My All-Time Favorites
It's hard to make a list like this. It is hard to figure just how much I still like those games that I haven't played for nearly 20 years. Another reason it's hard: the good games that I've played very recently (Dark Souls, Bioshock Infinite, etc) still stand out, and the impression they made still feels stronger than some older games. Lastly, there are the games that I had forgotten about, but after looking at many lists of games, I was reminded just how much I loved them. What should I do with these? I feel that some of these may have fallen a bit on the list just due to the fact that I had forgotten that they even exist.
After this consideration, I decided to compare the newer games that I liked to the way I remember I felt about the older games at the time that I played them. I still remember the way I felt while playing some of these older games, and for that, many older games kept a very high ranking in the list.
Lastly, this is not a list of what games I think are the best or most well made. There are some games in this list that would not make my list if I had played them now, but the impression that they left on me when I played them is still strong in my mind.
Note 1: #1 is a tie. Yeah, I know I should just make a decision, but I just can't. There are very specific reasons why each is my #1.
Note 2: Many games in the back half of the list are games that I enjoyed playing with my wife or were so old that I just can't really remember how good they are, but I still have fond memories of them.
Note 3: In some cases I put an entire franchise in one position, but in other's I separate individual entries into their own position. To me, if a new entry in the series isn't significantly different from the others then it can be considered on its own. Case in point: each of the Final Fantasy games are very different from another. However, as much as I love the Halo series, there isn't that much of a difference between each entry. So, I combine some franchises together, and if there is clearly one entry that I enjoyed more than the others, I only note that one (see Mass Effect 2).
Note 4: This list is still growing. As I play more games and I remember some gems that I'd forgotten about, the list will continue to grow.