- Games, Toys, and Hobbies
Top Ten Video Games List Part 2
Here is part 2 of my list of the top ten video games I've ever played. This is all based on my personal experience with these games.
Part 1 in case you missed it
- Top Ten Video Games List Part 1
A List of some of the greatest games I have ever played spanning from the old to the very recent. This comes down to is my own enjoyment I had with the game and the amount of time I sunk into them.
#5 Icewind Dale 2
When it comes to a dungeons and dragons inspired game like this, many would chose Baulder's Gate, but for me, I always preferred Ice Wind Dale for the simple reason of customization. You get to create your entire party of up to six characters using The third edition rule set. Pick what you will but having a cleric is key! The artwork is simply breath taking at times and actually has helped Icewind Dale pass the test of time. The game doesn't really have graphics as everything is a painted background with your characters moving over it. The music is also just simply incredible. No games music gets me quite as pumped up as Ice Wind Dales for it us just so fitting for the environment and instills a feeling of wanting to save the people of the Dale and stop the demons. Here is an example of one of my favorite scores from the game:
Icewind Dale 2 Skeleton of a Town
Unlike Baldur's gate with a more character driven story, you are instead a bunch of nobodies that come from a far off land to help out and are taken on a marvelous journey that is narrated by a character who is only slightly related to the plot and is retelling it as she heard from her uncle Oswald. This game could also be played with up to six players if you wanted to and lanning this game was just like a normal DND session but in a video game.
#4 The Fallout Franchise
I couldn't just pick one Fallout game and I had to just mention the series in general. A nuclear post-apocalyptic future is one of my favorite themes and Fallout has done very well with it. I actually first played the original Fallout and it is probably the weakest in the series from the simple fact that ammo did not restock in stores for a more “realistic” wasteland setting. However, this could screw you over and was more of an annoyance. Then we got Fallout 2 and I spent a lot of hours of my childhood playing this game. Despite the isometric view with the turned based strategy element, the game was still able to present a great world and story even if you ignored a lot of the dialogue. You could also get party members and I loved having my tribal, sledge hammer master, Sulik, and the shotgun totting Cassidy (which is also the father of Cass in Fallout: New Vegas).
Then Fallout 3 took the game out of its roots in strategy and turned it into a a hybrid third/first person shooter with a few unique elements to the fallout franchise, like VATS and the Pip Boy. I sunk a lot of hours into this game for it had a massive world to explore and ruins the trudge threw. It truly was a lonely wasteland but this made the game suffer when it came to character as all the previous Fallout games had much more of a focus of the quirky characters within the wasteland and not the wasteland itself.
Then Fallout: New Vegas took the Fallout 2 world and adapted it to the modern engine. This game in the series probably has the most character as you meet many interesting people with the whole Vegas background. The only short coming I find with New Vegas is that the area you are in is relatively small and feels much more constricted than any other game in the franchise.
What I think I really love about the series the most is the lore. The game may have been set in the future but the architecture is art deco and straight out of the 1950's. The “red scare” is instead set to the Chinese which ultimately culminates in a nuclear war which almost completely wipes the planet of life besides the lucky folks who got into the safety of the vaults. While playing any of the Fallout games it is fun to read old text logs from before the war to see what life was like, to see the perspectives of corrupt executives to the complaints of lower workers, it all becomes very interesting. The lore has also never been truly spelled out, and with every game taking place in the US, it is unclear how the entire world is faring. The developers never reveal more than they have to and that keeps the story mysterious and all the more alluring.
#3 Chrono Trigger
Chrono Trigger was really a marvel of its time. It was one of the earlier RPG's in my experience that did away with random encounters and instead made most fights avoidable. It was probably also one of the first RPG's I ever beat in its entirety. I have many fond memories of Crono, Lucca, Marle, Robo, Glenn, Ayla, and Magus and loved how you could mix and match your party to your hearts desire (of course at the end of the day Crono, Marle, and Lucca were the go to combination). The combat system was great for you could learn group attacks which were entirely based on who you had in your party and what abilities they had learned. This meant you had to experiment to find certain combo moves for you would only unlock them by having the same characters together in the party and getting into a few fights.
What really makes Chrono Trigger so great was the storyline. This game is all about time traveling and stopping the end of the world caused by the alien creature Lavos. You travel between time periods such as the prehistoric, the ice age, the dark ages, the middle ages, and the distant future. Each age had its own world map and its own storyline going on. There is plenty of bonus content in this game and all of it felt significant in one way or another. The music to this game is also fantastic. Here are a couple of songs I personally love from it:
Chrono Trigger Main Theme
Boss Battle 2
Another really cool factor about this game was in the new game+ you could beat the game at any time and doing so would cause different endings. This tradition was continued in the sequel Chrono Cross which I greatly enjoyed as well but is not quite as critically acclaimed.
#2 Skies of Arcadia
Skies of Arcadia has to be my most beloved RPG of all time. Although I did originally play it on the dreamcast, I did not truly get a chance to enjoy this game until they re-released it for the Game Cube (which cut the amount of random encounters in half while doubling their xp). This game had so much charm and life to it that I dare you to play it and not enjoy it.
