#10 Grandia II
Chosen by: Pixel Crusher, jetstorm4, Voodoo Groove, Polly, Rhete, Dr. No, Crono Maniac
Pixel Crusher - While it was nowhere as great as the first game, it still had a fantastic battle system and its darker tone provided a very distinct experience from its predecessor.
jetstorm4 - Of the Game Arts RPGs, this one seems to be the most popular and well-recieved. While it's not my favorite from them (I prefer Lunar 2 myself), I cannot deny it's a spectacle of an RPG. Play the Dreamcast verison if you can though, PS2 version is pretty rough (although I hear the new PC port is great).
Voodoo Groove - It took me a while to get around to playing it, and I regret that I waited so long. The story, voice acting and characters are... so bad (if you're into it I'm sorry but that's just, like, my opinion), but the combat and character customization systems are among the best I've ever experienced. I'm a really big fan of all the ways it let's you upgrade different spells and passive bonuses, and then swap those between your characters. The battles encourage you to manage your big damage dealing capabilities against the need to slow your enemies down, which requires a bit of finesse, at least until you have a 4-person party. At that point the game becomes much easier, but its still a blast.
Polly - While its story and characters may be simple and tropey, there's still an amazing element of wonder and joy as you traverse Grandia II's large world and smash things up proper with its top-notch battle system.
Rhete - I remember Polly telling me this game was good a loooooooong time ago. She wasn't wrong! Also Millenia is my wifey.
Dr. No - Like one of the characters in the game would say, it's deep fried JRPG goodness. The story was pretty cliche, but the characters were enjoyable enough that it didn't really matter that the story wasn't really original. Plus the awesome combat system led it to be a good enough experience that I just had to keep on playing it till I couldn't play it anymore.
Crono Maniac - I blazed through this game in four or five days and had an absolute blast. I love all the little episodic stories in the first half, and the dark turns later on in the story are really engaging.
#9 Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3
Chosen by: Bpwner, jetstorm4, Polly, Freezing Inferno, Zeloz, Dr. No
Bpwner - The game so nice, they released it thrice! The modern Personae are definitely some of the longest games you can pick up, but it's rewarding to see the kinds of all-powerful fusions you can pull off by the end game, just for the CPU to beg for mercy for a change. The original PS2 release has the distinction of being the game that introduced me to the Shin Megami Tensei franchise.
jetstorm4 - Persona 3 has the honor of being the game I picked out to be the first SMT game I would experience. While Persona 4 is the better experience, I prefer the more SMT like story Persona 3 provides. The story and scope of Persona 3 is quite a web, but one that is rewarding to piece through. I also love the pressure of Tartarus- the massive dungeon the game has you tackle. Having to manage your party's stamina as you climb the tower through the game is tense- especially in the later floors where enemies become much more dangerous. Persona 3 is still one of my favorite SMT games, and is the one I recommend the most to newcomers. FES is cool too.
Polly - This is where most folks ended up getting on the Shin Megami Tensei/Persona train. It may have some niggling flaws with its battle system and there's a bit too much padding, but at the time there was literally nothing like it.
Freezing Inferno - Persona 3 is when this sub-series really got super big. At least I think so. I don't remember everyone giving a huge hoot about like, Innocent Sin. What else is there to say? It's a very good dating sim/high school sim/dungeon crawler with rad music. Mitsuru is best girl. I will fight you on this.
Zeloz - While I generally prefer P4 in most regards, I still prefer P3's somber mood and theme over P4's. Which is really saying something, considering I'm not all that crazy for games that remind us of our own inevitable mortality.
Dr. No - Persona 3 was the first persona game I really got into, but I really enjoyed this spinoff of the SMT series. What it did pretty well was that it gave you a way to relax or speak to characters in ways that kept you going to fully get their stories. In addition, the game's battle system was pretty nice, I liked that the AI did a pretty decent job of fighting the enemies themselves.
