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Smeags' Top 50!

#50: Plants vs. Zombies (PC/iPhone/DS)
Release Date: May 5, 2009
Last Year: New

Tower Defense games. Can't get enough of 'em. Brains. Zombies can't enough of those. So what happens when these two elements collide? You get Plants vs. Zombies, a unique, addictive, and (most importantly) fun foray into the Tower Defense genre. Zombies want to invade your house and eat your brains, so what's the best way to defend yourself against the undead menace? Plants of course! Choosing the right plants to defend against the multitude of zombie types is the key to victory, and each level needs your (delicous) brains to pull through. I've played this game to death (zombie pun) on three different systems now, and I still go back to play another round. Also, the end credits song is fantastic. Sunflower rules!

Favorite Plant: Cattail
Favorite Zombie: Dolphin Rider Zombie

#49: Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
Release Date: April 27, 2008
Last Year: New

If you know anything about me, then you know that when it comes to racing games, I place my love and devotion to the more arcadey ones. The more realistic they become, the sleepier I become (scientists are still trying to understand the connection between us... although some have suggested that the cause may be extreme boredom). But when there's a racer with turtle shells, banana peels, and plumbers involved, sign me up! There's over 300 hours of playtime with Mario Kart Wii, and it's all because of the series' tried and true gameplay and amazing multiplayer mayhem. Whether it's online (still one of Wii's best online titles), with 3 friends on a couch (still the best way to play!), or you by yourself trying to get all the medals, the game is super fun any way to play. Bring on Mario Kart 7.

Favorite Racer: Bowser
Favorite Track: DK Summit

#48: Heroes of Might and Magic III (PC)
Release Date: February 28, 1999
Last Year: #45

Heroes of Might and Magic III was one of the first strategy games I played, and is also one of the most unique. It combines both elements of turned based and real-time strategy elements to create a fun and refreshing take on the genre. But the part I loved the most was all of the different races that you could play as. From the demonic Inferno to the swampy Fortress, each of the eight city types had unique creatures to train and battle with. Finding gold and other precious items to build up your city was a satisfying and fun affair, and forming a great army was always an empowering affair. It was so easy to be sucked into the deep gameplay and strategy of the game that hours would pass by in an instant. There's so many reasons to fall in love with this game, and for that Heroes of Might and Magic III earns the #48 spot on my list.

Favorite City-State: Necropolis
Favorite Creature: Ghost Dragon

#47: Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GameCube)
Release Date: October 17, 2005
Last Year: New

Believe it or not, it was actually my (now) Xbox 360 playin', FPS lovin', Call of Duty fanatic brother who first got into Fire Emblem (before I even heard of it). So when Path of Radiance released on the GameCube, he convinced me to buy the game and give it a try... and I instantly fell in love with the game. Whether it was the easy to play, difficult to master gameplay (which was tough as nails, even on easy), the fantastic cast of characters (really, I actually came to care about these guys, so of course I had to reset every time someone died), or the wonderfully engaging story, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance had it all (even cat-girls!). With this game, I was introduced to the wonderful world of Fire Emblem, and for that I am very thankful.

Favorite Character: Ilyana
Favorite Villain: The Black Knight

#46: Castelvania: Dawn of Sorrow (DS)
Release Date: October 4, 2005
Last Year: #44

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow was the DS' first of three Castlevania titles, and the second game to star Soma Cruz (At the time I never played Aria of Sorrow for the GameBoy Advance, but since then I've hunted down the game and have very much enjoyed the game). There were a couple of things that made this game stand out, one of them being the Soul Capture system, which led to a plethora of magical abilities and forged weapons to use against the evil dead that lurked within Dracula's Castle. The game also brought on the infamous anime character design, which was thankfully only put to use in character interactions (and unfortunatley the box art...). All that said, I spent hours upon hours in the halls of Castlevania (seriously, I would play the game, go to bed, and then wake up and play the game some more), fighting bosses, capturing souls, and having a blast.

Favorite Weapon: Death's Scythe
Procrastination: I should probably finish the "gamrConnect Celebrates 25 Years of Castlevania" feature...

#45: Soul Calibur II (GameCube)
Release Date: August 27, 2003
Last Year: #42

As we go through my top 50, some genres are going to get more attention than others, and the traditional fighter genre (both 3D and 2D) is at the bottom at the totem pole. I'm just not a fan of the usual unintuitive control schemes (Up Up Down Side B is a kick... well that makes sense!) and an uber competitive culture that frowns upon anyone who wants to play "just for fun". But the great thing about this hobby of ours is that great games show up where you least expect them... and that's where Soul Calibur II comes in. Okay, so I only bought the game so I could fight as Link (every 'Cube owner did, so don't give me that look), but how I was I supposed to know that the game would be that fun? That the game's control system actually made some amount of sense? That the single player mode could actually be engaging (Gasp! I know!). Soul Calibur II is one of gaming's biggest pleasant surprises for me, and here it is at #45.

Main: Link (Seriously, I was really good with him. Seriously!)
Favorite Weapon: Butterfly Net (Nothing beats beating the other player with your joke weapon)

#44: Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis)
Release Date: June 23, 1991
Last Year: #32

If you know anything about me, then you know that I love Sonic the Hedgehog. I think the franchise holds some incredible titles in its stables. But here's an interesting fact: the original Sonic the Hedgehog was not my first Sonic the Hedgehog. In fact, I played the game much later on than I care to admit. So playing it after its predecessors brought some disadvantages for the game, like missing the Sonic Spin (introduced in Sonic the Hedgehog 2). Still, the game showed why Sonic had become such a fan favorite, thanks to great platforming, awesome speed, imaginitive level design, and some sweet tunes. Sonic the Hedgehog started something special, and it's easy to see why. Plus, I think it's neat that my first Sonic in this list is the one that started it all.

Favorite Level: Green Hill Zone
Favorite Robotnik: Wrecking Ball Robotnik. Such a classic.

