#15 - Final Fantasy IX (PS1)
Chosen by: AdmiralMaxtreme, FreezingInferno, No, Vanor Orion, Pitchfork, Rhete
Pitchfork - Discounting some of the newer spin-off games like Four Heroes of the Light (which I assure you I haven't played; I swore off Final Fantasy and I still hold myself to it), Final Fantasy IX is the last hurrah of classic Final Fantasy. In many ways it's the best-designed of the PSX trilogy, with an innate abilities/limited customization system that can't be broken like VIII's junction system and doesn't make for almost totally interchangeable characters like VII. Of course, the convoluted story, gratuitious throwbacks, and goofy melodrama never let you forget that it's still new-school Final Fantasy costumed in the vestments of the Sakaguchi era. Still: Final Fantasy IX is an experience like meeting your high school ex girlfriend for coffee and still glimpsing in her hints of the same things that made you fall in love with her when you both were young.
AdmiralMaxtreme - Boy, the first disc of this game is an incredible experience. Unfortunately, SquareSoft packaged three more discs with it for some reason, and those ones... well, they're not great. The battle system feels too slow, and the Trance system is a complete failure of design. But, it's got an interesting and beautiful world, compelling characters (at first), a wonderful soundtrack and a lot of memorable moments. It's too bad it just can't really get out of its own way.
FreezingInferno - Well, what a specimen we have here. It's grandiose, and its mixing of newtype and oldtype Final Fantasy doesn't always work, but by god there's something about it that really cooks. It's almost the end of an era, really. One last look back at the roots before the series became sphere grids and The Hallway. Oh dear. We'll miss ya, Final Fantasy.
No - I don't talk about this game much, hell I didn't even complete the game (Got stuck at the end boss and eventually bailed out), but I'd be feeling a bit silly if I didn't mention this game in my list. The gameplay felt like it was harkening back to older Final Fantasies in which everyone had a specific type of role in battle which I appreciated. The story itself I didn't remember too much of, but I'll always enjoy Vivi's character as his was the most notable for me.
Vanor Orion - The best Final Fantasy on the Playstation. Better characters and world than 7, and better EVERYTHING than 8 (except Quistis who I'd wreck like a large hadron collider). The game had a more entertaining and exciting story than both games. And I definitely fucking prefer Zidane over Squall and Cloud any day of the week. It had better music, it looked better, played better, didn't have the convoluted junctioning bullshit of 8, actually had a fun and interesting world to explore, was actually hard, had a lot of fun, cool, unique spells to use, and downright jaw-dropping summons that were quick and to the point unlike the over-indulgent summons of 8. And by far and away this game had the best ending and best staff roll music. Also getting into Pandemonium will never stop being awesome to watch. Oh yeah, and it had a better-executed love story than fucking VIII did!
Rhete - I actually never owned this game, I borrowed it from a friend who was busy with their brand new PS2 at the time, and I powered through it really quickly. While I personally wouldn't considere it at all time great or anything, I enjoyed this game. Which isn't something I'd say for many other of Squares post Final Fantasy VII JRPGS.
#14 - GoldenEye 007 (N64)
Chosen by: AdmiralMaxtreme, Carmichael Micaalus, FreezingInferno, No, Vanor Orion, Rhete
AdmiralMaxtreme - This is a shooter of legendary proportions. Almost mythical. It's the rare (or Rare? Get it? Ho ho) shooter whose single player experience is every bit as satisfying and engaging as the multiplayer, and the multiplayer experience is what really puts this game on the map. I've put thousands, actual thousands of hours into this game, and it still doesn't seem worn out. It's a near-perfect multiplayer experience. And while the James Bond theme definitely adds value, this game would have succeeded even without that brand identity.
Vanor Orion - Probably the best game on the Nintendo 64, bar none. It has it all, an awesome single-player with a huge arsenal of weapons to use, lots of realistically-behaving braindead enemies for you to mow down with your guns, an awesome multiplayer with up to four friends, shitloads of cheat codes, secrets, and unlockables. There was just no limit to the ways one could have fun with this game, and as a James Bond game, it holds up on its own merits regardless of it being a movie tie-in game, which is sad that so few movie tie-in games today fail so miserably to do just that.
Rhete - These days I rarely master a game. When I first beat Goldeneye, it felt like an achievement. Over the months I kept playing to beat the game on secret agent, and unlock the Aztec level. After doing that, it was time to work through the game again on 00 Agent and unlock the Egyptian level. While I was never able to unlock the invincibility cheat, (lord did I try though), by that point it didn't even matter because 007 difficulty let you just set enemy damage to 0.Oh and the multiplayer was pretty fun.
Carmichael Micaalus - Good single player game, excellent multiplayer game. I think my biggest gripe about this one was how long it took to pause and how long it took for the death animation. Combine those two and you can have some real aggravation with hard stages.
No - Goldeneye was the first shooter I really got into, it was notable as being the first shooter I actually owned in general. The game itself had a great weaving of difficulty and gameplay, the higher the difficulty, the more objectives you had to take on. Sure, there are better shooters out there, but none of them have been able to capture Goldeneye's uniqueness in terms of its mission structure. Not to mention the multiplayer was rock solid and great fun with all its Bond characters.
FreezingInferno - It being this low might be sacrilege for some, but I disclaim this by admitting that I came to this like 10 years after it was relevant. Single player only. No multiplayer action. While I did get my multiplayer Bond fix on with Nightfire on Gamecube, that leaves poor Goldeneye in the dust. Regardless, I can see why it made an impression. A console shooter game that doesn't suck. It's a Christmas miracle. I bet it would have been a blast to play this one multiplayer back in the day though. Ah well. Too bad, Pierce.
#13 - Mega Man Legends (PS1) / Mega Man 64 (N64)
Chosen by: Pixel_Crusher, Voodoo Groove, jetstorm4, Vanor Orion, Pitchfork, Rhete, Crono Maniac
Pixel_Crusher - Outside the light RPG elements this game had, what really shined was its Miyazaki/Tatsunoko inspired world, filled with charismatic characters and engaging environments. Exploring mines was an absolute thrill and easily one of those moments where you felt like a true to blue (no pun intended) spelunker.
Voodoo Groove - Maybe the controls are a little (okay, fairly darn) clunky, but this game delivers a giant interconnected underground labyrinth to explore, with a bunch of weapons to upgrade and buster parts to mix around. It feels a bit dated, but still manages to rope me in with its likeable characters and dungeon diving.
jetstorm4 - Yep. Legends. My 3rd favorite Mega Man game of all time. Why? Because this is the best world any Mega Man game has. There's a lot of background to it's world, and the perfect place for Mega Man to be is in those ruins as a digger. Not to mention the game itself is pretty darn good. It takes an action-adventure gameplay similar to a 3D Zelda game, with dungeons, missions, and cutscenes. Voice acting isn't half bad either. Especially for this era of Capcom.
Vanor Orion - Let me be blunt, as a huge fan of Mega Man: Every Mega Man game post-SNES SUCKED. At BEST X4 is average (and no, playing Zero does NOT salvage the game from this fact), and began the death spiral of the series into mostly ridiculously hard games for the sake of being hard, and fell into the same tired tropes that had made the original series become mostly so stale to begin with.
So imagine how much of a blast of fresh air Mega Man Legends was to me. The game is definitely rough around the edges in some ways, especially the controls, but everything else was just. so. damn. AWESOME. A new colorful light-hearted setting that may or may not be connected to the prior games in the series (seriously who cares at this point?), with new characters, a more Zelda-like experience with a free-roaming 3D world, the ability to blast things with your Mega Buster, exploring dangerous caverns and mysterious ruins, bumping heads with the completely hilarious Bonne family, lots of hidden secrets and power ups made this game addicting as hell to the point that I actually finished it in one rental, playing it almost nonstop. I'm still shocked this isn't on PSN. Also, KICK THE CAN!!!
