As usual, check out Megan from A Geeky Gal’s post for today here, and check out the rest of her Geek Out challenge if you’re interested in participating!
On par with what I always do (i.e. being extra), I’ll be going above and beyond for this answer. As this entire blog is pretty much about video games, I’ll be talking about ten of my favourite games of all time – not necessarily a top ten, but definitely games I’d consider S tier. It was also really hard to pick just 10. Why am I like this?
Day 12: Favourite video game, or video game series?
BioShock was a title that surprised me, as I picked it up on a whim, knowing absolutely nothing about it. It has one of the most awesome settings in the city of Rapture that I’ve ever seen in a video game. The decaying, yet still brilliant environments in the underwater city are so stunning – it made exploring this game extremely rewarding, despite the constant threat of splicers, Big Daddies, and limited resources. The Plasmid system added a new layer of strategy and fun to the basic shooting gameplay. I remember once using the Telekinesis Plasmid to pile up a bunch of exploding tanks near a Big Daddy, and then using the Incinerate one to blow them to smithereens. BioShock also has one of the most memorable narratives in any game I’ve ever played, which I don’t want to spoil at all. If you can handle the mild horror-aspect, the atmosphere in this game is second-to-none, and I would definitely consider it a must play, even now.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)
None of my favourite games lists would be complete without this masterpiece. However cliche, Ocarina of Time will always be held up in my mind as the pinnacle of games; this title has the best balance of fun combat and puzzle gameplay, exploration, dungeon design, and boss design I’ve ever seen. Even with the limitations of its age, this game managed to do all of the above, while still presenting an incredible story, one that has stuck with me throughout the decade since I first completed it. I’ve played through Ocarina of Time dozens of times, and I honestly don’t think any future Zelda title will ever be able to top this one for me (though Majora’s Mask came close, and I loved Twilight Princess as well). I think the Gerudo Fortress, Spirit Temple, and its boss Twinrova, is my favourite section of the game overall.
God of War (2018)
God of War was another surprise favourite of mine, as it was originally a game I had no intention of playing. Seeing all the high review scores it was getting (and the fact I had nothing else to play at the time) made me side-eye it. I caught one of my favourite streamers, EpicNameBro, going through the tutorial/beginning section on Give me God of War mode, and seeing that little snippet of the game was enough to convince me to grab it. I’d been in a bit of a gaming slump – nothing was really interesting or exciting me – and this game absolutely enthralled me. The combat was diverse and entertaining, Atreus was an amazing character, and I really connected with the story. I even ended up liking Kratos as a character, which I never thought would happen. Fighting the Valkyries and their queen was my favourite challenge of the game – I ended up getting the platinum trophy for this title, I enjoyed it so much.
Super Mario 64 (1996)
This was the other standout title on the Nintendo 64 that I always loved and still go back to play. I loved the main castle, and the concept of jumping into the myriad of paintings to collect stars from the vastly different worlds. With it’s creative design and fun gameplay, this will always be my favourite Super Mario title. I loved the floating fortress in the sky (Whomp’s Fortress), and the water world where you could change the water level (Wet-Dry World) by doing a high jump into the painting. The enemies and music tracks of Big Boo’s Haunt and Jolly Roger Bay (with the sunken ship and giant eel) still scare the shit out of me. I’ll never forget chasing that godforsaken yellow rabbit around the castle basement for about 9 hours as a child. Good times.
So instead of having Bloodborne, Dark Souls, and Sekiro take up three places on this list, I’m just grouping them all under Bloodborne, which I think is still my favourite of the so-called Soulsborne series. While I love all of these games to death, Bloodborne really struck a chord with me. I was terrified to play initially, because not only is it almost a horror game, but it removed probably my biggest crutch in the Souls games – a shield. I would never have made it through my first playthrough of Dark Souls without my trusty Black Knight Shield. The fact that this wasn’t an option in Bloodborne was extremely intimidating. But once I got into the swing of parrying using the pistol, it was so gratifying. Nothing tops the satisfaction of seeing that visceral animation. The relentlessly oppressive, horrifying atmosphere of Bloodborne is out of this world – as are the surprise cosmic horror elements that the game trips you up with. Father Gascoigne and the Abhorrent Beast are probably my favourite bosses. The fast-paced gameplay, wild lore, terrifying bosses/enemies, and excellent level design are what make Bloodborne my favourite of the FromSoft ‘Souls’ era.
Journey is a game I have a really hard time articulating why I like so much. I adored the art style, and exceptional soundtrack, and even the minimalist gameplay was fine, because the setting was so interesting. I think since playing Dark Souls, I’ve gained an appreciation for games that can tell a story with their environments, and Journey perfectly embodies this concept – with its completely wordless, exclusively visual storytelling, it manages to convey so much with so little. The history of a species that began to abuse a resource until they fell to war over it was so weirdly heartbreaking. I can’t quite explain why this game draws such an emotional response from me; I wish I could communicate the feeling you get from walking into that white light atop the mountain. For one reason or another, I find this game to be incredibly resonant, and I keep coming back to it.