#43: Rock Band 3 (Wii)
Release Date: October 26, 2010
Last Year: New

It's been interesting to watch the rise and the fall of the "band" music genre. I finally gave the genre a shot with Guitar Hero III: Warriors of Rock, and I loved every moment of it. It was great to really feel like you were playing some fantastic Rock and Roll music, and the good times kept coming with spin-offs, seques, and even a competitor (Rock Band). There were so many titles releasing that the genre finally imploded on itself... but not before letting loose Rock Band 3. Whether it was creating my own band member (girls who rock... rock!), or jamming with my family and friends (Four siblings, four band members. Perfect match.), the good times were plentiful. Even now the game continues to get support with new songs, and I continue jamming. With Rock Band 3, the genre lived its life like many rockers did, burning out bright rather than fading away.

Favorite Instrument: Bass
Favorite New Song: Fix You (Coldplay)

#42: Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (GameBoy Advance)
Release Date: June 10, 2001
Last Year: #36

I don't know why I wanted to get this game, because at that point in time, I never played (or really heard about) a Castlevania game. But buy it I did, and it led to one of the strangest events I've encountered with video game purchases: When I opened up the box (still shrink wrapped), instead of the cartridge, there were two packets of Taco Bell hot sauce. So after returning the sauces for an actual Circle of the Moon game, I plugged it in and turned on the lights (not because it was scary, but because the original GameBoy Advance screen wasn't back lit). It was a good day, because this game showed me the greatness of the Castlevania series (at least, the Iga-vania style ones). A combination of awesome atmopshere, encouraging of exploration, great action enhanced by RPG-style mechanics, and fantastic music music led to a game that was super fun and very satisfying. Like I said, it was a good day, as I had become a Castlevania fan.

Favorite Side Weapon: Cross-Boomerang
Favorite Boss: Adramelech

#41: Paper Mario (Nintendo 64)
Release Date: February 5, 2001
Last Year: #39

Paper Mario was one of the Nintendo 64's final Nintendo games, and also one of its best. The game really came out of nowhere, and the idea seemed almost too odd to be true. Mario finds himself in an RPG adventure. Sure I'll go with it, as it's happened before (although Square helmed the game), but this Paper-cutout art style? Talk about out of left field. But the wonderful thing is that it all worked out spectacularly, and this became one of the few RPGs that I've really loved. Intelligent Systems created a wonderful world to explore, an always engaging and fun battle system, lovable partners to fight with, and fantastic (and hilarious) dialogue that can put a smile on anyone's face. When you get the basics right, everything else fits into place, and the crazy paper world of Paper Mario was a true delight to explore.

Favorite Partner: Watt
Favorite Boss: The Koopa Bros. *bling!*

#40: Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo 64)
Release Date: April 26, 1999
Last Year: #34

Remember when I was talking about how I'm not a huge fan of the traditional fighting genre? Well that still holds true, because when Super Smash Bros. came onto the scene, it was nothing like the fighting games that gamers were familiar with. When you get hit, instead of your health going down, it goes up! And the higher your "health" gets, the farther you fly when you're struck again. This change in pace was refreshing and fun... but what really made this game go above and beyond was its roster. Nintendo's stable of fantastic characters were pitted against one other in a duel to the death, and it turned out just as zany, crazy, and chaotic as you'd think it would be. This game was the start of something special, and nothing beat the 4 player multiplayer fun that this game provided. SUPAAAH SMAAAASH BROOOOOOTHERS!

Main: Link
Best Move: Jigglypuff's "Rest". Fear the Puff.

#39: Super Mario Sunshine (GameCube)
Release Date: August 25, 2002
Last Year: #35

Super Mario Sunshine is the "Super Mario Bros. 2" (aka Doki Doki Panic) of the 3D Mario games. With a totally new setting devoid of any classic Mario monuments (Sorry Koopas and Goombas) and very different platforming rules thanks to Mario's doo-hickey device F.L.U.D.D., the game almost feels like it got the StarFox Adventures treatment: an idea for a new IP is instead transformed into an adventure for a tried and true Nintendo character. However, just because Super Mario Sunshine is different from the rest, doesn't mean is was a dud. In fact, the game felt incredibly fresh and fun, and FLUDD (sorry, too lazy to instert the periods) led to some great platforming moments! Still, I find it ironic that the game's best moments are when Mario finds himself FLUDD-less and has to rely on his own skills to traverse some mind-bending levels. I also miss the more varied level designs of previous (and later) Mario games, as Isle Delfino really only offers one type of terrain: Island Paradise. No Ice levels, no castles, no airships... just... Island Paradise. And yet despite all my bickering, the game is still great... and that's why it's #39.

Favorite Mission: The one where you have to destroy the Manta Ray shadow. Sooo much fun.
Hate: Hunting for Blue Coins

#38: Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (DS)
Release Date: October 21, 2008
Last Year: #41

Gotta get this off my chest: Shanoa is gorgeous. Absolutely my biggest video game crush. Oh Shanoa... *ahem* Anywho! Yes! Order of Ecclesia is the latest Castlevania game from legendary video game designer Koji Igarashi. And now that I've played every single Castlevania game made by Iga, I've come to the conclusion that Order of the Ecclesia is the best one yet (Symphony just missed the top 50! Don't hurt me!). Brilliant hand drawn pixel graphics, pitch perfect controls, a *ahem* beautiful protagonist, and fantastic music make it another great game in the series, but what really sets it apart is its slight focus to a more linear design. Don't get me wrong, I love exploring the world of Castlevania and finding every secret in its nooks and crannies (which is still present in OoE), but with a slightly more linear level design at the beginning, there are some fanastic action to be had, and the bosses are some of the best yet. As you can tell, I love the Castlevania series, and Order of Ecclesia is my favorite of the bunch. Incredible game.

Favorite Boss: Eligor
Please Iga: Announce a traditional Castlevania game for the 3DS!

