Let me just start off by saying I’m a bit of an old fogey here, and I remember getting the SNES when it first came out, having already had an NES and Atari. Granted, I had siblings older than me, but when it really came down to it, I probably played games more than both of them combined. At age 6, I was getting further than my brother (who is 10 years older than me) in any game we played. Thus started my career as a gamer. I just couldn’t pull myself away, despite being an outdoor kid at the time.
Enough about my past, let’s get into the good stuff. I’ll mention any important details/disclaimers as I go.
Massively Multiplayer Online RPG (MMORPG)
Rising Force Online
Make no mistake, this is far from being anything award winning. The reason I chose this is because it’s the only MMO I’ve spent as much time in as I have. No matter how much I hated the slow-rolling EXP gains, I always found myself right back in that world, building the next best mech in the game. Which leads me right into my next point.
I’ve always loved games that have more than just two factions fighting against each other for whatever reason. This game had three: The Accretian Empire, The Bellato Union, and the Cora Holy Alliance. The gist of it is, there’s a war going on over minerals and resources across the galaxy, because it’s what powers their technologies. The Accretians are actually robots with advanced AI, the Bellato are engineers that are all about building devices, and the Cora are religious zealots. Obviously, I was drawn to the Bellato Union, as they are the only race in the game that can build mechs to beam down to the battlefield.
Of course, that isn’t to say I didn’t like the Accretians as well. They got siege cannons which were the most over-powered pieces of garbage in the game. At max level I could one-shot anything but the Bellato’s mechs.
I suppose another argument I could make for this underdog of a title is that at the time, I had a lot of friends who played. The grinding of levels wasn’t even the worst part. It was mining resources and leveling skills. So to counter this, we would all get on Vent and just talk about random things (mostly anime), and run macros while we simultaneously opened another client to do instances and quests on another character. Given that, it made the experience a little more enjoyable. Even to this day, if I could find a private server that shortens the grinding, I’d go back and play.
Honorable Mentions: Phantasy Star Online 2, Perfect World International, Star Wars The Old Republic, World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
The cinematic that originally got me hype:
Western RPG [Single Player]
I don’t play a lot of WRPGs, but out of what I did play, this was the winner (sorry Dark Soulsi). After the N64/PS1 generation, I skipped out on the PS2 and Gamecube. The reason being I had friends on my street and in neighboring streets that had both of these, and all the essential games (i.e. Mario Kart, Smash Bros, SSX, Twisted Metal). So I felt the need to fill in the gap by grabbing the original Xbox.
I think what I really enjoyed was the idea of being able to choose between good and evil. It was the first game I played where I felt like I got to play my way, instead of the cut and dry “we’re the good guys, they’re the bad guys, go get ’em.” The concept of using archery, melee weapons, magic or any combination of the three was amazing to me.
“You mean I can hit a guy with my sword, force push him away from me, shoot an arrow at his face and then cast lightning on him to add insult to injury? Count me in!”
Despite being about a ten hour game (12 if you did side quests), there were just so many ways to go about accomplishing the same thing that I found myself constantly starting a new game, changing up my combat style, executing quests with different approaches, and even marryingii various NPCs.
That said, I have yet to go back and pick up the anniversary edition.
Honorable Mentions: Dark Souls 2, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Japanese RPG [Single Player]
Some of the more avid JRPG players out there might remember the golden age of games back in the PS2 generation. If you played the first game, you might have gone on to the second one and hated it and been too afraid to pick up the third. I know it may be a little late, but if you haven’t played the third Xenosaga game, I’d advise you to dig out your PS2, dust it off and set aside time to play it. Compared to modern games, I still feel it holds up for a PS2 game.
It was the best out of the series in terms of story, character development, combat, and mechanics. Sure, some of the cut-scenes were a little long, but they were important. What sets this game apart from the others is that you had the option of skipping them if you wanted to. When I would lose a battle and have to restart from the last save point, I didn’t have to sit through a 5 minute cut-scene every single time like the first game.
The combat is my favorite part. It’s nothing fancy or out-of-this-world, but simple yet stylish. The camera would actually shift periodically from battlefield overview, to character lineup, to closeups, to enemy lineup etc.
If I were to compare the combat system to a more well known game, the closest would be Persona 4.
To add icing to the cake, the soundtrack to this game was probably one of the best tracks I’ve ever heard in JRPG history. I challenge anyone to fight me when I say that it stands up to other soundtracks like Final Fantasy 7, Chrono Trigger, Tales of Symphonia, and even Persona 3 and 4.
Honorable Mentions: Persona 4, Final Fantasy VI, Eternal Sonata, Star Ocean 4, Tales of Xillia, Tales of Symphonia, Lost Odyssey, Secret of Evermore
First Person Shooter
Single Player Story: Halo Series
I have to split this into two categories because as much of a first person shooter nut I am, I simply cannot pick a be all end all game for the entire genre.
