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Let me just start this by saying the games on my personal list below do not reflect games I think should’ve been in our Top 200 (with the exception of a few). However, these are games I have fond memories of that are certainly some of my favorites. For this list, I’m excluding my favorite games that are already in the Top 200. I’m only selecting a fraction of the gaming gems of my past from different genres that didn’t make the cut. If you’d like to gush over some of these games or simply want to bash me for my tastes, head on over to the comments section.
Banjo-Kazooie (N64, 1998)Before Ratchet and Clank, or Jak and Daxter were bear and bird duo Banjo and Kazooie. Just when I thought my N64 couldn’t get any better after Super Mario 64, I played Banjo-Kazooie and was amazed at the graphics and amount of detail that went into the game’s 3D worlds. Plus, the duo’s multitude of transformations (turn into a washing machine!) were implemented well into gameplay and totally kicked ass. As soon as I got that game a marathon ensued until I collected every jiggy and musical note in the game. I can say I got jiggy with Banjo-Kazooie, but I’ll spare you the bad joke.
Final Fantasy VIII (PS, 1999)Final Fantasy VIII followed a group of teen mercs that were some of the most believable characters I had come across in any game at the time, even amid the whole international crisis via sorceress thing. I was totally smitten with Squall, Zell, Selphie and the gang, and kept playing through to watch the love story between Squall and Rinoa unfold. The graphics were impressive for its time and character models were (finally) accurately proportioned. The love-it-or-hate-it junction and draw battle system was introduced, which I spent a whole lot of time experimenting with and surprisingly enjoyed it. Choosing your favorite FF title is like asking a parent to choose their favorite child, and though FF VIII may be the angsty teen of the franchise, this installment is certainly one of my favorites.
Frequency (PS2, 2001)I had no idea what to expect when I first bought Frequency, but I was pleasantly surprised. A seed of music game juggernaut Harmonix, this game helped solidify my fandom of the rhythm/music genre. No fancy pants peripherals were needed to play and that didn’t make Frequency any less fun. Each element of a song (guitar, drums, synthesizers, etc.) had its own track. You had to toggle between these tracks to nail all the notes as they appeared. As someone who naturally picks apart songs by element on a day-to-day basis, this was an awesome visual and interactive representation of that. This game made me a one-woman band and I loved it. The soundtrack was impressive with a set list of popular clubhead-esque licensed music. Even though it’s been years since the game’s release, Frequency still lives on in games like Rockband and DJ Hero for its addictive style of gameplay and musical selection, two games I love today.
Jet Grind Radio (Dreamcast, 2000)If any of you saw my previous hero image on my Game Informer page you would’ve noticed it was Gum from Jet Grind Radio. As a huge fan of graffiti art, I couldn’t be happier that there was a game that armed you with a spray can to leave your mark on the game’s sprawling environments while protecting your turf from rival taggers. I spent hours creating my own art and was thrilled that I could spray my creation on a wall in a level. The constant rollerblading movement was swift and smooth as I traversed every corner, alley and rooftop of the city. The eclectic soundtrack was full of licensed mainstream and underground music that complemented the visuals perfectly. Jet Grind Radio most notably was the first to pull off fully realized 3D cel-shading in a game. When I first saw the graphics and the fluidity of the game in motion it blew my mind. Hats off to developer Smilebit for putting out such an innovative title, now can we please get a next-gen Jet Grind Radio? Please?
NBA Street (PS2, 2001)I wish I would’ve had the option of playing NBA Street online when it first released because I would’ve owned anyone who challenged me to a game. I was a beast at NBA Street, and though arcade-y, it is still one of my favorite basketball titles today. Basketball is my favorite sport and I certainly played a lot of ball at local parks in my heyday, so this no-holds-barred, over-the-top sports title was right up my alley. I faked, dunked, and alley-oop-ed my way through each game. I racked up trick points and always saved my Gamebreaker move until the very end to rub defeat in the other team’s face...in style. Then I would look over at my defeated opponent on the couch, who was stunned that a girl whooped his ass at a sports title. Didn’t get much better than that. I've been in retirement for quite a few years, but I think it's about time I got back in the game.
Space Channel 5 (Dreamcast, 2000) “Up-down-up-down-shoot-shoot-shoot!” Along with Sonic Adventure (another game that wasn’t too shabby) I picked up Space Channel 5 the day I bought my Dreamcast (I eventually sold my DC and regret it to this very day). As soon as I saw that holographic box on the store shelf I knew there was some fun to be had. Bubbly television reporter Ulala led this hyper-stylized rhythm game that had me grooving from start to finish. The game got mediocre reviews, but it somehow sucked me in from beginning to end. The soundtrack was a lot of fun, the aliens were cute, and you have to give Ulala credit for her ability to host “Ulala’s Swingin’ Report Show” while walking around in loud, orange platform boots. Grooooovyyyyy.
Super Mario All-Stars (SNES, 1993)Super Mario All-Stars features remakes of Super Mario Bros. 1, 2 and 3, plus The Lost Levels on a single cartridge. ‘Nuff said.
Update: Now that I've read over this post, a ton of other titles come to mind, but I'll leave the rest up to you. What titles did you play the hell out of whether or not the games were actually any good?