#37: Diddy Kong Racing (Nintendo 64)

Release Date: November 24, 1997
Last Year: #38

Diddy Kong Racing is an important game to me, as it was a game that was a first in many aspects. It was my first Nintendo 64 game, my first 3D game, and most importantly, my first Nintendo game (forever changing my alliegance from Sega to Nintendo). And while I'll always remember this game because of those points, Diddy Kong Racing makes my top 50 because it is first and foremost a fun and great game. It sets itself apart from Mario Kart by having a focus on a single player adventure, where winning races gain you access to secrets, different paths, and even bosses to face. In fact, traveling to outer space and facing final Wizpig was one of the fondest memories I've had in gaming. Also, the muliplayer was extrodinarily fun, especially the battle mode. 10x rockets ftw!

Main: Pipsy the mouse
Favorite vehicle: While the airplane is awesome, I can't deny my love for the classic kart. The hoverboat can suck it though.

#36: Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (Wii)
Release Date: November 5, 2007
Last Year: #33

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is a brilliant game (Well all these games are brilliant, but still...). It really feels like the pinnacle of the franchise, with a wonderful and engaging story full of twists and turns (and still grabbing your attention past the 30 hour mark), awesome characters that you grow attached to, the ability to save MID GAME (I know right?!), and awesome cut scenes (not much of a cut scene person actually, but these really punctuate important story developments, and the art style is just gorgeous). I really can't say how much I've enjoyed this game, and with so many characters to choose from and grow, I easily played this game twice through and things still felt fresh. I'm really glad I found the franchise with Path of Radiance, but Radiant Dawn is the game that made me a fan for life.

Favorite Laguz Character: Lethe (Never forget Mr Khan... never forget :P)
Awesome: Playing as the Black Knight (<3 Eclipse)

#35: Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (Super NES/Wii)
Release Date: November 20, 1995
Last Year: #25

Diddy's Kong Quest was actually the first Donkey Kong Country game I played (I later played the first on the GameBoy Advance), and it introduced me to the brilliance of the developer studio known as Rare. Incredible graphics (for its time, I was blown away... and they still hold up incredibly well today), wonderful music (I could listen to Stickerbrush Symphony and Snakey Chantey forever), co-op gameplay, and a high difficulty level (which was always fair, which really makes all the difference in tougher games) gave this game its own niche, even when Sonic and Mario ruled the Platformer genre. Many years later, my roommate and I downloaded the game off of the Virtual Console and played the heck out of the game... and we had a blast. Games like this one will stand the test of time... and still be enjoyed by gamers years from now. A true classic.

Ape of Choice: Dixie Kong (Heli-hair all the way)
Toughest Level: Bramble Blast

#34: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii)
Release Date: August 27, 2007
Last Year: #28

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is an important game for a couple of reasons. One, the game is the conclusion to the fantastic Prime saga, and two, the game was one of the first to show that Motion Control could be used in a classic-style game, and used extremely well. This is where fans got their first big taste of Wii's IR controls, and it worked like a charm. Blasting foes was more intuitive than ever, and many (including myself) wondered how they ever got by without this new control scheme (hooray for the Metroid Prime Trilogy!). Corruption was also the most epic of Samus' adventures yet, as her adventure took her to multiple plantets (and only one blew up!), had her fighting some huge and intimidating bosses, and had her encountering some of the most adrenaline boosting events I've seen in the series. The Prime series ended with a bang with Corruption, and the galaxy was once again at peace. I wonder if we'll ever find out who was in that space ship...

Favorite Moment: Samus and Ridley doing their best Gandalf and Balrog impersination.
Favorite Song: Skytown

#33: Bioshock (Xbox 360)
Release Date: August 21, 2007
Last Year: #31

"I am Andrew Ryan, and I am here to ask you a question. Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? 'No,' says the man in Washington, 'it belongs to the poor.' 'No,' says the man in the Vatican, 'it belongs to God.' 'No,' says the man in Moscow, 'it belongs to everyone.' I rejected those answers. Instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose... Rapture." In what is one of the most jaw-dropping events that I've experienced in video games, the manifestation of Rapture made me rethink what a video game could achieve. Fortunately, Bioshock wouldn't be outdone by its opening, as the game wowed me again and again as I continued to delve into the city that went to hell. The most powerful moment was the revelation of who you were, another standard in video games that Bioshock flipped upside-down. Bioshock is a game that redefines video game traditions, and at the end of it all I was a better gamer for it. This game would be higher on my list, but in an unfortunate ironic twist, the final act is surprisingly straight forward and devoid of the wonder and wow-factor that made the previous hours so incredible. Still, Bioshock is one of this generations most pleasant surprises, and I'm so glad I got to play it.

Little Sister: Save 'em!
Favorite Character: Sander Cohen

#32: Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GameCube)
Release Date: November 12, 2004
Last Year: #29

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is one of my favorite RPGs. It takes everything from the original N64 game and tweaks everything to perfection. The graphics are crisp, clear, and beautiful, the battle system is unique, engaging, and fun, the characters are lovable, and the script is sharp, witty, and always funny. There's so many great moments in this game... from smashing classic Super Mario Bros. levels as Bowser to fighting in the Glitz Pit against Rawk Hawk (in which you're named The Great Gonzales!), there's so much to do and see in this crazy paper world. Paper Mario is such a joy to play through, as it rewards you in various ways through its story, gameplay, and overall unique feel.
You wanna hate me, but you can't help but love the RAAAAAAAWWWWK!

Favorite Partner: Vivian (So adorable... and yes, I know about the Japanese version... >_>)
Favorite Boss: Doopliss (He turns people into pigs. Awesome.)

#31: Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii)
Release Date: November 21, 2010
Last Year: New

There's many reasons why I've enjoyed Wii so much over the years, and one of the biggest reasons is that Nintendo's latest console was a big part of the platformer Renaissance. Even when the console debuted five years ago, who would have ever thought we'd ever see another Donkey Kong Country game? But in November of last year, that's exactly what we got... and thanks to the spectacular developer studio Retro Studios, the King of Kongs never missed a beat. Brilliant level design, fantastic art design (still love those dusk levels), catchy music, and a higher (but always fair... the "just one more time" type) difficulty setting made this game another incredible and memorable platformer game. It's great to see more and more developers understand that 2D games are still just as fun as ever. Here's to more great 2D Platformers!

