So, like, a good three years ago, I made a blog about my top favorite games of all time. Three years feels like forever ago, and I feel like a heck of a lot has changed--perhaps even my taste in video games. For the sake of keeping track, I thought I'd make a blog about my top 25 games once more, to see what games I found and enjoyed these past few years. And in yet another three years, I can come back, see this blog, and wonder upon the trash tastes of past-Chary.
Simpson's Hit N Run
Rune Factory 4
Pokemon Mystery dungeon Sky
Super Mario World
Fallout New Vegas
Assassin's Creed 2
Tales of the Abyss
Fire emblem awakening
25. Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
Instead, I think I'd put Link's Awakening here. I remember it as the first Zelda game I ever played, and my favorite in the series. After so many years, though, I'd mostly forgotten it. The remake gave me the chance to at least replay the general experience, but it left me feeling like I'd totally remembered it wrong. At least, until I went back and played the original, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's short, it's weird, and it might not be at the top of most's lists, especially when it comes to Zelda, but I still love it.
24. Simpsons Hit N Run
Games based on movie/TV IP's can't be good! That tends to be the rule, with video games, and this is one that manages to be the exception. It's quotable, it's memorable, it has references--it's the perfect Simpsons game, and a love letter to any fan of the show. It's not without its faults, of course, as the latter half of the game feels rushed, overly frustrating, and has enough padding to create the ideal cell for when you inevitably go crazy from playing it, but even so, there's something so charming about driving around a meticulously re-created game world of Springfield that it makes you forgive most of its larger issues.
23. Chrono Trigger
On odd-numbered days, my favorite of the two is FFVI, but on even-numbered days, it's Chrono Trigger. Both are just sublime games, showing off how mid-90s JRPGs had been perfected, with their spritework, timelessness, and enjoyable gameplay. They're both amazing games, and it's clear to see how they're likely the inspiration behind most modern games in the genre.
22. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
This game earns its place in the DKC franchise in every way, shape, and form. It's got the classic difficult platforming with pulse-pounding segments that are do-or-die, requiring perfect timing, and it's got the most well-suited soundtrack to fray your nerves to. All the DKC games are good in their own ways, but I feel like this is where Retro managed to exactly capture what made Rare such a good studio to create the beloved series in the first place.
21. Dragon Ball Z: BT3
As an unabashed shameless DBZ fan, Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is pretty much the best DBZ game out there. The story mode covers anything and everything that happens throughout the anime/manga, and you have access to literally every character that's ever been on screen--even the nameless goons from Frieza's army. It has an overly complex fighting system that manages to actually be quite fun, once you get the hang of it, and there's something to be said for being able to set up your own ridiculous battles, and using Hercule to decimate five different super saiyans in a row.
20. Duck Game
This is by far, one of the best multiplayer games ever. Local, or online. It already starts out amazingly because it's a game about ducks, how can you go wrong with that? But it gets better! Add some maniacal fast-paced gameplay, where you're controlling ducks that can fire every manner of gun under the sun, where every milisecond of reaction matters, and you have an utterly hilarious, amazing party game on your hands.
Choice. It's an important part of most story-based games, giving you, the player, the ability to pick how you want your avatar protagonist to be. Evil? Good? Neutral? That choice lies with you. Dishonored gives you a choice that not only impacts the narrative, but how you play the game as well. If you want to be the good guy, you're playing Dishonored as a stealth game, with your abilities acting as the method of puzzle solving. For those with less of a moral high ground, you'll be enveloped by a host of different powers that let you eviscerate your enemies in all sorts of ways, as you tear through each part of Dunwall like an action hero. Either choice you pick, you'll have a fun time.
18. Super Paper Mario
Super Paper Mario is the result of taking a Mario game, and asking what would happen if you wrote a story and actually characterized the cast of Mario and co. Many will likely prefer TTYD, for sticking to the turn based roots of the Paper Mario series, but I feel that this game is easier to come back to, just to breeze through and see the story play out, or watch others react to the story themselves. It's a little easy, and you can see that there's some padding near the end to try to stretch the gameplay out, but the highs that SPM hits outweigh the lows.
