Updated: Sep 11, 2019
Welcome to my first ever two-parter! Now, I’m no Leeroy-Jenkins-level player, but I love video games! I like to joke that it’s in my genes because my mom played the original Legend of Zelda when she was pregnant with me.
In an effort to carry on my genetic legacy, I not only also played while I was pregnant with my kid, but I talk to him about video games too. This is important, developmental stuff here folks! Recently, I told him about my favorite game on every console I’ve ever owned/played.
So really, you have him to thank for the list that follows:Best Video Games by Console, Pt. 1, covering third through seventh generation video game systems. You can read Pt 2 on eight generation video game system games here after its release in Mar 2019.
DISCLAIMER: Before we get started, keep in mind I have not played every. single. game. known in existence, so if your list would’ve looked different, calm down there, turbo. Feel free to open up your debates in the comments below. I’m always down for some game recommendations!
We’ll start “retro” (or as retro as my short existence allows) and work our way to the modern age.
Some of you might be thinking, “you’re way too young to have enjoyed any arcade games,” and you would’ve been right, had I not grown up in Portland, OR. One of my favorite places here is a bar-cade called Ground Kontrol, where you can play probably over 100 different classics—and new—arcade games.
My favorite amongst them is Dragon’s Lair. Dragon’s Lair has a fascinating history. At the time it was created, detailed graphic images were difficult to produce in video games, but if anyone’s played the game, you’ll notice that it looks very much like a cartoon made in the 80’s. That’s because the creator, Don Bluth, a former Disney animator, opted to use a LaserDisk which had more storage capacity. Dragon’s Lair became one of the first ever video games to be truly 3D!
History aside, although the game was made in 1983, in my opinion the gameplay still holds up today. In Dragon’s Lair, you play Dirk the Daring and are forced into risky, split-second decision-making in order to rescue Princess Daphne. But, be warned. Each decision comes with it the possibility for a gruesome death. Eaten by an octopus, fall into a bottomless pit, shanked by a sword, burnt to a crisp—the deaths are inventive, dramatic, and what makes the game.
The Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy
Do you like adventure/puzzle games? Rage-quitting? Anthropomorphic eggs? If your answer was yes to all three, then you’ll love The Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy!
In the game Dizzy, you played as Dizzy himself, on a mission to rescue all of his friends and loved ones (Daisy, Denzil, Dora, Dylan, and Grand Dizzy) from the clutches of the evil wizard Zaks. You see, Zaks had captured all six of the Yolkfolk and done something terrible to them. One was frozen, one turned into a frog, etc.
I think what made this game so fun were the puzzles/minigames. On the surface, Dizzy looks like a regular collect-items-save-the-kingdom kind of game. But dispersed throughout were challenges of the mind. There were literal minigames, but there was also a level of logic required for the general gameplay as players couldn’t just collect items, but had to think creatively of how to use them and when (the game only allowed you to hold 3 items at a time). Not gonna lie, more than once I would get frustrated about needing let’s say a pick axe in one town, when I’d just left it clear across the world map… But that somehow also made the game more fun!
I am happy to report that it looks like the Oliver Twins created a new game called Mystery World Dizzy! Just as good as the first.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
I wonder if there is any debate on this one, because honestly, of all of the SEGA games we owned, none came close to being as fun as Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
Picture this: you’re a blue hedgehog, who’s best friends with an orange fox, and together you set out to defeat Dr. Robotnik and rescue all of your other furry comrades. Adorable? Yes! But is that all that makes me swoon for this game? No. If you think it’s all about bunnies and blue birds, you’re wrong. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was an action-packed game made for adrenaline junkies. Each area was setup like a maze (some more linear or complex than others) and you raced against the clock to collect coins and get to the finish line in time for a showdown with Dr. Robotnik.
Some of my fondest memories are of playing Sonic with family. It was just good old-fashioned fun!
Donkey Kong Country
And here is when I start prompting disagreements. I’d venture to guess that 99% of people who have their own thoughts on the best game for the Super NES would argue a case for Super Mario World. And I agree, it would be worth the argument! But for me personally, I enjoyed Donkey Kong Country (DKC) more.
In this game, you play as either the eponymous Donkey Kong (and Diddy Kong) on a quest to retrieve the bananas that had been stolen from you by the Kremlings. I’m serious, they just don’t make games like this anymore! Throughout the gameplay, you collect bananas (which the dumb Kremlings have dropped, leaving a super helpful trail to aid you in your journey) and use each of Donkey’s and Diddy’s skills to follow the Kremlings. As a bonus, you occasionally get to ride exotic animals, like rhino’s, ostriches, dolphins, and more!