I miss: The other Animal Buddies
I don't miss: The water levels

#30: Batman: Arkham City (Xbox 360)
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Last Year: New

I'm a huge fan of Batman: Arkham Asylum (just missed out of my top 50) for a number of reasons. Incredible voice acting (Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are legendary), fun and engaging combat, great usage of cool gadgets, and level design inspired by Metroid and Castlevania (which is always a good thing) make it a great game. But the thing that really set Arkham City apart was it's uncanny ability to really make you feel like you were the Batman. Unfortunately the main story was a little weak, and in the end it just felt like some side story... a minor nuisance for the Caped Crusader. But fast forward to 2011 and the release of Arkham City... and this game feels like something really special. Not only does the game contain all of great features that Asylum had, but it improves on everything (everything!) to make this game feel like a Batman event that cannot be missed. Probably my favorite moment is *very minor spoilers* when you're climbing Wonder Tower and you enter an elevator. Right when it stopped, I heard voices outside the door, some goons were waiting for me. Instantly, I knew exactly what to do. I grappled through the top of the elevator, snuck around the guards, and then proceeded to knock their lights out. It was such a Batman moment, and I was a part of it. Brilliant.

The Ending: :O
WTF Moment of the Game: Punching a shark in the face.

#29: Banjo-Tooie (Nintendo 64)
Release Date: November 19, 2000
Last Year: #22

Banjo-Tooie was the (obvious) sequel to Banjo-Kazooie, and the game offered more. More levels, more bosses, more collectables. More, more, more. Unfortunately, more does not always equal better... and Banjo and Kazooie's second adventure lost some of the magic that its predecessor had. However, the bear and bird's adventure was still full of fantastic moments, like battling an evil Mumbo robot-clone, or trying to pop a giant inflatable dinosaur (Love you Patches!). The game also brought in some new gameplay elements, like a new FPS mode (with Kazooie as the gun) that worked surprisingly well. In fact, BT included new Multiplayer Modes, and the FPS multiplayer game was one that my friends and I played constantly, and we had such a great time. We played it so much, that it was our multiplayer FPS game of that generation (even beating out GoldenEye. Yep, we were crazy.) Banjo-Tooie was a pretty unconventional Platformer, and at times its reach exceeded its grasp... but it still was home to so many great memories and moments.

Love: Playing as Mumbo Jumbo
Hate: The Minjos

#28: TimeSplitters: Future Perfect (GameCube)
Release Date: March 21, 2005
Last Year: #30

It's time to SPLIT! TimeSplitters: Future Perfect is the third game in the wonderful TimeSplitters series, and is also my favorite First Person Shooter ever. Now, the FPS genre is not well represented on my top 50 for quite a few reasons... but Future Perfect made all the right design choices for me, as it was such a breath of fresh air when it came out (and in many ways, feels fresher than ever in the overcrowded, super serious, and cliched FPS market of today). The game contains an engaging, fun, and robust single player mode (an endangered species in the FPS world), awesome guns from the past and the future, a plethora of fun and frantic multiplayer modes (<3 Virus Mode), a map builder, numorous characters to choose from, and a sense of humor that really sets the game apart. Future Perfect never takes itself serious, and that makes it that much easier for the player to have a smile on his face and a great time playing video games. So many great memories with this game.

Multiplayer Character: Deadwinda (Your mother sucks lolipops in Hell!)
Favorite Gun: Dual wielding Flare Guns

#27: Disney's Epic Mickey (Wii)
Release Date: November 30, 2010
Last Year: New

Disney's Epic Mickey is probably the most flawed game on my list. But that doesn't change the fact that I think this game is incredible... and in many ways, I feel that this is a video game that was made just for me. I grew up 20 minutes away from Disneyland CA, and my childhood was filled with so many wonderful moments in that magic kingdom. I used to have dreams where I would explore the theme park all by myself, discovering its secrets and what makes it a truly magical place... and in many ways, that is what Epic Mickey is. Every single moment pulls at my heartstrings in this game, from the "It's a Small World" themed world to the Lonesome Manor (inspired by the Haunted Mansion). Everything in this game is inspired by Disney's rich history, and it's so wonderful to see a labor of love such as this. I really do think that Disney's Epic Mickey is something special... a game that transcends age, and reminds us of that eight-year old inside us... that just wants to explore a magic kindom.

Paint (Creation) or Thinner (Destruction): Paint all the way
The Soundtrack: A work of Wonder from James Dooley

#26: StarCraft/Brood War (PC)
Release Date: April 1, 1998
Last Year: #27

I grew up watching my friends play Blizzard games like WarCraft II and Diablo... and I was always intrigued by these "computer games" that seemed so complicated and high-tech compared to the games on my Sega Genesis. Well, when my family finally bought a computer that could play games, I went right ahead and bought StarCraft for myself, to finally play a Blizzard game. I started playing as a boy, but I finished playing as a man... and StarCraft showed me the greatness of Blizzard, and the greatness of RTS games. I've spent hundreds of hours with StarCraft and it's expansion Brood War, playing the campaign numerous times and playing more custom games than I can count. My friends and I would spend entire nights searching for awesome online custom games to play (still remember playing StarCraft Paintball...), and we always had a blast... no matter how many times we played. StarCraft started something special... and I've come to love the company and its games ever since.

Race of choice: Zerg (Spawn more Overlords!)
Favorite Unit: Lurker

#25: Pokemon Diamond/Pearl (DS)
Release Date: April 28, 2007
Last Year: #19

Pokemon Diamond/Pearl was the first game on Nintendo's dual-screen handheld, and with it's release the game brought some great additions to the series. A sleeker, faster interface, improved graphics and music, a split in physical/special attacks (no longer defined by the element. Dark Pokemon rejoice!), online trading and battling, and most importantly... more new Pokemon! This was also the game where I finally got into competitive Pokemon battling... and learned how surprisingly deep and strategic the Pokemon system truly was. I spent hundreds of hours (278 hours to be exact) creating a team which was competitvely sound as well as personally appealing. Having a team of six super-strong Pokemon that you've trained to perfection is truly a great feeling, and it was great to see them be successful on the battlefield. So many great times with this game... gotta catch 'em all!

