I’ve been a gamer for quite some time. I don’t know if I’m particularly “hardcore” or not in the realms of gaming, but ever since I picked up Pokémon Sapphire back when I was 9, I was hooked. Gaming has been a huge part of my life ever since then, and there are some individual games that have really made an impact on me, and that’s what I’ll be sharing today. This is my personal top 10 list of my favorite video games.
There aren’t many rules to this, just really no ties unless they are closely related games or direct sequels that continue the story. There won’t be any limits per franchise, I can’t choose my favorites like that. Also, I have to like them. This is my favorites, after all.
I’m going to let you know ahead of time that I’m mostly a Nintendo gamer, so you probably won’t find too many Playstation or XBox exclusives on my list (not that I think there’s anything wrong with that, everyone’s got a preference). It will also only have games that haven been released since November 10th, 2016. I might change my mind when new games come out, but until then, this is my most current list.
Also keep in mind that it is a personal list of favorites, and while I love these games to death, that doesn’t mean you have to. I’m hoping that maybe you might see one of these games and pick one up to give it a try yourself, or if you see a favorite of yours on my list, have something to talk about!
Fair warning, there might be some SPOILERS ahead!
Hope you enjoy!
10) Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny
To me, this game is a perfect combination between an action-packed adventure game and a relaxing life simulation game. I had seen ads for it in all my old Nintendo Power magazines but hadn’t picked it up until a few years back, but man, am I so glad I did! I love all the wacky characters that you meet on Fenith Island and love getting to bond with them throughout the game! I was so happy to have a game where I could choose my own weapon instead of being given a sword and be stuck with that the entire time, and I loved the variety I have to choose from! I like having to make your own weapons, accessories, and medicines, but you could buy a few pre-made as well.
Of course, every game has its ups and downs, and this one definitely had its downs– the waiting for things to happen at certain times during the day was kind of a pain, but I can appreciate what they were going for at the same time. At least I could waste time by harvesting… and harvesting… My gosh, if I grow one more tomato plant I swear–
Either way, I still have a lot of fond memories about this game. The bosses were a challenge, and while I did get super annoyed, I also had fun with it. Again, the characters were brilliant and quirky, not at all flat like I thought they would be. The dating and marriage portions of the game always had me excited as well- that is until I accidentally saved over the file with my husband and child that I just had. Cosmo, why? You were so young! Forgive me!
9)Endless Ocean 2: Blue World
I think I might be the only person in the world who would include this game in a top 10 favorites game list. I’ve always been a huge fan of marine life ever since grade school, but I would never dream of going diving out in the ocean myself. That’s where this game comes into play.
The first game was super fun, but I wanted more. There wasn’t enough to do. After endless searching (yes, pun intended) I finally came across the sequel game while I was visiting friends in Pennsylvania. It offered so much more than the first! The storyline was longer (not much, but it was still longer), there were more things to do such as salvage, build an aquarium, search for and train multiple species of dolphin, and more! I could always come back to the game and find something new to accomplish.
Even if you don’t necessarily want to do anything, the diving experience is great. I really did wish they would have improved the games graphics in the sequel, but it’s still really pretty to look at regardless. There’s also a lot of things that you really shouldn’t do in real life which makes it a great way for ocean nerds like me to virtually live out our dreams without disturbing wildlife. I can finally hitch a ride on a whale shark! But seriously, if you are a marine life enthusiast, you will love this game. You can interact with certain species and learn more about the ones you love!
While I do enjoy the storyline, I do think that is where the game, unfortunately, lacks most. That, and it’s characters. It wasn’t until my recent replay through the game that I realized how jerk-like or whiny most of the characters are. You’ve got Jean-Eric, your retired diver with a tragic backstory of his son that never returned from a voyage; Oceana, the whiny environmentalist teenager; G.G., the street gangster salvager; and Hayako, the brilliant Japanese scientist. Yeah… They’re pretty flat and not too creative, but at the same time, it leads to some pretty hilarious scenarios. The logic of this game is pretty terrible, but that’s just another reason why I love it. What’s that? A dangerous giant squid blocking the path? I know, let’s get an even more dangerous sperm whale to follow you to the squid so they can fight each other and clear the path! Sounds good to me!
There are moments of the story though that I did enjoy, such as finding more clues to discover the Pacifica treasure. It was fun to explore all the exotic locations, discovering new creatures and treasures along the way. I really love that they had more than one single location in this game, unlike the first one. It always makes me excited to come across a rare creature or even a legendary one like the Phantom or the Leviathan. It really is an endless ocean!
