Here's my ground rules:
1) They must be games that I have played to completion.
2) Only one game from a series can be represented.
3) In order to qualify they must have compelled an obsession to play and in some way moved me with by story, gameplay, or visuals.
4) I will apply my original gamespot rating to each entry.
20- Rocky: Legends - Some people will scratch their heads about this one making the list but look: Rocky was just the most fun boxing game I've ever played. The characters were varied enough to really allow you to find your favorites and the career mode was really spectacular. The only real complaints about it was that you could only do the career with 4 characters and once you won your title (except for Rocky) it was over and you couldn't defend it. They would do well to update this one because for all the pomp and fluff of Fight Night, it was Rocky that went the distance. 10.0
19- Kengo: Master of Bushido - This game was the first to really kind of throw you into a sword master's life. That kind of immersion completely captured my imagination. Being able to train and challenge rival dojos gave a real sense of 'ownership' to your character. Kengo was short though, it really needed a lot more depth. When 'Legend of the Nine' came out I was so excited, until I played it. I'm still waiting for the true sequel to one of the Playstation's greatest underappreciated gems. 9.5
18- Way of the Samurai 2 - Similar to Kengo, Way of the Samurai and its superior sequel thrust you into your own samurai-western drama, albiet a really short one. This was compensated by the wide variety of paths you could travel with your own decisions, giving you a real sense of immersion in the story. I list WotS 2 because its story was better than its predecessor, although both were equally enrapturing. 8.5
17- Golgo 13: The Top Secret Episode - This was perhaps the very first game I ever played that pulled me deep into the story. I must have played this game all the way through at least 4 times. It was also the first game I had sex in, which was important for a 15 year old! While its sequel The Mafat Conspiracy was actually slightly better in every aspect, Golgo 13 itself remains the better of the two because of its revolutionary nature at the time. I'll always have fond memories of this title... it took my 8-bit virginity! 10.0
16- Test Drive: Eve of Destruction - Boy, talk about your sleeper hit! This was a rental based solely on its two player capacity and it ended up being one of my most played console games ever. I've played this, start to finish, no less than 6 times. The career mode is a blast! Buying and fixing up cars, especially painting them with the EXCELLENT paint tool, was just as habit-forming as trying to win the race. With a kick-ass soundtrack to back it up this was the best racing game ever. 10.0
15- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City - Yea, I know, have my head checked right? Vice City, all the way down at number 15? Whilst this was obviously the best in series, and while the series itself is groundshaking, this is just where the series happens to fall on my list. Vice beat out its predecessor and its two sequels primarily because of setting and story. Tommy Vercetti was an extremely likable character and who could deny that racing around fictional Miami on a crotch-rocket was perhaps more fun than should be allowed? Sure San Andreas gave us MUCH more freedom, and sure GTA IV gave us MUCH more realism, but Vice City earned its place and Rockstar will have to do something really amazing to unseat it. 9.5
14- Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater - Metal Gear is one of the greatest game series ever made and none of them were better than this one... Snake Eater... the story of the original Snake. Although each game (except for 2) was exceptional in their own right, Snake Eater pushed it above and beyond with its excellent Bond-like feel. Having to worry about food and injuries really put you in the experience and that theme song... it will never leave my head! 10.0
13- Final Fantasy VII - The second greatest RPG ever made and the best of the Final Fantasy series. VII threw us so deep into the fight against Shinra that those of us who put 120+ hours into it will never forget it, no matter how long we live. Although I followed the obvious story line and chose Aeris as the love interest I always wanted to play through it again and choose who I really loved, Tifa... or even Barrett! But I could never bring myself to do it because the story was PERFECT. Simply perfect. 10.0
12- Smackdown vs Raw 2006 - This one made the list because I love CAW wrestlers. My friends and I ran a fantasy season complete with our own fantasy roster and all the drama needed for professional wrestling. 2006 marked the pinnacle of the SvR series as the CAW took a terrible turn after this one. 2006 makes it this high on the list not because of killer gameplay or great graphics, but because we invested SO many hours into creating and WATCHING these wrestlers perform. Yes, I said watching... we never played ourselves because that wouldn't be fair! It broke my heart when 2007 failed... then 2008 and finally 2009. I guess nothing gold can stay. 9.5
11- Uncharted Waters - Koei is one of the best companies in the industry and this title stayed fresh year after year, giving you sandbox freedom a decade before the term sandbox hit the media. Starting out as a small trader, keeping handwritten logs of goods prices at various ports, scribbling down hidden coordinates, and gambling away much needed supply money on tavern games of poker (still the best video poker game I've ever played) kept me on the edge of my seat near constantly. But once I realized that I had the money to buy the ships and guns needed to become a pirate? This game had it all. I would sell my car for a current version of it! 10.0
