Gabe Hawkins
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Virginia
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How did your favorite game become your favorite? What about it stands out among the other games you’ve played? How does a game make it on your top 10 list? Is there any rhyme or reason?

Feel free to answer for more than one game. It’s hard to pick just one favorite for some of us!
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Evan Hill
United States
The Republic of Texas
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Theme, tone, immersion, asthetics, controls, mechanics, challenge- They have to work well together and match up with my particular taste.

More specifically I bought a PS3 for Demon's Souls and it was an amazing experience, one I hadnt had in video games in a long time. Same with The Last of Us, though I had little expectations for this one but again had an amazing experience.
My favorite games are the ones that have me thinking about them when Im not playing, they are the reason I play games at all, to find that rare experience where I cant get enough of whatever imaginary world the game has taken me too.
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Simon Woodward
New Zealand
Hamilton
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The one I always think of isThe Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I only really got into gaming as an adult, when I bought a used Wii for me and my kids for Christmas 2012. Two of the games I got for it were Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, and after trying both, Twilight Princess was the one I delved into first. It was a great game for a new gamer, as the controls are pretty simple and there is an extended tutorial (which some people have complained about - there is no combat for the first 4 hours or so). I fell in love with the world, the music, the characters, the puzzles. I love that the NPCs are all suffering under the Twilight invasion, and so the side quests are tied with the main quest. I was amazed by the size of the game as well.

I still did struggle here and there though, although it wasn't generally with the boss fights. The horse battle on the bridge is always tricky, and the burning cart level. I've played through it twice more since then, one a 100% run, and also picked up the HD version for WiiU, which I am part way through. To be honest it's showing its age a bit, design-wise.

Session report of my first modern videogame, or "Diary of a Videoclutz"... (CONTAINS SPOILERS!)
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p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." --Emerson
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"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." --Hamlet (Shakespeare)
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If I had to name qualities, I'd say manageable challenge, immersion, and replayability. But it's probably a synergy of many qualities that makes games like Master of Orion and Age of Wonders my favorites.

I love a game that's essentially like chess or go but which also has a credible and immersive theme that engages my imagination and makes me feel I'm an emperor (or a god or some other kind of big cheese). And since it's a wonderful experience, I don't want it to be over and done with; I want the game design to invite me back again and again and again, forever.

And that replayability can't just be like a rereadable story, where it's the same every time (even though you might see it in new ways or catch details you missed before); I want the game to be different each time I play it, yet of course also very familiar to me. And I want to keep learning more every time I play; I want the opportunity to constantly improve at it. I may not always take full advantage of that opportunity (because I'm lazy and I like my comforts and there are limits to my competency), but I want the opportunity to be there for me.

A favorite game is one which tells me, "You may just be a game player pretending to be an emperor, but the more you play the game, the better you'll be at it--and the more emperorlike you'll become." Working to improve at the game then feels like turning the fantasy of mastery into more of a reality.

That started when I got into wargaming, around 1970. Games like chess had only been workouts for the brain; games like Clue had just been interactive make-believe. But wargames put me in the role of military commander and convinced me that I was actually learning how to be a military commander. Over the years I've learned that it's mostly illusion, but I still get lured in by the promise that playing this game will make me more successful in real-life endeavors as well.

That's why I have trouble getting into story-based and role-playing games. In those, you're following somebody else's story--running a character through a flexible script. I don't want to play a role or follow a story; I want to be in overall command, create my own story of exploration, expansion, and conquest, and rule the whole game-world. Anything less is too little to bother with.
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My favorite game is Super Mario Odyssey. Games that are replayable or have openness to them often make my top 10. SMO did it because it was a dream come true - Mario 64 but in the modern era. Sure, it's not exactly the same, but it's what I always wanted in a 3D Mario. Too many of the 3D Mario's were becoming linear, and to my preference, I like those less. I like the fact that the game opens up after "beating" it.
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Ryan Ahr
United States
South Carolina
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It starts like hello and ends like goodbye...
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I've made no bones about how much I love Fallout New Vegas. It's imperfect, particularly from a technical aspect as it's arguably the buggiest game that they've ever made (at release, anyway)and the graphics are nearly a decade outdated. The writing, though...the writing introduced me to the talented team that is Obsidian. The dialogue, the character and world design, the lore, the voice acting, pretty much everything about the game makes it feel like a real, lived in place. I also love the licensed music in that game. Fallout meshes really well with that spaghetti Western flavor that New Vegas brings, and the music is largely responsible for that.
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Geoffrey Burrell
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (16-bit) when Sonic can turn into Supersonic.
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Gabe Hawkins
United States
Virginia
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I think timing played a huge role in determining what my favorite games are. As many of you know by now, Final Fantasy VIII and Metal Gear Solid are at the top of my all-time list, essentially tied for first. They made it there for a number of reasons. Firstly, the era in my life that I played them is important. My love of the PlayStation is no secret, and a big part of that came from not having any alternative game console for a number of years outside of the SNES. I didn’t get a PlayStation 2 until 2005. As a result, I spent a lot of time with the system and those two games in particular. I played them over and over, and each time I appreciated something different about them. I was also growing up through those years, and I’ve always found I appreciate and understand parts of the story that may have been lost on me as a younger gamer. Although Squall is somewhat maligned, I grew to love the character because I started to become a brooding, hormonal teenager myself. Snake from MGS was a badass hero unlike anything I’d seen to that point, and after playing these games for the nth time, the characters strangely started to feel familial in some ways.