#8 Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Chosen by: Bpwner, Vanor Orion, Polly, Freezing Inferno, Dr. No, Crono Maniac
Bpwner - The first MGS game which, uncolored by nostalgia, feels like the gameplay was finally crafting a complete world rather than a series of almost minigame-like action setpieces loosely connected by stealth segments. While off-the-rails batshit insane is the status quo for the franchise now, it was easy to get sucked in by 3's emotional storyline and let the "what the fuck did I just play" realizations hit you after the credits roll.
Vanor Orion - I like the second game, but this one absolutely crushes it, and also stands the test of time a bit better as its own self-contained game, and as far as origin stories go, is a pretty good prequel about how Big Boss became the Big Boss of badasses. It's also one of the most wince-inducing pieces of media I've ever experienced since reading Stephen King's Misery. Gameplay wise, this game stomps all over the prior two games. You are given more leeway on how to approach and deal with each section of the game, and it's telling that me and several my friends played the game simultaneously, and we all played it way differently, with me sneaking and sniping people from a distance, another just rushing enemies and flinging them around with CQC, and yet another just going in guns blazing like fucking Commando and killing everything like Rambo. Some people didn't like this newfound open-endedness. These people are probably no fun at parties.
The story itself is pretty great, though I was always miffed that we didn't learn more about the Cobra Unit, but Volgin is a great villain, and there's lots of liberties taken with history yet still adhering to just enough fact to make it more or less grounded. The last few hours of the game are all spectacle with the chase on the Shagohod....and it's fucking glorious. Factor in all the awesome hidden things, secrets, and the addition of MG and MG2, and a hilarious gag reel and you have an AWESOME package for just 20 DOOLARS at the time it came out.
Polly - While the game's mechanics feel a bit too ambitious at times (OH MY GOD those healing and camo menus), Metal Gear Solid 3 is an emotional rollercoaster and a hell of an origin story. I am not the least bit ashamed to say the ending gut punched me and left me feeling numb for days. Even on repeat visits, it still has impact.
Freezing Inferno - I'd rate it higher on my own personal list if I'd played more than an hour, I can tell you that for sure. That said, it was a damn good hour and it also has the MSX games on it. Plus it's a masterpiece anyways so, on the list it goes.
Dr. No - Snake Eater was a damn fine addition to the Metal Gear series, I really enjoyed it when they added in the camo system. The story was one of the best told in the Metal Gear series as far as I was concerned because it felt like a normal spy story gone horribly wrong.
Crono Maniac - There're so many different ways to play this game! As a kid I'd have fun just hanging out in the same areas, poking around, figuring out all the fun little ways I could interact with the environment and its enemies.
#7 Tales of Symphonia
Chosen by: Pauncho Smith, Pixel Crusher, jetstorm4, Carmichael Micaalus, Freezing Inferno, Rhete
Carmichael Micaalus - First Tales game I played, pretty dark story for how bright and cheerful most of the game looked. Probably one of the first games I played that effectively punished you for doing the right thing (not that you had a choice in the matter) real early in the game. The combat system was excellent and the AI of your party was actually pretty decent, from what I recall.
Pauncho Smith - For those who were both fans of JRPGs and Nintendo consoles, the 5th and 6th Generations were abject nightmares. Upon the dissolution of Nintendo's relationship with Sony, it seemed as if JRPGs had migrated to greener pastures on Sony's brand of consoles. Final Fantasy VII burst open the floodgates for the Playstation, and the N64 was left with Paper Mario, Ogre Battle 64, and barely anything else worthwhile. The Gamecube fared marginally better, with entries from the Paper Mario and Fire Emblem series, a Skies of Arcadia port, two Baten Kaitos games, and Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (PS2 still had all the mainline games for their greedy little selves). The one JRPG that stood above them all for the little cube that could however, was Tales of Symphonia.
This was something else. The combat system was fast, frantic, and satisfying to master, and also it allowed you to get strategic by assigning actions to party members on the field. The game also shines in the voice-acting performances; nearly every key character comes across as authentic and likeable. Graphically, it holds up even today, as the game got the most out of its cel-shaded approach to visuals. The plot starts out as a fairly ho-hum affair, but the twists and turns are able to keep you hooked for the duration of this 60-70 hour adventure. Just a shame that the recent PC port of this one turned out to be such an disaster.