Also, I have to give a shoutout to both games for using amazing artists such as Hayley Westenra and the Celtic Women in their score!
8) Super Mario Galaxy
Like just about anyone, I love a good Mario game. However, I must admit that my favorite of them all is not one of the typical 2D side-scrollers, but Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii. It was everything that the 2D ones had to offer, and it did not only bring it to the 3D world but they really went all out. I love the gravity effects! It’s so weird, but I love every second of it! It introduced some new power ups which were, not going to lie, decent at most, but the overall gameplay made everything worthwhile. While Bowser’s boss fights might not have been the greatest, only changing slightly each time, there were other boss battles that were larger than life. Megaleg, in particular, always stood out to me. I thought it was so cool that you actually had to scale this metal beast to take it down.
Of course, it might have been higher if it didn’t have those stupid rolling games. I actually broke one of my Wii-remotes because I was so frustrated after an hour of trying to get a stupid star from one of these agonizingly tedious mini-game galaxies.
On the contrary, the rest of the games mechanics were a lot of fun. As well as that, it introduced one of my favorite Mario characters, Rosalina. As well as a beautiful design, I think she was a very interesting character to learn about during Rosalina’s story time. Some people think she’s just supposed to be that games Princess Peach, but I dare to disagree.
Speaking of Peach, the ending cutscene where she and Mario spin together through the stars was just gorgeous. All of them were, but this one, in particular, made me so full of joy. The way they twirl about with each other as Mario grabs Peach’s hand was so beautifully done! The sacrifice of the Luma’s also pulled on my heartstrings, when your little Luma friend waves goodbye I was in tears. Honestly, I think this Mario game had the best story of all. Even if it was still rather simplistic, I think it’s perfect the way it is. It’s a Mario game, it doesn’t have to be super deep or meaningful. It was just a great experience.
7) Pikmin 2
I love Pikmin. It’s such a creative concept filled with interesting creatures and a beautifully designed world! I would watch my friend play Pikmin and Pikmin 2 literally all the time until I could finally find a copy of Pikmin 2 for myself. I borrowed Pikmin before, and while I did enjoy it a lot, I did not like the fact that I had a time limit. Time limits always make me super uncomfortable while playing a game, and I always feel so rushed and like I can’t enjoy the game to its fullest potential. Pikmin 2 solved that issue. You had an unlimited time to explore the distant planet with your little Pikmin buddies.
I also really liked that you could switch between two captains. I really loved both Olimar and Louie, they were always a joy, and the gameplay was also a lot more interesting with two characters to control instead of one. The inclusion of the Purple and White Pikmin also created for some interesting scenarios, which is why I was pretty disappointed when they didn’t return for the main story of Pikmin 3. I like the Flying and Rock Pikmin, but you couldn’t have just made it so we had 7 types instead of 5?
But speaking of interesting scenarios, one of the best caves to explore was Submerged Castle. You could only bring blue Pikmin into a dungeon filled with fire, electricity, explosions, poison, and the horrifying Waterwraith. I remember my first encounter with the Waterwraith; all the alarms went off, “Danger! Danger! Danger!”. I dropped all my treasures and headed for the exit. When I heard it’s gurgling rendition of Blow the Man Down it sent shivers down my spine! It was terrifying by every means, and when it actually managed to roll over my Pikmin it was even more devastating! Finally, I reached the bottom and took it on with my newly sprouted Purple Pikmin, and it felt amazing.
The game did get really difficult at times, and I lost a LOT of Pikmin, but that’s just a part of the game. I remember my first Pikmin extinction. I was literally crying! That didn’t stop me, though– A lot of my Pikmin came and went throughout my journey, but I conquered! I left the planet a wealthy captain! I did always do my best to make sure the little babies didn’t get eaten, though. Or stepped on. Or set on fire. Or poisoned. Or drowned. Or…
6) Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
I was so hyped for this game, I pre-ordered it once the teaser poster released before the game was even given a name, and when I finally got it, it did not disappoint. I mean, it stunk when I found out I had to go all the way back to the mall to buy the Wii motion plus, but after that it was good.
