This is the first of a new, approximately month-long series of posts that I’m plannng that will outline my personal top-30 list of video games. The question of my personal “best game ever” hasn’t really been a question to me for a while (if you’ve read TSM a decent amount you probably know what I’m talking about), but I’ve always been interested in deciding with partial certainty my top ten (in order), or even my top 20 or 30. So I’ve put together an ordered list and I’m going to do one per day, in ascending order, finishing off with number 1.
This isn’t going to be the list of what I think the best games are – just what my favorites are. I’ll probably write about why I think they’re awesome, as well as include anecdotes about my experiences with them. Every game on the list is one that I’ve either finished or come very close to finishing; they’re also games that I’m very familiar with, many of which I’ve played through at least twice. For those reasons, games like Wave Race 64 and Crash Bandicoot: Warped were left off the list, despite the fact that they’re incredible games. I have to know what I’m talking about here. Super Mario Land isn’t on the list because it sucks, despite the fact that it was the first game I ever played. You’ll find from this list that, in general, I think games are getting better as the technology improves. Not in all cases are new games better than old ones, but in general, that’s how I feel.
And I’m not going to do this every day. The auxilliary purpose of the countdown is to help me out when I don’t do anything interesting in a day and still need to write. So I’ll keep up with writing normally when I do fun stuff, and intersperse another game rank when I don’t. It’ll be a journey. And if you want to find them all in one spot, they’ll all be tagged “TSM’s Favorite Games”, which you can just type into the little search bar over on the right. And of course I’ll put up the complete list in a single post when I get to the end. Hope you enjoy. Maybe you’ll learn a bit about a game you didn’t know much about before.
Enough talk. There are a few honorable mentions, the first of which is Age of Empires 2.
This was the first PC game I ever owned. I suppose based on the release date of 1999 that my 8-year-old self was already decently into Nintendo 64 and Gameboy, and I really don’t know what caused me to come across AoE II. Maybe it was a birthday present or something. I wasn’t into realtime strategy really, and I’m still not (other than Starcraft I)…but it’s totally a sweet game.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Age of Empires is how hard this game actually is. I know I say this about every game I’ve ever played, you don’t have to tell me. This is an especially good example, though, of evidence that one of the following has happened: either I was incredibly good at gaming in my childhood and lost a huge portion of that skill in the process of maturing, or I’ve always been really bad and have been deluding myself for my whole life. Replaying a game like Age of Empires II recently, I can’t imagine how I did it when I was eight. Even at 19, I sit down, start a deathmatch game on normal difficulty, and start developing my society at what I think is a decent rate. I’ll be farming pretty quickly, upgrading my technologies and building walls when I think I should be. I’ll have a barracks set up with some normal foot soldiers and a few horse guys, some archers too. I’ll just be upgrading to the castle age when one of the CPU players comes in out of nowhere with an outlandishly sized compliment of calvary and archers, burning down my palisade wall before I can say “regicide” and continuing on until all that’s left of my little town is the single peasant/scout calvary combination I managed to get out during the attack, with no town center, no food, no houses, no anything. And they’ll probably get killed too. My question is: how in the world could I even play this game at all when I was eight? Was I a video game prodigy? I mean I did spend a lot of time playing Pokemon, but come on…
But apart from it making me feel like a quite inferior civil engineer/general/king, Age of Empires II is a good game. I’m not a very knowledgeable RTS fan, so I’m not going to waste space attempting to compare it to others of the genre (it’s also part of the reason that AoE is just a runner up on this list). But every time I play it, I have a lot of fun on my first try – when I think it’s all going great, and then the above happens. But until that point, I’m really into it. I like getting the war elephants and taking them on boats, then attacking from the coast (on easy mode, obviously). This will always be one that I can come back to for a bit of fun (as Roller Coaster Tycoon would be if I hadn’t lost the disc…)