From Mario to Middle Earth, here are 10 of the most unforgettable moments in gaming… at least to me.
If you don’t already know, I am a massive nerd. Sure, I love writing about deep and meaningful stuff, like relationships, friendships, the purpose of our lives or some massively topical issue. But at the same time, once I’m done pondering the mysteries of the universe, I enjoy my downtime after a long day of hard work and deep thought, and enjoy pulling out some top quality gaming to unwind.
For the uninitiated, I have had 14 game consoles over the course of my life (so far), and played at least 20 games on almost all of them. I majored in Games Technology at uni, and those who know me well would testify to how much of a nerd I really am. So to celebrate all things nerdy, here are some big times in games that I was completely blown away. That, or I just had an experience that has stuck with me until this day.
I’ll try not to overload the list with too many of the same franchise just to give it some depth, but ranking some of my favourite moments I found things were pretty spread out anyway. I have done a list of My Top 10 Favourite Games of All Time as well, so expect to see a few of those on here. Here we go! Ten unforgettable moments in gaming.
NB. All images herein are property of their respective owners. Just a fan here, people.
Honourable mention – Chrono Cross… just all of it
I won’t write too much about this game here or it would literally take up all 10 spots, but just to say that Chrono Cross is my favourite game ever made. I’ve already written enough about it at atrocious depth, so if you’re interested, check it out here.
10. Celebrimbor, the other Lord of the Ring – Shadow of Mordor
Here’s probably my most recent entry from a game I literally just finished yesterday on my 360. Shadow of Mordor. What a surprise this game was. From start to finish, it’s absolutely gripping. I would say the presentation of this game, the story, the character development, even the acting, are all far superior to all three Hobbit movies combined. Yes, I said it. If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, you have to check this out.
Set between The Hobbit book and the start of the Lord of the Rings, you are a ranger named Talion, who is seconds away from death when he is taken over by an elven presence. Throughout the course of the game, the elf discovers his true identity – Celebrimbor, the forger of the Elven rings of Power. Now I’ve read the LOTR books maybe once or twice, and flicked through some of the appendices and extra books, but as soon as I heard that name, I was able to recall his name and role at the very least.
But the game blows it out of the park with some poetic licence and some sharp interjection into scenes from Peter Jackson’s take on the story and show us that Celebrimbor also was instrumental in creating the One Ring, and in fact stole it from Sauron before he was killed when the Ring eventually returned to his master. With the help of Celebrimbor, you are able to plunder Mordor and destroy Sauron’s physical form that was mentioned throughout the Hobbit, but suddenly disappeared in the main LOTR story. Why? Because of Talion and Celebrimbor. Nice touch.
Go check it out, Tolkien nerds.
9. The bad guy won – Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker
I almost included Final Fantasy VI as another game where this happens, but I wanted to list a more memorable moment from that game further down the list.
One of the excellent things about the Legend of Zelda series is its sense of progression. I love how Link, the protagonist, consistently feels like he is undergoing a massive transformation throughout the game. One of the games, Skyward Sword, does this really well by insulting the player early on for their inability to do things faster and not being strong enough to be the hero that is needed, but by the end of the game, you see that your character has really come into his own.
Another way the games do this is by the strong villains that the games portray. and in Zelda, the bad guy actually succeeds numerous times. In Ocarina of Time, Ganondorf succeeds in destroying the world. Because the player travels through time, the juxtaposition and victory of the enemy is immediately apparent, as you go from the peaceful world one minute, to the exact same city centre location left in complete ruin the next. In Majora’s Mask, the villain Majora consistently destroys the world at the end of 3 days, forcing the player to travel back in time over and over again until they’re strong enough to fight him and break the cycle that has been undoing all your valiant efforts. In Wind Waker, the game is an innocent looking vast sea, hiding a devious reality – the ocean exists for the sheer purpose of trying to stop Ganondorf after he successfully broke free of his seal, meaning everyone else was washed away in the attempt to stop him, too.
It’s these kind of moments that really give you motivation as a player and are an unforgettable way to get you charged up to take them head on.
8. So much control – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 1 & 2
I know, I could have put the revelation from the first game that you were the Sith Lord the entire time as Darth Revan, but really for me, these two games were so memorable to me because of how much control they gave the player. You could really change almost the entire story. You could keep certain people alive, or not recruit them, or kill them off. You could play on the light side, you could play on the dark side. I wonder what would have happened if I had said this, I wonder what would have happened if I had used my Force powers instead of lying to that person, I wonder I wonder I wonder.
And on repeated playthroughs, you find out. Stellar.
7. That sense of dread – Metroid Fusion/Metroid: Other M
Here comes the burn.
Okay okay, if you haven’t read my Top 10 Favourite Games list, then you wouldn’t yet know that Metroid: Other M is actually one of my favourite Metroid games. I must be one of the only people who feels that way, and if you want to find out why that’s the case, check out my reasoning here.
