This was harder than I thought.
Jake’s recent top 10 list inspired me to do my own, and in a similar fashion, I listed out 20-30 games to choose from. I, however, had a much harder time nailing it down to 10, and further, my list contains no insight. My list is not cohesive. It’s all over the place, and the only pattern is nostalgia. I like all sorts of games for all sorts of reasons, which I’ll explain below.
Note, however, that this isn’t my best games of all time list. It’s my favorite. Some of these games I probably would put on my best list, but definitely not all. Some earned their place through sheer nostalgia and for the memories I made playing them.
Now, without further ado.
Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES, 1988)
Wow this goes back. By far my most-played game on my first-ever console, the NES, and I never actually never beat it. I know. I still know Worlds 1-3 almost by heart, and I know where all the warp gates are to Worlds 4-8, but…I was a kid, and I was bad. I just played, and for me, that meant dying a whole lot, and replaying World 1 even more. Great game and truly a classic.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N46, 1998)
First off, admissions. 1) This is the only Zelda game I’ve ever played, and 2) I didn’t play it until it was almost a decade old, albeit after many years of watching my neighbor play. Still though, here it sits as one of my favorites. I remember everyone in school talking about it and even drawing their own custom dungeons. It was a cultural phenomenon. I have the fondest memories of the Forest Temple and by far the worst of the Water Temple, but what a triumph it was to finally beat it. Another classic deserving of its spot.
Pokémon Gold (Gameboy Color, 1999)
I’ve played a few Pokémon games, but none like this. Gold/Silver are great because not only do you get play a normal 8-gym + Elite Four Pokémon game, but then do it again going through the previous generation’s game’s region, Kanto, with more gyms, more Pokémon, an Elite Four rematch, and of course, Red. It’s like two games in one! I was by no means a Pokémon collector, but I did manage to get all the way through the ever-silent Red led by the charge of my level 81 Pidgeot.
Harvest Moon: Save the Homeland (PS2, 2001)
My most cherished game of all time. This was before playtime trackers, but I can guarantee I put in hundreds upon hundreds of hours into this one. I beat it using 7 out of the 9 possible endings and even did playthroughs where I didn’t beat it at all! I did literally everything you can do on your farm and it just never got old. It’s still not. And I still hesitate to play other Harvest Moon games because I don’t want to diminish my memories of the series in general. It holds a special place in my heart due to its serene atmosphere and its quaint town and characters.
NFL 2K5 (PS2, 2004)
This is one of those I mentioned would also make it onto my best games of all time list. I truly believe NFL 2K5 is the best sports game ever made. Graphics were cutting-edge (and to be honest still not bad), controls on point, and The Crib just sent it over the top. I loved how the game kept track of your game, season, and career stats and rewarded you for milestones as you played. This is what kept me going for years as I sought to get that 99-yard touchdown run, 35 tackles for a loss in a game, and 300 career sacks. I still put this disc in when I’m home for the holidays.
World of Warcraft (PC, 2004)
I came to WoW from Runescape with my friend Connor the summer after it launched, and I still remember waiting all day for it to download just so we could play for an hour or two before he went to camp. Then we stayed up all night getting to level 12 on our Night Elf Hunter (him) and Druid (me). We played this game off and on for years, especially during summers. Swim by day, WoW by night was our mantra. I took a break from early Wrath until WoD, when I picked it back up again to play with Jake and Ian, which we did for a few months, and then again for Legion. This is the game that’s underpinned the rest of my gaming since 2005, and I plan to hop back in for a few months of the next expansion, Battle for Azeroth. Oh, and I still play a Druid.
Oblivion (Xbox 360, 2006)
My first game on the 360, and I wish I knew how many hours I’ve spent in this world. Or maybe I don’t. I’ve made countless characters; warriors, thieves, magi, and everything in between. I’ve created my own spells, fought off mudcrabs, daedra, and worse. I’ve ascended to the highest ranks of both the Fighters and Mages Guilds. I’ve killed senseless and become the Listener of the Dark Brotherhood. I am the Gray Fox. I’ve done it all including both DLCs which were equally fantastic. This was my favorite place to get lost in for many years, and it remains my favorite Elder Scrolls game to this day.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (Xbox 360, 2010)
My favorite shooter of all time and probably my best. This was my first Battlefield game, and I’ve played every one since as it’s become my favorite FPS series, but Bad Company 2 remains my favorite overall. I loved the maps, and the sound design was stellar. As I usually played by myself, I most often took to sniping, finding the most random and annoying places I could for a surprise head shot. Before that, however, every game started on Engineer riding a motorbike over to the enemy spawn to set mines in front of their vehicles. As much as you can live in an online shooter, I lived in Battlefield: Bad Company 2.
Destiny (Xbox One, 2014)
For any reader of this blog over the last 3 years, this should be a no-brainer. At first, I thought I only wanted to include it for its playtime alone, but upon further introspection, I truly believe this is one of my favorite games of all time. 1200 hours, and every second of it was fun. I made friends through Destiny I still play games with to this day, and for that social element alone, Destiny’s earned its place. Looking back, it’s first year was rough, but being part of the game’s development and growth from Year 1 to Year 3 was a hell of a ride I wouldn’t take back. I’ll always remember Destiny.
The Witcher 3 (PC, 2015)
If I had to label any one of these games as the best of all time, it would be The Witcher 3. One of only two RPGs on my list, The Witcher 3 came out of nowhere for me and has become one of my all-time favorites after 160+ hours played and completing near-100% of the game including both DLCs which, by the way, are spots 1 and 2 on my best DLCs of all time list (followed by Shivering Isles). I could praise every facet of this, but instead, I’ll list just one: the writing. Each and every character feels so real and fleshed out, and I felt invested in every single storyline, no matter how small. Yennefer will forever be my virtual crush, and man, I just love being in this world. I played it once, I played it again, and still I’m thinking about another.
Hydro Thunder (Dreamcast, 1998)
Trickstyle (Dreamcast, 1999)
Mario Tennis (Gameboy Color, 2001)
Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One, 2014)
Forza Horizon 3 (Xbox One, 2016)
Super Mario Odyssey (Switch, 2017)
I’m not even halfway through this game yet, but I can already see it cracking this list.