Pixel Crusher - The game that not only turned me into a Tales fanboy, but into a JRPG lover as well. Gameplay-wise, it hasn't aged as gracefully as its successors, but it still shines brightly for its world and characters, so much so that you won't even care in the slightest for how many typical anime and RPG cliches it manages to cram up in one go. Easily one of the most memorable JRPGs in a long time.
jetstorm4 - My introduction to what's become one of my favorite RPG series, Tales of Symphonia is a blast from begining to end. A fun (4 player!) battle system focused on combos and beating enemies quickly makes getting to the fighty bits exciting. A great game to play with friends as well, cooperating to play through a long, but great journey.
Freezing Inferno - I have never actually beaten this, but holy fuck if this wasn't a phenomenon among my friends. An RPG you can play with your pals! Holy shit! Let's all beat it together! I got to be Genis, the offensive magic user, and that put me on the path to my preferred role as a support player. Because doing the job yourself is hard and I prefer helping someone else do the job better via buffs and spells n shit. A great Tales game, but not one I ever beat because my friends got distracted with a different game.
Rhete - A great, hella long JRPG with a really "unique" (because it's the only Tales game I've ever played) battle system. Loved the characters, the twists, and the little girl with a giant axe.
#6 Shadow of the Colossus
Chosen by: Pauncho Smith, Voodoo Groove, Polly, Rhete, Crono Maniac
Pauncho Smith - It's utterly impossible for me to truly add any kind of new take or perspective to Shadow of the Colossus. Anything and everything that could be written about the game has already been written. I largely concur with the endless superlatives that have heaved on Shadow of the Colossus: stunning art design, fantastic soundtrack, emotionally moving. And then the Colossi themselves. I'll never forget my first encounter with one of these creatures; I was slowly making my way to where my sword was directing me to go. As I got closer, I could hear and feel the tremors that accompanied each step that Colossus took. It was breathtaking when I finally laid eyes upon it. Then I had to figure out what I was even supposed to do to have a chance of taking it down. Once this was accomplished, the sorrowful stings of "End of the Battle" started to play, only then did the gravity of what I had embarked upon sink in.
This grim sequence played itself out fifteen more times. The Colossi would fly high into the sky and dive beneath the depths of land and water to evade me. Some became far more aggressive and would bring the fight to me in order to survive. Between battles, I had nothing in the way of company, save for my horse, the sprawling, open scenery, and my own thoughts. I asked myself if all of this was truly worth it. As the quest came to a close, and I endured the trials presented by the final encounter; as I dodged every shot and climbed up the body of my massive adversary, as I drove my sword in for the final blow, I was relieved. Exhausted. Conflicted. Never before had I made it to the end of a game, having it take such an emotional toll on me, so drained and numb. If that isn't the perfect way to leave a lasting impression, then I can't even fathom what is.
Voodoo Groove - A lot's been said about this game, so I'll just reiterate; amazing aesthetics, intriguing subdued story, thrilling gameplay. Yes, somehow this game induces thrills in me, which I have to say is not something that happens often. Shadow of the Colossus is a unique and beautiful work, and while it has occassional weird controls and frustrating moments, it's a game I 100% encourage everyone to experience.
Polly - This is a game that is simply elegant, top to bottom. The colossi feel like worlds of their own and the story is simply marvleous, even if it may be a tad predictable.
Rhete - One of the most unique games I've ever played, Shadow of the Colossus is basically a boss rush puzzle game, as figuring out how to take down a boss is most of the challenge, but it's still very satisfying to do so. Now why has no one made anything like this game since?
Crono Maniac - One of the medium's handful of genuine great tragedies. Wanderer poisons his body and slaughters beautiful creatures on his quest. The only way to stop him from doing so is to turn the game off, to quit playing. As long as you're guiding Wanderer, he will never quit, it's not something he's capable of. That steadfast determination leads to the game's ugly, inevitable, ever-so-slightly hopeful, and unforgettable conclusion.