Rhete - While the sequel did improve the gameplay, and expanded the scope of the series, thinking back to it years later, I don't really remember any of the details, it just wasn't that memorable. Mega Man Legends 1, on the other hand, took place on a single, relatively small island, but really made it feel like a real place. You had a city, plenty of side missions, and a huge network of ruins buried underneath the island. Uncovering the secrets of the island was a fantastic experience, especially realizing late in the game that all of the individual ruins were actually connected, turning the multiple dungeons into one massive labyrinth.
But really, you can't talk about the game without mentioning the charming storyline. The game has one of the best crews of bumbling villains ever in the Bonnes. They walk the line between goofy and threatening perfectly, and you feel kind of bad when it comes to defeat them in a boss fight. Overall the storyline and characters have a great cheesy anime feel to them, breathing life and personality into the Mega Man series where there really hadn't been any previously.
Crono Maniac - So much heart. The surface of the island is full of life and love, and it contrasts so strongly with the claustrophobic dungeon crawling. As a little kid I adored exploring the city, and going underground, especially in the optional sections, terrified me.
Pitchfork - I wish I could say more about Mega Man Legends. I really do. I borrowed it from a friend once, played it through to the end, and then gave it back to him. And I loved it! I really did! I just don't remember ANYTHING specific from it. Just pure Rockman Gaiden glee. Though I still wish Capcom USA had just nutted up and called the young Volnutt "Rock" instead of "Mega Man." The reason for it is beyond absurd.
BARREL: Well, Roll, I've adopted this mysterious orphan boy and need to give him a name. I'm split between Anthony, after your dear departed aunt, and Rock, because I have a pebble in my shoe and can't stop thinking about it.
ROLL: Well, my favorite video game out of all the ones we've pulled from the ruins of the lost civilization is this one where you jump around and shoot things with all sorts of different weapons. So let's name him after that and call him ALIEN SOLDIER!
BARREL: That is absurd, daughter.
ROLL: Well, my SECOND favorite game is Mega Man. Let's name him Mega Man!
BARELL: Feh, whatever, he'll grow into it.
#10 (Tie) - Parasite Eve (PS1)
Chosen by: FreezingInferno, jetstorm4, Miller, Vanor Orion, Pitchfork, Rhete, Crono Maniac
FreezingInferno - The perfect blend of horror and JRPG. There's some really disturbing mutations in Parasite Eve, and you get to shoot at them with guns while also flinging latent psychic powers at them. Also it has an urban setting, in New York City! Neat! The best part is that it's only like 10 hours long or something. I love that! It's succinct and to the point! You get your kicks in, you light things on fire and run from a demon baby, and then you can do the bonus dungeon if you want! What a RAD game!
jetstorm4 - Starring one of the best protagonists ever conceived (this game only), Parasite Eve gives a great mash up to Survival Horror and RPG. The game takes systems from Resident Evil, Chrono Trigger, and Final Fantasy to create a short but sweet story through New York. Also has music by Yoko Shimomura of Kingdom Hearts fame. Her work here is some of her best.
Miller - I was amazed how balanced this game felt the first time I played it. A tight action-experience with that PS-era Squaresoft touch that we all miss so much these days (if anybody even cares about Square Enix any more that is).
Vanor Orion - This game cements the Playstation for me in one word: Unique. There's lots of unique games on the Playstation. This game is a science-fiction horror RPG with a contemporary setting. And it works. The game doesn't overstay its welcome, features a lot of gun customization, has a genuinely interesting story with a lot of mystery to it that actually has a satisfying climax and resolution. AND then there's the Chrysler Building. Which I beat. And it soooooooo wasn't fucking worth it. I also remember that ATP stands for adenosine triphosphate because of this game. See! Who said video games weren't educational?!
Rhete - From the era when Square could do no wrong. Take one dash of Resident Evil's horrible, grotesque mutations, another of Final Fantasy's CG production values, and mix with a unique combat system, and a real world setting to make it stand out from the pack, and you've got yourself classic.
Crono Maniac - So much goddamn fun. It's the JRPG where the final dungeon is the Museum of Natural History, of course it's fantastic.
Pitchfork - God, I miss SquareSoft.
#10 (Tie) - Suikoden II (PS1)
Chosen by: Pixel_Crusher, AdmiralMaxtreme, No, Voodoo Groove, jetstorm4, Miller, Vanor Orion
Pixel_Crusher - Game of Thrones meets Pokemon is, in a nutshell, the best way I have of describing this epic tale of warfare and conquest, filled with drama, sadness, happiness, intrigue, suspense, tension and a myriad of other feelings that words and adjectives alone that simply won't be enough to sum up on how much of a masterpiece this game is. And take my word, Luca Blight is a villain you'll love to hate more than any other you've ever met before.
AdmiralMaxtreme - So many characters. So much to do. Such a good story. So freaking expensive!
No - Suikoden 2 didn't really require ya to play the first one, but it did a great job of continuing the Suikoden universe, it was longer, had a fairly good story, and made improvements upon the combat system. It's ultra expensive for a reason, it's rare, but it's also a damn good game.
Voodoo Groove - I only just started this game when it came out on PSN (beyond that I have only scant memories of playing it once in my youth), and I friggin' love it. Having 108 recruitable characters is awesome, since it turns every town into an opportunity to build your ever-expanding army. Even the characters that add new services or cosmetic changes to your castle are exciting to recruit. A product of having so many characters is that most of them work off of 1 or 2 personality quirks, which kind of work here. It feels a bit 90's anime-ish, but in a good way. On a mechanical level it's rather interesting, some stats affect an array of maneuvers in battle, and the rune system is really cool. I like how spells function different from the RPG norm, using leveled spell slots akin to Dungeons and Dragons instead of MP. It's a game with a lot of charm, enough to make me sad I missed it when it came out.
jetstorm4 - I've only begun this game last month, thanks to it coming out on the PSN. However, from what I've played already, I see a masterpiece of story progression, character management, and battle systems that make up this gem of an RPG.
Miller - This game was crack to me back in 2000. I played it probably 6-7 times back to back, finding new characters along the way. I felt so genuinely sad when it ended the first time that I almost cried (hence the 6-7 extra playthroughs). I played it again a few years back and it's still super solid. The best Suikoden experience by far and if you're into this game, check out the first and third game too. The world of Suikoden is truly something.
Vanor Orion - This took everything the original did and refined it. It also had a better story, and helped to further establish and flesh out the world that Suikoden takes place in, and most importantly, establish that the events of the prior game carried over to this one, as we see many characters from the prior game return to play a prominent role, such as Flik and Viktor, Viki and Jeane, among many others, new and old alike. And of course one would be remiss to not mention Luca Blight, perhaps one of the best villains in any video game ever. Yeah, that's right, go fuck yourself, Kefka! You, too, Sephiroth!
