Sunday, April 24, 2011

My Top Ten Video Games of All Time

This is a list of my top ten favorite video games of all time

10.) Tales of Vesperia – In 1995 Tales of Phantasia began one of the best RPG video game series, the “Tales” series. There have been many different titles in the series on several different systems, including Tales of Symphonia for gamecube, probably the best known of the series, and if this was a top 11 instead of a top 10 that game would have made the cut. Tales of Vesperia, however, was a much deeper and more entertaining game that had epic graphics, yet didn’t rely on them in the stead of good, old-fashioned storytelling to make a great game. This game had everything, story, music, graphics, great characters, a good difficulty level, and it was just plain fun to play. Who couldn’t like a game with a main character who is a former royal guard turned Han Solo-esque mercenary, his trusty dog that fights with a knife and smokes a pipe, a princess who actually contributes more to the story than “ohnoes we have to save that worthless princess AGAIN!!!” and a preteen wizard who hates everyone, is mildly insane, and is prone to blowing up anything and anyone that annoys her. In an era where storytelling and character developement are often put on the back burner in favor of flashic graphics, effects, and new and often horrible innovations in gameplay, Tales of Vesperia shows that people haven't completely forgotten how to make a great, well rounded RPG.

9.)Super Metroid – In 1994, Nintendo had just released the SNES game console and was in the process of putting out games for all of their popular series for it. After the success of Metroid, and Metroid II: Return of Samus, this series was a prime candidate for a new installment and it definitely didn’t disappoint. This game added story elements to the series for the first time ever, and combined with vast areas to explore, puzzles to solve, and nasty aliens to blow the crap out of Super Metroid is probably the best game in the series to date.

8.) Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest – This game is considered the redheaded stepchild of the castlevania series. It is universally hated by all… except for me. Simon’s quest was one of the first NES games that I owned, and I loved it. It had great music for an NES game, a large world to explore, secrets to uncover, puzzles to solve, and bad guys to exterminate. It was one of the first adventure games that I ever played and I will always think fondly on it, if no one else will.

7.) The Legend of Zelda – in the beginning there was Mario, and he was good, because we didn’t know any better. And then came Zelda in 1986, one of the most epic NES games ever. This was the first game that I ever played that gave you a sword, pointed you at the world and said, go save the fricken princess! There are mazes to traverse, puzzles to solve, a princess to rescue, and a bad guy to punish, all in the name of saving Hyrule, and there was also the iconic theme song that if you hum a few bars of, most everyone in the entire USA will know where it came from.

6.) Super Mario Brothers 3 – Super Mario Brothers was my first experience with video gaming, and it brought me many hours of wasted time and enjoyment. Super Mario Brothers 2 got a little weird and wasn’t quite as enjoyable. Then in 1989 a movie called The Wizard came out, for the sole purpose of unveiling Super Mario Brothers 3. It was bigger, better, harder, and more expansive, creating many new things that have become a staple of video games since.

5.) The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – With the SNES console out, it was time for Link to pick up his sword again and embark on the longest, and most memorable journey of his life. The overhead view format, missing from the second game, was brought back, as well as the iconic theme song, which was rearranged with the SNES’ new sound capabilities. This game brought a history, and a story along with the sword and shield, and felt like a bigger and better remake of the original game that we all knew and loved.

4.) Xenosaga Trilogy – The Xenosaga trilogy is three games, however, they are all parts of the same story, therefore I’m putting all 3 of them on the #4 slot. Using cinematic cutscenes to tell a story of civil war in space with the looming threat of annihilation by alien invaders, the Xenosaga trilogy was loved by many because of it, and hated by many more. I, or one, play video games for the story, and thus had little problem with the long stretches of no gameplay between story sequences. These games told a grand sci-fi epic, the likes of which can’t often be found anywhere, much less in a video game.

3.) Xenogears – Riding on the success of Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft began work on their next title, Xenogears, which was released the next year in 1998. After spending so much of their resources on Final Fantasy VII Xenogears, basically got the leftovers. The game’s creator Tetsuya Takahashi wanted to create a cinematic gaming experience, and he succeeded marvelously in the parts of the game that he was allowed to complete. Unfortunately Xenogears ran way over budget, and its release date had to be postponed several times due to the fact that creating those cinematic sequences took up quite a bit of time and effort, and Takahashi was given one month to finish the game or lose his job. The unfinished ending was tacked onto the completed portions of the game with text sequences between to catch the player up on the parts of the story that were skipped over. Despite this gigantic flaw, it is in my top three greatest games of all time.

2.) Final Fantasy VII – In 1997 the last truly good Final Fantasy game was released. It had everything: killer graphics for the time, a great and memorable soundtrack, characters that seemed more like real people than video game sprites, a story of love, honor, trust, betrayal, and self discovery. It marked the beginning of a whole new era of RPG video games with 3d graphics and full motion video cinematic cutscenes to help the story progress. Final Fantasy VII took our years to complete, costing more money to make than most movies, and used the talents of more CG programmers than a star wars prequel. It was the most ambitious video game of its time, has sold more copies than any other video game in history, and remains a fan favorite even after a decade and a half since its release.

1.) Final Fantasy VI (IIIUS) – in 1994 Squaresoft released the greatest video game of all time. Though its graphics are laughable by today’s standards, and it suffers from an extremely bad translation, it is still the greatest video game ever made. This game has a huge cast of characters, and most of them have real problems and motivations driving them, making them seem far more like real people than characters in a video game. This game has some of the most beautiful and memorable music in video game history, and a story the likes of which most video gamers never dreamed possible in a game. To me, this wasn’t just a game; it was a part of my life. The characters and the world in this game helped shape me into the person I am today, and I only hope that someday I might be able to tell a story as epic and memorable as this one.

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