"Some mountains are scaled. Others are slain.
Considered by many to be the paragon of arthouse video games, the spiritual successor (and prequel) to ICO is sure to be remembered in future generations as one of the greatest games of all time. The game sets you in a mysterious land filled with wondrous architecture & ruins, gorgeous landscapes, and sixteen magnificent Colossi, each of whom you must slay. There are no dungeons to navigate, no other creatures to kill (aside from some harmless stat-increasing lizards) and a minimalistic story, which does have its emotional peaks and a truly climactic end.
What makes this so great are the visuals, and the sheer epic nature of the battles against the colossi. One of the earlier battles has you climbing up a colossus' sword to reach his weak points, and a couple have you running atop a colossus while they are in flight. Journeying through the land to get to each colossi takes you to a new area each time, each one with its own spectactular view of a valley, ruin, or lake. In this game, the journey alone is half the reward." -- Written by HeroofDark
"The Super Mario Bros. series on the NES took a bit of an interesting path. From the original game, the second in the series had a split. In Japan, Super Mario Bros. 2 was a game quite like the original, seeming almost more like a modern-day expansion. In the US, a completely different game - Doki Doki Panic - was used as the second Mario game. With the third Mario game, however, everything was brought back together.
Super Mario Bros. 3 was a momentous event. A movie was created for the sole purpose of showcasing it. A commercial was created showing millions of people creating a giant Mario face across the United States. Something big was coming.
Super Mario Bros. 3 brought the Mario series back to something more similar to the original, but with so many changes and improvements. Each world had a distinct theme - from ice to desert to water to size changes. A map through each world provided an overview of what was to come, and things to encounter along the way. New items and abilities created many possibilities for ways to approach each level. There was so much to do and discover each time through.
Technology has improved, and this game saw a newer version released in Mario All-Stars as well. Still, even with all of the advancements, in this series that has been the definition of platforming, this is still considered by many to be the pinnacle of the Mario series." -- Written by terrisus (originally nominated by Hookd_On_Foniks)
"I didn't really appreciate most of my current favorite games until my second playthroughs of them. I did enjoy Kingdom Hearts the first time around, but it was my second playthrough where I realized how great of a game it really is.
What is so great about Kingdom Hearts? Well, there’s the music, the gameplay, the story, the voice acting, etc…but, going past the point of being a good game to being one of my favorite games takes 2 things: 1. Crazy good Atmosphere, and 2. I can sit and play it for hours.
The atmosphere of Kingdom Hearts is just fantastic; it has that feeling of nostalgia mixed with darker themes that gives it a unique aura. The music, the voice acting, the graphics, all added to the atmosphere of the game. None of the later games I’ve played captured that atmosphere that Kingdom Hearts had.
I’m not very good at describing what’s so great about the game play of games. Heck, I don’t really even know why Kingdom Heart’s gameplay is so much fun. It just is. I just sit on the couch and I play it real good. You guys should go play it right now. It's really awsome." --Written by TheSageOfAwsome
"A Link to the Past is often considered along with Ocarina of Time to be the high point of the Zelda series. Many fans were disappointed by the style used in Adventure of Link, and they wanted another game in the style of the original Zelda. Link to the Past had many improvements made on the original Legend of Zelda game. First and foremost was the better map system which made it much easier to know where to go. The game also had many more dungeons and more epic boss fights. A Link to the Past introduced many items that would be staples of the series like the hookshot and the Pegasus boots. Another big change was the fact that this time the story line was much more developed and it introduced the dark world/light world gameplay gimmick which I believe was new at the time. All in all A Link to the Past is a fantastic game, one which I believe is one of the greatest ever and a game that all gamers should experience at one point in their life." -- Written by Paper_Okami
"What is it about Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door that PotD finds most entertaining? Perhaps it is the subtle humor that fills the game, the fantastic battle system, or maybe PotDers just like Flurrie’s voluptuous physique? When confronted with this question, many users exclaimed that it was all of the aforementioned reasons and more. There can be no doubt that PM:TTYD is one of the most innovative and fun RPGs ever made. The game is filled to the brim with clever dialogue, great characters, stellar gameplay, and a huge amount of side quests. However, there is an overwhelming consensus on PotD that the best feature of the game is the cleverly designed dungeons. Whether you are in Glitzville Stadium fighting your way to the top of the ranks in a professional fighting tournament, or you are (as one PotDer put it) on “the mother****ing train” solving sinister mysteries, there is never a dull moment in PM:TTYD. One feature that remains prominent throughout the game is the clever humor. Many times you will find yourself laughing out loud, whether it is at the characters’ various personality quirks, or at Luigi’s hilarious recounting of his adventures in the Waffle Kingdom. Regardless of your reason for loving this amazing game, the immense level of quality will ensure that not just PotD, but the entire gaming community will be playing this classic game for decades to come." -- Written by LordBalor4
"If I don't ever find any sort of success in life, I might feel inclined to blame it on Melee. I'm trying to come up with a rough estimate for how much higher my college GPA would be if I never found friends who were into the game, but it's a little too depressing to think about, so I'll let it suffice to say that the choice between homework and Melee (for a few hours at a time) was never a difficult one.
