From time to time we like to put together lists, and this is a list I chose to put together. No, Dark Souls isn’t on the list, but keep in mind I’ve played over a hundred games. I like it, but I don’t love it. Besides, I’ve only had it for a few months. Gimme a break.
Here are some rules about what went into this list:
- I had to have played the game or series more than once.
- I have to have good memories playing the game.
- The games I choose are not necessarily the best designed. They are the ones I personally had the most fun playing.
- This in no way represents your favorite games nor do I think you should agree with me.
Without any further delay, let’s dive into my top 20 games:
Number 20: Record of Agarest War
I bought this game a few years ago and I don’t regret it. While far from my favorite game, I had a lot of fun with its story. When I first bought this game I had no idea what kind of treat I was in for. While its gameplay is somewhat lacking and at times incredibly difficult if you don’t know how to thoroughly break the game (and sometimes even when you do), the story is just amazing. When I first made my way through the entire game and reached the true ending, I felt the story was an absolute masterpiece akin to a Shakespearean play. Most aspects of the game aren’t the greatest, but if you like a great story with excellent characterization then try this game. Really, the only reason Final Fantasy Tactics isn’t on this list is because of this game’s story.
Number 19: Super Smash Brothers Melee
So many memories. If I had to pick between every Super Smash Brothers game currently out, this one was hands down my favorite. I feel this game handled better than Brawl, and that’s practically the only reason Brawl is not on this list. I’m of the fairly popular opinion that Brawl is too floaty while Melee is more tight, which is generally a better thing in action and fighting games. For such a popular game, there’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said. I love this game.
Number 18: Kingdom Hearts 2
Like Melee, this is my favorite of its respective series. I was a huge fan of Kingdom Hearts 1 and Chain of Memories. When Kingdom Hearts 2 came out, I was ecstatic. It was a great game and still impresses me. It’s very fun through and through even if its replayability is virtually nonexistent. It was an amazing sequel and that’s all there is to say.
Number 17: Ar Tonelico 2
Time for a little obscurity again. Ar Tonelico was a PS2 game published by NIS. Ar Tonelico 2 was a sequel that improved upon virtually every aspect of the game. The only reason Ar Tonelico 3 isn’t on this list is because, well, I haven’t had the money to go out and buy it yet. Its gameplay looks fantastic just like Ar Tonelico 2’s. A fusion of an RPG and Dating Sim, this game was worth every penny and every second I spent on it. It would be much further down on the list if I didn’t hate Luca with a passion. Selfish witch.
Number 16: Suikoden
A very well known game even though I’ve never actually met someone who’s played it, Suikoden was actually a more recent purchase. When I played this game I felt it was one of the best I’ve ever played. It’s not the most balanced game, but the sheer number of player characters, the party system, and the military activity sections felt fresh compared to every other popular RPG of its era. This is definitely a good game.
Number 15: Phoenix Wright Series
I simply couldn’t pick just one. Phoenix Wright is one long story to me and they’re all amazing games, including the spinoffs. I’ve played these games countless times just to see their stories again and again. For a game series without deep gameplay, this is a major accomplishment. If you haven’t gotten the theme yet, I like story quite a bit.
Number 14: Yugioh: The Falsebound Kingdom
Originally a gift from a dear friend, I played this to death. I was a huge fan of Yugioh before it went in a weird direction (card games on motorcycles) and especially its first generation of characters. While the card game wasn’t particularly logical, this wasn’t the card game. This is loosely based on a certain filler arc wherein the main characters get sucked into a virtual world and need to escape. A simple strategy game with casual difficulty, as a kid I had a lot of fun with it. It was arguably my very first strategy game and it’s still one of my favorites. Too bad my copy broke or I’d probably be playing it right now.
Number 13: Tales of Phantasia
Like other games in this list, the only reason Tales of Symphonia isn’t on this list is because I like this game slightly more. Originally on the super famicon, I purchased the GBA version of this years later. I love the story of this game but also feel for the time, its gameplay as an action-rpg was very good and set the stage for the formula for every single Tales game following it. A great reason why Tales of Phantasia is better than Tales of Symphonia is because the latter’s direct sequel, Dawn of a New World, is actually not a game but rather a pile of dog crap that doesn’t deserve to be called a video game. While I can’t blame Tales of Symphonia for that, its sequel is one of the worst games I’ve ever played in my life, if not the worst.
Number 12: Skies of Arcadia: Legends
A remake of the Dreamcast classic rpg, this is the version I played. This was a fun game about air pirates before every team started putting air pirates in their game and it became tropey. This was a good game and really it still is. For the time it was cutting-edge and I still have fun with it today. For a time, Tales of Symphonia and Skies of Arcadia were tied for my favorite RPG of all time. As time went on they both went lower on my list, but they still hold a place in my heart as some really fun games.
Number 11: Harvest Moon 64
I’m a big Harvest Moon fan, having played nearly every installment in its legacy up until the end of the Gamecube era. However, Harvest Moon 64 was my first, and honestly, it was the best one. Harvest Moon 64’s core gameplay mechanics would have attempts to improve upon it, but in my mind they simply had gotten it perfect with this game. There’s nothing extra and there’s never not enough. This game did everything right in its series. This is essentially the antithesis of the PS2’s Save the Homeland, which isn’t really even a game but rather an unfocused abomination. Harvest Moon is supposed to be about the farming and Harvest Moon 64 understood that. Save the Homeland did not. I never farmed in Save the Homeland even once and yet managed to get an ending in it. It wasn’t a very good game at all.
