One of the best 3D platformers ever made, it cemented itself in the minds of just about everyone who played it back in 1998. With some really funny writing and a certain charm that stayed through the whole series, this adventure through many different worlds is one I still fondly look back on as one of my favorite gaming memories.
What might have looked like a simple dungeon crawling action RPG at first glance, the first Dark Cloud game had so much more going on beneath the surface. While you do delve into dungeons, the game has one of my favorite leveling mechanics in an RPG. Each weapon you have gains experience from its kills, and you can attach new skills to it through items found around the world. The weapons grow and evolve over time, and there are tons of them to see. Dungeons are only half of the game too. As you progress through dungeons, you gain the abilities to build massive cities and bring people into them. The world is entirely formed by your actions, and there are more mechanics than I can mention here. This is one RPG to judge other RPGs by.
The best action game I’ve ever played; you can tell that nothing was held back in the development of Bayonetta. Some of the most insane bosses you’ve ever seen? Sure. More weapons and abilities than you will ever use? Why not? Do you want to kick someone so hard that they fly into the sun? I mean, you eventually get a lightsaber. There are a bunch difficulties that will change the way you play, and plenty of incentive to come back for multiple playthroughs. When you’re done with those? There’s 2 more playable characters to use. Bayonetta is the best of its genre rolled up into one of the best packages ever to grace our consoles. If you need anymore reason to check this out, Bayonetta’s hair turns into a dragon and eats people. I don’t know what else you want.
I haven’t had more fun with online multiplayer anywhere else. Halo 3 gave us the freedom to create whatever kind of game we wanted, and do whatever we wanted to in it. Whether you wanted straight up deathmatch, hide and seek, zombie hunting, vehicular manslaughter battles, you name it and it’ll be yours to have. The customization options are what make Halo shine above the rest, and as much as fun as I’ve had with Call of Duty over the years, nothing has ever brought the laughs between friends as hard as Halo 3.
I played through the entire game in one sitting after discovering it years after it came out. I couldn’t stop myself, there was no way I wasn’t going to finish it. Take a little of the progression systems of Metroid and Castlevania, and then sprinkle a little Pokemon on top, with a dash of the weapon system from Dark Cloud added for good measure. In Aria of Sorrow, you collect the souls of enemies and can use them to assist you in battle. Every enemy in the game can be collected, and almost all of them will come in handy at some point. Additionally, there is an entire system devoted to collecting unique weapons and upgrading them into more powerful tools of destruction. There’s a ton to explore, and it will take you a while to see and do everything due to the overflow of content. Don’t pass this up any longer than you probably already have.
There isn’t enough praise to give the Metal Gear Solid series for what it can do with a story, and some of its best examples lie within Snake Eater. Being a prequel. Snake Eater is afforded the opportunity to act as its own story in the Metal Gear Solid universe, while building characters in such ways to actually make the other games in the series better. It contains some of the best characters in the series, and shouldn’t be missed by anyone who wants to appreciate what a video game can do when written as well as this.
After Resident Evil 4, I’ve always believed that the survival horror genre split off into multiple separate paths. Resident Evil 5 split away into action movie territory, while Dead Space retained what made RE4 so good. Dead Space is definitely more action oriented than Resident Evil 4, but it does intend to fill you with an ever-present sense of dread. The weapons and gadgets are great, the dismemberment system works very well, and there are more than a few scares around every corner. If you’re looking for more of an action/horror game than whatever Resident Evil 5 was, this should be your next stop.
One of my favorite games from the most well known JRPG series ever isn’t even a main entry. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance got me to play a genre that I typically wouldn’t have any interest in. A grid based strategy game may not sound like the most fun game, but FFTA manages to make it all very accessible, while making its RPG mechanics really fun to learn. Each character can have many different classes, giving them their own complete set of skills. Having 6 members on your team could lead to dozens of variations in classes and play-styles and the most exciting part about the game is building a squad that plays exactly how you want them to.
Team Meat can’t do anything halfway. With The Binding of Isaac, they’ve created one of the most addicting and eternally interesting games I’ve ever gotten my hands on. This combines the original Legend of Zelda with a vast progression system containing hundreds of permutations of advancement. It’s hard to think of a game that has as much to see as this, and it will suck up a lot of your time trying to find it all.
One of the most criminally underrated games on this list, the successor to the Phoenix Wright franchise managed to do something completely different, while being its own wonderfully unique creation at the same time. Ghost Trick is about someone trying to find their identity while getting heavily involved in an insane murder mystery. As with Phoenix Wright, Ghost Trick has some of the most charmingly memorable characters in video games. As you solve puzzles by using ghostly abilities to possess objects around the environment, the cleverness of the whole package is impossible to miss. The puzzles are fun to solve, and the story is impossible to stop halfway through, this is one of the most exciting games I’ve played in the past few years.