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Forums - Gaming Discussion - What makes them your favorite games?

I got the idea for this thread after reflecting on our annual top 50 games list.

Think about your top 3 favorite games.  What is it about them that makes them your favorite games?  Is it pure nostalgia, or do you keep playing them even after becoming an adult?  You might have even discovered some of these games as an adult.  Often times, there is something unique or especially well done in the game that keeps you coming back to it.  Maybe you just want to revisit that game's world or characters.  Maybe it has unique game mechanics.  Maybe you feel the whole experience is just incredibly well polished from top to bottom.  It may be something else entirely that I haven't suggested.

So, please give your top 3 favorite games of all time.  Then tell what it is about each game that really makes it stand out above all of the other games out there.



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My top three keep changing.  



These are in no particular order, because my favorite games will change depending on when you ask me. The top 5 can be placed in any particular order.

1. Mega Man 2- This is probably a lot about nostalgia. But, in what will be a common theme, I think a big part of what makes this game great is pacing. There simply isn't a dull moment. Every level is brilliantly designed. It also has the bonus of being short and sweet. I'm just more apt to play this one again because I know it's not going to be a time commitment. I can get a nice burst of greatness and nostalgia without sacrificing a ton of time.

2. Super Mario Galaxy 2- Similar to Mega Man 2 this game is just pure quality all the way through. With some very minor exceptions, every bit of it is fun (at least until you get to the somewhat meh green star collection). There is more originality in one level of the game than most games have in their entirety, and despite the fact that I'm pretty much just running and jumping, I never feel like I'm doing the same thing. There's no part I get to where I'm like "ugh, I don't want to do this part again".

3. Smash Bros. Ultimate- I love fighting games... but I just don't have the time I used to. I'd love to spend hours practicing combos in something like Marvel vs Capcom 3, but it's just not in the cards. With Smash, the game is deep enough that I feel like my wins and losses are primarily a result of skill (or lack thereof), but I can generally whip myself into fighting shape in a few weeks of practice. It strikes the perfect balance between depth and accessibility. The fact that it has an enormous cast featuring most of my favorite characters is a bonus.



My top three has remained the same for about two decades now, those being Final Fantasy IX, The Legend of Dragoon, and Freespace 2, in that order. They are all games I fell in love with when I was first discovering that video games could be more than just a series gameplay challenges. That they could be used to tell stories and feature characters and events that genuinely had an emotional impact on me as a person. They are also all games I tend to go back to over and over again every so often, and every time I do I find something new to enjoy and love about them. In the years since I first played them some games have come close to unseating them from my top three (Dark Souls for example), but none have ultimately had the kind of impact those three had on me.

I don't think there's any one specific reason why they are my top three favourite games of all time. Nostalgia probably plays a factor, but I've found that I enjoy playing through FFIX, The Legend of Dragoon and Freespace 2 just as much now as I did almost 20 years ago when I first experienced them. The sense of discovery might not be there anymore since I know the games so well, but that has never diminished my enjoyment of them whatsoever.



- Pikmin 2: The game which I grew up with and found magical throughout my late childhood. I got stuck several times, and with most games today I would usually just look up a guide if I took too much time, but back then I didn't have Internet and I barely understood English, so some instructions and details weren't really clear. I think that just made the game more enjoyable somehow, though. Every discovery felt massive, overwhelming and so satisfying, it's a kind of feeling that I haven't been able to replicate with any other game. Pikmin 2 wasn't my first GameCube game (it was Mario Party 7), but it was the one that resonated with me the most. So, yeah, this one is pure nostalgia, but, at the same time, it's truly incredible. It's why Mario Party 7 wasn't so memorable, becuase that game isn't so great, but I still have plenty of memories with it.

- Paper Mario TTYD: This one was my first RPG, when I had like, what, 10 or 11 yo? So, in essence, it was my first true epic adventure, and it's one that is truly excellent in handsight, I didn't pick wrong at all. I remember that I saw Super Paper Mario for Wii and impulsively told my father to buy it for me. He brought me TTYD instead. Initially I thought it was indeed Super Paper Mario, but I don't remember when exactly I learned that it wasn't, it's a shame I don't recall this memory. Once again, my English was far from ideal so I had to pick up a dictionary and try to understand the more complex writing. Some puzzles took me a long while because of this. But, again, that only added to the charm. No Internet, either, so I had to discover most secrets by hand, and so I spent hundreds of hours with this game. Again, I love this game for pure nostalgia, but it's excellent nonetheless.