By now you’ve probably noticed a bit of a trend with my picks. If your assumption is that I’m a sci-fi nut and a sucker for mechs, you would be correct. Halo is no exception. Most FPS games nowadays aren’t really known for their story, but the Halo series was a major hit for me. I don’t think there’s a single game in the series I flat out dislike. Currently, I’ve been counting down the days to Halo 5: Guardians.
Multiplayer: Goldeneye 64
Now I know what you’re thinking. The first pick is arguable, but why Goldeneye 64? You might say I’m just a sucker for nostalgia, and that there’s no way a game that old can compete with the modern generation. I’ll reveal my pick for realsies following this, but as my favorite genre of game I feel the need to get this one out there.
The younger crowd may not have been in on this madness back in the day, but the crowd of gamers my age or older would definitely remember. Before games like Halo or Call of Duty, or for that matter, before online gaming in general, we had actually going over to friends’ houses to hang out to play games. What did everyone always want to play? Goldeneye.
It is truly my belief that this game was the catalyst for the booming of multiplayer FPS games, eventually becoming what we have today. If we’re going to talk about going back to the roots, then Goldeneye was one of the first seeds to be planted which would become the very foundation of what modern FPS games are built on.
Multiplayer (for realsies): Titanfall
For real this time, I can’t think of a FPS game more fun than this. Yes, again with the mechs. I knew I felt something familiar when I played this game. That’s when I discovered that the best team from Infinity Ward that was primarily responsible for making Call of Duty 4 and Modern Warfare 2 amazing ended up working for Respawn Entertainment LLC, the company that developed Titanfall.
Even though this game is over a year old, I’m still down to play anytime. Also I’m anxiously waiting for more information regarding the announcement of Titanfall 2.
Honorable Mentions: Call of Duty 4, Modern Warfare 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Perfect Dark 64, Jetforce Gemini, Doom 3
Third Person Shooter
While I don’t play nearly as many TPS games as FPS, there’s always a game out there for everybody.
Gears of War Series
I was a little late getting into this series due to the fact that I didn’t actually own an Xbox 360 until 2008. After playing the first two games, I remember pre-ordering Gears of War 3 in 2011.
I liked this game for its change in pace compared to what I had been playing at the time. It was a game with over-the-top, testosterone-filled, and just in general badassery. Other than the Halo series, it was the only shooter game to have an enjoyable single player and multiplayer.
Honorable Mentions: Dead Space Series, Resident Evil 4, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Army of Two, Syphon Filter
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Revered as one of the best Zelda games in the series, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see this pick. Of course the hipsters will probably scoff at me and say, “how typical.” But you know deep down that if nothing else, it’s at least in the top 5 Zelda games.
Much like TPS games, I don’t really play a lot of Adventure games aside from the triple A titles, and even then I wouldn’t say I have an extensive experience in this genre. Though I haven’t played every Zelda game, this was the one that spoke to me the most.
Honorable Mentions: Shadow of the Colossus, Banjo-Kazooie, Uncharted Series
This is actually a very difficult choice for me to make, especially since a LOT of games can technically fall under this category.
End of Eternity
Or better known in North America as Resonance of Fate, I can’t think of a game more unique in combat style (once you get past the tutorial that actually sucks at explaining how to do anything). I’m actually more drawn in by the world if anything. It’s futuristic, yet almost steampunk. The society is a mix of dystopia, yet has order. It’s not a game you can start, play a few hours, and then come back to months later. The story will make no sense unless you focus on beating it without touching other story-driven games.
You could chalk this one up as an RPG, but given that the play style is more real time, I can argue that this is more of an action game with RPG elements. It uses a combat system similar to Eternal Sonata and Valkyrie Profile 2iii where as long as you move, the enemies move.
The “Hero Action” is really what makes the combat shine. Objectively speaking, you could still probably say that Bayonetta or Devil May Cry series is better at it, but they were going for something different here, and I can tell they focused more around the world and society in which the game takes place.
Another big plus for me personally is that the game has dual audio. My weeb elitism aside, the English in this game is actually atrocious.
The customization is another added bonus. Not only do you get to customize the guns with parts you find throughout the game, but you can even customize the characters’ clothing and accessories. I’ll admit, there was a side mission that was hard as balls to do, had nothing to do with the main story, and the only reward was a set of shades for the characters and some money… and I completed it.
Honorable Mentions: Astebreed, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, Devil May Cry 4, Dynasty Warriors Gundam
Capcom vs SNK 2
Although the Persona 4 Arena games almost took this one, I had to take a step back and really analyze my thought process behind this. I’ve probably spent more time on this game than any other fighting game with Blazblue coming very close.
I really like the huge cast of characters, and the idea that you can choose a “groove” that fits your personal play style. Along with that, you can choose up to three characters and adjust their power levels however you want. Or you can just go with a single character that will be more powerful.
The problem I have with the more technical fighting games these days isn’t the games themselves. I actually quite enjoy them when I get the chance to play. It’s just that the fighting game community where I live is on a whole different level than me, and I just don’t have the time to actively practice combos and match-ups to even hope to stand a chance. Going beyond that, if I had a free Sunday afternoon with no obligations, I’d rather spend it playing other games I enjoy than practicing combos in training mode.
