As you may have noticed, I happen to be a big time gamer (as with the rest of us here on Metal State). I started out on an Atari 2600 back in the beginnings of the 1980s and haven’t looked back since. I can not think of a time in my life when I haven’t been completely in love with my digital darlings. Not to brag, but I will, I have played and finished hundreds of games, and not like 100 something games. Roughly counting, I’d say that number is up around the 500 mark. Yet somehow in my ~30 solid years of gaming I have not sat down and tried to make list of the best games I have ever played. So given we are slightly obsessed with lists around these parts, I figured it’s time to do so (my cohorts will be joining in with their lists as well in the coming days). Every single game on this list I consider a must play and highly suggest you check all of them out.
For my own set rules I made the cut-off anything released before 2013 as I still need to let the new releases sink in a bit more and some games get an entry as a series and some games in the series get their own number. If a specific game in a series affected me more than the rest, that game gets top billing and a series gets the number if I feel that the whole series works together to make a cognitive whole. I hope you all enjoy this little list and find some games to either revisit or discover for the first time. And as always, I’d love to hear your favorite games. Even though I have played a lot of games, chances are I may have overlooked a hidden gem and point in its direction is always welcome. Peace Love and Metal!!!!!!
Honorable Mention: Civilization (Series)
I have always been a fan of this series, but during the time this list was running I ended up getting back into the series big time and finally broke down and bought Civ 5 (+ expansions) and was reminded just how much I love playing these games. They are also the biggest time sink I have ever played too. It’s dangerous starting up a match as I know hours will pass by before I realize I’ve been sitting at the computer for half the day only thinking I’ve been playing a short while. The ‘just one more turn’ style of gameplay is insanely addicting and the strategy is deep yet accessible. I also love that there are so many different ways to achieve victory so pacifists can also mop the floor with other Civs with their raging culture or superb science discoveries. If you’re looking for a game to get a huge bang for your buck and enjoy world history and think playing as a diplomat or warlord sounds up your alley, come join into the black hole that is Civilization.
Other Honorable Mentions: Bioshock (if I included 2013 games in this list Bioshock: Infinite would be in the top 5), Super Mario Bros. 3, Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Ocarina of Time, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, God of War, Metal Gear Solid 1&3, Jak and Daxter Series, Warcraft III, The Longest Journey, Donkey Kong Country Series, and Doom II.
#5: Mega Man 3
Again, another series with a lot of ups and down. My pick for the absolute best Mega Man game that features solid gameplay that holds up today and many great memories of controller crushing frustration goes to Mega Man 3. It also gets points as it was the first game that I bought with my own money that I had saved up from mowing lawns and doing random chores for neighbors (all my other games were gifts bought by my parents usually for some holiday or for doing well in school). Maybe the satisfaction of a job well done gives this a bit of an unfair advantage, but I’d contest that. The third entry into this legendary series shows the Blue Bomber at his most polished and features the best balance of weapons as well as superb level design and graphic aesthetics. Popularly contesting Mega Man 2 for the top spot, I feel 3 edges it out if only for the fact that throughout the course of the game you will use all the robot masters weapons instead of spamming the fuck out of everything with the ‘Metal Blade’ ( \m/ ). 3 also introduces one of the best maneuvers ever to grace platforming games, the slide. Having that slide adds so much more you can do with Mega Man and adds a whole new dynamic to each of your playthroughs. Not only to be used for getting under low ledges, it can be used to dodge or to give Mega Man a short speed boost. It was a more than welcome addition and had gone on to completely change the dynamics of platforming games forever.
And man, those boss robots are cool. Really a robot snake that shoots snakes and robot made of magnets that shoots magnets, what’s there for a kid/adult not to love. Also, the music, as per par, is absolutely outstanding and the 3rd Mega Man soundtrack ranks up there with some of the greatest video game soundtracks of all time. 2D platform games will never top the perfection that is Mega Man 3 in my opinion.
#4: Day of the Tentacle
Maniac Mansion may have been the game that started my love affair with point and click adventure games, but it was its sequel Day of the Tentacle that skyrocketed the genre to one of my all time favorite genres. It has great Saturday Morning Cartoons style graphics, an off-beat story, clever puzzles, and even cleverer wit.
You play as a trio of unconventional heroes as you work to stop Purple Tentacle, who drank some radioactive sludge, grew arms, and wants to take over the world. The heroes, Bernard, Hoagie, and Laverne, are all friends and are chilling together when Bernard’s hamster friend from the first Maniac Mansion adventure arrives (assuming you didn’t pop him in the microwave during the original outing) to give him a note from Green Tentacle that Purple Tentacle is hell-bent on world domination and his owner Dr. Fred needs help stopping him. Bernard, the prototypical nerd, Hoagie, the metal head roadie who closely resembles Dino Cazeras from Fear Factory, and Laverne the gangly cat lady in training set out to the Maniac Mansion to help and then get whisked up in a crazy adventure as the house owner, Dr. Fred says they need to travel through time in the Chron-O-John, a time traveling port-o-potty and the 3 adventurers get trapped in 3 different time periods and need to work out how to escape and also stop Purple Tentacle. Hilarity ensues.
I must have played through this game 20 times by now and know the solutions like the back of my hand. Yet each time I revisit it I get engulfed in DotT’s crazy world and genuinely funny humor. Also kicking old ladies down the stairs will never get old, and neither will altering history to con Betsy Ross to design the most metal American flag ever.
#3: Final Fantasy VI (aka FF3)
As you’ve seen in this throughout this list, I’m a pretty big fan of the Final Fantasy games. Their worlds are always a pleasure to visit and the stories always compelling. So it should be not surprise that one of them reaches a very high place on my list. So, without repeating ad nauseam what makes Final Fantasy games so great, which is spit-shined to perfection in the 6th entry in the series, how about why I love this particular FF game so much. To sum it up concisely, Kefka Palazzo.
