Video games are a massive part of who I am. I was only 2 when I was first introduced to video games and ever since it’s been my favorite hobby. I’ve had countless hours of adventure, challenge, suspense, emotion. Games taught me so much. I’ve traveled the most amazing worlds, beaten the most fearsome of villains, known the most whimsical of characters.
There’s a quote from George R. R. Martin in A Dance with Dragons that I believe also applies to video games:
A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.
A quote from A Dance with Dragons
George R.R. Martin - 'A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only…
As such, making this list was not easy at all. To keep things fair and varied, I’ve chosen only one as my favorite game when it comes to franchises. As always, lists like these are always extremely subjective, so take it as my personal opinion and not plain fact. I play games of all genres across different platforms and generations. There are many games in my backlog that haven’t made the top 10 but may rightly belong there once I finish them.
If you disagree with any of these games or are looking for something different, take a look at the honorable list at the end.
# 10 Batman: Arkham City
The game that makes you feel like Batman. Believe it or not, the # 10 entry was actually the hardest game to pick. There are so many good games that could have made it from the honorable list.
The reason I chose this game is that I like Batman and Rocksteady did an amazing job with this series. Love it or hate it, Batman: Arkham Asylum set extremely high standards and paved the way for future action games. When Arkham City expanded on that concept with a whole city to explore and an awesome set of characters, it was easy to understand why it was such a successful formula. The best thing about Batman, at least for me, are the villains and it’s awesome that they are included in a really cool way.
If you dislike Batman, I still encourage you to give the games a try. If Batman’s not your thing, but you’re interested in the gameplay, then I suggest trying out Spiderman (PS4) instead, a game that puts its own spin on the formula.
# 9 Pokémon HeartGold
This obviously includes the alternative versions — I simply mention the ones I personally chose.
For someone that loves Pokémon Red / FireRed like me, Gold / HeartGold is a perfect sequel. Not only do we get cool new features and an amazing adventure, but in the end, we also get to do it all over again in the previous region with some awesome changes!
The day/night cycles, the phone, the breeding (eggs!), the new Pokémon (and legendaries!), the way they connected both regions, all of it was pretty mind-blowing for me at the time. The feeling that you have such a fun, complete, magical world in a little cartridge that you can play on the go is one of the reasons I fell in love with Pokémon and RPGs in general.
I still liked the other generations but for me, appropriately, this was the golden generation of Pokémon.
# 8 Final Fantasy VI
It’s hard to come up with a list of best games of all time and not include a Final Fantasy game, but it’s even harder to pick which one to include. I‘m personally a big fan of Final Fantasy VII and X but I picked VI as I feel it is a beautiful game that is sometimes overlooked.
The game features tons of memorable characters and one of the best villains of all time. It also features one of the best soundtracks ever.
I don’t think this game would convince anyone who dislikes RPGs as it is a bit traditional in that sense. If you’re into RPGs, however, you’re in for quite a treat.
It’s hard to talk about what makes an RPG so great without spoiling anything so you’ll have to trust me on this one — It’s extremely good.
# 7 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
A very obscure RPG that absolutely no one is familiar with. Jokes aside, it would be a disservice not to include this masterpiece of a game in a list like this.
CD Projekt Red conquered their way into the hearts of everyone with good customer relations and decent to good adaptations of the book series The Witcher. However, it was in the third entry that they truly ascended.
Witcher 3 is a technical feat. A world that feels this massive and alive, and yet so beautiful. The characters are well done, the story and dialogues are very good and the accompanying soundtrack magnifies the experience to new levels. Get the GOTY version with the even better DLCs and this is quite a package. If you’re a completionist, you can expect close to 200 hours of gameplay.
If I had to point a flaw, it would be the combat — It may get a little basic and repetitive. However, when you get to face a strong opponent, get to learn their weaknesses, and prepare accordingly, it’s hard not to feel like an epic monster slayer.
# 6 Psychonauts
Very few games have as much charm as Psychonauts. It is an extremely unique 3D platformer, created by Tim Schafer.
In this game, you play as Razputin, a young boy gifted with psychic powers that sneaks into a summer camp for kids like him. I don’t want to spoil anything if you still haven’t played it, but it’s so easy to love this world, the story, and its characters.
That being said, when it comes to the platforming itself, it could be a bit better. Don’t get me wrong, this is a decent platformer with some very good gameplay moments. The level design, environments, and overall aesthetics are nothing short of brilliant. It just feels like the Psychonauts universe, with its story and characters, just elevates this game, that would otherwise just be another platformer, into something very special. Could it work even better as an adventure game? Or even an RPG? Who knows, what I do know is that if they ever decide to come up with a Psychonauts movie or animated show or something like that it would be a massive success.
The sequel is coming out, and a lot of people are psyched (myself included)!
# 5 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
GTA is one of the most popular and successful franchises in videogames. Even though I enjoyed all of the entries, I feel like the highest point of the series was between Vice City and San Andreas. For all the charm and amazing soundtrack that Vice City had, I’ll give my personal favorite award to San Andreas.