At any rate, I’m always ready to throw down in CvS2.
Honorable Mentions: Super Street Fighter 4, BlazBlue series, Persona 4 Arena series
Dance Dance Revolution
I started playing this game at Konamix on the Playstation 1. To save you the Google search, that mix came out in 2002. At the time, I was 15 (you do the math) and my friend that got me into it was already better than me, since he’d been playing it longer. After about 5 months, I had far exceeded him. I remember the days of having to wait nearly 30 minutes for my rotation at the local arcade. I remember the “DDR etiquette” from back then as well, such as putting your token (or some kind of indicator) on the lip of the screen showing when it was your turn, or never “shadowing” someone without their permission. If you were a precision player like me, someone stepping next to you was a distraction and could throw off your timing.
Next thing I knew, they came out with pads you could buy to play at home. Over the course of one year, I went through 4 RedOctane Ignitions. Eventually I thought of investing in a Cobalt Flux but they were so damn expensive. I had put that off so long that before I knew it, the hype had died down. Here we are in 2015, and I still love the game. The hype being dead only means I don’t have to wait anymore at the arcade.
Honorable Mentions: Project DIVA, DJ Max Technika, IIDX, Guitar Hero
Megaman X Series
Specifically, X, X2, and X3. Not to say I didn’t like the original Megaman games, I just think the X series had more to offer. Granted, the SNES just had strictly more capability than its predecessor. In turn, the Playstation would become the next step up, having X4, X5 and X6. Though I only played 4-6 a couple times, I can still honestly say that the first three are my favorite. Hardcore Megaman fans would agree. Let’s just also pretend that the abomination that is X7 doesn’t exist.
Honorable Mentions: Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario 64, Super Mario World, Super Mario Galaxy, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrows, Metal Slug Series
Side note: Can you tell I was a Nintendo kid growing up and that I never had a Sega console?
Wayne Gretsky’s 3D Hockeyiv
I’m not really into sports games. At least, not realistic ones. So games like Madden, NBA 2k, FIFA, etc don’t really appeal to me. However, when you show me a game where you can do stupid, ridiculous, and unrealistic over-the-top BS, I’m all over it.
Wayne Gretsky’s 3D Hockey features a primary mode where the rink is about half the size of a normal hockey rink, there are ABSOLUTELY NO PENALTIES so you can body check, trip, hook, and even fight without incurring any penalties. You also can do “power shots” which light the net on fire if you score. The ’98 version of the game had a power shot where if you were standing right in front of the goalie, your shot would just knock him over and you’d score anyway.
Inversely, the goalies would occasionally become a brick wall and block ANYTHING. This game was really meant to just screw around and have fun, and that’s exactly what I did.
Honorable Mentions: NBA Jam, NFL Blitz
Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2 Yuri’s Revenge
Once again, I had a really tough time deciding between the Red Alert games and the traditional C&C games with GDI and NOD factions. But in the end, Yuri’s Revenge wins.
I got into this game back in 8th grade when a couple friends in my class introduced me to it. After seeing how dated the first Red Alert was, I didn’t bother going back to it until a much later point in my life. We would get online after school and play this game for hours… on dial up internet (though for a game like this, speed didn’t matter much).
The units in this game are so fun to use no matter what side you play on. Again, going back to the whole 3+ factions fighting against each other, this was another game that fulfilled that concept. The soundtrack was also amazing to boot, particularly the track “Brain Freeze.”
Honorable Mentions: Command and Conquer 3, Red Alert 3, StarCraft, Achron
Fire Emblem Series
For anyone that knows me personally, this was a no-brainer. I’ve played every game in the series (including the ones that never got localized), and some of them more than five times through. In fact, part of my backlog of games is to play through Fire Emblem Genealogy of the Holy War again.
For those confused by the title, or the non-localized games, let me give you a quick rundown.
- Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light (NES 1990 JP Only)
- Fire Emblem Gaiden ( NES 1992 JP Only)
- Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (SNES 1994 JP Only. Remake of the first game, also adapted into anime)
- Fire Emblem Genealogy of the Holy War (SNES 1996 JP Only)
- Fire Emblem Thracia 776 (SNES 1999 JP Only)
- Fire Emblem: The Sword of Seals (GBA 2002 JP Only)
- Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword (GBA 2003. Released in NA as “Fire Emblem”)
- Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones (GBA 2004 JP, 2005 NA)
- Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (Gamecube 2005 JP and NA)
- Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (Wii 2007 JP and NA)
- Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon (DS 2009? NA. Remake of the first)
- Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS 2012 JP, 2013 NA)
My favorites are Genealogy, Blazing Sword, and Awakening. One of these days, I’ll pick up a Wii for cheap so I can get Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn.
Honorable Mentions: Advance Wars Series, Final Fantasy Tactics, Valkyria Chronicles, XCOM.