#5 Super Smash Bros. Melee
Chosen by: Pauncho Smith, Pixel Crusher, Voodoo Groove, Vanor Orion, Freezing Inferno, Zeloz
Freezing Inferno - This game is important to me. This was THE game I played with my friends between 2003 and 2008. Five years, and this was OUR game that we did. The tradition continued and continues to this day, and we played through Brawl and keep playing the Wii U game whenever we're all together in summertime or during Christmas. This is basically where it became our thing, though. Oh, we played Smash 64 sporadically, sure. Melee, though, was where it was at. It was here that I got rolled every day by Sheik. Here that I began tinkering with Mr. Game and Watch and started getting good. Here where I started getting goodish at Smash, period, and that's a process that's still ongoing today. I doubt I'd enjoy going BACK to Melee, like so many pro Smashing prudes seem to prefer, but there's no doubt that it is a game that defined my friendship with three dorks, and that's incredibly important to me.
Pauncho Smith - The quintessential launch title, the one "killer app", and the game that got millions of non-Japanese players to bleat out in unison, "Who the fuck is Marth?". Admittedly, I had neither the skill nor the self-control to subject myself to competitive head-to-head matches with other players (because people are mean and I hate them and I probably would've killed my siblings and other family members years ago), so I charged myself with the task of unlocking every last hidden character and battle arena in the game (1 K.O. bottomless diving for hours on end mostly).
Even if you're too much of a coward to play the game with other humans (as you're supposed to), there's plenty of other content to keep you busy. Classic, Adventure, and All-Star Modes make up the lion's share of the single-player experience, and the Home Run Contests and Target Tests are nifty little diversions. Just playing with each character and getting familiar with their respective move set is a blast in itself (Peach's exploding ass attack amuses me to no end). Melee set the standard by which all mascot-party-kinda-but-not-quite-fighting titles are judged by.
Pixel Crusher - To me, summer vacations were all about going to all sorts of beaches, eating luxurious ice creams and playing this game. Trust me, the unhealthy amount of time I've spent playing this goes on to show on how great it is.
Voodoo Groove - Astounding the day it came out, astounding to this day. The hype when it came out was massive, it was THE reason to own a Gamecube. The leap forward from Smash 64 was truly impressive, heck the sheer quantity of additional characters, stages and modes was unbelievable. On top of its casual appeal, Melee is an incredibly tight, rewarding fighting game (these two things are not mutually exclusive). It's no mistake that it's stayed in the competetive scene after all these years; there's never been anything like it, and nowadays it's even inspiring a new genre of platform-focused indie fighters. Once you've got a handle on your movement options and attack properties, the stage is your playground to outmaneuver, outwit and outplay your opponent. It might very well be the most satisfying competitive game I've played.
Vanor Orion - Probably the best and most fun fighting game I've ever played. Yes, it's a fucking fighting game. Some fighting game people try to say it isn't but it is. It's not your typical fighting game, but it's a fighting game nonetheless. The N64 version of the game laid a very solid foundation, which Melee went above and beyond expanding upon. The combat is just fast and reflexive enough to keep matches fast-paced and exciting but not so much so that you can't keep up with the action. Of course, in four-player matches with items on, chaos is going to erupt whether you like it or not. The roster was great, and had a fair amount of variety. There was a lot of nuance to the gameplay but you didn't really need to grasp any of that if you just wanted to dive in and kill about 30 minutes trying to use a baseball bat to send your friend sailing into escape velocity offscreen. Personally, I wasn't the best, but I always enjoyed being that annoying asshole that would choose Samus and spam missiles constantly like that annoying sibling who uses a stick to poke at your face constantly. I personally still think this is the best of the series and is one of the finest games Nintendo has ever made. The game is chock full of content and hidden stuff, so it does a pretty good job of being representative of everything that made Nintendo great back in the day.
Zeloz - Truly, this was the "Halo" of the GameCube. Anyone who had the system would always, with very few exceptions, have this game.
The fighting game was nice, but what I really liked about this game were the trophies, the figurines representing different obscure aspects of Nintendo's console history up to that point. I'm sure none of my friends cared that I had played one of the games Ayumi Tachibana was in, or knew what the hell a "Disk-kun" was. It didn't matter that I mained Ness and Marth simply because I was a fan of their games, but it certainly contributed to my liking of this game.
