In 2020 I reached a benchmark I had long wanted to reach. I beat my 500th game in my lifetime, and with that, I decided it was time to organize and make a list of my favorites. To commemorate and really feel satisfied with this idea I wanted to share my list with the world. So on my social platform of Kitsu, I decided to make a post one at a time about each and every game on my list. These are those posts migrated over here for you all to read. Once I make the Top Ten though, all of those posts will be wholly unique and curated for here.  I plan to update this list every year, but for now, until I reach the end of my countdown, please enjoy my current Top 100 Favorite Games of All Time! Any questions or concerns, let me know in the comments below, but as always thank you for reading my little gaming wanderers! Here’s to video games and my lifelong passion for them, shared with you all!

100: Oregon Trail

Played on: PC
Year Released: 1999(I think! This version was hard for my to figure out so I just looked at my jewel case on it!)

“You have died of dysentery.”

A beautifully simple line, that defines one of the most iconic simulation experiences in all of gaming. You name your batch of characters, including the head of the group, pick a profession, and with those tools set out to get to the end of The Oregon Trail. For those who aren’t familiar with American History, the Oregon Trail was a brutally hard pathway that connected the Missouri River to the deep valleys of Oregon. Everyone from traders to immigrants took this journey to try and better their lives in one way or another. So, along the way, someone figured, HEY! Why not make a game out of that idea?! What you get is a hybrid simulation game with lots of interesting mechanics to keep you invested in each and every run you play.

The basics are trying to keep your party healthy with enough food, rest, and supplies such as clothes and necessities to keep your wagon up and running. You have to manage food intake, bullets used, and speed of travel. Something as random as a snake bite could kill one of your precious members, so you must always be vigilant of each and every moment as you play. You have limited space and must always micromanage everything you have. The trail takes no pity on one for being reckless and will promptly take the lives of all who take the responsibility for granted. It’s a tense rollercoaster of fun adventures with checkpoints to hit, and the battle of survival all the way to the end of the trail.

Now, I grew up with this game, so it mostly makes the list for nostalgic value alone. I spent a long time deciding what to start my list off with. I usually like to use a benchmark of something I value heavily. It was a tough call between this and Space Invaders, but hey maybe my arcade shooter will squeeze back in someday. All I know is, the Oregon Trail was a game that dominated my PC gaming habits in my youth alongside the Backyard Sports games, and weird tie-in games like Who Wants to be A Millionaire. Gotta love outdated trivia from 25 years ago. The Oregon Trail was a very very difficult game for a younger me. Figuring out how to balance all the important factors in the game wasn’t as easy as just loading up on food and resting constantly. The wagon breaking was a constant issue but I didn’t know how to find my balance of the supplies. At least not til I got older and spent time learning how trading worked and how you could bargain and haggle for better wares, and could also be something other than just the doctor because you were afraid of death. Oregon Trail finds a nice middle point between tough survival simulation and economic simulation. When you find out how to do both great, you start seeing major improvements in each run. As an adult I normally beat this game 80% of the time now with small mishaps messing me up here and there, so the challenge doesn’t hold what it once did, but I can always impose different factors on myself so all is well in the land of Oregon, well that is if I can make it the whole way!

99: Gravity Rush 2

Played on: PS4
Year Released: 2017

In the year 2012, a small yet incredibly charming game for the Playstation Vita was released. A small game on a niche handheld. It’s a shame but due to the Vita never capturing the interest of Devs and customers alike in the USA many of its best and greatest games never came to this side of the world, or if they did, sold quite poorly. Thankfully Sony believed in this IP enough to give it a nice little remaster on PS4 and it got a full-fledged from the ground up sequel as well. Gravity Rush 2 is bigger, more ambitious, and all-around better than its fantastically charming first entry into the series. That’s a word you might see me throw around a lot, charm. Charm is a vague but easy enough to understand term. Some quality or aspect just constantly makes you feel happy with the charm given off. It could be the art style, music, writing, you name it! Gravity Rush has lots of these elements in a way that I can’t help but enjoy.

