Top 10 Favorite Games of All Time – Nerdberry
One of the biggest challenges in life is to run down that giant list of games you’ve played throughout your life and pick one game that you would consider your all-time favorite. And if that isn’t hard enough, now you have to pick 9 other games that you love the most. Life is tough in the Nerd Bacon office, but some games are incredible enough to make the job easier. Alas I have reached gaming nirvana via 10 excellent games. A number of the games on my list are amazing enough to help my decisions, but not all of these games would clear the 100th bullet on a Top 100 Best Games Ever list. But this isn’t that list. This list covers my Top 10 Favorite Games of All Time. I’m 100% sure you’ll probably disagree with most of the games on this list, but you can eat my shorts. Oh, and don’t forget to check out the honorable mention list as well.
Click the headings to check out my selections!
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sega Genesis / Mega-Drive
The first Sonic the Hedgehog game may have been the starting point for the Sonic franchise, but the second Sonic the Hedgehog game set the standard for how a Sonic game should look and feel. In exactly one year, Sega followed up their first majorly successful game with a fine-tuned experience laced with a familiar feel yet oozing with perfect freshness. If you asked someone today which Genesis Sonic game they remember the most, Sonic 2 will almost always be the answer.
For me, Sonic 2 made it really difficult to go back and play Sonic 1 mainly due to the lengthy three act zones and a lack of a spin dash move! But the game is just perfect on so many levels. After over 2 decades of experience, I still struggle to beat Mecha Sonic (not to be confused with Metal Sonic from Sonic CD) and the subsequent boss battle (both are done with zero rings). And while the game does present some hefty challenges, even for a Sonic veteran such as myself, I’ll still pick up this game on a Saturday morning and speedrun my way through it as far as I can. Sometimes, even if I only have 30 minutes of spare time, I’ll unload on a few levels just for that wonderful nostalgic feeling I get when I hear that famous soundtrack. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 belongs on so many lists from Best Genesis Games Ever to Best Games of the ’90s to Top 25 Best Games Ever Made. And it definitely belongs on my Top 10 Favorite Games of All Time list.
Memorable Moment: The music in this game is unforgettable, but 2 levels in particular stand out as some of the best in the entire series: Aquatic Ruin Zone and Hill Top Zone.
Adventures of LOLO
Nintendo Entertainment System
Few games have left such a lasting impression on me the way this game does. Adventures of LOLO (often called LOLO for short) is one of the most challenging puzzle/maze games I have ever played. Its challenges might be more than most can handle, but there are few things more rewarding than completing one of its many difficult stages. LOLO is a block-shoving puzzler that requires LOLO to traverse 5 rooms among 10 different floors as he ascends the castle to save the love of his life, LALA, from her capture.
LOLO is a simple game lacking any major bells or whistles but makes up for it tenfold with exceptional level designs and some downright good times. Even though the game is only single player, you might find yourself playing it with friends in the room so they can help you solve the tough puzzles. Some of the challenges are pretty straightforward and require quick reflexes to avoid the various enemies in the level while others require some heavy thinking to play out the block movements before you actually start moving them around. While the simple and repetitive music might start to wear on your ears after a while, you’ll still enjoy the colorful graphics and straightforward gameplay.
Memorable Moment: My most memorable moment is when I first discovered this game! It was probably in the late ’90s when Funco Land (now GameStop) was liquidating their old NES cartridges and I found this one for about $2 or $3. Never heard of it, but I thought I’d snatch it up anyway. Once I got it booted up and working, I was so delighted that I couldn’t put the controller down for days! I have to admit that I do feel a little self-righteous being that I own and have beaten this game when most people I know have never heard of it. Boy are they missing out.