#4 The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Chosen by: Pauncho Smith, jetstorm4, Voodoo Groove, Carmichael Micaalus,
Freezing Inferno, Rhete, Dr. No, Crono Maniac
Pauncho Smith - I can recall vividly the initial online reactions the revealing of the new Zelda title's art style. Many an Internet commenter took to frothing at the mouth at the drastic departure from the look of Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. Words like "childish" and "cartoony" were thrown around,and the grown-up badass swordsman from the N64 games was nowhere to be found. The vitriol eventually subsided , and Wind Waker proved it could hang with the rest of the series in its own right.
I've tended to have mixed feelings on this game. As expected, it's a rather pretty-looking game (as were a lot of the important 1st Party titles), the world and dungeons are vast, and the combat has a fluidity that was lacking to this point. But while the sea-faring nature of the game provided a nice change of pace, sailing the ocean blue proved to be cumbersome and painfully tedious, especially mid-game with a number of quests. It was a bummer to have such a lousy aspect make up such a large part of the game. That being said, it's worth playing to the end, for the revelations pertaining to the fate of Hyrule, and of course, the shockingly brutal conclusion to the final boss encounter.
jetstorm4 - I was behind this game since the beginning- something just appeals to me with Wind Waker's art style and setting. This game is about exploring, while the ocean is quite empty, finding an island on the horizon is rewarding as ever- especially when it's something secret. While the game itself is pretty standard for Zelda structure- it has one of the best endings I have seen from a videogame and, to me, a sympathetic villain- something I don't usually see out of a Ganondorf.
Voodoo Groove - Wind Waker still looks amazing after all these years. The aesthetics do this game a great service, making it an unforgettable journey and helping to mask some of its downfalls. I haven't played it recently enough to say if the rest of it has aged as well, but I still think the adventure has a lot to offer.
Carmichael Micaalus - Ah, I remember all the bitching and moaning about the art style when this game was announced. But like most Zelda games, this one turned out to be pretty good. It had a nice feeling of exploration, and an interesting story built off of a previous Link's failure to defeat Ganon.
Freezing Inferno - People seriously complained about the art style? Like, really? Is that a thing that happened? God. People. Wind Waker is cute and good and fun. Except for the Triforce Hunt, but I hear they fixed that in the Wii U remake. Maybe it could have used another dungeon, too. I didn't even mind the sailing! I'm from an island! I LOVE BOATS N SHIT! LEMME SAIL THE HIGH SEAS ON MY TALKIN' BOAT YO!
Rhete - Even the worst 3D Zelda is still pretty good. I kid, I kid, I haven't played Skyward Sword. I really just sailing around and exploring, finding all the islands or whatever random nonsense could happen on the open sea. There are better open world exploration games now, but for me this was the first. Oh and yeah the last boss is AMAZING.
Dr. No - When Wind Waker was first announced a lot of people derided it for its graphical style, but it made the game a lot more stylish then if they had gone with a more realistic look. The game itself was a damn fine experience on the seas and the story was told fairly well in this Zelda game.
Crono Maniac - It's hard not to be endeared to a game when it nails its very beginning and its very end, no matter what faults lie in the middle. "I coveted that wind, I suppose."
#3 Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4
Chosen by: Pauncho Smith, Pixel Crusher, Bpwner, jetstorm4,
Vanor Orion, Polly, Zeloz, Crono Maniac
Pauncho Smith - Time is a precious commodity. It can be exceedingly rare, and it never seems to be on your side. This was my mindset for the lion's share of my Persona 4 experience. "Let's see, I have to grind out a few more levels and snag the right Persona to have the abilities to take down this stupidly hard boss. But goddammit, I promised that I'd make it to both soccer practice and drama club. Oh fuck, I have to make time to go out with Yukiko, take Nanako to Junes, get to my tutoring job, and I STILL need to cram for that exam!" Who knew that being a main character could be so completely and utterly exhausting? I suppose those are the breaks when everyone is programed with the insatiable urge to jump on your dick.
