I've been playing games for nearly 25 years and there is one question that I've routinely found difficult to answer even though it sounds so simple: "what is your favorite game of all time?" I often answer that question by listing a handful of my favorite games and leave it at that since the games I hold in the highest regard are so outstanding that ranking them doesn't always make sense. Regardless I've always wanted to share a ranking of my favorite games of all time so I decided I'd try to make one for a list for a major milestone. If you ask me about this list in the future I'm not sure how fully I'd stand by it, but at this moment, as I just turned 25, here are my top 25 favorite games I've played to date!

25: Fortune Street (Wii)

Fortune Street is essentially Monopoly with the stock market, and there is nothing else quite like building up your properties while battling both luck and your opponents. Matches always become especially heated if you are playing with a competitive crowd and everyone knows when the big plays or fatal errors are made. I think Fortune Street narrowly edged out the runner ups due to all my fond memories of playing with friends whether it was coining the Birdoverse, when Birdo became trapped on an island and slowly built up a dangerous monopoly, or the time my best friend, my brother, and I were all late to dinner at Phil's BBQ when we just couldn't leave a game unfinished.

24: Guitar Hero / Rock Band (PS2, Xbox 360, Xbox One for me)

I'm already cheating at #24, but that's ok! I'm a huge fan of rhythm games so when I saw videos of Guitar Hero on G4's X-Play I knew I had to get my hands on it as soon as possible. My favorite games between the series are Guitar Hero II, Guitar Hero III (which introduced me to my favorite band Muse), and Rock Band 2 as they had my favorite soundtracks and featured the tightest guitar gameplay. I loved playing alongside my friends in these games and competing on the leaderboards, something I still occasionally do today with Rock Band 4. Whenever I hear songs that appeared on those games, all the warm memories come rushing back.

23: Mario Kart 8 (Wii U and Switch)

I grew up with Mario Kart so I've always had a lot of love for the series. While I have the most fond memories of Mario Kart 64 playing with my brother, cousins, and friends, Mario Kart 8 is my favorite game in the series without question. I've always preferred racing to battling and Mario Kart 8 has the tightest mechanics and stages after being refined through patches and DLC. The two F-Zero courses are highlights of the whole series, but there are plenty of other standout courses such as Cloudtop Cruise and Mount Wario. The online mode is a total blast, especially since you can play splitscreen with a friend, and I also appreciate the intense 200cc mode which requires an entirely separate approach to racing.

22: Halo 3 (Xbox 360)

Halo 3 is my favorite modern shooter to this day. While I enjoyed playing multiplayer with friends and occasionally online, my favorite part of the game is undoubtedly the campaign which is excellent both alone and in splitscreen co-op. The pacing is incredible and each area offers interesting sandbox battles and environments such that I can largely recall the entire campaign from start to finish. Skulls and campaign scoring both add a lot of replay value as I frequently enjoy making it even tougher than Legendary. Ultimately though, Halo 3 is just incredibly fun and satisfying to play which keeps me coming back every few years to play it again.

21: Perfect Dark (N64 and Xbox 360)

Perfect Dark is an incredibly rich package that offers so much single player, co-op, and competitive content. While it looks primitive today, it truly was cutting edge at the time on consoles and all the little animation touches still look great today. I'll never forget the campaign because I played levels over and over again to unlock all the hidden levels and cheats. Not every level holds up, but I enjoy all the approaches you can take to each objective. The best part of Perfect Dark is the combat simulator which features 30 missions that scale in difficulty depending on how many friends you are playing with and gives you full access to all the amazing weapons in custom games. I still can't get over how many weapons there are like the Super Dragon and the Laptop Gun and how nearly all of them have secondary functions that keep them fun and versatile. I love that Perfect Dark was granted a second lease on life with the fantastic Xbox 360 remake since it has kept it relevant for me ever since.

