Since I was a wee fetus of prepubescent age, I’ve enjoyed burning daylight with video games. From running around the streets of Gotham to flying through the skies of Spira, games have allowed us to live a million different lives. Some of those lives were absolutely abysmal portals to hell but I won’t be bothering with those today. Instead, I’ll be sharing my ten favorite titles – in no particular order ‘cause that’d be frikkin’ impossible – from my earliest days of gaming to today.
DMC: Devil May Cry
Okay, so this one might not be popular – I’ve heard a lot of claims that the reboot was somehow not as good as the original trilogy but I don’t have a problem with Dante’s new look. The controls are smooth, action non-stop and graphics shiny and pretty. The dialogue needs work but you don’t play a game like this for beautifully crafted scripts; you want blood and body parts and DMC: Devil May Cry doesn’t fail in that.
Batman Arkham City
All of the Batman Arkham games rock; even Origins, for all its faults, is way better than most video game-based games. Asylum was a great start but City went even further with more missions and classic enemies within its larger sandbox of violence. Not even Arkham Knight bested the second entry, which was a bit disappointing considering it easily could’ve been.
Smackdown vs Raw 2007
Though it’s been quite a few years since this installment hit store shelves, what came after lost something even as they gained bigger rosters, improved create-a-wrestler options and fancier graphics. The most annoying removal was intergender matches; 2007 was the last time you could pit Mickie James against The Undertaker and for fans of the female wrestlers (then called Divas) and watch with glee as they took down the big, hulking alpha males.
Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy VII turned me into a gamer but its Final Fantasy X that stayed with me long after the credits rolled. As Tidus, Yuna and their comrades-in-arms travel Spira to stop the evil Sin from destroying their world – again – you can’t help but root for a round of happy endings. When the truth about Tidus is realized, that hope is dashed and you realize that video games are, in fact, works of art.
Kingdom Hearts 2
Kingdom Hearts’ second Playstation 2 installment begins with one of the saddest openings I’ve ever played. After introducing you to Roxas – and ripping him away like the cruel masters Square Enix are – a bigger, longer and more sweeping adventure begins for Sora and company. The cherry on the top of this gaming sundae is that end battle that teams Sora and Riku in an all out battle for the universe.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
When 2D platformers began making the transition to 3D, many failed in painful ways. The Legend of Zelda did not suffer such growing pains and came out of the gate with what many consider the greatest game in history. The graphics, controls and story were all beyond what so many contemporaries produces and even today holds up. While the series has continued to grow and evolves, Ocarina of Time is still the most memorable entry Nintendo has ever released.
X-Men Legends 2
When Raven Software took the rules of RPGs and combined it with Marvel’s mutant outcasts, a new breed of superhero video games was born. The sequel continued that tradition and allowed you to use both the X-men and the Brotherhood of Mutants as you defend the world against the army of Apocalypse. Unlike the so-so film starring the ancient bad guy, this game actually delivers.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
Taking what made X-Men Legends so good and adding a larger cast of Marvel superheroes and villains, Ultimate Alliance began a new, sadly ended-too-soon franchise. Ultimate Alliance 2, inspired by both Civil War and Secret War, took all the lessons learned from previous (spiritual) entries and introduced new features that tweaked but didn’t overall change what made the series so much fun. Co-op at its finest.
Super Mario World
While the Super Mario Bros. trilogy was amazing when the franchise jumped to SNES it introduced even more fun and imaginative additions along with improved sound and graphics. As usual, Mario is out to save the Mushroom Kingdom but this time he’s got his trusty steed (who runs off like a crazed coward at the lightest of an enemy) and new power ups on his quest to defeat the evil Bowser. It’s also the last Mario entry I enjoyed until New Super Mario Bros. Wii (or was it Super Mario Galaxy – I can never remember which I played first). Yeah, I think Super Mario 64 sucked. Get over it.
I don’t normally go for first person shooters, though I do enjoy Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Duke Nukem 3D, BioShock managed to suck me in with its creepy atmosphere and twisted storyline. Many nights were spent in the dark as I traversed the dark and eerie hallways of Rapture and searched for the secrets hidden within the underwater utopia. By adding in the choice to kill or free the Little Sisters – and the impact on game play your choice had – BioShock went where few FPSs go and truly put the player in the shoes of the silent protagonist.
So there are today’s favorites. They could change in a week, a month or the moment I hit publish. That’s the thing with favorites; they change with your mood. But no matter what that mood may be, these are still the go-to games in my library. What are yours?