Ask me what my favorite games are, and I’ll give you a different answer each time. The top few spaces will remain consistent, but depending on my mood and what games I happen to remember, I’ll probably reply with a varying list toward the bottom.

Have I been playing a lot of fighters lately? If so, Street Fighter Alpha 3 would definitely appear on the list. If I’m not in the mood for fighting games though, I’ll probably forget it exists and have one of those “oh shit!” moments a few hours later. It happens.

What I’m getting at is that inquiring about a person’s 10 favorite games of all time is a lot like asking what they want to eat today. I love buffalo wings, but sometimes I want pho. Steak always sounds amazing, especially a rare steak with a cold bottle of New Castle Brown Ale on the side, but at that exact moment I could be craving sushi instead. Make sense?

I bring this up today since I’ve been asked to appear on the next CA! Radio podcast, where we’ll be discussing Chuck Zodl’s time with his fancy new PSVR headset, as well as our thoughts on the Nintendo Switch reveal. The last time I was on, Chuck gave me a “homework assignment.”

The task: think of my 10 favorite games of all time and talk about them the next time I’m on the podcast. That’d be tomorrow. So here goes.

As of today, October 26th, 2016, my 10 favorite games of all time, in reverse order, are the following.

xenogears

10. Xenogears (PSone)

The original PlayStation had a lot of impactful, special games during its lifespan, particularly in its revival of the RPG genre. Games like Wild Arms, Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, Breath of Fire III, Chrono Cross, Tactics Ogre, Persona 2, Suikoden, Parasite Eve, Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and XI, and Legend of Dragoon kept me awake well beyond a reasonable hour.

It was tough narrowing down which RPGs to include in my list, but I’m confident in saying Xenogears is one of my absolute favorites. Squaresoft’s futuristic tale inspired by religion, philosophy, and dissociative identity disorder suffers from uneven pacing at times, but its central theme of man coexisting with machine was unlike anything I’d experienced at the time.

I really loved Xenogears‘ unique take on turn-based combat, as well as its transition between classic sprites and 3D models when switching between the different characters and their hulking mechs (called gears).

But hey, rather than going in-depth about what makes the game so great, I’ll just say it’s fantastic, you should play it, everyone should play it, and it’s available on PS3 and Vita as a PSone Classic.

Side-note: Contending with Xenogears for my #10 spot was BioShock, Mega Man 2, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, Donkey Kong Country, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Final Fantasy VIII, Dragon Age: Origins, SOMA, Undertale, Axiom Verge, Dark Souls, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. It was a tough decision and this spot could change with any one of these games on any given day of the week.

silenthill2

9. Silent Hill 2 (PS2/Xbox)

It’s no secret that I love horror games. Love them. The first four Resident Evil titles, the Fatal Frame series, Outlast, Clock Tower, man, I love them so, so much. Yet sadly, the only true horror game to crack my top 10 is Konami’s Silent Hill 2.

The original Silent Hill holds a special place in my heart, being the first video game to truly scare the crap out of me. There was just something about the color palette, the unsettling camera angles, and the iconic fog that seemed to never end. It was a master class in environmental storytelling, but also covered some pretty gnarly subject matter within its narrative.

Silent Hill 2 somehow improved on every aspect of the original, with more manageable combat, more unsettling environments, the introduction of the murderously iconic Pyramid Head, and one of the most shocking reveals in gaming history.

masseffect2

8. Mass Effect 2 (PS3/360)

I love the original Mass Effect for what it is, but I wasn’t a fan of the clunky Mako, the needless amount of junk acquired, or how much the game favored two classes more than the others. Mass Effect 2 may have done away with some of the more RPG elements of the original, but I definitely appreciated its more unified armor system, distinguished class play, and new cast of characters.

As a whole, Mass Effect 2 just feels better in terms of its combat and story, whereas the third game plays slightly better, while fumbling a bit in its finale.