There are so many elements of Persona 4 that are grappling for your attention. The characters are well-acted and impeccably written. You end up caring about every facet of their lives, and it feels like such a loss when you miss out on an opportunity to raise your Social Link. The soundtrack is maddeningly catchy, and often makes it into my cardio routines. The Persona system is deep, and allows you to craft an endless variety of different move sets. Did I mention that the characters are bloody loveable? There seriously isn't anyone who has a speaking part who doesn't end up stealing the show in some form or fashion. Although considering the amount of remakes and spin-offs and other media that resulted from Persona 4, maybe it's time Atlus tried given this particular cash cow a rest.
Pixel Crusher - In this JRPG with dating sim elements, I accidentally got two girlfriends and they never found out that I was dating both of them. This is probably more than I'll ever manage to accomplish in real life...
Bpwner - I have two standout memories of Persona 4. One is staying up all night playing until daybreak, when I started hearing voices coming from outside the house, making me think I was finally losing my mind. That was the day I found out that the house I was living in at the time was on the corner of a school bus stop. The other is abandoning my second playthrough after a rather lengthy dungeon crawling session where I forgot to save before botching a fusion I needed to make an Izanagi-no-Okami. Anyway, Persona 4 cleans up some of the more bullcrappy parts of Persona 3 and introduces a memorable cast of characters, making for a good entry point into the series.
jetstorm4 - I really don't need to say much. This is the game that put Persona into full popularity in the US and for good reason. It fixes the mechanics of the already excellent Persona 3 and creates a suspensful story full of excellent characters and a different setting than usual- a rural town economically impacted by a megacorporation. Reminded me of my time growing up in Texas for some reason. I also cried at some point in this game- you know where.
Vanor Orion - I could never finish Persona 3 despite how interesting it seemed to me. There was just too many swathes of time where nothing interesting happened in the game. Persona 4 fixed this by having both a much more interesting, event-filled story, and by having a lot more memorable, interesting and entertaining characters who played off each other really well. The gameplay was perfected, and the game being more of a murder-mystery rather than a blatant "save the world" story made it very unique. The game ultimately ends as a coming of age story with its bittersweet ending of life moving on but the bonds of friendship forged during the game being eternal.
Polly - This is where folks REEEEEALLY got on the Shin Megami Tensei/Persona train, and for good reason. Persona 4 oozes style, charmisma, and confidence in a way that not many games do.
Zeloz - Both P3 and 4 games work really well as standalone titles, but they're even better complimenting each other. However, and this really just boils down to how fondly I remember my time with it, Persona 4 very narrowly ekes its way above its formidable predecessor, with a fairer battle system and some pretty creative dungeons to explore. Something about Inaba and its denizens also strikes me as more cozy than the P3 equivalent.
Crono Maniac - A murder-mystery about truths both grand and personal. It's one of the most intimate games ever, introducing you to an immediately endearing cast and examining every layer of their psyches.
#2 Resident Evil 4
Chosen by: Pauncho Smith, Pixel Crusher, Bpwner, Vanor Orion,
Polly, Freezing Inferno, Rhete, Dr. No
Vanor Orion - If there was ever a game like Symphony of the Night in that I have continued to play the hell out of it since it's initial release for this generation of games....this would be it. I've played damned-near every version of this game, from the original Game Cube game, all the way to the PC HD Remaster. By the time this game had come out, the RE series had started to become stale. RE0 was pretty as hell and had some neat ideas, but it was clear that they were taking too many trips to the existing well. It was time to start digging up a new well for new ideas.
RE4 was jaw-dropping. The demo kicked ass, but the final product was even more amazing. They did the smart thing which was kill Umbrella off screen and then set the tone of the game immediately by taking everything you knew and threw it out the window. The game did a great job of keeping you on your toes, and just as you were starting to get comfortable, the game threw a curveball and kept scaring your ass with surprising new horrific shit. The game was INCREDIBLY atmospheric, especially when night arrived. The changes to combat were great, with a button mapped specifically for your knife and the ability to use it to set enemies up for contextual attacks making it MUCH more useful than in prior games. You had a wonderful arsenal of weapons at your disposal to dispatch your foes, which was oh-so-satisfying. Also satisfying was the game's difficulty, and the ease of which you had when escorting the ballistics attached to the President's annoying daughter which actually made the game more intense, as opposed to Silent Hill 4 where it made the game more aggravating. The return of Ada was great and is visually one of the most appealing things about the game outside of her being a total badass. Every boss fight in the game was memorable as hell and super intense. Even the QTEs weren't that bad and added to the suspense of the game. What made this great was how it was balanced out by the game's story not taking itself that seriously, which was much appreciated, and something that 5 and 6 woefully abandoned for the most part. This is just one of the most satisfying games I've ever played, and I keep playing it to this day because it's that damned good, and I love it that much.