You play Gravity Queen Kat as she tries to return to where she was in the first game. Once an amnesiac girl lost in a big city, now she is a girl who had found a home in that place and wants more than anything to get back to where she created so many bonds. Gravity Rush is essentially what you would expect a sequel to do. It expands the world, game systems, and overall scope of the whole product. You still zip around like you are a literal superhero saving people, animals, and the like with your amazing gravity powers. Just with a more fleshed-out universe, and game mechanics to support it.

The first game had one really crippling issue. The combat was not very good in the least. It was cool in concept but any sort of aerial battle was a pain in the ass or just the same kick move over and over and over again. The second game majorly overhauls those kinks with a vastly superior stasis system that makes picking up and tossing nearby debris like second nature, and they even unlock some really cool new ways to play. The gravity system is always at the core of the gameplay, and they add two substantial ways to completely change up how you traverse and fight due to that. You can do this all on the fly as well making it as seamless as possible when you want to do a specific type of gravity move.

And that is what makes this game so fun in the first place. The natural incorporation of flying around and stopping yourself in any direction on any surface could be incredibly disorienting. It’s a known issue in so many games, but Gravity Rush takes the approach of games like Spider-man or Super Mario Galaxy and finds ways to make quick movement and switching of perspectives intuitive and easy to pick up and learn. You really feel as light as a feather as your zip from building to the marketplace to factory as so forth. The feeling of being a gravity queen is empowering and absolutely never dull. Mix that with completely original worlds, music, and characters and the world feels bustling and alive at all times. You feel like part of a larger world and it really creates a whole package. The characters are endearing, funny, silly, and altogether just more charm on top of this game’s myriad of other fun oddities. When I think of superhero-type games, like ones where you feel super awesome and powerful, but they are completely original to the world of games, this game and Infamous are two of the first things that my mind drifts to. If I could build a dream team Justice League/Avengers multiverse for superheroes in games Cole and Kat would definitely be part of it. If you like games with lots of originality I couldn’t recommend Gravity Rush 2 enough. It isn’t perfect due to combat still being a major weak point, and while I love the cast the story doesn’t really stick with you very much, the overall world and feeling of being a supped-up gravity queen is worth the entry fee alone. If you want to feel the greatness of soaring through the air this game is for you. Despite there being no current plans for a 3rd entry, I do hope to see it revisited someday with even more expansive than ever before. Until then I will be flying through the world as the lovable and charming Kat without a care in the world.

98: Grim Fandango Remastered

Played on: PS4(If you can play this on PC. Several puzzles are much harder to properly interact with because the very subpar console clicking. Mouse is king for point and click)
Year Released: 2015(1998 for the original)

“Run you pigeons, it’s Robert Frost!”

Few things are as absent in the gaming world as really proper done humorist writing. You get small bits here and there, and really talented actors who bring out the best of an average script, but an entire game being called funny is such a rarity. This is why titles such as Monkey Island, Portal, or Mario & Luigi stand out the way they do. Humour is present in many games, but it rarely dominates in the way games like Grim Fandango use it. This game is pure gold on many occasions and most of it is done to the amazing team behind the scripting. Mix that with a really fascinating look at the Hispanic day of the dead culture/afterlife and you’ve got a winning combo.

Grim Fandango is about a travel agent salesman in the land of the dead who tries to get his clients the best deal and accommodations for their travels to the afterlife. He is a slick, fast-talking, and often clever guy who just wants to get a win where he can. He gets mixed up in a mystery of corruption throughout a 4-year journey while he tries to track down his most recent client, a damsel in distress. It takes cues from film noir of the 30’s-50’s to create a fun mystery romp filled with laughs, twists, and puns.

If you know anything about the game it is a point and click. You manage an inventory to try and solve environmental puzzles. This could be having the right item to move something out of the way, or simply something to give to someone else to gather information for somewhere else. It can vary and it always wants the player to be clever and think of all the possibilities in any given scenario. You can not get stuck and will always have a way to progress you just have to find the solution at hand. Grim Fandango finds a really really nice balance with the challenge as well. The only times I got truly stumped were due to me giving up on something I thought I mess with but only to find out later it was because of how inaccurate the click icon is on the console editions. So, that’s more a tech issue than a game issue. I felt smart for figuring out solutions, and I often found myself amused to no end with some of the goofy outcomes as well.