I honestly can’t figure out why people hate, or at least rank this as a low Zelda title. Yeah, the motion control gets a little buggy or slow sometimes, and yes the Imprisoned is infuriating– I hate that thing with a burning passion– but all games have their flaws, and once you look passed them, it’s a fantastic game!
This game, I think, had some of the most unique dungeon designs in the Zelda series. I loved the Sand Ship and Ancient Cistern especially! They really made me think hard. The trials outside the dungeons were intense as well! I really loved when all the items were taken away during a return to the Eldin Volcano. It was very reminiscent of the Forsaken Fortress from Wind Waker, but I gotta say, I think I liked this one more. I liked having to sneak around and trick the monsters. It was a different kind of challenge. Not to mention the Silent Realm trials! Those’ll get your heart pumping!
I also really liked the inclusion of a stamina bar and a shield durability gauge. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about that, but again, for me, it adds to the puzzle and the experience. It felt more realistic this way. As much as I love Twilight Princess, I always wondered how Link could move such heavy objects and not tire out from it. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping that they’ll do this again for Breath of the Wild, or at least for some items or skills.
Then there’s the story and characters. It felt so good to finally get an origin game, to see why and how everything in the Legend of Zelda came to be what it is. It was really cool to see why Zelda has magical abilities in future games and why she’s even the Princess. It was mind-blowing to see that Ganondorf keeps returning in future installments because of Demise’s curse. Lastly, it was so intense to find out the dear friend you’ve made in Fi has been with you in every journey with the Master Sword. She had been there the whole time, by your side. Fi and Ghirahim had easily become two of my favorite Legend of Zelda characters from this point, and this incarnation of Zelda one of my favorites just the same. Impa, Groose, the list goes on, so many wonderful faces to care about! Why don’t more people like this game!?
5) Fire Emblem: Awakening
Fire Emblem, in general, has always been a favorite series of mine. I started with Path of Radiance and played everything after (and a few things from before, at least, whatever ones I could get my hands on). When the 3DS came out, I wasn’t interested in all at buying one, even when I heard that a new Fire Emblem title was coming out. It wasn’t until another game (that’s later up on the list so I’m not going to say right now) that I was convinced to buy a 3DS. When I did, the other game had not been released yet, but Awakening was, so I decided to pick up a copy for myself, and I am so glad that I did!
It’s probably because the franchise was supposed to end here that they put their all into this game, and it definitely paid off. The characters are fantastic, the story was fun, the gameplay was great- I simply loved it! There are of course a few things to nitpick here and there, I don’t really care for the Knight/General classes armor design and all the supports involving pie bore me to tears, but really, those are my only complaints.
I originally didn’t know how I would feel about having a custom character unit, but I ended up really liking Robin– Or Roderich– Or Marie– Or Ariaera– Or whatever I named him– or her! They weren’t a blank slate character, but they also didn’t exaggerate traits too much that the player would feel disconnected from their avatar. The avatar wasn’t the only character who deserves praise, though, the entire game is filled with a colorful cast of unique and wonderful characters! Unfortunately, they did so well that they decided to clone them and stick them in Fates, but that’s another issue for another day. Characters like Miriel, Virion, Inigo, Laurent, Owain, and Cynthia always stick in my head as some of the most enjoyable Fire Emblem characters to date! But of course, we can’t forget Henry. Henry is a gift from the heavens.
While I’m not sure how I like the marriage in future games like Fates, it worked wonderfully here. It integrated perfectly with the storyline and made total sense, and it was fun to be a matchmaker. I liked seeing who was more compatible with who, and the best part- there was no wrong pairing! I love Chrom and Sumia together, but if you didn’t, you had all the liberty to change that! I especially loved the relationships between the future children and their parents, it was so interesting considering how they grew up without theirs in this dystopian future that they were trying to prevent.
As much as I love Awakening, there is one Fire Emblem game that ranks above it in my eyes.
4) Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
As fantastic as I think Awakening is, nothing compares in my book to Radiant Dawn. As I mentioned previously, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance was my first of the series. I was instantly hooked and it became one of my favorite games. Then the sequel came out.
One of the reasons I picked this over the prequel was because I felt the story was so much stronger in this game. There was so much to discover about each character, old and new; which was another thing! New characters! You had your mix of characters from Path of Radiance as well as amazing new characters like Edward and Leonardo– Not Micaiah though. I still can’t stand her. Even old characters from Path of Radiance who weren’t playable before stepped onto the battle field for the first time, and it was amazing! Leanne, Sanaki, Kurthnaga, and so many others were available, and I loved having so many characters to choose from! The best thing of all was that there were hardly any two-dimensional characters. There were so many characters from the first game with well-developed personalities, it wasn’t hard for them to come up with a few more! Yes, a few fell flat (cough, cough, Micaiah, cough), but for the huge cast, they did a pretty darn good job!
