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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, '15, 5:19 am 
I've wanted to create this topic for a little while just as a fun challenge, but I was grappling with my own personal question with whether I wanted to do 5 or 3, and which is more challenging. As I list my own top 5, it should become apparent why that was a problem. I finally decided to do 5 because I'm not sure if I could narrow it to 3 and feel like I'm really being honest.

Simple rules: choose 5 individual games. You can name multiple games in a series, but each one has to count individually, so you can't name a whole series as one entry. Because this is meant to be sort of hard, but fun. It was hard for me, between 3 and 4.

I'll start.

5. Shadow of the Colossus - There's no game out there quite like it, period. It is entirely based on 16 boss fights, which are all puzzle-platformers against colossi that by rights should register your puny little stabs as splinters at best, if not for the vital spots. Each one is unique in design and beautiful to look at, and move slowly and ponderously (with the exception of the two "small" ones later in the game which are actually faster moving). The music all sets a great atmosphere, with the story definitely being minimalistic and more showing than telling, but still done brilliantly. It may not be for everyone, but it's unique and worth trying if you have a PS2 or a PS3 (and the PS3 disc version also comes bundled with Ico). For a long time, this one was my solid #3, until the next two listed below.

And now...oh how I hum. Oh how I oh. Oh how I ah, between 3 and 4, and what order these next two belong in. I honestly cannot decide. It is such a hard decision. It really is. And I fear my order presented here is biased by one being more recent in my memory than the other, as well as being replayed more often simply because it is easier to replay, but here goes.

4. Red Dead Redemption - I obtained this in spring 2013 at my boyfriend's recommendation. It sat on my shelf for a bit, until one night, when no game was quite clicking for me, I randomly put this in. What followed was a summer where I was basically playing this and nothing else. I got 100% absorbed into the world, the characters, the adventure and the exploration. The gameplay was fun and generally tight. And that powerful ending. The narrative focus on redemption, and what redemption is, and if some really consider redemption possible or if they consider their own skins more important than promise and humanity, is powerful. And then, if you do the epilogue mission, it again raises that question - what redemption is, or if it's just a vicious cycle.

3. The Last of Us - No game, ever, has (on first play through) made me want to play it while simultaneously repelling me from playing it. Nor has a game made me shed gamer tears as often as this one did on first play through. The introduction is the most effective in any game that I can think of, ending with the most heart-wrenching scene one can imagine. The game raises so many uncomfortable, unsettling questions (I like that kind of thing, if it's not obvious) about humans, morality and the human condition by its end, and what people can do when times are just truly desperate for everyone and when simple survival is at stake. The struggle is real for everyone, especially with the big decision at the end by one character. Her personal struggle comes to life if you take the time to find three collectibles cataloging her thoughts at the game's end. I also like the slightly different take on zombie apocalypse - yes, the infected in the game could be replaced by standard zombies with no real difference, but using a thing that actually exists (parasitic Cordyceps fungus, though mutated to infect humans and turned worldwide pandemic) and removing the supernatural element completely makes it more real (and tickles my public health nerd). Sure, the gameplay doesn't do anything very new, but it does what it needs to and it does it well. But the core, for me, is the emotional story and uncomfortable questions it makes you ask. I think this will be one of the most remembered games from the 7th generation of game consoles.

2. Okami - Once I got the past the introduction (which, admittedly, could be a lot shorter) and I got to start playing the first time it was immediate love. The controls are so tight, among the best and most responsive. The world and art style are absolutely gorgeous, and I still don't think that games today, even with the best graphics tech available, look as beautiful and alive as this game does. The characters are interesting and fun. The combat is well done and only gets better through the game as you acquire more brush powers and weapons. The boss fights are well designed without being overdone - this game still has one of my favorite boss fights in any game, ever. The brush powers themselves are, in my opinion, a great, creative mechanic that are generally implemented well and a fantastic way to enable the story to inform a core part of the gameplay. The soundtrack is easily one of my absolute favorites in gaming, and I have the whole thing in my iTunes library. If I really had to criticize it in some way, the first thing I would say is that the writing could use some editing, as some of the dialog is way longer than it needs to be. This is also the first game on this list that actually has an ending that isn't sad or ambiguous at best. IMO, a must play if you own a PS2 (though discs are hard to come by), PS3 (the HD version on PSN is the best) or Wii (only get this version if you don't have a PS2 or PS3).

