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In 1988, the four year-old version of me received his first video game console. I cut my teeth on the Nintendo Entertainment System, which kicked off a lifelong obsession with the medium. I've owned 16 different gaming consoles throughout the years, with the only semi-well-known consoles that I never purchased being Saturn, 3DO, Virtual Boy, and Jaguar. Some of my consoles broke down because I played them so much, while others were lucky if they ever got powered on. I decided to go through my gaming history and single out my favorite game for each system, along with some runners-up. Read on to see the highlights of each console, along with some personal stories about my experience with them.
Note: I'm not counting current-gen systems in this list. I'm including the Wii because there aren't any new releases coming out in the future that I plan on buying.
NES: Super Mario Bros. 3
Like many others around my age, my earliest gaming memory was playing the original Super Mario Bros. on NES. While that game blew my mind and its underrated sequel also rates among my favorites, it was the third entry in the series that stands as my favorite NES title. It opened up the world with a map screen that featured multiple paths. Awesome new power-ups like the raccoon, frog, and hammer suits shook up the level-to-level gameplay. Instead of one repeating Bowser fight, we were treated to seven unique battles against his Koopaling children, along with numerous mini-boss fights and the final (nerve-wracking) confrontation with the big baddie himself. To see just how much the final stages wreck me, be sure to check out the insanely-intense fourth (and final) episode of our Super Replay of the game.
Runners-up: Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, Mega Man 2, Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, Contra, The Legend of Zelda, Ninja Gaiden, Baseball Stars
Genesis: Mortal Kombat II
I don't remember much from third grade, but I have a vivid memory of going to a gas station after school one day and seeing Mortal Kombat for the first time. Two high schoolers were showing each other fatalities, and I got my first glimpse of the series' trademark over-the-top violence. During recess the next day, I remember running around the playground, breathlessly regaling classmates about the game that lets you punch a dude's head off, tear out his heart, or take off a mask to reveal a freaky skeleton face. None of them seemed as excited as me, but it was all I could think about. News of a sequel came out, and I remember impatiently waiting outside the arcade before its first day on display. Mortal Kombat II didn't disappoint. It featured more fighters, more fatalities, goofy Friendship and Babality finishers, and (most importantly) better gameplay. Everything that made the game great translated well to the Genesis version, which I sunk more hours into than anything else on the system.
Runners-up: Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat 3, NBA Jam, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Vectorman, WWF Raw
Super Nintendo: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
If you're a regular viewer of Replay, you know that A Link to the Past isn't just my favorite Super Nintendo game, it's my favorite game of all time. For our 25th anniversary of Zelda celebration in the magazine, I wrote an article dedicated to my love of Link's third adventure. I'll direct you to that link for the majority of my gushing over the game, but it obviously also deserves a spot on this list. On a system with no shortage of classics, A Link to the Past manages to stand above all of them.
Runners-up: Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Super Mario Kart, Yoshi’s Island, Street Fighter II, Mega Man X, Star Fox, Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball, Super Mario RPG
Game Boy/Game Boy Color: Tetris
It's Tetris. What do you want?
Runners-up: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Donkey Kong, Metal Gear Solid, Super Mario Land 2, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons
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