20: Cave Story (WiiWare, PC, DS/3DS)

Cave Story is basically a lost Super Nintendo classic and I loved it to death when I first played it. I beat it roughly six or seven times after it came to WiiWare. Most of those playthroughs were on the original PC version as I was able to download a copy of it to my computer account in high school and play it on any computer in the school. I frequently hung out with my friends in the newspaper room in high school during breaks so I had plenty of time to play it over and over again once all my work was done. I loved Cave Story so much that when I got to college I made a Cave Story-like game demo with some of my friends. If I had to pick one thing I especially love about it besides its amazing music and graphics, it has to be the weapon upgrade system that ensures a fantastic pull and push dynamic to combat.

19: Kirby Super Star (SNES)

I inherited most of my Super Nintendo games from my brother, but Kirby Super Star however I encountered in Kindergarten (no I don't know why mine had an SNES). Kirby exuded personality in Super Star and was armed with his most versatile movesets (I especially love Mirror and Plasma). While combat was easy aside from the awesome boss fights, it was all about efficiency and looking and feeling cool. The level design in Super Star is very clever as it hides tons of secrets and has some legitimately tricky puzzles especially in the fantastic Great Cave Offensive. I still love tackling Super Star with a friend as virtually the entire game supports co-op.

18: Xenoblade (Wii, New 3DS)

The moment I saw the wonderful exploration trailer for Xenoblade I knew I needed it as it was the evolution of Final Fantasy XII I desperately wanted. When it looked like America was about to miss out on Xenoblade, even though it was announced in LA at E3, I participated in Operation Rainfall's letter writing campaign and even heard back from Nintendo! From that alone it will always hold a special place in my heart and thankfully the game was well worth all the drama, as it struck an engaging mix between story and gameplay. I especially enjoyed exploring every inch of its beautiful world in search of adventure, treasure, and cool enemies to fight while listening to its phenomenal soundtrack and the endless banter of its endearing English voice cast.

17: Super Smash Bros Brawl / Smash 4 (Wii, Wii U)

I enjoyed Smash Bros from the start of the franchise with the N64 version and even more with Melee such that I even played in a local tournament with friends once, but it never quite clicked with me as much as I wanted it to until Brawl. I adored the lead up to Brawl with the daily Smash Bros Dojo updates and when it was finally mine I found Brawl was more of my pace, had a fantastic roster, and offered even more content to sink my teeth into including a Kirby Super Star style campaign and a level editor. Brawl is still my favorite, but through patches and DLC Smash 4 has become my new go to Smash game. I'm fairly competitive, so I always enjoy how my friends and I would all push ourselves to be better players in our regular first to five matches.

16: Super Mario RPG (SNES)

Super Mario RPG is the first of the big three SNES RPGs I love dearly. The combat system was so far ahead of its time especially with the action commands that encouraged you to be more involved in the turn based combat. My favorite part of Super Mario RPG was its emphasis on platforming and exploration. There were a lot of secrets to uncover such as hidden weapons, cameo characters, and a strange Final Fantasy style boss named Culex. I loved the writing in the game, which confidently took Mario on a unique adventure and made Bowser a hero. One of the original characters, Geno, remains one my favorite RPG party members of all time.

15: The World Ends With You (DS)

I love Square Enix and when they are on the top of their game they are untouchable. The World Ends With You is a bold game that oozes with style and creativity. The main character Neku begins the game thoroughly unlikeable, but over the course of the story became one of my favorite heroes of all time. The supporting cast is well utilized throughout and even works well in the bizarre post game level where the writing is just top notch. The unique combat system is hectic at first, but very engaging, and I love all the thought and care that went into the pin system as it empowers you to constantly try new abilities. I adore the excellent soundtrack full of catchy vocal songs and I still often listen to it while writing or driving.

14: Metroid Prime (Gamecube, Wii)

I distinctly remember being blown away by Metroid Prime when first booting it up. The leap from Super Nintendo to Gamecube is massive to begin with, but Prime was one of the most beautiful games of the generation. Its world was richly detailed and I made sure to savor every step of the journey. Prime stands out to me for its sophistication, how it built its world through its creatures and environments and through the lore waiting to be uncovered. It remains deeply satisfying to play and is still the ultimate successor to Super Metroid.

