Konnichi wa, minna-san!
I finally got a chance to copy the blog post on here. I had originally finished it a couple of days after I announced it, but because of school, and my being lazy, I'm only posting it on GameSpot now. It really is a pain to be on GameSpot. I think I'll wrap up my time on this website by posting my GOTY awards and then I'll slip away into the darkness. In the meantime, I think I'll try and find a new home for my blog. But anyway, time for business.
With the end of this console generation, and my turn to almost exclusively playing JRPGs, I think it’s time to do a countdown of my favourite video game franchises. Especially while other franchises remain fresh in my mind; I don’t want my list of favourite franchises to turn into all JRPGs :P I’ve been playing video games for 15/16 years, and while I stuck to what I knew best in my childhood, I was still introduced to other series through my friends. Once I had the money, I started experimenting with various franchises to discover what I liked best. As such, a lot of influence comes from this past console generation. So expect to see a lot of current franchises on here.
So, the rules for this countdown are as follows: I must have played at least 3 games in the series but I’m not required to complete the games. I would be hard-pressed to come up with franchises if I had to complete games. Also, remakes and re-releases do not count as a game. For example, I’ve technically only played 2 Monster Hunter games: Monster Hunter and Monster Hunter Tri. I have Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate as well, but since that’s a remake of Monster Hunter Tri, I’m not putting the Monster Hunter series on the list. I’m sure all of you know, but I have a serious soft spot for Nintendo. So, to be fair to other series, I’m limiting the number of Nintendo franchises to 4. It’s a pretty high number, but Nintendo was pretty much all I knew growing up, and this past generation wasn’t enough time to break away from the Big N. Critical reviews and my own reviews don’t count here so it’s based purely on how much I love each series. After all it’s MY list of MY top 10 video game franchises.
Developers: Bungie, Ensemble Studios (Halo Wars). Publisher: Microsoft
Games Played: Halo, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo Wars, Halo: Reach
Upcoming games: Halo 5 (officially unannounced)
In my early teenage years, I was pretty big on Halo. MLG had arranged for the Halo Pro Circuit to appear on TV and this series was the first series I saw people playing professionally. I found it amazing that people could play video games for a living and be on TV. Thus, began my hopes of becoming pro one day, and the countless hours I dropped into Halo 2 and 3.
I couldn’t even begin to tell you how much I played Halo from that point on. I was so determined to be a pro that I played Halo almost religiously. Of course, these dreams didn’t last too long, but I still continued to watch Halo professionally until the release of Starcraft II when I started watching that instead.
Nowadays, Halo is just a series for me to pop in every once in a while and just have fun with it. I don’t take Halo too seriously anymore, and to be honest, I never should have.
9. Hyperdimension Neptunia
Developers: Compile Heart, Idea Factory. Publisher (North America): NIS America
Games Played: Hyperdimension Neptunia, Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory
Upcoming games: Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection, Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 (NA release unconfirmed), Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2: Sisters Generation (in development; NA release unconfirmed)
For my close real life friends, this may come as a surprise. If any of you guys are reading this, you’re probably thinking: “What series is this?” “I’ve never heard of this series before.” There are two reasons for this. One: It’s a series I only got into at the beginning of the year. Two: It’s not exactly a series I’m going to announce to the world that I love.
The first game I will admit, heck, I’ll even say it without batting an eyelid, sucks hard. It’s probably the worst RPG I’ve ever played in my life, and since that’s my main genre, makes it one of the worst games I’ve ever played. The only thing that kept it fun was the humour and references, and that’s a plus for the entire series. However, thankfully, the sequels turn it around with great gameplay, music, character art, and (for me) loveable characters. That may just be my anime self coming in there, but I fell in love with these characters… quite literally. One of the girls from that series is gracing my desktop right now. This is probably getting too weird for my real life friends but my online friends, or anyone who knows my anime side, knows exactly what I’m talking about :P
With the anime that just finished, the series is becoming more well-known, at least to those who pay attention to the niche JRPG world. I actually had no idea sales were that good for this series in the West: I would never have imagined we would be getting a spin-off game in this series. But just last week, NIS America revealed that they were going to be releasing Idol PP (officially renamed Producing Perfection) in NA and Europe. It’s a management simulation game which I can’t imagine that doing well here, but hey, if they want to do it, go ahead. If they would release Re;Birth1 and Re;Birth2 here too, that would solidify my decision to pick up a Vita. Yes, I love the series that much. I’m willing to pick up a Vita just to play these games.
