My Favorite Vidya Games

Penguin Truth's Top 25 Favorite Vidya Games I'm quite fond of video games. I'm not really a "gamer" the way others are, mostly because I've never been all that good at them. Seriously, I suck out loud at video games. They won't even let me in arcades. It doesn't help that folks who are good at video games make you feel like worthless trash if you aren't as good as they are at playing them. It's very discouraging. Still, there are a lot of video games I've enjoyed in my twenty five years of life. And here's the top 25! I'll provide some reasoning for the top ten. 1. Chrono Trigger (SNES) (1995) (Squaresoft)/Chrono Trigger DS (DS) (2008) (Square Enix) Chrono Trigger is the greatest video game of all time, of that I have no doubt. Okay, so actually, I've not played every video game of all time, so it would be impossible to determine whether or not this is an actual truth. I just have this very strong, visceral reaction to the game. At first, I thought it could be characterized by nostalgia, but playing the Nintendo DS port of the game, I realize that there's plenty of reason behind my belief. The story is excellent, for one. I usually dislike time travel stories, but this one is fun enough to hand wave my issues with that science fiction trope. Not to mention it sort of creates alternate timelines, but that could just be fanwankery. As the plot unfolded, I found myself following the dialogue and the character reactions closely. There are many scenarios that I found at least as engaging as a light novel or comic. I'm particularly fond of Frog's story and the scenes in Zeal. The production values certainly help. While the sprites are fairly simple, you can definitely see the influence of the original character designer, Akira Toriyama of Dragon Ball fame, and I find the worlds he creates with his designs to be instantly likeable. Yasunori Mitsuda's soundtrack is beautiful, and, at times, haunting. A lot of leitmotifs add to the presence of the characters in situations of import. You can't tell me you don't get excited when Crono's theme or Lucca's "Fanfare 1" starts up. Or when the Epoch music accompanies the use of the machine. The game play is great, too. I'm not one to comment on game play. I pay little attention to game play details. I just want an easy to use system, which Chrono Trigger has. It helps, given that the battle system requires some active strategizing, though nothing too complicated. And some of the moves are really fun to use, like Frog's Frog Squash or Magus's Black Hole. Pure fun.

I never owned a SNES, so when Chrono Trigger was first released, I only played my cousins' copy or when a friend rented it. When I discovered that it was going to be re-released for the Nintendo DS, I think I wept tears of joy. I recieved it recently for Christmas and finished it within a week. I've been replaying it again and again. It's even better than I remember. I've actually had to take a break from it due to my obsession. When you start wondering if you can beat your cat up for 15 Silver Points, it's time to put your copy of Chrono Trigger away for a while.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64) (1998) (Nintendo) This game is likely in sixty to seventy percent of all "favorite video games" list ever made, but for good reason it's fucking epic. Not only is it bar none the finest in the Zelda series, but it's truly a hallmark for video gaming in terms of dungeon design, game play, music, and story. Not that the Zelda games had always just been a "save the princess" game, but there are so many more complexities to Ocarina of Time, one can't help think it was Nintendo's answer to the building storylines of the Final Fantasy games, because the player actually follows races and ages throughout their development and watches a hero and a villian rise. You feel the effects of the other characters' stories in the environment of the game, and that's what makes this so groundbreaking as an adventure/RPG title and a Zelda game. You're not just watching as a story unfolds before you, but it feels like you're actually accomplishing something in the world it takes place in.

