I made the following list two years ago:
"kingdom hearts: chain of memories // metal gear solid 2 // ratchet and clank // super mario land 2: 6 golden coins // undertale // shadow of the colossus // fire emblem fates: conquest // final fantasy vi // star wars battlefront (ps2) // astro boy: omega factor"
At the time (and now), it's moreso just a record of my best gaming experiences, not necessarily which 10 games would be the greatest to play in 2019. Updating it now, with one game per series as the general rule(?), I'd offer up the following games (unranked, because it's hard to do that):
- - This one gets so much hate due to its card-battle system and its rehash of the first game's plot. As a fifth-grader, though, this game really hit all the right notes for me (I was a melancholic kid lol). I only had a GBA from age 7 to 11, but the amount that I loved this game pushed me to save up money all summer to experience the bigger console experiences.
- Knight - Listen, it's okay if this one didn't hit for you. It seems like popular consensus recently has relegated this one to "recent overrated hit." But seriously, this game's atmosphere and mechanics (including the much-hated map system, which I thought perfectly accentuated the feeling of exploration) are unparalleled in the genre. Only a few games have really given me the sensation in adulthood that a Kingdom Hearts boss battle gave me as a teenager, and this game is the most notable of them.
- - This is important to get out of the way, so I'm going to toss it here. My ranking of the MGS series in general: 2 > 4 > 1 > 3 > 5 > PW. As you can see, my tastes tend more towards the near-future, and no MGS game (or maybe any game?) has done it better than MGS2. The themes were mind-blowing to me when I played this at 20. The gameplay was frustrating but rewarding. And, hey, I like Raiden, annoying as he may be sometimes.
- - I dunno, this is the one here that I could probably cut. Then again, I just haven't booted up the HD remaster recently, which made me realize just how essential this game was to me in the first place. This was one of two games that I purchased with the PS2 that KH:CoM inspired me to save up for. The other, some version of NFL Gameday, only spent a few minutes in my system. R&C, on the other hand, was the game that I played from the beginning over and over again until I had saved enough for a memory card. It's etched in my memory. How could I ever cut it from this list?
- - It took me 4 years to beat this. I've never loved grinding, but the plot, character, and social system was always good enough to draw me back in after enough time had passed. Love how the eventual hopelessness of the situation brings all the characters down; only makes the continual drive to grind and win that much more palpable. And, though I can understand why people hate it, I personally liked only controlling the main character. It helped flesh out the other characters' personalities a bit.
- - This has the best story and music of any Fire Emblem game that I've played. I love Fire Emblem in general, and this one was the perfect blend of bittersweet and challenging for me.
- - My first game! Played it on my sister's Gameboy Pocket, which she eventually gave me for my sixth birthday in 2001. Didn't actually beat the final castle until early 2018. Will there even be another game with as large of a gap in start to finish time for me? Maybe some of the FFs that I started in the late 00s will eventually take that throne. Love the aesthetic of this one, even if the performance is a bit wack. The levels were really out there, but personally I think that helped shape my idea of what games could be, even at a young age.
- - This meant a lot to me in 2015.
- - Another long delay from beginning to end. I started it on my GBA around 2006, I think, and finally finished that save in 2018. I still remember experiencing the apocalyptic centerpiece of the game while riding in the passenger seat of a family car on a long road trip and slowly gathering and reuniting with my party members while half-watching Hitchcock movies on TCM during Alfred Hitchcock month. It's a special one. I love basically every FF I've ever started, but this has the privilege of being one of the only ones I've fully completed. Seeing the credits role after 12 years... amazing!
- - This one I also thought about cutting. What could go in its place? A Kirby game, or a more recent Switch game I loved, or a PC masterpiece that I enjoyed during my brief period of PC gaming in high school? Nah, ultimately there's not much else that I truly feel belongs here. I spent hundreds of hours playing this game, most often with my primary friend from middle and high school. We played it even when we had better things to play, after we both got (then) current gen systems. Eventually, I gave him my extremely destroyed copy when I moved away for college. I hope he still has it.