8. Gears of War
Developer: Epic Games. Publisher: Microsoft
Games Played: Gears of War, Gears of War 2, Gears of War 3
Upcoming games: N/A
I was first introduced to Gears of War through one of my close friends. When the first Gears of War came out, it was fascinating in the way it used cover-based gameplay. I had never played a shooter quite like it. Now, we see all sorts of games using the cover-based system that Gears of War made popular.
Once I got my Xbox 360, this series was one I played religiously, to the point where I made my own Gears of War 3 team for MLG. Sure, since we had conflicting times nothing really worked out, but that’s how far I went with the series. I even bought Bulletstorm just for early access to the Gears of War 3 beta. Sure, my interest in the series went down after Gears of War 3, but the series itself was influential in my decision to get an Xbox 360.
7. Total War
Developer: The Creative Assembly. Publisher: Sega
Games Played: Rome Total War, Medieval II Total War, Empire Total War
Upcoming games: N/A
I remember receiving Rome Total War for Christmas one year. At first, I was disappointed, because I had asked for Age of Empires III. That feeling of disappointment vanished very quickly about 2 hours later. After I did manage to buy Age of Empires III later, I realized how lucky I had been to get Rome Total War first. It’s not that Age of Empires III was bad, but Rome Total War blew it out of the water. I can’t recall how many hours were burned in front of my computer playing this game. The strategy part of the game is what I was used to at the time after playing tons of Civilization, but the battles was something new to me.
Battles in the Total War series rely on actual military strategies. Pincer attacks, diversions, ambushes, and positional arranging of your soldiers is all part of a typical battle in the Total War games. This is probably the series that really got me into military history as I found all of these real-life tactics fascinating. Another thing about this series that I love is the music. It just fits every situation it’s used in. Whenever you start a battle, start marching, and enter combat, the music changes accordingly. It just gets you in the right mood for battle.
It’s a shame that almost every single PC game has to pass through Steam now, and that’s what has prevented me from playing the latest Total War games. I bought Shogun 2: Total War TWICE, one through Steam’s store and once through retail, and both times it wouldn’t work on Steam. When I asked Steam’s support about it, they just said, go find out about it yourself and they offered no solution. People ask me why I’m not a PC gamer even though I have an awesome gaming rig. Steam is the reason. I hate having to use Steam for pretty much every single PC game that I play. I’d rather to stick to older PC games that don’t use that pathetic excuse of a service. Console and handheld gaming for life!
6. Rune Factory
Developer: Neverland. Publishers (North America): Natsume (Rune Factory, 2, 3), XSeed (Rune Factory: Frontier, 4)
Games Played: Rune Factory, Rune Factory 2, Rune Factory 3, Rune Factory 4, Rune Factory Frontier
Upcoming games: Rune Factory 5 (producer has confirmed that it will be developed in the future)
Ah, the high-ranking sleeper on the list. If you know me as an anime fan, you know that I love anime that’s based in simple, everyday life. No fantasy, no superpowers, none of that. Well, occasionally I don’t mind if that everyday life has a few supernatural or fantastical elements to it. And that’s where my love for the Rune Factory series comes from. It’s a simulation series based in real life, with a bit of fantasy tossed in to make it more interesting.
If you’ve ever played a Harvest Moon game, or at least know about the series, Rune Factory is the same thing except it contains RPG elements and fantasy. So, farming, making nice with the townspeople, participating in festivals, and finding your ideal mate, are all part of the Rune Factory formula. Romance has always been a big part of the series but the latest game, Rune Factory 4, steps it up to another level with dating, and a whole sub-plot that involves the person’s past and how they choose to deal with it.