As long as I’m alive, I’ll never forget taking the crew along for the final “suicide mission,” losing Mordin Solus forever. I was so depressed knowing that my decision would carry over in to Mass Effect 3 that I replayed the entire game again in order to make better decisions. Everyone was going to live, dammit!

Side-note: As an example of the ever-changing nature of my list, this spot was originally taken by Dragon Age: Origins, which, while being slightly tied with Dragon Age: Inquisition, was outvoted by Mass Effect 2 once I remembered it existed. Woops.

persona4golden

7. Persona 4 Golden (Vita)

Persona 4 was already an amazing RPG on the PS2, with its stellar writing and lovable cast of characters. Yet it didn’t get much fanfare until its eventual Golden update on the Vita.

Persona 4 Golden isn’t just a simple port, or even a basic update of the PS2 version, instead adding all sorts of delicious content, like skill cards, new social events, more control over fusions, new persona, a new dungeon, and more.

It’s easily my favorite game on the Vita, packing in nearly 100 hours of content and allowing me to play one of the best RPGs of all time wherever and whenever I please. If you own a Vita, you need Persona 4 Golden. Don’t own a Vita? It’s time to change that.

castlevaniasotn

6. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is often regarded as not only the greatest Castlevania of all time, but also one of the greatest games of all time. And with good reason.

The beautiful sprite work, the labyrinthine environments, the hunt for loot, the soundtrack, the boss encounters, the campy dialogue, it’s all so good!

But the best part? Upon beating the game, the castle itself turns upside down, completely redesigns its rooms, adds all new bosses and enemies, and essentially becomes an immediate sequel. Your reward for beating the game is a BRAND NEW GAME. How fucking cool is that?

I also love that this classic is available on Vita, so I no longer need to be tethered to my television, nor do I need to dick around with pesky memory cards or unearth my PSone whenever the urge to play strikes.

finalfantasytactics

5. Final Fantasy Tactics

I made a rule when devising my list that I’d only represent one game within a series, rather than fill it with mostly Final Fantasy and Silent Hill games. The original PlayStation era of Final Fantasy is perhaps most synonymous with Cloud’s LEGO body-meets-whatever the hell is going on with his blocky hair, and when it comes down to which Final Fantasy is everyone’s favorite, the answer is usually a mix of IV, VI, and VII, (my favorite numbered entry is VIII, by the way) but I’ve yet to play one of them more than I have Final Fantasy Tactics.

This was the first game I’d ever maxed out the timer on, having obsessively grinded out XP until I had every job class unlocked, every subclass I wanted each character to benefit from, recruited Cloud and Worker 8, and bought all of the different spells and abilities. I couldn’t get enough.

There was just something about meticulously crafting the perfect group, like having an Archer with the Knight sub-class so they could break every piece of armor on an enemy before they could even get within melee distance. But there’s also the tragic tale of best friends torn apart by war and their social status, painting a depressing picture that always feels hopeless.

In the realm of SRPGs, the best (in my opinion) are Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, but I’ll always choose Final Fantasy first. Shout out to Vandal Hearts, though. Man, what a game that was.

chronotrigger

4. Chrono Trigger (SNES)

Although I grew up in the NES generation, Chrono Trigger is the game that introduced me to more story-driven games. I love Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest now that I’m an adult, but I wasn’t even aware of their existence on the NES until much later on.

It’s the game that introduced me to engaging narratives, actual endings, colorful characters with their own backstories, turn-based combat, and the beautiful music of Nobuo Uematsu. It also happens to be one of the rare RPGs I’ve played through multiple times.

There’s really nothing I can say about Chrono Trigger that hasn’t already been said hundreds of times before, but like many other great SNES RPGs, like Lufia, Breath of Fire, Earthbound, and Final Fantasy IV & VI, it holds up incredibly well and should be required playing for anyone interested in dipping their feet in to the genre for the very first time.

worldofwarcraft

3. World of Warcraft (PC)

I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with WoW over the last 13 years, but there’s no other single game on the planet that I’ve put as many hours in to. It doesn’t even come close.

