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Comfort Games: Chicken Soup for the Gamer's Soul

Comfort games, everyone has them. Regardless of how old they are, or how many times you've beat them, there's something about them that keeps bringing you back. Something that speaks to your identity as a gamer, and why you play in the first place. They may not be the best, or the most ground breaking, or the most memorable, but they're the games you keep returning to again and again. These are the games that keep you from boxing up your old NES, or pawning your Dreamcast away. The ones you play when you've got nothing to do on a lazy Saturday afternoon, the ones for which you push aside the brand new $60 “GOTY” you just bought. You know every nook and cranny of them, every shortcut, every boss pattern...and there's something very comforting in that. These titles are less like games, and more like old, dear friends.

My List:

Blades of Steel - NES
Probably my favorite sports game of all time. It's also probably the only game me and my dad were really competitive at. Sure it only has eight teams and no named players, that doesn't stop me from playing through to a championship whenever I think about it. Besides when you get in a fight, the loser gets penalty boxed! How awesome is that?

Dude I don't even like hockey and I love this game

Gunstar Heroes - Genesis/Game Gear
One of Treasure's finest, they don't make em like this anymore. I first played this for hours on Sega Channel over a buddies house. After that I HAD to have it and have been playing it ever since. Laser + Tracer bullets FTW!

Shooter's Heaven

Final fantasy VII - PSX/PC
I didn't really “get” RPG's until I played this(I actually remember my best friend and I teasing a guy in 5th grade for bringing a Secret of Mana strategy guide to lunch). But once I got my first taste of how epic RPG's could really be, I never looked back. There is no other game music that moves me so deeply; just a few notes of Tifa's or Aeris' theme and I'm instantly transported back to Midgar. I actually had to take the OST out of my iPod because whenever a song came on I would start a new game. As a matter of fact...BRB. ( The bombing mission can be heard playing in the background)

14 year old's mind = blown

Shenmue - Dreamcast
Ah, Shenmue.This game hits me very much in the same place as FFVII does. The music and ambiance is just...perfect. I still play this every year around Christmas time; nothing gets me in the Christmas spirit faster than looking for Ryo's Dad's killer. Why oh why won't Sega finish this series?!?

My father's dead. Must find...capsule toys!

Animal Crossing - Gamecube
I initially completely wrote off this game. That was until five years ago when I picked up a copy for $4 at a Hollywood video closing. I only just recently completely paid off that sonofabitch Tom Nook completely. There's nothing quite like hopping into your town at 3am to do some fishing because you can't sleep, or checking in on your neighbors after 6 months to see how they're doing. AC is the only game world short of an MMO that feels like it doesn't need you to exist, and thats okay.

Fighting the tyranny of a snuggly raccoon one day at a time

Quake 3 Arena - PC/Dreamcast
The only FPS I've ever become remotely good at. Whenever I've got the itch to pwn some n00bs, I don't reach for COD, I reach for quake3.exe

Hurt Me Plenty...

MLB 10 the show PS3/PSP
Single-player career modes are the best innovation to sports games since online multiplayer. Too bad they are also a great deterrent from buying the next year's iteration. It's 2021 I'm in my 10th year of my career, and there are only a handful of non computer-generated players left, and I couldn't care less. I just want my guy in Cooperstown.

Can't you just smell the HGH from here?

Grand Theft Auto IV - 360/PS3
Replacing Vice city, then GTA III, and GTA I before that, there will always be a version of this game in my now playing pile. Whether I'm trying to see how long I can last with 6 stars, or just walking around the city reading funny billboards, I always find a reason to return to Liberty City. It's been three years and I'm still finding new crap I hadn't seen before. GTA IV is another one of those games I play when I can't sleep, joy riding until my eyelids become heavy.

Wanna know where all your tax dollars are going? Ask Niko.

Wii Sports
A perennial favorite in nursing homes. Is it sad reflection of a console library, or a testament to this game's staying power that this game almost never exits my Wii?

CRACK! Was that the bat or granddad's hip?

Rez – Dreamcast/PS2
Part rhythm game, part rail-shooter, part acid trip, there will never be a game quite like Rez. Depending on who you ask, it has the unusual distinction of some of the best—or worst visuals of a game made in the past 10 years. Whether you like EDM or not, Rez gets into you. It's 5th and final level, touching on themes of technological singularity and the origins of life itself still gives me chills after playthrough #67.

Easily my favorite level ever

Streets of Rage 2 - Genesis
Quite possibly my favorite game of all time. A pure beat-em-up with some of the best music ever put on a cartridge. My brother and I have beaten SOR2 an obscene amount of times. When he wasn't around, I'd load up Gens and play online with any friend I could talk into playing. Thinking back, has any other game since allowed players to back stab each other at the end and fight to the death?


Honorable Mentions:
Crazy taxi
Left 4 Dead 2
Diablo 2
Soul Calibur
Skies of Arcadia
Chrono Trigger
Mario 64
Katamari Damacy

So what about you? Are there any games that always you always keep revisiting? This is my first blog here at destructoid, go easy on me!
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About konaone of us since 10:16 PM on 10.21.2011

Ever since my dad held me up to a Pole Position cabinet to steer as he worked the pedals, I've been absolutely hooked on games. It just took me 25 years to figure out that I loved writing about them too. I don't have any particular genre biases, I'll play just about anything that involves pressing buttons (that's probably why I shouldn't visit hospitals...). This blog is just the thoughts of a guy who loves games, but is occasionally frustrated when they squander their potential.