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My Real Game Of The Year Might Not Be From This Year

by Ben Reeves on Dec 24, 2014 at 03:00 AM

This year was a contentious year for “end of” lists.  Many of the editors on staff have their own opinion about what should have been game of the year, and few of them seem to agree. Personally, I’ve been telling everyone that my game of the year is Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, and while I think that is the best game I played from 2014, I don’t think it’s the best game I played during 2014.

Let me take you all the way back to August of 1995. I was a strapping young lad and devilishly handsome, but that doesn’t mean I had life completely figured out. In fact, my biggest problem in life was that I didn’t have a SNES. I had gotten a lot of joy out of my Sega Genesis and games like Gunstar Heroes, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Streets of Rage. But I was dying to get my mitts on an SNES so I could play games like Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, Super Mario World, and Super Metroid.

My SNES owning friends were also always talking about this little game called Chrono Trigger. I wasn’t much of an RPG gamer back then, but Chrono Trigger's massive time-spanning adventure sounded pretty cool. I got a few glimpse of the game while visiting a buddy’s house, and was pretty sure I’d play it once I got my hands on a SNES.

Flash forward another year and I did get my hands on a SNES, but Chrono Trigger wasn’t the first game I dove into. There were just too many titles to catch up on: Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario Kart, Final Fantasy III. Every time I got close to going to the store to buy Chrono Trigger something else would catch my eye. Pretty soon the PlayStation was hitting the market and Square’s time-traveling epic got swept up in the sands of time.

But just because I missed playing Chrono Trigger when it was fresh doesn’t mean I had to miss out on Chrono Trigger altogether. Over the years, I tried to catch up on that game. Years after it’s release, I dusted off my SNES and booted up Chrono Trigger again. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long before I got distracted by the release of Metal Gear Solid and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. In 2008, when the game was rereleased on the Nintendo DS, I tried to jump into the game again, but my system and the game were eventually stolen. I tried a couple other times throughout the years, but I always seemed to burn out during the game’s opening hours, which I’d already played a number of times.

This year, I determined to check that game off my list of shame. Like a chubby mountain climber nearing the peak of Everest, I persevered. One Saturday this summer, I powered through the opening hours of Chrono Trigger and then kept playing well past where I had left off in previous playthroughs. Do you know what happened? Things began to click, and I began to enjoy the game. Then I really began to enjoy the game. Then I became obsessed with trying to do all the side quests. Then I became obsessed with looking up all of the game's endings, and I started playing through a second time to see if I could unlock the secret ending where you meet Chrono Trigger’s design team.

Chrono Trigger was a breath of fresh air in my gaming diet not because it was new and exciting, but because it was old and not the kind of game I’d played in a long time. So don't forget to go back and play the classics from time to time. I’ve discovered some of my favorite series – such as Mega Man X, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, and Grand Theft Auto – by jumping back and playing older games I'd originally missed. Sure, many games don't age well, but don't let that scare you away from older titles or older games. Just because you missed a games initial marketing push doesn't mean you have to miss out on why it was a great game. It’s never too late to discover a classic.

To help get you started check out our list of our favorite underrated hits from last generation.