Grim Fandango isn’t perfect. The sectioning of the story makes 4 really neat distinct story parts but it makes the main plot feel a little disjointed. You end up caring for Manny and his best buddy Glottis more than the actual villain or client you are trying to save. Many smaller side characters shine more than the main ones so in the end, it balances itself out. Any shortcomings were usually made up for with the incredible voice talents and hilarious scenarios presented throughout. If you like this genre and you like a good funny game, I highly implore you to check it out. You will most likely either be stricken to the bones with laughter or just plain bored to death.

97: Owlboy

Played on: PS4
Year Released: 2018

Easily one of the most beautifully animated and pixelated games I’ve ever had the pleasure to play. Owlboy is a throwback to the 16-bit era using classic styled art but with all the amazing innovations that can be brought with modern technologies. No limitations but the devs themselves can hold back a game of this type any longer. We’ve seen a recent boom in games invoking styles of the older days. Ones like Meat Boy and Celeste take nods at the 8-bit, and then you have games like the Messenger that does both 8 & 16. Owlboy is simply a gorgeous game because of the artistry going into it. I didn’t need anything else to convince me to pick it up once I saw it with my own four eyes. I’ve always been a huge fan of the SNES and PS1 era games that utilize pixel graphics well. Obviously, though the game itself has to stand on its own as well though!

When I went into the game, my assumption was a semi-challenging 2D platformer game with some sort of unique owl based flutter or something along those lines. It always delights me that when I limit my research I discover little surprises. Owlboy is a full-fledged world with towns, people, and a long-established world history. You fly around as the town mute Otis and attempt to stop your civilization from being destroyed by fierce pirate forces. The world is a land in the sky, and appropriately you have the skill set to fly around at will and explore all of its vast offerings. This game isn’t a hard-as-nails platformer but a 2D action-adventure game with lots of secrets to explore. Otis has several companions that accompany him to help battle, traverse, and overcome unique obstacles in his way. Owlboy is a game about overcoming adversity in simple and larger terms.

This game has a retro look to it but with all the modern conventions that games should be using if they want to be inspired but not anchored down by the games they want to honor. In the same vein as Shovel Knight taking cues to improve oldschool castlevania/zelda in someways, this game really fleshes out concepts made by games in the Genesis and SNES era with smaller open worlds. A lot of times those games felt very restrictive or annoyingly hard, and Owlboy finds the balance to be a simple and easy game to pick up but with lots of reward for those who seek it. It falls squarely in that comfortable length of 6-10 hours and never overstays its welcome by packing the game with flying challenges, combat encounters, and a surprisingly rich story experience. If you like old but new type of games, give it a whirl and hoot out and about your thoughts when you do!

96: Game & Watch Gallery 2

Played on: Gameboy Color/Advance
Year Released: 1998

Remember when I said I love arcade games? Well, this little collection was basically a bunch of mini-games where the objective was to set a high score. And boy oh boy did I eat it up. We had the following:

Parachute: Never was big on this one really. You manage a little boat and try to catch the falling characters with your boat before they smash into the water. It eventually gets so fast I had a hard time ever really improving.

Vermin: This is like whack a mole but with Yoshi having the hammer. This one is fast-paced and really fun, but getting overwhelmed is beyond easy to do.

Ball: For being the extra game you unlock it kinda blows. You basically just catch balls back and forth and make sure they don’t fall. It’s like parachute but less engaging.

Donkey Kong: A classic and with many varieties. As you build through the levels the obstacles get harder and harder til you hit the apex and are constantly trying at the hardest stuff possible. Endlessly replayable and a gold standard in the arcade world.

Chef: Now this is how you do the falling game right. The food hits your pan, it heats up a little. Do it too little and it isn’t cooked right, too much and it burns up. These are both bad, so you manage to try to not let your food fall while getting them properly cooked so Yoshi enjoys the best meal and you enjoy the better score from it. It gets really fast and hectic and is always a blast to do it all at once.

Helmet: The best game in this collection. What do you do? You walk from one house to the next without getting hit by falling objects. I played this game more than any other. As you build your score the speed moves up and then they also make deliberate pauses to make it even harder to know when to go. It’s a game of red light green light with high stakes. My brother and I always tried to best each other’s scores on all the games but this was the one where we would swap high scores endlessly until one day I made a massive increase that he never beat. I managed to match that feat score that day maybe only twice after that point.

