Posted on Saturday, January 21 @ 14:48:06 Eastern by GR_Staff
Kevin Schaller - Super Mario Bros. 3
An argument could be made for why Super Mario World is a better game—both for the graphics and vastly expanded world—but to date I have not found anything as satisfying as SMB3. It was hard to tell just what the limits of the NES were. Controlling Mario and Luigi were a cinch, the music was great, every stage was as beautiful as a Saturday morning cartoon, and each stage/world was interesting and unique. I still rank it not only as one of the best games of all time, but as one of the prettiest games ever created for any generation.
Looking back on it now, I can still say it feels as fresh and playable today as it did over 20 years ago. Sitting in PJs in front of the tube TV as a kid, holding that controller in my hand, I was hooked on the game and I've held it as a personal benchmark ever since. Diverse, colorful, sharp and engrossing… it doesn't get much better than this, if at all.
Josh Laddin - Super Metroid
For those of us with that Lewis and Clark-esque love of exploration—especially those of us that didn’t even know it yet, like myself—Super Metroid was a revelation. To this day, I don’t think any other game captures the thrill of being lost, vulnerable, surrounded on all sides, and overwhelmed by massive environments better. But at the same time, you still felt like a badass intergalactic walking arsenal, and you were a hot chick to boot.
Super Metroid was a logical evolution of the original Metroid’s gameplay, but it also perfected it in every way possible. The best feature was the addition of an honest-to-goodness in-game map so you finally didn’t have to stumble through your own poorly hand-drawn maps that were made with a six-year-old’s sense of direction and spatial reasoning. Add to that the multitude of suit upgrades and jaw-dropping bosses and you had a truly epic adventure (back before everyone and their mom adopted the word “epic” to describe everything). The thrill of finally finding a new path to travel after rabidly bombing and shooting every block in sight for days still trumps any over-the-top blockbuster special effects you’ll find in today’s games.
Kuulei Naipo - Grand Theft Auto IV
One of the best things about playing video games is the freedom: the freedom to do whatever you please without facing the real consequences. What a better example of this than Grand Theft Auto IV. Want to drive down the wrong side of the road? Not a problem. Want a soda to feel better from gunshot wounds? You got it. Want to play chicken using helicopters with your best buddy online? Yes, please.
GTAIV is the epitome of video games. It features hand-to-hand combat, gore, gunplay, exploration, a variety of vehicles, humor, morality choices, groovy music, a storyline, free-roam multiplayer, and high replay value. The multiplayer is what made this particular title stand out from the series. Sharing the violence and the corruption with other players means great memories and it doesn’t only consist of free-roam. There are 15 modes available which includes cooperative, PvP and racing. GTAIV is an all-around great and fun game, as it really does feature everything a player could look for in a video game.
Eddy Fettig - Super Mario Galaxy
Super Mario Galaxy epitomizes everything I love about video games. It combines varied levels with effectively simple controls to ensure that design is what pulls players. It's a joy to look at and listen to despite being on "inferior" hardware. It's at once brimming with new ideas while building off of 20 years of history. It's a shining example of how less can be more. Super Mario Galaxy reminds us that video games were built from taking imagination itself and giving it form.
Its myriad of planetoids create an occasionally bizarre, sometimes elegant, always imaginative experience that uses creativity through modest mechanics to awaken a sense of interactive play with candor. In an age where people shooting guns is what sells, it's a damned relief to see that some still know how to inspire awe through elegant design and play rather than rely on violence and gritty realism.
Blake Peterson - Half-Life 2
Picking an “A+”game is damn hard; the games I enjoy the most have major problems. My favorite games are Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and Xenogears. Snake Eater has a ridiculously complicated control scheme—it’s like the Thrustmaster Cougar F-16 joysticks. Xenogears spends its second disc on scrolling text over sprite-animated backgrounds, and it stops being a game and becomes a visual novel.
A problem I have with reviews is that I believe new games get progressively better. Few games age well, and I refuse to adjust my standards for them; I recently played the original Super Mario Bros. without warping. I found control frustrating and had lost all my lives before reaching level 4: B-.
I need a game that’s the best of today or better than current games. My answer: Half-Life 2. I’d pick the whole Orange Box, but I don’t play Team Fortress 2, and Portal is so short it’s basically frosting on an orange cake. Half-Life 2, including the episodes or not, is consistently more fun than 99% of new games I pick up to play.
And if Half-Life 3 (or Half-Life 2: Episode 3, whatever it’s called) is anywhere close to as big a jump between Half-Life and Half-Life 2, I’ll wait seven more years for it.
(Bonus!) David Carlon - Chrono Trigger
Chrono Trigger is a game that shaped what the epitome of RPGs should be. The story was epic, a tale of people, robots, and frogs stretching across different times and dimensions coming together to destroy a parasite deeply seeded within the earth with the power of their friendship. It had unforgettable music that would echo in your eardrum even days after you put it down. Its battle sytem was simple as it was genius, especially dual and even triple techs.
And don't leave out the multiple endings? When I was a kid, this blew my fucking mind. Most games then had a singular ending, so when I played Chrono Trigger for the first time, I felt liberated, like I was playing a game that was breaking the rules. Chrono Trigger deserves an A+ for being life-altering, mind-melting, and tear-shedding. Besides, how many other RPGs have you seen spanning across almost four different decades of consoles? (Including the iPhone?!)