Not only were the characters great, but so were the levels. Having over 40 levels and only a few that were lacking is really a great accomplishment! Having this many levels also kept the fun going! Though my first play through took me forever to complete, it never felt like a chore. Each level, again with a few exceptions here and there, was engaging and challenging in its own right.
I’m not going to lie, Radiant Dawn also remains close to me for rather personal reasons as well. I used to have a website long before WordPress where I would write my own sequel to Radiant Dawn because I didn’t want it to end. I made it a next generation game where children of the old characters fought alongside them. It wasn’t a very good story, but it helped me start as a writer, and holds a dear place in my heart… And no, you can’t read it. The websites been shut down for some time now.
3) Pokemon Alpha Sapphire
As I cited in the beginning, Pokémon Sapphire was my first video game. Well, it was the first one I completed from start to finished and it was the first that I could call my very own. When I heard they were remaking it for the 3DS, that was when I made my decision to buy one. I even bought the blue 3DS XL and put a primal Kyogre decal on it in honor of the game. I have to say, while nostalgia holds Sapphire close to my heart, the remake absolutely blows it away in every sense.
The graphics are better, the characters are more developed, the story is elongated, the battles are intense, mega stones, updated soundtrack, the secret bases have purpose, the pokedex is expanded, wonder trade is available, need I go on? Because I can! I was afraid when I picked it up that it would have been made even easier than the original, and while some things were, like obtaining Latias fairly early, most things remained the same. It still took 30 minutes for Regice to stay in the pokéball at red HP, so they couldn’t have made it that easy. The only thing I’m rather upset about is the Sky Pillar was made simpler. I mean, I’m sure if it was the same as in Sapphire I would have been able to complete it quicker as an adult, but it still felt too easy to obtain Rayquaza.
On the other hand, the battle with Primal Kyogre felt legendary. The score was incredible, the mood was set perfectly, and he wasn’t a pushover. Again, being an adult who knew how to handle this thing didn’t make it necessarily hard, but it was fun, and I was living in the moment. Same when I was battling Steven! There were a lot of fun battles in this game! Then, once the champion has been defeated, during the credits you watch your whole adventure flash before your eyes and you cry. Well, I did. I actually cried at the nostalgia of hearing the updated Littleroot theme. This game sure did bring the feels. It also brought my childhood dreams true by finally included the journey into space to capture a Deoxys. I always heard the rumors and waited for the space center to finally tell me I could go up into the heavens, but the day never came… That is until now.
My only hope is that this game stays relevant with the release of Sun and Moon. I want them to make some sort of DLC that allows you to transfer the new Pokémon to ORAS, I don’t want to leave this game behind!
2) Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
This game… I could go on forever about this magnificent game. This was my first ever Legend of Zelda game, and to this day I still enjoy it just as much as I did the first time. It’s not a super hard game and it’s one of the lighter toned Zelda games in terms of story, but it’s just so well executed and overall fun! Sometimes you need a game like this, and it works so well!
The Earth Temple is one of my favorite Zelda dungeons of all time because of it’s unique gameplay in controlling two characters and solving many light-based puzzles. The bosses were equally as fun! Fighting Gohma for the first time had me on the edge of my seat, and the battle with Molgera was something to remember! Of course, we can’t forget about the final showdown between Link and Ganondorf, that was fantastic!
There are so many memorable characters came from this game– Tetra, Makar, Medli, and so on, and to be honest, this is the game where Link stopped being just a blank slate character and started to develop his own personality quirks. He became the underdog hero. He was a little goofy and naive, but he still had a heart of gold. Upon my first play through, this made Link a lot more relatable for me as an 11 year old (and admittedly still as a 22 year old). I can say for certain that this will always be one of my favorite incarnates of the green clad hero.
Now I suppose if I had to pick between the original and the HD remake, I would lean towards the remake a little more only because of the speed sail and the shortened triforce quest. Otherwise, I would say the games are just about identical!
