moscardino.net

Favorite Video Games

My 10 favorite games.

Living in Columbus basically means that COSI is the greatest place in the world. Yesterday, the wife and I went to COSI to see their “Game Masters” exhibition before it left. It was great, showcasing lots of video game history with a focus on the creators and playable games.

It also got me thinking about what I would consider to be my favorite games.

Favorite things are kind of hard to pin down sometimes, since what I like depends on what I feel like at the time. But I thought I’d try to come up with a list. Let’s say 10 to have a nice, round number.

This is in no particular order, by the way. Ordering them would be much harder than picking them.

1. Tetris

I still wish I had my old GameBoy to play Tetris. And let me be clear, the GameBoy version is still really the only version worth playing. No crazy advanced features, no gimmicks, just pure, simple, and wonderful gameplay. Mobile games have all gone downhill since this, to be honest.

2. Advance Wars

Advance Wars, along with the various Pokemon games, proved that the GameBoy link cable wasn’t useless. I lost countless hours of my childhood summers at camp losing battles in Advance Wars. The sequel was also amazing. And the DS version is the pinnacle of the series. (There’s supposedly a second DS version, though I’ve never played it. It looks dark, which is just counter to the whole series.)

This is also one of those games that I’m horrible at. I’m not a strategist by any means, but despite that Advance Wars is fun and engaging throughout. Years later, I still have the original GBA cartridge, and I still play it. I’m still pretty awful and I still love the game.

3. Pokémon Red

Every few years, something comes along that rekindles my love for Pokémon Red. Thankfully, emulators are always there to help me out. Pokémon Red is a shining example of gaming before the internet. This isn’t a game you can play alone. You need help from others. Of course, getting information from your friends means getting wrong information. But proving what tips are true and what are fake is nearly impossible and that’s always a treat. See Pokémon GO. Despite the lack of good info, the original Pokémon games still shine today. They are easy to get started with and have a deceptive amount of depth for such a simple-looking game.

Just to make this clear: Red is better than Blue, and way better than Yellow. I have no facts, logic, or reason to back this up. It’s just one of those things that you choose and defend your side forever. See Pokémon GO, again.

4. GTA

GTA III was the first game I got with my PS2. It was awesome and fun, even though I was terrible at it and never really played through the story. I got Vice City sometime later, and managed to actually complete a good bit of the story. I never really owned San Andreas, though I did play it quite a bit at a friend’s house. GTA IV is what I would consider the pinnacle of the series, with the best gameplay and story. GTA V is boat-loads of fun, though the story just can’t hold a candle to IV.

All of the games share the same basic concept: the open world. I love that levels (a loose term) are (for the most part) unrestricted and that you can just run around and cause mayhem and completely ignore the story. I love the freedom permitted by a massive city with little-to-no restrictions on what you can do or where you can go. I still play GTA V periodically and just drive around. The variety of vehicles and locations keep the game fresh, even after playing through the main story multiple times. That is the hallmark of a great game.

5. Forza

Forza 3 was one of the first games I bought for the Xbox 360. I was sold immediately and preordered Forza 4 as soon as it was announced. I loved the massive amounts of cars and tracks. I loved that earning money in game felt like making real progress as you could buy better and faster cars. Plus I love the details. I love that the developers love cars as mush as they love games, and that passion shows throughout. Forza 6 is the best in the series, and I probably don’t want to know how many hours I’ve lost to it in under a year.

Then there is the Horizon series. Taking the realism of the main series and adding in an open world and street racing is a wonderful combination. I love both games and I’ll probably get Horizon 3 at some point.

6. Star Wars: Battlefront II

Star Wars: Battlefront gave me everything I ever wanted in a Star Wars game: battles. Pick a place, pick an era, pick a side, fight. It is so simple and so wonderful. Battlefront II took the same concept and just added more. Space battles, Jedi’s, and new locations made it just about perfect. All it was missing was the intense Bespin map from the original.

Also, it runs pretty well on my Surface!

There is the elephant-in-the-room of the new Battlefront game. It’s good, no doubt, but hollow. I’m not a fan of online shooters (or most online games), and there is just so little to do without being online. Still, I enjoy playing it every now-and-then, though not for long since there is just so little variety in the battles. Battlefront II managed to avoid that by having lots of maps, lots of troop classes, and lots of vehicles. It keeps things remarkably fresh.

7. Katamari Damacy

What a weird and wonderful thing. Katamari isn’t something that can be explained easily. It’s even kind of tricky to learn to play it. But once you grasp it, and let the craziness take you in, it becomes one of the most unique and greatest gaming experiences of all time. The gameplay is weird, addictive, and very well thought out. The story is nonsense, but you love it anyways. The music is zany and catchy. It’s perfect and will never happen again.

8. Portal

Like Katamari Damacy, Portal is a game that will never come along again. Sure, others will try to imitate it, and there is a sequel (which is also very good), but there simply will not be a game that is so tight and together while being so addictive and hilarious. It will break your brain and rebuild it to think in portals.

9. F1 2012, F1 2016

This one is definitely a niche. I love F1 and these games do everything possible to recreate the entire experience. Forza may be a better driving game, but the F1 series focuses not just on the race and the racing, but the build up. It’s an F1 nerd’s dream, F1 2016 most of all. Want to take your time and participate in all 3 90-minute practice sessions? Go for it. Want to just have a 3-lap race? Sure. Or you can do what I do and find a nice middle ground. Like Forza, I’ve lost countless hours to the series.

10. Star Wars Episode I: Racer

What a weird choice, right? Sure, it’s not the best Star Wars game. It’s not the best racing game. But I love it for a few reasons. First, I like pod-racing. Episode I was a bit of a train-wreck, and the pod-racing scene was too long and cheesy, but I loved the concept and design of pod-racing, and Episode I Racer captured it wonderfully. The pods felt float-y and loose, like you’d kind of expect, and most of all fast. This is the second thing I love about the game: the sense of speed. Pod-racers are supposed to be crazy-fast, and the game managed to capture that. Sim-style games like Forza can’t even manage the sense of speed as well as Episode I Racer managed more than 15 years ago.

Leftovers

There are many games I left off of this list. I do love Mario games, even though I fail at them spectacularly. I love the various LEGO games for their simplicity and humor. Recently, I’ve become addicted to Hitman GO and Lara Croft GO. I’ve also played lots of Minecraft and Kerbal Space Program to get my true sandbox fix.

Games are a weird, wonderful, and varied category; it’s hard to choose favorites.