17.The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel
I will fight for this game. I will fight and yell in the streets for XSEED to keep translating it. It's just so good. It's insane, the level of detail and world-building that goes on in this subset of games. You have to be committed, if you want to get the most enjoyment out of the Trails series--since a single game clocks in more text than the entire Harry Potter series of novels--but it's so worth it. It's like reading an amazing series of books, but with all the goodness that adding video games to the equation brings, like dialogue options and strategy-based RPG combat.
16. Castlevania SOTN
Does this game need to explain itself? Certainly not, as its existence pretty much inspired hundreds of games to follow. There's an undeniable beauty in the spritework and the music, while character movement is fluid, responsive, and so satisfying. Even exploiting how broken the game is, is a thrill. There's a reason why Bloodstained is one of the most funded projects on kickstarter; people just want MORE Symphony of the Night!
15. Shin Megami Tensei IV/A
Apocalypse is the black sheep of the SMT series, acting more as SMT-lite rather than anything else. It actually felt like a good place for someone like me, who only had experience with Persona, to jump in. IV is a bit more hardcore, keeping things to the typical formula. Either are engrossing JRPGs with a difficulty curve that'll chew you up and spit you out, and you'll have to put some thought into the game's mechanics to stay alive. If you stick with it, you'll be rewarded with super satisfying fights, and interesting moral choices.
14. Assassin's Creed II
To me, the Assassin's Creed franchise is boring, overplayed, stale, uninteresting, and just not worth the time. Having played every entry from 1, to Origins, I found myself baffled at why I bothered to keep up with the series at all, until I started playing 2 again, on a whim. It's this game alone, that manages to make me care about Assassin's Creed, and hold out that minuscule hope that one day Ubisoft will make another AC game like this one. 2 had enough of a plot to push the narrative along, while not trying to burden the player with "modern" content, and keeping most of the focus on Ezio and his exciting adventures through Italy. The combat is a little stiff, after ten years, but there's a genuine amount of fun to be had from just exploring, running around memorable landmarks, and finding side missions and collectibles. It doesn't feel as rote as the newer games, which keeps it from being as tired as something like Revelations, or 3.
13. Yoshi's Island
Yoshi's Island is nostalgia, pure, and printed in game cart form. From the coin ding when you boot it up, to the relaxing music, to the springy controls, everything about Yoshi's Island just brings back the experience of playing the game back when I was a little kid, wondering why people liked Nintendo more than Sega. Yoshi's Island, young me realized, was why.
12. Life is Strange
This game is an interesting case. I like it, and I dislike it. And yet, despite all its flaws, I still really like it. I played it at a pretty pivotal moment in my life, too, right after the hurricane. And considering the end choice of the game, it stuck out to me a lot more than any other game might have at the time. The writing can be downright cringey at times, but even so, it still gives the game heart, in all the dorkiest of ways. When I needed an escape from the flood and all the damage that came with it, this was the game I sunk all my time into, and it captured me with its cliche premise and amusing characters.
11. Fallout 2
If you asked me if Bethesda could have made a good story-driven Fallout game back in 2016, I would have been skeptical, at best. These days, I'd laugh. But when I was wanting more good post apocalyptic games with interesting stories and lore, all I needed to do was look to the past. Fallout 1 had the better overall tone, but Fallout 2 did everything else right. It had charm, it had alarming gore, it had humor and fourth wall breaking snark; it was Fallout New Vegas, but isometric. Something about the old school charm that this game has puts it above New Vegas for me, but man, it's a toss up between the two. I think 2 just had me more interested, but it can be dated and antiquated.
10. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
It's hard to pick which game in the original trilogy is the best. 1 feels more well rounded, 2 has an insanely good final case that's bogged down by having to trudge through boring fluff cases to get there, while 3 is the perfect sendoff. Either way, the entire trilogy is worth playing. I love games that focus on character relationships and good stories, and there's no better way to do that than by overdramatic court cases and murder investigations!
9. Tales of the Abyss
When I was but a few hours into the start of Abyss, I almost put it down. It has a bit of a rough start--but if you let the game develop past that, you are awarded with such a good JRPG. While it's not the best combat the series has to offer, the characters and art design, and overall world just felt so interesting. I'm so glad I didn't give up on the game, because it ended up being one of my favorites of all time.
