Monday, June 25, 2012

The Ten Best Video Games I have ever played

The Onion Knight hath returned, and today I've whipped up something a little different. I've been playing video games since the age of three and I've beaten hundreds of video games. I would like to present to you a list of what I think are the 10 best video games I have ever played in my 19-year gaming career. Many of these games are not just fun and rewarding experiences, but have also resonated strongly with my feelings and forced tears from my eyes.

10. Uncharted 2

 Just as any Uncharted begins, this list starts off with a bang! Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was not just any adventure game; it didn't just rise above the original in every way possible - this game redefined action. The story was deeply involving of the player's emotions, the gore-less action was intense, and the orchestral track pounded hard with every beating moment of the game. The player assumes the role of Nathan Drake, the protagonist from the first Uncharted, and you're hunting the trail that Marco Polo once trekked in search of the ancient lost city, Shangrila. Along the way, you'll face terrorists and monsters alike, all while collecting treasures, climbing mountains, and solving puzzles.

 The first time I played Uncharted 2, I didn't really know what to expect. I had never played an Uncharted game before and this game was just something that a friend suggested to me. I was instantly absorbed by Uncharted as soon as the opening began. I would describe the first scene but for you readers out there who have not played Uncharted 2, or any Uncharted game, I would prefer not to spoil anything. Uncharted 2 and 3 are all about first experiences.

9. Resident Evil 4

 I'll be honest folks. I'm not a fan of the horror genre, at least when it comes to movies. As a young child, I was scarred many times whenever my cousin watched Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street films in our living room. For that purpose, I avoided horror video games with a great fear. It wasn't until a dark day in 2005 that I finally decided to give the horror genre a chance - and if it was a game other than Resident Evil 4, I probably would've left the genre right there. But Resident Evil 4 wasn't just a game.

 It was a turning point in my life.

 Resident Evil 4 pits you, U.S. agent Leon S. Kennedy, in the middle of rural Europe and you are on the lookout for the American President's daughter, Ashley Graham. While the setting sounds like something out of Bad Dudes, it was actually quite easy to take the plot seriously. As Leon deals with the evil cult known as the Los Illuminados, he must protect Ashley and guide her to safety. Luckily, acting as babysitter is not a major part of the gameplay. Most of the time, you'll be focused on surviving, shooting out the varied enemeies of the game, and upgrading and customizing your inventory.

 Resident Evil 4 was life turning for me in two ways. First, it introduced me to the horror genre. Nearly the whole time, I was in complete suspense and terror of 'what was around the next corner'. Even to this day, there are certain parts of the game that still put me on the edge of my seat due to terror. Second, it helped me prepare for the many RPGs that I would enjoy and complete later in my life. Up until that point, I never truly played any RPGs. While Resident Evil 4 is not an RPG, the customization of your guns and the statistics felt similar to aspects of RPGs and it was those simplicities that began to curve my interest to the role-playing-genre.

8. A Link to The Past

By putting The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on this list, I am also acknowledging that this Super Nintendo Zelda just might be the best one in the series. At least, it's my favourite. You might say, "But Onion Knight, WHAT ABOUT OCARINA OF TIME?!" Yeah yeah, I know. Ocarina of Time, Ocarina of Time, Ocarina of Time. We've all played it. Heck, I've finished the game like a bajillion times. In my opinion, Ocarina of Time was just too easy - I could even finish that game as a kid and I wasn't very good at games back then.

 A Link to the Past on the other hand 'makes you use faires', so to speak. The game is also very colourful, it's got a great soundtrack (DarkWorld anyone?), and intimidating enemies and bosses. The puzzle and dungeon aspects of the game, important to any Zelda title, were very well done. A Link to the Past really made you think hard and I even found myself trying many things over and over again until I finally solved something. While that sounds frustrating, it's actually very rewarding. A Link to the Past is not only a great Super Nintendo game but an excellent Zelda game to boot.

7. Earthbound (Mother 2)

 Now now readers. No crying until the end - we're only at number 7! There are RPGs, and then, there are RPGs. The kind of RPGs I'm talking about are not the ones that are primarily focused on the gameplay, but more-so on the story and the writing. The characters you control, meet, and fight are all an important part of the game. The places you go and the memories you create on your journey collectively create an unforgettable and life-changing experience. That is what Earthbound taught me. This game is far different from any RPG - nay, any game I have played- because it figuratively reaches into your heart and plays a soft tune. The game connects with you in a sweet, deep way - much like how eating your mother's baked apple pie on a breezy summer's day will make you remember just how important your home is.