10- Vandal Hearts - Turn-based strategy hit a plateau with Vandal Hearts. With an outstanding story, buckets of blood, and enough hidden goodies to keep you playing over and over VH was the game to beat. Many will argue that Final Fantasy Tactics or Ogre Battle did it, and they'd be close, but VH stood out in my opinion because of the attachment I formed to the characters and their plight. Too bad the sequel was terrible, but as for Vandal Hearts it brought me back a total of three times after I first beat it to play again aand again. 10.0
9- Sid Meier's Pirates! - The replay value on this gem cannot be overstated. From its 8-bit incarnation to its superb new update Pirates! is one of the best games ever made. Period. 9.5
8- Baseball Stars - Only time can move this game so far down the list. Hands down the greatest baseball game ever, Baseball Stars gave you enough customization to keep you vested in your team. The ONLY flaw this game has was a weak battery in the cartridge. Of course the arcade version took away all your customization and so did its console sequel, but the original will live forever as the best sports game I've ever played. 10.0
7- The Mark of Kri - From art to concept to gameplay The Mark of Kri was a masterpiece, far outstripping its descendent God of War, which borrowed heavily from its influence. haha, maybe that's reaching but why not? GoW entheusiasts think EVERY game is a GoW clone, right? Seriously, MoK deserves to be here, one of the very best console games ever devised. 10.0
6- Valkyria Chronicles - Now it's getting tough. Valkyria Chronicles is the ONLY modern generation game to make this list and that should say alot; HD graphics and multi-player cannot make a game alone. Fear not, Valkyria deserves its place, and maybe should even be higher. It probably will be with more time. Combining a revolutionary art style, revolutionary gameplay, and a story that will move you to tears on more than one occasion let it be know that anyone who missed out on this game missed one of the best games ever made from any genre. Packed with replayability and gripping in its story, you WILL feel attached to these characters and feel their plight. This one is worth buying a PS3 for. 10.0
5- Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares - These last 5 are going to be really hard for me. That said number 5 is MOO II. The best space-related game ever made. Not in my opinion, it just is. Disagree if you want, that doesn't change it! In all seriousness MOO II had it all; exploration, colonization, war both planetary and stellar and oodles of customization. I probably logged at least 6 months of my life playing MOO II, at least. Its predecessor was equally good but MOO II added tons to it. Too bad about MOO III being such a suck-fest, but if they'd just go back to formula I would lose at least 6 more months of my life. 10.0
4- Nobunaga's Ambition - Koei started it all with this one. Nobunaga's Ambition pulled me in not just to the game itself, but into Japan; into Japanese culture, into Japanese language, and into Japanese history. It was shocking to discover just how much I actually learned about Sengoku (The Warring States Period) in Japan from this game. My best friend and I played this one more than perhaps any other game. Recently NA: Rise to Power came out and now NA: The Iron Triangle is released, but both abandon the multiplayer component to offer a real time component. This is a real shame but single player maintains its charm. 10.0
3- Suikoden - The best RPG ever was Suikoden/Suikoden II. From its large scope to its epic story it was the grandest of all, better even than Final Fantasy. I and II were practically equal in their appeal, both having amazing stories and such a variety of mini-games and characters as to be incredible. You'll never forget these stories. Not ever. 10.0
2- Street Fighter Alpha 3 - There's no dispute that Street Fighter is the greatest series of fighting games ever and the series itself never got any better than SFA3. The largest cast of characters, the best overall move set, SFA3 was the best of the best. The yardstick by which all other competitive fighting games are measured. 10.0
1- Civilization III - The crown goes to the game series with the greatest level of replayability ever, and amongst those none have better customization and balance than Civ III. Hats off to Sid Meier because Civilization is truly an enduring masterpiece. All told I wouldn't be surprised to learn that I'd spent a year or more of my live hunched over my computer playing Civilization, wrapped tightly in the human drama that I had created. 10.0
Conan- Don't believe the hype. Conan is a fantastic game, despite any similarities to God of War.
Blackthorne- Best. Platformer. Ever.
Blitz: The League II- If you love violence and you love football... here it is.
Garou: Mark of the Wolves- Street Fighter's little cousin. This one was just as good, but poorly marketed.
Gun- Grand Theft Horse. Just needed to be bigger with more things to do.
The Last Guy- This one was amazing, but simple. A great time consumer.
Mirror's Edge- Truly underappreciated, this game kicks butt!
Okami- If I'd finished this one I would have added it. A work of art.
Rise of the Argonauts- Another underappreciated gem. It got panned because of its best feature: the dialogue tree. It's Mass Effect, only linear... with a spear.
Saint's Row- Pure. Simple. Fun.
Yakuza- There might not be a better sleeper game out there. Yakuza flew in under all the radar but it remains one of the best little fighters there is.