Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Top 5 Favorite Video Games

I love games. I really do. I consider myself a gamer. Hardcore at times, but mostly I just like to have fun and immerse myself in another world. I’m into video games, pencil and paper role playing games, board games, you name it. There’s nothing better when it comes to social situations or when you just need to blow off some steam. Specifically today I want to focus on video games.

I’ve always been a gamer since I can remember. We had an Atari before we got a Nintendo when I was six. The first games I had were Mario and Batman (See mom and dad, it’s your fault I’m into Batman). After the Nintendo I was hooked. Between me and my brothers we had an Atari, Nintendo, Genesis (with the Master System add on), Turbo Graphics 16, Super NES, Nintendo 64, Playstation 1, 2, and 3, Dreamcast, X-box, X-box 360, Game Cube, Wii, Game boy, Virtual Boy, DS, and a PSP. We had just about everything. I’m starting to get more into a gamer community and I’m finally considering competing in some tournaments (even though I’m sure I’d get my ass handed to me).

So I didn’t realize how tough this subject would be. I figured that there were certain games that would have been shoe ins, but after careful consideration and about 20 hours of game play over the last 3 days, many of my shoe ins became just good games. I used a criteria for judging this list again. The game has to have a good story with a lot of player interaction. My favorite genre is role playing games so you’ll see a lot of RPG’s because of that story requirement. I also looked at overall production value. Did the game feel rushed or did they put their time into making it all it could be? And finally, did the game change the way I looked at gaming? Was it just a game, or did it leave me going, “whoa?”

You won’t see games like Halo, Grand Theft Auto, Mario, Guitar Hero, or any of those other super block buster games on my list. They’re great games (well at least one of the Halo’s is and I’ve never really played GTA) but they’re not the games that really define me as a gamer. So what you’ll be seeing is the cream of the crop games that have stolen years of my life, my top 5 favorite video games.

5. Chrono Trigger

So I got into this game a little late. It originally came out on the Super Nintendo in 1995 but at the time I wasn’t really into RPGs. It was actually a genre that I didn’t really know anything about. The closest I had come to an RPG at the time was Zelda, but I didn’t even realize it fell into that category. Now, over a decade later I have come to understand how truly wonderful this game is.

Chrono Trigger was created by Akira Toriyama, the same guy who created Dragon Ball, Dragon Warrior, and Dragon Quest. He was a manga and anime creator first, but a pioneering video game genius as well. It’s the story of a boy named Crono and his time traveling adventures to save the world from Lavos, the monster that would destroy the world in 1999. You go from 65,000,000 BC to 2,500 AD to piece together all the clues as to what Lavos is and why it’s bent on destroying the world. The game is about 40 hours long, had 14 endings, great characters, wonderful graphics for the time, some of the best 16 bit music out there, wonderful control, and most importantly it was different. Many people will probably disagree with me, but I think it might be the first masterpiece in gaming…at least to me.

Now like I said, I didn’t play it when it came out. I didn’t play this game until about 6 years after it came out. Since then I’ve played it on SNES and bought it on Playstation and Nintendo DS for the road. The game has basically been released every 5-7 years since it came out because it’s so damn good. It’s usually been unchanged as well with the exception of new content. Proof that there’s no need to fix something that’s not broken. A sequel was made called Chrono Cross, but it sucked ass and isn’t worth anyone’s time.

4. Gears of War 2

This is the only next gen game on my list and is an X-box 360 exclusive. There are a lot of great next gen games but this is the only one so far that’s really punched me in the gut. On top of that it’s the only game on my list that’s really a shooter. See, this is my problem with shooters. Why? It’s the most diluted genre of games in gaming today. Do we really need another game where some over muscled tough guy is carrying around and inappropriately huge gun that is representative of their man hood? I’m sick of the Master Chiefs. I’m sick of the first person perspective. I’m sick of guns that would never exist. And then Gears of War comes along and I’m a total gramer (they’re the people who say they’re gamers but all they play is Halo, Madden, and GTA). Now I’m online pwning nwbs left and right and having people wanting to be my friend for the soul reason that I can turn any punk into my bitch.

So what is it about Gears of War that makes me change my view on the shooter genre? Well it’s not in first person. It’s an over the shoulder 3rd person view, which from a narrative perspective is good for the story. It makes it feel more cinematic. This brings me to the next great thing, the pacing. These games have it all. Over the top action, moments that make you mess your pants, over the top gore, and an amazing story. It’s basically a story about what humanity will do to survive. Earth is long gone and the planet Sera, where humanity has relocated to, is pretty screwed as well. It’s just an intense game. The characters are funny, engaging, well developed with stories that all lead back to what they’ve had to sacrifice to get to where they are. Honestly the game feels more like an interactive movie.

