Inspired by my fellow insect Greenhornet214, and this blog he wrote, I thought I’d take a crack at listing off some of my favorite video games throughout the years and describing what makes them my favorites. But I'm taking a different approach; instead of picking one game from every console I’ve owned, I’m going to tackle my favorites by genre of games! As far as which genres I’m covering today, I’m going by the seven primary bullet points from this Wikipedia list; Action, Action-Adventure, Adventure, Role-Playing, Simulation, Strategy, and Sports. I’ll also add in an MMO just because I can. The only rule I have is that I must have played the game enough to form a concrete opinion on it as a whole, probably enough to see its credits. Also bear in mind, these aren’t what I consider to be the best games of each genre, just games that stand out to me as my personal favorites. We good? We good!
This was definitely one of my tougher decisions for this list. I love games that emphasize seamless movement, fluid combat, and constantly reacting to new surroundings. That’s why I love so many platformers, beat-em-ups, shmups, and other such games. I’ve played so many action games I love that I can’t even be 100% confident that any single one of them could be my favorite… but I can confidently hold up Rayman Legends far higher than its peers. Running and jumping around just flows so smoothly in this game. I found myself captivated just by screwing around with different button combinations in the hub world to find new moves and animations. The levels are wonderfully designed with gorgeous visuals and platforming challenges that all string together into a high-energy, feel-great romp.
Yet the cherries on top for me were the daily and weekly challenges. I loved constantly challenging my records, pushing one of my favorite platforming movesets to the limit to go for that gleaming platinum cup. Competing in these challenges was the greatest thrill I’ve felt in gaming in a long time. I bought this game on Wii U by principle of having bought a Wii U for it in the first place (before I learned it was delayed for a multiplatform release, grumblegrumble), but I’d gladly consider purchasing it again for another system just because I love this gem that much. Probably not the Definitive Edition though, that doesn't add enough to make full price promising to me.
If there’s one action game with an adventurous spirit that I loved so much I wanted to immediately replay it, that game is Guacamelee. It’s unique Mexican style alone is enough to put it on the radar, but what nails it to the map is how excellently it entwines its explorative platforming with its beat-em-up combat. Almost every power-up and new technique is applicable to both halves of the game, ensuring that every new wrestling move feels like an exciting addition to your arsenal. It’s constantly rewarding to explore, and the combat in between your jaunts across the map is always fun thanks to the fast, hack-and-slash-like pace and your bombastic grappling moves. The humor helped me keep a dumb smile on my face throughout the whole thing, too (well… except for when it doesn’t want you to smile, if you know what I mean).
It doesn’t only strike a balance between the elements that define a Metroidvania, it mixes them together into a single bundle of luchador awesomeness. I even got the STC edition, which comes with even more levels to explore and enemies to bash! I almost wish I didn’t get this game for free from PS Plus, because I want to pay full price for it. Maybe I’ll buy it again just because. Do yourself a favor and check out this game if you haven’t already, it’s available pretty much everywhere except the Switch and 3DS.
Okay, confession time. While I always enjoy a great point-and-click adventure game and pride myself on my openness towards all genres of games, I used to have a very hard time taking visual novels seriously as a genre. Actually, I still dissed on visual novels a few times even after playing Phoenix Wright on Wiiware and acknowledging my love for the courtroom dramedy series. It was a hypocritical thing for me to think back then, but I respect the genre much more now that I’ve pinpointed why I thought that. Most visual novels I’ve seen are padded out with extraneous text (looking at you, Persona 4 Arena story mode), and the Ace Attorney series doesn’t feel nearly as slow.
Though the series is still extremely wordy, if anything is explained in excruciating detail, it’s very obvious why; you are unraveling murder mysteries one tiny thread at a time. You need all the information you can get, and you are invested in all the text because you’re actively looking for leads to follow up on in upcoming questions and cross-examinations. Add in the over-the-top courtroom antics and lovable characters, and I have a great excuse to learn to love a genre of games I otherwise scoffed at. Really, I could put any Ace Attorney game I’ve played (The first, Justice For All, Investigations, and Dual Destinies) up in this slot for all of the same reasons… but I think JFA just barely rises up top thanks to the intriguing lie detecting mechanic, more shocking cases, and the especially impactful twists of the final episode. DD is a solid runner up, but the constant hand-holding keeps it back from being my favorite. I would probably have put the original game up here, but I spoiled myself on a lot of the cases of that game before playing it, so it wasn't quite that impactful to me personally.
The one decision on this list that wasn’t as difficult as choosing a starter Pokémon, because it’s the strongest contender I can think of as my favorite game of all time. TTYD means a lot to me as a game. It helped me see what Mario could do other than have fun running and jumping and partying. It taught me about a whole new realm of gaming based around stories and strategies, a more thought-provoking genre that I never really grasped playing Pokémon Gold but which I understood easily through TTYD. It showed me that games could invoke powerful emotions, even stronger than I might get from watching movies. It demonstrated that choices could have consequences, such as through its alternate game overs.
