Anyways, I decided to do one of my first addictions (the more I learn the more the concepts in my head make sense), video games. Now, I know many of you may not be familiar with these video games, but I absolutely loved them and I appreciate what they are as a whole. While I will do my best to keep it one genre, one console, this may prove to be extremely difficult with the Super Nintendo, but that's a whole other story. Last note, franchises are absolutely acceptable.
10. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2) - Starting off with this sandbox game. Sure there are tons of Grand Theft Autos and everyone has their favorite. GTA4 people have their realism love & gritty story, Vice City people love the 80s, some people enjoy the recent GTA5 and its character switching. However, I am a pretty big fan San Andreas for its pure freedom. The amount of clothes, tattoos, hair, weight change, girlfriends, planes, cars, apartments and more is more customizable here than practically any other entry except maybe GTA5. One aspect it definitely has over GTA5 is its story. While the heists are creative and tons of fun in GTA5, San Andreas includes nearly every aspect of the other GTAs and is based off of Boyz in the Hood/NWA roots in South Central LA. As such, the characters are brilliant throughout (Cesar Villapondo & Mike Toreno take the cake for me) and you have a motivation to help friends, defeat villains, laugh at previous characters, and just do whatever in the open sandbox. There's so much to do in this game with its West Coast locales it's insane. Possibility and a plethora of leads of color makes for a wonderful entry.
9. Resident Evil 4 (Gamecube) - You could argue this game straddles the lines of 3rd person shooter and survival horror. Silent Hill 2 would be my pick for survival horror (that game is beyond freaky), but as a combination of the two genres and an amazing game overall, RE4 reigns supreme. It has a decent story, but moreover even with Ashley's whiny self, it's insanely fun and well thought out. Whether you're combining herbs, finding jewels to sell, button sequencing, or marveling at the creative ways to kill different enemies or bosses it all works. Overall, I seriously enjoy how creative the gameplay is and the ways that the game made significant changes to the world of gaming. It is the least subjective choice on my list and is pure fun.
8. Mass Effect Trilogy (X360) - The amount of hours and energy I put into this trilogy still continues into today. I love science-fiction that grounds itself in real world concepts a la Babylon 5 or the Twilight Zone. Thus, Mass Effect takes this into a Star Wars realm that discusses the origins of humans contact with aliens and how that works. There is a large amount of depth to the galaxy created in Mass Effect from its habitats, how it works and much more which creates a universe as rich as the Harry Potter, Star Wars and comic book universes. Furthermore, the characters (primarily the non-human ones) are phenomenally well developed to the point where you want to spend time with them (Wrex, Thane, and Tali are probably my favorite). While the gameplay is fun it is a mixed bag depending on if you want more shooter or strategy and occasionally the glitches show. However, the world, graphics, characters, story and constant what ifs make it one of my video game fantasies in how it deals with genocide, war, sexuality, handicaps, and more.
7. Donkey Kong Country 2 (SNES) - This is my favorite platformer period. While many Mario games have brilliance (you could argue Mario 64 can fight this one), this game is my favorite to return to and I love the music! An underrated aspect of video games, but still an important one. Furthermore, gameplay and graphics are one of the larger selling points as it looks striking on a SNES and the mechanics are fluid with the variety of animal friend and the inclusion of Dixie Kong. While DK 1 is solid, DK2 is more polished and varied in its levels (and challenges/bonuses). It is a lot of fun and it keeps on giving so it wins my platform selection.
6. Mario Kart series - Favorite racing game! I'm not a big fan of racing or puzzle games (I don't have a single puzzle game here, if I could I'd put Portal, but there's a reason why that's not there). Anyways, this was one of the first video games I ever owned and it was always fun to play with friends and lap them or get lapped haha. The battle mode was also some of the best multiplayer ever seen. After the SNES version, I enjoyed how expanded the 64 version was and I appreciated how much fun that version was as it was my first N64 game. Afterwards, the Gamecube version was extremely complex, but I still appreciate how not seriously the game takes itself. As such, it is a lot of fun for the world of racing games.
