This was a very tough list to do, as I played a lot of video games and computer games growing up; however, compared to the amount that so many people play, I’ve barely played at all. So be prepared for some off-the-wall stuff, or at least some heavy throwback games.
5. Alpha Centauri
This is a game that I played so much growing up. Turn-based strategy and expansion was just a blast to play, and the technology was a ton of fun. I figured out how to beat the game quite easily, but even then it was still fun to play. People know Sid Meier for the Civilization games, but this was the game that I really loved from him. Civilization is fun, but put it in space, and I like it even better. Even as computer games were getting better and better graphically, I was still playing this game, even in college.
4. Heroes of Might and Magic
Another turn-based game, but this time in a fantasy setting. It’s a halfway balance between Sid Meier’s games and games like Age of Empires. Heroes of Might and Magic was much more focused on combat and exploration than researching and tech. And you had a limited amount of time on your turn to do everything you wanted. I fondly remember playing this game in college with a few friends; we’d each take our turn at the computer and then move once we had finished our combat and exploration. I think there was a time when we had five people and three computers, so we just rotated down the line on the computers, playing turns in various games.
3. Dragon Age
If it was just Origins, this one might be higher on my list, but I do love the whole of the Dragon Age series. The first one has okay-ish graphics but an awesome story; in the second one they lose some of the cool things about the first, but the graphics are better and the story is still good. I’m still making my way through the third one, Dragon Age: Inquisition. I like the game thus far, but there’s something about how touchy the controller is with the game (though maybe that’s something I can change) that makes me slightly motion-sick while playing. It also almost feels too slick, and it loses some of the charm of the first two games. I love the stories in all of them, and that you get to see characters from previous games. One of the best parts of the first game is the dialogue that happens between characters as you are just walking around. The farther you go, the more you get to hear the characters say all kinds of funny things, and at some points there is almost non-stop chattering from the party members as you walk. It’s no wonder you come across ambushes from time to time with the amount of noise they make.
2. Myst/Riven/Labyrinth of Time/Return to Zork
First, yes, I do know this isn’t a series, but they are all games of the same ilk, and it is too hard to pinpoint my favorite. These are straight-up puzzle games with rich and weird worlds. They are also the hardest games I’ve ever played. How you find the solution to some of those puzzles I really don’t know. This was before, for at least some of them, the time when it was easy to find walkthroughs for games, and even if it had been easy, my family was on dial-up internet when I was playing these games, so looking up walkthroughs would have been slow. Myst and Riven are games that I didn’t play as much, but their world was so immersive and deep and serious, whereas Labyrinth of Time and Return to Zork were much less serious puzzle games. All of them had some sort of cool fantasy element to them, and all of them had a good story. Thinking about them, it makes me want to go back and play them again, and I’m pretty sure I have at least Myst and Riven ready to download on Steam.
I am not a fan of first-person shooter games; however, the Borderlands games are amazing. With the irreverent dialogue, the weird but complex characters, and the fun guns, all of the Borderlands games are just great. They are made even better by the fact that you can play local co-op. So you and your friends can just hang out, blow stuff up, go shopping, and repeat. The missions were funny, the bad guys were great, and the whole concept of the game was a weird mix of seemingly sci-fi, shooter, and fantasy done in an absurd way. The best character is the crazy-pants robot, Claptrap, who seems like he is related to Bender from Futurama in some ways with his desire to party and score. The characters you can play are fun as well; each has unique abilities and skill trees, and you can pay a little to reset them and change them up as you want. All of the games in the series are really good, and they got a lot of love when they were released. I always hope there’ll be another one in the works so I can be insulted by Claptrap and whomever the villain might be in hilarious ways once again.
There were a lot of other games that were close to making this list. I mentioned, with Heroes of Might and Magic, Age of Empires, which is a really fun series. There are all the Need for Speed games, as well as sports games like Madden, Tony LaRussa Baseball II (super old game and super easy with tons of classic players like Tris Speaker and Walter Johnson). And there are party games like Mario Kart or Wii Bowling that are always fun to pull out in the right situation. The last honorable mention I have is Jazz Jackrabbit, a classic side-scrolling game where you are a jackrabbit named Jazz who has plenty of awesome guns that seem to run out of ammo pretty often.
What games do you look back on as some of your favorite games to play?
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