Outside of that, it’s also no secret that story in games is one of the primary factors that keeps me engaged. Both FF8 and MGS have great stories, particularly the latter. I love the sort of retro futurism and fantasy/sci-fi blend in FF8. The love story also resonated with me — again, hormonal teenager — and because it landed with me then, it still does now because I remember how I was affected by it. MGS’ story blew me away. It did things that I had never seen before. I found the game through a demo disc in PlayStation magazine, and I played that over and over because I was hooked by the presentation and concept. I was gleeful when I found the game at a local game store. Experiencing the full version was so much more than I could have anticipated. With all the twists, set pieces, and willingness to break the fourth wall time and again, every second of it was memorable.

At the time, I knew I loved the games, but I didn’t appreciate until later just how rarely I get that level of enjoyment out of an experience. So when a game makes my top 10 now, it’s usually because they have some of the same qualities that FF8 and MGS did. There’s a story that hooks me, characters I love, an interesting and creative world, and a fun factor that feels a cut above the rest. It’s interesting because it’s hard for me to articulate just what would make a game blow me away, but in those rare moments I experience it, I immediately know it’s special.
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Ryan S
United States
Dallas
Texas
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With Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, my previous favorite game was Final Fantasy Tactics, so it was a pretty easy transition.

Disgaea had the same core elements as FFT, characters you could equip with various things, tactical grid based battles on varied terrain maps, advanced classes that unlock as you play, monsters you can recruit, etc.

I think what pushed Disgaea over the edge for me was a few different things. For starters, the characters and story were amazing. Slapstick and humorous at times, deep and meaningful at others.

The mechanics of the game were really involved for the time as well. Being able to play 10 of your characters in a Player Phase, along with the lift and throw concept created a world of opportunities.

The Item World, and how it enhanced items, also was a really cool thing for the time (still is). In FFT, if you wanted to level up, you had to run back and forth until a random encounter occurred, and the battles would take a really long time. In Disgaea, you could go into any item, fight random battles, and improve the item at the same time.

I remember creating lists of tasks I wanted to do in the game, and none of it felt like busy work. I want to get a certain amount of this innocent/specialist, or I want to get this character to level whatever to unlock some skill or additional class.
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p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." --Emerson
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"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." --Hamlet (Shakespeare)
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ghostpants wrote:
I think timing played a huge role in determining what my favorite games are.
Good point. In my reply above, I guess I answered the question What makes your favorite game your favorite? But how it got to be that way might be a different matter.

I'd been an avid board wargamer from about 1970 to the early 1990s. That was my favorite kind of game, and when PC games started coming out, I naturally looked for something similar. I first found it in Civilization, but I was a little unhappy with the economic and political dimensions of that game. When I got Master of Orion, I thought, This is more like it! Streamlined, and with the politico-economic stuff simplified so I can focus on territorial acquisition and warfare.

MOO led to Master of Magic, and when tech advances made that game look old and clunky, along came Age of Wonders. AoW has lived a long time now, from 1999 to the present, and AoW3 has become my latest favorite. Kind of a natural progression, stemming from my wargaming days.
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☆ ✧ ☆ ✧ ☆
United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
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Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life. I thought of their unfathomable distance, and the slow inevitable drift of their movements out of the unknown past into the unknown future. H.G. Wells
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I was younger.

I still enjoy video games quite a bit, but I don't think they will ever mean the same thing to me they did when I was a child or adolescent.
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Caroline Berg
United States
Washington
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...124 to run fleeing from the mountain. ...125 to use a rope to climb the steep cliff. ...126 to quickly cast "summon stairs." ...127 to dodge under the falling rocks.
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• It came along at the right time in my life
• Has some great humorous dialogue
• If there is a set protagonist, they have a strong amount of snark
• If there is no protagonist at all
• If I get to create my character in 3rd person and create their personality as I play
• If there is some sort of gathering going on - collecting clues, gathering potion ingredients, harvesting plants, getting keys...