I’ve been everything from a lowly noob to a guild leader, from leading 25-man raids in end-game content, to being antisocial and opting for random matchmaking instead. I’ve played on multiple servers, made and lost a lot of friendships, and became more emotionally attached to the world of Azeroth than the one outside of my own window. The game has also gotten me through some tough times, acting as comfort food whenever I just needed an escape.

Hell, I even met my girlfriend in a random WoW dungeon while healing on my Resto Shaman, and we’ve been together for six years!

World of Warcraft is a game that I’ve quit on multiple occasions, swearing never to return. It’s tough to fathom paying a subscription fee in this day and age, but I always seem to crawl back whenever my girlfriend and our mutual WoW friends want to jump back in for more crazy adventures.

When it’s good, it’s great, and when it’s bad, it’s still far from boring. I’m pretty sure I’ve invested thousands and thousands of hours over the last 13 years, so it just feels right giving World of Warcraft such a high spot on my list. Shout out to my fellow Warlocks, Shadow Priests, and Moonkin!

metroid

2. Metroid (NES)

I rarely, if ever, know which game I prefer on any given day: Metroid or The Legend of Zelda? I always joke around, saying that I’ve never really been able to choose one over the other, so much so that I actually have a tattoo of a Zelda triforce being drained by a little alien metroid.

Even writing this, I still have a hard time coming to terms with putting Metroid a slot lower.

I loved getting lost while exploring the labyrinthine planet, filled with strange creatures and memorable music. I remember scribbling notes and drawing maps, writing down the wrong passwords and having to start over. And I’ll never forget spending an entire summer sitting in my parents’ recliner with my old friend Paul, glued to our awful wooden floor-model television until we could barely keep our eyes open.

While Super Mario Bros. might have introduced me to video games as a 5-year old brat, I owe my lifelong obsession to both The Legend of Zelda and Metroid. This series has a lot of special games that I hold in high regard, particularly Super Metroid, Metroid Prime, and Metroid Fusion, and while all three of those probably offer superior experiences, it’s the original NES version that’ll always remain my favorite.

But I think, deep down, I love The Legend of Zelda just a little bit more.

zelda

1. The Legend of Zelda (NES)

Like Metroid, The Legend of Zelda series is full of amazing titles that could easily end up on any other “best of” list. Ocarina of Time, A Link to the Past, Majora’s Mask, all of them are fantastic and I still find myself revisiting them to this day. However, since I can only choose one for the purpose of this list, I’ll always go for the NES classic that captured my imagination unlike any other.

I was introduced to the game by my babysitter, who was a housewife that obsessively played it while her husband worked. She’d beat it, then beat the master quest, then beat it all over again, repeatedly. I was so enthralled that a game could be this open, this alive and breathing. It got to the point where I’d fake sick just so I could stay home from school and watch her play, then go home and hum the overworld theme until I fell asleep.

I begged my parents for The Legend of Zelda, and on Easter morning the year after its release, I woke up to find that beautiful golden box in place of the usual candy basket. Why they chose to give me a video game for Easter, I’ll never know. But they’ll never know or understand how important this moment was and how it’d impact the rest of my life. And neither will my old babysitter, for that matter.

Over the last 35 years of my life, I’ve played a lot of video games. A lot. And narrowing it down to 10 of my favorites was a challenging task.

I began jotting down a list of games I loved, adjusting their order as they came to me. There were plenty of games I thought would easily crack the list, like Axiom Verge, ICO, Undertale, Resident Evil 4, Fatal Frame 2, Dragon Age: Origins, BioShock, SOMA, Skyrim, Dragon’s Dogma, and WWF No Mercy, but as I reconsidered where everything landed in numerical order, things just didn’t turn out that way.

