*That have been played by Jacob Albrecht.
Though I do enjoy playing video games from time to time, and the scope of my playing career is coming up on 20 years, I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of attempting to play every single video game in existence. As such, I cannot legitimately title this post “The Top 5 Greatest Video Games Ever” without the added asterisk. How can I be sure that all of the games I’ve listed I’d enjoy more than Albert Odyssey: Legend of Eldean for the super successful Sega Saturn? There’s a good chance I’ll never play Barbie Dreamhouse Party on the Wii U even though I own the system, but there is a nonzero chance (though very, very close to 0) that it could climb the ranks to become my #1 game. These doubts are enough to warrant a disclaimer.
Enough with the legalese! It’s time to tell you all about the best games ever! But, first, a few honorable mentions and the system I’ve played them on.
Pokémon Blue – Game Boy Color
This is the first game I can ever remember playing. My first memory is being so frightened by the opening scene before the title screen appears that I turned it off before I could actually get around to playing it. Once I began to watch the Pokemon anime, however, I gave the game another shot. I probably didn’t understand half of what I was doing early on, but I enjoyed it all the same. Back in elementary school I could never figure out how to get through the Victory Road map to the final boss battles and I never did catch ‘em all, but the game still endeared itself in my heart enough to make it onto this list.
Wii Sports – Wii
Sure, it may get a bad rep for being the freebie with the Wii console, but this game is full of serious fun. It almost changed the nature of video gaming forever. Motion controls haven’t really caught on like Nintendo would have liked, but Wii Sports is probably the only game even serious gamers will willingly get out of their seats for to swing their arms with reckless abandon.
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door – GameCube
I bought a copy of this game on whim from a shuttering Hollywood Video, and boy was it worth it. I enjoy a game that can make me laugh, and the witty dialogue of this Mario RPG does just that. The turn-based combat style and ability to switch party members in and out creates some unique strategy decisions. The graphics have also aged very well despite using dated GameCube technology. Even playing it today on an HDTV, one wouldn’t immediately get the impression that it’s a 13 year-old game.
And now… the moment you’ve been waiting for…
5. Tony Hawk’s Underground – GameCube
Surprised to see this game ranked so highly on a list of the greatest games ever? I am too, to be honest, but when considering the personal enjoyment I’ve received from this game, it’s a no brainer that this game made the cut. I had enjoyed playing Tony Hawk games before I acquired this game, even though I had no interest in skating in real life whatsoever, but this game was different. THUG revolutionized the skating game genre, and in a way the way people think about sports video games, period. In THUG, the player is not constrained to a limited selection of playable professional skaters. There’s a whole campaign mode that follows the progress of a custom skater the player creates. The emphasis isn’t always on skating, either, as this was the first game in the Tony Hawk series to allow the player to get off of the board and truly explore their surroundings on foot. And, while the story mode is fun and allows the gamer to invest in the protagonist’s plight, the multiplayer options are numerous and are an equal part of the success of the game. For Christ’s sake there’s a whole minigame where the goal is to shoot as many fireballs from your skateboard at the opposing players before time runs out! It’s this sort of ingenuity combining of pyrotechnics and skating that gives this game a worthy place in the Top 5.
4. South Park: The Stick of Truth – PS3
(Gasp! A non-Nintendo game! Yes, it is true; I do own one system that hasn’t been manufactured by Nintendo.)