13: Kingdom Hearts II (PS2, PS3)

Kingdom Hearts II immediately gripped me right from the start. After a beautiful opening movie, Kingdom Hearts II puts you in control of Roxas as he completes the last days of his summer vacation. I quickly became attached to him and exploring his town so I didn't want his journey to end, but the journey that follows was equally unforgettable and incredibly fun thanks to the rock solid action gameplay. At the time I hadn't completed the original Kingdom Hearts, so this was the journey that made me attached to all of the characters and made me start to care about Disney films beyond my favorites. If Kingdom Hearts had ended here I would have been fully satisfied as Square made such a substantial experience from top to bottom.

12: Uncharted 2 / Uncharted 3 (PS3, PS4)

I knew I would always one day have a PS3 thanks to Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Kingdom Hearts III on the horizon (whoops...), but it was Uncharted that pushed me to secure mine earlier after reading its Game Informer cover story. The approach to realizing its core concept fascinated me and I was a huge fan of the original Jak and Daxter so I was eager to get my hands on the game. While I adored the first Uncharted, I knew Naughty Dog just needed to work the kinks out to make it even more special. My first PS3 literally died the day Uncharted 2 came out, but after that issue was resolved I plunged right into Uncharted 2 and finished it that first weekend. Uncharted 2 to me is still the pinnacle of the franchise as it struck the perfect balance between gameplay and story. The addition of stealth added needed variety to each encounter, but once the bullets started flying you were in total control of every situation due to how perfect the controls and systems were. While Uncharted 2 remains my favorite campaign, Uncharted 3 is the complete package as it gloriously fleshed out the underrated multiplayer modes.

11 The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES, GBA, Wii, Wii U, 3DS)

A Link to the Past is one of the essential games from my childhood and is one I consider virtually perfect. Unlike other Zelda games, I think what makes A Link To The Past so special is that while it does feature an overworld it is often an extension of the dungeon gameplay I love the most. What you learn in the light world directly influences how you have to think about the dark world as it is literally layered on top of it. When you enter the proper dungeons though, you are treated to some of the finest puzzles in the entire series and unique gauntlets of enemies and obstacles that established all the tropes that other Zeldas have riffed off. I love the progression of the game as you build up your health, armor, and weapons, and acquire a variety of interesting tools. By the end you have a tool for every occasion and more importantly a good handful that are just for fun. Few games effortlessly capture the spirit of adventure and trust you to solve every challenge before you as absolutely as a Link to the Past, which is why I revere it so much.

10: StarCraft / StarCraft II (PC)

I was very young when I first played StarCraft on my family's first computer. While I was fascinated by the core concept, building up a base and an army to take out your opponents, I wasn't proficient enough with a mouse and keyboard to really play it. Until I could type them down reliably myself, I often asked my Mom to type in the cheat codes I knew including the invincibility code "power overwhelming." RTS games became my favorite computer games thanks to StarCraft and over the years I became increasingly better at it such that I became confident enough to play online. There I found all the wonderful custom games, which encouraged me to make my own maps with the level editor. My gamertag Ghost777 came from StarCraft as I was always fond of the ghost units and, well, I needed some good luck online. When I went to college StarCraft II had just come out and I made most of my best friends in the dorms in part to it. Something I always appreciated about StarCraft is its obscene amount of depth and skill, which means I can always keep learning and improving. While I've taken a break from StarCraft since Legacy of the Void concluded the trilogy, I know one day I'll dive back into StarCraft. It's timeless.

9: BlazBlue (Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, PSP, 3DS, Vita)

I'm forever glad I took a chance on BlazBlue. Right before launch I saw some videos of a few matches online and was intrigued by its aesthetic and unique characters. Calamity Trigger was the humble beginning of the series and I was there day one. It featured 12 characters and a story mode that was a giant mess, but thankfully the strengths of the series were already apparent. Though the roster was small every character played vastly differently from each other and each one had wild personalities accentuated by awesome theme songs and a stellar English voice cast (RIP). Unlike other fighting games, the story took its time to truly develop its characters since it let them interact in lengthy scenarios that frequently didn't involve fighting. I played Calamity Trigger every morning before walking to high school because I was absolutely hooked. Continuum Shift, the first sequel, cemented my love for BlazBlue. It's story mode was far more cohesive and dramatic and gave everyone a chance to shine. Through DLC it introduced my favorite character Makoto and another one of my favorites with Platinum. Thanks to good enough PSP and 3DS ports and eventually fully up to snuff Vita ports, I could play BlazBlue on my bus rides to and from college. I still can't believe how much the series has grown since I first started playing as it is now up to 36 playable characters in Central Fiction. I can't wait to see where BlazBlue goes from here.