Pauncho Smith - The big one. The game changer. The title that simultaneously lit a fire under the ass of the series, and damn near burnt it to death. Resident Evil 4 did away zombies and fixed camera angles, and cooked up something far more dynamic and intense. The enemies were far more ruthless and cunning this time around. The Ganado would pursue you relentlessly whilst armed to the gills with virtually every kind of weapon imaginable. Hell, one of the most frightening moments occurs early in the game when you're introduced to the chainsaw-wielding Dr. Salvador for the very first time (and likely end up on the receiving end of the first of many insta-kills this game has to offer). The monsters have also gotten bigger, with deep-water monsters and literal giants primed and ready to obliterate you if hesitate for even a second.
As I played though this game for the very first time, my thoughts seldom veered from "What the fuck is next?". Everything was brand new, so anything and everything was possible, and even then I was constantly caught off-guard with what RE 4 threw at me. So many new creatures, locations, shoot-outs, vehicle sections, QUICK TIME EVENTS, it was exhausting just to keep up with the madness. With RE 4 being such a landmark game, Capcom obviously tried to replicate it in subsequent games, with mixed results. RE 5 was a commercial success (if a bit staid) and RE 6 was an unhinged, off-rails clusterfuck. It could be argued that RE 4 is where the series started to lose those characteristics that made it so unique in the first place, but its quality and its far-reaching influence are too great to be ignored.
Pixel Crusher - After a long and troubled cycle of development, Shinji Mikami re-invented the series big time with this one and I can say that the wait was totally worth it. The fact that quick-time events and shoulder camera perspective became staples in gaming goes on to show how much of an impact this entry had in terms of innovation.
Bpwner - Ooooooh, guns guns guns GUNS! The first Resident Evil I played for more than five minutes also happens to be an absolute blast. Taking the series out of its B-movie roots and amping it up to resemble an overbudget Tom Cruise/Will Smith vehicle where you fight creatures from John Carpenter's The Thing was enough to sway me for at least one game. "The president's daughter has been kidnapped... and it's up to us."
Polly - I lost an entire month of my life to this game when it came out. I couldn't put it down. I HAD to do everything. I wanted every collectable, every weapon maxed out, to have beaten the game in every way possible. While this may be the game where Resident Evil shed its survival horror roots, taken on its own, it's just a must-have for anyone who loves ridiculous non-stop action and corny dialog.
Freezing Inferno - Well, it's very good, isn't it? I did not ever clear it when I finally got around to it, but I got far. Holy goddamn if it didn't blow our minds when it dropped though. I remember watching the opening cutscene with friends, expecting it to be some pre-rendered shit. NOPE. IN-GAME, MOTHERFUCKER. You get to shoot shit and shoot it good. My only gripe with it, aside from not being able to beat it because I'm a bad ammo conserver, is that it ended our Tales of Symphonia group playthrough because this shit was all anyone wanted to play. That's personal though, and it's a masterpiece that I should go back to one day.
Rhete - This game literally changed how cameras in third person action games work. Aside from that, it's a great reinvention of the series with just the right balance of tension, horror, corny humor, and over the top action. Easily the best in the series.
Dr. No - Resident Evil 4 is a perfect example of streamlining done right. The controls felt a lot smoother than other RE games in the past, add to that the amount of camp and puns in the game made this RE a damn fun and humorous experience as far as I was concerned.