Most people hate the game, and people also hate a similar game in the Metroid franchise – Metroid Fusion for the Gameboy Advance. However, there are two things these games absolutely nailed for me, and it was a constant sense of dread. I read no reviews or heard any spoilers about these games when I first played them, and the mystery was absolutely intense. I’m not big into games with jump scares or hideous faces to try to stimulate tension, and these games don’t really have any of those. What they do have though is a pervasive sense that something is not right among the team you are trying to help. Betrayal is waiting around the corner, but who is it? The atmosphere and sense of tension was present from start to finish, and even though these games aren’t very long, it was enough to stick with me.
6. Bowser – Yoshi’s Island
The final boss of the cute but challenging platformer Yoshi’s Island was a complete surprise. Gone were the cheery music and storybook visuals. All of a sudden, Bowser was here and he was huge, destroying his own castle and shooting fire from his enormous frame, plus it sounded like Capcom gave Nintendo a rocking track from Megaman X for this massive encounter. If you’ve played it, you remember it.
5. The Opera Scene – Final Fantasy VI
Oh my hero, so far away now, will I ever see your smile?
The opera scene that’s so good that people have converted it into a real opera. Amazing.
4. Wait, he wasn’t the final boss? – Chrono Trigger
So here’s the scene. You’ve been playing this amazing game called Chrono Trigger for 10-15 hours. The soundtrack is stellar. The gameplay is amazing. And all roads in the story are leading to a final confrontation with the leader of the Mystics in 600AD, named Magus. He is the reason that the world eventually is destroyed from the inside out by a creature named Lavos in 1999AD, the year of Apocalypse. You’re here, you’re geared up, this is it, you’re ready to save the future. Most games up to this point would end around here.
“You fool, I merely summoned him”.
After one of the best boss fights in gaming, definitely putting most other final boss fights in history to shame, Magus reveals the game hasn’t even really started yet. Once the player resumes control and continues playing, you realize that he wasn’t even the half way point, and so many more facets of the story remain untouched.
When I first experienced this moment, I literally did a two-hander that would put me in good stead for a role in a future Home Alone movie. Brilliant, Square. Brilliant.
3. The nuclear slaughter of the animal farm… I’ll just have to explain it… – Empire Earth
Okay guys, please don’t call PETA. I am not condoning animal violence or anything of the sort, but I do need to explain one of the most memorable multiplayer gaming moments I’ve ever experienced. For those who don’t know, Empire Earth is a real-time strategy game where you have 15 ages that you can advance through, all the way from the Stone Age to the Space Age. Spanning all eras of human history, the race is on to have the strongest military and to upgrade your army to use tanks all the while your opponents are still fighting with horses and stone axes. It’s a pretty good game.
So, I was playing one day with my brother against some really hard computer controlled opponents. I was trying to focus on building up good defenses, attacking the enemy here and there, while I noticed my brother’s base wasn’t really increasing too much. I had to send some men in a few times to bail him out of a tight spot. After about the 5th or 6th time, I noticed that one part of the map he was devoting all his resources to.
He had built a massive base defence around the wild animals. In the game, the point of the wild animals is purely a gameplay purpose – for hunting. However, he loved seeing them grow bigger and start families within his massive walls. Why build defenses to protect an ally when you can protect the computer controlled AI giraffes and rhinos?
After a while, the enemies sent in a massive army and destroyed almost all of my base. I asked for help, but my brother was devoting all his resources to keeping the animals safe from the rivalling teams. So in my teenage frustration, I built 5 atomic bombers, and quickly gave them their new course.
And I blew up all of the animals.
I know, I’m a monster. But at least he started trying to destroy the enemy after that… after we both picked ourselves up off the floor after 10 minutes of crying with laughter.
Please don’t change your opinion of me. I was young and naive. And it was just in the game.
2. Do not go to Ravenh… – Half-Life 2
An excellent example of the foreboding that can be generated through various hints throughout a game, this moment of Half-Life 2 on PC was a moment in gaming I’ll never forget.
Half-Life 2 tells you its story in dribs and drabs, but the writing and pacing is so compelling it keeps you going. In the dystopian world where the alien race known as the Combine have enslaved humanity, it seems like the treatment of the human race is reaching somewhat of a compromise, where we are still able to keep our will somewhat, but under strict supervision of the alien benefactors. However, one town that did not receive such luxurious treatment was the town of Ravenholm. Throughout the game, it is hinted that this place was destroyed, but when you finally are forced to go through it to the next objective, you release just how bad the alien invasion has left humanity, and what they intend to do going forward.
“That’s the old passage to Ravenholm… we don’t go there anymore”.
1. This has been great, I don’t know where is Harbinger in this game but… oh my – Mass Effect 3
This moment. Wow.
The ruler of the alien race known as the Reapers was a constant threat throughout Mass Effect 2. And for as amazing a threat as you face throughout Mass Effect 3, you don’t see or hear from the big bad boss at all.
Until the final charge. When Harbinger comes down from Earth’s orbit and essentially seals the fate of the player, as well as killing any companions you are travelling with without remorse.
Unforgettable moment. I actually dropped the controller when it happened. Mind. Blown.
So there are some of my unforgettable moments in gaming. How about you? Which gaming sequences are the most memorable to you?