1. Earthbound - I still couldn't tell you what, exactly, it is about this game that makes me love it so. And that might just make me love it all the more, I don't know. It might be the simple charm of it, seeming like it was almost made by a child most of the way through, but with a constant undercurrent of dark parody and surrealism. That darker side slowly came through, showing itself quite clearly about halfway through, and then largely disappearing back into the game's undercurrent until the very end with one of the most memorable boss fights in gaming. It's cute, it's charming, it's even downright funny, until that dose of cosmic, childhood trauma-inspired horror at the end. The gameplay really only has two major innovations (for the time), those being the rolling HP meter and enemy sprites being visible on the world map, but otherwise it's a fairly standard turn-based combat JRPG. The inventory system was almost spiced up a bit, with each character having their own inventory and you could trade items amongst the party members. But there's just SOMETHING there...that I still can't identify, that makes me name it my all-time favorite game.

Alright. Go.

PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, '15, 8:41 am 
Let me give this a try...

5 - Animal Crossing - I've been a fan of the series for quite awhile now and I still think that Animal Crossing on the Nintendo GameCube is a really great game. It may not have had a whole lot of character customization but there was so much to do. I loved my town and I had two characters who I played as. I converted one of my characters into an arcade which had every NES game you could play. So whenever I wanted to take a break from catching bugs, fishing and doing errands for the villagers, I would walk into "Coolie's Arcade" and play some games. It's also where I first played Donkey Kong, Wario's Woods, and Punchout.

4 - Spyro Ripto's Rage - I've always been a huge fan of the original Spyro Trilogy for the Sony PlayStation. To be honest, I had a hard time choosing between this game and Year of The Dragon. I can't explain why I loved Ripto's Rage more than YOTD, I just do. Even now my disc copy of this game is worn out because I beat the game twice a year, where YOTD usually only gets beaten once a year. I just realized, I've never beaten Spyro The Dragon. Now where's my copy...

3 - Digimon World - Anyone who knows me will know that I am a huge Digimon fan. When I first laid my hands on this beautiful gem of a game I played it everyday (until it got stolen) making my way around File Island fighting Digimon, recruiting them for File City and trying to discover different ways to navigate the world. They had a way of making you feel connected to your partner which you raised. Depending on how you raised your partner would determine what they Digivolve into and how long their lives were. It was a delicate but awesome system. I really loved how you would get a Numemon if you messed up raising your Digimon which you could use to clean up the world if you couldn't make it to a toilet in time. It was such a shame when they got rid of the raising in favour of a more Pokemon-esque system in the later games.

2 - Kingdom Hearts II - What's there to say about KHII? It's awesome! There is such a great story and it's such a beautiful game. Traveling to different worlds to help save them was my fantasy come to life. Not many people know this but before I was ever introduced to Kingdom Hearts or even knew about it, I used to travel between worlds using my imagination as a kid. I would go to any worlds I was a fan of (Digimon, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Naruto, etc) and fight off a magical dark presence (which I still do to this day. Just the story is more complicated.) So it blew my mind when I first played the game. I loved the combat and characters too, and what not to love about Sora, Donald, and Goofy?!

1 - Phantasy Star IV - My first RPG and still my favourite game to this day. It was actually the first game that I really got into and thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. I loved the characters, the storyline, the battles, the quests and gameplay. It was magical. I still find myself humming or whistling songs from the games soundtrack. Needless to say, I was addicted to this game.

I remember the first time I beat the game, I was shaking from the adrenaline rush of finally beating the Profound Darkness. I found out later that the reason I was having such a hard time was because I accidentally did a low level run finishing the game with levels being in the early thirties. That will teach me from running away from every battle because it was too hard to make it through.

I used to look up anything I could about PSIV, create several failed Phan sites of my own and do whatever I could to be an active member of the Phantasy Star community. That led me to GameFAQs where I created a little RP called Another Phantasy Star RP where I met MercuryKnight (Snorb) and kaloes (Celieth) which led me here during the boards early days. If it wasn't for this game I probably wouldn't be here right now. So I thank this wonderful gem for a wonderful time.

PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, '15, 8:46 pm 
I'll give it a shot. Ask me tomorrow when I'm in a different mood and the answers might change. ;)

5) Kings Quest VI. I was never a huge Sierra fan, but I loved this game and replayed more times than I can count. It had everything from Greek mythology to fairy tales to a literary-themed part of an island where there were creatures such as the Diphthong and the Dangling Participle. Also, my best friends and I discovered our mutual love for this game at a point where we were strengthening our friendships, so I'll always have a soft spot for it because of that. One of said friends used to be big into the whole heavy metal scene in high school and early college...yet every time he got into my car, he would take my iPod and go right to the "Girl in the Tower" song and we would belt it out. :D

4) Riven. The original Myst is still legendary and I do love it, but I rank Riven just a smidge higher. While I imagine the game is enjoyable on its own, there are tons of references to the first tie-in novel of the series, and it was exciting to see the places and characters I'd read about before the game's release. And speaking of the release, Riven was THE game that year (1997 I think it was?), and even though I was fairly certain I'd find it under the Christmas tree soon after it came out, every time I passed the software store in the mall, I'd have to stop and ogle the display. It wasn't until over 15 years later (with this past fall's Dragon Age: Inquisition) that I was that excited for a game release.

3) Mass Effect 3. No, the ending wasn't perfect, but I've made my peace with it. The rest of the game was phenomenal - I laughed, I cried, and everything in between. It's said that the Citadel DLC was written both as a thank you to the fans and a farewell to the original trilogy (since a ME4 has been announced), and it lives up to those standards.

2) Dragon Age 2. The game that introduced me to Bioware. I rank DA2 higher than ME3 (and other Bioware games) for a couple reasons. First, due to the way you can shape your character's personality, I feel the strongest bond with my DA2 protagonist (I find there's more variation and nuance to it than ME's paragon/renegade scale). Second, due to the way the game is structured and the passage of time, I felt that it allowed for the most character growth with the companions. It sounds dumb and cliched, but DA2's companion characters are so well-written and developed, with their strengths and flaws and struggles, it's almost easy to forget they're not real people. I like the other games in the DA series, but something about DA2 just hits all the right notes for me.

1) In what will come as no surprise to people who know me and who have read my posts here over the years, #1 is the original Phantasy Star. It was one of the first games I ever played, back when I was very young (my older neighbors introduced me to gaming in general and PS) and didn't realize what a big deal it was to have a female protagonist in such a game. Having grown up with Alis Landale, as I got older, that just made the game more special. Like some others on the list, I've replayed more times than I can count, and every time, the magic is still there. And now to get super-schmaltzy, my love for PS has led me to the online fan community, where I've been lucky enough to meet some people I now consider among my closest friends. When I was laid off from my job a couple years ago, I started writing PS fanfic again, and that eventually led me to trying out original stories, and then becoming a published author. So while the others on this list might shuffle around a bit, I'll probably always keep Phantasy Star on top.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, '15, 4:55 am 
I cannot quantify these, because I love these games more or less equally. I will shift them up/down as I see fit because, well, I can.

King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow
This is still one of the best-written computer games ever made (fun fact: I know all three of the verses you speak in-game to cast your spells!), its puzzles actually help fuel the story along and make logical sense (unlike a certain King's Quest game that required you to kill a yeti with a custard pie, or start a wand energy transfer machine with a piece of moldy cheese that required you to defy all logic and common sense and get thrown into a dungeon, hope you saved), had one of Sierra's best voice casts (nowhere near the awesomeness that was Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father's truly epic voice cast, but KQ6 had Tony Jay, who was pretty much the villain in every cartoon you grew up watching.), and had different dialogues depending on what you did in the plot thus far (for example, a longer conversation with the first merchant you talk to on the Isle of the Crown, just to confirm your location.)

Oh, did I mention that in the canon path, you challenge Death to a contest for your soul and two others? As in, Prince Alexander of Daventry literally THROWS DOWN THE GAUNTLET at Death's feet and call him out. Because that totally happens (and yes, there's different narrator snark for using most of your other inventory items on Death besides the one you need.)

Worlds of Ultima II: Martian Dreams
Based on the Ultima VI engine, the Worlds of Ultima roleplaying game "series" was meant to explore other worlds besides Britannia, which was basically going through the equivalent of Renaissance England during the entire main series of games. I put "series" in quotes because only two games were released: The Savage Empire, which was basically Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World: The Roleplaying Game, and Martian Dreams. (A third game, based on Arthurian legend, was sadly canceled, probably because it was going to run on the Ultima VII engine and a lot of people had issues getting U7 to run.)

