What's Your #GameStruck4, The Four Games That Define You?

Open Thread is where Waypoint staff talk about games and other things we find interesting. This is where you'll see us chat about games, music, movies, TV, and even sports, and welcome you to participate in the discussion.

Games Twitter is currently obsessed with the hashtag #GameStruck4, a variation on a hashtag that flew through Film Twitter earlier this week, #FilmStruck4. In essence, it’s the four movies that speak to something about you, the foundation of your taste.

It’s cruel to ask a person to pick only four, given how much games were part of my growing up (and career), but I found a way to (painfully) get mine down to four.

Mega Man 2

You can draw a direct line between my eventual appreciation for games like Spelunky and Dark Souls to Mega Man 2. With Mega Man, you’re rewarded for careful, precision-based play, which is absolutely perfect for a young kid with seemingly endless summer days to dedicate towards understanding the optimal path to Dr. Wily. Mega Man forced you to pay close attention to everything, the concept of strengths and weaknesses, and the joy in knowing every year, there’d be a new set of robots to take down.

Doom 2

The first computer in our house was a 486- something. We’d been a Nintendo home, but with a PC, a new set of games were available to me. Around the time we bought the PC, Doom II: Hell on Earth was released, a game that simultaneously enthralled me as a player, and helped me understand how computers work. Doom II led me to games like Dark Forces, which would only run on our PC if I booted up the machine in a very specific way, freeing up enough RAM. I didn’t know what RAM was before Doom II.

Dance Dance Revolution

I did not play sports past my early years—the moment I entered high school, my parents stopped forcing me to sign up—but a long time, you might have assumed I was into track and field; my legs were ripped. I spent several hours a day playing Dance Dance Revolution on maniac, the game’s hardest difficulty. Despite not having a creative bone in my body, I love music rhythm games, and DDR made me a participant. Most DDR releases didn’t come to America (or with inferior track lists), which is how I began importing. learning how to make Japanese discs run on American machines.

Deus Ex

This was the first time I played a game that rewarded me, as a player, for being curious and creative. I must have beaten the PC Gamer demo of Deus Ex a billion times, trying to find new ways to infiltrate a dystopian Statue of Liberty. Sometimes I’d go in guns blazing, but mostly, I’d sneak around, dispatching enemies with silencers, hacking terminals, and ghosting around corners. It helped Deus Ex was The X-Files: The Game.

What’s your #GameStruck4?

Follow Patrick on Twitter. If you have a tip or a story idea, drop him an email: patrick.klepek@vice.com.

Have thoughts? Swing by Waypoints forums to share them!

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/j5a4ay/whats-your-gamestruck4-the-four-games-that-define-you

Final Fantasy Tactics, Demon’s Souls, Bastion, Mass Effect 2.

Tactics defined a large part of what I like and want out of games and media in general, Demon’s Souls really proved the potential of traditional action based games to tell a narrative in a way that is semi unique to games (though I do not believe games have some unmet unique potential to tell stories but that’s another topic), Bastion proved that games could be something other than huge efforts made by large teams and not just be kinda bland platformers, and Mass Effect 2 had Garus need I say more


Tales of Symphonia - This game set the bar for me for the kind of storytelling I love. Something wild with lots of twists and surprises. There is a point partway through the game where 12 year old me thought that we were about to wrap up, only to find that I was only halfway through the game. Additionally I loved the characters, even though looking back they probably have some trope-y personalities, and the world felt alive. This game single handedly gave me my unrealistic expectations for what side quests should be: missable multi-part character stories that flesh out the world and unravel mysteries parallel to the plot. There was a lot to do and discover and it all felt relevant. I never felt like the game sent me to do busy work.

Pokemon Red - I still don’t understand why a great fan made pokemon throwback hasn’t shown up on Steam to make me fall in love again (like Stardew Valley did with Harvest Moon). Pokemon Red was the first videogame I ever played. I loved that you could team up with so many creatures. Literally anything you saw, you could capture and train, and the designs were full of personality.

Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift - I don’t know if I can truly articulate why this game that rated thoroughly average at release kept me engrossed for over 200 hours, but it’s my watermark for every turn based tactics game. I’m getting a little tired of thinking “This is ok, but it’s not as charming as FFTA2.” Something about the GBA pixel art game the game a lot of color for me. The main story was so/so, but it was satisfying enough. What I loved was that the world was full of secrets. There were tons of side quests and a lot of them had likeable or interesting characters. The quest chain that leads to unzombifying the greatest swordswoman in the land and recruiting her is one of my favorites of all time.

Nier - For a long time this was maybe my favorite game. It had a plot twist that lived up to the Tales of Symphonia benchmark, but with a story that felt like it was more mature and appealed to me as I got older. The middle aged protagonist helped. I loved the characters and felt like they had realistic motivations that I could get behind. Having a weird world full of mystery was a bonus. This game made me realize that there can be a lot of great things to get out of a 6/10.


A fundamental game for me. A series that defined my love for narrative in video games, and the entry that perfected the formula.

I’ve never loved a multiplayer game as much as I loved this. It sparked a love of the series that has continued to this day. I may not play as much as I used to, but I will always pick up new entries and give them a spin.

Does this count as an “immersive-sim”? Maybe. It’s not as complex as Deus Ex, or System Shock, but playing this on my Xbox was a revelation. I wanted to spend as much time in this world and explore all of it’s nooks and crannies.

How can I not? It’s the perfect gaming experience. Action, exploration, difficulty, progression. It’s tuned just right to infuriate me and intrigue me at the same time.


Link To The Past
I got my cousin’s old SNES as my first game console when I was younger, and it came with LTTP. It wasn’t the first game I ever played, but it was MY first game. The first game I ever owned for myself. Plenty of people have talked at length about how good of a game it is, so there really isn’t any reason for me to do so here. All I’ll say is that that game was magical for elementary school me.

Resident Evil 4
I love this stupid game. It’s cheesy as all hell. It turns from a great scary game to a dumb B-grade action movie. Everyone speaks in one liners and it’s amazing. The gameplay is great too but man for me it’s all about the vibe of that game.

Fire Watch
Fire Watch hit home for me from the beginning. It explored a specific kind of loss that I’m unfortunately familiar with. On top of that the way the game explores escapism in its story is great. I know some people disliked its ending, but I honestly love it and will defend it to the death.

Night In The Woods
I’ve never related to a piece of media more than I relate to NITW. I am non-binary, bisexual, and flunked out of college due to mental health issues. On top of that I was a little shit. Seeing that mostly (I believe Mae is pan and not bi) refelected back at me in Mae, I honestly don’t have the words to describe how profoundly good it feels. It wasn’t just Mae either, the rest of the game touched on things that are deeply a part of me. Angus’ positive nihilism, Gregg talking about how isolating it can feel to be one of the only queer folk you know, living in a town that feels like it’s changed for the worse, and the general politics of the game. All of it together make me feel seen in a way no other piece of media has.


I’ve had to think about this for a while today, a couple of my answers have changed, but I’m locking in my final answers are Link’s Awakening, Final Fantasy Tactics, Deus Ex, and Morrowind.

I didn’t have a game console of my own until the Playstation, but I did have a Game Boy, and Link’s Awakening was the first Zelda game I played through. It’s still my favorite. I had watched my brother play Link to the Past some, and knew even as a kid that LA was like a weird offshoot, much like my favorite mario game, Super Mario Land.

Final Fantasy Tactics was the first game that I thought told a very interesting story, and was also the beginning of a lifetime love of TRPGs. Fun note, when I first played it I somehow overlooked how to learn abilities for a good chunk of time, until getting stuck for a week. Boy I felt silly.

Deus Ex was the first game I played that made me feel like I was able to really do whatever I wanted, and it told a cool conspiracy story that I was so in to. I know there were many games that came before this in the immersive sim genre, but it was the one that got me started on them, and I still replay it frequently to this day (literally this month).

I dunno what to say about Morrowind. It’s my favorite game of all time. Feeling freedom in Deus Ex? That was nothing compared to Morrowind. Get off a boat and then do whatever you want. I played it for three days straight when I first got it, and it was the only game I ever faked sick to stay home from school to play. It didn’t hold your hand. It let you be whoever you wanted. As dated as it is now, if I could only play one game again for the rest of my life, it’d probably be this one. Also, to tie in to yesterday’s open thread, it was the first game that made me start thinking about a created character’s backstory and motivations.