What makes Luca such a great villain, not just in Suikoden, but in general, is that unlike the other villains he works for throughout Suikoden II, they all scheme and plot for some higher end, for their own selfish ends or for what they think is the greater good. Luca has no such aspirations. He only fights because he wants to kill as many people as possible. Indeed, in his portraits one gets the sense that he's less a man and more a wild beast or force of nature that can barely keep itself under control, waiting for any excuse to loose itself on hapless victims. What really puts the screws in, however is that you eventually learn HOW he wound up that way, and in that respect, he becomes tragic, because it's clear that he is the PRODUCT of war, and has BECOME war itself with the victim becoming the victimizer, not caring about collateral damage, or good or evil, or morals or class. Everyone dies the same in the end, rich or poor, young or old, regal or common...the ultimate in nihilism. And in the end, even with his last breath, he doesn't apologize for any of it. He not only embraces but REVELS in being the monster that people see him as, right as he exhales his last. And that's just among the many reasons why this game is so damn good.
#10 (Tie) - Chrono Cross (PS1)
Chosen by: AdmiralMaxtreme, FreezingInferno, No, jetstorm4, Zeloz, Miller, Pitchfork, Crono Maniac
AdmiralMaxtreme - This doesn't really have much in common with its predecessor, but that's okay. That shouldn't affect how this game is viewed. For its many, many faults, you can't deny it wasn't trying as hard as it could to do... whatever it was that it was trying to do. I'll take a grand failure over a weak success any day.
FreezingInferno - It's not as good as Chrono Trigger. What is? This is a bleak game that delves into complete nonsense and feels like it ran out of time before the end. It was still an experience, nonetheless, in the fall of 2005. I have only beaten that game twice, and both times it's been a wild ride that never quite made any sense. Regardless, I have respect for it, even if it gets spiteful towards Chrono Trigger for no reason. It's odd. Very odd. But good.
No - Despite feeling overall disappointed with its lack of continuity and its rather nonsense story, the game itself was quite fun to playthrough. I enjoyed having the more plot critical characters join my side and being able to kick ass. I replayed this game many times, and I replayed due to enjoying the gameplay at the time. It didn't hurt that it has one of the best soundtracks on the PSX.
jetstorm4 - I think we all have that game nobody seems to like yet there's a special connection that we have with it. Chrono Cross is that game for me. I'm well aware of the game's faults. Too many characters, the plot makes no sense at the end, and there's barely any character development... and I really don't care. The battle system is fun to learn, the environment and settings fit this weird world, and the music remains to be my favorite soundtrack of all time.
Zeloz - This is a game I kinda prefer to admire from afar. And, at least from this vantage point, the game's damn near a masterpiece. I cannot understate how beautiful various parts of the game look for the hardware it runs on; the oceanic motif featured in much of the game is one I'd like to see in other games. It also has what I'd consider Yasunori Mitsuda's best soundtrack, perhaps the best soundtrack on the system. Hell, I liked Gale! Or Hurricane! Whatever that normal fight song no one likes is called! The game's very much representative of what Square and others were doing at the turn of the millennium: those flashy multi-disc epics with more style than substance. But man... this one had style! It's just a shame the game had to be marketed as a sequel to Chrono Trigger. You're kinda setting yourself up for failure by setting such a high bar for yourself, Square.
Miller - For the soundtrack alone.
Pitchfork - This is the RPG equivalent of Herman Melville's Pierre (the follow-up to Moby-Dick). Both are sprawling, grand-intentioned, career-destroying disasters. Their shortcomings outweigh their successes, but they have many virtues-and they're such compelling failures that they deserve a place in anyone's library, and they get into your heart and lungs in a way that more successful more successfully-executed pieces often can't manage. An inimitable failure is not infrequently more captivating than a soaring success.
I've already said everything I care to say about Chrono Cross elsewhere, so I'll leave you with the "Enceladus" chapter from Pierre. Solve the riddle, learn why I love that book and this game.
Crono Maniac - What an endlessly fascinating failure, a gorgeous, amazing experience that's completely at war with itself. It doesn't work of course, but it's hard not to love it for its sparks of brilliance that are there.
#9 - Super Smash Bros. (N64)
Chosen by: Pixel_Crusher, AdmiralMaxtreme, FreezingInferno, No, Voodoo Groove, Zeloz, Vanor Orion, Pitchfork
FreezingInferno - I can hear Polly's fart noises in the distance. This whole series is special to me for its multiplayer fun times, and some of that started with the original. I remember renting an N64 for a weekend on vacation and trying in vain to unlock Ness. I remember reading the method to unlock Ness, having never played Earthbound, and wanting to unlock the Loch Ness Monster. Oh, how little I knew. I remember my friend Matt's deadly skill with Samus. Smash Bros. is hella fun, and earns its place on this list.
Pixel_Crusher - This game owned so much. After seeing THIS TRAILER as a kid, I just had to get it. If the simple notion of having Mario beat the crap out of Yoshi wasn't enough, I could also go as far as to electrocute Mario using Pikachu.
AdmiralMaxtreme - This is the kind of game that a child would come up with, but in a good way: "What if there was a game where all the Nintendo characters just beat the crap out of each other?" Such a great idea. And to top it all off, it's one of the all-time great multiplayer games.
No - Super Smash Bros was the first fighter/party game I really got into. I loved days when I was able to play against other people like my cousin and his friends and I managed to FALCON PUNCH them all in the face! For me, this game's a great party game and it deserves more love from people.
Voodoo Groove - The first in a series that I would describe as hype incarnate. And to think, it almost never came out over here. Sometimes it can be hard to see the appeal of the original amongst all of its sequels. Smash 64 is busted as all hell on a competitive level, but I think it's a game that deserves respect. Fighting game, party game, whatever you want to call it, it blurred lines and provided an experience that to this day nobody else has been able to replicate well.
Zeloz - I didn't actually get into the series until Melee, but I do remember watching a lot of older kids playing this and thinking how cool it was watching Donkey Kong and Pikachu duke it out atop Hyrule Castle. As simplistic and featureless this entry seems compared to later installments in the series, it's also aged surprisingly well for an N64 game. While the controller isn't as comfortable as the Gamecube or Wii U Classic Pro controllers, 4-player Smash on the N64 still makes for some fun times, just in case you don't have a Wii/Wii U/Gamecube on hand. Which is highly unlikely in this day and age... but that's beside the point. Smash Bros. is most definitely the best party and/or fighting game of the fifth generation, and I really like how stupid simple it was when fighters were getting increasingly harder to learn.
Vanor Orion - While it was great and a blast of fresh air for people who sucked at traditional fighting games, it wound up becoming obsolete with the release of Smash Bros. Melee. That being said, you wouldn't have Melee if you didn't have this wonderful gem of a game buoyed up in a shallow sea of mediocre 1st and 3rd party games (yeah, most of Nintendo's first party N64 games haven't aged well). THIS game, however, still stands the test of time, and many evenings of laughter crude jokes about Nintendo mascots were told. Good times.
Pitchfork - I had some great times playing classic Smash with the few buddies of mine who still had their N64s plugged in at that point. It was precisely what anyone would have expected from a fighting game made by Nintendo ("Accessibility is our Recipe"): it couldn't possibly be easier to pick up, play, and enjoy with two or three friends, regardless of anyone's skill level. At the time I appreciated Super Smash Bros. because precisely because it seemed like a party game dressed up as a fighting game. I love King of Fighters, sure, but it's not really much fun to play with somebody unless they understand the secrets to making it dance-and statistically, the guy you meet at school or work or whatever who wants to hang out and play video games likely won't be one of the people who know the moves to the hop, combo, cancel DM tango.
Anyway, back then I was still a regular at the arcade. After losing five, ten DOOLARS in quarters to people who were Very Serious about Street Fighter, it was refreshing to play a fighting game that seemed intentionally designed to keep people from turning it into a competitive affair. Boy was I wrong about that one.
