that the portrayal of Samus’ distressed past and “coming of age” struggles were on point and quite compelling. I guess I really enjoyed seeing these more real aspects of the characters’ humanities present in the adventure. I think people also forget to mention that the gameplay in Other M was Super Metroid in 3D, which is great. Sent to investigate a distress signal on the Bottle Ship, Samus meets up with former crew members she used to serve with, only having no idea who to trust. The whole game I felt on edge and I feel like Team Ninja perfectly captured the sense of isolation and tension the Metroid games are famous for. I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard anyone actually praise these things about the game, but there you go. If I want my Metroid fix, this is where I go. Short, sharp, brilliant. Plus the piano pieces in the ending and during the final sequence are magical.
Any objections, Lady?
Chrono Trigger/Chrono Cross (SNES/PSX)
These two RPGs from Square are two of the best games ever made. If you’ve played them, there’s a good chance you feel the same way.
Chrono Trigger – wow. 13 endings. Character design by Akira Toriyama of Dragon Ball fame. A tale of a teenager and his friends who accidentally get pulled through different time periods and decide to defeat an alien parasite that will at one point destroy the world. I will always remember getting to the fight with Janus which had been built up so powerfully, and being blown away that the game had only just begun at that point. The interactions with the characters is also beautiful – the subplots of Crono and Marle, the family pressures of Princess Nadia, kingdoms at war, Glenn’s journey of earning respect and prominence, the struggle against Queen Zeal, the bold actions of Schala, the treachery of power and greed… amazing.
And Chrono Cross. I dunno, this could be the main contender for the true number one spot on this list. First of all – the best soundtrack ever produced. Ever. Any form of media. The Girl Who Stole The Stars, Reminiscence, The Shore of Another World, Prisoners of Fate… wow. Have you ever wondering what it would be like if you never existed? This is the premise of Chrono Cross – the protagonist, Serge, is sucked into an alternative dimension where he died as a young boy. Meeting the tomboy Kid, he goes on a journey of discovering the significance of this girl who has entered his life. A journey for her thoughts… and ultimately her life. The whole game constantly plays on the theme of fate and destiny, with Fate quite literally controlling the events of the game. The way it ties in the events of Chrono Trigger is just masterful. The best sequel I’ve ever seen. Ever.
Other Honourable Mentions
Final Fantasy 6 – RPG greatness
Tekken Tag 2 – the Marvel vs Capcom 2 of Namco’s classic fighter
Paper Mario 2 and Super Paper Mario – great spins on the Mario RPG, with a huge amount of twists
Half-Life 2, Episode 1, Episode 2 – Storytelling masterpiece
Tetris Attack – my favourite puzzle game ever
Need For Speed Underground 2 – customization and fun
So there you go. Video games have been a big part of my life and a big source of enjoyment in my down time, and they still are. Maybe you learnt something more about me. Who knows. I promise I’ll look at another big relationship or life related topic next time.
I love a lot of games and had to leave so many brilliant ones out – the Smash Bros series, the early Megaman X games, various Street Fighter titles… maybe they’ll make another discussion another day. See any of your favourites? What are yours? Sound off in the comments below.
Ready set go.