I really love this game. Just bite-sized fulfilling little arcade experiences with a simple goal. This isn’t the type to appeal to most, but games like this, Bubble Bobble, or something like centipede I always find too addicting to try and beat my score before. Easily a childhood favorite of mine and as of now still stands the test of time. Thanks for all the good memories G&W Gallery 2!

95: Atelier Rorona Plus

Played on: PS3
Year Released: 2014

As this series expands its hold in the west with the more fanservice-focused sequels, but major shake-ups in gameplay, I foresee more and more of the old catalog being visited by newer players. Atelier is a weird little series. It’s one part RPG, one part Alchemy simulation, one part adventuring game. It’s a little mix of everything really. It doesn’t really go beyond simple in the RPG and exploring portion because alchemy is one of its biggest unique selling points. So if you want a fun casual experience with light mechanics in those genres filled with cute girls, cool guys, and loads of small gags similar to that of the Tales series I feel this would do you well.

Not every game in the series is made equal in focus. The newer games got rid of a traditional mechanic of the series for example. The series used to have a core scheduling set up similar to something like the modern Persona games. You have mini-deadlines to meet with goals clearly set before you, and story events happen naturally as you progress along. Outside of that, you pretty much just play how you want and spend the days how you want. It creates a lot of room for an individualized playthrough and a focus on replays with the multiple friendship endings you can obtain by hitting all specific character events. Or, you can be like me and try and get them all in one go so you can have all the endings at the same time! Takes more work and a lot of the games don’t allow this, but thankfully the Plus version of Rorona does!

If I had to put my finger on why I like this game so much, I would probably say a balance met well with charm and relaxation. I don’t play games for escapism or to unwind normally. I like to explore all the medium has to offer like a curious beaver does wood in a forest to build its’ next dam. The RPG mechanics are just enough there to keep me engaged, and the same goes for the adventuring. The alchemy is surprisingly deep as well, but one thing specifically is what sells Rorona for me. It’s the cast! They are just a fun bunch. You get some anime stereotypes mixed in, but they all have really great small story arcs and really really enjoyable personalities. Not to mention this series is like a waifu brigade as well. That normally isn’t a thing for me, but gah the girls in this game are so great. Esty is the bestie though, don’t you forget it! Atelier Rorona isn’t the best of any specific category it attempts to achieve but it does them all justice in different ways. It’s like instead of a full course meal with stand-out parts and weak sections, you get a sampler platter that gives you a little taste of everything and you can’t help but be pleased with the turnout either way. I’ve only tried one other in the series at this point, so I got a lot more slow-paced good times awaiting me when I feel up to it. Either way, I’m not complaining one bit.

Also, small side note before I forget. The extra post-game content really beefs up the RPG side for the better and does a wonderful job introducing the next two main leads of the subsequent games to come. Worth playing if you want a little extra challenge!

94: Cursed Crusade

Played on: PS3
Year Released: 2011

Sometimes you need something really bad to remind you of what it really means. The Cursed Crusade is one of the worst video games I’ve ever completed in my entire life. The story is in shambles, the game engine is inconsistent and buggy, glitches happen very often, the difficulty is random and often ridiculous, and the game doesn’t even finish what it sets out to accomplish to begin with. There is no part of this game that I would consider good, except the performance given by Travis Willingham as the main character. That actually wasn’t too bad all things considered. Outside of that though, you have an absolute trash fire of a game. When you want to know what it means to make a game that feels unpolished, unfinished, and unrefined throughout this is a pinnacle example for me. This is a little before the era of asset flips, so this is just a genuine attempt at making a game and doing it exceptionally wrong. You may be asking yourself at this point, “this is a favorite game of yours?” I suppose that does come off as weird, but games don’t have to be good to create a memorable experience that you will not soon forget.

