90. Persona 4 Golden – ATLUS (PS Vita, 2012)
I bought Persona 4 Golden on a whim. I’d heard some guys on a podcast I listened to say it was a great remaster of a classic JRPG, and you didn’t need to have played any of the other games to get into it. So I bought it and sure enough, I got really into it. Up until that point, the only JRPG I had played would be Pokémon and that barely counts. Persona 4 Golden ramps things up in every way, but I feel my years of playing Pokémon adequately prepared me for its party organization and turn-based dungeon fights. More exciting than that, however, was the social links. I had never encountered a game which let me develop such meaningful, intimate relationships with video game characters before. I fell in love with the town of Inaba and the fun, dorky kids who call it home. And while I still haven’t beat it as of this writing, with over 90 hours on my save over the past 3 years I know it’s an experience I’ll return to.
89. Severed – DrinkBox Studios (PS Vita, 2016)
This game came and went without fanfare, which is a shame since it’s so exceptional. Presented in the same style as DrinkBox Studios’ Guacamelee! this game stars a one-armed woman named Sasha who has to fight through the Land of the Dead to free her family. As I mention in my review of Severed, it’s a first-person dungeon crawler, a genre of game that largely faded away from the game scene after hits like Dungeon Master and Elder Scrolls Arena. But DrinkBox’s unique style is a refreshing trip through a classic genre, and paired with the greatest use of the PlayStation Vita’s touchscreen I’ve ever encountered make this game a favourite.
88. Angry Birds – Rovio Entertainment (iOS, 2009)
My dad got an iPhone 3 for work when I was around 9-years-old. The same day he got it we were sitting in the mall unpacking it and he told me a coworker recommended this game to him that I should check out. Over the next several months I would end up playing Dad’s iPhone every chance I could until I had gotten 3 stars on every single level of each world. Those were a good couple months…
87. Mario Kart Wii – Nintendo (Wii, 2008)
I had dabbled with Mario Kart before, playing the SNES version a couple times and the N64 version repeatedly. But I never really got into Mario Kart until I got a Wii, and then I really got into it. I got all the gold medals on every cup and played constantly with friends, to the point where I had 4 Wiimotes and 4 plastic racing wheels. It was reoccurring weekend tradition, everybody come over for some Mario Kart and Kraft Dinner until we were so sick of each other we switched to Brawl, but we always came back to Mario Kart eventually.
86. SUPERHOT – SUPERHOT Team (PC, 2016)
I got on the SUPERHOT hype train a little late, my friend Lukas sent me a 35% off coupon which he got for beating the game. Little did I know that coupon actually ties into the metanarrative of being someone at a computer with a copy of the game, slowly being controlled by an external force trying to dominate the world. But that’s not why I loved SUPERHOT. I loved SUPERHOT cause it’s fucking fantastic to play. With a simple pitch of “Time moves when you move” it’s a wholly unique concept that redefines what an FPS feels like. It’s a game that re- SUPER. HOT. SUPER. HOT.
85. The Stanley Parable – Galactic Cafe (PC, 2013)
Long before I was assigned to play The Stanley Parable for my first-year game design class I picked it up in a Steam Sale. I knew next to nothing about the game and the trailer left me with more question than answers. But after playing through several times I really felt like The Stanley Parable was something special, attempting to mess with what players were comfortable with and push them to ask questions about what they were doing. And it’s hella funny.
84. Rock Band – Harmonix (Xbox 360, 2007)
I had to attend a youth group at my church for several years through middle school. It was never something I looked forward to, but I showed up half an hour early every week for one very special reason. The church had an Xbox 360 with Rock Band, a drum set and two guitars. Every week I was the first one there on the drums jamming out to OKGO and Radiohead. In retrospect, it was kind of antithetical to what we were doing at church, but hey, their goal was to get me in the building and Rock Band was such a fantastic, fun time that I was there, early even.
83. Sid Meier’s Pirates – Firaxis Games (PC, 2004)
All I knew about Sid Meier’s Pirates before jumping in was it had the same name in the title as another childhood favourite of mine: Sid Meier’s Civilization IV. I’d never seen Pirates of the Caribbean or anything like that. In all honesty, this game was my first exposure to Pirates and the history of epic ship battles and clashing cutlasses that would quickly become a setting of some of my all-time favourite games like Assassin’s Creed IV and Uncharted 4. I remember one weekend in particular where my cousin was staying with us and we popped Sid Meier’s Pirates into the family computer and played for hours and hours. We pillaged and plundered the Caribbean towns and ports we would soon know by name. I have nothing but fond memories of this gem and it’s definitely responsible for my love of Pirates as a theme.
82. Papers, Please – Lucas Pope (PC, 2013)
From the marching menu scroll set to an authoritarian theme I knew Papers, Please was going to be something heavy. The moral implications of determining whether someone should be granted entry to your country, the pressure of appeasing your autocratic leaders so as not to lose your family-supporting job and the soul-crushing guilt of turning away a desperate refugee all made Papers, Please one of the most difficult games I’ve ever played. Its difficulty and conscious-bending premise still resonate with me to this day.
81. Batman: Arkham City – Rocksteady (PS3, 2012)
I must’ve watched every trailer for Arkham City at least a hundred times before it came out. Batman Arkham Asylum was one of the quintessential gaming experiences of my life and a sequel to such an important game was unbelievably exciting to my prepubescent self. I was ecstatic over the new villains, new gadgets and a massive section of Gotham City to explore. And while it never recaptured the magic of Arkham Asylum it’s still an exceptional game which left me quite satisfied.