8. Rocket League
Every changelog or update I see for this game gives me this sense of foreboding, but for what it is, Rocket League is just plain fun. Forget the lootboxes and toxic online, and think about the pure, incorruptible fun that comes from driving a toy RC car into a giant soccer ball. It's something you can get anyone to play along with you, but it also has an insane amount of depth. You can blast your boost and careen into the ball hoping to score a goal, or you can mastermind a plan to fly your car into the air, flip the hood at the exact angle, and shoot the ball into the precise undefended edge of the goal. Nice shot! Nice shot! Nice shot!
What more could possibly, honestly be said about this game? Minecraft is the perfect game to just pick up and unwind with. It's the kinda game that you can forget exists for a few months, or a year, and then stumble across it again, remembering why you loved it in the first place, playing it endlessly until you burn out only to repeat the pattern all over again. It's calm when you need a relaxing game, or exciting, when you've got 100 mods piled on top of each other, drastically changing the experience.
6. Danganronpa 2
While 1 was a little hamfisted and awkward in its writing, Danganronpa 2 managed to pull everything together to create a really compelling story, with some memorable characters. And that build up requires having the knowledge of 1, in order to fully make its impact. The themes actually manage to hit their mark here, rather than overly harping on the "bad guy concept bad" "good guy concept good" tropes that 1 spent most of its time doing. It took everything that the first game did, and did it better, going from a good game, to a fantastic game.
5. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky/Time/Darkness
I cried when I beat this game for the first time at 10 years old, and I still cry re-watching the ending as an almost-23-year-old. Every time you scoff at Pokemon games not really having much of a story, you pick up this game and you play it through to Dialga. If you don't cry, or at least feel something stirring within you, you'll know you're dead inside. Even disregarding the insanely surprisingly well-written story, the dungeon crawling aspects are also really fun. It's tactical and requires thoughtful choices to offset the randomness of exploring, while still being less punishing than other non-Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games. I honestly think, without this game, I wouldn't even care about the Pokemon franchise as a whole.
4. Fire Emblem Three Houses
I can't get over how good this game is. Good writing, good gameplay, good characters. It managed to take elements from every Fire Emblem game, and mix it together, without creating a totally broken mess (like Awakening) and have a good story at the same time (unlike Fates) while still being pretty accessible (unlike Echoes). In a lot of ways, this game is super similar to Fire Emblem 4, which is a horribly dated, yet still fantastic game. I had a lot of fear before this game launched, that it'd be a boring game, or would change Fire Emblem too much, but after 200 hours, I'm dead certain that this is the best game in the franchise.
3. Sonic 3
The day that this game ever leaves my top 3 will be the day where I think I'll have gone insane. This is one of the first video games I ever played, and I couldn't ask for a better introduction into the world of games than this. It's one of the best platformers of all time, and even though it's totally broken and full of manipulatable glitches, it's still so fun. It kills me that we'll never get an "HD" version of this, but at least we've got Sonic 3 Complete.
2. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Okay, this might have been the most difficult decision of the entire blog. Animal Crossing, or Animal Crossing...New Leaf? The first game in the series has such sentimental value to me, and every element of the game just strikes a chord of nostalgia. There's the soundtrack, which just brings out a level of uncomparable joy, or the sound effects, which I still remember clearly, as I did when I first played the game in 2002, or so. But...with ten years between it and New Leaf, there were so many QoL changes and improvements that it's mind-boggling. Playing the first Animal Crossing is fun, and I love going back to it, but it also feels lacking and clunky. What do you mean closets can only hold 3 items at a time?! Only shirts and umbrellas?! Oh gosh. No hats, pants, shoes--New Leaf just added so many things to really mark it as the definitive Animal Crossing game. I truly hope that New Horizons does the same.
1. Persona 4: Golden.
Yeah, nothing has changed here. This is still the game of all games, to me. I haven't played it since I last made a blog, but I still clearly remember the entire experience of playing that game from start to finish, entirely hooked. And then I went back and beat it again, on a NG+, just to get the platinum trophy. When you beat a game and actively want to restart the entire story over, just to play it all again, you KNOW you're playing a good game.
Honorable mentions: Castle of Illusion, Breath of the Wild, Batman: Arkham City, Persona 3: Portable, Kid Chameleon, Mario Superstar Baseball, Pokemon Heartgold/Soulsilver, Rune Factory 4, 999, and The Division.
So, there you have it. I'll be interested in seeing how many games shift on or off of this list, in the coming years.
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