Anyway, Martian Dreams has you go back in time to an alternate universe 1895, where the steampunk is... steampunk, and you're going to Mars! Joining you on your quest for Mars is the famous reporter Nellie Bly, Doctor Johann Spector (developer Warren Spector's alter-ego), and a who's who of 1890s celebrities and historical figures. (Sadly, Theodore Roosevelt is not a party member; a pity, as he would have loved the Belgian Combine Rifle you start with.) Steampunk, British colonialism, Martian wildlife, and a familiar face from history as the villain await!

Planet's Edge: The Point of No Return
Probably one of the first computer games I've ever bought with my own money, Planet's Edge is a rather simplistic roleplaying game: You explore space, go beam down to planets, fight in space, all for the goal of building something called the Centauri Device, a faster than light drive capable of pulling Earth out of the wormhole trap it's stuck in. (Don't ask.)

I love this one for the quality of its writing, just like KQ6 up above; that, and the manual had the best justification for this billion-to-one all-or-nothing chance to save Earth: "Well, Earth's stuck in a space/time warp, but the gravity's still there; therefore, the mass has to be somewhere, and if we built the device that caused this, we can reverse it. If we devote every last joule of power, every man-hour of work, every last resource on the moon to just plain survival, humanity's got eighteen months. If we build a faster than light ship based on the alien tech that we were able to salvage, and head out there to meet up with the aliens that might be able to help us, we've got a year tops. LET'S DO THIS."

Prince of Persia
Before there was a desert wanderer and his teleporting love, before there was a young warrior who could rewind the flow of time with a single dagger, there was the Prince of Persia. You know the story by now: Street urchin meets beautiful princess, urchin gets princess, Grand Vizier Jaffar gets jealous, urchin gets thrown into dungeon, princess has one hour to decide to either marry Jaffar or die, dungeon gets urchin, dungeon gets urchin, urchin kills Jaffar, urchin gets princess.

This is not one of those easy kind of Prince of Persia games where spike traps and those thrice-damned blade traps are a minor inconvenience for your health bar that you can just gulp down some water to fix; this is old-school platformer. You screw up around the spikes, your character dies horribly. Badly mistime a jump (and you will!), you're treated to a rather horrifying death scream from the Prince before he slams into the ground. Yeah, this is actually pretty gruesome for a game from 1989. (Not on the level of, say, Ninja Gaiden or the last Wolfenstein games where there's blood all over the place, but there's still a surprising amount of the red stuff.)

Fortunately, you have infinite lives, but not infinite time.

Super Mario Bros. 3
It's Super Mario Brothers 3, I shouldn't have to tell you how awesome this game is. But besides being the best Super Mario Bros. platformer that will ever be made, this game's got sentimental value for me: Back in 1991, I had to go to the hospital for a week because I had a severe asthma attack (SPOILERS: I almost died.) My father smuggled our NES into my hospital room along with the Satellite (for those of you too young to remember/too lazy to check Wikipedia, the NES Satellite was a four controller multitap for the NES that used infrared signals to communicate with the NES. We needed it because all the cords involved, from A/V cable to controller cords, weren't long enough to go from the TV to the bed.)

So, yeah, before going to work (my dad worked nights at town hall back then), Dad would come and visit me in the hospital, and we'd play Super Mario Bros. 3, and I yelled at the nurse one time for blocking the Satellite signal so Mario got crushed by some spikes. He even moved the NES into the second room I was moved into because my IV came out overnight (SPOILERS: I almost died twice in one week.) and my sister would play Dr. Mario against me when Mom brought her over to visit me, and there was a really cute nurse who introduced me to Tetris.[/list]

Other Favorites that Just Aren't My Top Five: Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday, Sonic the Hedgehog, Phantasy Star II, Chrono Trigger, 007: Everything or Nothing, From Russia With Love (Starring Sean Connery as James Bond), Metal Gear Solid, Ghostbusters: The Video Game, Final Fantasy IX, and Super Mario RPG.

Last edited by Snorb on Thu Feb 12, '15, 4:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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