8: Shadow of the Colossus (PS2, PS3)

When I beat Shadow of the Colossus all I wanted was more. I loved the core loop of scouring the land on horseback in search of my next boss fight with a spectacular monster. Thankfully the game was very accommodating as it featured a Time Attack mode that rewarded unique items like explosive arrows and a parachute and had some fascinating secrets like climbing to the top of the castle and walking along the long bridge that is the only entrance and exit to the world. When I read a rumor online that there was a 17th colossus hidden in the world after beating the game four times I jumped at the chance to keep playing. I beat it four times on normal and four times on hard while beating Time Attack fresh each time and I can assure you there is no 17th fight. Along the way though I found even more secrets and quirks of the game. I especially latched onto making Wander perform backflips when leaping off his horse and skipping sections of climbing Colossi through carefully timed jumps. Wander is an especially lame hero at times with his awkward animations and relatively stiff/heavy controls so any action that made him more awesome always felt like a truly impressive feat that you earned. So while there wasn't "more" Shadow of the Colossus per se, I thoroughly enjoyed all of my time with Shadow of the Colossus.

7: Odin Sphere (PS2, PS3, PS4, Vita)

Odin Sphere is my favorite PS2 game of all time. I prefer fantasy to science fiction, so Odin Sphere's mix of knights, fairies, and dragons was always up my alley. While the gorgeous 2D graphics welcomed me in, it was the confident blend of story and gameplay that hooked me through five campaigns and the dramatic boss rush finale. Odin Sphere is framed with a little girl reading books in her attic and like a great book it restricts your freedom to playing each character's campaign in order to pace out its dramatic reveals and to flip your understanding of the story. Odin Sphere originally had some performance problems, but I found the slowdown in the original PS2 version gave the combat an unintended layer of strategy as it made you commit to each of your actions and let you easily survey the battlefield during the most hectic moments. I also appreciated that you were constantly juggling limited inventory space alongside the need to make the most of the photons produced from each battle. You needed photons to get stronger and power up your special attacks, but they also could be used to grow food needed to boost your health. Making constant decisions for the short and long term is what made me so invested in all of my characters and the game as a whole.

6: Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii, Wii U)

I'll cut to the chase, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is one of my favorite games of all time because it is so incredibly fun to play. Mario's moveset is highly tuned and ready for the seemingly endless variety of challenges he encounters across 242 stars. Galaxy 2 is Nintendo at the top of its game, it introduces mechanics and enemies, quickly explores and arrives at the essence of each of them, before moving on to the next and hardly ever looking back. Each level is thus incredibly satisfying and you are always looking forward to how the designers will surprise you next. Unlike Galaxy which was far too breezy, Galaxy 2 is unafraid to ramp up the difficulty which lets it ascend to even greater heights and makes conquering each challenge even more fufilling.

5: The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (PSP/Vita, PC)

My favorite modern RPG is without a doubt Trails in the Sky. It captures everything I love about the RPGs I played growing up and integrates plenty of modernizations on the side. The three main pillars of Trails, combat, characters, and the world, are all in perfect sync with each other. The combat is an always intriguing mix of Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy X as it mixes careful positioning with the ability to see and alter turn order. In addition to physical attacks and magic, there are CP skills which are charged by dealing or taking damage in battle. When you have at least 100 CP, you can interrupt turn order to strategically deal a devastating special attack which further expands your varied options. While the combat is always compelling, the characters are the true highlight of Trails in the Sky, especially the main protagonist, Estelle Bright, who is my favorite RPG protagonist of all time. She is so much fun to follow as she always exudes personality and grows into a leader who inspires others over the course of two games. Falcom takes the time necessary to develop the world of Trails through an intense attention to detail that has easily supported eight lengthy RPGs to date.