Nintendo Entertainment System / Arcade
Contra is one of few games on my Top 10 Favorite Games of All Time list that would probably be in a Top 25 Best Games Ever Made list somewhere else. But I’m not including it here because of its reputation; I’m including it because it’s a damn fun game that has kept players coming back for more than 25 years now. Contra, and most of its sequels, are considered some of the most challenging games ever made, so why would players continuously frustrate themselves for 2 and a half decades?? Well, there are some people who are gluttons for punishment, but then there’s just something insanely fun about trying to outdo yourself each run. Even with the 30 lives Konami Code, you’ll still probably lose all of those lives before you beat the game.
Konami‘s Contra keeps me coming back for more, but finding the time to play it gets harder and harder as I get older. Contra is best suited for 2 players and my friends come around less often now that I’m a married man and everyone lives in different towns. You can try it solo but you’ll probably get a game over long before you reach the Waterfall. Contra is the perfect run n’ gun game, even with plenty of miles on the meter. One of those games you know by heart but still can’t get past its extreme difficulty. The graphics are simple yet bright and enjoyable, but the gameplay is downright fun as hell. The “3D” stages are a little tough on the eyes these days, but still add a layer of variety.
Overall, Contra will go down in history as one of the most influential games ever, but then again so was Pong. But this isn’t Pong. Other than those 3D levels, Contra has aged very well and provides gamers with an abundance of testosterone-laden excitement in the form of Run & Gun action! Get with a friend, punch in the Konami Code for 30 lives, and see how far you can go! Then when you get your inevitable game over, give it another run!
Memorable Moment: The first time I ever reached the Snowfields. This stage is insanely difficult as you not only have to avoid the gunners firing bullets at you left and right, but these bastards are also tossing grenades from behind the bushes/trees in the background. It took many long nights to finally reach this stage, but it was a monumental achievement for my buddy and I.
Sega CD / Mega-CD
Sonic the Hedgehog CD, or more commonly referred to as Sonic CD, is one of the first video games that made me melt in awe and adoration. My parents dropped me off at a neighbor’s house to be babysat by some grown computer genius guy named Scott. Scott owned a Sega CDX and only one game… Sonic CD. Needless to say, I spent the entire time playing this marvelous game while Scott worked on his computer stuff.
Sonic CD is the epitome of platforming greatness and is often considered THE BEST game within the entire Sonic series by those who have been fortunate enough to play it. Fully utilizing the power of the Sega CD, Sonic Team created a unique Sonic experience that included some complex concepts stretched throughout 60+ levels. Sonic can play each level in the past, present, or future, and each time period changes depending on whether Sonic changed the past or not. The animations and visual style of each stage paired with the exceptional music makes Sonic CD hands down the best Sonic game in the Sonic series, which of course is a highly debatable proclamation on my part, but I stand behind it. The extremely vibrant colors are reminiscent of Ristar (another Sonic Team game), and the music is instantly recognizable but is obviously more complex and enhanced due to the CD technology.
Overall, Sonic CD is my top pick for best Sega CD game ever made as well as best Sonic game ever made. It might not be one of the best games in history, but it certainly deserves a spot in my Top 10 Favorite Games of All Time list. Sonic CD is one of the games that keeps me coming back for more. Oh, and did I mention that Sonic CD has a save feature when played on the Sega CD? I can’t say much about the PC version as I’ve never played it, but it certainly helps to get through 60 levels! You can also find Sonic CD on Sonic Gems Collection or on most cell phones, although I’d steer clear of the latter.
Memorable Moment: I know this isn’t directly part of the gameplay, but I was absolutely blown away by the sheer technology in my hands. I was staring at the art of this awesome-looking game case, I opened it up, and it was a compact disc! I know this is pretty standard today, but in the early ’90s, this was some next-level stuff. I put the disc in the CDX machine and watched the SONIC BOOM intro scene! Mind = Blown!
Super Smash Bros. Melee
While Super Smash Bros. Melee might not crack most Top 50 Best Games Ever Made lists, there is no denying the sheer fun-factor behind this star-studded brawler! With the success of Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64, a sequel was inevitable, and we thank them for waiting for the release of the GameCube to improve upon the game. Super Smash Bros. Melee is one of those games that is responsible for breaking up friendships when people start saying things like “Fox is the best ever!” But your friend is more of a Legend of Zelda kind of guy, so he thinks Link is the best ever. How do you solve these arguments? By taking it to the streets, of course. Or in this case, fighting on a stage from Yoshi’s Story.