Favorite New Pokemon: Weavile/Leafeon
Most Broken Move: Stealth Rock (You make Charizard and Aricuno cry)

#24: Super Smash Bros. Melee (GameCube)
Release Date: December 2, 2001
Last Year: #26

Super Smash Brothers... MAYLAAAAY! The second game in the frantic and fun Smash Bros. series was the ultimate launch game... despite the fact that it missed GameCube's launch by a week or two (but hey, who's complaining?). But the game took the whole entire N64 game and overhauled it to the point where everything was improved. Incredible graphics, more characters (Mewtwo! Ganondorf! Falco! Marth and Roy?), a single player that put us in Nintendo's greatest worlds, new Smash attacks (no going back after this), and a trophy system that gave us more collectables to deal with made Melee a game that could not be ignored. Sure, there were issues with the balance (Fox, Falco, and Shiek say hi!), but that doesn't take away from the hundreds of hours I've spent with this game over the years. Seriously, I was still playing this game fervently in 2008. 800 hours later... and Super Smash Bros. Melee is here as my 24th favorite game of all time.

Main: Falco (Yeah yeah...)
Favorite Level: Hyrule Temple

#23: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (Super NES/GameBoy Advance)
Release Date: October 4, 1995
Last Year: #23

I still remember the day I first encountered this game. I was at a birthday party in a "Chucky Cheese-eque" place called "Planet Kids", and in one of its many rooms there was this video game... It seemed so surreal, with it's magnificent art style... it was like a painting come to life, and better yet, you could play this painting. Only later did I learn that this game was called Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, and that it was on the SNES (another game to add to my 'Man, the SNES has some cool games!' list). So I went around, playing the game at friends houses whenever I could. Fast forward 7 or so year later, and Nintendo finally rereleases it on the GameBoy Advance. I finally got to personally own the game that was always out of my grasp for so many years... and it was just as amazing to play through as it was to look at. Truly a masterpiece.

Favorite Boss: Raphel the Raven
Buying the 3DS early was worth it: Since I'm getting this game!

#22: Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (Genesis)
Release Date: January 23, 1994
Last Year: #12

It took me years to beat this game. Years. Before the age of the internet, we gamers had to get by through playground video game gossip... and no one had a solution for my issue in this game. You see, I couldn't get past those darn cylinders in Carnival Night Zone. I jumped and jumped and jumped... but the thing just wouldn't budge enough to get through... and I always ended up hitting the 10 minute mark and dying. Years later, I learned that it wasn't jumping that made the demoic device go up and down... it was just the directional pad (insert facepalm here). I booted up my old Sega Genesis right away and mintues later... I finally passed the level and went on to beat the game. While the final level and boss were a letdown (because it's really only half of a game...), Sonic 3 introduced some awesome features like Elemental Shields (the Electric Shield is my favorite, I love me that double jump!), the ability to save, and a new bonus level that was all 3Dish. Most importantly, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 would introduce the most awesomest video game character ever: Knuckles the Echidna. A star was born!

Favorite Music Track: Hydrocity Zone (Act 1)
Coolest Moment: Sonic skiiing in Ice Cap Zone

#21: New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)
Release Date: November 15, 2009
Last Year: #24

If I had it my way, when you looked up "fun" in the dictionary, you'd find New Super Mario Bros. Wii under it. The game is a blast, no matter how you play. Great level design, pitch perfect controls, smart use of motion controls (seriously, I absent-mindedly shook my 3DS in Super Mario 3D Land thinking it would get me a more seconds of air... it didn't work.) and classic Super Mario Bros. elements make this game a moden classic... but it's the ability to play with three other friends that push this game over the edge when it comes to fun. Sure, adding players makes the difficulty spike exponentially... but nothing beats four friends sitting on a couch, yelling and screaming (get in the bubble!) and laughing. There's already so many fond memories with this game... and I still play it with friends and family to this day. Oh... and that final Bowser fight? Brilliant!

Favorite New Power-up: Penguin Suit (adorable)
You Know a Game is Great When: Even the Credits are fun

#20: Pokemon Black/White (DS)
Release Date: March 6, 2011
Last Year: New

Every new Pokemon game is an event in our family. The three of us (Myself, my brother, and my sister) bought our specific Pokemon game on launch day (I chose Black version), drove back home, and all started up our DS' at the same time. We each had to choose a different starter (I chose Oshawott, it's tradition that I pick the Water type) and from that point on, we were on our own. I love Pokemon, but Black/White stands out for a couple of reasons. One is numerous new Pokemon (the most ever... even surpassing the original 151 Pokemon), and the fact that you'll never encounter an older Pokemon during your inital adventure makes this incredibly refreshing and engaging (no more Zubats... only now they're Wubats...). The story is also more prominant and more developed than previous Pokemon, making the adventure more than just a "get badges and beat the Elite Four" (Black/White has a great "ending" that shakes this up). Black/White did a lot to change things up and continue to evolve the franchise... and the result was one incredible game.

Favorite New Pokemon: Whimsicott (So huggable!)
It's a Shame: The gamrConnect Pokemon League never took off...

#19: Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)
Release Date: March 9, 2008
Last Year: #21

Super Smash Brawl's hype train was absoultely massive. I checked SmashBrosDojo every night to see what new features Sakurai and Co. were implementing into Nintendo's newest brawler. Even before that everyone was giddy with glee when Snake arrived on the scene... and we all knew we were in for a treat. I knew the game was going to be something special when Sonic the Hedgehog was announced as a playable character... and when March 9th came around I was in line for the midnight opening, waiting to get my mits on the game. More than 500 hours later (my most played Wii game), Brawl is my favorite game in the series and my favorite fighting game of all time. Awesome new characters, a single player that was, while flawed, still a great experience, more stages (including a stage creator), an incredible soundtrack, and Final Smashes made this the Brawl to end them all. Yeah, tripping is lame, and the online was mediocre at best (all about the local multiplayer anyways), but Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a game of endless fun.