But here we are. My top 10 favorite games of all time. It’s done. Well, it’s done… for now. As I said, ask me this question again and I’ll probably give you a slightly different answer.

What about you folks? What are your 10 favorites? Feel free to share your list down in the comments, or drop a link to a similar post you’ve done in the past. I’d love to see what makes you tick as a gamer.

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44 thoughts on “My 10 Favorite Games of All Time -or- An Ever-changing List of 10 Games I Happen to Like a Lot

  1. You’re description of WoW is exactly how I feel about it too. When my husband and I were on our honeymoon we even had an old guildie drive 3 hours to come meet us in person because we were in their state.
    One of my “bridesmaids” was a guy we met in Azeroth who has become a very good real life friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s awesome! I know quite a few people who met on WoW, and also still keep in touch with friends I made back in the beginning vanilla era. Of course we all play on different servers at different times, and some don’t even play at all anymore, but it’s cool that we still find time to shoot the shit on social media or playing something else on Xbox/PS4.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent choices all around! I am pleasantly surprised to see the original Metroid and The Legend of Zelda topping the list.

    It is hard to make such a list so quickly, but mine would be something like:

    1- Super Mario Galaxy 2
    2- Super Mario Galaxy
    3- Banjo-Tooie
    4- Donkey Kong Country 2
    5- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
    6- Metroid Prime
    7- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
    8- Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
    9- Super Mario World
    10- Banjo-Kazooie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading such a long post, it means a lot! And yeah, it’s tough to narrow down so many games to such a short list.

      I’ve heard SO many great things about Mario Galaxy 1 & 2, but I’ve never played them for more than an hour each. I’ve just never been a fan of the Wii’s motion controls, so I mainly used mine for the three Operation Rainfall RPGs (Last Story, Pandora’s Tower, and Xenoblade). DKC is such a great series too! Since I limited myself to only choosing one game from each series, I wasn’t sure whether I’d choose the original or Tropical Freeze.

      Great list, though! Lots of great stuff! Surprised to not see Earthbound, haha. And seeing Metroid Prime on the list makes me very, very happy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are welcome! =D

        I guess Earthbound is looming just outside the Top 10.

        Well, the Mario Galaxy games do not use the motion controls very deeply (only the pointer and in a couple of levels) so you may enjoy them.

        Out of the Operation Rainfall games, I just played Xenoblade. I loved that one!

        I like Tropical Freeze better than the original. It just loses to DKC2 in my book.

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  3. I know what you mean. I’ve always found it really hard to make a list like this. If you’ve played a lot of games over your life, then there’s a ton of games that you want to make the list, but there’s just not enough space. I just can’t bring myself to cut some games, so the best I’ve ever been able to do is a Top 30 list. Top 10 is too difficult of a choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t possibly narrow things down to ten. Instead I will just prattle on a little about a handful of games I’ve played for hours on end.

    Mega Man (Classic series. 1-10. MM&B. GB 1-5.) These games took up a big chunk of my time after school in Elementary, Junior High, and even High school. All of them required the kind of timing, and on your feet planning of the toughest action games with the kind of pixel perfect jumping of a mascot platformer. The characters were great. The MUSIC was great. Sure some people loved the spinoff series’ like X. But to me, as good as they were they didn’t feel like Mega Man. Nothing that used its elements ever came close to dethroning it. Except maybe Shatterhand.

    So I’ll give a shout out to Shatterhand. There’s a reason why it is slowly rising in aftermarket value. It’s a really fun action platformer where you can take on stages in any order. It has a cool robot mechanic where combining symbols summons cool AI partners. Then the level design, tunes, and bosses make for a game I spent hours on.

    Most any Nintendo franchise can be placed here too. But I’d have to give the Super Mario Bros. games all high marks. Again, great game play. characters, brutal but fair mechanics. They’re all pretty great. Even when they’re not at their top level, they’re still really good.

