HONORABLE MENTION: I wanted to keep this list to 25 games, and while I probably wouldn't consider Tecmo to be my 26th favorite game of all time, I felt I couldn't leave it out because of how much this game impacted my love of sports and football in particular.
When I was really young, my older brother and his friend and I would each pick a team or 2 and simulate entire seasons. We would get a bunch of potato chips from the pantry and wager them. Whoever's team made it the farthest would win all the potato chips.
I remember I always used to pick the Cowboys because someone told me that Dallas won the Super Bowl the year the game was made. Well, after losing several seasons in a row, I decided I needed to make a change. I remembered seeing the Philadelphia Eagles just barely get into the playoffs over the Cowboys, so I figured screw it, I'll wager them this time.
Somehow the Eagles ended up getting to the NFC Championship Game against my brother's pick, the 49ers. Somehow, the Eagles pulled out a victory and made it to the Super Bowl. I remember standing up and doing the pose that the head coach of the team does when the team wins the Championship Game.
In the Super Bowl, I was up against my brother's friend's team, the Buffalo Bills. As fate would have it, the Eagles pulled through again, and although my 5 year old self didn't realize it as a time, I had just found my favorite professional sports team. 16 years later I'm still a diehard Eagles fan, all thanks to this game.
A great game to start the list off, and a great game to launch the Super Nintendo, my favorite console of all time. The game has great graphics that are full of color, and the music is catchy as well. The controls are great, everything feels tight and responsive, and all the different powerups are unique in their own right.
A great start to the Zelda series, I still like playing this game from time to time and seeing if I can remember where everything is hidden. It's crazy to see just how far the series and video games in general have come from.
The multiplayer is what made this game great. I remember playing this game with my brother and his friends, doing The Beach scenario for hours and hours. I always preferred playing the Squirrels over the Teddyz.
A friend and I always used to love playing the War scenario against 6 bots on Insane difficulty. Talk about a challenge! It usually resulted in us hiding in the Uzi room nervously awaiting a Teddy to walk around the corner with a Bazooka and take us out right away.
A great Final Fantasy game to finish the series on the original Playstation. This one has by far the best characters of any game in the series. I love that the main character isn't a typical sulky, depressed guy but a vibrant ladies man. Steiner is your typical clumsy knight, constantly berating Zidane for kidnapping the princess. Vivi is the shy, quiet guy who gains self-confidence throughout the game. Cap it all off with a ton of side-quests and you have another great game in the Final Fantasy series.
A solid RPG for the SNES, Super Mario RPG simplifies a lot of the aspects of the genre to deliver a polished, streamlined experience. The music in the game is great, with a good story and great dialogue from the characters. Fighting Jinx in Monstro Town is always my favorite part.
The first online video game I really played. One of my fondest memories of when I was younger was sitting on my brother's bed in absolute silence watching while he zipped around Drippy's 2Fort and JEC Hunted maps as a Medic, tagging Snipers with grenades and blowing them up with shotguns.
While a great single-player experience, its the multiplayer aspect that really stands out to me. I don't think I've ever played a game with multiple people in the same room as much as this one. Nothing beats 4-Player smash battles with your friends and family.
I always loved watching my brother play this game, and I never even played it until I got to college. My freshman year of college I absolutely destroyed it, thanks in no small part to already having the location of every Star Piece memorized. It's always fun to see the looks on peoples faces as they walk past your room and see you've gotten 120 Stars on all 4 accounts.
There's only 1 game that I've played more than this one, and that's saying something. If you've seen the South Park episode where Cartman cannot wait for the Wii to come out, that was me waiting for this game. I read every single guide, every single review, watched every single preview, and followed this game like no other in anticipation. When it finally came out, I power leveled to 60 in no time, and so began a 3 year period where I played no game other than this one.
Yet another game reaching this list in part because of its nostalgic value to me. This http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVOFibwVMw0 intro brings me back to times when I didn't have to worry about the big things in life and could just enjoy each day for what it was worth.