Super Smash Bros. Melee is slammed to the gills with Nintendo’s most famous franchises such as (but not limited to) Mario, Luigi, Link, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Star Fox, Captain Falcon, Kirby, and a few famous Pokemon characters such as Pikachu and Jigglypuff. What better way to enjoy your absolute favorite gaming characters than by taking them head-to-head in a fast-paced fierce battle with 3 of your [best?] friends? Melee is one of the best 4-player games ever made. Hands down. But single player can be just as enjoyable as the game features a ladder-style challenge mode plus a new main-game mode, called Adventure Mode, which seamlessly ties all of the major fights together in a unique fashion.
Overall, Super Smash Bros. Melee is one of those games that will keep you and your friends coming back for more even if just for bragging rights (which is typically the case). You and your friends will start creating your own sets of rules and personalizing your fights to no end. Is Melee one of the best games ever made? Maybe not. But is it one of the most fun and most enjoyable games ever made? Absolutely. Me and a dozen friends may or may not have played this game for approximately 12 to 16 hours a day for the entire summer of 2002. NO exaggeration.
Memorable Moment: My favorite moment was when my buddies and I had a big tournament at my house. By big, I mean it was about 16 to 20 of us. Each person put in $5 and we created a bracket (the game actually features a tournament style mode with bracket and all). I won the tournament and won the purse! It was a long day of gaming but it was so epic and wildly fun for everyone involved! Considering our age, we weren’t quite into drinking beers yet, but soda flowed like water as we crushed about ten 12 packs of Food Lion brand soda that day (no exaggeration). At $2 per twelver, that was pretty affordable.
Jet Grind Radio
For a such a short lifespan, the Dreamcast actually has a number of games that consistently make their way onto various Top 100 Best Games Ever lists across the web. Typically Soul Calibur and Shenmue are among the favorites for the Dreamcast, and while these games are notable in their own right, there is one game whose controls, music, joyousness, and graphics stand the test of time remarkably well; and that game is Jet Grind Radio (known as Jet Set Radio outside of the States). Jet Grind Radio is perhaps most famous as the game that spurred the cel-shading technique, but let’s not forget the noteworthy gameplay at hand.
Jet Grind Radio features a graffiti artist who roller blades around various cities tagging specific locations in an apparent feud with rival skating/graffiti gangs. The game will prompt where you should spray, many times spraying over rival gang graffiti to establish yourself as the best in the city. Spraying can sometimes be challenging as you are required to use various joystick and button combinations to perform more intricate and detailed spray paintings. Rival gangs aren’t the only obstacle as you will need to avoid the police since you’re an apparent nuisance to the public.
The concept is phenomenal and the execution is great. This is one of the few Dreamcast games that I will continue to pick and play repeatedly for a long long time. I mean, I have been playing this game for almost 15 years! Overall, Jet Grind Radio is an unforgettable experience and will still entertain the hell out of you today!
Memorable Moment: The first time I saw the graphics. I was blown away with the sheer beauty of the 3D cartoonish look. I had never seen anything like it before. It was pretty awesome!
Nintendo Entertainment System
Making this list wasn’t easy. And putting this little puzzle game on my Top 10 was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made. By technical standards, there are far superior games that either didn’t make the cut OR are nestled somewhere between #4 and a theoretical #11 on this list. But this list isn’t necessarily about monumental achievements in video gaming history, it’s simply about which games have had the biggest impact on me thus rendering themselves as favorites in the world of Nerdberry.