#8 - Metal Gear Solid (PS1)
Chosen by: Pixel_Crusher, AdmiralMaxtreme, FreezingInferno, jetstorm4, Zeloz, Miller, Vanor Orion, Pitchfork, Crono Maniac
Pixel_Crusher - It's impossible not to like this game. The attention it was given to detail and overall presentation showed that, with proper effort and direction, video games could be as much as art as a movie, a book or a painting.
AdmiralMaxtreme - It's really hard to do stealth well, as we've come to find out, but this game pulls it off. It pulls off a lot more than that, actually. This game feels a lot like a movie, but not because it makes you sit and watch cutscenes. It feels like you're playing a big budget action movie.
FreezingInferno - It's really god damned good. I hunted everywhere for a copy of this in the mid-2000s It was worth the scouring through the used game stores. It's that good, and I beat it on my birthday. Though that caused me no end of grief when I got a happy birthday call and missed some cutscene. Pause buttons exist for a reason. Gosh. An amazing game, and one I don't find myself making allowances for because it was 1998.
jetstorm4 - I didn't play this until about 2008 admittedly. However the game has held up due to it's charm, excellent control, and (in my opinion) great voice work. Still my favorite game in the series.
Zeloz - This is an intriguing game for me. My exposure to it is purely third-person, having only watched my older brother play through it. But man, what a game! It does so many interesting things with its narrative and gameplay elements that make it so much more than a stealth game: the outrageously long cutscenes, the unique boss battles, that one bit where you lose your save if you fail, Psycho Mantis... Not to mention, the localization work is some of the best to come out of that era. I'm one of those weirdos that watches nearly all of his anime subtitled, but I have to admit MGS has some outstanding voice work. This is probably one of the best action movies I've ever seen, with the extra benefit of being a game. I should maybe delve into the game-y bits one day, I hear they're good.
Miller - Mind-blowing the first playthrough and just as fun the following dozen of playthroughs.
Vanor Orion - I rented this game based off its rather amusing commercial. Needless to say there was nothing funny or light-hearted about this game. I was immediately sucked into its world of mindfuckery espionage. I have to admit I saw none of the plot twists coming in this game, and while the later games went off the rails with their batshit craziness, this game managed to hold a tenuous grasp to reality despite some of its more supernatural-elements creeping in. This felt more like I was playing a Tom Clancy novel and less like a Hideo Kojima game, and that's probably why this game makes it so high on my list.
Crono Maniac - Kojima has a great control of cinematic language and a fascinating approach to game design. This was obvious back on the MSX with Metal Gear 2; just look at its intro. Metal Gear Solid is something of a reimagining of that story, and fulfills its promise beautifully.
Pitchfork - I played this for the first time in 2007, a decade after it won the hearts and imaginations of the public. It remains the only Metal Gear Solid game I've ever played, and I'm happy to keep it that way. (I'm sure I'm missing out by not playing Snake Eater, but that's how it has to be.) Metal Gear Solid's covert ops action and melodrama hit all the right spots, and I rather wish I'd made the time to play it as a teenager. Again, I've only read about and watched friends play the other Metal Gear Solid games, but I imagine fans revisiting the first one after digesting Metal Gear Solid 2 and 4 must be astonished that Kojima was ever capable of such self-restraint.
I read somewhere that Kojima wanted Metal Gear Solid to be the very acme of tactical espionage action verisimilitude, and tried to convince Konami to let him put out a game that actually became unplayable when the player got a game over. It would certainly recreated the nerve-fraying stakes of a covert military operation-you get one shot to make it work, and if it doesn't work, you die-but the reasons the idea didn't fly are more than obvious. My acquaintance with Hideo Kojima is very limited, but this sums him up as I understand him: the heart of a true auteur, the mind of a maniac. HURT ME MORE, SNAKE.
#7 - Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1)
Chosen by: Pixel_Crusher, AdmiralMaxtreme, FreezingInferno, No, jetstorm4, Zeloz, Miller, Vanor Orion, Pitchfork
Pixel_Crusher - This game literally blew me away the moment I realized that I could freely explore an entire castle instead of going from point A to point B like most Castlevania titles. It's a valiant shame that, to this day, none of its successors can still reach its greatness (Aria of Sorrow and Order of Ecclesia came close, but no cigar) but we can always play this one over and over again until that happens (if ever). Oh, and let's not forget about this priceless piece of dialogue.
AdmiralMaxtreme - This is definitely, unequivocally, the best Castlevania game ever. This is a series that belongs in 2D, and this game boldly stuck to it during a time when other longtime 2D series were, for better or worse, making the jump to 3D.
FreezingInferno - Hell, you got me. This isn't even my favorite "Metroidvania". I could get mad at it for killing off vintage 'vania. I could get mad at Koji Igarashi for doing what Square did to FF7 and making this same damn game six fucking times on GBA and DS. That wouldn't be fair to SOTN. SOTN is fine. It pads itself a little with the upside down castle, but it's fine. Probably the second-best "Metroidvania" I've sunk time into.
No - This was the one popular Castlevania to rule them all for a time...in terms of gameplay that is. The game itself was rather notable in having more narrative and the fact that your main character wasn't a Belmont. It's the game that most Castlevanias in the future are judged by!
Pitchfork - Dracula X: Rondo of blood was the apogee of classic Castlevania. Konami was never going to be able to surpass it, so instead of making a new Castlevania game, they made a new Metroid game and slapped the Castlevania logo across it. This only amounted to a temporary deferral of the basic problem: instead of having to come up with a new Castlevania game that could beat Rondo, they now had to figure out how to make a Metroidvania game that could beat Symphony. It wasn't going to happen, but certainly not for lack of trying.
jetstorm4 - Alright, I'll admit, I haven't actually beaten this game. Yet. However, from my experience (about halfway through the first castle), I've found Symphony to be an excellent title in it's own right. The exploration feels great, the combat is precise, and the story feels like a Castlevania game. I can definitely see the appeal of a good "Metroidvania" (gosh I hate that word) now.
Zeloz - It was the one Castlevania game that would change the series forever, for better or worse. For me, however, it stands as one of the only games to have me hooked from the moment I started playing to the final fight with Dracula in the inverted castle. The game starts off right at the thrilling climax of another excellent Castlevania, and from there it goes to Alucard barreling down the Transylvanian wood into Dracula's castle to chop up zombies and wargs. An absolutely bombastic opening, to be sure, though the game dials it down a bit after Death jacks your stuff. The lightened difficulty has been a point of contention for many, but it fits the more casual mood of the game in general; the goal isn't just to get to the next boss anymore, but to explore the castle and find tools to make it further into Dracula's chaotic domain. Which, despite being the ultimate stronghold of evil, has a surprisingly cozy aesthetic in places (Michiru Yamane's soundtrack certainly helps establish this). There are few games out there that are just this fun to play through and explore, and I probably wouldn't have given Metroid games a second, more serious look had I not played through and enjoyed this first.
Miller - Not as good as the classic Castlevanias simply because of the complete lack of challenge, but it sure was a treat to explore Dracula's castle the first time around finding new secrets with basically every step.
Vanor Orion - Not only is this one of the best platformers on the Playstation, this is also one of the best games ever made, period. I say this because I've NEVER STOPPED PLAYING THIS GAME. When I first got my PS3, it was the first thing I bought off of PSN. I don't need to go into detail as to why this game is so great. The truly sad thing is, until recently, it rarely had any competition. Now, we're starting to see more games like this coming out for various platforms. And that's great, because it's absolutely fucking CRIMINAL that such a damned fine platformer have such little fucking company almost twenty god damned years later.
