RULES: Don’t take more than a few minutes. Don’t think too hard. They don’t have to be great works of the gaming industry, just games that have affected you in a positive way. Then tag some friends including me so I can see your list.
And hey, might as well explain the entries because I want to.
I started my first game of it sometime around 2007 - 2008 and got sidetracked along the way, but I was already thoroughly charmed by it. It had that feeling of a story you'd make-believe with your friends as a kid, including all the usual facets of childhood (and, no surprise, Itoi poured his own childhood into making the game), while also having this really great, unusual yet smart sense of humor. I eventually started up a new game entirely towards the end of 2009, and the timing couldn't be more perfect. It was foggy outside, and the inside of my apartment was dark with the dim light of lamp turned on, giving it a great, cozy atmosphere for settling into a children's story.
The infamous final boss battle is still effective, even after the spoilers for it have been spilled all over the internet for ages, but what hit me most was Ness's dream world. It was a rare, unique look into who was otherwise a mostly blank slate character's psyche with a lot of fascinating details carved into it.
Whenever I think of EarthBound, I think of the Tenda Village music, and it's like being wrapped in a warm, gentle blanket all over again.
9. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Another warm, fuzzy entry complete with its own WHAT THE FUCK final boss. A lot of my fondness for this game is wrapped in nostalgia from playing it in summer of 2000 with my cousins, our endless frustration with getting past the fire and water levels (say what you will about the game being a cakewalk; we were kids, cut us some slack), jamming to the music and playing the mini-games with my friends, and, of course, it inspiring me to draw my own series of ridiculous crossover comics starring Kirby when I was 11 (I plan on scanning them sometime). But I do think the game's a lot of fun to play--easy difficulty be damned--and it has some really nice, touching cutscenes like the one pictured above. I hadn't played a lot of games as a kid, so seeing even the simplest of storytelling unfold before me was something special.
8. Mario Party 2
Mario Party, the friendship breaker...or uniter? I wanted to put both Mario Party 1 and 2 on here because--barring the physical pain it caused the palms of my hands--I'm awfully fond of 1, to the point I'd interrogate friends about which Mario Party they liked better and if they said "2" I'd tell them how they were wrong, wrong, wrong. But I digress. 2 is the superior game, with a fun story guiding it along, great different lands, and giving me some of the best times with my friends and family. I also felt kind of emotional over it at one point, to the point I couldn't listen to "Ending" without getting a little choked up. Over ten years later, I still pull this cartridge out for the family to play on Christmas Eve.
7. Pokemon Silver
Between all the Pokemon gens I've played (which is all...uh, 3 of them) this is the one I've still refused to start a New Game with. I never really got the hang of having a Pokemon team I could really call my "own" with the exception of this one. Basically, it's the one Pokemon game where I felt I really experienced the full journey from beginning to end, and even in the end I still kept playing with my team. Unfortunately, the Pokemon charm kind of wore off for me after this point, and I promise it's not just me being snooty--there's just only so many times I can relive the experience of getting my first Pokemon and having my mind blown that I can visit cities from previous gens before the novelty has long since worn off.
I also tried playing HeartGold and...couldn't make it far, because I couldn't stand the updated soundtrack. That, however, I will fully attribute to snootiness and nostalgia.
6. Rayman 2: The Great Escape
Oh my god, the memories I have of playing this game with my cousins and neighbors. That could probably warrant its own post, and I've talked enough about games with fond memories attached to them, so I'll concentrate on the game itself, which is awesome.
It has this great setting that's as bleak as it is beautiful with a dark (not too dark, but enough that I remember my cousins and I audibly gasping as we read the introductory text) story and great sense of humor to match. A story being dark, of course, doesn't mean it's always going to be good, but in Rayman 2's case, it gives a lot much weight to world and characters, while also keeping you in good spirits with its fun characters and gameplay. I think the big thing I really dug about it was that it was about a story of survival and a bad guy who's really hungry for your blood, which influenced my taste in stories tremendously. And it's got pirates. Robot pirates. It's as cool as it sounds.
If you want to know how much of a hardcore geek I am for this game, I ended up buying at least three different versions of it. One for the PlayStation, where I was taken aback by the English-language voice acting and other changes and cuts made, and the other for the PS2, "Rayman: Revolution", where I was bugged by the soundtrack changes and the extremely, distractingly bright colors that took away from the atmosphere. But then I finally acquired the N64 version, the one I rented and played as a kid, and all was well.