I played this game with my oldest friend. The man I consider the true ultimate gamer. The only person’s gaming opinions I truly sit there and listen attentively because of his vast experience. He is also one of my best friends, and someone who thought it would be funny to buy a shit game that we could play co-op together. He wasn’t wrong as usual! You play two crusaders trying to destroy a curse that has afflicted their bloodlines for generations. And that is about all I remember honestly. The cohesion of this story isn’t one I can piece together at this point without reading a synopsis. This title is a 3D action game with light puzzle-solving elements. You basically melee lots of enemies, use your special abilities, and if something isn’t working to let you progress some switch needs to be activated. It’s simple straight-forward, and just a slog most of the time.

The enemy AI is really dumb and easy to exploit, but the game is also filled with really long combat encounters that are hard to avoid taking damage in as well. The glitches are boundless in this one. One time I got stuck on the other side of a door that we should have passed and checkpointed on, so we had to restart the whole level because nothing would let me through. One time we beat a boss and a cutscene began. Right before the cutscene, I had got hit but the fight was over. But the enemy AI damage still counted and as I kept taking damage so we got a game over mid-cutscene. If this game wasn’t such a hilariously bad time filled with banter and us questions the inner workings of how this and that worked while playing, I don’t think I’d ever think about it twice. But sometimes the experience of just having a mostly funny playthrough with your best bud is sort of irreplaceable. I wish I could put more games I played with him on here honestly. My Resident Evil 5 and Resistance playthroughs are pure gold in my memory. My pal Connor brings the best out of a co-op experience even in the worst of games, and that is why this game is where it is on my list. If you have a friend who wants to play a shitty game with you, like mine did, go for it. Just be open to what it means to play something that feels so unfinished from the get-go. It’s not about the game design, it’s all about the fun.

93: MVP Baseball 2005

Played on: Gamecube
Year Released: 2005

What a perfect game to write about on Thanksgiving itself! Hope you all who celebrate are having a nice one with your families! A childhood classic, and still my favorite baseball gaming experience to date. For those who don’t know, I’m a fan of sports in general, but an avid baseball guy. I’ve always been more into baseball than any other professional sport. Something about the pacing, the chance of anyone being the hero, and just the nature of the game, in general, all really get me good. This like many sports games of my childhood was owned though because of my brother. He is the true sports fanatic so he was exactly that casual type of gamer. He liked the big 1st party games like Mario and Zelda, and he liked his sports games.

What makes MVP ‘05 so good outside of the nostalgic memories of old, is the game itself. It has to this day some of the tightest batting and pitching controls. Simple to pick up and play but if you were really stellar at the game you can really figure out contact hitters from power guys, and you can figure out ground ball pitching versus strike-out kings. The game really rewarded knowing the game and learning how to play it well. And unlike most modern games after it, you could actually reliable do things like hit and run or have a stolen base king on your team. It allowed all types of players to shine evenly which is how the actual sport operates. This is how a sports game should operate if you ask me. The little guys play their parts more than you know if you actually follow a sport closely. It’s not always just the champion tier star players making the big splash.

The other thing I loved about this game was the fact that it also has a fully-fledged out manager mode. When I got tired of playing the games the same way I always did, I buckled down, crunched the numbers, and would manage the team’s finances. Everything from the price of hot dogs to contracts are at play here. You have to figure out if you want to manage short-term for hopeful big payoff or if you want to be more consistent and frugal to allow bigger moves later on. It’s incredibly fun and interesting to see how many finance options are at play and it allows you to view the sport from a whole new aspect. One part sports title, one part simulation, all parts fun.

I don’t think many people outside enthusiasts would want to go back to this game with the fantastic MLB the show series being out these days, but I honest to god to stand by this being the pinnacle baseball game that has yet to be fully topped. I’ve had some great experiences with Road to the Show, but the managing stuff in modern games, and the games themselves still haven’t quite found that perfect balance that was made 15 years ago. Sometimes you just hit the jackpot and knock it right out of the park.

92: Lord of the Rings: The 3rd Age

Shire music quietly stirs in my soul.
I do love me some LOTR. It’s hard to choose a game too because it unlike many other franchises actually has a decent selection of fun titles! I debated on talking about my GBA Two Tower obsession, or my amazing co-op experience with my friend Connor on the Gamecube of Return of the King, but in the end, I settled on this bad boy right here! A classic take-turn RPG following the events of the entire trilogy through the 3rd age itself. And what’s even better you can grab a buddy and play together!

