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The Greatest Game Of All Time; One Man's Power Dragon Fantasy

I get asked, “So, what’s your favorite game?” a lot. Often this question comes from one of my non-gamer friends or someone I’ve just met after they learn that I play video games for a living.

I like to tell these people that my favorite game is Panzer Dragoon Saga.

I do this for two reasons. One, I actually believe it is one of the best – and sometimes overlooked – games of all time. Two, I like the look of utter ignorance that spreads across their face when I mention the game. Sometime I even get the “oh yeah that game,” nod, even though it’s clear they’ve just stepped into a realm of discussion they are completely ignorant about.

I assume most of the people reading this post, however, have probably heard of the game.

I won’t go into too much detail about Saga for two reasons. For one, if you’ve played it you don’t need me to. And two, if you haven’t you’ll probably have trouble tracking it down at this point, and even if you did, you’d probably disagree with me.

Our favorite games are sometimes a result of what we’ve experienced in a game up to that point, our general emotional state while we’re playing it, and the era in which we play it.

Sure, the original Legend of Zelda is still a great game, but if I were to play it today for the first time, it wouldn’t have the same kind of emotional impact on me as when I played it when I was ten. Sometimes you can’t go back.

I don’t think this is all that profound, but our lives color our perception of a game.

For me I think all of these factors peaked to a perfect point and helped make Panzer Dragoon Saga one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. I found the battle system exciting and completely original, the story was engaging, and the game’s cinematics felt truly epic, for their time. Sure, the graphics don’t hold up (check out the screen above), but in 1998 that didn’t matter.

In all honestly, I’ve played a fair share of games that I’ve probably liked about as much as Panzer (Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil 2, and Half-Life 2 come to mind) and there are certainly games that I feel have left a bigger mark on the industry, or games that I think have produced better technological achievements.

But if you just ask me what the greatest game of all time is, I’ll just smile with a memory, “Panzer Dragoon Saga.”

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  • Too bad it's too hard to track down a Dreamcast to play the *** game. And then the game itself is very expensive.

    Actually, a store nearby has a DC for $80. Too bad I need to save that up for MAG and Bioshock 2.

  • Staff

    I totally agree (about the whole not being able to go back argument).

    That's part of the reason I'm afraid to ever play FFVII again despite my love for it. I'm afraid it just won't hold up as well as I want it to.

  • Most old school games I've played are actually still pretty good. I think the only games that don't really age as well are the early 3D games. 8 and 16-bit games don't age as badly graphics wise, because we know that they'll look like that. I think it's just that we expect more from 3D games. Play Super Mario Bros. 3. Still great. Then play MGS1. Not so much. While they are both excellent games, SMB3 is talked about because of its platforming, not the graphics. MGS1 was talked about because of its cinematic storytelling and impressive graphics, so we still expect that to remain intact even after all these years. At least one of those things still hold up. MGS1 is too blocky for me to replay. I'll just stick with Twin Snakes.

  • i started really getting into games only a couple of years ago so i never played any older games.

    i agree that i can't go back to the few older games i liked,i played driver 3 like forever and now if i tried to play it it wouldn't be any fun.

  • Staff

    FFVII doesn't hold up; I've tried to go back a couple times, but I agree with BatmanPrime, 2D games age better. Games like Super Metroid and Mario World are still a blast.

  • All my favorite games are newer.  Fallout 3, Bioshock, and Assassin's Creed.  I was to young back then to be a serious gamer and the first system that I actually felt was worth something was the Nintendo 64.

    I might mention that I am a minor so I wasn't alive during the NES era.

  • too bad my only memory of the game, was cutting out the mask on the back cover of my gameinformer ( Sega's sick joke for not producing enough copy's of the game ) panzor dragoon saga advertisement , and actually wearing the mask as i went from store to store searching for the holy grail. sadly , never to find it.

  • Wasn't sony supposed to release some dream cast games on the PSN? hopefully this one makes the cut: i've never played it.

  • Mod

    I would disagree Ben; personally I still enjoy FFVII just as much today as I did when I first played it 11 or 12 years ago.  Yeah, the graphics didn't age well but I don't really care about that too much because I expect it to look like that.  The story is still one of my personal favorites out of all the games that I've played, and the combat system is basically the tried and true turn based combat structure with a small amount of cinematic flare added to it.

    Personally I think the story and the core combat system have stood the test of time very well, and I feel I will still find myself returning to that game another 10 years from now, along with FFIV and FFX.

  • In this, I'm a little jealous.  Let me explain.  It's not that I'm jealous that this game is your favorite (even though it technically isn't), but I feel like such a cliche because my favorite games are games that everyone loves.  I can't be the guy that loves all the obscure games no one knows about.  I've tried.  I just can't do it.  I love a few semi-obscure games (Bubble Bobble, Flashback, RC Pro Am) but even those would be quite a ways down the list.  Perhaps one day, I'll play an obscure game that will blow me away but I doubt it.  The blockbusters are just better to me.  I feel like the guy who says that Transformers is his favorite movie of all-time.  I am a gaming cliche.

  • I would like to say Time Splitters: future perfect. Not because its the best game I've played, but because I've had the most fun with it and split screen and map making levels combined. Nothing beats spending an hour making a map with buddies then trying out virus with it. Not the best game. Just the funnest.

  • I can't wait to see the map maker on Time Splitters 4. I think it comes out next year. I hope..

  • I really like this blog.  I feel the same way about a lot of my favorite games.  I still put Resident Evil 2 among my top favorite games of all time, and it's one of the few games that I've played over and over.

  • @Jeff

    I played Final Fantasy VII for the first time in 2006 and then played it again in 2008.  It holds up and sits at the top of my favorite games of all time. I would say that you should try it out again, I believe you will love it.

  • @jonnysilver

    I would say FP deserves to be up high because the single player is hilarious. And for all those reasons you said.

  • So how about games that do hold up. For me it's: Morrowind, Tony Hawk's, Pokemon Blue/Red, the first Battlefield and Call of Dudes.

  • Staff

    "I get asked, “So, what’s your favorite game?” a lot. Often this question comes from one of my non-gamer friends or someone I’ve just met after they learn that I play video games for a living."

    I should point out that Ben asks himself this question frequently, out loud, in the bullpen. Then he answers people don't genuinely care about his opinion as much as he'd like you think.

  • Zelda OoT is easily my favorite game of all time. It was the first game I had really ever played all the way through, and it was amazing. I really don't think it would hold up to today's standards though, which is why I think that there is a distinct possibility that Zelda won't last much longer.

  • I love how the reaction to my favorite game of all time (Psychonauts) lets me tell who is a real gamer. Non-gamers will undeniably ask me what in the world that is, gamers will almost always say "yeah, that was great" or "I still need to get around to playing it."

    But I (and many others) find that the whole can't go back feel is much more applicable to 3D games. I can hardly bring myself to go back and play a PS1 favorite, and much less go back and play one I missed.

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