Dr. Mario is one of the simplest puzzle games I have ever played, but simple doesn’t always mean easy. With a genius handicap system, even the biggest newbs can have a shot at beating the most seasoned veterans. The concept behind Dr. Mario is simple… Mario tosses a pill with 2 different colors (sometimes of matching colors) into a giant vile (your playing field) and you must combine 4 matching colors horizontally or vertically against a virus to get rid of it. Once all of the viruses are cleared, you have won the game!
The multiplayer mode is by far the best, but single player works really well if you want to give yourself a challenge. Unlike Tetris, players work their way down instead of up. Let me explain. If you start at level 10 in Dr. Mario you will have to defeat somewhere around 42 viruses to win. But if you start at level 10 in Tetris, you will just start at a higher difficulty. What makes this great in comparison is that you can see the end in sight and the goals are easily obtainable. If you want an extreme challenge, set the level to 20 and the speed to high… Now spend a solid hour or more trying to rid the screen of the 84 viruses. Experienced Doctors can fly through this in under 10 minutes, it’s amazing. Maybe one day I’ll be that good… Oh, and if you’re lacking a working NES, there is a 2-in-1 combo pack for the SNES titled Tetris & Dr. Mario, or you can get Dr. Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64 which is an excellent sequel.
Memorable Moment: While not quite a memory most people would like to share, I challenged my then-girlfriend (now-wife) to a challenging match of Dr. Mario. She had been playing with me for a little bit, so her confidence was pretty high. She was on level 4 and I was on level 10. As we both neared 1 or 2 viruses, she somehow beat me to it and won the match. Needless to say, I was a little upset! But Dr. Mario has now become the one of very few games she’ll ask ME to play with her!
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC/MAC
Holy balls, what an awesome game Portal 2 is. I have honestly never played the first Portal, but that’s okay because I have been fortunate enough to play this one. One of my good friends (actually the Best Man at my wedding) is a big PC gamer and he recommended this title based on his experience with the first one. Trusting his opinion, I decided to give it a shot. I’m much more of a traditional gamer opting for more straightforward franchises like Mario, Sonic, Gears of War, Tony Hawk, FIFA, and more. But holy crap was I blown away once I started.
Portal 2 is one of the most unique games I have ever encountered, and it is the first game I have ever seen a game combine hilarious dialogue with serious puzzles and serious visuals. I mean, this game is seriously complex in design yet perfectly created for any gamer to learn. Let’s seriously just say the word “seriously” one more time… Seriously. Portal 2 is not goofy by any means, but the script is pure genius and is a major factor in keeping the game fresh from stage to stage. Learning the controls and how to play can take a little getting used to, but the difficulty increases at a perfect pace for newbs and veterans alike. The graphics are absolutely breathtaking and the environments are perfectly constructed for a futuristic semi-robotic world. One might think that the slow progressing puzzles would really hurt the pace of the game, but it’s not always slow-moving as there are some pretty intense action sequences thrown in when you least expect them!
Overall, Portal 2 is one of the most unique games ever created, and that’s not just personal opinion but an apparent fact. Unique doesn’t always equate to fun or enjoyable, but Portal 2 is a major exception to that statement. Portal 2 features a perfect balance of mind-blowing puzzles, fast action sequences, and marvelous cinematics. To make the game better, the game has a cooperative multiplayer mode that features an entirely different set of puzzles that require both players to work in tandem to complete them. Portal 2 is worthy of any Top 10 List, especially within the puzzle genre.
Memorable Moment: The first time I beat GLaDOS. I don’t want to give away any plot points, but at that moment, I felt beyond accomplished!
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Sigh. What a beautiful game this is. And I don’t mean just visually. This game is an absolute masterpiece and muddies the line between entertainment and art in the best of ways. Is Ocarina of Time a game that I can pick up and play anytime? Not really. But it is a game that has provided me with countless memories that run through my head as if I were actually in the game! Truth be told, I haven’t played Ocarina of Time in over a decade, but I remember every little detail about it as if I played it last week. Talk about a lasting impression.