The Trauma Center series is another one I wanted so badly to include on this list and Trauma Center: Second Opinion was originally my number 10 pick but thinking long and hard about it, I had to go with Rune Factory instead. If this was a top 10 of my favorite franchises, it would definitely be on the list. It’s definitely an underrated series, and if you haven’t tried it, Second Opinion I think is the best place to start.
I love, love, LOVE Spyro the Dragon games, and the only reason I do not have one on this list is because I have never fully completed one. My luck in terms of Spyro is horrible, something in real life has always prevented me from finishing a single game. If I had to put one title on my list it would be Spyro: A Hero’s Tail. I feel it offered the most while still maintaining that classic Spyro characters and gameplay. If my file hadn’t corrupted 4 times, I would have beaten the game by now…
I need to give a mention to Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds because it was the handheld Zelda game I enjoyed the most. I really loved the painting mechanic and how you could choose the order of dungeons instead of having a linear order. Another plus would be the introduction of one of my favorite Zelda characters of all time, Ravio.
A tie mention for Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 and Zoo Tycoon. Both games were a huge part of my childhood, and I still find myself yearning to play these titles! I chose the second installment of Roller Coaster Tycoon because I felt it had the most to offer in terms of gameplay and I just found it the most entertaining overall.
I wanted to give a shout out to Animal Crossing: New Leaf because it was my introduction to Animal Crossing, which I thought I would get bored with easily, but I was instead pleasantly surprised how addicting it had become! I also love how it incorporates something different to do every day!
Sims 2 was another one of those games that had me engrossed for many nights of my childhood, and was one of the few games that I would spend playing until one in the morning. I chose Sims 2 because I have never played the first, and more of my fond memories are from the second game. I also didn’t like how you could only play with just one family in Sims 3.
Yes, it’s another Zelda mention, but I couldn’t go without giving Hyrule Warriors a shoutout. It’s a game I would never have picked up on my own, but once I started playing it, I couldn’t stop! I’ve never been so happy with an hack-and-slash game! Not to mention that it has all of my favorite Legend of Zelda characters to play as! Well, almost all of them… (You can find out who else I thought was worthy of a spot on my Top 10 List of Characters That Should Have Been in Hyrule Warriors— Shameless self-promotion!)
And my number one favorite game of all time is…
1) Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Of course it’s a Legend of Zelda game!
Twilight Princess was the game I remember wanting most as a kid. Every issue of Nintendo Power that would come in the mail would get me even more pumped up for this amazing game! I recall seeing the trailer for the first time and my mind was blown! This was exactly the kind of Zelda game I wanted to play! I loved The Wind Waker, but I wanted a darker toned, more realistic setting, and that’s exactly what I got.
But this isn’t all about Nostalgia either, I firmly believe that this is still the best Zelda game in the franchise. Of course, it still has flaws, I won’t claim that I think it’s perfect, but there’s so much more that make it stand out as a great game.
Once again the characters are fantastic in this game. Midna is one of the most fascinating Zelda partners we’ve gotten, and I love how dynamic her character is from the beginning where she starts off as a selfish imp to become a caring friend in the end. I do wish Zelda herself had a little bit more screen time, but she did her role and she did it well. Link, again, showed more of his own traits during this game. I felt this Link was a kind and compassionate man, but also still a child at heart. I always think back to the scene where you enter the Fishing Hole store for the first time and his face just lights up! It’s a small thing to include, yet it made such an impact on me. Zant was a great addition to the villains, I love his build up as such a sinister villain and when you fight him all madness breaks loose! It was so unexpected, yet so fitting! Lastly, I have to mention the Hero’s Spirit– What a unique, mind-boggling character! You only see him for a few times, but there’s so much mystery shrouding this phantom, it really makes you think!
Then there’s the over world. While I could complain that there were too many open spaces in Hyrule Field and Gerudo Desert that had absolutely nothing to do, the places that did have things to do were a lot of fun. Sliding down Snowpeak, river rafting to Lake Hylia, collecting all the Poe souls, even crossing the bridge of Eldin was just so majestic to look at it made it all worth it. There was always something for me to do, even when I completed the game 100% I could still find little things around the realm that would keep me entertained for hours! It really feels like a fantasy game with all the quests and sights, and that’s what I love about it.
Thank you for taking the time to read my list of top 10 games! It was so hard to choose between all of these, but I think this is the most solid list I’ve come up with yet. Are any of the picks on my list on your top 10? Are they your least favorites? I’d love to hear your thoughts!