- Xenoblade X: This is the most recent one and not exactly the best one, but it had a lot of good stuff to it, the exploration, the side quests, the addicting combat and the passive multiplayer, and ultimately is the game that got me into Xenoblade. I used to go to Gamefaqs to check for tips, discuss builds, farming spots and to recruit people to play online. There are a lot of games like this, I know, but it was the first one of its kind I played, and this is also a game that is excessively big and convoluted, so there's a spark to it. This was pretty much the only game I played on Wii U from its release until Breath of the Wild came out, and spent almost 1000 hours in it.

In the end, what all three games have in common is that each one of them were the first of their kind I played. Pikmin 2 was my first special game, TTYD was my first RPG, and Xenoblade X was my first kind of RPG that I complemented with online functionalities.



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The games that i have in my top 10 list change all the time, they are just the games i value the most at that moment. But they are all games that spoke to me in some level, be it as a way that shows me the potential of videogames or just things that are so integral to who i am that i just consider them part of myself. Atm they are:

The legend of Zelda: link's awakening: i wrote a review about this one, but it is simply that they were able to create something weird and timeless in a way that it is very much impossible to recreate. It is a time capsule of a very specific development team, that just ressonates with me a lot.

Megaman X: It is the perfect translation of a power fantasy to videogame form. The way the game escalates the story using gameplay and the (limited) characters it has its so synchronized that it reaches the peak of the classic power fantasy that you also see a lot in shonen manga out there.

Metal Gear Solid 2: It is pretty much a piece of media that is impossible to replicate in any other way. You can do the same points in movies and music and etc, of course, and one can even argue that the points themselves are hardly that worthy of the amount of praise it gets, but the way it does it is simply unmatched to me. They used the fact the franchise was at its peak and the very specific period in which it was relevant to the point of blind excitement to create a tale about identity. I will remember forever the part were the character in the game throws the tag with the name you gave to him away.



Yoshi's Island: It's cute, the OST is cute, the handmade design is cute, the Yoshi is cute, Baby Mario is cute... and has an awesome gameplay, ngl better than the actual Super Mario World with overall more (and better) platforming mechanics such as the "flying" run and egg throwing

Hollow Knight: It's melancholic, the OST is melancholic, the dark design is melancholic, the Knight is melancholic, Hollownest is Melancholic... and has an awesome game design, with one of the best designed maps I've see in games, with so many secrets and shortcuts, powers, charms, abilities and whatnot, still boggles my mind it was done by 3 people 

Breath of The Wild: It's serene, the OST is serene, Link is serene, the shrines are serene, the Hyrule is serene... like an almost abandoned land where something bad is happening but still somewhat calm. That coming with a great open world game where I need to solve puzzles every 30 minutes and where fighting enimies is NOT the my main concern? It's a dreaming coming true. 

As you can see, I like atmospheric games. Games that evokes on me emotions, feelings,  sensations, games that are not only to play, but to pause and appreciate. Yoshi Island was the first game on my memory to evoke this on me, I was 7 or 8 I think and when the music start on the first level I felt that the thing I wanted the most in the world was to ride my own Yoshi!

Same for running or riding Hyrule, it was never as ruminant as it is here, like a place to call home. Just climbing a mountain and seing thr world behind me was so satisfying, it makes me inside the game completely 

And Hollow Knight... well, I still can't stopping myself from listening City of Tears on weekly basis. Everything about this game was make it feels alive what is incredible because the place IS DYING, infected, deteriorating, and yet it's clear there are so many people (well, insects) and culture going on there. I hope it gets some animated movie/series one day, even if it's just a short story I would still loving to watch it



Darashiva said:

My top three has remained the same for about two decades now, those being Final Fantasy IX, The Legend of Dragoon, and Freespace 2, in that order. They are all games I fell in love with when I was first discovering that video games could be more than just a series gameplay challenges. That they could be used to tell stories and feature characters and events that genuinely had an emotional impact on me as a person. They are also all games I tend to go back to over and over again every so often, and every time I do I find something new to enjoy and love about them. In the years since I first played them some games have come close to unseating them from my top three (Dark Souls for example), but none have ultimately had the kind of impact those three had on me.