When you first start playing Ocarina of Time, you will likely fall in love with the music. I am humming these tunes right now as I type this article (after 10+ years of not hearing them!), and if you play the game, you’ll be humming them too. Bringing Link to the 3D world was no easy feat for Nintendo, but with pure genius, they introduced a new world to the gaming industry and set forth some monumental moments in gaming history. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is often regarded as the best Zelda game ever made and many would go as far as to put it in their Top 5 Best Games in the history of video gaming. Ocarina of Time will forever be praised for its achievements within the series and on gaming as a whole.
Memorable Moment: One of my fondest memories is riding through the Hyrule Fields on Epona, Link’s trusty horse. The year was 1998 and gamers had never experienced anything like it. The view was amazing as I galloped across the open fields trying to reach town before dark!
Super Mario 64
Welcome to Super Mario 64, the only game on this Top 10 Favorite Games list to be given a spot in the top 10 without being shuffled around. All of the other games on this list were written out before I placed them in their current locations. Some got shuffled around numerous times before I eventually felt pleased with their place on the list. Super Mario 64 was not one of those games as it was instantly put in the number one slot, for obvious reasons: Super Mario 64 is the best game ever made. Shut up. Don’t argue with me. You know I’m right.
Super Mario 64‘s historical impact is legendary. For starters, this game revolutionized camera systems in 3D games, which is one of the factors that can make or break a game. While most people might overlook the camera work in this game, that’s because a camera system shouldn’t be a chore. It’s not just about the camera, however, as this game is one of the best games to just pick up and play whenever. Truly standing the test of time, Super Mario 64 presents some very straightforward gameplay but in the most fun and enjoyable ways. With 120 total stars to collect throughout the game, a large number of them are hidden throughout the castle, adding some very enjoyable (and sometimes fierce) exploration to the game. And why would you care about getting all 120 stars? Well it’s the only way to complete the game in its entirety, for starters. But the best reward is getting Yoshi at the end!
Super Mario 64 is a legendary game and is one of the best gaming experiences of my lifetime. I was fortunate to be that perfect pre-teen age when this game came out, giving me all the free-time in the world to become fully immersed in its various stages, legendary music, and awesome puzzles.
Memorable Moment: The first time I raced the penguin in Cool, Cool Mountain completely blew me away. I shimmied up the tree. Did a handstand at the top. Leaped off spinning my way into the chimney with a perfect swish. At the bottom of this chimney I was face to face with a giant penguin. Super Mario 64 provided many magical moments.
Unfortunately not every game could make the list, but here are a few that just barely missed the cut.
Sega Genesis / Sega Mega-Drive
While Battletoads will likely never make a Top 10 Best Games Ever Made list, there is one list that it continues to top time and again, and that is the Top 10 Hardest Games Ever Made list. Battletoads will never make a Top 10 Best Games list because it’s not that good of a game, but there is no denying the insane fun accompanied with its insane difficulty. I thoroughly enjoy the sadomasochist nature in its gameplay, and I welcome the beating that shall be bestowed upon me as soon as I pick up that awesome Genesis controller. This game is sheer fun and I have 2 decades of experience playing it yet I’ve never beaten it. Maybe one day… Ah… To dream…
Contra III: The Alien Wars
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Contra III: The Alien Wars follows a nearly identical pattern and concept as its predecessors in Contra and Super C, but this time we have the power of the Super Nintendo taking Jimmy and Sully (descendants of Bill and Lance) to all new futuristic locations with bigger and badder weapons! Contra III features some of the toughest gameplay TO DATE, which some would consider impossible after playing the first Contra game. One of my favorite things about Contra III is the somewhat seamless transitions from level to level. Well, it’s definitely not “seamless,” but it sure is smooth. The levels are incredibly varied and the difficulty is “just right” up until it reaches a point where you’ll likely get so angry that you’ll need to go outside and cool off. Contra III continues the same traditions and concepts that made the first two games so popular with fans and critics alike, but fine-tunes the game mechanics while adding some pretty neat features (most notably the 3D levels and the levels in the top-down perspective). It was tough to choose the original Contra over this title for the Top 10 Favorite Games list, but this game is possibly less forgiving since the American version has no built-in Konami code.
