Yes, this is another “my favourite games of all time piece,” which is something you’ve probably seen before on a thousand other websites. I decided to write this down not necessarily for you, dear reader, but rather for myself as a nice way to correlate my thoughts on a range of games.
Just bear in mind that my choices aren’t sent in stone and the piece will be updated over time. The reality is that as the older I (and probably you, as well) grow, so do my perceptions and consumption of media. While I may adore a game right now, something else may supplement it a few years down the line.
All of the games on this list are based on my own feelings towards them and they more than likely won’t be ‘Game of the Year’ titles and what not. Remember this is my list, not yours.
Without further ado — and in alphabetical order– here are my top games of all time:
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PlayStation 3)
The predecessor to this, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, had left a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe it was the fact that I played a shoddy port of it on the Xbox 360, or the inane opening area/tutorial, or that the game really was boring. Whatever it was, Oblivion was a game that I thought soured the Elder Scroll series for me. Fortunately, someone else showed me the light.
During one of my visits to Tallulah, when she still lived in Johannesburg, we walked into a BT Games store during a random shopping trip and she purchased a copy of Skyrim on PS3 for me. Both Tallulah and her father had been playing the game on PC and couldn’t stop gushing about it. Upon booting it up that evening (around 7pm, I think) I only stopped playing at around 3am the following morning. Needless to say that I was hooked.
I later went on to purchase all of the expansions, which I’ve yet to even touch, as well as acquire the Xbox One version of the Special Edition. Sure, the PS3 edition doesn’t run all that well and isn’t as pretty as its PC and newer generation counterparts, but it’ll always hold a special place in my heart.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (GameBoy Advance)
I had to think long and hard about this choice. My first introduction to the Final Fantasy series was the much-loved Final Fantasy VII, and later V, VI, and VIII. While all of them are fantastic titles in their own right, none of them gave me as much enjoyment as this GameBoy Advance edition.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was the first GBA game I picked up when I purchased both my GameCube and GameBoy Player many years ago. I didn’t know much about the game until popping it in and thought it was simply a portable version of Final Fantasy Tactics on the PlayStation. While the story was a little slow, the gameplay mechanics and adorable graphics immediately drew me in.
I eventually saved up enough money for a GameBoy Advance SP just so that I could take this around with me, no matter where I went. The world of Ivalice was my escape from boring family gatherings, awkward work functions, and just a way to zone out. No other tactical RPG has come close to this and I’m not sure any other ever will.
Gun.Smoke (Nintendo Entertainment System)
My favourite NES title isn’t Super Mario Bros 3, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3, or even Contra, but rather this simple arcade port. Gun.Smoke has you playing as a lone ranger who needs to save a town from a gang of bandits. It’s a simplistic vertical bullet-hell shooter with horses, shotguns, and all manner of goons to mow down.
I actually cannot think exactly why I love Gun.Smoke; only that I do. It’s a title that I can play for hours on end while listening to its gorgeous soundtrack. The game just never gets old.
Now if only I still had my original cartridge and an NES/Famicom to play it on.
Metal Gear Solid (PlayStation)
What list wouldn’t be complete without this Hideo Kojima masterpiece? Metal Gear Solid set the standard for cinematography and storytelling in video games, more so than any RPG in my mind.
You play as Solid Snake, a lone operative that has to infiltrate Shadow Moses Island and figure out why his ex-unit, Foxhound, has gone rogue. It sounds simplistic and very James Bone-esque, but MGS is anything but simple. Over the course of your adventure, you’ll question human ethics, cloning, war crimes, atomic warfare, and more. Couple that with a stellar soundtrack and superb voice acting and MGS is an instant hit.
I never really took this seriously until I actually owned a copy of the game — renting it for a night just didn’t charm me. I eventually rented Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and finished it in a single 12-hour sitting. Good times.
Resident Evil 2 (PlayStation)
This survival horror title probably holds the dearest place in my heart. Not only was this the sole reason I wanted a PlayStation, but it was the first game I ever purchased for myself. I wrote a long piece on the journey leading me to acquire Resident Evil 2 over here.
By today’s standards, the game is sluggish, no longer scary, and even its puzzles are downright simplistic, but it holds a special place in many a gamer’s memory and collection. It is also the perfect sequel in almost every way by expanding upon the story, improving the gameplay, and giving fresh locations. Oh and the music. My god that fantastic music. The police station tune is one I still fancy to this day.
Over the time I’ve owned Resident Evil 2 (both physically and digitally) I’ve finished it around 33 times. I also didn’t realise that the UK version of the game doesn’t have an S-rank (only A), which means I could have unlocked Hunk and Tofu by now but kept deleting my save files. Well, it’s just another excuse to play this gem of a game a few more times.
Silent Hill 2 (PlayStation 2)
Did I say Resident Evil 2 was the perfect sequel? Well, Silent Hill 2 can easily compete for that accolade. It’s not easy to scare someone in broad daylight with horror media, but this game successfully did that to me.
The original title was absolutely outstanding and a marvel on the PlayStation hardware. Then Silent Hill 2 took everything a step further and turned the game from a survival horror into a psychological one. The story of James Sunderland is a powerful, moving one, which goes hand in hand with the craziness of the town and its residents.
It’s one hell of a title and one that every horror fan needs to get their hands on.
SimCity 2000 (PC)
Ah, SimCity 2000, one of the first non-DOS games I ever played. When I was a kid, one of my sister’s boyfriend’s installed a whole bunch of games on our home PC and this was among them. I loved it to bits but didn’t know how to play it at all. Hell, I stared at the game for almost a week trying to figure out how to build things before I realised I needed power lines. Oh and that I could hold down the left mouse button for more build options.
From then onwards I was a SimCity mayoral machine. Day in and day out I’d build every kind of city I could imagine and on a variety of terrain. A good chunk of my school holidays were spent playing SimCity 2000, which taught me how to think logically as well as balance business finances (let’s not talk about my personal finances, kay?).
Since it’s release, none of the other SimCity games have really come close. I was excited about SimCity 3000, which was fun, but 4, Societies, and a range of other console ports were only so-so in my books. This, in my opinion, was Will Wright at his greatest.
Another Sim game, but this one wasn’t developed by Maxis. It was a licenced game which was originally called Tower in Japan. I first saw SimTower many years ago and the PnP Hypermarket in Brackenfell, back when EA was selling big-box budget PC games. I traded my parent’s a few months of pocket money in order to pick this up — it was R100 at the time — and I’ve never looked back.
A rather simplistic title, SimTower has you building a single mega tower in order to attract tenants, customers, and VIPs to your complex. You’ll achieve this by building offices, apartments, cinemas, a subway station, and even dealing with bomb threats. I cannot tell you, dear reader, how many hours I’ve wasted on this game. It’s a pity it’s only a Windows 16-bit application and therefore doesn’t work on my Window 10 64-bit machine.
Actually, SimTower may just be my absolutely favourite title of all time.
Feature image: JackBrookes from Flickr.