4: Chrono Trigger (SNES, PS1, DS, Wii)

It's hardly a secret that I love Chrono Trigger. Crono has been my icon online since I first made an account on Game Informer and carries over to any other public account I make like my Twitter. Chrono Trigger is a fantastic adventure and serves as an excellent introduction to RPGs in general. The mechanics of combat are sound thanks to it copying the ever reliable ATB system and I always appreciate that it lets you battle enemies in the world without transitioning to a separate area as it makes the whole experience more cohesive. Chrono Trigger focuses on a time traveling adventure as you gather allies across the ages to battle a planet devouring alien named Lavos. What really caused Chrono Trigger to stick with me all these years was its innovative New Game+ mode which allows you to carry all of your items and levels across a new playthrough. This lets you end the story whenever you want and have access to a dozen alternate endings. Not all of them are substantial, but it is enough to spark the imagination and asks you to more deeply engage its plot and characters.

3: Final Fantasy VI (SNES, GBA, Wii)

Final Fantasy VI is a master class RPG that offers a perfect mix of story and gameplay. I love assembling the full party of 14 characters in FFVI as they each offer exciting, unique abilities like Sabin's Blitz moves that are triggered by fighting game inputs or Cyan's Sword Tech skills. You are granted a powerful amount of customization through the use of relics (accessories) and later in the game you can teach any character magic by equipping them with magicite. I love how the story of FFVI is structured, it begins as a focused journey to aid a resistance opposing an evil empire until halfway through when the game's unforgettable villain Kefka succeeds in destroying the world. At this point you are given free rein in an airship to explore the world, right wrongs, and find your friends until you want to approach Kefka's Tower for a final showdown. There are many memorable events throughout the game such as the Opera House and the Phantom Train, but what pushes it over the edge is the often subtle writing that fleshes out the characters.

2: Super Metroid (SNES, Wii, Wii U, 3DS)

Super Metroid is a perfect game as far as I'm concerned. After an exciting prologue, you land on planet Zebes to find the last Metroid that was kidnapped by Space Pirates. As you explore Zebes you acquire new tools, weapons, and upgrades that help you explore and conquer more of the beautiful, hostile, alien world. The pacing is unbelievable as it constantly rewards experimentation by gradually upgrading your character. I always held Super Metroid in deep regard, but my respect for it has only grown over the years. One of my favorite memories of playing and beating the game countless times is how I've eventually mastered wall jumping. If you explore a certain corner of Brinstar you might find yourself trapped in a vertical corridor with three little aliens who wordlessly teach you how to wall jump. It's incredibly tricky to perform as the window for success is so small, but it's deeply satisfying to truly master as it lets you significantly sequence break the game and acquire some of the best power ups far earlier than intended. I love how Super Metroid respects, challenges, and rewards you as a player. Super Metroid is a shining example of excellent game design which is why I can't help but replay and enjoy it over and over again.

1: Super Mario 64 (N64, Wii, Wii U)

I distinctly remember the feeling of playing Super Mario 64 for the first time. I already established my love for gaming with my brother's Super Nintendo collection, but when I took control of Mario and just played around outside Peach's Castle, running, jumping, climbing up trees, and swimming, my love for games was fully cemented. Mario 64 celebrates the joy of movement in a 3D space and confidently pushed games into 3D. Like Super Metroid, I frequently replay Super Mario 64 every year or so and always have an absolute blast every time as Mario is just so much fun to control. Super Mario 64's levels are often simple once you know what you are doing, but how you achieve each objective is always fully up to you. It can be an absolute rush to take the most dangerous jumps possible and figure out how to make the most of your wall jumps and triple jumps. Super Mario 64 reminds me how games are always evolving and of their limitless potential to offer truly personal experiences you cannot have with other media. At 25 years old, Super Mario 64 confidently stands as my favorite game I've played to date.


Thank you so much for reading my latest blog! I hope you enjoyed it! I'm curious to hear what are some of your favorite games of all time and why they are important to you. Feel free to share in the comments below, I always enjoy reading and responding to your comments!