With Next-Gen everything about to slowly take over the video game market, we had the staff look back at what were some (but not all) of their favorite video games of all time. These games come from all platforms and genres, but the staff definitely loves their classics.
Carrie McClain’s Picks:
Final Fantasy VII
Years ago, a friend of mine nicknamed me the “RPG Queen” cause that’s all I really paid attention to in regards to videogames. I was your average bookworm who lost herself into the worlds that were built upon pages and pages with characters that I loathed and some I adored. Somewhere along the lines I found out about this and so much more in more than a few video games my older brothers brought home. I LOVED THIS GAME. FF7 was groundbreaking in so many ways: it was the first final fantasy title to make it on the PS1. It also was my first venture into the series. Years later I still fangirl when I see cosplayers dressed like Yuffie or Vincent. Sephiroth’s theme song still strikes fear into my heart. On a epic scale, story wise—I was emotionally invested.
I can remember slowly, piecing together the plot twists and losing all my cool on certain character deaths. This game produced some of the best mini games in the franchise. Forget blitzball, that card game and catching all those damn frogs in FF9, if you say you didn’t enjoy saving Fort Condor, you are a lie and the truth is not in you. Corrupt companies that take advantage of the people, government cover-ups, a planet in peril because of the abuse from it’s inhabitants and people of the lowest economical status living in the “slums” which produces freedom fighters? How is this not a story that can be relevant forever? And no, I’m still not over you know who’s death. And a handful of other people too. So if you’re going to be a troll and make fun of the tears in my eyes, you can catch me in the parking lot after four with a buster sword.
Star Ocean: The Second Story
You know, Star Ocean: TSS has a lot of the same elements other role playing games had at the time: a story of an inevitable conflict, a colorful cast of interesting charterers and neat looking cut scenes. But what made this game in particular stand out? First, things first: in the beginning you got to CHOOSE out of two characters who you wanted to play as. WOAH. Starting off, you could play as the young and dumb Claude, son of a decorated hero, whose reckless behavior sets things in motion an sends him to another part of the universe. Or you play as the odd ball teenage girl Rena whose mysterious powers make her feel like she doesn’t belong in her small town. I can’t begin to tell y’all just awesome it was to be play as a girl character.
My mind was further blown with the customization part of this game. Depending on what character you choose, only certain charterers were able to be recruited to your party. Further more, special events would take place with actions you could choose from that would bond certain folks together or make others less in tuned with each other. The other thing that blew my mind is that special skill points were gained meaning your misfit band of heroes could have different special skills and make items from a process called Item Creation, where they could make anything from creating weaponry to alchemy to even cooking. The whole battle system was pretty dope too. This was a unique game that left it up to you to choose your destiny. Replay value was high cause they were over 80 endings, from what I hear.
Omar Holmon’s Picks:
WWF No Mercy
This was hands down the best wrestling game ever made. I’ma say it again, hands the fuck down, best wrestling game ever made. If you know how to play this right, it gets more technical than Bret The Hitman Hart doing trigonometry. This game was smooth, fun, full of glitches you could use to your own advantage and represented the golden age of wrestling. Back when everything still made sense. Back when video games were a god damn skill, don’t try and button mash on this. You. Will. Surely. Lose. This is a game of finesse, skill, patience and morality.
The Tony Hawk Series
I loved this genre because 1. I always wanted to learn skate boarding. 2. that shit is hard to do. 3. I enjoyed being able to be this close to it at least. I would come home and just relax to some Tony Hawk 2. Just rolling around doing a grind every so often. I loved that Kareem cambell (the only black skater in the game) was there as well. Although it was one poc I felt like, “hey, thats cool. Theres someone that looks like me doing this sport I want to be apart of. Lemme go outside and try it again …(45 minutes later) yeah i’ma stick to rollerblading and skate boarding via play station”. Don’t even get me started on how Tony Hawk Underground changed the game for the glorious.
I still think this was the best fighting series. Period. It didn’t allow for much button mashing, you could tell who knew what they were doing. SC was such a fluid fighting game that took into account all the particulars of its combos and found innovative ways to use each characters weapons, or provide escapes from maneuvers, or breaking through opponent’s guards. I would play this game with my boy Phil to a point where we would fight based upon who could knock the other person out of the ring instead of fighting till the death. Plus, remember the exhibitions the characters would do with their weapons? Plus, each weapon having a variant with different abilities?!?! Soul Calibur was the truth and needs to return back to its roots man.