The series is also ridiculously addicting. It may sound boring to some people, but my god, once you start playing you can’t stop. I’ve been playing Rune Factory 4 for over a month now, and I’m showing no signs of stopping. What’s more, I have 4 save files running at the same time. Yes, I just said that. But wait… the game only has 3 saves files… ;) That’s how much I love this game right now.
5. Mass Effect
Developer: BioWare. Publishers: Microsoft (Mass Effect), EA (Mass Effect 2 and 3)
Games Played: Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, Mass Effect 3
Upcoming games: possible MMO, Mass Effect 4?
I don’t think I’ve ever played through a series with a better story than the Mass Effect trilogy. Playing through the game is like playing a sci-fi epic. The story progresses along at a great pace, and you can also twist how the story goes at certain points with the decisions you make. Great storytelling was also combined with characters that you grew genuinely attached to. The cast in this series stands out in my eyes as one of the best in gaming. One of the characters, Garrus, is one of my favourite video game characters of all time. Serious about his job and has a great sense of justice, but he’s also one of those characters that you can mess around and crack jokes with. He’s also not afraid of his past and dealing with it and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to set things right.
Gameplay in the series changed with each game and it never truly knew what it wanted to be. The first game was clearly an RPG, the second game was kind of a mix between RPG and shooter, while the third was mainly a third-person shooter. While unfocused, it did prevent the gameplay from becoming too stale.I can only hope that for future games in the series, they make it more like a combination of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 3. Great RPG elements combined with a great shooter.
Notice how I said that there would be 4 Nintendo franchises on my list. Did you see any in the past 6? No, right? Well, here they are.
4. The Legend of Zelda
Developers: Nintendo EAD. Publisher: Nintendo
Games Played: Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker, Four Swords, Twlight Princess, Skyward Sword
Upcoming games: untitled Wii U game
The Legend of Zelda series is a series that I never truly got into myself, but I’ve seen enough of my dad playing it in my childhood to influence me even now. Although I’ve never finished a Zelda game myself, I have experienced enough of each game to get the impact of it. Yeah, for some reason I can never finish a game in this series. It’s one of my dark secrets as a gamer that you guys now know.
A lot of games in this series are masterpieces. They’re filled with great gameplay, music, graphics, and for those who play really close attention, a great story. All of the above things are what you need to create a great game. Nintendo EAD just seems to recreate magic for each game they make in this series.
The future of the series continues to remain bright as there has never been a bad Zelda game made by Nintendo EAD. Actually, has Nintendo EAD ever made a bad game? None as far as I know. At their worst, they make a good game.
Developers: Nintendo EAD (main series, Mario Kart series), Camelot Software Planning (Mario sports), Next Level Games (Super Mario Strikers), Hudson Soft (Mario Party 1- 8), Nd Cube (Mario Party 9), Retro Studios (Mario Kart 7), Intelligent Systems (Paper Mario series)
Games Played… I’ll give a short version: Super Mario Bros. 1-3, Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy, New Super Mario Bros., 2 and U, Super Mario 3D Land, most of the Mario sports games, a few of the Mario Party games, every Mario Kart.
Upcoming games: Mario Kart 8
How can I make a top 10 video game franchises list and not include Mario? How can anyone? The only reason Mario should skip a top 10 list like this is if the person has never played a game in this series before. And that’s sad if someone has never played a Mario game. Anyway, aside from Pokemon, Mario games are what I played for the majority of my childhood. I have so many fond memories of playing the Mario sports games in my childhood. But what I remember most is my days of playing Mario Kart 64. I remember sucking at the game at first, naturally since I was only 5 years old. But I went at it every day until I got better at the game. For a long time, that was the only N64 game I played. Soon enough, I was able to challenge my dad at the game and then eventually I would start beating him.
Ever since then, I bought every single Mario Kart in the series. I made sure I knew the game inside and out. Every single shortcut, exactly how to best use my mini-turbos and with the new games, what car parts suited my needs. Last year, I was in a Mario Kart 7 tournament that was held within Ontario for EB Games employees. At the start of the tournament, there were quite a few competitors in the tournament. I usually don’t brag, but at the beginning of that tournament, I slaughtered everyone else. Almost right from the start, I had the lead over everyone else in the province and I held the lead for the vast majority of the tournament. By the end, there were only a few competitors that were even close. The only reason they were even close was because they were both from the same store and they were boosting each other in order to keep up with me. I had my 3DS on constantly to prevent them from boosting off each other; I beat them in races a lot of the time but they were both still pretty good. The only reason I lost was because I had to go on vacation in the last two days and I couldn’t get a connection from the hotel to my 3DS. As such, I came in second.
