This is the game that put RPGs on my radar. The advertising used Skratch 'N Sniff. The game came in a HUGE box that accommodated the walkthrough that masqueraded as a travel guide. The humor was irreverent. The graphics were simple and bright. The music is indelible in my soul. The method to defeat the final boss was clever. The closing credits featured an album of pictures that faithfully captured the moment, with all the teddy bears, ghostly party members, and mushroom heads. In my view of video games, this game is perfection.
2. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4
Never has a game had me so enthralled. I actually felt like a student having relationships and tests and wacky times.
3. Final Fantasy Tactics
4. Shadow of the Colossus
This game is powerful. Its minimal narrative showcased many themes: the struggle of David and Goliath, the path of doing anything for a loved one, the darkness of systematic murder, true friendship between rider and mount, and rebirth. This is a beautiful game with ideas that haunt you long after you've put down the controller.
5. Super Mario 64
For the time, it had wide open lands that seemed amazingly huge. Even the outside of the castle seemed huge back in 1996 in that Toys R Us. Today it remains the most mechanically sound 3D Super Mario game. The side jump, backflip and triple jump all had their separate uses. They became somewhat muddled and interchangeable in subsequent games.
6. Portal 2