William Evans’ List:
Halo: Combat Evolved
When Microsoft took its first plunge into the console market that had had many contributors but was still dominated by a big two consistently (Nintendo and Sony), it needed a franchise to hang its hat on. It needed a game to stand up and say, “Hey gamers, we got something that you can’t get anywhere else right now!” They launched with Halo: Combat Evolved. Thirteen years later, nobody would look at you crazy if you suggested that it was still the Xbox franchise’s best game. Coming from then little known Bungie Studios, Halo wove together a great looking game with a physics engine untouched at the time, whip smart A.I., a compelling story and just great shooter mechanics. It not only sparked a shift in how the First Person Shooter was made, but gave Sony fits for years trying to come up with their own “Halo Killer.” The multiplayer took storm comparable to the obsession of N64’s Golden Eye and has chewed up more bandwith than Microsoft could’ve hoped for.
Red Dead Redemption
I am a sucker for a western. I got that from my pops. If I ever had the time to sit at home and marathon movies for a whole day, then a good Sergio Leone binge would fill my weekend perfectly. I’m also a sucker for Rockstar Games. So when I heard that they were producing another Red Dead Game, but that this would be an open world game ala Grand Theft Auto, my expectations were super high. It passed every one of them. Red Dead is a masterpiece of a game. It is huge. It affords you tons of freedom and choices. But those choices don’t always mean a different outcome and that’s kind of the beauty of Red Dead’s story. No matter what good you have done, you can’t outrun the bad you’ve done too, and the fatalistic destination for the protagonist John Marston haunts the narrative for the length of an almost 40 hour game. It really doesn’t get much better than this.
Pro Tip if you are a parent of a young child: Turn Based Strategy Games are incredible. You can often wield them with one hand, you have a built in “pause button” and you can pick them up or put them down at any given time without the threat of lost progress. The games are supposed to go on forever. And there has never been a better TBSG than those in the Civilization franchise. I’m willing to guess I’ve spent more hours playing a Civilization game than my daughter has been gracing the Earth so far. Sid Meier, the genius that created this time wormhole of a franchise does his best work in Civ II and Civ V. Starting with a couple of settlers in 4000 B.C. to eventually launching a craft into outer space is a wild ride and there never feels like a step has been missed. Speaking of space, the next Civilization is all about colonizing in the solar system. Where can I throw my money at?
L.E.H. Light’s Picks:
Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventure
This game is just fun. You start out as the intrepid Dr. Jones, but as with all the Lego games, you amass the other movie characters as well, including those as central as Short Round (what? He’s central to my enjoyment of the second movie) and those as inconsequential as unnamed Nazi guard #4 (the one with the mustache). There’s plenty of platforming, puzzle-solving action, and all the iconic set pieces are included, from running downhill from a boulder to driving a motorcycle with Dr. Jones Sr. in the sidecar. I can’t help it, every time my Lego Indy cracked his whip, I giggled. And they didn’t include any material from the fourth movie – the one I call “Dr. Jones and the Search for A Couple Million for Harrison Ford” – so Lego and I can remain friends. Despite some frustration in my never ending search for all the damn red bricks, I enjoyed every minute of this game.
Dragon Age: Origins
Ah Ferelden, the setting for my first RPG romance. I admit it, I played and replayed this game just to see how many characters I could hook my hero up with. Because if she’s not doing both Alistair the Paladin and Zevran the Rogue, then clearly my mojo is off and I need to start from my last save. My favorite feature of this game was the pause-and-shoot tactical system, which really favored non-twitch gamers like me. Sure other fantasy RPGs have come along since ’09 – Skyrim and The Witcher II among them (both of which I love) – but none had the balance of personal storytelling, evolving story-line, and fast paced combat for which I love Dragon Age. I’m considering sending the family off to a hotel for the weekend after November 18th, when Dragon Age: Inquisition is scheduled to be available. I’m going to have a nice long date with my console. And, if BioWare is up to snuff, several lovely characters to choose to love and leave.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
This is my favorite group game. I’ve spent many an after dinner evening squeezing onto the couch with three of my friends, playing this one and drinking way to much red wine. (I’m an adult, I drink red wine when I play fighting games and white wine for puzzle games. What of it?) Group play is the real win of this one for me. Everyone has their favorite Marvel superhero and, after beating the game and unlocking all the possibilities, you can play them all. My group rarely fought over the best characters. My husband is a Wolverine player (**cough**overpowered, overused, grumble grumble **cough. cough**) leaving the rest of us to not have to worry about who would soak damage, so we could have some fun. Iceman skates around effortlessly, Magneto is just as awesome as you expect, and Storm literally lights up every environment you come across. Combine that all with a riff on the Civil War timeline, and this one did it for me. Occasionally rumors surface of a Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 being in the works. If you’re reading this Powers that Be, you should get on that. If only because I need more excuses to sit on my couch and drink with my friends. Hop to it!