The world you are brought into is a strange one, filled with floating islands and airships. You follow Vyse, an air pirate, and his childhood friend Aika. One day on a raid of a Valuan Airship you find a mysterious girl named Fina who had been imprisoned. She asks for help and Vyse decides to oblige. You are then brought on a true journey of discovery as you travel the world's very different terrains and face off against the Gigas, ancient weapons that the Valuan empire is trying to resurrect while Fina is trying to prevent them from destroying the world once again.
Although it is a traditional turn based rpg system, they added additional elements which make it different. For starters there is the focus system, where you have a net pool of focus points for the entire party which are used to cast magic or use special abilities. Normal attacks, guarding and items would not expend the points or you could also have characters use the “focus” command which would charge up extra focus points. Focus made for some more tactical decisions while getting rid of a pesky mana system. If you reached max focus, later in the game, you could use an ultimate ability that uses up all the points but for a devastating effect.
Another factor that made random encounters a bit more fun is that the entire time it would show you and the enemy actually fighting each other and dodging each other. This had no effect on the battle itself and was purely aesthetic but it certainly made the battles feel more alive.
There are also air ship battles that range from fighting other ships to giant squids. These battles are integral to the game and are also incredibly fun, albeit a bit easy once you get your second ship. There are various weapons and upgrades you can get for your ship and balancing the right load out can make for a huge difference in a battle.
Finally one of the greatest qualities to this game is the exploration. This comes three-fold. The world itself is amazing and the storyline follows discovering what happened in the past as you delve through many ancient ruins. Each continent corresponds to one of the six moons which corresponds to a different magic type. So the red country is a scorching desert, the yellow a dark lightning filled land, the green a lush jungle, the purple an icy wasteland, the blue an Asian themed flying paradise, and the silver a temperate area in the middle. Keep in mind these are all floating continents and the world below remains mysterious.
Secondly, you can actually make discoveries in the world map. These are mostly remnants of the past that when you find comes with a piece of lore. You can then sell discoveries to the explorers guild and get paid for them. Some discoveries are obvious while others move around, need pin point precision to find, or are in places you'd never think to look. I spent hours tracking down every single discovery and I loved it.
Finally you eventually get your own island that you build up and you must also find a crew to go along with it. Some members you get automatically but most you have to go out in the world to find and then convince them to join which usually involved some sort of side quest. Crew members would give you additional perks in air ship battles as well as add more customization options to your base.
Unfortunately there never was the promised Skies of Arcadia 2 and this series does not seem like it will ever continue. Still if you can get your hands on a copy I cannot recommend it enough.
#1 Castlevania Symphony of the Night
It was a toss up between this and Skies of Arcadia but when it comes down to it I think I've played through Symphony of the Night more than any other game. I simply love this game. It was the first Castlevania to throw away the “stage” design while remaining entirely within Dracula's castle. It also did away with the whip and instead makes you play as Alucard, Dracula's son, out to stop his father. What is cool about getting rid of the whip that was iconic to the series was that it allowed for more weapon options. Although the sword is what you'd normally use, there were a few exceptions. Alucard could also use magic as well as having the ability to shape shift into a bat, a wolf, and even mist.
This is also the game that made the Castlevania style we still see in the hand held games today, with exploring a castle, fighting bosses, and back tracking once you gain an item or power you needed. There were also just a metric ton of secrets to this game. From hidden rooms to the ability to play the game through as Richter Belmont when entering his name at the naming screen. Not to mention that to get the true ending you need to find an item to actually see the real enemy at what is disguised to be the leader of the game. If you don't, you are still given an ending but it doesn't feel right at all. If you do find the item to see the real enemy you then get to go through the same castle again but this time it is upside down and is filled with all new bosses and enemies.
I played this game when I was a kid, all the way through my teenage years, and even now I will still pop it into my play station 2 (as it is a PS1 game) and play it again. I never get tired of it, hell to make the game harder, I once did a run where I would unequip my weapon and fight all the bosses with my bare hands. I love this game and to me it is certainly the #1.
Final Fantasy X - This is my most played Final Fantasy game and, I'd argue, the last good one. Outside of Tidus, I loved the characters, the plot, and adored the sphere grid. I've played through this game at least 5 or 6 times.
Final Fantasy VI - This was the Final Fantasy of my childhood. It also had the interesting dynamic of not having a true main character and instead wants you to feel for the entire huge cast and the story as a whole. Even the main villain, Kefka, is a fleshed out character with him having the third most lines in the game.
Chrono Cross - I really enjoyed this game as well. Instead of its predecessor's focus on time travel, this game focused on alternate dimensions. The story was also incredibly complex and went over my head completely when I played it when I was younger and even now there are spots I don't completely understand. It also had a ton of characters to unlock and would actually take 3 playthroughs to have everyone.
And that is my list. Feel free to share your own favorite games and opinions in the comments below.