Coming along at the right time probably matters more than the others... though it is hard to tell why that might be. Emotional resonance? The only game of its type so I played it until others came along? It got through to me in a rough time? I was able to use the game to escape?
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Simon Hammar
Sweden
Täby
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I have a hard time defining my favourite game. It's probably World of Warcraft of Breath of the Wild.

World of Warcraft and Breath of the Wild both became my favourite games by having a wonderful world to explore, and doing so by introducing it in bits and pieces in a way that I felt paced well, all the while not giving me too broad options.

But neither of them is my preferred genre, in which my favourite games are Another World, Limbo and Inside. Those games became my favourites by simply being exactly what I want from games. Speared right into my brain as "THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT!"
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Lauren Allbritain
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Missouri
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I liked playing the Ice Climbers in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and was curious about the game that they came from. I saw in Brawl's Chronicle that Ice Climber was an NES game and had a GBA port. I wanted to buy a GBA, so I decided to watch a walkthrough of Ice Climber on YouTube to see whether it would be a game that was easy enough for me. And, guess what, it was! Imagine liking a fighter in Smash as much as the game they came from. I like that you have a weapon (a hammer) so you don't have to worry about jumping on an enemy only to miss. However, I'll never get how sometimes I think I get a Nitpicker when it actually gets me! Other than that and the base of a few mountains being very tricky to get to the next level, it's a surprisingly easy game.
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Curtis Gibson
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The Rock Band series.

Music has long been a passion of mine, I don't play, but I listen to lots of genres, and try to understand the different parts of songs, or how one bit influences another. Rock Band gave me a completely different was to experience my music, so in addition to be sort of participating in it, I learned how to sing (the visual representation taught me how to hear myself), see how different instruments impacted the song and much else.
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Железный комиссар
United States
Indiana
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So, Super Metroid.

The original Metroid was one of the first three NES games I played (probably all in one afternoon) as a four year-old in the Fall of 1987. I liked everything about it - the music, the tone & mood, Samus's space-suit, the idea of exploring the unknown, the weird blend of caves / built spaces, and especially the idea that anywhere you look there might be a cool power-up, often offered up to you by an ancient statue.

But I was four. I never really got anywhere, not really. I'm not sure I even beat Kraid - maybe years later with a game genie, if at all.

By the time Super Metroid came out, I had sort of forgotten about the first game, and certainly had no notion of its genre. The major pillars of my childhood gaming years were probably: the SMB trilogy + World, the Mega Man trilogy + X, the Final Fantasy "trilogy" (as it existed in the US), and the Dragon Warrior trilogy.

I remember renting Super Metroid (lol, renting). The game's atmosphere was striking. It felt very rich, and while still challenging, those old hardcore NES days were in the rear-view mirror. I think I got stuck on Crocomire toward the end of the rental. This probably felt consistent with my memories of the original game, and I wasn't in a hurry to run out and buy the sequel.

But, a year or so later I saw one of my brother's friends playing the game, and he was doing some of the "super secret" tech, like using power bombs to fully replenish your health, or flawlessly wall-jumping (which you can do anywhere / anytime, no power-ups required), maybe even the secret grappling-beam victory over Draygon. I thought, "wow, there's so much more to this game than I realized."

So I bought it. Sometime around then Nintendo Power magazine held a speed-running contest for the game, although the contest pre-dated the term and I'm not sure how they labeled it. The winner came in around 3:30 IIRC. I thought "you can beat this game in an afternoon?"

As the 90s went on I would play it from time to time, and it always felt like, the more I learned about it, the better it was. The more I looked at it, the more I saw.

In college in the early 2000s, I did some amateur speedrunning of the game. SDA might have existed but I had never seen it / visited the site. Around that time it became clear to me that Super Metroid came out at the "end" of a major arc in videogame history & development. As part of the final wave of 2D games, it represented a pinnacle of craft that had been abandoned in the frantic gold rush of the PSX wave. Certainly nothing, or almost nothing, was coming out in the early 2000s that could even begin to compare to Super Metroid's density & meticulous interconnected, multilayered design.

The last year I owned a CRT television (2011), I did a 100% speedrun of the game in two hours and eighteen minutes - with a lot of the routing learned from SDA. Games Done Quick was in its infancy. I had no way of knowing that Super Metroid would become a flagship title for the entire speedrunning scene, and that it would be the close-out game for about 20 charity marathons over a decade, that it would pioneer live "races," etc.

I played through it again last year on the SNES mini. I still can't believe how good it is.
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