Gamers take their favorite games very seriously. Arguments, fights, scuffles, and possibly murder (charges are still pending) have all been the result of discussions on what games people consider great enough to make it into that fond category they name “favorites.” That’s because these games aren’t just the ones you remember having fun with. A gamer’s favorite games are the ones that have fond memories attached to them. Maybe you first played them at a big gaming time in your life. Maybe they hit a spot with you that made you place them up on this pedestal. Whatever the reason, a favorite game is not just a game you have played, but one you have experienced, in a larger sense of the word. The following list is my top ten favorite games of all time. I’m not saying these are the greatest games ever made, just my absolute favorites. Think of this as a way to get to know me as a gamer, so see what and why I enjoy playing. I hope you like it.


10. Jade Empire

I’ll start off this countdown with a game that I just recently played through (again).  Bioware has created some spot on games that combine great gameplay with a choice system that affect gameplay and story along the way. Back in 2005, Jade Empire graced the original Xbox and immediately struck a chord with my love for not only great storytelling, but my love for martial arts and martial arts films. Jade Empire turned us loose in just that, a world inspired by ancient oriental culture and martial arts movies, with gameplay to match. The combat system alone made this game stick with me over the years. Being able to train in different forms of martial arts and participate in fights that not only looked authentic, but felt rewarding at the same time. Not since have I found a game that truly made me feel like a martial artist.


9. Half Life 2

The next game on the list is something that I never expected to make it when I first decided to try it out. I’ve never been big on first-person shooters. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great time playing them, both alone and with friends, and I see how many have been both influential and revolutionary to the video game landscape. It’s just that none have ever really touched that special spot for me (don’t be gross); that is, until I stepped into the shoes of The One Free Man, Gordon Freeman. Half Life 2 didn’t play like most first-person shooters for me. Instead, it was an epic quest for freedom that I played through my own perspective. Half Life 2’s gameplay made the struggle for liberty feel personal and genuine. I wasn’t playing as Gordon Freeman, I WAS Gordon Freeman and I had a mission.


8. Demon’s Souls

In case you were wondering, I’m not against some of the newer games making a favorites list, and this current gen title does just that (however, Dark Souls may soon replace it). I’ve played many difficult games in my life as well as games that feel rewarding when you accomplish something. However, I had never played a game that combined these two aspects so well. Demon’s Souls beat me to a pulp, shattered my soul, destroyed my confidence, and made me red with rage.  After all this, I would gain skill, learn from my mistakes and most of all, get lucky and defeat my opponent(s). Then I would move on to the next enemy. This process was frustrating and mind numbing, which made the reward for slaying the larger than life enemy all the more rewarding. After spending several SEVERAL minutes (or hours) combating a dragon or evil creature, the rush of adrenaline and pride you feel as they fall to your blade is rarely surpassed in any other game.


7. Legend of Dragoon

This special Final Fantasy-ish gem from the Playstation era is one that is rarely discussed and even more rarely praised. Developed back in 1999 by Sony Computer Entertainment, Legend of Dragoon was discovered by me in a pawn shop with the manuals and artwork missing, leaving only four black and white colored game discs featuring characters wearing what I could only describe as “bad-ass dragon armor.” For the cheap price of $10, I never dreamed I would get more than my money’s worth. I happily discovered I was wrong. I soon discovered that the typical turn based combat was shaken up by the unique Addition system, using precise button pushes to extend combos, and in turn, increase damage to the opponent. Combine that with the later achieved Dragoon Forms which unlocked completely new magic and physical attacks and I found a combat system unique to anything else I played at the time or have played since.


6. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

I know this one will cause some arguments since no one can truly agree which Zelda game is the “best.” However, being the first Zelda game I played, Ocarina of Time holds a special place in my heart and has never been surpassed in my experience by any other Legend of Zelda title. Once again, a pawn shop held this until I discovered it and changed my gaming world forever. I had beaten Super Mario 64 a couple of times and I decided that it was time to increase my Nintendo 64 library (even if I was 10 years old and broke). When I found the cartridge at the shop, I got a little excited because I had always heard great things about the Legend of Zelda series. I popped the game into the system and was instantly hooked on this epic adventure that would span seven years in the game and several hours of my life. This certain story stands out to me as the greatest because of the symbolic recreation of getting older and time passing. The darkening of the world and of Link’s own appearance and actions perfectly mirror life itself as one grows in age and wisdom, and Ocarina of Time perfectly encompassed this. I only sensed this deeper meaning at the age of ten. It would take a few plays and many years later to fully grasp the darker meaning of the story, which again is what the story is all about.