Many people look at Brawl and laud its greater roster and its updated graphics, but there's a reason the Melee community is so hesitant to let go. Competitive Melee play is one of the best examples of a game being broken far beyond what its designers intended. Nothing moves or behaves like it should, but there's a sense that there is some pattern in the chaos. Every movement is calculated, every step is a struggle to gain ground.
Above all else, though, Melee is a celebration of gaming. In an age where every game is expected to have online play, it's easy to forget how much more intimate trash-talking is in person. You can't mute the person who just beat you in real life, and the poor soul who just got last place can't see your demeaning victory dance over a headset. Crowding a bunch of people around a tiny TV may not be practical anymore, but it captures the spirit of fun better than any other game I've ever played, and isn't that what gaming is all about?" -- Written by cheezitman2001 (originally nominated by Hookd_On_Foniks)
"Resident Evil was not a series held in low esteem before the release of its fourth installment, but it was not without its issues. Despite its innovative gameplay elements, the badly localized dialogue ("It's really powerful, especially against living things"), and control and camera limitations led to a certain cynical attitude toward the games. This was all blown out of the water in early January, 2005. Resident Evil 4 shows a level of sophistication matched by few games preceding or following it, and restructured the way we play third person shooting games. It left behind the arguably simplistic scenario of the Raccoon City Outbreak to tell the ambitious story of a cult conspiracy in rural Spain, with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor despite its grisly subject. Every aspect of this game was a breath of fresh air. The over-the-shoulder camera style was an groundbreaking addition to a game developer's repertoire, as was the area-specific damage mechanic. The atmosphere was a coherent work of art: secluded, steeped in a rich sense of culture and meticulous design, and downright eerie in every inch. Visual and aural cues repeat throughout the game to make you genuinely afraid, often without explicitly seeing the object of your fear, as anyone who started to scramble for ammo and shelter at the sound of a revving chainsaw could tell you. I don't think I have played any game through more times than RE4. No other game holds such a place in my Las Plagas-infested heart. Simply put, this game was--and remains--a revolutionary example of game design." -- Written by Snoopydance
"Majora’s Mask…a great game that will sadly live forever in its older brother’s shadow. Oh, Majora’s Mask’s older brother, Ocarina, is certainly a good game, there’s no doubt about that. The reason PotD likes this game so much is because it’s different.
First, we’ll start with the story. Majora’s Mask has a plot that goes deeper than any other Zelda. See that guy standing by the corner every day? Go talk to him, maybe you’ll get a sidequest and learn things about the game that you’ve never noticed before! Traditional Zelda games give you a bland, overdone story. Majora’s Mask deviates from that storyline and presents you with a fresh, new, exciting adventure!
In this strange new land of Termina, you look up in the sky and see that OH MAH GAWD THE MOON IS FALLING HOLY CRAP! Guess whose job it is to fix it? Yep, it’s you. How do you find out about what’s going on? The people, of course! During the game, you’ll encounter a huge cast of unique (and entertaining) characters, and you can write down, in your journal, the names of the people and what their problems are (yep, just like in the real world, everyone has a problem). This might seem like a tedious task, but it’s actually quite fun and doesn’t come across as putting too much on you. Best of all, you learn so much about the new world you’re in that you start to feel like you’re becoming a part of it.
Boy, look how much we’ve talked about this game. With all that I've said, it's hard to believe there’s still more to it! If you want to know what this game is really like, you’ll just have to play it for yourself." -- Written by Hookd_On_Foniks
"What makes Chrono Trigger so great isn't so much anything that it does different or surprising - it's how well it does the things that it sets out to do. The game is a turn-based RPG. The story is a purposely cliched one, ranging from saving a princess, to saving the world, and ending with a frog getting kissed. Time travel is handled in a straightforward method of a change in one time affects a change in another. There's nothing too out of the ordinary at the base.