Still haven't beaten it, alas.
5. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
"It's easy, it's overrated, it started the dark path of ruining challenging classic Zelda games forever, it's easy."
You have your opinions, I have mine. I will concede the game is pretty easy (though it was just the right difficulty for me as a kid), but there's never really a game out there that's "too easy" for me; completing a game at all is enough of a challenge for me as is. And this game was a first for me in a lot of ways. It was the first in showing me that games could tell an engaging, cinematic story. It was the first game that had a story that shocked me, several times. It was the first game where I had to face my fears and brave dungeons and areas I was terrified of. It was the first "long" game I beat. It was the first game with a game mechanic that absolutely blew my mind (time traveling). It's still one of the few games out there that has a world I actively enjoy exploring and uncovering the mythos behind it.
It has its problems, a lot of my attachment to it can be attributed to the best memories I associate with it, but fuck it. I love this game. The first face-to-face encounter you have with Ganondorf is still one of my favorite moments in video games ever.
What can I say? It's fantastic in every way. It's amazingly creative, funny as hell, surprisingly touching, and full of all sorts of Easter eggs that add all sorts of depth to its world and characters. I really wasn't expecting to love this game--its visual style initially put me off, and the only encouragement I had to pick it up was the hugely positive reception it got from my friends. And I am forever thankful I played it.
It's also the game that got me interested in and passionate about writing specifically for video games, to the point I looked out for a potential job at Double Fine in high school (still have it in my sights; Double Fine is in my area!).
P.S.: The Meat Circus level is awesome.
3. Brutal Legend
I love this game more than words can say. It, along with my number one pick, left me in the best kind of emotional wreck. Oh my god, did this game ever make me emotional in ways I never saw coming. I was expecting to have a fun time playing as Jack Black and...I got that, but holy shit, I did not expect to have my heart broken into pieces and then carefully mended up again. I've lost track of the amount of times I looked back on certain scenes of the game and found the biggest lump forming in my throat. I only wish it was longer. (As much as I love Psychonauts, I actually think I crave a director's cut of this game than I do a sequel to the former title--and that says a fuckton because man do I love me some Psychonauts and that cliffhanger was killer.)
I still have a long writeup I did about how much I love this game from back in 2009 that I may post one day...but yeah. God, I love the story, the worldbuilding (oh my god, the worldbuilding), the characters, the humor, the romance, the everything. Except, again, for how unfortunately short it is. (I don't have a problem with the RTS gameplay.) It re-ignited my interest in seeking out a job in working for DoubleFine. One day, one day...
2. Ace Attorney series
Really, I could easily nail it down to Justice For All, my favorite game of the series, but I feel I kind of owe the entire series for a lot of things. I remember when finishing the first game that it, along with my number one entry, sort of woke me up from a sort of video game coma and reminded me, "Oh my god, games can tell stories. Amazing stories with amazing characters!"
Looking back, this one should take up the top spot as the game that left the most positive impact on me. It was what got me back into writing, back into actively engaging with fandom, and I'm honestly not sure I'd be the person I am today if I hadn't played them. Seven years later and my interest in the series is still as active as ever. I'll play any game Capcom cranks out no matter how mediocre it is.
So what makes the number one entry number one? Well...
1. Silent Hill 2
It was unlike anything I'd ever seen before.
I played this game when I was 17 and recovering from a pretty nasty bout of depression. Generally, I'd advise anyone experiencing depression to stay away from playing games like Silent Hill 2 (or the Silent Hill series in general) but really, it was the perfect mindset for me to be in. I was completely absorbed from beginning to end. Every line, every plot point and twist hit hard, and I'll never forget what an in-denial wreck I was when I arrived to the truth. It was like being splashed with ice cold water while stabbed in the gut, and then having that knife twist as you wander into the hallway.
It was emotionally draining. It was heartbreaking. But it also had this thoughtful, gentle touch to it. It haunted me for months. I couldn't listen to "Theme of Laura" without wanting to burst into tears.
It's difficult to articulate why Silent Hill 2 takes the number one spot. I guess because no other game left me in that shocked, quiet, contemplative state when I finished it. It was a unique experience I'll never forget. It's still one of the most beautiful games I've ever played, and even as I replay other entries on my list far more than it, I can't ever knock it off the number one spot of my favorite games ever, much less games that have impacted me the most. And yes, I'd say the impact was a very positive one.