There are absolutely hundreds and hundreds of games that I have played in my 36+ years on this crazy planet. Some of which I have completed, many of which I have not but they are all games for consideration.
For my latest article, I thought it appropriate to try to pull together some sort of top ten, with a little reasoning to back it up. For me, this is a rather difficult concept in that I find it very subjective as to how I’m feeling at any given time and how good my memory is being. With all that said and done, here are my all-time top ten video games (today anyway). Now that’s not to say my list won’t change or that all are great but it’s really what emotional connection they have brought to the table. So without further ado here they are and in no particular order, that’s one for another life.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune released for PlayStation 3 in 2007. My good friend theJohn was kind enough to let me play it shortly after release, the next day I went out and purchased a PlayStation 3 with a copy of the game. It was absolutely incredible, graphically it was stunning, the game played well and the story was super polished. It was the first time that I felt like I was playing the lead role in a Hollywood blockbuster.
For me, though it is the second game in the series, Among Thieves, which is the real show stopper. It manages to improve on the very high bar set by its predecessor in almost every way and is pretty close to gaming perfection, well apart from that annoying final boss fight. The second time around I was already invested in the characters and that train crash set piece is one of my all-time favourite bits of gaming.
Super Mario Bros. 3
Super Mario Bros. 3 was one of the first console games that I was lucky enough to experience and I still own the original cartridge to this day. The game improved on the solid foundation that its predecessors set out but it was this game’s success that secured the Mario franchises future.
Even last years monster hit Mario Odyssey for the Nintendo Switch paid tribute to its 2D side-scrolling platformer heritage with the inclusion of retro segments hidden within walls. Super Mario Bros. 3 was one of the games that got me into video games.
As part three of a three-game exclusive deal with Sony, thatgamecompany released Journey on the PlayStation 3. The premise is simple, you play as a robed figure surrounded by a vast desert with the goal of reaching a mountain far away in the distance. The story is told without the need for words through a combination of gameplay and cutscenes.
The journey and emotional challenges you face in reaching the goal is quite an experience as a player. Upon release it received critical and commercial success, becoming the fastest-selling game on the PSN. Journey was short and sweet, graphically stunning with art like quality and its unique take on multiplayer made this more than just a game for me.
Rock Band 2
I guess it all started way back when Frequency released on PlayStation 2 in 2001. It was one of the first music rhythm games that really interested me. Flying down a virtual runway completing the on-screen sequences to play the next segment of a song while flicking between lanes, each of which represented a different instrument. Harmonix followed it up with a number of different music games, notably Guitar Hero, before eventually pulling all of their previous visions together in one complete package known as Rock Band.
As with many great sequels, Rock Band 2 added to a solid foundation, allowing for that complete band experience from the comfort of your living room. I have fond memories of many a weekend playing this game with friends and drinking. We all took up roles within the band, lead singer, lead guitar, bassist and drummer with the aid of the custom controllers mimicking the corresponding instruments… it was so much fun. The revamped tour mode really made the difference and made no distinction on the number of players, which meant the tour could continue even if someone couldn’t make it on the night.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild
I have always played, not always finished, Zelda games since the release of A Link to the Past on the Super Nintendo. When it was announced that the Nintendo Switch would release with Breath of the Wild it was an easy choice of what game to pick up alongside it. The game was receiving critical acclaim from all angles and when I finally got my chance to play it, it was clear to see why. Departing from the trusted formula it placed Link in a massive, beautiful, living open world with exploration its primary focus.
I easily clocked up 120 hours before the DLC was available, partly because I found the Switch in handheld mode allowed me to get away with playing games while the other half was watching some crap on TV but also that it was easy to pick up and play in short bursts.
Monkey Island (1 & 2)
When my Dad bought the family an Amiga 500 for educational purposes obviously I was going to get hold of as many games as possible for it. Everyone at school passed around copies of games on floppy disks that had either been cracked or had a copy of the validation codes to get it booted up.
I can’t really separate Monkey Island 1 or 2 so have decided to add them both. Graphically they were impressive, the music was great and the comedy was on point. It was my first time playing a point-and-click adventure, at times I would get stuck for hours but what a sense of accomplishment when I finished.
After making my way through Pokemon Red it was to my delight that a special Yellow version was announced. From what I knew it was just an enhanced version of Red and Blue that importantly included a Pikachu from that start and that followed you around on the main map, I was sold. Yellow took me on the grandest of adventures while on the go and there was something addictive about trying to catch them all. Although it is not the best in the series to date it is the game that got me hooked and has kept my playing Pokemon for the best part of twenty years.
Final Fantasy VII
I remember seeing a preview for Final Fantasy VII in one of the PlayStation magazines and couldn’t believe the graphics, my jaw dropped. Later, I would find out that the main in-game backgrounds were all pre-rendered and only the characters were 3D but still. I managed to get hold of the special edition version, a first for me, it came in a massive box that contained stuff like a t-shirt, stickers and memory card as that was going to be essential.
It was the first full-blown RPG that I had played on my PlayStation and really got stuck into, I’ve lost track of the number of hours I have put in. At school everyone was buzzing about it, I would even go round my friend’s house at lunchtime to play and compare progress. The story was cinematic and deep, it was unlike anything I had played before.
Street Fighter 2 Turbo: Hyper Fighting
Where do I start with Street Fighter 2, yes there are loads of versions and even today Capcom are still developing sequels but that just goes to prove how great a concept it really was. For me, it brings back childhood memories of sitting in a bedroom with a couple of friends practising all the moves, combos and then bullishly knocking up the difficulty level on arcade mode only to be thrashed.
I must admit though I got pretty good with Ken, to the point where one friend smashed his controller against a wall shattering the plastic casing. One of its greatest achievements is that on the surface it is a simple fighting game, accessible to all yet for the pro it can become a real test of skill and the ultimate multiplayer challenge.
The Last of Us
In my second top ten entry from developer Naughty Dog, The Last of Us is the perfect swan song for the PlayStation 3. The story was gripping and emotional from the start and visually the best looking game on the console. My initial playthrough didn’t go too well though as I really struggled with the stealth elements of the game and honestly, it stressed me out.
A year later we saw a remastered version ported to Sony’s newly released PS4 so I forced myself to play it again and thank god I did. After getting into the game this time around I faced my issues head-on and it quickly became one of the best gaming experiences I have ever had, I cannot recommend this game enough.
It was more than a challenge to list my all-time top ten games and as noted it will probably change over time or depending on how I feel on the day. To that effect here are some honourable mentions that I couldn’t quite fit into the list.
Streets of Rage 2
Original release: 1993 (UK)
Format: Sega Megadrive
Genre: Beat’em up
Red Dead Redemption
Original release: 2010
Format: PlayStation 3
Original release: 1993
Developer: Sensible Software
Genre: Action, Strategy, Shoot’em up
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