I love games, I have since I was a little kid and I got my first gameboy for my tenth birthday in 1995, followed by a Nintendo 64 the year after. RPGs were the first games I fell in love with, expansive worlds, heroic characters and cute little sidekicks. I was hopeless at finishing though, if something was too hard back then, I would usually just give up, and sadly left many games unfinished, until I got old and revisited them anyway. I think that is partially why these days I’m such a completionist.
After my initial love with consoles, handheld and otherwise, I dabbled in oone gaming for a while, I didn’t have any money, so I couldn’t play WoW, but I discovered a few free online games (like Ragnarok Online)and fell in love with being part of something so much bigger than I was. And my love of the world wide gaming community commenced.
These days, I don’t get nearly as much time to play games as I would like, but my love for them is still as strong as ever. I own almost every console on the market (still saving for my PS4) and I still play when I can. For nostalgia’s sake though, here are ten games that have shaped my unconditional love of escaping reality, of visiting fantasy worlds and playing a hero. I love my RPGs, adventure games, games that challenge me and games that are just stunningly beautiful to look at. Here are ten of the games that shaped the awesome love of games I hold today.
1. Pokémon (Game Freak / Nintendo)
Pokémon will forever live in my heart. It was the first game I ever completed to the end, and one of the very first games I received and played on my original Gameboy. (which I still have in working condition with my Elite Four beating team still saved). I always buy the new games on release day and I am still on my quest to Catch ‘Em All. Pokemon started my love of adventure RPG games, and ignited in me my desire to ‘catch ’em all’ – the fire in me that seeks to explore every dungeon, and find every item. Pokemon for me instilled a love of adventure, of team work and strategy, but also of completion as I still work to fill my ever expanding pokédex.
2. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda)
As an older gamer, my love of RPGs evolved when I first picked up a n Elder Scrolls game, Morrowind was probably my first, but Skyrim stole my heart. Probably the game that I have dedicated the most play time to (if you don’t combine my Pokemon totals), with over 1200 hours. This game is stunning. It is absorbing. It has the perfect balance of guided quests and free roaming. The open world is seamless and there are so many nooks and crannies and caves to explore that the completionist in me totally lapped this game up. It is simply a joy to play and a perfect escape from reality. But honestly, no description is going to do this game justice.
3. Kingdom Hearts (Square Enix)
The characters, as well as their immersion into a Disney-based universe simply took my breath away. I will never forget beating Xaldin on my first attempt, and how excited I was about it. Not to mention the epic Sephiroth battle in KH:II. Kingdom Hearts took my heart so violently I have the game’s icon permanently inked on my skin. I suppose Kingdom Hearts and final fantasy kind of fall into the same category of fantasy RPG, but Kingdom Hearts stands alone for two reasons, it’s connection with Disney is magical, seriously, the mash-up is stunning and the uniqueness of the worlds it presents is amazing, plus it tends to drag you back into your childhood and all the fils you watched growing up, but the concept is also unique, the keyblade is a symbol of hope, and these games are all intertwined ever-so-cleverly.
4. Mario Kart (Nintendo)
Who doesn’t love hurling shells at their friends to blow them up while speeding down a track with a cool theme, avoiding obstacles? Mario Kart can make and break friendships, and I became best friends with my other half while bonding over Mario Kart 7 on DS. I was never very good at racing games, the controls were always so touchy, and I crashed, A LOT. But Mario Kart never seemed to present those problems to me, not anymore than they did anyone else anyway. Mario Kart, I think, taught me about myself in regards to competition, I was never an overly competitive person until I first played Mario Kart on N64. Since then, it has become one of my all-time favourites, and I pull it out whenever I get the chance. In fact, I bought a wii U just to play Mario Kart. (And Zelda of course…)
5. Legend of Zelda (Nintendo)
Zelda is one of those games that just absorbs you completely, taking you into a new world entirely. I remember not only playing these games, but reliving them in my mind while I was at school or at work, thinking about them all the time. Once I start playing a Zelda game – it owns me. And this isn’t a bad thing. Zelda games are beautiful, they are engaging and they are FUN. But once again, fantasy, adventure RPG, the difference with Zelda is the many puzzle-soling aspects throughout the game, they are challenging and kept me super engaged with the game, the story and the characters. Zelda games are smart, they are cunning and they kept me so as well.