On top of the awesome story mode, Gears has one of the most amazing on-line set ups in gaming today. This turns a 10 hour game into an unlimited hour game. Not only can you play the whole game in co-op online but all the different multiplayer modes are great as well. My personal favorite is Horde where you have a small team that needs to defend against 50 waves of bad guys. This takes more than 3 hours to complete and you need an amazing team to do it. If everyone dies, that’s it, you’re done. Team work is essential and if you have one person that isn’t on a headset you’re basically screwed around round 10. This game made me understand why people go crazy for all of these shooters. So if you’re looking for an intense game that you need to keep away from your kids, but that also brings you an amazing multiplayer experience as well as an epic story mode, Get Gears of War and Gears of War 2. Gears 2 makes the list because of the Horde mode and the polished controls, but get both because they rule.

3. X-Men Legends

This Playstation 2 and X-Box title is a lot of fun for people who are fans of the X-Men, but also just fans of a great game. Most video game adaptations of comics usually suck hard, but X-Men Legends, X-Men Legends 2, and Ultimate Alliance set a new standard for what a comic book game should be. This is really the first comic book game where you can play as a whole bunch of characters and each one is extremely different. There are 15 playable and completely customizable X-Men as well as cameos from a whole bunch more. I can’t tell you how many times me and my nerdy comic friends sat around talking about what our favorite X-Men team would be. Now thanks to this game you have the ability to actually create it and play as it.

The game plays great as well. You control one character at a time with customizable AI settings for the other people on your team. Switching back and forth between players is as easy as pressing the D pad. The game is an over the head hack and slash RPG so it’s designed to be intense with you plowing through legions of bad guys. Now the game isn’t without its flaws. The plot is great because they actually had X-Men writers come in and do the story, but it feels like their children did the dialogue. The games have notoriously bad one liners and the voice actors really over play on character traits. But like I said the plot is great. They pull from a lot of X-Men lore and create a story that you could actually imagine happening in the comic. In X-men Legends 2 they go a step further and focus on my all time favorite X-Men story, The Age of Apocalypse, where so much of the story is a nod to that series complete with the ability to change their costumes to the AOA themes.

So like I said, X-Men Legends spawned a sequel, X-Men Legends 2: The Rise of Apocalypse and a spin off that involved the entire Marvel universe called, Ultimate Alliance. A sequel to Ultimate Alliance will be out soon as well so there’re a whole bunch of games in this series to enjoy that are all made with the same quality. DC has tried to emulate it with their Justice League game, but sadly it fell short and couldn’t really compete. This is sad to me because I would love to play a great DC game with the same ideas. So if you’re a comics fan and a gaming fan then go out and pick up these classics.

2. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

That’s right. I got a fraking Star Wars game on the list. Much like comic book games, Star Wars games usually suck too. There have been a few great exceptions and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is the grand daddy of exceptions. Now when the X-Box came out I could have cared less. There were no good games and still to this day, the original X-Box ranks up with the Atari Jaguar as one of the crappiest systems ever made (The 360 is so not the case though). The one thing that it had going for them was this exclusive, which I believe is by far the best Star Wars games ever and one of the best RPGs of all time. It was actually the only reason I bought an X-Box and it was the only game I had for the system until its sequel came out.

So ever since I saw Star Wars when I was a wee one I fell in love with the Jedi. I always wanted a lightsaber to the point that every flashlight I could find became one in my mind. Now of all the Star Wars games to come out over the many years of Star Wars games, none really focused on the coolest and most unique part of the saga, the Jedi. So finally this game comes along and does it right. It takes a hint from the pencil and paper RPGs and basically creates an entire game around that rule concept. The story happens over 3,000 years before the movies and really focuses on the rise of the Sith. Everything cool about Star Wars is in this game from the Mandelorians, to the planet Kashyyk. They really dug into what the fans wanted to see in a game and basically tailored it for the nerds. A few months back Screw Attack did a top 10 OMGWTF moments in video games where one of the major twists of the game made the list because it’s on par with, “Luke, I am your father.”

The game won multiple game of the year awards as well as a sequel that saw a lot of the same praise. The main reason KOTOR gets on the list and not KOTOR 2 is because the sequel was admittedly incomplete. Even though it was a great game you could tell that there were parts that were rushed and a few plot holes, including the ending. It’s still amazing and worth playing, just not complete. An MMORPG is being developed right now that takes place a 1000 years after and there’s a rumor that there will be a third installment to finally tie up the Knights trilogy. This is probably the game that I’ve replayed more than any other in my history of gaming and I’m confident that it will always be regarded by me as a must buy for people with an X-Box or a 360.