Truth is, San Andreas took everything good about Vice City and gave us a lot more, except in a 90’s California gangster package. More variety, more vehicles, more weapons, and a bigger world, with 3 cities loosely based on Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas, respectively.
This was the last entry that was still kind of goofy and cartoonish. Animations, characters, and the world itself were all a big caricature of real life. From GTA IV onwards things got a bit more grounded and realistic, albeit still very fun.
Whether you’re doing crazy story missions or just exploring the open world, it’s extremely easy to have enjoyable moments from this game. Moments that I still recall to this day.
# 4 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
I don’t know about you, but few games bring me the joy of an epic adventure as much as a Zelda game.
This game has so much content, and all of it is so good. Open world, horseback riding, exploration, secrets, time-traveling, ocarina playing, challenging puzzles, and of course, some of the best music of all time!
I really love other Zelda games but this one is considered to be one of the best games of all time by many fans and for very good reason. If you never played a Zelda game, I highly suggest starting with either Ocarina of Time or Breath of the Wild.
# 3 Super Mario 64
I was one of the lucky kids to have a Nintendo 64 and Super Mario 64 thanks to my cool uncles and aunts! I’ll never be able to repay the joy and entertainment they brought to a little 6-year-old me.
This was my first “true” 3D game. The controls felt amazing and the freedom one felt after climbing that first green pipe was really something else at the time. An amazing “hub” area with levels inside paintings on the wall! I still remember those summer nights chasing the 120 stars, the ending credits music still feels emotional to me. The Dire Dire Docks music brings me so many good memories! It was a tough call between SM64 and Super Mario World but, in the end, I think this one deserves it the most.
In the golden days of Rare, they were able to take a platformer like Super Mario 64, an absolute masterpiece of a game that released 2 years earlier, feel dated and lifeless.
This is a game that overflows with personality and magic. I often find myself daydreaming, fondly remembering Banjo-Kazooie, the levels, and the music, more than 20 years later. It doesn’t help that I’ve probably replayed it more than 20 times.
If you don’t mind some spoilers, I highly recommend checking out this video by videogamedunkey as he summarizes very well some of the key points of what makes this game so unforgettable:
There’s a reason fans went wild at the Banjo-Kazooie reveal on Super Smash Bros. and it’s a shame that we’ve probably lost the duo for good. On the other hand, I’d rather live with the memories of this gem of a game than see it ruined — and yes, I’m talking about Nuts & Bolts.
If you’re even remotely interested in collectathon platformers like SM64 that hit all the right notes and then more, or you’re just interested in creative, unique games in general, do yourself a favor and play Banjo-Kazooie. Just be warned that, after you finish it, you will not find any games like it, especially in this day and age.
# 1 Chrono Trigger
If you have already played Chrono Trigger, you most likely understand this decision. If you haven’t, I highly suggest you pick this game up as soon as possible and experience it for yourself.
There are many things I could tell you about this game but I’ll try to keep it short. Without spoiling anything, I can tell you that we’re talking about an RPG originally released for the SNES in 1995, created by what Square dubbed the Dream Team:
- Hironobu Sakaguchi — The creator of Final Fantasy
- Yuji Horii — The creator of Dragon Quest
- Akira Toriyama — The creator of Dragon Ball
Among other dream-tier producers, writers, composers and all the extremely talented people that were a part of this revolutionary project. Even today, 24 years later, you won’t easily find a game that competes with Chrono Trigger at all levels — Aesthetics, story, gameplay, characters, soundtrack, and so on.
Even if you are not a fan of RPGs due to boring turn-based combat or grinding, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. This game is extremely balanced and features a fun dynamic combat system that I’ll leave you to explore. The characters are all so amazing in their own way that you’ll find it difficult to choose who to pick for your current team. Even though it’s an RPG, it feels a lot more massive than it truly is, all the fun and memorable moments are tightly packed in a length of just 17 hours — to complete everything.
Chrono Trigger was voted the greatest game of this era (1989–2019) by Japanese fans, alongside modern giants like Nier: Automata and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for good reason. The same reason I consider it the best game of all time.
If you would like to check out some of these games I’m planning on playing them soon on some special Nostalgia livestreams on my Twitch channel:
Feel free to come say hi and discuss some games with me!
Honorable mentions, in no particular order: Undertale, EarthBound, Assassin’s Creed II, To The Moon, Warcraft III, Persona 5, Grim Fandango, Divinity: Original Sin II, The Sims, Mass Effect 2, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Uncharted 4, Metal Gear Solid, Civilization V, Donkey Kong Country, The Last of Us, God of War, Portal 2, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Red Dead Redemption 2, Half-Life 2, Super Metroid, Tetris, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Dragon Age: Origins, Jak and Daxter, Hollow Knight, Doom, Unreal Tournament, Quake III Arena, Bioshock, Xenoblade Chronicles, Shovel Knight, Need for Speed: Underground 2, Plants vs Zombies, Fire Emblem: Awakening, Ori and the Blind Forest, Ratchet & Clank, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Dead Space, Gran Turismo 3, F-Zero X, Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age, Rayman Legends, (…)