I dislike most Top 10 lists, but I feel that the Top-X format is one of the quickest ways to celebrate stuff that you like. I like video games and I want to write about some of my favorites, so here’s a Top X list about it all.
There might be some order to these items, but no promises.
10 - Bangai-O Spirits
I wrote an entire article about Bangai-O Spirits and why I like it so much. I really like the game, and that article explains why.
9 - Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
One of my favorite franchises is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Sadly, there are only three games in the series that are still worth playing: THPS2, THPS3, and THPS4. The original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is fun, but its sequels improved upon it in every way. After THPS4, the series took a dramatic nosedive in quality as Activision forced Neversoft to drive the franchise into the ground with yearly installments and questionable inclusions. The games requiring a board peripheral are Strictly For Kids, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is like a bad (if somewhat competent) cover version of a good song.
That leaves 2, 3, and 4. All three are excellent games that will get no less excellent as time rolls on. I can’t explain the timeless appeal, but I think that those three games (and their arcade-influenced gameplay) loudly speak for themselves in that regard.
For me, the second game is the pinnacle. THPS3 and THPS4 are great, but I find myself going back to THPS2 more often because its levels have that ‘real-world’ feel to them and the skating is slightly more realistic.
8 - Super Smash Bros. Melee
I think that this might be a ‘pure nostaliga’ kind of pick. I played a whole lot of Melee back when it was released, and I even competed in a SSB:M tournament once. It’s not a game that I find myself going back to, but I have fond memories of it.
This is a ‘pure nostaliga’ kind of pick, so I’ll cut it short.
7 - Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World (TIE)
I will not pick a side. Ever. Both are excellent, both are timeless, and both set impossibly high standards for other 2D platformers.
Most of these Top X lists contain both of these games. Sometimes, Super Mario World comes before SMB3. Other times, SMB3 comes before SMW. It always seems like an arbitrary decision, so I’m going to be spineless and not make a decision.
6 - Noby Noby Boy
In this game, you stretch the wormlike BOY to earn hearts for GIRL so she can stretch to different planets. It’s a weird premise for one of the strangest games ever made. Apparently, I like strange, charming games.
Everything about Noby Noby Boy is off. BOY can eat nearly everything (this has little impact on gameplay), and he farts in Japanese. Some levels have speakers (one male, one female), and if you eat both of them, the music goes away. Noby Noby Boy is full of these little weird details, and it’s a great experience.
An honorable mention must go to Katamari Damacy. It’s a better game with tons of charm, but Noby Noby Boy is weirder.
5 - Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
This game has the perfect soundtrack, a wicked sense of humor, and excellent free-roaming gameplay. It’s very similar to GTA3, but Vice City has a better soundtrack and motorcycles. It’s very similar to San Andreas, but San Andreas added a few features (like the whole diet/exercise thing and a huge map with no fast travel to my knowledge) that I did not like.
Anyone who dislikes this game dislikes the 80’s and fun.
4 - WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$
Lots of people love this game, and lots of people are better qualified to expound on its virtues. The first WarioWare game is my favorite of the series, and was apparently so good that I didn’t bother playing Twisted!, Touched!, Smooth Moves, or Snapped!. I figured that the other games could not match the simplistic fun or charm of the first WarioWare game. I played WarioWare D.I.Y. and that was okay.
3 - Marvel vs. Capcom 2
This is the ultimate fighting game. Street Fighter 3: Third Strike, Garou: Mark of the Wolves, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Street Fighter Alpha 3, King of Fighters ‘98, Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Mortal Kombat (the recent one), Capcom vs. SNK 2, and Guilty Gear X2 #Reload are superior.
But Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is crazier than all of those games. Except for maybe Mortal Kombat and its SOULNADO (tornado of souls). It has 56 characters, an inappropriate and laid-back soundtrack, and some of the worst character balance ever seen in a professionally-released fighting game. MvC2 was never perfect, but its imperfections just make it funner.
2 - Metroid: Zero Mission
This is the best Metroid game. It’s got what every Metroid game needs: exploration, memorable boss battles, excellent music, and fun power-ups. I like it far more than Super Metroid because Zero Mission constantly shows you where you need to go next. Super Metroid made me feel stupid, and I should feel stupid because I get lost every time I play it. I like Zero Mission way more than Fusion because that game feels very linear. I prefer it over Metroid Prime because I’m crazy.
Honorable mentions go to Shadow Complex and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Both are excellent Metroid-like games, and almost went here (as a tie) instead of Zero Mission. But then I remembered that I played ZM more than the other two games, so it goes here.
1 - Rock Band 3
It’s Simon Says, but The Clash’s London Calling (in its entirety) is available as DLC. This game has one of my favorite albums of all-time, and that automatically makes this one of my favorite games of all-time.
X - Pipedreamz
Can games be art? Who cares? Pipedreamz is art. You do three things: eat meat, surf, and cook meat. Your boss is a pig, and he encourages your activities. But don’t let anyone see you eat the meat.
This is a real game, and it is beautiful.
Y - Team Fortress 2
I used to be addicted to this game. I got over that addiction, but Team Fortress 2 is still a good game, and it could be one of the best first-person shooters released in the last 10 years. It might not be good anymore, I don’t play it and Valve keeps adding dumb stuff.
What This List Says About Me
Two games on this list (GTA: Vice City and Metroid:Zero Mission) are known for having storylines. The rest of the games have excuse plots (Super Mario World) or absurd plots (Noby Noby Boy). I think this is a reflection of why I play most videos games: to have fun. I can certainly stand to play games with intricate storylines (I’m slowly working my way through Xenoblade Chronicles), but I have a strong preference for games that don’t let plot get in the way of the gameplay. Vice City happens to have well-done, funny cutscenes, and most of the cutscenes in Metroid: Zero Mission are only a few seconds long.
Most of these games are older. Rock Band 3 is the newest one (followed, I think, by Pipedreamz), and Rock Band 3 is a direct sequel to 2007’s Rock Band. I like newer games (Portal 2 and Escape Goat almost made this list), but I have a strong preference for an earlier era of games. I can’t figure out why that is. Maybe I had more time back then, so I played games more?
None of listed games are ‘classic’ arcade games. MvC2 is an arcade game, but it’s not from the same classic time period as Pac-Man, Robotron 2084, or Space Invaders. I think that this exclusion is due to my age: those games were released well before my time. I’ve played many classic arcade games, but few have really gripped me for whatever reason.