Sonic the Hedgehog Classic Trilogy
Sega Genesis / Sega Mega-Drive
1991, 1992, 1994
While technically this is not a trilogy as it features 4 games, keep in mind that Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were actually 1 game but had to be split due to space and cost constraints on the cartridge and development respectively. With that being said, most consider the original Genesis games to be that of a “trilogy.” If you want to talk about games that are absolutely timeless, it’s tough to look past these 4 games. Sonic the Hedgehog 1 set the whole concept in motion while Sonic the Hedgehog 2 fine-tuned the original and increased upon its excellence. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 finally featured a cooperative 2-player story mode along with a much desired save mode! Sonic & Knuckles featured a badass lock-on feature where you could connect any of the other 3 Sonic games onto the top of the cartridge for added features (such as playing Knuckles in Sonic 2).
Overall, these games represent the pinnacle of the series in most peoples’ eyes and anything after it is simply “not as fun.” As great as these games are, and each one is truly amazing in its own way, Sonic CD far exceeds the classic trilogy in many aspects such as graphics, music, gameplay, and story. But nothing can replace that feeling you got when you first played Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991. That was a special moment.
Nintendo Game Boy
Man oh man what a legendary game Tetris is. Tetris needs no introduction or explanation, and I’m sure every single person reading this has played some variation of the game at least once in their life. When Tetris first hit the shelves, people were captivated by its simplistic nature yet its refined ability to please adults as much as children. During this time in the early years of video gaming history, games were still often viewed as “a thing for kids” and it wasn’t as accepted as it is today. In many ways, Tetris helped tear down the walls eventually bringing Tetris, or some variation of it, to nearly every video game system ever created including office computers.
Unfortunately there isn’t that much to say that you don’t already know, but at the same time I feel like I harp on the supreme enjoyability of such a game. What makes Tetris on the Game Boy better than any other Tetris is the fact that it is THE perfect portable game. Nothing passes the time better than Tetris. When the doctor’s assistant comes out to get you in the waiting room, you will undoubtedly shout “That’s me! Give me a minute! I’m on level 15!” While technological advancements have made great improvements to the video gaming industry as a whole since Tetris was released 25 years ago, there’s something special about taking it all the way back to its one of its most original forms. This game is timeless, yet somehow rarely tops a 100 Best Games Ever Made list anywhere on the web. While Tetris might not be solely responsible for making puzzle games popular, there is no denying its influence on the genre as a whole.
Memorable Moment: Getting Tetris two times in a row! Now THAT is perfect planning (paired with a little luck)!
Mario Kart 64
Truly unforgettable. 4-player battle mode was about as awesome as multiplayer gaming could be for a game from the 1990s.
Super Mario World
Super Mario World took the excellence of Super Mario Bros. 3 and made it remarkable. With a variety of new power-ups, the ability to play old levels using the map, and 16-bit technology, Mario just got a whole lot bigger!
Super Mario Bros. 3
It’s really hard to believe this is a game for the NES. It might technically be on a giant NES cartridge, but it plays and looks like it belongs jammed into an SNES cartridge slot. Super Mario Bros. 3 has that original feel that made us fall in love with Mario but is far superior in many ways.
Star Fox 64
Star Fox 64 was the most advanced rail-shooter to-date upon its release. But better than that was the fact that it was made by Nintendo when they were at their peak. A truly excellent game! Unforgettable.
Super Monkey Ball 2
Super Monkey Ball was a great game, but Super Monkey Ball 2 expanded upon the great concept and introduced some incredibly fun new mini-games. Rolling monkeys in a ball has never been so fun!
Halo: Combat Evolved
First there was Wolfenstein 3D. Then there was Doom. And then Turok raised its ugly head. But Halo buried all of those games with its supremacy. Bungie created a masterpiece and is likely single-handedly the reason why Microsoft is still in the video game console business.
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