Top Ten Tuesday 34

My Top Ten Games I Wish I Could Play Again for the First Time

Disclaimer: There are many top ten lists but this one is mine, if you think a game is missing here, I either didn't play it, didn't have any interest in it, or I just hate you.

Pre-List Notes

Many games and genres offer such incredible replay value through randomized levels and content, choice driven story lines, or New Game+ that your fourth play-through may be just as entertaining as the first. There are those special games, however, that resonate so strongly after you put the controller or mouse down (why are you holding the mouse?) that you can never quite recapture that initial experience. Maybe it was a huge twist moment that completely floored you, or an epic emotional sequence that left you drained. I’ve listed ten such games that I wish I could play again for the first time and relive the magic all over again.


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Top Ten Games I Wish I Could Play Again for the First Time

10) Spore


If you take away the insane controversy over Spore’s admittedly awful copyright protection system, Spore was a highly anticipated game seen as the next big simulation evolution from Maxis genius Will Wright. Ultimately Spore was not the game most of us were hoping for, but for what it’s worth I still found it a very fun and innovative experience, and nothing beats evolving your little creature from a single-celled organism into building his own spaceship and exploring the galaxy. Countless replays made me realize that the real game was in the final space stage, but nothing beats those first moments of diving into the creature editor and truly shaping something unique.

If you're curious, it looks like my Spore page still exists!


9) Transformers: War for Cybertron

I’m a huge Transformers nerd. I may have a five foot shelf sitting across from me filled with figures organized by era and generation, and I'm sure you've noticed my current banner image. When High Moon released this love letter to my favorite franchise, set in the old days of Cybertron’s initial civil war, I was absolutely smitten. Your mileage may vary, but few gaming moments will top driving in and around Cybertron while fleeing the laser blasts of Omega Supreme. The kid in me was overjoyed, and the adult was finally satisfied that Transformers got the awesome game they always deserved.


8) The Whispered World

A semi-recent point and click adventure game that I was excited to play as part of my Rogue's Adventures backlog playthroughs, The Whispered World tells the intriguing tale of a depressed circus clown and his quest to save the beautifully drawn fantasy world of Silentia….or destroy it. The emotional journey Sadwick goes through is unlike anything I’ve experienced in an adventure game, and the twist ending still gives me goosebumps.

Read my Final Thoughts on The Whispered World (Spoiler Warning).


7) BioShock

An obvious choice for most folk’s list, BioShock helped prove that not all first person shooters have to be mindless murder simulators and can in fact be thought-provoking, beautiful, haunting, and have some of the biggest story twists of the entire generation. The sequel proved that you can return to Rapture, and even include another great story, but few moments can compete with the first time you saw a Big Daddy, discovered Atlas’ secret, and confronted Andrew Ryan.


6) Red Dead Redemption

As incredible as Rockstar’s open-world games are, they’ve never encouraged replaying from the beginning, instead rewarding you for continuing to play and accomplish everything you can do. This makes for a wonderfully cohesive and fulfilling experience, but also a burning desire to experience it all again. Red Dead had an amazing story (the slow middle section in Mexico notwithstanding) with an actual likable protagonist and Rockstar’s usual cast of colorful characters like Seth the grave robber and Nigel West Dickens the snake oil salesman. Action-packed set pieces were lifted straight out of classic Western films and tropes, like the train robbery, assaulting the fort, and fleeing on stagecoach. But the biggest moments were emotionally wrenching, and coupled with that amazing soundtrack created an experience we’ll never forget.


5) The Walking Dead


Although Telltale’s incredible adaptation of the popular comic book (and now television series) offers replay-ability through a choice driven narrative, many fans (myself included) can’t bring themselves to replay such a strong story-driven game. Treating Kenny differently or letting a different person live or die just feels wrong in a way no other game has – my first and only playthrough will always be my definitive Walking Dead experience. No other gaming experience has spurned me to immediately get online and discuss the game's story and moments with my best friend that was also playing it at the same time, and making different decisions along the way.


4) Mass Effect

I’m part of that group of fans that believes the original Mass Effect game to be nothing short of a masterpiece, the best of the series, and a memorable experience that I can’t quite capture with multiple playthroughs. Hell I even put Mass Effect 2 on my Most Disappointing list, rendering my love for the original as borderline irrational. Exploring the galaxy with the Normandy and Mako while learning about the fully realized and incredibly interesting universe Bioware created helped make that first playthrough one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had. The moment when Sovereign first reveals himself to you on Virmire is still one of the coolest moments I've ever experienced in a video game (hmm future top ten list?). To this day Mass Effect remains the only role playing game that I’ve immediately started playing again after beating it the first time.


3) Grand Theft Auto III

As I mentioned with RDR, Rockstar doesn’t encourage you to play their games again, but the open world is so compelling you can’t help but sink dozens of hours just having fun in the city-sized sandbox well after finishing the story. Both Vice City and San Andreas made my Top Ten PS2 Games List, but Grand Theft Auto 3 makes this list purely because it was my first experience with such a genre that just puts you in a big 3D world and lets you have your way with it.

Check my top ten list of Grand Theft Auto Moments.


2) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

GTA3 was my first open world game but Zelda paved the way a few years before with the incredibly enchanting 3D world of Ocarina of Time, including a fully explorable Hyrule with new friends and enemies as well as familiar faces. Ocarina also had an engrossing story that retold the classic Zelda tale by inserting an interesting time traveling twist where a young idealistic Link is transported into the future (and aged appropriately) to a dystopian Hyrule ruled by the evil Ganondorf. Princesses in disguise, earning your own horse in a race, and traveling between both time periods make Ocarina of Time one of the most unforgettable experiences in gaming, and my favorite Nintendo 64 game.


1) EverQuest

You never forget your first time, or your first massively multiplayer online role playing game. Well, technically I started with Sierra’s The Realm, but EverQuest presented a, say it with me now, fully explorable 3D world! But this time there were other people involved – hundreds! Unlike anything I’ve ever experienced at that time, EverQuest was my first real gaming addiction as I helped found a guild, met some awesome friends, and spent more time than I care to admit waiting for enemies to spawn and loot to drop. It was terribly cruel when you died, had flawed gameplay mechanics, and the graphics were as rough as that early 3D era gets, but it was one of the greatest gaming experiences I ever had, and I played it for a solid year from 1999-2000. Trying to recapture the magic I jumped back in at some point in the early 2000s, and was met with an odd mix of nostalgia and depression as the old zones were near empty as people had moved on to the yearly expansion content. It’s true what they said, you can’t go home again. Other MMORPGs have held my attention for varying times but none had a stranglehold on me as EverQuest did, and none have measured up to its greatness in its initial heyday.


Wrap Up

Pretty obvious to see that the early 3D era, which gave way to open ended gameplay and exploration had a huge affect on the games I loved and unique gaming memories that I’ve formed. Sadly that era has not held up well graphically at all, making many replays more frustrating than fun, but they do make for the perfect candidates for this wishlist. Many games have received HD treatments or found new life on the handhelds so a whole new generation of gamers can experience the magic.

If you're shocked that I left out some classics that crop in several of my lists, maybe your Chrono Triggers, your Elder Scrolls, or even a Mario game, know that while I love them all, those games actually remain awesome on subsequent playthroughs in a comforting way, like putting on your comfy pants or listening to an old favorite song. All the games on this list gave me memorable experiences and while a few have made for great replays, nothing can match playing through those big moments for the first time.


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