The story in this game is so underrated. It rivals the story of any big motion picture. You have your typical quiet kid in Rudy, who wants nothing more than to fit in. He travels the country, drifting from town to town, wanting nothing more than to be accepted by the people around him and protect the people he loves. Even though he turns out to be made of the same material that the demons are, his capacity to Love is much greater than any human's.
You have Jack, the typical treasure hunter who seeks the ultimate power. When the game begins, he is a careless guy who seems troubled by something in his past. You come to realize that he was originally charged with protecting the woman he loved. He learns that true power isn't a strong sword or a powerful shield, it's the Courage to face your fears and put the people in your life that you love the most first.
Finally, you have Cecilia, the princess of Adlehyde who expects the people to love her simply for being the princess. Eventually, with the help of the guardians, she learns that people shouldn't be loved because of their title in life, but because of the person they are inside. She thinks that her, Rudy, and Jack's adventure to save Filgaia is something that she must do as princess, but she comes to realize that she is fighting to save the world because she loves Filgaia and all the people in it.
A great, albeit unconventional, game on the Playstation. It's hard for me to pick which game between this one and Final Fantasy VII has the better story. You have two men fighting for control of the throne, starting a war in the process. You have a young man named Ramza Beoulve who is part of the prestigious Beoulve family of knights who is searching for his place in the world. Finally, you have the Church of Galbadia secretly orchestrating the chaos behind the scenes in order to get people to distrust the royal family and throw their support behind the church entirely.
The story is great, and the job system allows for a huge degree of customization. I always liked playing with 5 Ninjas and trying to take out the entire enemy team before they even get a chance to move.
And Wiegraf is still one of my favorite video game villains of all time.
A game by Bioware that is similar in many ways to the KotOR series. It has a great story with a good morality system and good gameplay. It's a little bit short, with only 3 real towns to quest in. I love the arena in the Capital City and all the scripted events that occur throughout.
For the first 10 or so years of my life, this was easily my favorite video game of all time. It's still extremely fun, and easily my favorite of the Final Fantasy series.
I appreciate the game now for very different reasons than I did when I was younger. The materia system works great, allowing for a good range of customization. I love all the characters, and Sephiroth is an awesome villain. This is probably the hardest game in the series, with Ruby Weapon still posing a challenge to this day.
Speaking of nostalgic moments, walking outside of your room as Link at the start of the game and hearing this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3I1fx1GOuc makes me think of the times when I was 5-6 years old, stepping out in the yard ready to go on an adventure.
I love exploring all the different dungeons and solving all the puzzles in them. I also love that feeling of first setting foot in Hyrule Field and feeling like you have this huge world to explore.
I didn't really respect this game as much 2-3 years ago. I always hated how difficult getting some of the masks were and always felt under intense pressure to complete the various dungeons within the 3 day limit. However, coming back to it after I'd matured a bit and gotten better as a gamer, I found the challenge made the game even better. I can easily beat any Zelda game before this (with the possible exception of Zelda 2), so having to actually watch my health bar and think about where I'm going is refreshing.
Yet another big nostalgic game. No moment of any game provokes that feeling more than the opening of this one. When you power up the SNES and hear this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=226lyvZmNB8, it honestly almost brings a tear to my eye.
I love playing this game with friends and family, as it makes it much easier to get around without the computer players getting stuck all the time. This game is great to play on an emulator, as you can skip the tedious leveling up of magic completely.
The music in this game is phenomenal as well, and the story, while cut down since the game was originally supposed to be on the SNES CD, is great for its time.
My favorite Zelda game, I remember finding a manual to this in my house when I was 6 or 7 years old and being super stoked to get it from my brother and play it. When I found out he didn't have the game, I was devastated. My mom suggested we go to a used games store and see if they had it in stock. Unfortunately they did not, but they told me I could put a reserve on it if anyone sold the game back.
A few months later, I had completely forgot about the game when one day my mom walked up to me and asked me if I wanted to go to the game store. I said sure, and I could not believe it when the guy behind the counter pulled the game out. I was so thrilled to finally get a chance to play it.