Kefka is not only the best Final Fantasy villains of all time, he is also one of the best villains of all time period. What makes him so great you ask. Well, think of why the Joker is such a great villain, pretty much the same reason. Kefka is just pure chaotic evil that kills and murders just for the lolz. Add in he gets imbued with unstoppable magical powers by his leader that make him go even more insane and uses them in an attempt to take over the universe and make its inhabitants his slaves, you got the Joker magnified by a billion. Kefka also uses the guise of a court jester to magnify the fact that he takes pleasure in murder and finds it funny, like the Joker. At one point in the game he poisons his entire army, which is pretty big, because one screwed up and he needed the laugh. And man, who could ever forget that cackle he sounds whenever you’re in his presence.
And while it may seem like Kefka is the sole element carrying this game, that couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a deep and rich story to the world revolving around a girl named Terra Blackford who [spoiler alert] was brainwashed by one of the 3 warring empires in the game and made to commit acts of violence with her Esper (magical being) powers and was basically used as a weapon. During a mission to uncover an Esper, something goes wrong and she gets separated from her controllers and falls to a nearby village where she is found by the thief Locke Cole. And together they start their journey to free Terra of her mental slavery, teach her how to embrace her human emotions, and also patch the wrongs committed by the 3 warring nations. The story gets deep, twisted, and is nothing less than engaging. Easily the best story any Final Fantasy game has created and is only made richer by compelling characters (of which 13! are playable) and lots of back story on how the game’s world became how it is.
FF6 is a shining example of the perfect RPG game IMO. The steam punk graphic aesthetic hold up wonderfully to today’s standards and the quick, but strategic turn based combat will always keep me on my toes. If you are a fan of RPGs and have yet to play this gem of a game, go, now. Trust me, it holds up wonderfully and I guarantee every aspect of this game will suck you right in.
#2: Portal 2
To justify placing a relatively new game so high on my list, I played through nearly the entire single player campaign over the weekend, and my choice to place it at the #2 spot on my list was justified even more. I even toggled it between the #1 position a few times.
What makes Portal 2 so great? Well, when it comes down to it I love a great story in my games. I also love when games make me genuinely laugh out loud. Portal 2 has both of those things, plus it has one of the most clever concepts in gameplay ever thought up. True to its namesake, Portal 2 is essentially just a puzzle game where you create connected portals in the walls to solve various puzzles to unlock the next area. If it were just a puzzle game with all of the story taken out, I would still have loved it, but with the narrative added in, it elevates from your rather unique puzzler to one of the most engaging games of all time.
The humor in this game could not get any funnier as the timing and pacing of the jokes are perfect and only made better by some of the best delivery comedy can offer. For the uninitiated you play as Chell, a woman trapped in Aperture Science’s testing laboratory for their portal gun and are forced to solve test chambers by the delightfully snarky A.I. GlaDOS. As you work your way through each test chamber GlaDOS finds numerous ways to deliver some of the funniest, and most stinging insults ever thought up. Oh, and before all that, another A.I. named Wheatly (voiced by Stephan Merchant) tries to help you escape the seemingly abandoned deeeeeep underground testing facility. Wheatly has got to be the most lovable idiot ever and if his stupefying bumbling doesn’t pull a chuckle out of you, I’m feel sorry you have no soul. As you progress you learn more about Aperture Science Labs and all that and eventually you get one of the best twists in video game history. I really don’t want to talk much more about the story, but when you meet Cave Johnson, you may want to put on a pair of diapers because his lines will make you laugh so hard you WILL pee your pants and you will never look at a lemon the same way again.
Portal 2 is the shining example on how to create a compelling narrative, properly work exposition into a game world, and how to do humor in general properly. It’s also proof that video games can be just as compelling as a shooter without having to resort to violence or that humor can also be of the intelligent variety as well. There’s just so much to this game, and each time I play though the game I discover a new layer to it that just blows my mind. Protip: Familiarize yourself with Prometheus and Greek mythology a bit and then give it a play through. If you have yet to play Portal 2, you need to, you monster.
Oh, and the Co-Op portion of the game is glorious and is one of the best Co-Op experiences I’ve ever done, adding even more value to the package. And PC gamers get a nice bonus with the Perpetual Testing Arena, when gamers can create and share their own test chambers and vote on what is the best ones, lots of great puzzles to be found.
#1: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
And cue the music.
Timeless doesn’t even begin to express just how amazing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is. This is one of those games that, despite being nearly 2 decades old, will never grow old or lose an ounce of its charm. This is video game perfection. The story is simple. You are a farmboy named Link and you stumble upon stuff, get a sword, and then need to save the princess and the world from evil. Basically the same story in every Zelda game. But what makes the ALttP stand out is how well it fleshes out that basic story but never bloats it. It’s complex, yet simple. And that also transcends to the game play. Run around smacking things with your sword, exploring a huge over world map, and excavating puzzle laden dungeons for an item that will give Link a new ability and a boss to test the new item out on. It all boils down to just pure, innocent fun.
And maybe also the fact that every single pore of the game oozes charm and style. I have played through ALttP more times than I can remember, and yet to come across a single moment where it was dull or the look of the game was boring. Toss in the epic and insanely memorable musical score and rock solid controls, you have a game that will stand the test of time for centuries.
I really don’t know what else to say about this game other than BEST GAME EVER. If you have ever played it, you know what I mean, as I’m sure when talking of its magnificence leaves you speechless as well.
And there you have it, my Top 25 Video Games, hope you enjoyed and I hope to hear about your favorite games in the comments. Peace Love and Video Games!!!