The writing was hilarious yet tear jerking. The gameplay was thoughtful yet fast and simple. The characters were cartoonish yet empathizable. The pacing was… well, the backtracking is still horrible to this day. But that aside, this game didn’t only introduce me to so many new concepts of gaming, it executed most of them masterfully. While I can respect Nintendo’s decision to leave this game's formula be--Super Paper Mario was worth the experimenting, despite my preference of this game--I keep my fingers crossed for the day the company decides to delve into it again to make something even better.
To tell the truth? The only simulation games I've actually played more than a few hours were Thrillville and its sequel, and I mostly just blazed through the story content and played minigames without caring much about the actual simulation aspect. I’ve dabbled in others, but never truly invested myself into them. For the sake of this list and its purpose, I don’t have enough experience with simulation games to decide a favorite, and there isn’t anything meaningful I have to say in crowning one of them. Someday, I’d like to revisit this genre and give it the attention it deserves.
You saw this coming if you read this blog I wrote about it a few weeks ago, but what else am I supposed to pick? Fire Emblem Warriors? Anyway, this game is on the lighter side of tactics, and even I don’t consider it the best strategy game, but it won me over more than any other such game. The creative steambot world from SteamWorld Dig earned my interest, and the characters charmed me into seeing where the story was going, but this game’s spin on tactical combat is what really invested me into it. To sum up that other blog, SteamWorld Heist is fast paced and statistically simple, but still demands a decent amount of strategical skill through challenges based around spatial reasoning and unique character abilities. I seriously suggest it to all strategy game fans, if only for the unique gameplay few other strategy games can provide. Except Valkyria Chronicles, maybe. I oughta pick that up sometime.
I’ve professed my praise of this iteration of the long-running (long-driving?) kart racing series to the high heavens among friends, and I’ll do it again here. I love how beautiful this game looks. I love how smooth the driving feels. I love drifting across these courses. Mario Kart 8 was my favorite entry in the series by principle of how much pure fun it was to play… and then the DLC happened. An already great game became outright amazing thanks to a plethora of creative new tracks, delightful crossovers, and a challenging 200cc mode. Every bit of DLC drastically increased what I already loved about the game (Assuming you don't count the Mercedes Benz pack. I don't count it. Does it count?) just as DLC should be used.
It’s one of the few games that consistently pulls me back in to revisit it months and months later by virtue of how great of a thrill ride it is. Normally I’m much more cautious about remasters and similar rereleases (... despite what my earlier statements here on re-purchasing games would lead you to believe), but out of principle alone, I was glad to purchase Deluxe. After all, it was my favorite kart racing game of all time and then a great battle mode and Splatoon characters too. Playing a game I love so much with a wider pool of online friends than only those who own a Wii U means that much to me. Protip: If I ever ask you for a few races, consider practicing the DLC courses on 200cc with items set to Mushrooms Only.
In my days of F2P MMO hopping, only two managed to keep my attention on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the first was Maplestory, which I’ve since gotten very bored of, and the second was Dungeon Fighter Online, which was a great ride until Nexon killed its NA servers. But little did Nexon expect that even death can’t kill this game, especially when Neople--the game’s original overseas developer--stepped in years later to re-publish it for the west, better than ever.
Structured like a beat-em-up and MMO hybrid, DFO delivers exactly what it promises. High speed arcade-like combat, gratifying progression through loot and passive/active skill upgrades, and a very generous monetization model that never feels like it’s limiting your ability to play (unless you care about fashion, in which case microtransactions are your only real option). But what I really love about this game is a twist utilizing the arcadey premise; while you still have the option to bind skills to a hotbar, you also have the ability to perform any spell or ability you have with a simple button combination, even if it’s not set to your hotbar. Gone is the limitation of whatever your hotbar can hold. Now your own ability to execute inputs let you bring whatever powers you want. It’s a little thing, I know, but it makes combat feel so much less restrictive and more flashy and skillful! I loved this game during its first life, and I love it even more under Neople’s administration. And don’t get me started on how the Arad Explorer Club makes leveling alt characters great! Unfortunately I’ve fallen out of PC gaming in general, but perhaps sometime soon with this new computer I’ll make the time to download it again.
There’s a lot of archetypical games I enjoy that I didn’t even touch thanks to this format; shooters, fighting games, action RPGs, and so on. I definitely will revisit this topic some day in the future with more favorites from other sub-genres among these categories, but this blog is getting long enough as is for today! In the meantime, what about you? What games have you played that stand out as shining paragons of their genres to you? What games from genres you normally wouldn’t have played won your attention and affection? And what games from your favorite genres epitomize everything that you love about those genres?