I love the feeling you get as your character gets stronger and stronger as you complete each dungeon. The controls and music are great as well.
This is one of those games that I can say I have completely and thoroughly mastered. Most of the games on this list are more RPG-ish, and as such aren't about reflexes and timing as much as they are about planning out and using strategy to complete. I can beat this game with any character and lap every racer on every course without even breaking a sweat.
Everything that will be said about the original KotOR goes for this one as well. It's so sad that Obsidian was rushed into completing the game by the holidays. The abbreviated ending and other side-effects of rushed content is all that holds this back from being #2 on the list.
Another very nostalgic game, and one that I could play through 1000 times and never get bored of it. I love the feeling of getting stronger and stronger as you play, finding more and more upgrades and weapons. The searching for missile and energy containers is always fun, as I always have to plan way ahead of time to make sure I don't miss any of them.
No game is more nostalgic than this one. It is the first video game I can ever remember playing. I remember when I was 4 years old I would nag my older brother over and over again if I could play this game on his computer.
I will always remember the opening scene of the game when Alexander is standing on the beach, having been the only survivor of his crashed ship, while a ring glistens in the sand beside him and birds chirp overhead and the ocean waves crash against the shore.
What can I say about Warcraft 3? I've easily spent more time playing this game than all the other games on this list combined. I've played over 5000 hours worth of custom maps online, and I've easily spent over twice that much time designing my own custom maps and mods.
The game itself is amazing, perfectly combining RPG elements with the RTS genre. Arthas is a truly tragic character, going from a devout prince who staunchly defends his homeland and his people, to a twisted, corrupt man who murders his own father and leaves the kingdom to rot.
This is the game that made me love the PC and programming in general. The World Editor opened me up to programming, and by the time I was 13 I was cranking out Zelda mods that were downloaded over 50,000 times by people across the world and were the #1 rated mods on the #1 Warcraft 3 site maps.worldofwar.net.
The greatest RPG I've ever played. Has an amazing story, great characters, and awesome character customization/building up. The quests are all really fun, and landing on and exploring each new planet is always exciting.
I can remember the first time I played this game back in 7th Grade. You land on the planet Taris with your crewmate Carth after surviving the crash landing of your ship, the Endar Spire. Carth tells you all about the powers of "the Force", and how the two of you must find Bastilla, a Jedi Master whose powers are keeping the Republic in the war with the Sith.
You step outside your apartment and see this massive world of Taris before you. There are people walking around, approaching you begging for credits, and its up to you to decide how to respond. Do you just say sorry and walk away? Do you laugh at their misfortune, and threaten to beat them to a pulp if they don't back off? Or do you reach into your pockets and give them some spare change, knowing that they could use credits much more than you do.
It's all these morality choices that make the game so great. Your squad mates all have moralities of their own, and when you travel with them, your actions will affect their perception of you.
As you travel from world to world, looking for pieces of the Star Map that will lead you to the Star Forge, you find out your true identity. You are Darth Revan, a Sith Lord and the former master of the current leader of the Sith, Darth Malak. A Jedi strike team lead by Bastilla boarded your ship, and before a battle broke out between you, your apprentice fired upon your ship, hoping to kill you and usurp your title as Sith Lord.
You survived Malak's betrayal, as Bastilla used the Force to preserve your life. She brought your crippled form before the Jedi Council, and they decided to erase your memories, programming in you a new identity that was loyal to the Republic. Bastilla was to watch over you as you rediscovered your connection to the force so that the Republic could use you in the war against Malak and the Sith.
This shocking revelation ranks up there with movies like The Sixth Sense. I was so blown away that I was "the bad guy" the entire time. At that point in the game, you can either become Darth Revan once again, or throw away your past life and dedicate yourself to the Republic and the Jedi.
Definitely my favorite game of all time, and one that I don't see slipping down this list any time soon.
A list of my favorite video games of all time, spanning the third generation (NES, Sega Master System, etc.) to the sixth generation (Playstation 2, Xbox, and Gamecube).