 If you have never played Earthbound, I highly suggest you play and finish this game. Describing the game to you would be nearly impossible using words, not only because of the game's general weirdness, but also due to the emotions that are created from the enjoyment of Earthbound.

6. Final Fantasy X

 You didn't think I was going to make a top ten list and not include a Final Fantasy game? This is a Final Fantasy blog after all. So at number 6 I'm placing what I consider a very special game, to me. Final Fantasy X isn't a game that's too focused on gameplay mechanics. Instead, players take on the role of Tidus, a cocky all-star athlete, who is brought along on a journey with a group of misfit characters. During the group's adventure to save the world of Spira, Tidus (and others) will be faced with many obstacles, both physical and mental. The largest focus of X is definitely the characters, because everyone in the group is supportive of each other. They all share everyone's problems and form together to solve them, which is usually how the group overcomes seemingly impossible obstacles. The characters' problems, feelings, emotions - they all feel real and it's easy to relate to them. It's easy to relate to Tidus' troublesome relationship with his father. It's easy to relate to Wakka's feelings of being betrayed by the very religion he believed in. It's easy to relate to Yuna's feelings of wanting to do good for others but at the same time shirk one's own duties to enjoy one's self. The dilemmas presented before the characters makes it easy for players to connect with the people they are controlling in this game.

Final Fantasy X was one of the first games to really play with my emotions deep down - so much that I actually cried. And many other players have, too. Seriously, if you finish this game and feel nothing, then you just might not have a soul. I've also posted the opening credit sequence and I would like you, the reader, to take a look at it. This video perfectly illustrates the tone and mood of Final Fantasy X.

NOTE: Viewed best in 1080p and fullscreened.

5. Shenmue

 Ever wanted to explore a virtual Japan set in 1985 where you play as a martial artist who is set on avenging the murder of his father? Well you're in luck, readers! I've got one word to quench your Japan-ophile appeties: Shenmue. The number 5 spot represents of the most innovative and unique adventure games Sega has ever developed, (and one of the most addicting I may add). You play as Ryo Hazuki, of the Hazuki clan, who is on a mission with a single objective: find and kill the man that murdered your father. If you like exploring, swapping punches, and finding answers to problems, then I suggest you check out this game.  I should also mention the amount of things you can do in Shenmue, which include practising martial arts, fighting with martial arts, collecting gachapon toys, playing arcade games (including Sega classics Space Harrier and Hang-On!), advancing the plot, checking out stores and buying things, fiddling around with your items, (such as your gachapon toys or your cassette player), and solving NPC's issues, such as helping a little girl take care of an abandoned kitten.

 If you plan to play Shenmue, it's avaliable on the Sega Dreamcast although it will be released as part of a HD collection on both XBox Live and the Playstation Network in the near future.

4. Dragon Quest VIII

 If you want to ever play the most perfected video game ever, (at the very least, the most perfected RPG), then you need to look no farther than Dragon Quest VIII. The story and writing, the art, the music, the gameplay - it's all perfect. Everything is done with a true magnificence and, if there any completionists out there who are looking for an RPG challenge, Dragon Quest VIII just might satisfy your wish. Although the story presented higher-than-average difficulty, the sidequests and after-game was a different thing. The challenges you'll face are somewhat extreme and much grinding will be required in order to survive past endgame. That is also something I should warn you of: if you are easily discouraged when it comes to high difficulty, then Dragon Quest VIII may not be for you. This RPG will tax many hours of grinding if you want to finish the story, so a high degree of patience is a must. My final comment will be that Dragon Quest VIII contains the most satisfying ending I've ever experienced out of any video game to date. Everything was tied up perfectly - there were no loose ends and it was a happy ending, too.

3. Metal Gear Solid

These days, the gaming industry is caulk-full of first-person shooters and action games that focus on killing your enemies. But have you ever played a game where it would be logical to run away from your enemies? That's what Metal Gear Solid is all about: stealth and avoidance of foes. In Hideo Kojima's Playstation classic, you take on the role of Solid Snake who is a legendary soldier in the U.S. military. You have been sent on a secret mission to the fictional location, Shadow Moses Island, in the Fox Archipelago to stop terrorists from launching a nuclear attack and rescue two high-profile hostages. Snake will not only need to stealth his way through the terrorist's base but fight their commanders as well. This game I actually found quite difficult at first, but that was probably because I was too well moulded to other shooter games. Once I learned how to properly stealth around enemies, (cardboard box = WIN), I was able to complete my objectives with much more ease.

