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Number 2

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

Man, what a great game. There is no part of this that wasn't great, that didn't live up to or even surpass its predecessor.

Everything that I said about Ocarina of Time applies here, really. It's true. I have even less to say about this game, certainly less that's worthwhile. My expectations for this game weren't as high as you might have expected, but when I was younger I was wary of sequels. This game summarily broke me of that fear and the presumption at its root. This place didn't take place in Hyrule, didn't involve the locales or the people I knew so well. What's more, it was better for that fact.

Majora's Mask is a world as fully-realized as any other game I've ever played, but much more dense and organic and real-feeling. Focus was given to the people around you, the plot of the game hinging on your ability to help people as much as your ability to kill monsters. The dynamic it created was wonderful in that it encouraged sidequesting while creating personal investments in those same quests - every time I'm able to make room in my schedule, I finish the Couple's Mask quest. No exceptions. No questions asked.

The game was made great by its differences. I loved the time mechanics, the ability to transform into different bodies, the ability to come back and refight bosses as many times and as often as I wished.

Come to think of it, the option to refight bosses should be in every Zelda game. No excuses!

I have a lot of highfalutin' reasons for a lot of games being on this list, but not Zelda games. No, this game is just a great game, with some scenes that bring a tear to my eye (I am a sensitive man with a beautiful young wife; the Couples' Mask quest is precisely calibrated to annihilate me) and plenty of sequences that are thrilling and some excellent dungeon design. It's got a weird, dark sense of humor, a sense of the world really ending, and small salvations that end up being irrelevant - only they aren't in the end, are they?

It may not be my favorite Zelda game on some days, but it was the day I made this list. It's the best of the best of the best.