#6 - Final Fantasy VII (PS1)
Chosen by: AdmiralMaxtreme, FreezingInferno, No, jetstorm4, Miller, Vanor Orion, Pitchfork, Rhete, Crono Maniac
Pitchfork - Skimming everyone else's lists, it's clear that Final Fantasy VII won't be voted the #1 game of generation five. I don't wish to make insinuations against the judgement of SMPS, but I think that to place any game that is not Final Fantasy VII in the top slot is...well, incorrect.
Final Fantasy VII might not be the best game ever made, and it isn't perfect. But it's the only game on this list-except for Mario 64-to have actually ushered in and defined an epoch. Final Fantasy VII was a fucking revelation. There is no way to truly appreciate its impact without having played video games before and after 1997. I don't think it's unfair to claim that what people hoped for and expected from games changed after Final Fantasy VII. It was the seminal game, the Summer of Love to a generation of video kids who began their coming of age at the same time the medium tore is chrysalis and spread its wings. It was such an incredible experience that you still have people well into their thirties keeping a close eye on Final Fantasy XV, hoping, praying in their secret hearts that this will finally be the one-the new Final Fantasy game that will actually make them fifteen years old again, playing Final Fantasy VII for the first time in 1997.
It can never be THAT good ever again.
AdmiralMaxtreme - "Quite possibly the greatest game ever made." What other game could get away with printing that on the back cover? There are arguments to be made for some games to be better than this one, sound arguments, but very few games have the ambition of Final Fantasy VII, and even fewer actually pull it off. As you were playing it, you got the sense not only that you were playing something truly special, but that the game knew it, too. That ambition, that sense of self-importance, is what makes this game feel so special. Sure, we could talk about how groundbreaking the story was, how Nobuo Uematsu's score significantly improves every second of the game, etc. etc., but with all that, it's just another great game. There are lots of great games out there. But Final Fantasy VII's ambition in trying to, and succeeding at, achieving earth-shattering greatness sets this game apart. This is a game with an ego. It makes other great games feel like accidents. It is also possible that I'm just crazy. After all, I do think that an HD remake of this game would completely strip it of its impact and not be nearly as evocative as the original... but I digress. In short, quite possibly the greatest game ever made, indeed.
No - It's the Final Fantasy that made RPGs in the West even more popular, I wouldn't feel right if I didn't place this game in my list. The game itself pretty much made you give your characters roles via the power of Materia and it was a very good game at the time I had played it. I need to make a note to myself one day to go back to it and replay it some more.
jetstorm4 - This is it, the big one. THE Final Fantasy VII. The juggernaut that began the popularity of RPGs in the late 90's. After this game, everyone wanted to cash in on the RPG, and from it came a lot of good games. Even Square tried to do it's best to surpass it. While some succeeded more than others, some... weren't as good. Nonetheless, Final Fantasy VII still holds up today. It's Materia system is fun to play around with, and it's combat is surprisingly fast-paced because of the Active Time Battle System. While
the game still remains popular, Square Enix did try to milk it's popularity too much later on. Hopefully that ends, because Final Fantasy VII deserves to be remembered on it's own merits.
Miller - Perhaps the only Final Fantasy-game that got me thinking about the outside world. Huh. Good job there, game.
Vanor Orion - What can I say that others haven't? I will say until I played this game I'd only played Mario RPG, and outside that didn't really have a firm grasp on ANY kind of role playing games or the genre. A friend of mine let me borrow FF7 and from there I played every other RPG on this list (and then some). I will reiterate what Pat said when he covered this game: It's NOT overrated. This game exploded the JRPG/RPG genre on consoles big time, and helped provide a fertile ground of interest so that other RPGs could prosper or at least be noticed. If I'd never played this, then I'd have never likely played or given a chance to Persona, Suikoden, or any of the RPGs I list on here. And I know I can't be alone in that sentiment. For that alone, this game merits respect, and its position on my list.
Rhete - The game changer. I don't think it's much of an exaggeration to say that when this came out, it was the best looking game ever made. Granted it did that with CG cutscenes and pre-rendered backgrounds, but Final Fantasy VII also depicted a massive, diverse, lived in world. The game spends so long in Midgar that it feels conceivable that that would be the setting for the entire game... then like 10 hours in you step out of the city, onto the world map, hear the overworld theme for the first time, and realize there is a whole world out there to see and explore. Holy crap, what a moment. What a game.
Crono Maniac - I can't think of many popular works as violently anti-capitalist as Final Fantasy VII, in any medium. And I certainly can't think of any game as radical that always lands near the top of GameFAQs "best games of all time" polls.
FreezingInferno - Again, as my blurbs keep saying, I came to this generation about 10 years late. Again I understand that at the time it came out pants must have been soiled. I don't think it sucks, though. It was a pretty good Final Fantasy. One of the last really good ones. End of an era here. A shame that Square piggybacked on their success by making all those awful goddamned spinoffs. Advent Children, Dirge of Cerberus, whatever else. Blech. Stop looting from poor FF7. It doesn't deserve it. It was good, now let it be.
#5 - Final Fantasy Tactics (PS1)
Chosen by: AdmiralMaxtreme, Carmichael Micaalus, FreezingInferno, No, Voodoo Groove, jetstorm4, Miller, Pitchfork, Rhete
jetstorm4 - Final Fantasy Tactics is a masterpiece. Some of the best character development, setting, story, political background, emotion, and battle mechanics of any game I've played. It all comes down to it's presentation. Add all this together with an amazing soundtrack and you get in my opinion, the best Final Fantasy game ever made.
AdmiralMaxtreme - With a couple tweaks here and there, this game would be absolutely bulletproof. Nothing else could touch it. But unfortunately, it's got some fairly significant flaws that drop it from "unstoppable god" to being merely "absolutely incredible". But I don't want to talk about that. I'd rather talk about what this game does right, which is just about everything. Graphically, it's beautiful, with a really original art style. The score was written by Ludwig van Mozart himself (source needed). The story was thiiiiiiis close to shattering every video game storytelling convention in existence (damn you, Zodiac Stones!). The characters are genuinely interesting and actually resemble real people with realistic motivations. But the battle system... The "tactics," if you will. I had at least as much fun, if not more, fiddling with my characters in the menu as I did actually fighting the battles. I played this game for 40 hours, then my save card got screwed up, so I immediately started over from the beginning and played for another 45, and never once did I think, "crap, now I have to do all that again." I thought, "SWEET! Now I get to do all that again!"
Carmichael Micaalus - The first of Final Fantasy's tactical games, and probably one of the hardest. Had a good mix of class choices, interesting story and plot, passable translation, and neat extra characters. While it wasn't without its problems, this game influenced many future Final Fantasy games.
FreezingInferno - Woo, Matsuno political machinations! Tactical RPG fun! A MOTHERFUDGING JOB SYSTEM! Archdemons based on astrological signs, lots of missions and twists and turns, TG Cid, Cloud Strife cameo, A ROBOT THAT SHOOTS LASERS OUT ITS EYES AT PEOPLE WITH SWORDS OH MY GOD THIS IS THE BEST GAME EVER YOU GUYS. Also the first game I played where you fight a god at the end. Though little did I know that Akitoshi Kawazu trumped it in 1989. Oops.
No - Final Fantasy Tactics was my first SRPG, I had no clue what to do with it at first. As I went along through, I found that the game was damn fun gameplay wise (even though it was a bit slow at times), the story was also told quite well. I enjoyed Ramza's heroic nature rather than a lot of RPG heroes being dark and brooding honestly.