So, I have 3 separate runs I’ve done on this that were meaningful to me. Two single-player ones, and one co-op with my sister. You play Berethor, a knock-off version of Boromir, and elf Idrial as they are on a quest to find Boromir himself at the request of Denethor. Along the way, you meet many other important characters such as a ranger, dwarf, woman of Rohan, and so on. Your journey ends up happening at the same time as the one we all know and love. Which because of this you get to experience big battles like the Balrog, Helm’s Deep, and even the fight against Sauron himself. The game feels like an epic, and it goes for broke on it.

I will admit the RPG mechanics and skills themselves are little on the simple side, and the cast is mostly just repurposed versions of characters we already know and enjoy. But, we can ignore that just a smidge for the incredible journey. Never before in game form have I got to feel the loneliness of Moria, or the struggle of defending against 10,000 Uruk-hai. These moments feel like you imagine the Fellowship felt, and the main cast in this gets to take part in major events but have their own special role. If you have someone to play with then the experience becomes like a mini-fellowship of your own. I think by todays standards this game is pretty dated in many ways, but I can’t help but appreciate the memories it gave me. As of now it is my favorite LOTR game experience, and with that being one of my favorite franchises in all of cinema/literature, I will take what they give me.

Still wish a hobbit would have been playable though. Someday maybe someday we can have a game like this again and do that!

91: Final Fantasy X

Played on: PS2
Year Released: 2001

Here we are! The first of the FF games to have made my list. While I haven’t completed played the whole series like some friends of mine, I have a large experience with over half of the major titles. My very first one of them all? FFX. Final Fantasy X was the leap from PS1 to PS2 for Square, and the beginning of the trend of longer developmental cycles for the series as well. The game would get larger and longer to make from this point on. While FFVII and FFVIII continued a steampunk vibe began in FFVI, FFIX went back to pure fantasy for the most part. So, what did FFX decide upon? A weird hybrid of the two. Neither pure fantasy or pure technological, but rather a melding of the two into a unique looking world that hadn’t really been seen in the FF universe to this date.

We play as Tidus, Blitzball professional with loads of family baggage as he is brought into a new strange world called Spira after he is attacked in his. He meets several strangers, such as Rikku, Wakka, Lulu, and eventually gets put directly into the position of being a bodyguard for a girl named Yuna. She has the job of going on a pilgrimage in their customs that is known to be extremely dangerous. The world is in constant fear of attack from a large entity known as Sin, and her journey should help aid the people in this struggle. From there the plot gets a lot more complex, and is full of spoilers galore. FFX does the same thing RPGS have been doing for a while. You get a simple enough premise with tons of layers to peel back as your progress towards the eventual climax and end.

Gone is the Active Time Battle system used for the last several entries, and back is the classic take turn style of gameplay. The combat lets you switch freely between members in battle to match scenarios to your preference, and is more about strategy than just being quick to hit the enemy hard and stay alive. Outside of battle, we get some minigames such blitzball itself, and these spear puzzles. These both pretty much suck as they are slow, confusing to learn, and even when you get them aren’t that rewarding. Most of the best content in this FF entry is in the story, battle system, and post-game content. Personally boasting one of my favorite soundtracks and romance storylines in gaming, FFX has a lot of rough edges around its core but makes up for it with a lot of spectacle.

I can still to this day remember playing this game in a mid-PS3 world, and seeing the first time Yuna does a sending and being absolutely blown away by the artistry of the shots. This game really elevates the prowess of the FF universe in terms of graphical fidelity for better or worse, and at least at the time was for the better. While the game has some glaring issues that stop it from rising higher in my heart is has a lot of things I truly do care about. It was my first final fantasy creating that bond with me, has maybe my favorite combat system in the series, and has an excellent core cast to help bolster a pretty interesting narrative. A bit more fun side content and I bet this game could be amongst the top of the series for me. Either way, I am appreciative of all it does and has given me.

 

Any other gaming related posts you would like to see! Let me know in the comments below! I just might make the post just for you if you really inspire me to do so! I want to post content for you folks here, so let us work at that future together!  Until next time, stay same my little wanderers!