I’m ranking DKC better than Super Mario World because I loved the characters. Donkey, Diddy, and their Grandad, Cranky, all have unique personalities that you catch glimpses of throughout the game. The same can’t really be said for Mario. I also found DKC more challenging than Mario. Granted, I was probably less than ten-years-old when I played, but still.
Lastly, HELLO: animal lover! Of course I’m going to enjoy a game about monkeys more than one about plumbers rescuing a dumb princess! Case and point.
Remember when I said I haven’t played every game in existence? Well I think I only ever played one game on the original Playstation and I have a feeling it wasn’t super well known.
Dark Cloud was an odd mix of action role-playing and city-building—but it actually kind of worked! It was like The Legend of Zelda met Sim City. What I remember of Dark Cloud is visiting some poor town that was in chaos, talking to all of the inhabitants to receive quests, and then completing those quests to obtain items or learn information about what they envisioned for the future, better community.
So Joe would say he needed amethyst from the cave (I’m completely making this up; I just remember spending a lot of time in a cave and I’m not sure why). You’d set off, explore the cave, kill some monsters, find the amethyst and bring it back. When you’d return it, you’d unlock his house and he’d tell you something like, “Boy, I really do love the smell of pie,” at which point you’d remember that Carmilla is a baker and so you’d shift the town so that Joe’s house was next to Carmilla’s. I could’ve probably scraped the rest of the game (not because it was bad—because honestly it was a lot of fun) just to do the city-planning stuff!
Dang, 10-year-old me was a nerd. No wonder I liked Sim City.
Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
I’ll say it again. Legend. Of. Zelda. Majora’s. Mask. Hands down, I don’t even want to see any arguments about it, unless your argument is that Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was a better game, in which case, I’d concede that they tied for the spot.
I was convinced for a long time that Ocarina of Time was the best game, until I watched A Game Theory on Majora’s Mask and my mind was blown.
Did I mention I loved this game so much I got a tattoo in its honor?!
It's that good. So good, in fact, that I’m not going to say more, I’m just going to tell you to watch the video after you've played the game. You'll never see it the same way again.
I’m noticing a theme here: games that include cute animals (or creatures resembling animals) and games that allow for collectibles are my crack.
Pokemon Yellow was my childhood. MY LIFE.
I remember a Christmas gathering where two or three of my cousins all had Gameboys and were all playing Pokemon instead of hanging out, meanwhile, I was Gameboy-less. I became so jealous. After listening to them talk and talk and TALK about all the Pokemon they had, or what level their Dragonair was, all I could do for what felt like eons was beg my parents for a Gameboy. I think they had already got me one for Christmas and I opened it the next day or something.
Portable gaming + Gotta Catch ‘Em All = I didn’t pull my face away from that screen for like two years straight. I wanted to be the very best, like no one ever was!
Now, please excuse me while I go dig-up my Gameboy and get caught up in nostalgia.
Silent Hill 4: The Room
Like Playstation, Playstation 2 was a system I didn’t get much exposure to outside of a few games. When it came out, I was still on the Nintendo bandwagon because Zelda, Donkey Kong, Mario, and so many other characters (Banjo Kazooie, Yoshi, Pikachu, Kirby) had stolen my heart.
But I did play Silent Hill 4: The Room, and this game was terrifying and psychological mind-bleeping! You play as some shmuck (I Googled it, his name is Henry), who is trying to escape his locked apartment. But the gameplay itself isn’t just spent in his apartment. You’re cast into flashbacks or other dimensions, and the entire time you’re left wondering which is the present and where are you really.
Ironically, of the first four Silent Hill games, this one received the lowest ratings, although still respectable. But I can’t speak to those games. I just remember Silent Hill: The Room making my head hurt.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Speaking of my head hurting, Eternal Darkness was another AMAZING psychological thriller action-adventure game! Phew, say that three times fast.
I remember Eternal Darkness being one of the first games I ever played that really had a complex storyline (4 in fact). Forgive me again for being vague on the details but the story begins with Alexandra Rovia (thank you, Google) visiting her grandfather’s mansion after his untimely death. If memory serves, the police aren’t going to investigate, but Alexandra knows better so she/you start snooping for clues. Together, you discover the Tome of Eternal Darkness and this is where Alexandra starts reading about her family line. From ancient Persia to Angkor Thom, Cambodia, Alexandra reads about the various people who have contributed to this ancient secret—and by reads, I mean that’s your gameplay!
Multi-character, multi-storyline, but everything culminates back to the manor Alexandra is investigating. But what really sets this game apart from all of the others is the more Alexandra travels back in time to witness these events, the more her sanity suffers. Part way through the game, you start hallucinating pretty hard. Not only do the rooms twist and random Edgar Allan Poe quotes appear, but I remember trying to save and the game telling me that I had instead deleted all of my saved files! Brutal.