5. Super Mario World

This decision was a tough one. It came down to this one or Super Mario Bros. 3. As you probably guessed Super Mario World won out in the end. Part of the reason is probably because this was the first video game I ever played. Now that wouldn’t have been enough to make such a high spot in this countdown. However, that fact combined with the spectacular gameplay is what puts it so high. I’ve played every core Mario title to date and I haven’t played one yet that I have as much fun playing as when I fire this one up and starting kicking Koopaling butt. Whether it be the great map and worlds, the several different paths to take in said world, Yoshi (yeah, simply Yoshi), or a combination of them all, Super Mario World is where I started my video game life and it is also where I happily return often. It takes a great game to give me just as much fun (if not more) at 22 years old as I had when I was 3.


4. Kingdom Hearts II

If you pitched the idea for Kingdom Hearts to a friend before its release, they probably would have either laughed in your face or just shot you a crazy look. Well not only was that crazy idea a booming success, but it spawned a sequel (and several other sequels and prequels for handhelds) that was improved upon in every way. Not only was the story bigger, deeper, and more emotionally involving, but the controls and combat became smoother and less repetitive. With the action command added, combat was made more versatile with a couple more options. The story of the underdog child turned not-so-reluctant hero was one that pulled me in and had me begging for more. The colorful Disney and Final Fantasy characters added much imagination to the game and can still be considered unique if nothing else.


3. Mega Man Legends

The Mega Man series probably makes it into a lot of gamers’ favorite lists. However, the Legends series is the one that pulled me in and gave me a unique experience I never had before. I found Mega Man Legends at a Walmart back when I was 9. I remember enjoying the Mega Man X series, and this one was in 3D and looked great (at the time, of course). When I started playing, it was different than anything I would have expected from a Mega Man game. JRPG gameplay, upgradable weapons and armor, dungeon diving for treasure; all these aspects blended together perfectly to create a different kind of Mega Man experience. I never thought I’d send the Blue Bomber down into a dungeon in search of treasure that could upgrade his weapons and armor, making him stronger for more difficult dungeons. It may have seemed weird at first, but it turned into one of the most fun experiences I ever had in gaming.


2. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

Yet again, a game franchise thrown into unfamiliar territory. I remember seeing something called Super Mario RPG about to be released around the time I was 7 (I didn’t even know what RPG meant at the time). I had always loved Mario games (see Super Mario World above), so I knew I would have to give this one a shot. Plus, the graphics and layout looked different than all the other Mario titles out there. Little did I know how different it would be. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars threw our favorite plumber into a JRPG world.  You were teamed with odd but lovable characters; some old friends and one arch nemesis as you were tasked with defeating a new enemy from a far off land.  I was blown away by the intricate turn based combat where you could, like Legend of Dragoon, time your hits right for more damage and extra attacks.  The open world exploration was so compelling that you literally had to explore every inch of every area you entered just to make sure you found everything.  Mario has had other RPGs since, but this one did it first and did it best for me.


1. Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus will forever stick out in my mind as the game I had the most fun playing and had the greatest video game experience ever.  You are tasked with the killing of 16 Colossi.  You have no special abilities, just your sword, your bow,  and the love for the one you are doing this for, the love you must save.  With no special abilities, slaying each Colossi is its own unique challenge and epic journey.  After slaying them, the game tugs on your heart.  As the creature falls, you wonder if what you have done is right…to have killed something so ancient, so majestic, so epic.  The landscape is so beautiful and you must explore this gorgeous, unknown land to find the beasts and bring them down.  Team Ico gave us a game that should forever be remembered as one of the greatest of all time and the epitome of video games as art. 

There you have it. This is my list of my favorite games I have ever played. What does your list look like? Let me know where you think my games stand.