Games That Have Defined My Life

Maybe not the best, maybe not the best known, but the games that made me the gamer that I am today.

List items

  • A pack-in for the Colecovision, Donkey Kong is the first game that I ever played (at 3 years old). I'm pretty sure that my brother and I wore that cartridge into a nub with how many times we played it.

  • While not the best game ever, this is the first game that I skipped class to play. My friends and I would sneak down to the computer lab during the teacher's lunch break and boot it up on the old Apple IIs

  • Though Super Mario Bros. is the most obligatory game for a list like this, that doesn't alter the fact that it changed everything for me. While I loved my Colecovision games, and constantly pestered my parents for quarters at the mall's arcade, SMB turned videogames into a lifelong obsession. Unfortunately, I never owned an NES. But my friends did, and I was always at their house playing this game over and over again.

  • With the benefit of hindsight, I now realize just how bad Roberta Williams was at designing games. Her bizarre puzzles, and equally insane solutions, were virtually impossible to figure out without some sort of guide. Unfortunately, gamefaqs.com wasn't around at the time, meaning that I spent countless hours trying to figure out how to just get around. But at the time, I loved it.

  • This game was my first introduction to RPGs, and is definitely the reason why I became such a DnD dork into high school. By the way, I fought the 99, 99, 99, 99 guard party fight and won, after hours of battle. That's how hardcore I am.

  • Sure, everyone's played this game. I'd never heard of the Game Boy, but someone brought one into school in fourth grade. We passed it around under our desks, wasting away the school day, until our teacher finally caught us and confiscated it. From then on, I constantly begged my mom for a Game Boy until she broke and got me one.

  • I grew up a deprived child. I never had an NES, but I did get a TurboGrafx-16. Bonk's Revenge was my Super Mario Bros. It was the one game I owned that I played over-and-over again (whenever I couldn't go to a friend's house to play SMB). Though very easy, it was still a load of fun.

  • There has never been a beat 'em up that I've played more times than Double Dragon II. My friend and I would spend hours going through this game over and over again on his NES. Even today, I'll pull it up on my emulator and blast through to the end.

  • As I've mentioned previously, I didn't have my own NES; I had to mooch off of friends. However, I babysat my neighbors' kids, and they had Mega Man 3. I must've played this game 100 times, and Shadow Man is one of my favorite bosses in the series, while the Top Spin power goes down as the most useless skill ever put into a Mega Man game. I used to put a chair leg down on the d-pad of the 2nd controller to activate the high jump and infinite life cheats.

  • Another obvious game; Street Fighter II: Champion Edition was installed into Buffalo Grove, IL's Wal-Mart, which was only a couple of miles from my house. My friends and I would load up on quarters, bike over to Wal-Mart, put our quarters up on the cabinet, and calmly wait for our turn to shine. One time, I leaned against a railing waiting for my turn and got stung by a bee. My hand totally swelled up, but I wouldn't leave until I got to play. Naturally I lost due to my puffy mitt of a hand, and my friend thought that I was nuts. Although I never got very good at SF2, you couldn't keep me away. Until Mortal Kombat II came out.

  • Before MK2, there was only Street Fighter II: Champion. Once MK2 came out, that was the only arcade game I'd play. MK2 took more quarters from me than any other arcade game ever created, hands down. The five mile bike ride to get to the game store that had the MK2 cabinet was torturous. After hours of playing MK2, I would pedal home, sated until the following weekend when I'd head back to the game store to get another fix.

  • When I was a freshman in high school, a young newlywed couple moved in next door. They asked me if I'd let their dog out and feed him while they were on vacation, and that if I wanted to play the Sega, I could go ahead.

    This was the first time that I'd been around adults, and cool ones at that, who played videogames. Up until that point, I thought games were something you'd grow out of. My favorite game of theirs was, by far, Earthworm Jim 2.

  • I wasn't the biggest gamer in college. I'd play in the dorms on other peoples' systems, but I didn't have a console of my own. Someone got a hold of Duke Nukem 3D my sophomore year and passed it around the dorm. Before that day, I didn't know many of the guys on my floor. After that day, all of us were inseparable.

  • During my sophomore year of college, the guys in the dorm and I got to the point where we'd wake up, start a match, and play until midnight. The only breaks we took were for lunch and dinner. Despite that, they never did figure out that the siege tanks aren't as all-powerful as they thought.

  • Tekken is my favorite fighting game series of all-time, and this game is the reason why. I saved up and grabbed a PS1 with a bunch of games in college. This wound up being the only one we ever played. To this day, none of my friends can touch me when it comes to Tekken.

  • "600 MB install!? Are they crazy!?" was the first thing I thought when my college roommate showed me PC Gamer's preview article for Baldur's Gate. He wound up getting it when it came out, but my rig couldn't handle the required specs. Baldur's Gate is the only game that I upgraded my PC to play, and it was worth it. Black Isle's Baldur's Gate games are the best RPGs ever made.

  • Four months before it was released, I prepaid for my PS2 so that I could have it for launch day. I was working in San Antonio at the time, and had a flight back to Chicago that got delayed. I paid the cabbie double if he could make it home so that I'd have time to get to EB. I made it there with 15 minutes to spare and got the last system that they had in the store. I got home and played some Tekken Tag and Ridge Racer (blech). But when I popped in SSX, I was totally blown away. My friends and I must've played that game every day for six months. I remember it more for the ordeal of getting a PS2, but it was still a damn fun game.

  • I didn't get into Final Fantasy until VII, but I'd enjoyed the series and am an RPG nerd at heart. I picked up FFX when I lost my job and had nothing but free time on my hands. The game stayed true to the others in the series, but the story, characters, and unbelievable presentation hooked me. I played through it twice in a row, making sure to get every little secret in the game the second time through. In a way, it was pretty pathetic wasting all day playing PS2 at my parents' place instead of working, but everything worked out in the end.

  • This list is in chronological order for my life, so it probably looks strange for an early 90's NES game to be stuffed in behind a PS2 JRPG. When I got to grad school, I took one of the easiest and most boring classes of my life. A guy who I hardly knew sat next to me, and I noticed that he was playing TSB on an emulator on his laptop. We both wound up playing Tecmo the entire semester and quickly became best friends to this day.

  • I was never a huge fan of first-person RPGs, preferring the JRPG style of play. But I'd heard great things about The Elder Scrolls from my boss, so I picked up Morrowind for the Xbox. 150 hours later, I still think that it is the best RPG that I've ever played. The locales were varied, you could easily screw yourself over in the main questline, and death could come for you at any time. Bethesda's future RPGs, Oblivion and Fallout 3, have their own charm, but they've been watered down too much. Morrowind was a truly complex game that completely changed my view of RPGs.

  • Ok, so I thought this game sounded extremely stupid. My fiancee and I had some time to kill, so we wandered a Best Buy and they had it set up. I was instantly hooked. At this point, I've accumulated six guitars, two drumsets, a custom kick pedal, and two microphones. I bought GH, GH2 (twice), GH3, GH:WT, RB, RB2, AC/DC, Beatles RB, and spent over $200 on DLC. Also, my top contribution to Giant Bomb came from keeping up the Rock Band DLC page. So it's clear to say that I'm a bit obsessed.