Saturday, September 3, 2016

My Top 115 Favorite Video Games (115-111)

I regret to inform you that The Stock Pot Inn will be closing its doors effective immediately…

…after one last gigantic game list that is! I’m not deleting this blog, but I don’t plan on posting here anymore. While The Stock Pot Inn has provided me with some good experience reviewing and writing about games, the amount of effort I put into each post is far too disproportionate to the people seemingly reading for me to continue to put so much time into writing here. I don’t plan to quit writing about or discussing video games though; I’d simply like to look into new avenues that will help me reach a wider audience. This may even include starting a new blog at some point, but for now I’d just like to move on from this one. I sincerely thank everyone who has taken the time to read anything that I’ve written here over the years. But hey, I thought, since I’m pretty close to 100 posts, why not have one last hurrah before I bid Blogger adieu?

That’s what this list mainly is. It’s a celebration of video games and my love for them, which is really what I began this blog to do. I can’t think of a better way to send off The Stock Pot Inn.

To this end, I’ve decided to highlight 115 particularly special games in an effort to catalog my thoughts and feelings from over the course of my 25 or so years of interactive experiences. This is sort of an update on my old “favorite games” lists from 2012 and 2013, but it’s mainly a way for me to reminisce and try to make sense of my love for games, as well as recommend some great games you may not have played. While I did make an attempt to number these according to a mix of how special they are to me and simply how much I like them, please keep in mind that comparing and contrasting so many disparate experiences is basically an impossible task. While the ordering generally reflects where these titles currently fall in my estimation, the numbering isn’t too important and many of these games are basically tied. The purpose here is not really to pit the games against each other but to celebrate them all and my experiences with them. Also keep in mind that this isn’t “the only 115 games I like” but rather the 115 that are probably the most special to me. Probably. Choosing the games was tough and many games that I'm also fond of were unfortunately left out. This isn’t in any way definitive and my feelings are always subject to change, of course.

Since I want to recommend games as much as discuss them, I will be trying my best to avoid what I would consider to be major spoilers. That said, if I feel I must include some spoilers that I deem might be detrimental to know before experiencing a game yourself, I’ll put a warning before that game’s blurb. Still, read at your own caution if you absolutely don’t want to know a single thing about any given game.

Just like my 2013 list, the games are labeled according to the first platform that they appeared on to the best of my knowledge. In the case of simultaneous multi-platform releases, I labeled the game with the platform that I first played it on (or the only one that I played it on).

Each post will contain five games until I get to the top ten, which will be split into one post of the first seven games and a final post about the top three. I plan on posting these just about daily, so I hope you enjoy checking out my picks and that you reminisce about your own fond memories with games along the way. Without further prattling, here are 115 video games that have shaped my love for the medium. Please enjoy!

115. Xenogears (PS1) 

I debated whether I should include Xenogears on this list as I’ve never actually played it myself. I experienced most of the game vicariously from over my older brother’s shoulder at the tender young age of ten or eleven, and I like to think of it as the “best game I’ve never played”. Most of the game’s heavy-handed narrative went right over my head back then, but I still have fondly nostalgic memories of the game’s world, characters, soundtrack, and battles involving gigantic robots known as “gears”. Though secondhand, Xenogears was technically my first experience with a proper JRPG (only having played the original Pokemon around the same time) and it completely enthralled me with an adventure beyond imagination full of wondrous and fantastical locales. I still think back to it on occasion and have frequently referenced it in my memory while playing through just about every JRPG I’ve experienced since.

114. Ecco the Dolphin (Genesis)

Ecco the Dolphin is strange. Yes, the game itself, which involves a time-traveling dolphin on a quest to save his family from a horrific fate, is of course quite strange, but what I actually mean is that my relationship with it is strange. It’s not a game I enjoy playing, not only because it is so difficult that I can’t even make it past the first level without using a level select code, but also because I’m downright terrified by it. This said, it’s a game that I have an incredible amount of respect and admiration for. I’m fascinated by Ecco. It’s haunting and eerie and totally unique and unforgettable. Ecco is a work of art in every way and it’s something that I can potently feel even when I actively avoid exposing myself to it as much as I can.

113. Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)

Super Mario Bros. 2 has a unique atmosphere and sense of mystery and intrigue about it. It contains perhaps my favorite overworld theme (and one of my favorite OSTs in general) of the classic Super Mario games and I also really dig the game’s whole premise and its ending. Super Mario 2 would probably be one of my favorite Mario games if it wasn’t for two big problems: it controls like a wet bar of soap and its level design is often a tedious and awkwardly-designed bore (gotta love those sand digging sections). These issues unfortunately make most of my playthroughs of the game deteriorate into frustration and hair-pulling by the end…until that magical credits theme starts and I can’t help but smile and think, “hey, Super Mario 2 ain’t so bad”. In fact, it’s pretty darn special.

112. Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U)

The definition of a love/hate relationship, Xenoblade X (my review here) wowed me its vast open world full of awe-inspiring sights and moments of unparalleled scale and frustrated me with its overwhelming nature and a bunch of problems that threatened to ruin my good time like a flock of mosquitoes that show up on your vacation in paradise. From sprawling plains filled with gigantic stalks of coral and roaming hammer-headed brontosaurus creatures to particle-filled luminescent jungles and glowing bonsai gardens to the indescribable Sylvalum, the alien planet of Mira is a treat to discover. There is also a wonderful sense of progression to the way X rolls out its great sense of freedom, perhaps the greatest of any game I’ve played: first you are free to go anywhere by foot, then via giant robot, then via flying giant robot. Despite its wonders, however, X is host to a variety of issues both large and small: the soundtrack can range from hauntingly beautiful to ear-tearingly irritating, inexplicable glitches led to the game freezing and crashing for me, the game is simply colossally overwhelming and offers little instruction outside of a gigantic electronic manual that I had to study like I was actually training to get my giant robot license, the game’s text was designed for ants…I could go on. Despite it all though, Xenoblade X is a memorable experience that is survived by its best aspects and the more time goes on, the more I hold fondly the time I spent adventuring with Sara and her crew throughout the alien landscapes of the planet Mira.

111. Soulcalibur II (GameCube)

I’m not that huge on fighting games, but there is a certain quality about them that I’ve always admired. I’ve traditionally enjoyed fighting games with a wealth of single-player options and some kind of narrative to play through with a bunch of wacky characters.  I know I just described quite a lot of fighting games, but what sets the Soulcalibur series apart is that I also find it to be very accessible. See I also kind of suck at fighting games and the weapons-based combat of Soulcalibur has always felt more open to not learning the ins and outs of every little combo. I also love the wide variety of weapons to unlock as well as the campy, over-the-top narrative vibe the series has. So why Soulcalibur II in particular? I simply recall enjoying this one the most. I found it improved on the first one pretty much across the board, I really enjoyed its RPG-esque “Weapon Master Mode”, and the GameCube version had Zelda’s Link in it to boot.


Next up is #110 to #106! I hope you check back then!

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