1. Final Fantasy 7

So yeah, this is basically the greatest game ever and it single handedly changed the way I looked at gaming. Not just video games, but all gaming in general. Now like I said I’ve always been into games, but I never knew anything about this genre called Role Playing Games or RPG’s for short. I was in eighth grade and after football practice, Larson Hess got this game. He was hands down the most annoying person I’ve ever met but he had this game and he was at my friend Chris’s house playing it. At first I looked at this game that was turn based and I thought that it was slow and lacked anything exciting. It sure looked pretty, but I just didn’t get what was going on. As I kept watching I learned that you were playing a story. There was a lot of dialogue, and plenty of decisions that had to be made that would affect the outcome of the story. You were basically playing a chose your own adventure book. Then it happened. The biggest OMGWTF moment in story that I’ve ever seen. One of the main characters gets killed. I was seriously choked up. It’s like that moment in a movie that just breaks your heart. This wasn’t a game anymore. This was something completely different. This is also On Screw Attack’s list at #2, but for me it’s by far #1.

So I was intrigued. I then started the all time greatest Christmas wish list campaign in history. It was Final Fantasy this, Playstation that, do whatever needs to be done to get this game style campaign. I think I even became a good kid for a little bit. Sure enough it paid off. I got a Playstation, Final Fantasy 7, the FF7 strategy guide, and a cardboard cut out of the main character, Cloud. Honestly, it was the best Christmas ever. Over the next few weeks my brother and I played this game non stop. If I had to go to school, he was playing. If he was working, I was playing. This game turned me into a freaking junkie and it opened the door to a whole new genre of gaming where each game is basically 30-40 hours of length. I played Chrono Trigger, all the other FF games, Wild Arms, Dragon Quest, KOTOR, Kingdom Hearts, and the list goes on and on. It even turned me onto real RPGs where I got to create my own characters and my own stories.

Now FF7 goes down in a lot of greatest games lists because in all honesty it’s very much worth it. It’s spawned a movie called, Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children which takes place a few years after the game, another game focusing on the character Vincent called, Dirge of Cerberus, and a prequel staring Cloud’s idol, Zack called, Crisis Core. There are other spin offs but these are the most accessible and notable ones. The main point is that this game in a phenomenon that changed everything I know about gaming. It had a brilliant, complex story, great graphics and cut scenes, and original characters. If you haven’t played this game and you have a PS 1, 2, or 3, or a PC, spend the $10-$20 and get this game. With any luck you’ll be changed too.

So that’s my top 5 favorite video games. I know everyone has one so put yours down. Again, thanks for the comments, emails, calls, naked photos, etc. I really appreciate the support. I’ll really try to have it come out on time from now on. Happy St. Patty’s.




  1. Call me a girl but Dr. Mario is number one!!
    I have never played FF7, but I saw the movie and loved it!

  2. Well said Mikey! Good read. I agree with three of your favorites. Mine are:
    1.Chrono Trigger (named first daughter after Marle..fell in love with the characters)
    2.Final Fantasy 7 (like you said "life changing"!)
    3.Star Wars Knights of the old Republic (This is the prequel story I was after :)
    4.Super Mario Bros. 3 (I remember being obsessed with this game as a kid..and the movie The Wizard.)
    5.Goldeneye 007 (Fond memories of late nights with friends and the no one can be Oddjob rule hehe!)

    Jeremy Annat

  3. I didn't really start playing video games until after I graduated high school, and fell into the Bucky/Matt/Mike/Jake & Joe crowd. When I did play, it was never really console games. Oh I'd play with my friends here or there, but for the most part, nothing really kept my attention. Except for 1 game.

    First of all, I have to give it up to World of Warcraft. I know, I know, warcrack? Seriously? But yes. I've been playing for over 4 years now. Nothing has EVER kept my attention for that long.

    Secondly, Super Mario Bro III. The first video game I ever owned, and my brother and I would take turns on "deaths" playing. To this day, I have still never beaten it (DAMN YOU BOWSER), mostly because sadly, I do not own it anymore.

    Third would have to be the original Wolfenstein game. It was my first computer game when I was...about 10, or so probably. We got that and we got Doom. Doom was too scary for me, but kicking the shit out of Nazi scum was right up my alley. Much to my mother's dismay. I do have to give honorable mention to Doom and Doom 2 though. I may have been to chicken to play them at the time, but I would sit there with a strategy guide and watch my dad play for hours. Ironically enough, that is probably the most "father daughter" bonding my Dad and I have ever done. At least when I was younger.

    Fourth goes to Diablo 2. It was my first Blizzard addiction, and it introduced me to online playing. Getting the 3 toons I had to 90+ was no easy feat. I did a LOT of cow levels. Including beating it offline as well.

    Fifth would have to be any of the Mario Party games. Once I learned to calm down and not get so butthurt if I lost, it became a GREAT game for me and my friends to hang out and play. We still bust out the 64 and kick butt in it.

    I'm sneaking in a 6th too, cause I gotta give it up to Tetris. I spent so many hours playing this on my cell phone when I should be working, how could I not? :P