    Unreal Tournament (Series) I did a retrospective on these awhile ago. This is a series that did a lot of great things with the arena shooter. Stuff beyond simply giving you flashy weapons, and brisk, frantic, mayhem. All of the games focused some of their energy on movement. The second game, and its upgrade really put stock into trick jumping, and built the worlds you fought in around that trick jumping. Even when playing capture modes with vehicles. Plus with the LAN play in all of them you can still play with a group of friends privately now that the player base is much smaller all of these years later. There’s no real single player to speak of (Epic gave us two mainline Unreal’s for that). But the hours I spent on the series were worth it.

    Forbidden Forest. A game from Paul Norman, the entire thing was basically a giant boss rush. But it is glorious. The graphics might seem primitive to newcomers. But it came out in the heyday of the 2600, and Colecovision. By that standard they’re quite good. It was also one of the earliest games with parallax scrolling, day/night cycles, and gore that would make a young Ed Boon blush. Plus considering Paul Norman’s background as a composer, you get some of the best chip tunes you’ll ever hear. Anyone who has a Commodore 64 in the attic, NEEDS this game.

    Speaking of C64 games, I spent hours playing Beach Head II: The Dictator Strikes Back. Among other games. (See why I can’t just do ten games ever?) It’s a head to head game collection spanning four levels. It was an early game with voice samples. If you played the bad guy (Team dictator) and killed your opponent (Team allies) in stage one for example, you would hear cries of “MEDIC!”, “I’m hit!” “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH!”, and “Ugh.”

    That’s just a handful. I haven’t even scratched the surface of games I spent eons of time playing. ;)

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s definitely tough to narrow things down to just 10 games, especially when you’ve been gaming avidly for quite some time. There are games like the Mario series, Mega Man, and Contra that I’ve poured hours and hours in to, but I guess I tend to fall back on memorable life experiences around the classic non-story driven games, like I mentioned in my bits on the original Zelda and Metroid, or how enthralled and impacted I was by the stories themselves. Suppose that’s why most of my list consists of RPGs.

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  5. Great list! I’m currently playing through the Legend of Zelda on my NES right now.

    I’ve also spent many, many hours on Azeroth. I have been successfully retired for over a year and a half, but I will always treasure the time I spent there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I stayed away for most of the Warlords of Draenor expansion, since it was so agonizingly dull between content updates and Tanaan Jungle did nothing for. I picked up Legion, really enjoyed it, but only made it to level 107 before I cancelled my subscription. It’s just so hard to casually play an MMO that requires a subscription fee. That monthly fee makes me feel like I HAVE to play it, to prioritize it over other games I’d rather be playing. I’m sure I’ll renew during a dry spell to see what life is like at level 110, but I’m in no hurry.

      Thanks for reading! The Legend of Zelda is pretty timeless. I have it on GBA, Wii, and Wii U VC, but I’d like to grab it on 3DS just to have it readily available. I recently went back through it a few months ago, but my GBA SP died overnight and, for whatever reason, it corrupted my save file. The more things change, haha.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Warlords of Draenor was the nail in the coffin for me. I found it boring as well. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Legion. I’m still going to stay away. It’s exactly like you said, the subscription fee makes me feel like I need to play it, neglecting my other mountain of backlogged games. I really miss my Druid and Hunter though :(

        Ouch! Corrupted save files are brutal. At least you’ve played through it on a few other platforms.

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      • Yeah, with things like ESO and Neverwinter, despite their glaring flaws, I at least know I can take a few weeks off to play something else, or at least jump in whenever the mood strikes my regular group of online gaming friends. With WoW, it’s always the predicament of “well shit, I paid $15 this month, so I guess I should use ALL of my free time on that instead of experiencing other things.” I don’t like it. Shame, really, since I enjoyed Legion and would really like to finish out the Heavensward story content in FFXIV. Sub fees are the devil.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. What a great list, and while your number one isn’t my number one, I can’t argue you picked a stellar classic for that slot. The original LoZ is iconic and will be spoken off for centuries to come. I’m still trying to hone my top ten list since I think it’s a great idea to have out there, but yeah, thinking about all the games I’ve played across 30 plus years…it’s quite daunting.