Number 10: Civilization IV: Beyond The Sword
This is definitely my longest-played game. I’ve spent thousands of hours playing this game refining my strategy over and over and over. I believe this game is vastly superior to the severely disappointing Civilization V. Civilization IV is about building a Civilization that can stand the test of time. Civilization V is about $30 on steam. Honestly, I feel the main issue with Civilization V was their focus; Civilization IV was a massive success because it was about the civilization. Civilization V was about military tactics. No matter where you start in Civilization V it feels like it ultimately doesn’t matter because the buildings are what matters in making your civilization bloom. Whereas there was a certain modicum of tactics in Civilization IV in terms of picking where you’d settle and what improvements you build and how you’d interact with other civilizations, Civilization V totally lacks that. There are many other reasons why I prefer IV to V, but I’d have to write an entire article for that and that’s not the point of this. Note that I haven’t played any expansions for V but I have played both base games.
Number 9: Phantom Brave
I’ve played Disgaea and thought the puzzles got in the way, Disgaea 2 and thought it was too easy, La Pucelle and thought the endings were all depressing, and Rhapsody and thought it was amazing, but my favorite of the bunch of was Phantom Brave. Perhaps it’s because it was my first NIS game, but I had so much fun playing this. I love the characters; all of them. I love the music, I love the voice-acting, and I love everything else about this. I even love the strange gameplay. While there isn’t a grid, as I’ve said, I like story more than I like impressive gameplay for the most part. This game’s story isn’t Shakespearean, but it’s rather beautiful regardless.
Number 8: Monster Hunter Tri
I played this game with my friends for countless hours, getting better and better so they could rely on me. At my peak I almost never fainted, just so I could be a pillar for my friends to rely on as we worked together to take down monster after monster after monster. I had more fun than I could ever imagine playing this game with my friends. Even when I was annoyed, those moments slowly disappeared. I love this game. But as it’s number 8, it’s not my favorite.
Number 7: Persona 4
Yes, another very popular game. No matter how many times I go through the social links in this game, I always feel something for the characters. While some prefer the third installment in this series, I prefer the fourth because of its small-town feel and more identifiable characters. If you’ve seen the anime, play the game. It’s much better. However, I’ve never played Golden, so one might argue that’s a better choice. Or not. I don’t really know.
Number 6: .hack//GU
A trilogy of games that serves as a small slice of what is the .hack// franchise, I feel this trilogy is the very peak of that series. Getting into the lore of the game is fun as is the gameplay. Unlike the old clunky system of the IMOQ games in the previous generation, .hack//GU is infinitely more fluid and fun. Seeing the main character grow over the course of the games, and having been someone who viewed .hack//ROOTS, I had so much fun with this game that Ovan became my avatar on many websites. Also Sword Art Online is boring.
Number 5: Metal Gear Solid 3
Rather than going on and on about its positive features, I’ll leave you with this: One time I got on a turret and shot down several helicopters while shouting at the top of my lungs “This is the power of steaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalth!” That’s essentially what this game is about to me.
Number 4: Fire Emblem Genealogy of the Holy War
I’m a huge Fire Emblem fan and out of every Fire Emblem Game, this one was by far the most influential in its series, the most fun, with the best story, the best music, and the best gameplay. This game was incredible in every way and that the Super Famicon version was never released stateside should be considered a sin. Most people haven’t played this game, yet it’s by far the best in the series. I definitely suggest you try it. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth it.
Number 3: Chrono Trigger
This was naturally going to be on this list somewhere, and naturally it’s number 3 to me. While I believe it is a superior game to Earthbound, I had more fun with Earthbound and Earthbound is a much bigger part of my past. Chrono Trigger is still immensely fun. If it weren’t so short, Earthbound would be below this. But alas. If you want a full review, check out my Retro Game Review for it.
Number 2: Earthbound
A major part of my childhood, this game taught me how to read and gave me endless enjoyment throughout my life. Every few years I pop this game into my SNES and play it. If you want a full review, check out my Retro Game Review for it.
Number 1: Dragon Quest V
(Super Famicon) – Spoilers Ahead
This game. Dear lord this game. For a very long time I considered Earthbound’s story to be the greatest story in all of video game history, only challenged by Chrono Trigger. I wasn’t even a huge fan of Dragon Quest when I first played this; I felt it was an okay series but not amazing. But then I played this game. It skipped all the way from nothing to me to my number one favorite game of all time almost overnight. Many people disagree with this, but its story just fits me perfectly. Rather than being that hero of destiny or being the greatest thing since sliced cheese, the main character isn’t any of these things. He’s important, but he’s not the legendary hero. Yet as you go around the world saving town after town after town you start to realize even without that divine right, you are a hero. Yet you’re also just a man as you want to marry a woman you love and raise children with her. But regardless of what happens you always stay on your quest to find your mother and eventually to save the world.
The most sad yet amazing point in video game history, in my opinion, comes when you lose to a minion of the demon king and get turned into a stone statue. You get separated from your wife and get sold to some rich nobleman on an island in the middle of nowhere, watching as their lives slowly unfold, their children being taken by those demons you’d been stopping all this time. Within that barrage of hopelessness, you’re rescued by your children who had grown in your absence. You go out to rescue your wife, learning that your son is the legendary hero your father and you had been looking for throughout your quest. The way that they show these things is amazingly sad and yet absolutely brilliant.
Despite its poor graphics and gameplay, that made me hate an SNES-era villain more than I’d hated any character before. This game made me legitimately want to play it all the way to the end no matter what, something that no other game has done so far; while I have completed nearly every game I’ve ever played, I could take it or leave it. This game is thoroughly satisfying through and through and I’m glad I didn’t let its poor graphics, poor gameplay, or poor design get in the way of its amazing story. No, it’s not the best game ever, but this is by far my favorite game of all time.
And… how about you?
Image via www.lumaxart.com