Voodoo Groove - What can I say that Pitchfork hasn't in his gigantic writeup of this game? Probably nothing, but that won't stop me. A nuanced plot with a staggering amount of detail and worldbuilding if you look into it, applauded for its compelling anti-villains and stalwart hero (who, despite his integrity, is left with nothing but a clean conscience by the game's end). Akihiko Yoshida's art grabs me, being simultaneously fanciful, elegant and cute. I used to borrow my friend's player's guide and copy the drawings of different character classes. The job system is, to put it bluntly, the shit. This success of design has never been replicated by Square and I don't know why, even the game's own (unrelated) sequels come short of this. The only flaws I can easily point out are questionable translation, uneven difficulty and class imbalance, but if you're into the modding (or even just rom) scene you can get around one or more of these issues. That people are still working on this game is a testament to its greatness.
Miller - I don't even want to know how many hours I've sunk into this game. Despite having an excellent story and so many memorable twists and turns, the combat is what keeps drawing us in. Just adding this to the list makes me wonder wonder what party I should use for my next playthrough...
Rhete - When I first played Tactics, for whatever reason, I accidentally permanently kicked Agrias out of the party when she joined. I was so upset by this that I ended up kicking out every named character who joined my party from that point on, insistent on sticking with my party of random hired characters. This led to a very very difficult playthrough, that almost ended when a certain part of the game locked you into a one on one fight after a save point. Anyways, after beating the game, I went right into a second playthrough, got all the characters this time, including Cloud, did the optional dungeons, the works. All I can say is boy, Orlandeau pretty strong huh.
Pitchfork - God, I miss SquareSoft.
#4 - The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64)
Chosen by: AdmiralMaxtreme, Carmichael Micaalus, FreezingInferno, No, Voodoo Groove, jetstorm4, Zeloz, Rhete, Crono Maniac
Crono Maniac - Soul-enriching. It's a dreary, desolate story about grief and death, and yet it ultimately affirms the value of doing good in the face of oblivion.
AdmiralMaxtreme - I know many people who have played this game, and every single one of them either absolutely hates it or absolutely loves it. That just about sums up this game. If you can't stand the time gimmick, then this is not the game for you. Otherwise, strap the fuck in, because this game is about to blow you away. Parts of this game are somehow improvements over Ocarina of Time, which is a hell of an accomplishment, and the scene when you call the four giants to stop the moon from falling marks this game's place among the true elite.
Carmichael Micaalus - Take the engine for Ocarina of Time, make more content. You now have Majora's Mask. I played this on the Gamecube, and it really made me wish I had picked it up on the 64 'cause I had been missing out.
FreezingInferno - Of course. Ocarina Of Time was very good. Majora's Mask is divine. It takes the idea of time travel and crafts something that's bleak as hell. Bleak enough that four of the folks on the site talked about it for like three hours. It's that special kind of good. Ocarina Of Time is a good Zelda game. Majora's Mask is... I don't even know what it is. An experience. Something that drains you as you keep going through the cycles. Whatever it is, it's great, it's #1 for me, hell yeah go play it.
No - This Legend of Zelda's great due to the transforming masks, I really felt like they had changed up the formula with this game at the time. The game also had a decent amount of side activities to do, as well as the collecting of masks within the game. But overall, I enjoyed how alien the environment felt.
Voodoo Groove - Majora's Mask is the first Zelda game I ever owned and ever completed. Maybe it's because Ocarina of Time never grabbed my attention in the same way, or maybe it's because it wasn't as hyped up as its predecessor. Whatever the reason, I love Majora's Mask for its atmosphere and aesthetics. The music is so distinct, ranging from somber to unnerving to erratic. In places the color pallet is distinct as well, accented with eerie lighting effects. The dungeons are solid, though few in number, and topped with some darn good boss fights for the series, but where the game really shines is the areas between the dungeons. Seeing the wide cast of characters, exploring the areas around each dungeon, observing your actions and consequences... the focus is less "player versus dungeon/enemy" and more "how can I affect these people?". It's a game that has invited players to wax philosophical, or at least read into things, perhaps even moreso cause it's reusing and repurposing characters you're already familiar with. I hesitate to hype it up too much, because it's a lot to refer to a game as an "experience", but if you want a Zelda game that's not entirely like a Zelda game, Majora's Mask is there. And it is awesome.
Zeloz - At the time of this writing, I'm admittedly only halfway through the 3DS version. Normally, I'd only hold a game in such high regard after beating it, but it's really goddamn apparent by even the end of Snowhead Temple that this is a richly compelling game and a worthy sequel to Ocarina of Time. I mean, obtuse save system aside, it's almost certainly a much better game all around. There's a stronger sense of mood, the world's more compact and populated, there are oh so many things to do and secret nooks to find, and all of the little character interactions seem just so much more personal. Every complaint I had with Ocarina of Time, this one has just about fixed: no annoying platforming or obtusely designed dungeons (though I hear Great Bay's a doozy), and the mini-games and side quests aren't irritating for the most part! Hell, some are goddamn heart-wrenching. I'd probably hold it in as high of regard as others had I actually beaten it, but even now it's captured my attention in a deeply substantial way Ocarina never could.
Rhete - A harsh, unforgiving, dark yet mature take on Zelda. The themes Majora's Mask presents you with are uncomfortable, as is the constant time pressure gameplay, but it is a game absolutely worth pushing through and experiencing.
jetstorm4 - I've said this before, I'll say it again. Majora's Mask is a wonderful experience from beginning to end. I've talked
about it for 3+ hours over a podcast for crying out loud. I don't think it needs to be said again, but Majora's Mask leaves you
with a lot to think about. It's a well-crafted experience that stays with you long after playing, and leaves you maybe feeling better
about the things you've lost.
#3 - Super Mario 64 (N64)
Chosen by: sunburstbasser, Pixel_Crusher, AdmiralMaxtreme, Carmichael Micaalus, FreezingInferno, No, Voodoo Groove, jetstorm4, Zeloz, Miller, Rhete, Crono Maniac
Rhete - From the very beginning, 3D always felt like the end goal for gaming. From primitive vector based games like Battlezone, to Sega's sprite scaling arcade games, games were always trying to sell the illusion that you were in a 3D world. Heck, even the success of the PS1 showed how eager the public was for 3D gaming. Anyways, if every game that attempted 3D gaming before Mario 64 was a rocket, Mario 64 was the moon landing. The revelatory game changer that can arguably still be felt in the game industry to this day. In the same way Citizen Cane pioneered advances in cinematography and editing techniques, Super Mario 64 brought about a sea change with the introduction of a free floating camera the player could control. And it even introduced it in a cute, easy to understand way, with the opening of the game showing Lakitu holding a camera, and then the view changing to show that you're seeing what that camera sees. Like god damn that is brilliant.
sunburstbasser - The original "good" 3D platformer, the first collectathon, the first time Mario was voiced. The flat shading still looks pretty good today, and the game is still very playable despite not quite having figured out how to work the camera in a 3D game. Plenty of other games have done platforming better, even on the N64, but Mario 64 is an OK game.
Pixel_Crusher - My very first Mario game. Even today, this still feels quite immersive in a sense of scale and it has aged like a fine wine in every aspect.
AdmiralMaxtreme - I'm sure someone would have eventually solved the mystery of the 3D platformer, but Super Mario 64 still should get credit for actually being the one to do it. It should get credit for perfecting analog control and for creating a useful and intelligent camera system, and it should get credit for somehow doing all of these things simultaneously. But I think it deserves even more credit for making a 3D, open-world Mario game still feel like a Mario game. It didn't feel like something separate from what you'd come to expect from the traditional 2D Mario games, and it's not just a matter of having pipes and goombas. Just throwing those things into a 3D world isn't enough to give a game that "Mario" feeling. And honestly, I'm not really sure what it is that does it. Maybe that's why I'm not a game designer. All I know is that despite being different in just about every obvious way, Super Mario 64 somehow maintains the spirit of its predecessors.