Pokemon X (2013)
I feel like the Pokemon series is synonymous with childhood for so many people, I almost don’t need to explain this one at all. Though I could put any iteration of the games here, I decided to go with X/Y. I vaguely remember playing Red, but my first real foray into the series was Pokemon Silver. My sister and I used to share a save file. Pokemon Sapphire was the first one that I actually ‘beat’ by besting the Elite Four and Champion. I’ve continued to play this series for as long as I’ve been alive, and I can honestly say that, despite their formulaic structure, these games never get old for me. There is just something so rewarding about raising a team from the ground up, getting ridiculously attached to a bunch of pieces of adorable data, and climbing up through the ranks; becoming the best – like no one ever was. Pokemon X/Y (despite their somewhat negative reception) are actually probably my favourite – they have a surprisingly touching story, and after generation 5 (Black/White were the only Pokemon games I almost didn’t finish, I hated them so much) these games felt like an amazing return to form. I loved the customizable characters, and new ways to build bonds with your Pokemon via Pokemon Amie – there is nothing quite like your Pokemon surviving a big attack at 1 HP, and seeing a message along the lines of: “Charizard decided to stick it out, because it didn’t want you to worry!” I’m not crying, you’re crying.
Red Dead Redemption (2010)
I’ve always had a weird soft spot for Westerns – I enjoy Western movies, particularly – I couldn’t tell you why. When Red Dead Redemption first came out, I was immediately interested in it, purely for the yeehaw-Old-West setting, and I was legitimately obsessed with this game for like a year. It has a crazy cast of supporting characters, most of them designed to be unlikeable, but enjoyable nonetheless (Irish and Seth being two of my favourites). RDR’s protagonist, John Marston, was also one of my favourite protagonists in any game I’ve ever played – he’s the exemplary rogue-turned-straight, and he’s just trying to do right by his family, to make up for his past sins. RDR2, released last year, just about topped this game with its equally as endearing cowboy, Arthur Morgan, but it’s honestly a toss up between the two for me. I loved doing the Stranger missions in this game – all of the NPC’s were their own brand of batshit crazy, from the cannibal, to the man who keeps his wife’s corpse propped up in his house. This game was absolutely wild – you never knew what was waiting around the corner, in both the story and while roaming. Whether it was hunting, exploring, looking for treasure, or (as I said in my review of Red Dead Redemption 2) just fleecing fools in the local saloon at Liar’s Dice, I enjoyed every single second I spent with this game.
Eternal Sonata (2007)
I think I’ve mentioned a few times in other posts that I’m not a big traditional JRPG fan – I’ve never really enjoyed turn-based combat, nor the trite friendship-saves-the-day storylines that they normally follow. This title however, grabbed my attention, and to this day is still my favourite JRPG of all time. With its absolutely gorgeous pastoral settings and bright colours, it utilizes the music and life of composer Frederick Francois Chopin to tell a fantasy-based narrative. While somewhat convoluted, the adorable characters make up for any nonsensical twists the story takes. The combat in this game is what really sold me: while still turn-based, it’s more action-oriented, and allowed me to actually run around the battlefield to attack enemies on my own. Positioning and strategy were still important, but simply being able to be more active made this game feel much more my speed. The group of characters in this game also sold it for me, as they all have different strengths (some are fast and can get a lot of hits in, while others are slow but stronger) and building up echoes to unleash powerful, special moves unique to each character made every single encounter fun. I spent an ungodly number of hours with this title – I think I’ve played through it at least 3 times, not including a run of NG+ (which was actually extremely challenging). I absolutely dread the day my copy no longer works.
Diddy Kong Racing (1997)
For the final spot in my top ten, it has to be Diddy Kong Racing – this was the racing game for me personally on the Nintendo 64 (not that trashfire DS remake). Mario Kart was fun, but it had nothing on this title – colourful characters, exciting tracks, and an absolutely FIRE soundtrack. Seriously, just go listen to the absolute bop of a theme song that this game has. Diddy Kong Racing also had something that Mario Kart, and many racing games, always lacked: an interesting story mode. There were four main areas (a dino-desert, a snowy area, a water world, and a medieval one) and a boss for each. You had to complete each track once, race the boss, then each track again, while collecting silver coins, and still coming in first (this was actually really difficult on some of the tracks). Once you accomplished all this, you’d finally be able to race the final boss: Wizpig, another legitimately challenging race. Once you had won, you unlocked yet another secret area (space themed) with more tracks, and another race against Wizpig. This game had so much to offer, and I feel like it’s severely underrated. But I adore it, still play it, and I definitely still get some of the track themes stuck in my head from time to time.
Let me know what your favourite games are in the comments!
Honourable Mentions: Persona 5, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Shadow of the Colossus, Assassin’s Creed II, GTA: San Andreas, The Sims, Spider-Man (PS4), Halo