Main: Toon Link
Favorite Final Smash: Super Sonic

#18: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)
Release Date: November 19, 2006
Last Year: #18

When Miyamoto came out with that Master Sword... the video game world as we knew it had become something infinitely more awesome. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess had come into the world, and it was everything we always wanted. Fast forward two years later and we finally got to play Link's next adventure. What's there to say about it really? It's another stellar Zelda game with fantastic dungeons, a huge overworld ripe for exploration, awesome new tools for Link to use (double clawshots!), and a great story that once again had the wielders of the Triforce change the course of Hyrule forever (punctuated by twists and turns and all that jazz). The game introduced us to Midna, my favorite Zelda sidekick, as well as reintroduced us to everyone's favorite horse Epona (and horseback combat!). Some may say that Twilight Princess' reliance on Ocarina of Time allows for it to be overshadowed by the same game, but I see another amazing adventure, worthy to be mentioned with the other Zelda greats.

Favorite Temple: Arbiter's Grounds
The Final Ending Sequence: Still gives me goosebumps

#17: Okami (Wii)
Release Date: April 15, 2008
Last Year: #20

If you've happened to stumble upon my ramblings, then let's start off on a good note by listening to this. I love the Action/Adventure genre, and Okami is one of the many reasons why. No other genre in the world of video games has such an affect to bring out the adventurer in all of us. I knew Okami would be something else the moment I entered Shinshu Fields and started running around. Once Amaterasu gets to full speed, with the wood-brush style world in front of her and lush flora spawning behind her... well there's just something about it that I can't really put into words. Luckily the rest of the game was just as awe inspiring as those first moments... and Okami became an instant classic. Games like this one are rare, for Okami is just as fresh in my mind as the first day I played it... and I know that I'm a better gamer for playing this gem.

Favorite Boss: Nechku and Lechku
Simple Pleasure: Restoring Cherry Blossoms

#16: Banjo-Kazooie (Nintendo 64)
Release Date: May 31, 1998
Last Year: #17

I'm not really sure where to start with Banjo-Kazooie. I mean, the game is already great by the time you hit the title screen (thanks to the gang rocking out the Banjo theme)... and from there it only gets better. 3D did an interesting thing to many platformers during the 5th Generation: they added many elements of the Action/Adventure genre... creating a game with equal parts platforming and exploration, and Banjo-Kazooie is one of the finest examples of this Platformer/Adventure hybrid. Expansive and diverse worlds filled to the brim with content (which always encouraged exploration), an always expanding roster of moves for the bear/bird duo to take advantage of, witty dialogue and humor, and plenty of action that kept things refreshing made this game stand on its own despite the massive shadow that Super Mario 64 presented. Yep, Banjo-Kazooie was somethings special then... and it still is now.

Favorite World: Mad Monster Mansion
Favorite Transformation: Bee (Click Clock Wood)

#15: Pokemon Gold/Silver (GameBoy/DS)
Release Date: October 14, 2000
Last Year: #16

By the time the year 2000 rolled around, I was a full fledged Pokemaniac. Pokemon cards, Pokemon: The First Movie, the Burger King Pokemon toys... I wanted it all. And when Pokemon Gold/Silver was announced for the GameBoy Color, it was the first game I ever pre-ordered (Silver version. Lugia is awesome!). Suffice to say, this game was one of my biggest hyped games ever. Still, when it came out... it was like a breath of fresh air. A new world to explore, new myseries to solve, and more importantly, we finally had new Pokemon to catch! Each new Pokemon is like a brand new event in the Pokemon world, and I fell in love with the world of Johto. The game also has one of the best ending surprises ever. The ability to travel to Kanto and then battle Red (that was me!) is still such a huge event in the world of video games. Pokemon Gold/Silver is truly a sequel that brings out the best in what it aims for.

Favorite New Pokemon: Tyranitar
Coolest HeartGold/SoulSilver Change: Secret battle with Geovanni

#14: Mario Kart 64 (Nintendo 64)
Release Date: February 10, 1997
Last Year: #15

Welcome to Mario Kart! Mario Kart 64 was my first Mario Kart... and the game holds so many fond memories that it's impossible to not see this game as anything but a masterpiece. Trying to find any "secret" in Peach's castle in Royal Raceway. Hitting a friend with a lightning bolt right when he's about to make the jump in Wario Stadium. Three friends firing a plethora of green shells from the top of Block Fort, with you trying to avoid them at the bottom. Chasing friends in Battle Mode as a Bob-omb. Gazing at the stars and other sights in Rainbow Road... I mean, this game is one of the few that really defined my childhood... and I'll always love it for that. Even now, I type all of this with a smile on my face.

Favorite Track: Bowser's Castle
Always Tried: To land on the Boat in DK's Jungle Parkway

#13: Resident Evil 4 (GameCube/Wii)
Release Date: January 11, 2005
Last Year: #14

The Resident Evil franchise had always fascinated me since the original game debuted on the PlayStation 15 years ago. The concept of surviving a world full of flesh eating zombies and other bio-engineered monstrosities both terrified and intrigued me. So I was always watching friends of mine play these games, as I never dared to play them myself (the tank-like controls and the fixed camera angles did nothing to cast away my fears). But when Resident Evil 4 came out, I was finally ready. The game seemed like a fresh take on the series, and I was ready to take control of Leon S. Kennedy and solve the mysteries of this Spanish village. And let me tell you, Resident Evil 4 was one of the most intense, frightening, action-packed, "holy crap holy crap!" video games I've ever played. In short, the game is brilliant, with every corner holding some new event that will either make you crap your pants or shout out "That was awesome!". The game also positioned Leon S. Kennedy as the number one badass in my book. Hasta luego.