I don't think there's any one specific reason why they are my top three favourite games of all time. Nostalgia probably plays a factor, but I've found that I enjoy playing through FFIX, The Legend of Dragoon and Freespace 2 just as much now as I did almost 20 years ago when I first experienced them. The sense of discovery might not be there anymore since I know the games so well, but that has never diminished my enjoyment of them whatsoever.

I've played through Final Fantasy IX three or four times now.  It's really fun each time and I'm not exactly sure why.  I think it is a combination of things.  1) I tend to choose different party configurations where I can.  2)  I didn't play all of the minigames the first time through.  3)  I usually wait a few years between replays.  4) The biggest factor is probably the world which includes the characters (protagonists).  The world and characters have a lot of charm and have a classic Renaissance-fantasy type of feel.  Almost all of the Sakaguchi Final Fantasy games are high quality, but they tend to blend fantasy and sci-fi elements into the game world and protagonists.  FF9 doesn't have anyone with a machine gun arm or anything like that, and that ironically makes the world seem like a unique place to visit.

Metallox said:

- Pikmin 2: The game which I grew up with and found magical throughout my late childhood. I got stuck several times, and with most games today I would usually just look up a guide if I took too much time, but back then I didn't have Internet and I barely understood English, so some instructions and details weren't really clear. I think that just made the game more enjoyable somehow, though. Every discovery felt massive, overwhelming and so satisfying, it's a kind of feeling that I haven't been able to replicate with any other game. Pikmin 2 wasn't my first GameCube game (it was Mario Party 7), but it was the one that resonated with me the most. So, yeah, this one is pure nostalgia, but, at the same time, it's truly incredible. It's why Mario Party 7 wasn't so memorable, becuase that game isn't so great, but I still have plenty of memories with it.

- Paper Mario TTYD: This one was my first RPG, when I had like, what, 10 or 11 yo? So, in essence, it was my first true epic adventure, and it's one that is truly excellent in handsight, I didn't pick wrong at all. I remember that I saw Super Paper Mario for Wii and impulsively told my father to buy it for me. He brought me TTYD instead. Initially I thought it was indeed Super Paper Mario, but I don't remember when exactly I learned that it wasn't, it's a shame I don't recall this memory. Once again, my English was far from ideal so I had to pick up a dictionary and try to understand the more complex writing. Some puzzles took me a long while because of this. But, again, that only added to the charm. No Internet, either, so I had to discover most secrets by hand, and so I spent hundreds of hours with this game. Again, I love this game for pure nostalgia, but it's excellent nonetheless.

- Xenoblade X: This is the most recent one and not exactly the best one, but it had a lot of good stuff to it, the exploration, the side quests, the addicting combat and the passive multiplayer, and ultimately is the game that got me into Xenoblade. I used to go to Gamefaqs to check for tips, discuss builds, farming spots and to recruit people to play online. There are a lot of games like this, I know, but it was the first one of its kind I played, and this is also a game that is excessively big and convoluted, so there's a spark to it. This was pretty much the only game I played on Wii U from its release until Breath of the Wild came out, and spent almost 1000 hours in it.

In the end, what all three games have in common is that each one of them were the first of their kind I played. Pikmin 2 was my first special game, TTYD was my first RPG, and Xenoblade X was my first kind of RPG that I complemented with online functionalities.

Reading this post made me think of Raph Koster's book, "Theory of Fun for Game Design".  He basically says that learning (in a broad sense) is what makes a game fun.  The fact that you were learning English while learning these games may have magnified the fun factor.



IcaroRibeiro said:

Yoshi's Island: It's cute, the OST is cute, the handmade design is cute, the Yoshi is cute, Baby Mario is cute... and has an awesome gameplay, ngl better than the actual Super Mario World with overall more (and better) platforming mechanics such as the "flying" run and egg throwing

Hollow Knight: It's melancholic, the OST is melancholic, the dark design is melancholic, the Knight is melancholic, Hollownest is Melancholic... and has an awesome game design, with one of the best designed maps I've see in games, with so many secrets and shortcuts, powers, charms, abilities and whatnot, still boggles my mind it was done by 3 people 

Breath of The Wild: It's serene, the OST is serene, Link is serene, the shrines are serene, the Hyrule is serene... like an almost abandoned land where something bad is happening but still somewhat calm. That coming with a great open world game where I need to solve puzzles every 30 minutes and where fighting enimies is NOT the my main concern? It's a dreaming coming true. 