Carmichael Micaalus - Mario 64. Any 3-D platformer that's good? Yeah, that's due to this game. If you've somehow never played it, there are I don't know how many ways to pick it up, pick one.
FreezingInferno - This should probably be higher. Then again, we run into the Goldeneye Problem. I didn't play this in 1996. I understand how it absolutely would have blown my goddamned mind in 1996, but in 2006 it just doesn't have quite the same impact. Of course, it still does have an impact. Fun, a little unpolished and lacking in a perfect camera, but it set a template and set the world on fire. Today, though? Give me Super Mario Galaxy. Thumbs-up to Mario 64 though.
No - For me, this was my first 3D game. When I laid eyes upon the N64, I knew I had to have this system for this game alone. The platforming of the game was fun as hell, not to mention having to fight Bowser inside of portraits of Peach's castle was an enjoyment that I couldn't really...put into words. Mario's moves reminded me of the stuff I had seen back in Donkey Kong '97, in that he was fairly acrobatic with his backflips. Some will say this game hasn't held up well, but for me, this game is timeless.
Voodoo Groove - Mario 64's main appeal to me is the degree of freedom you have over Mario's movement. Each level feels like a playground for you to jump around and explore, which is exactly what they were going for. It's an instance of the developers bringing a series into a new dimension in a very smart, deliberate way. The focus wasn't on ingenious level design, instead it was shifted to expand upon the explorative side of Mario. While at times a little clunky (thanks mainly to the camera), once you get a feel for him I think Mario controls better here than in any other 3D game in the series. A game I can always come back to, because the act of controlling the character simply feels good.
jetstorm4 - One of the big games, that's for sure. Growing up I remember spending hours upon hours trying to find everything to this game. All of the secrets stars, the caps, and even mastering the bosses over and over. While the camera control isn't great, I still think it's one of the best 3D platformers.
Zeloz - Having grown up on the Super Nintendo and it's brand of platformer, I just about hated Mario 64 when I tried it out on a friend's grandma's N64. Mario moved... weird. And punched for some reason. Also, what was with the life bar? Where are the mushrooms? The world map? How did I clip through that painting? Is this a secret? Aagh, nothing makes sense!
Nearly a decade later, I found myself playing the DS version a friend lent me. Oddly enough, this time it stuck with me. Yeah, the camera was finicky and moving with the D-Pad took a lot out of my thumb, but maneuvering felt good once you got the hang of it. The levels were also fairly unique, with different objectives and obstacles in each. Backtracking and hunting down missing stars was never a chore, and the game was often generous enough with lives to where my constant dying was hardly ever a problem. I didn't really have much of a problem with having different characters on hand, and the improved graphics were nice too. Not to mention, having the game portable really brightened up many a stressful workday.
Oh, but I'm supposed to be talking about the N64 version, aren't I? Well, I do have it on the Virtual Console, and while Mario still controls like he's covered in vaseline (I blame the GC controller's analog), I can safely say from the little I've played that much of the appeal of the DS version still shines in the N64 version. It's no Galaxy, but it sets a standard for 3D action games that would be later refined and polished. I can't very well grief it for being revolutionary.
Miller - The future for a nine-year old. Still a great game.
Crono Maniac - How the hell did Miyamoto nail 3D platforming on the very first try? It still plays well today, and it's refreshingly uncluttered compared to Sunshine or the Galaxy games.
#2 - Star Fox 64 (N64)
Chosen by: Pixel_Crusher, AdmiralMaxtreme, Carmichael Micaalus, FreezingInferno, No, Voodoo Groove, jetstorm4, Zeloz, Miller, Vanor Orion, Pitchfork, Rhete, Crono Maniac
Pixel_Crusher - Having not much of a knack for shooters as I do now, Star Fox 64 seemed to be what every shooter should have aspired to be when transitioning to the 3D realm. It was really that good, so good in fact that not only everybody wants a proper sequel of it (Star Fox Command doesn't count) but Platinum Games' Hideki Kamiya himself wants to be the one to make it.
Voodoo Groove - Star Fox 64 is just FUN. Arcadey fun. Quotable as hell (No lie, I can almost recite the game verbatim and I've beaten it maybe once in the past 4 years). This is a game I can sit down to casually play, then find myself stuck there an hour later. A fine-crafted experience that Nintendo hasn't been able (or tried, maybe) to replicate since.
jetstorm4 - The reason to get the N64. By far. The best Star Fox game. While I love the SNES Star Fox, I'll admit my taste in that is mostly nostalgia. This game stands above the N64 library. With multiple paths, vehicles, and challenges to meet, Star Fox 64 remains fun to play even after you've beaten it 50 times.
Zeloz - Single player or multiplayer, this game's just really damn fun. The game improves on just about everything StarFox on the SNES had to offer, using elements of, and it controls all the better on an analog controller. Nothing about this game, save maybe the graphics, seems to have aged badly. Though, now that I think about it, its 5th Gen 3D visuals and muddy textures lend it a certain, unreplicable charm; the game has one of the freakiest true forms to a final boss I've seen rendered in low-poly 3D, after all.
Vanor Orion - I got an N64 for this game. Only to find out when it came out of the box we lacked an R/F adapter to play it. Merry Christmas!!! That aside, this game was great when I got it, and I played the hell out of it nonstop. It is guilty of being easier compared to the original, and the music sure as hell can't hold a candle to the original, but everything else is excellent (except for the incessant chatter of your teammates, bring back the unintelligible banter please!!). The levels are huge and varied, there's plenty of hidden secrets and variety in how you get from Corneria to Venom, two different endings, medals to earn for your performance, the Landmaster and Blue Marine. This was definitely the high point of the series. Sadly, it's all been downhill since then. That said, as big of a Star Wars dork that I was back in the day, I will say that if Luke Skywalker had been given an Arwing by General Pepper himself at the start of the first film to fight the Empire with, well, let's just say Star Wars wouldn't need to be a trilogy.
Rhete - Unlike the other games at the top of this list, Star Fox 64 wasn't some industry juggernaut, forever changing the face of video games. It's just a bigger, better version of a SNES game, and that's OK! Star Fox 64 is just a damn fun, nearly perfect game. Even though a single playthrough is short, the game has a massive amount of replay value thanks to the path through the stages changing depending on what conditions you meet. The stages have more variety than the original thanks to the addition of all range mode and the landmaster tank (fuck that shitty water level though), and the voice acting is simply legendary. I played this game to death, getting all of the medals on expert mode.
Crono Maniac - One of a small handful of genuinely timeless Nintendo 64 games. It's certainly the best action game the system has to offer.
AdmiralMaxtreme - The game that launched a thousand memes. But aside from that, it's a genuinely fun and replayable rail shooter. For me, the replayability comes from trying to improve my score. This was long after score had become basically irrelevant/absent from video games, but they found a way to make it work. The score is also what provides the bulk of the challenge. Just completing the game isn't exactly difficult, but doing well enough to open up new paths to the other planets is much more challenging.
Carmichael Micaalus - Hey, remember Star Fox on the SNES? You thought that was fun, right? Here's a version that's a thousand times better. Now go fly into a star 'cause it's a shortcut to kick Andross in the balls.