Those who may not be avid fans of the South Park series may not agree with my assessment of this game, but there aren’t many games that have made me miss eating meals entirely. The first time I played this game, during my senior year of college, there was probably more than one occasion where I told myself I’d play a little more and then eat dinner before checking the clock again to discover it was way past my bed time. If you were paying attention earlier in this listicle you’d know that I enjoy a good dose of humor in my games, and SPTSOT delivers that by the boatload. When playing this game, the experience feels like the player is actually participating in an episode of the show rather than just watching. What helps this game become even more immersive is that the TV show’s animation lends itself well to video games. The graphics are already two-dimensional, so there are fewer hoops for developers to jump through to make it work. To turn another show like Futurama, which is almost equally as deep as South Park in lore and whose world would make for a fine game, into a game would take so much more effort so as to make it not feel like an awful three-dimensional spinoff of the show. The combat and side quests of SPTSOT were decent enough, but it was the story and hundreds of Easter eggs strewn about the game’s map that give this game depth. Definitely has replay value. I can’t wait to try The Fractured But Whole after it comes out.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Wii U
The most recently released game among this group; BOTW certainly did deserve all of those perfect ratings found in other inferior gaming reviews. I had a blast playing it, though the version I received had an extra quest built into it thanks to Dell (the difficulties I had in acquiring this game will possibly be covered in a future NaBloWriMo post). After I actually started playing the game, I was hooked from beginning to end. Time spent doing other things became just time not spent playing BOTW. When doing those other not very important things I couldn’t help but want to just rush home and turn the Wii U back on to explore a different part of Hyrule. The open map and ability to play the game as the player chooses gives greater flexibility than most games do. There’s an end goal that all players must complete, but how one gets to that final boss battle can be varied. There’s so much to do in the game and so much to find in the open world that hundred hours can be put into playing it and not have the player feel fatigue. The boss battle did disappoint due to lack of difficulty, and not being able to see what the world looks like after the boss is defeated is a bummer, but after having put probably close to a hundred hours in and only having completed about 30% of the game (per the actual game), I still yearn to play more.
2. Super Smash Bros. Melee – GameCube
Though some of my opinions here may be controversial, I’m probably preaching to the choir when I say that Melee is the best fighting game ever made. There’s a reason that 16 years after its release, Melee tournaments are still huge draws. Every successive Super Smash Bros. game has been measured up to Melee, none of which have even come close to matching its excellence. Growing up there was no better multiplayer game to play. When I’d host friends at my house, there’s a good chance we’d be playing a fair amount of Melee. It’s hard to find the words to describe how amazing it feels to lay down just the right set of moves to defeat an opponent. Being able to play as many characters from Nintendo’s deep IP library also adds to the appeal. Now that I think about it, I probably should briefly list my Top 5 Super Smash Bros. Melee Characters To Main/Play As:
3. Zelda/Sheik (mostly Sheik)
2. Ice Climbers
But anyway, back to business. My and everyone else’s love for Melee has also created a love for the controller it’s played with. The GameCube controller may just be the greatest controller created of all time (I’ll spare you from a listicle of the Top 5 Greatest Controllers, mostly because it’s the GameCube controller and then a sheer drop before any other comes close). The fact that Nintendo, for whatever stupid reason, deviated from the GameCube design with their Pro Controller is just indicative of the eventual demise of the company. The controller just feels so good in one’s hands. There’s a reason that there have been GameCube-style controllers made almost exclusively for Smash Bros. I’ve even purchased two third-party controllers for my Wii U that mimic the GameCube design. In truth, my love for Melee and the GameCube controller go hand-in-hand. The game is the reason why I can tell which buttons are where without looking. It truly is a wonder to behold.
(I know #2 turned into a lovefest for the controller rather than the game, but you’ll just have to live with it :P)
And now… The real moment you’ve been waiting for… My number one game of all time… will be told right after a message from my sponsors.
Just kidding. I have no sponsors.
Someone, please sponsor me.
1. Pokémon Silver – Game Boy Color
Out of all of the games I have ever played, this is the one I have been the most passionate for. This is the one that I spent the most hours grinding in, trying to truly become the very best like no one ever was. You should have been there in my kitchen when I tried to explain to my mother why it was so exciting that the game would feature a day-mode and night-mode based on the actual time of day. When first got Silver I still didn’t know much about how the game actually worked (I had never even heard of the concept of IVs), but I knew enough from my days playing Blue to truly enjoy all that the game had to offer. After I eventually grew tired of Silver and moved onto newer games, I never forgot the emotional hold it had on me. During my freshman year of college I went on Craigslist and bought a Nintendo DS for the (almost) exclusive reason of playing the remake of the game, Soul Silver. Sure, I eventually played other games on the DS, but it was that desire to replay the best game ever made that drove me out to make a spur-of-the-moment purchase. Soul Silver was a joy to play and brought back some great memories of a childhood well spent, but in the end it couldn’t be compared to the impact the original had on me.