Favorite Boss: Jack Krauser
Jump-out-of-my-Skin Moment: The Oven Man

#12: WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos/The Frozen Throne (PC)
Release Date: July 3, 2002
Last Year: #13

WarCraft III really came out of the blue for me. I mean, I loved StarCraft and I've always enjoyed myself when playing Blizzard's RTS'... but I never realized that I'd love WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos (and it's expansion, The Frozen Throne) this much. For the actual RTS game itself, I enjoy the slower pace compared to StarCraft, as well as the new heroes with RPG-style leveling. I also really enjoyed the four races and the epic storyline that pitted the forces of Azeroth against the Burning Legion. But what made this game really special for me were the Custom Maps of Battle.Net. Tower Defense games as far as the eye could see (with my favorite type being the different themed 'Mauls'), the beginning of DotA (including the most racist and homophobic people ever), and every other type of gameplay style under the sun. There was so much to see and do... it's almost overwhelming. WarCraft III is easily my most played game ever... and for good reason. Whether it's the main game or the thousands of custom ones... everything is just so much fun.

Favorite Race: Undead
Favorite 'Maul': PokeMaul

#11: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GameCube)
Release Date: March 26, 2003
Last Year: #11

There are many things that make The Wind Waker stand out, and it's not just the game's cel-shaded visuals (which are completely brilliant). The game starts our young hero off on this tiny little island in the middle of a Great Sea. The land of Hyrule, which I had come to adore by that point, went missing without a trace. Only later on, in one of the most awe-inspiring and heart-wrenching events that I've encountered in a video game, did I realize that Hyrule had been flooded... and that the handful of islands were all that remained. The game also made us look at the character of Ganondorf, and his role in The Wind Waker has made him my favorite video game villain of all time. Sure, there's a lame Triforce hunt near the end, but other than that, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was a sublime experience for me with events that will continue to be unforgettable. Also, playing in Link's PJ's is awesome.

Favorite New Character: Makar
Awesome Facial Expressions: Here

#10: Conker's Bad Fur Day (Nintendo 64)
Release Date: March 4, 2001
Last Year: #10

Conker's Bad Fur Day came out in a time where the Nintendo 64 was old news. The next generation was already on the forefront with new games (with better graphics!), but if you paid attention you noticed that Rare released their final game on Nintendo's aging system... and to me it was their greatest achievement. Conker's Bad Fur day is a brilliant game for a multitude of reasons. The constant morphing gameplay styles (from Platformer to Racer to Third Person Shooter and everything else you can think of. And every single part is as fun as the other), the awesome and addictive multiplayer modes, and the fantastic humor made this a game unlike any other. The game is so unique and well done that it's simply an unforgettable experience. There's been so many smiles, laughter, and screams (those Zombie Squirrels scared me!) while playing this game... and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Favorite Boss: The Great Mighty Poo
Favorite Satire: The Matrix

#9: Metroid Prime (GameCube/Wii)
Release Date: November 17, 2002
Last Year: #9

Metroid Prime is one of the most (if not the most) atmospheric games I've ever played. I've never felt so alone in a game before... on a planet that is filled with crumbling ruins, beautiful landscapes, deadly flora and fauna, and a secret that will change the course of the universe. The game's brilliance comes from it's ability to merge you as the player with the protagonist Samus Aran, to the point where it really feels like you are the one who is investigating this long forgotten planet. Every corner holds a secret, every boss encounter is incredibly intimidating, every new area takes your breath away (looking at you Phendrana Drifts). Metroid Prime was actually my first Metroid game, and it turns out that it's also one of the most brilliant games I've ever played. Truly a classic.

Beautiful Music?: Look no further
Hooray For: Added WiiMote functionality in Metroid Prime Trilogy

#8: Pokemon Red/Blue (GameBoy/GameBoy Advance)
Release Date: September 30, 1998
Last Year: #8

I remember reading my issue of Nintendo Power (now you're playing with Power!) and coming across an advertisement for something called Pokemon. It showed a bunch of monsters that actually looked pretty cool, and a saying of "Gotta catch 'em all!". From then on I was intrigued by this Pokemon. In fact, my friends would want to play Pokemon at recess (where we would actually be the Pokemon. Yep, nerd.) and I wanted to be Charmeleon because he sounded cool (no idea what he looked like, but that's okay). Fast forward to Christmas, where I finally got a GameBoy Color and... you guessed it: Pokemon Red. Once I started, there was no end to this amazing adventure of a young Pokemon trainer named Red/Ash/_____. Raising your Pokemon was much more fun than it had any right to be, and there was always something to do while exploring the world of Kanto. By the time I finished the game... it was time to play again! I played this game so many times and had so much fun doing it (Missingno. is the greatest glitch ever!) that to this day I am a full fledged Pokemaniac. But this is the game that started it all, and I will be forever in it's debt! FOR POKEMON (yeah...)!

My first Pokemon: Squirtle (and thus began my tradition of Water Pokemon)
Gary MotherF&*^ing Oak: Has an awesome boss theme

#7: Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)
Release Dae: September 26, 1996
Last Year: #6

When Super Mario 64 first came out, it was a marvel. It showed us the potential for magic of a 3D world, and more importantly, it showed us how much fun we could have in this new videogame world. I don't know, I've been at this sentence for 10 minutes now, trying to explain what makes this game so wonderful... but it's hard to put into words. There's really nothing like the first moments of this game, really it's video game magic at its best. The worlds fit the stellar gameplay perfectly, and everything just comes together in a way that only Mario can do. Super Mario 64 is one of those few games that I've played that has that "magic" that's always hard to explain, but it's always a joy to experience. Super Mario 64 marked a huge change in the video game world, and it was a blast to be a part of it.