FreezingInferno - Yeah, it's pretty good. Really good action, really good music, and some impressive boss fights. You can even play it perfect and get the medals and stuff! I like it, but I must confess that I hate fighting in All-Range mode. Especially against Star Wolf. I was never good at it and that's why this is so low on my list. My fault. Still good though!
No - Star Fox 64 was the first Star Fox game I owned, I loved the feeling of flying around in a space jet. I also enjoyed the fact that it was the first game featured with the Rumble Pack, they had some pretty humorous advertising going on with it at the time. For me, Star Fox was greatly replayable due to being...to the point with its pathways. It didn't have much fluff in it, just go forth and take down Andross once more!
Miller - This was as close as I got to ever realizing my dream of becoming an X-wing pilot (I didn't own Rogue Squadron).
Pitchfork - Another game I wish I could remember more clearly. I only rented in a few times, and haven't played it once in the seventeen or so years since I disconnected the N64 from the TV and hooked up the new PlayStation. But let's just call it the best N64 game I've played and move on, hm? (Odd: I'm predicting that either Ocarina of Time or Majora's Mask will top the SMPS gen 5 list, while Starfox 64 topped the site's "Best of N64" index a few years back. It's curious how the passage of time changes everything, including the past.)
#1 - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
Chosen by: sunburstbasser, Pixel_Crusher, AdmiralMaxtreme, Carmichael Micaalus, FreezingInferno, No, Voodoo Groove, jetstorm4, Zeloz, Miller, Vanor Orion, Rhete, Crono Maniac
AdmiralMaxtreme - This is the big one. Zelda games are always great, but this is no ordinary Zelda game. This is the full realization of the Zelda formula, and it was executed perfectly, which is why Zelda games have always, to some degree, been built around some sort of gimmick ever since. It's exactly what an adventure game should be. I don't even know where to begin in describing it, and I'm not even sure that I need to at all. It is a true legend among video games. One thing that I will mention is the music. It has one of the all-time great soundtracks. The mark of truly great music is that it can make you feel a certain way over and over again, no matter how many times you hear it, and the music in this game fits that description perfectly. There is no more pleasing a sound to my ears than the start screen music in Ocarina of Time: the piano chords fading in, the pounding of Epona's hooves, the ocarina melody floating above it all, and the perfect rising glissando when you hit start. Man, I need to go lie down...
Carmichael Micaalus - It's... it's Ocarina of Time, what else is there to say? It earned its place as a classic because it's awesome beyond compare.
No - What else can be said about this game that hasn't been said already? The game felt like quite the epic adventure, you went all over the place! It was an incredibly enjoyable adventure all the way through the game, there wasn't really a notable flaw with the game that I had honestly noticed.
Miller - I don't think I've ever longed for a game this much before. I probably spent more time flipping through magazines and reading about OOT than I played Majora's Mask. It meant a lot to me back then.
Vanor Orion - When I first saw the commercial for this, it was amazing. I couldn't wait. I finally got the game, and THANKFULLY a strategy guide, because without that fucking thing I'd have never gotten out of the damned Water Temple. I'm not gonna lie, this game hasn't aged well for me. I don't wanna ever play it again. That being said, this game did kick ass when I first played it, and it had an EPIC final battle with Ganon, especially compared to Link to the Past. The game definitely left an impression, and an impression on millions others like me, so for that, I can't write it off just because nostalgia goggles do nothing for me today.
Rhete - I mean, what's there to say? It's easily one of the best games of all time. A beautiful coming of age story that came right as the original NES audience was entering adolescence. Key memories: Being super confused at the lack of a jump button, being heartbroken by the way Saria stares at you when you leave, the sword fighting with lock on targeting being pretty much the best thing ever at the time, spending an entire Saturday figuring out the water temple, the entire finale with the surprise reveal of pig ganon, and eventually completing the game with 3 hearts. A masterpiece.
Crono Maniac - There's a lot to admire about Ocarina of Time, but what impresses me the most is its control of cinematic flare. The organ's crescendo as you ascend an eerie tower, echoing footsteps as you walk towards collapsed rubble, shadowy storm clouds, and the shadow of a demon's silhouette. These touches, which are present all throughout Ocarina, are what make the game still resonate today.
sunburstbasser - Link's first 3D outing, and still regarded by many as his best. I didn't play this game until after beating Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, and for me Ocarina of Time is a pretty good game that plays rather stiffly at times. It runs at a paltry 20 frames/second, making everything feel like it has more weight to it than is ideal. The characters that people love so much tend to annoy me, notably Sheik Zelda's ramblings and Saria's power of friendship spiel. I greatly prefer the Gamecube games because of how smooth they play and the characters, but I respect Ocarina for setting the foundation for 3D Zelda.
Pixel_Crusher - Pretty much like Mario 64, this here was my very first Zelda game. While it didn't make me feel as "free" as Mario 64 did, it did make me feel like I was part of a huge and memorable adventure. It's also one of the only Zelda games where I rarely had to resort to a walkthrough in order to get through the dungeons (except for that damned Water Temple), which I believe to be a testament on how well designed it was.
FreezingInferno - Yet again, I came to this too late. I have good memories, though. 2005, I bought it while I was at college. My N64 was at home, so I couldn't play until I went back for midterm break. While I was there, I cleared the first dungeon. I came back home two more times during that term, and each time I beat another dungeon. The anticipation was something else entirely, in a pre-Youtube world. Finally I just took the damn system back with me and blasted through the adult Link portion, and thought WOW. THIS GAME IS GOOD. It really was! It absolutely earns its praise.
Voodoo Groove - The first Zelda game I ever played, and even then most of the experience was secondhand. Maybe that's why I'm not quite as enamored with it as some other people are. Either way Ocarina of Time is a grand ol' time, even beyond its gameplay. Like Final Fantasy VII, it's kind of reached this status in peoples' minds as "THIS is what a Zelda game is". True or not, there is something about the game that I find endearing, primarily in its characters. The mystery of the Sheikah and the designs of the races and enemies are very cool, not to mention that this iteration of the princess goes into hiding and trains to become a fucking ninja. Seriously, while Link is sleeping for seven years, Zelda's busy becoming a ninja and does at least... one important thing. Years ago this would've been higher on my list, and it certainly has its share of flaws, but it's still a good game that captures my imagination to this day.
Zeloz - The extension of the Big List's submission deadline has allowed me to play this game, both the (GC emulated) N64 and 3DS Master Quest versions, in full. And oh my jesus, this is a brilliant game. Yeah, the overworld's a little too big and seemingly empty, some of the optional side stuff isn't fun at all, the Water and Shadow temples (and the Master Quest Spirit temple) are a tad irritating, and aiming is a bitch without the N64's unique analog stick or the 3DS's motion sensor, but it's hard to complain outside of that. The puzzles are just as satisfying as the combat, the NPCs are genuinely interesting to interact with, and the thing even has some surprisingly mysterious and dark undertones outside of the main storyline stuff. Nintendo set out to bring Link's adventures in Hyrule into full 3D, and this game did that better than anyone could have imagined. Actually, it did more than that; it pretty much set the standard for future 3D hack-and slashers, especially with regards to enemy targeting and dungeon design. It's a game with a lot of good ideas that works on damn near every level. I can scarcely think of another game that made me want to 100% clear twice, back-to-back. Goddamn, even now I still wanna play this game!
jetstorm4 - This is it, the big one. The one everyone calls "Greatest Game of All Time". Do I agree? Well, it is probably the most influential in 3D exploration at least. No matter what I try to say though, I love this game. I cannot count how many times I've played it through again and again. It saddens me to say we live in a time where people who first play Video Games probably won't play
this game at all. It really does deserve the praise it gets.