#1 Metroid Prime
Chosen by: Pixel Crusher, jetstorm4, Carmichael Micaalus, Vanor Orion,
Polly, Freezing Inferno, Zeloz, Rhete, Dr. No, Crono Maniac
Pixel Crusher - Do you love Super Metroid? Great. Now imagine it in 3D. You're welcome.
jetstorm4 - Do you like Super Metroid? How about in 3D? Yeah. I've never been great at first person viewpoints, however Metroid Prime just clicks with me control-wise- locking on was a great idea. Metroid Prime takes a similar structure to Super Metroid and makes a wonderful game to play through. Still one I go back to when it comes to Metroid.
Carmichael Micaalus - The first of the FPS Metroid games, this game did a lot of stuff, and did it right. All of the story and lore elements came from scanning things, all of which could be read or ignored if you so desired.
Vanor Orion - I so wanted a sequel to Super Metroid. Both Fusion and Prime came out around the same time and I got the latter and borrowed the former from a friend....and was shocked when I wound up falling in love with Metroid Prime and found myself feeling tepid on Fusion. God, this might be one of the most immersive games Nintend-er, I'm sorry, Retro has ever made. The game blew my mind with how pretty it was, with how damned good the music was, with the astonishing attention to detail. The game was fairly challenging, the enemies were varied and scary, especially the further into the game you explored, and Metroid Prime itself was a downright creepy final boss, perhaps the most creepy in the entire series. Actually, downright Lovecraftian, in a way. This was definitely one of those handful of Game Cube games you could shove in someone's face and be all "Yeah, you got your Final Fantasy X, but I got THIS!" Just scanning stuff alone could take up a lot of your time and keep you interested in the game's lore for hours....or you could just ignore it....something CERTAIN developers at Nintendo need to fucking have beat into their skulls sometime when it comes to their other games.
Polly - Ask anybody. I wanted to hate this game so much. I was so very resistant to the idea of 3D Metroid, and I really don't even know why. When I finally got around to playing it, I got a game that's almost as amazing as Super Metroid.
Freezing Inferno - Wow, this ended up high. It deserves it, though, because it's a masterpiece, like Super Metroid before it. It must have sounded ridiculous at the time. FIRST PERSON SHOOTAN METROID? WHAAAAT? Oops, turns out that Retro Studios kind of understood what made Metroid a goddamned masterpiece and pumped the damn game full of ambiance and spookiness. That, plus some tricky visor bullshit, really made you feel like you were wandering the dank dark caverns of an alien planet. The other Prime games were neat, but Prime the first nails the atmosphere part perfectly and is all the better for it.
Zeloz - I think, if not for that forced backtracking bit with the relics near the end, I might've liked this game more than Super Metroid. As is, though, it's still one of the best metroidv- er, explorational platformers I've played. I'd really be interested in seeing more modern games ape this game's style than try to reinvent Super Metroid for the hundredth billionth time. The amount of effort placed in creating memorable and distinct areas with discernable atmosphere in a first-person game is awesome, and very much worth emulating.
Rhete - This game was actually way too difficult for me when I first got it, Thardus stopped my original playthrough. I went back much later and finished the game and absolutely loved it. On the difficulty though, my god that last trio of Omega Pirate, Meta Ridley and Metroid Prime is intense as all hell.
Dr. No - A lot of people were skeptical of whether or not Metroid could make it in 3D, but not I. I was looking forward to it heavily the first day it was announced. When I managed to actually play it, it lived up to my expectations a lot. What I really enjoyed about MP in addition to the combat was that they made exploring feel pretty reward with all details and the lore of the planet you can find out on your own, so it did a good job in making you feel like an actual hunter trying to get use to the environment around them.
Crono Maniac - I actually hated this game my first time through. It's so different tonally from its 2D predecessors -- Tallon IV is more beautiful than terrifying, and exploring the planet is more meditative than claustrophobic. A game like Super Metroid, while open, is still full of momentum and drama. In contrast Prime is full of backtracking and runs three or four times as long.
It clicked once I realized Metroid Prime wasn't trying to be like Super Metroid. It's its own story, one that has more in common with Nausicaa than Aliens. Ultimately, Samus isn't there to survive Tallon IV. She's there to protect it.