6. Final Fantasy (Square Enix)
The Final Fantasy games must be some of my favourite games to play just for the sheer beauty of the landscapes and environments. Don’t get me wrong, the story lines and characters are equally beautiful and engaging, and most of the FF games are super fun to play. And if none of the above wins your heart, the soundtrack certainly will. It’s the strategy in this series that places this in the category as games that shaped my knowledge of the greater gaming world – until I played a final fantasy, I didn’t really think about strategy, not even when I played Pokémon, which I do now. Final Fantasy taught me that having a good strategy can be the difference between winning and losing.
7. Yoshi’s Story (Nintendo)
One of the first platformers I actually finished, I owe my love of classic and new platformers to this game. Of course I’ve played Mario’s and Sonic’s, but Yoshi was the character I fell in love with, and I share his love of melons too (the fruit, let’s keep it clean). I spent hours of my younger years slaving away, completing chapter after chapter, saving all the Yoshi’s and collecting all the fruit. The OCD in me loved the tidiness of the side scrolling platformer, enjoying the compact selection of world on the screen, just enough to focus on the task at hand. Yoshi also became one of my favourite characters, and is always my go to selection in Mario Kart.
8. Tomb Raider (Feral Interactive, Square Enix)
Obviously a winner in my book because it has one of the most kick ass lead ladies in the business. But the thing about Tomb Raider games that sets it apart from any other action-adventure RPG I have played, is the game-play, the timed-jumps, flips, wall-climbs and ledge-crawls that create an amazing sense of tension. Obviously there are other games of this calibre that I could have chosen, such as Assassin’s Creed or Uncharted, but Lara won me over in these games, growing up I didn’t have an awful lot of strong female lead characters in games I was playing, and Lara was, let’s face it, the most kick-ass chick on the gaming market. Lara taught me that you don’t have to be a dude to be a hero, or a survivor, or to kick-ass, and the too young to understand feminist in me strongly appreciated the representation.
9. Portal (Valve)
Games that challenge me are by far my favourites, and this RPG problem-solver was one of the best. The puzzles in this game could sometimes keep me occupied for days, scratching my head and frustrating myself to no end, but I loved it. This game, as a gamer, taught me patience, something up until this point I didn’t have much of, usually having purchased the user guide to try and finish the games to completion. But with Portal I didn’t want the guidebook, I didn’t want to google it, I didn’t want to cheat, I wanted to find the answers myself and feel the victory when I made it through each test, while GLaDOS (or Wheatley) taunted me. And it was oh-so-satisfying.
10. Crystal Caves (Apogee)
Crystal Caves is old. Like I had to install it with a floppy disk and load it in DOS old. But as old as it is, it is an amazing side-scrolling platformer and one of my all-time favourite games. Plus the ancient sound effects were uber-cool. This game taught me determination: I had no internet, I had no cheat books, It was just me and the game, and my little blaster gun. And it was hard. The graphics were simple, as was the story, but the puzzles were challenging and the gameplay was choppy at best, and even though it took me over a decade to finish this game (I finally downloaded and finished it in 2013), it was a huge part of the games of the 90s that pushed me to fall in love with gaming as a whole when I was just starting out in games. Our childhood memories and the games we still, after all this time, hold the most dear as some of our earliest gaming memories are the ones that make us GAMERS, instead of just people who play games.
I think it’s fair to say, that I am primarily, first and foremost, an RPG girl. I love a good fatasy or adventure RPG, and throw in an open world setting and I’m in heaven (CAN NOT wait for the new Zelda game this year). I love being challenged and I love finding ways to beat the boss battles that don’t necessarily involve me having to level-up or find better weapons. I love using my brain when I play games, but at the same time I enjoy gaming to escape and to be drawn in to an amazing story.
What kind of gamer are you?
You can find me on Xbox live as Felix Turtle, and on 3DS as Sami-Lee (friend code: 0877 – 2800 – 5289)
Images via here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here