 Metal Gear Solid, although being a much older game, actually has some pretty great voice acting and features voice actors such as David Hayter (script writer for the X-Men and Watchmen movies), Jennifer Hale (Sheena Fujibayashi in Tales of Symphonia), and Quinton Flynn, (Reno in Final Fantasy VII Compilation). The characters were dynamic, the story was very well written while filled with much intrigue, and the gameplay is very, very tight. If you want a good stealth game that will keep your interest and exercise not just your thumbs but your brain as well, then I recommend a healthy dose of Metal Gear Solid.

2. Metroid Prime

 Like Resident Evil 4, Metroid Prime was the first of its series that I played. I remember I rented this game on a cold Winter's day, and I was anxiously awaiting to pop it into my Gamecube. Unlike previous entries in the Metroid series, Prime is actually a first-person shooter, (or First-person Adventure if you ask Nintendo), and at the time, I had only played shooters such as 007 games and Medal of Honor. Although my FPS experience is actually quite limited, Metroid Prime is the only game of its genre I still play to this day. So what's so great about this game, you ask?

 You are famed bounty hunter, Samus Aran, and you discover a Space Pirate ship floating just near the planet of Tallon IV. After the entire ship explodes, Samus flies to Tallon IV to further investigate the Space Pirate presence and discover what is corrupting the planet. The plot may not be deep, but it doesn't have to be because it allows the player to focus more on exploring and completing objectives as opposed to losing focus on the gameplay due to plot thickness.

 While Prime is quite different from its predecessors, it still manages to 'act' and feel like classic Metroid. The player's main objectives are still to find important upgrades such as beam upgrades, High Jump Boots, missiles, and the ever undenyable 'stamp-of-coolness' - the Morph Ball. The music is great and perfectly fits the varied settings while the graphics are absolutely gorgeous and its thanks to these elements that create the best aspect of Prime - the atmosphere.

 Its the nostalgia and the feel of this game that brings me back every time. I swear, when the developers were working on this game, their entire focus were probably set on one word: atmosphere. Not just the most important things, such as music, contribute to the atmosphere but the even the little things add their own flair, too. For example, when you're on the wet Tallon IV overworld and look up with the analog stick, raindrops will actually collect on Samus' visor, or if you run through a hallway full of steam, your visor will fog up.

Metroid Prime has forever been a favourite of mine and it actually used to be my number 1 game for many years. That is, until I became addicted to Final Fantasy.

1. Final Fantasy VI

I frequent video game message boards and whenever the debate of 'the best Final Fantasy game ever' is brought up, it's usually between Final Fantasy VI and VII. While I truly enjoyed VII, I have to admit that VI is, for the most part, a better game. The story is well-written, the music is incredible, and the gameplay makes more sense, (to me, anyways). While the materia system in VII was quite neat, I found the Esper system in VI to be much more rewarding and deep. And who can forget the main villain, Kefka Palazzo? He is, by far, not only the greatest villain in the series, but I might also argue he's the greatest villan in any video game. Comparing him to Sephiroth from VII is like comparing Jack Nicholsen's Joker from Batman to Woodrow Wilson, who was a complete momma's boy. The dude just screams insanity and evil.

 But enough about Kefka. If I were to sum up this game in six words, it would be: YOU NEED TO PLAY THIS GAME.

And so, my top ten comes to a conclusion. Some of the games on this list are quite old while some are more recent, like Uncharted 2. If there's a game on this list that you haven't played, then you should check it out. While my tastes in video games can be quite different from most people, I assure that these games are actually quite good and deserve a look.

 I also have a strange feeling that this list just might change some time soon, so be on the lookout if I ever make an update. This is the Onion Knight signing off. Have a good day!


  1. I definitely agree with you on the Final Fantasy X storyline. It was gripping, man. Tore at your soul during the entire game. A classic, really loved it.

  2. I really like the first two as i have already play them completely but not all and waiting for the best upcoming video games for the same series.