5. Guilty Gear XX (PS2) - No Street Fighter? Mortal Kombat 2? or compilation (MVC3?!), no I figured I'd go with a game from the Guilty Gear/Blaz Blue series of extremely bizarre fighting games. While Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat are classics, their strategy never exactly fails as a hadouken works in every Street Fighter and a "Get over Here!" still works. This is different than the Guilty Gear series' complexity of having the strangest cast of characters(yes weirder than Darkstalkers) based around music. I mean you've never seen characters with hair like Jam or eccentrics like Zappa, but it works. From lethal kills, rich fighting styles, insane challenges, great music and a design that is bonkers, Guilty Gear works for me in that in may not have the longevity of SF or MK, but it is worth a look. (while I love 3D fighters, in particular Soul Calibur, I don't know if I've craved any as much as the 2D fighters).
4. Half-Life series/Halo series (PC/Xbox) - To be honest, I had a lot of trouble choosing an FPS here because Halo 1 is simply amazing that I generally never stopped playing it. While the other Halos are fairly good, the first really refined the Half-Life style. However, I'm still going to give Half-Life its credit because 1, 2 and the episodes are a solid franchise. HL earns these accolades without even including the Counter Strike madness or Portal. HL1 was the first time scripted sequences occurred which would shape God of War, RE4, Halo, Call of Duty tremendously, and well any FPS after that in which awesome events happened that stayed in engine without cutscenes. HL2 takes all of that to the next level with vehicles, creative puzzle gameplay, a fantastic concept, level design and one of the best assistants ever (Alyx Vance for life!), and of course the gravity gun. The concept of physics was never the same and sometimes the engine for messing around in HL is done very well.
3. Metal Gear Solid (1-3) (PS1-PS2) - So I love all 3 of these games for very different reasons. The first one has a sense of grit and creativity in the third person/stealth world unheralded at the time. Whether it's the Psycho Mantis boss fight, messing with the codec, the colorful villains, the political jargon, it all works to a highly entertaining game that works - we talked about it for years. While the second surprised many people with its character switch, I didn't mind it minus the awful character of Rose. It all worked graphically, musically, gameplay wise, challenge wise, and emotionally (this is one of the few video games to make me cry).As such, it all works for a good time that may not have Snake, but is still fun. The third game is basically a chock full of fun from all of the previous entries. It's a grand polished working of everything (The End battle anyone?!?!) from its 60s spy themes to its beautiful finale. Also, it introduces another creative element of gameplay that is a lot of fun once again. While MGS4 was the swan song and a strange look at MGS1's world, I still think that MGS3 works on all cylinders.
2. Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - Yes another SNES entry. However, this is the first video game I ever owned and a balanced adventure/quest game from its gameplay, puzzles, music, story, challenge and one of the best versions of Link around. If you've played a LoZ game then you know what to expect, but this game has a ton of life and along with Ocarina of Times serves as the basis for every Legend of Zelda after. Furthermore, it completely polishes and perfects the first title from the NES. I could say more, but because it is the first I owned and I still occasionally pop the game in, it works for many many reasons.
1. Chrono Trigger (SNES) - I'm actually not going to write a ton on this game even though I could do a separate post for it. All of Nintendo came together to create this masterpiece of beautiful music, standout characters, a great plot (yes story, but the action occurs logically), great settings, solid concept (best time travel story just about), and a bunch of gameplay mechanics that would return from ATB (active RPG battles) to New Game+ (yes it was invented here). The New Game + allowed for more endings than almost any video game in existence. It has been rereleased twice for three separate gaming generations. As such, the game works wonderfully and is my favorite RPG (which could easily have its own list) and favorite video game. Play it now.
HM: Starcraft (PC) - The most balanced real-time strategy game on the planet with wonderful voice acting, story and the originator of online multiplayer. People still play this game today and it has always worked well. However, I think its longevity is not as strong as the others on this list as I don't find myself craving to play Starcraft so much as savoring the nostalgia.
Bioshock series (X360) - From some creative gameplay/shooter mechanics, immersive worlds, standout characters and shocks (arguably the best twist endings in recent gaming) and some well done themes/stories from objectivism to racism, this series cannot be missed for a quick play. Both Bioshock 1 and Infinite are quite short, but also quite wonderful. One of the most enjoyable singular experiences on my list.
Shadow of the Colossus (PS2) - While Legend of Zelda wins in the adventure category overall, I can't ignore the brilliance of making a game entirely based on exploration and boss fights. Each colossus is more intriguing than the next and a pure joy to play against. There's so much subtle emotion here like Ico and it all works. I can't explain this one more, you have to play it.