As a gamer who’s been hooked on the hobby since the early 80’s when I was a child, video games have been a huge part of my life. Its shaped who I am, was a bonding element with my childhood friends and annoyed my parents.
I’ve carried my enthusiasm for gaming into adulthood and along the way, specific games have left a big impact on me. Here’s what I would say are my top 10 favorite video games of all time.
#10 Street Fighter II
The first time I saw Street Fighter II in the arcades, I couldn’t believe how amazing the game looked. The characters were so large, detailed and well-animated. Seeing it action was mezmerizing and once I got my chance to play, I was hooked. Not long after, I got my Super Nintendo primarily to play it at home.
#9 Red Dead Redemption
I hate country music and cowboy culture, but I love westerns. Red Dead Redemption was a breath of fresh air last generation, with game libraries being filled with gray and brown modern and futuristic FPS games. RDR felt like GTA in the old west, though you’re playing the good guy for a change. Featuring my favorite video game ending of all time, this game is simply a masterpiece and I might have to buy a new console once the sequel comes out later this year.
One of my very first arcade experiences is the classic Galaga. With iconic visuals and music and addictive gameplay, this sequel to Galaxian took that formula and perfected it. Its culturally relevant enough to make it into The Avengers film as a joke and its one of the arcade games I’m proud to have in my game room.
#7 Mega Man 2
While Nintendo’s titles are undeniably classics, Capcom’s Mega Man 2 is my favorite game on my favorite console, the NES. I played this game relentlessly as a kid and got good enough through repeated play to beat it without losing a life. Its as fun to play 30 years later as it was when it was new, which speaks to the quality of arguably the most beloved game in the Mega Man franchise.
#6 Resident Evil 4
While the original Resident Evil was the catalyst that pushed me to buy a Playstation, Resident Evil 4 is my favorite game in the series. As a highly anticipated timed release on the Gamecube, it was a special experience where GC owners were finally able to gloat about a AAA third-party exclusive on their console for a change. The game was mind-blowing at the time, with its amazing graphics and huge shake-up to the rigid Resident Evil formula, pushing the series into a more action-horror direction rather than pure survival horror.
I absolutely adore art deco design, and Bioshock is drenched in it. The concept of Rapture, the lore of how it was established and fell, and the creative take on the stale FPS genre made Bioshock the game that pushed me to finally get an Xbox 360. With a great narrative, powerful social commentary and the greatest twist in gaming I’ve ever experienced, this game blew me away. Add in fun weapons and the concept of ‘plasmids’ that give you all sorts of abilities, this game gives you a huge amount of flexibility and opportunities for setting traps that make each encounter fresh and fun.
#4 Fallout 3
I’ve spent more time wandering around the Wasteland in Fallout 3 than any other game I’ve ever played, with over 150 hours of time logged in three separate playthroughs. The setting of the game is depressingly beautiful and the world is absolutely massive, with countless off-the-path locations and experiences to find. I fell in love with not only the game, but the world the creators crafted in their vision of post-apocalyptic America.
Yes, the simple Asteroids is one of my favorite video games of all time. It left a huge impression on me when I encountered it as a child, with bright, practically living vector graphics that you can’t properly experience through emulation. I wanted to play it every time we came across an Asteroids machine and I’m still looking for one for my game room to this day.
#2 Castlevania Symphony of the Night
While I may have bought my Playstation to play Resident Evil, I convinced a friend to get one when I showed off Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The game is the pinnacle of the “Metroidvania” genre, with a huge castle to explore and areas you can’t access until you find more powerful upgrades and abilities. Add the fact that the game’s ‘ending’ is only the halfway point, at which point you must explore an even more bizarre inverted version of Dracula’s castle to reach the true ending and you’ve got one of the best sidescrolling adventures of all time.
#1 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
I had no idea I would fall in love with Breath of the Wild the way I did. This game did what I thought was impossible -- reigniting the sense of wonder and exploration that I felt the first time I experienced Hyrule when I was a child. After spending over 100 hours wandering around this beautiful, living world the developers created, I sadly chose to finally defeat Ganon. I didn’t want the game to end, which really speaks to how amazing this game is. To affect me this much as an adult really shows what a masterpiece this game is.