This is another game I wouldn’t mind playing right this second! Too bad Nintendo can’t make up their mind about a sequel. Maybe for the Nintendo Switch? I would actually buy a Switch if they made a sequel for Eternal Darkness.
Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee (But really, Fable)
Here is where it starts to get tricky. At this point in gaming history, graphics are crisper than ever, game plots have become more complex, and companies are producing tons of games a year. What I’m trying to say is, this is the year that the market started to get saturated and therefore, this is when this list gets more challenging.
I’m conflicted about this part of the review because Fable was a much more popular game, and was by far my favorite for a long time, but Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee deserves some screen time too! So instead of ranting and raving about why Fable was awesome (because it was, and we all know it), let me tell you about Munch’s Oddysee.
First, you should watch the opening clip. It’s only 5mins long. Go ahead, click on it. I’ll wait.
Did your heart just melt? Because I know mine did. Within 30 seconds of that video, I already loved Munch more than I have ever loved any character (seriously, you didn’t watch it? Go back and watch it!)! It instantly made me loyal to him (and the fuzzles!) no matter the cost. Abe and the Mudokons were also lovable, and the relationship between them was magic.
The nitty gritty of the plot was this: the Glukkons were capturing Mudokons and Gabbits (what Abe and Munch are) and turning them into food and/or using their parts for scientific advances. It’s up to Abe and Munch to BRING THEM DOWN!!! With the help of the other Mudokons and the lab-rat-Fuzzles you rescue along the way.
There’s a catch though. Throughout the game, you’re developing a Quarma score which is exactly what it sounds like: a karma rating to determine how good/bad you are. If you beat the game with a Quarma score of lower than 50%—meaning that you didn’t save enough Mudokons and Fuzzles in each level—bad things happen.
Don’t be like me, don’t make that mistake. Take care of your Quarma.
We’re going to go ahead and sneak computer games in right here. Why? Because in 2005 is when World of Warcraft came out and thus breaking the internet and my teenage relationship. Okay, it’s not solely responsible for our breakup, but I do remember each of us spending hours on WoW and basically ignoring one another.
Fast forward a few years (maybe 2008 or so?) and I stumbled into a beta testing for a game called Allods. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but once I started I was hooked. It’s very similar to WoW in that there are two sides/factions, with multiple races on each side to choose from. Unlike Wow which gives each race a different starting location, Allods gives each faction one, so it wasn’t the best replay value but hey! It was free!
They also had some pretty sweet character choices! I'm usually a hunter/druid class, so I was excited to see that I could have a put (I named my big cat Perusia). There is also a class called the Gibberlings which are as adorable as bunnies!
Sadly, when the company switched ownership my account disappeared during the transfer and they wouldn’t reimburse me or anything… so I’m a little peeved about that and now I play Final Fantasy instead. Suck it Allods!
Gears of War
Unpopular opinion here, but Gears of War was the best! It made this non-FPS-gamer into someone who actually looked forward to playing first-person shooter (FPS everybody) games. And if it can do that, then it’s pretty accomplished.
Unfortunately, I don’t know what else there is to say after that. It’s a first-person shooter. You shoot things and you try not to die.
Mario Party 8
If you’re looking for family fun, Mario Party 8 is where it’s at! My family and I still play this game.
Mario Party 8 is similar to all the others. There is a board, you take turns competing in individual, paired, and group challenges, all in the name of winning… whatever it is in that specific game. In Mario Party 8, you’re collecting stars.
Something my family has gotten a kick out of is that you can make your characters “trash talk” each other. Okay, maybe it’s not really trash talking… but if you shake your controller, each of them says/does something and, if timed correctly, it’s hilarious!
If you’re planning a game night with friends, consider playing this one.
Pokemon X & Y
Last on our list is the Nintendo 3DS. I’m not sure it really belongs on this list, just like arcade games and computer games sort of stick out as well, but I couldn’t NOT include it. I don’t own a 3DS, but everyone and their mother sure does! And when Pokemon X & Y came out, it was like I was the only one not enjoying the fun.
Hang on, I’m gonna go cry in the bathroom for a bit.
Pokemon X & Y was like the revival of a lost childhood dream (until Pokemon Go). What made its release so exciting was that it was the first 3D Pokemon game to be released, bringing all of our favorite Pokemon (and then some) to life on a larger—still portable—screen. It also introduced Mega Evolutions, some of which were of Pokemon that we’d known and loved for years, but had previously though had stopped evolving. Exciting times for Pokemon fans!
So there you have it! Part 1 of my list of Favorite Video Games by Console. You can find Part 2 here (link to become available Mar 2019), where I’ll give my top three for each of the eighth gen. consoles (Wii U, PS4, XBONE, and Nintendo Switch). What did you think? What are your favorite games for the consoles listed above? Let me know in the comments below!
author: The Awakened series