To me, this is what seperates Ocarina of Time from a lot of games. When I played it, I reveled in my victories, because I felt really part of that world, if just for a short period of time. A lot of games don't really make you want to beat your enemies for any other reason than you want to beat the game and it's fun. I actually felt like I was making some sort of difference in that game. You go from being "the boy without a fairy" to "hero of time". That is the real mastery of Shigeru Miyamoto and the rest of the production crew, aside from their massive world-building talents. Did you ever play a game where it immediatly demands you imagining how these characters would sound? I mean, in games where there aren't any voices, of course. I hope Zelda games stay (mostly) silent forever for this reason. It's enough that the game had such excellent sound effects and music. The ocarina aspect was done well, as were many of the other elements of the controls and game play. There were a few sidequests to keep you busy, as well, like obtaining the Biggoron Sword. And the complexities of the puzzles were so good, they were almost madening (Water Temple, anyone?). If there's a definitive Legend of Zelda game, this is it.

3. GoldenEye 007 (N64) (1997) (Rare) Movie video games suck. Truly, undeniably suck. I mean, to begin with, what makes game developers assume that the experiences in a movie are all that translatable to video game format? Especially when a lot of games are already inspired by movies in other ways as it is. One of the reasons they're awful is because they're hurried in order to get a game with a well-known movie connection out on the shelves as soon as the movie's out in hopes people will just buy anything (which, I admit, they usually do), and because they're hurried, they're awful. Another is that people in movies generally don't do video game-like things like collection coins and extra lives. Generally, these games are irredeemable garbage. GoldenEye, therefore, is a major exception to the rule. Who knew you could replicate the experience of being British superspy James Bond (aside from the alcohol and the indiscriminate sexual behavior) and turn it into a first-person shooter? Apparently Rare knew, because their fairly casual adaption of the great 1995 Bond movie. Despite a few glitches (some of them rather humorous), the gameplay and structure are solid, and the multi-player mode is excellent. For a while, this was the standard by which all first-person shooters were measured. But it was more than just a good FPS. It was full of all sorts of tricks, cheats, and secrets that were really key in what boosted this title over others of its kind. Plus, when the game play is as good as this had, it was really fun being an even less morally bound Bond, rolling over Russian soldiers with a tank just to hear their bones crack and their screams of anguish. Come on, you know you did it, too. 4. Pokémon Silver/Gold (GBC) (2000) (Game Freak) I admit, Pokémon has been perhaps an inordinately large part of my video gaming life. I'll also admit that, quite frankly, I was always too old for this phenomenon. Still, the damn games can be so addictive. I got swept up in it all. Even today I purchase and play the newer games, but only the "real" ones, not the side games. Of all the generations of Pokémon games, the second generation was by far the best. The Pokémon were excellent, the environments were interesting, and had a vaguely Asian feel to it (with those giant pagodas), the legendaries were great (you who've played it must've coveted Lugia, don't lie), and the special features were fun to use. Most importantly, you could visit some of your old Kanto haunts after you were done in Johto. You could even transfer your Red/Blue/Yellow Pokémon into your new games and create powerful (and sometime super hax) teams. It's too bad the third generation wasn't backwards compatible, my poor level 100 Blastoise is stuck in Silver forever. 5. Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES) (1990) (Nintendo) This is the game that took Mario games to a new level. Where previously, the only way to work your way through the levels through a (mostly) linear fashion, now you had the chance to, at times, choose your own path. And at times, your buddy's path, too. This probably led to a lot of people screwing their friends into playing the more difficult or less fun levels. I know I was at both ends of that, myself. Besides that, there were so many interesting items, and you could store them in an inventory for later use. These included items that gave you the power to fly, swim better, or even turn into a statue impervious to damage. Don't forget the warp whistles and the P-Wings, allowing you to skip entire areas if you so desired. These items came in use: some of the later levels were monsterously difficult. That speed run video still amazes me. 6. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES) (1996) Candy... for breakfast? Er, I mean, Mario... for role playing game? Awesumo. It really was a boon to have a game that was both a Mario game and a role playing game, not to mention one done by Square. Fighting Bowser? That's just the beginning! Literally, it's just the beginning. Mario teams up with his eternal foe, along with other characters to fight the Smithy Gang, who've taken Bowser's castle and are menacing the Mushroom Kingdom. The controls are a little tricky at times, but overall it's truly noteworthy Mario game 7. Pokémon Red/Blue (Game Boy) (1998) (Game Freak)/Pokémon Yellow (Game Boy) (1999)(Game Freak)/Pokémon FireRed/LeafGreen (2004) (Game Freak) The original Pokémon games were great, as were the remakes (though technically, the Yellow version still doesn't have a remake). The concept of collecting, training, and fighting monsters in a complicated rock-paper-scissors manner was something fresh for gamers. It helped that it had such good marketing and publicity, even over here, thanks to Gail Tilden, former Editor-in-Chief of Nintendo Power magazine. Remember spending so much time in the Safari Zone? Remember wanting to get Mew so badly you had to resort to using a Game Genie? Remember the Missingno. cheat, and how it ruined at least one of your games? Ah, the memories. 8. Tetris (Game Boy) (1989) (Various) Go ahead and try to think of a game with such raw addictiveness (is that even a word?). It's hard to, isn't it? Almost as hard as it is to drive that music out of your head. As innocuous it appears, it's deceptively engaging. Surely you too have found yourself looking up in a haze of a two hour session not knowing where you are, what time it is, or what Tetris has done to your brain. Who'd have though what is otherwise a pretty uneventful puzzle game could become a vortex with which only hunger or the need to evacuate oneself could pull the player away from? There's a documented psychological effect on the mind. I think that alone makes this title noteworthy. 9. Crystalis (NES) (1990) (SNK) Of all the NES games I owned, Crystalis was my favorite by far (note: though SMB3 was my favorite NES game, I never actually owned a copy). It was one of the first RPGs I ever played (in fact, it was the second, whereas Dragon Warrior was the first) and it was an instant favorite. Though I never got very far on my own, with help of friends and family, I managed to get to the point of the game where I could enjoy the abilities of most of the elemental swords. It's unfortunate that the GBA re-release was so disappointing. Perhaps Nintendo will grant Wii owners the opportunity to download it as a Virtual Console game. I've long lost my copy of the NES version. I miss it. 10. Harvest Moon 64 (N64) (1999) (Natsume) The real sleeper hit of the N64 console was a game which I didn't expect to be as good or as involving as it became. The only reason I ever wanted Harvest Moon 64 is because I found out about some of the non-farm-related aspects of the game, specifically the wife-hunting, and thought it would be cool to play for all the girls at once. I didn't think I was going to actually enjoy playing a farming simulation. And it isn't just that. Some of the side quests, mini games, and character interactions are just plain involving and interesting. Sure, the music is maddening after a while and the game eventually gets too repetetive to enjoy, but that's only when you played it as much as I did. It's too bad that no Harvest Moon game is as good as this one, though the GBA's Friends of Mineral Town came close. 11. Perfect Dark (N64) (2000) (Rare) 12. Star Fox 64 (N64) (1997) (Nintendo) 13. Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001) (HAL Laboratory)/Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008) (Sora) 14. The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past (SNES) (1992) (Nintendo)/The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past (GBA) (2007) 15. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GC/Wii) (2006) (Nintendo) 16. Pokémon Diamond/Pearl (DS) (2007) (Game Freak) 17. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (GC) (2003) (Nintendo) 18. Diddy Kong Racing (N64) (1997) (Rareware) 19. Final Fantasy VII (PSX) (1997) (Square) 20. ToeJam & Earl (Sega Genesis) (1991) (Johnson Voorsanger Productions) 21. Super Smash Bros. (N64) (1999) (HAL Laboratory) 22. Sonic & Knuckles (Sega Genesis) (1994) (Sonic Team) 23. Animal Crossing (GC) (2002) (Nintendo)/Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS) (2005) (Nintendo) 24. Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire (GBA) (2003) (Game Freak)/Pokémon Emerald (GBA) (2005) (Game Freak) 25. Comix Zone (Sega Genesis) (1995) (Sega)

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