Taj Williams’ Picks:
The Simpsons Arcade Game
Memories of quarters lost, hours wasted and the quality time spent between two cousins are thoughts that immediately come to mind when thinking of how Saturdays were spent huddled around a dingy arcade cabinet playing The Simpsons Arcade Game. Yes, the story makes zero sense but the TSAG is still arcade royalty for it’s charm, retro style beat em up, and incorporating America’s favorite family The Simpsons. Whether it was fighting over who got to be Bart, playing other gamers for quarters (we didn’t know we were gambling back then I swear!), or verbally assaulting gamers who’ve gotten to the game before us until they were frightened enough to get off. TSAG will forever be considered one of the greatest arcade games of it’s time.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance
Let me explain for you how deep my love for this game goes. I’ve literally bought four copies of this game in my lifetime across two consoles (3 for the original Xbox, 1 for PS3) because I played this game so much the discs ultimately gave out. I could still pick this up today and still be head over hills for it. Marvel Ultimate Alliance brings together the worlds greatest heroes to take on The Masters of Evil whom are lead by Dr.Doom who wants to take over the world.
This is not a simple task as over the course of the game Doom. Of course this is no easy task as players are faced with villains from all over the Marvel Universe, some including Galactus, Loki, Winter Soldier, Ultron and Super Skrull for example. The scope of this game? ENORMOUS! This game takes players all over the Marvel Universe from the S.H.E.I.L.D. Helicarrier to Asgard to Mephisto’s Realm to Atlantis as you encounter characters that you don’t normally see getting spotlighted outside of comics medium. Whether it was unlocking Blade by finding him trapped in a carnival claw machine, being placed in a homage to Atari classic Pitfall or using Doctor Strange’s abilities to turn enemies into boxes then throwing said boxes into the abyss. They don’t make em like this anymore.
Batman: Arkham City
As far as modern gaming goes no other game has given me the same experience that Batman: Arkham City has given me. From beginning to end, developers Rocksteady created a full Batman experience that fully had me immersed in the mythos. Whether it was propelling myself through environments with my grappling gun, taking on Freeze, finding Easter eggs, punching a shark (!), or enjoying Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill voice the Bat and the Joker respectively for what seems like the last time. The sequel improves just about everything from it’s predecessor Arkham Asylum. Not to mention this game has a Nightwing DLC pack (!) Improving an already perfect system is going to be a tough order going into Arkham Knight but I for one am looking forward to it.
I’ve told this story several times in my life including on BNP’s very own podcast “The Outsiders” but it’s a story I never get tired of telling. Being one of BNP’s youngest members I literally grew up in the heart of Pokemon fever. As a young child I was bought Pokemon cards, Pokemon toys, Pokemon videos, Pokemon soundtracks, Pokemon clothes, Pokemon comics, even had a Pokemon cake for my 8th or 9th birthday. I played in local Pokemon tournaments where I came in with a deck of about 60 cards and still managed to nab third place out of the 50 or 60 kids that were there. I once missed school for days because Ash and the gang were trapped on a capsized St. Anne and that “To Be Continued…” tag at the end of the episode bugged the shit out of me and I couldn’t go to school with that weighing on me.
This wasn’t just some childish infatuation to me, this was an obsession. But to top it all off one Christmas my mom brought me a shiny red Gameboy with a Pokemon Blue cartridge. When I tell you I wanted to be the very best that no one ever was I’m not lying to you. To catch them was my real test, to train them was my cause. I had travelled across the land, searching far and wide. Teach Pokemon to understand the power that’s inside. My journey ultimately had to come to an end. I still remember where I was the day I beat the Elite Four.
In my mom’s room, sitting on her treadmill. My enemy’s Dragonite had a small amount of health left. All my Pokemon already down for the count..except Nidoran. I had somehow pulled a victory out of my ass and I was ecstatic for a moment..and then I just felt sad because all 9 years of my life led up to that moment. I didn’t know where I was supposed to go from that point, I just felt empty. Childhood was officially over. Even in my 20’s I still own a Gameboy and a copy of Pokemon Blue for sentimental reasons although I rarely play it. Through the years my love of Pokemon has diminished because God knows what the fuck was going on after Hoenn but Pokemon still remains in my heart and undoubtedly played a big part of my childhood.
Pokemon, (gotta catch them all) its you and me
I know its my destiny
Pokemon, oh, you’re my best friend
In a world we must defend
Pokemon, (gotta catch them all) a heart so true
Our courage will pull us through
You teach me and I’ll teach you
(Po-ke-mon) Gotta catch ’em all
Um, where’s Mass Effect 2? That game is a work of art.