    I’m glad to see FFVIII get some love (even if it wasn’t a pick but mentioned alongside Tactics), and also good idea with just including one from series especially one so beloved as Final Fantasy. There seems to be a gigantic flame war between VI and VII that at one point I used to participate in, but now that I’m older and wiser, I let bygones be bygones and as long as there’s mutual respect everything is cool. I’m actually happy to find someone who likes VIII, actually my blogger peeps are super eclectic with what FFs they enjoy, which is actual awesome.

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    • Thank! I think FFVIII holds a special place because it was the first Final Fantasy I played as an adult, when things like friendship, loss, and love made a little more sense. Prior to that, they were just familiar story elements. I knew what they were, but didn’t actually know what they felt like, if that makes sense. I know it has flaws, like most do, and I know it’s near the bottom for most people, but it’s my favorite of the numbered series. I would have put it over Tactics, had I not put 200 hours in to Tactics instead (haha).

      I never understood the Final Fantasy wars among its fanbase. Most of them are great, and none of them are less than good. People just enjoy different things.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve definitely given my share of critiques about it, but the game certainly still has merit! I also kind of connected with Squall. I understood why he was the way he was (hooray a use for my psych degree hehe), and I love when games/stories use psychology in appropriate ways.

        I actually found that I own Tactics! When I was going through my games, it was on the shelf unbeknownst to me. I think it’s for the PSP? Either way I have the game and the system to play it on.

        The closest thing I can liken the FF wars to is Doctor Who fans arguing about who the best doctor is. Final Fantasy is one of the only series in any media where the sequels (until X-2 that is) weren’t direct and only had references/similarities to prior games instead of continuing the same characters’ stories. I have my opinion about the best (VII), but I also know that my opinion is VERY biased based on my life situation at the time. I also like deep, dark stories with hints of horror in them so yeah, story preference is a huge factor in what we decide is our favorite or the best #subjective

        I think a lot of my past arguing was based on some IRL “friends” deliberately poking the bear with me. My one IRL friend is a huge fan of VI like he cried when he heard the Symphonic Poem from VI (as did I). I’m at the point now where I can see the value in all of them even if I do have my favorite, I’m not going to tell you your favorite isn’t great when it is, because we could critique and pick apart all of them for some reason (hello poorly translated FFVII). I can’t even say it’s because the fanbase is of the younger crowd for an excuse because most of the die hard fans are in their 30-40s, yet you can make one statement, and the flame war can burn websites to the ground, but that’s the case with any fandom.

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      • I actually think that shows your love for it! I’m big into Game of Thrones/ASOIAF, and oh boy do I complain/critique and watch other theorists complain/critique, but there’s a way to complain about things you love, and the more you love it, the more fervently you tend to bitch about it. It’s not that you think it’s bad, but nerds tend to pick things apart to examine their finest details. I think it fosters creativity tbh. All ideas come from somewhere and us doing our geek thing creates more geek things to bitch about. What more can fans ask for?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think I have the PSP one! It’s a much larger box than a GBA game would come in. I like playing the different versions to see what they’ve improved/changed. When I do write reviews of them I can just link it to the review of the original (in the case of FFIV) since I don’t need to talk about Story just differences in Gameplay. For the GBA version of IV, I feel like the Gameplay is more streamlined/neater. The menu is easier to navigate, which is what I would expect in an update.

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  7. It must have been hard coming up with this list dude. I’m not brave enough to attempt a top 10 games of all time list, but I do know that if I did Symphony of the Night, and Super Mario World would have a spot on it :).

    Great list of classic games dude.

    Liked by 1 person

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