What sets it apart, however, is how all of these things come together to create an absolutely unforgettable experience. An adventure spanning many locations and times, each filled with memorable encounters and unforgettable experiences. A variety of areas to explore, each filled with many things to do and discover. Different characters to create a party from, each providing a different gameplay experience, discussions, and feel to the game. Choices of things to do, and ways to do them. Many different endings, providing not only another reason to play through the game multiple times, but rewards in seeing them.
At the end of the day, Chrono Trigger stands as a marvel of RPGs and gaming in general. Never before and never since has so much come together, in just the right ways to create such a perfect game. Time continues to pass, but there has never been an experience quite like Chrono Trigger." -- Written by terrisus (originally nominated by spartanreborn1)
"Whether or not every gamer agrees if it’s for better or for worse, Ocarina of Time’s lasting impact is undeniable. When this game was released in 1998, it had been over six and half years since the US release of A Link to the Past, the last console Zelda game at the point. After Nintendo successfully handled Mario’s transition to the third dimension, anticipation was certainly high for their next biggest flagship franchise to do the same. The hype certainly helped to build Ocarina’s legend, but because of the hype it would have to deliver.
And deliver it did. Instead of throwing the player straight into the gameplay, Ocarina begins with a cutscene to help set the story, which it builds on throughout the game. Keep in mind that this is 1998, and although games started to exist with more detailed storylines by then, we were still shifting from a period when it wasn’t uncommon for a game to throw you a haphazard storyline on the first screen or in the instructional manual and say that’s that. The story may seem simplistic now, but it is very accessible and helps set up the series well to new players, and introduced key aspects to the series such as Ganondorf.
As for gameplay, Ocarina rightfully stuck to the traditional Zelda formula of overworld exploration and quests coupled with dungeons. The exploration aspects in this game toned down the difficulty from previous games, but did so while expanding immensely on previously limited ideas such as relying on help from townspeople and other talking characters in the game. However, the dungeons are where I believe the 3D prowess is really tested, and again it succeeded.
Ocarina brought the dungeons to life like never before. Although some of the dungeons in past games were themed, it wasn’t until Ocarina that they were given a truly distinct look. The 3D helped expand the gameplay as well, making the idea of multiple floors much less limited than before. And of course I would be remiss not to mention the game’s intuitive Z-targeting combat feature, which helped smooth out all the differences between fighting in 2D vs. 3D.
And of course, the game has a great soundtrack as well, introducing some of the signature tunes in the series and helping to popularize ones that appeared before. It may be constantly picked apart now, but at the time it was hard to find a lot of flaws in a game that did great on so many aspects. And it is only because we love Ocarina of Time so much that we also love to hate it, and that’s the kind of impact that lands it a spot on this list." -- Written by bachewychomp (originally nominated by Snoopydance)
Method: First, each board was solicited for a list of nominees. Each user was allowed to submit up to ten games for the nominations list. The purpose of the nominations list was two-fold: first of all, to give users a chance to nominate games they would like to write for if they won (nominators were given 'first dibs' on write-ups), and secondly, to have a public list of potential games. The second is to guard against a voter suggesting a game late that many previous voters would've voted for had they thought of it.
Then, the games (291 total) were entered in a large week-long poll. Users were allowed to vote for up to four games. Then, the top vote-getters from that round (33 total) were entered into a final poll, where users were allowed to vote for up to three games. The vote tallies of the two rounds were added and the initial round votes served as the tie-breaker.
With that, the Top 12 games were announced and write-ups were solicited. Nominators had first refusal to write-ups; then, any user on the board could claim one game they wanted to write for. Write-ups were collected, added to the list and posted.
Full Results: 33 total games made the final voting round. They are, in finishing order:
Tales of Symphonia, Donkey Kong Country 2, Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, Metroid Prime, Team Fortress 2, Final Fantasy Tactics, Paper Mario, Diablo 2, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Knights of the Old Republic, Metal Gear Solid 3, Final Fantasy 9, Metal Gear Solid 4, Fallout 3, Metal Gear Solid, Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy 10, Skies of Arcadia, World of Warcraft, Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid 2
DDJ's Brief Analysis: With each list I'll write a bit of extrapolation on some of the more interesting parts; this'll be better in future lists, since I don't want to reveal too much of what's coming, but there's some interesting observations for the Poll of the Day list alone, too. The list might appear a bit predictable at the top (we'll be hearing from Chrono Trigger and Ocarina of Time a lot in these lists), but it actually serves as a fairly good preview of the rest of the series. Over half the games on the list appear on at least one other list, with several on two or even all three. What's surprising to me, though, is that there is one incredibly highly rated game that made no lists except for Poll of the Day's... although I have a feeling it will rank quite highly in the fifth list, which is still in the voting stages somewhere on GameFAQs.
List by DDJ (09/16/2010)
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