As you can see, I like atmospheric games. Games that evokes on me emotions, feelings,  sensations, games that are not only to play, but to pause and appreciate. Yoshi Island was the first game on my memory to evoke this on me, I was 7 or 8 I think and when the music start on the first level I felt that the thing I wanted the most in the world was to ride my own Yoshi!

Same for running or riding Hyrule, it was never as ruminant as it is here, like a place to call home. Just climbing a mountain and seing thr world behind me was so satisfying, it makes me inside the game completely 

And Hollow Knight... well, I still can't stopping myself from listening City of Tears on weekly basis. Everything about this game was make it feels alive what is incredible because the place IS DYING, infected, deteriorating, and yet it's clear there are so many people (well, insects) and culture going on there. I hope it gets some animated movie/series one day, even if it's just a short story I would still loving to watch it

I definitely can understand that.  For me, when I think of an atmospheric game, it's either ICO or Shadow of the Colossus.  That strong and consistent theme from every part of the game really immerses me into the experience.



Here are my top 3.

3. Freedom Force - When I first played this game it was unique, and I still feel it's pretty unique.  The only game like it is the sequel.  After playing through it again recently, I figured out the thing I really liked about it most is how you can interact with the environment.  You can rip up lampposts and use them like clubs, and you can throw most other objects.  Do enough damage and you can level a building.  Basically you can interact with every part of the environment.  You can do that in games like Minecraft or Breath of the Wild, but you have super powers here too, so it's just a lot easier to interact with the environment, and basically everything above street level can manipulated in some way.  Also there has been a ton of great fan made content for this game which really extended its playtime for me.

2. Final Fantasy 7 - (WARNING: What I am about to say has a bunch of HUGE SPOILERS!!  Please skip to the next game if you don't want to be spoiled.)  There is a lot to praise about this game: the characters, the world, the materia system.  Back in the day the graphics had a huge "Wow" factor.  But I realize what pushed the game into my all time top 3, was specifically the way they told this story.  Throughout the first disk the game asks you questions that subtley make you choose whether you prefer Aeris (Aerith) or Tifa, or maybe neither one.  Then you go on a date with the one that you had been choosing the whole time, which makes you an official couple.  The choosing part is actually the most important part of this game.  I chose Aeris.  At the end of the first disk she gets killed permanently by Sephiroth.  I have never had another game stir up emotions like this in me, either before or since.  Why?  Because I chose Aeris.  It's the choosing that makes this game great.  Now, I suspect the people who chose Tifa or neither one don't think this game is terribly special.  It's the people who chose Aeris who got emotionally invested.  Well, I did choose Aeris, and while I normally think most stories in games are way worse than say movies, this story is better than any movie.  I can't make any choices while watching a movie, so it's the choice in this game that made the story more memorable than any movie.

3. The Legend of Zelda - This was my favorite game back when the NES was a current system.  Several NES games that I replayed recently, like Final Fantasy, feel dated when I replay them, but I went back and played Zelda 1 again a few years ago and I found it to be even better than when I first played it.  This game is a perfect blend of action and freedom.  Back in the 80's RPGs were really about freedom, and so Zelda 1 was made as an action RPG.  At the same time, the action games were arcade-like games, which are my favorite kind of action games.  Also, each of the items has a unique purpose and yet adds to your combat ability.  I find that when I play the dungeons out of order the game has a totally different experience.  For example, in one playthrough I got the ladder as my first item.  I realized that this upgrades my combat ability because it lets me attack enemies while standing on water.  When that is my only upgrade I end up adopting a new playstyle.  No other game comes close to offering this perfect blend of action and freedom.  I'm hoping that at some point they'll blend Breath of the Wild's game engine with Hyrule Warriors combat or something like that.  That is the best way I can explain how much I love the combat + freedom combo from the original game.