Mario Kart is one of the few series I’m competitive with. I stake my reputation as a gamer on my skills in this series. As someone who has played this series since I was 5 years old, and playing every game in the series, I take pride in my knowledge of these games.
This turned into a conversation about Mario Kart instead of the Mario series as a whole so let me talk about the main games. Just like The Legend of Zelda series, almost every single main game to come out of this series is a masterpiece, especially the 3D games. The 3D games are some the best games in each of their respective console generations.
2. Super Smash Bros
Developers: HAL Laboratory, Sora Ltd. Publisher: Nintendo
Games Played: Super Smash Bros., Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Upcoming games: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS
Ah… Super Smash Bros… Whenever I reminisce about playing video games with my friends from my childhood, this is the first series that comes to mind, followed by Pokemon. This is my dream come true: Get a bunch of Nintendo characters from different franchises and throw them into one game to smack each other around.
While I never owned the N64 game until this year (WTF is wrong with me? :P ) my former best friend always brought his over to my house or I would go to his and play it there. Once I got my GameCube, I was able to play Melee. I just played for the heck of it, until one of my close friends showed me how to properly play the game. Now this game, along with Mario Kart, are the two games I feel confident in facing anybody in.
Naturally, the next games in the series are my most anticipated games for next year. I’m going to have sleepless nights over it, just like I did when Brawl’s release date approached.
Developers: Game Freak (main series), Genius Sorority, Ambrella, Spike Chunsoft, Tecmo Koei (spin-off series). Publisher: Nintendo
Games Played: Pokemon main series [all] (to save the trouble of naming them), Pokemon Mystery Dungeon [all], Pokemon Colosseum, Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness, Pokemon Dash, Pokemon Trozei, Pokemon Ranger, Pokemon Stadium 1 and 2, Pokemon Snap, Pokemon Puzzle League, Pokemon Conquest, Pokemon Rumble and Rumble Blast… I think you guys get the idea. :P
Upcoming games: Pokemon Trozei 2?, untitled Pikachu mystery game, unconfirmed Wii U game
Anyone who knows me knows I love this series to death, so it’s unsurprising that it makes its way onto the top of my list. I’ve played almost every single Pokemon game to be released, even the bad ones, just because I love the series that much.
As a kid growing up in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, it was impossible to avoid Pokemon. It was IMPOSSIBLE. Pokemon was so popular back then, it had penetrated popular culture. Of course there was the wildly popular anime and games, but then there were movies, action figures, cards, and so much more. I even remember going to see a play of Pokemon. A freaking PLAY! So, naturally, I grew to love Pokemon, and as I got older, nothing changed. Even as the anime lost its popularity and the cards went into hibernation, me and what friends I had were still playing the video games. I was constantly surrounded by Pokemon, so that is why it never lost its appeal for me.
Last year, I was shocked by my lack of interest in Pokemon. Black/White 2 are the only main Pokemon games that I have not completed to this day. I thought to myself: “Am I done with Pokemon?” Until Pokemon X/Y was announced, that’s what I was thinking. But once I saw X/Y for the first time, I knew what my issue was. It was fatigue. Fatigue from seeing 2D sprites battling it out in a 2D world. With Pokemon X/Y, the main Pokemon games have finally evolved into the third dimension. And it is awesome!
Just like with Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros., I plan on becoming more competitive with Pokemon. Starting with Black/White and the rise of using the Internet to do battles, Pokemon has become increasingly competitive. It has reached the point where The Pokemon Company now hosts world tournaments for Pokemon. Being in both an anime club and a Japanese culture club in school has lead to more influence to become competitive since I don’t want to lose to anyone.
I hope you enjoyed my list if you took the time to read through the whole thing. What do you guys think? I'll bet you were surprised by a few of my picks.