Favorite Hat: The Winged Cap (Amazing stuff right there)
The Final Bowser: Scared the Crap outta me

#6: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64/3DS)
Release Date: November 23, 1998
Last Year: #6

When kids at school first told me about this game, I brushed it off as nerd stuff. I mean, playing as an elf boy in tights? No way man, I'll stay with the super cool and hip Banjo-Kazooie. Yes, that was sarcasm, as I finally got smart enough to buy the gold cartridge and play The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I was stunned. I never saw a world so huge and involving before! The sights! The sounds! The battle against a monstrous beast! And then after all that... I stepped into Hyrule Field. What an amazing moment... it was like a veil was lifted from my eyes and I finally got to see something amazing. It was another one of those "magical" moments... hard to explain, but amazing to experience. The rest of the adventure just kept getting better and better. Link turning into an adult. Shiek revealing herself as Zelda. The final battle against the King of Evil. The other final battle against a gigantic demon that remains one of the most amazing moments I've played in a video game. And when it finally ends... you want to play it all over again. Truly an incredible game, one of the finest examples of the term that I've played thus far. My hat is off to Ocarina of Time... truly an all time classic.

Favorite Temple: Shadow Temple
Creeped me Out: The Great Fairy

#5: Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
Release Date: November 12th, 2007
Last Year: #5

Almost a year after the Wii launced, Super Mario Galaxy would come out and show us all that Mario still had so much to offer the world of video games. His adventures throughout the years have been legendary, but Super Mario Galaxy had so many exciting ideas to show us in his 3D playground of outer space. Each Galaxy is some new idea implemented in 3D space, and more importantly, these ideas are incredibly fun to play. Whether it's using gravity to pull Mario to different spaces, or using the different suits to change the rules of the worlds around him, this game executes what it sets out to do perfectly. You're never doing the same thing for long, and by the time you've collected the 120th star, you're ready to do everything again. Fortunately, Luigi's ready to play, and his altered physics make everything feel just as fresh as it was when you first played the game. Getting all 242 stars was a joy (even Luigi's Purple Coins...), and the game is testament that this hobby of ours has so many ideas that can be implemented... and how much fun we can have.

Bowser's Hair: Is epic.
I love: Ice Skating

#4: Super Mario World (Super NES/GameBoy Advance/Wii)
Release Date: August 13, 1991
Last Year: #4

Super Mario World was the first game that made me jealous of a console I didn't own. In fact, my neighbor had a Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and I would make it a point to go over that as much as I could, just to get a look at Super Mario World. The colors, the sounds, the vastness of the game... everything came together to create this world that was larger than life... and I wanted to be a part of it. I even remember taking the controller for myself and beating my first level (the one in the Forest of Illusion where you're riding that moving platform through the entire level). I finally got to own the game for myself when it released on the GameBoy Advance, and it was like walking into a time machine. Everything was still there: the wonderful sounds, the colorful sights, the pitch perfect controls... I had fallen in love with Super Mario World again. Everything was right with the world.

Favorite Colored Yoshi: Blue (Flight is awesome)
Favorite Koopaling: Ludwig Von Koopa

#3: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Genesis/GameCube/DS)
Release Date: November 20, 1992
Last Year: #3

I still remember when I opened up that Sega Genesis on Christmas day '94 (I was six years old). My first video game system. It was like a whole new world was opened up in front of my eyes... and I'll be forever grateful to the Genesis for that. But a console without its games is just a door stopper... and as such, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was my very first game for my very first console. But nostalgia can only place a game so far, as Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is one of the greatest games I have ever played in my 17 years of gaming. Tight, responsive controls, beautiful sprite graphics (man I love how the 16-bit games hold up so awesomely!), a wonderful soundtrack, and a Hedgehog with 'tude (and a two-tailed fox) showed me this wonderous world that I would play again and again. So many unforgettable moments (the first time I collected all the Chaos Emeralds and became Super Sonic. Or the first time I defeated Dr. Robotnik's gigantic robot in the Death Egg...), and so many smiles. I owe a lot to this game, and every year I'll go back and play this great game all over again. Kudos to you Sonic.

Favorite Zone Music: Metropolis Zone
Favorite Badnik: Clucker (a machine gun firing chicken robot)

#2: Sonic & Knuckles (Genesis/GameCube/DS)
Release Date: October 17, 1994
Last Year: #1

When it comes to 2D games (if you haven't gotten it by now, I think they're pretty great), I think that Sonic & Knuckles is the greatest of the great. Words cannot begin to describe what this game has meant to me over the years that I've been a gamer... but I'll try to explain what makes me love this game so much. Perfect controls, stellar and diverse level design, superb physics (a necessity for a platformer), an engaging story (that is actually told during gameplay. A hidden art to many game developers), characters that you care about, goregous sprite based graphics, a killer soundtrack... Like I said, this game really does it all for me. No other game will have a single moment that means more to me than Sky Santuary Zone does. The atmosphere, level design, and music come together so wonderfully... it puts a smile on my face just thinking about it. I play this game every year, just to have a taste of something that is so great. A true masterpiece.

This is My Ringtone: Sky Santuary Zone
Favorite Robotnik Battle: Giant Eggman Robo. Truly an Epic battle!

#1: Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)
Release Date: May 23, 2010
Last Year: #2

Wii had a pretty rough year this year. The first half was devoid of any games that I really wanted... so instead I went back and played games on my backlog, or games I wanted to play all over again. So I once again inserted my Super Mario Galaxy 2 disc... and I fell in love once more. I think this game is one of the extremely few games I've played that is absolutely perfect in its execution. And with its plethora of brilliant new ideas and gameplay mechanics... that's quite an incredible feat. It was easy to underestimate this game before its release, as we all wondered what more the team that gave us the brilliant Galaxy 1 could offer us... but this game both expands and perfects the ideas of old, as well as introduces us to brand new features that once more give a breath of fresh air to the supposedly faltering Platformer genre. But it's more than that too... with the soundtrack (now my favorite video game soundtrack ever) and artstyle (the mixture of Mario and Outer Space give them no limits at what they can present us) create something that is magical... Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a game that doesn't come around very often... but it's brilliance cannot be denied. The game is a wonderful example of what this medium is capable of. I tip my hat to this incredible game.

Favorite Music Track: The Credits
Daredevil Run GrandMaster Galaxy: Punch-me-in-the-Face-Difficulty, but I loved every second of it.