Honorable Mention to Dark Souls/Bloodborne, which was not “formative” for me, but raised the bar for me when it comes to action games and RPGs.


I love that half a dozen people are currently typing up their replies. I’m gonna be a bit cheeky and technically bring five games to the table.

FIFA games were my introduction to Soccer, Road to the World Cup made me care about the '98 World Cup, which made me fall in love with Zinedine Zidane. And FIFA 01 was the FIFA that had the best incarnation of Zidane, at the peak of his powers, chopping up defenses with passes like he was Kratos on the pitch. FIFA is one of the only games I’ve played competitively (not every year, but a lot of them, depending on how the teams shake out). So if FIFA was my intro to Soccer, Football Manager was my indoctrination. I love Management modes in games. I would build dynasties in NCAA, or NBA, or Madden, but I’d always get bored. For whatever reason, not so with Football Manager 09 (and 11, and 13, but 09 is the key for me). Not only did it scratch the itch for my love of soccer, FM is a great vehicle for emergent storytelling and is responsible for my favorite Let’s Play ever.

All told, my hours playing FIFA and FM probably match up against all the other games I’ve played in my life combined.

“NEW MONSTER RANCHER FOR MOBILE WHEN” is basically my rallying cry. Monster Rancher 2 felt so magical to 10-12 year old me. I remember taking big stacks of my parents CDs down to the basement that had my PS in it and just running them all, looking for cool Monsters. I remember my favorite monsters from my playthroughs back then 20 years on (Hare/Plant and Plant/Gali), so if that’s not formative IDK what is.

Dark Souls captured my imagination, but Dark Souls 2 captured my… soul.

Everquest made a lot of promises it couldn’t keep, and I would never want to go back to it now, but, wow if that wasn’t the first game I remember counting down a release day for. Also, Everquest introduced me to online so, thanks Everquest.


Great idea for a thread Patrick! I don’t usually post on Twitter out of fear of getting yelled at by bots, so this is a great venue to try this exercise. Here are my GameStruck4:

Super Mario 64 - I loved video games before Mario 64, but it was a childlike love. One borne out of being a 90s kid, where playing video games was just a thing you did growing up in that era. But then I saw Mario bounding along in this massive 3D world stocked with more secrets than my 10 year old brain could comprehend. I knew then that games would be a part of my life forever, and it wasn’t the passing childhood interest my parents wished it was.

Civilization III - I loved history class in school. Studying the rise and fall of empires, of the forces that shaped our collective human experience, was endlessly fascinating to me. And one day, I spotted this odd PC game on the clearance rack at Target, with a cover that looked closer to a history textbook than a video game. I snapped it up with my meager allowance money, not even bothering to see if it would run on our ancient family computer. Luckily it did run, albeit at very low graphics settings with a map no bigger than standard. But I finally got to live the history that I read about, guiding humanity to utopias dreamt up in my mind. Summer nights staying up for one more turn, what more could a history nerd want?

Harvest Moon - The first time I heard about Harvest Moon in the pages of Nintendo Power, I could not believe such a thing could be released. You just manage a farm? And get married? Who would want that, and why would you risk the cooties? But then I rented the game, planted my first seeds, and got to work. And what I found was one of the most warm, emotional, and lovely experiences I ever had in a game. Over the years I’ve revisited the good life, sometimes in Harvest Moon 64, Animal Crossing, or, more recently, Stardew Valley. But nothing compares to the original.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - I have played and enjoyed my fair share of JRPGs over the years, but one thing always bothered me about the genre. Why oh why were the towns way more interesting than the dungeons? In the towns I could chat endlessly with passersby, learning the lore of the world, juicy bits of gossip, and even information about my party characters. Comparatively, the dungeons were one-note, putting me in endless repetitive battles. KotOR was a revelation because it showed me that dialogue and lore can take primacy over combat, and RPGs can be better for it. Better yet, dialogue can allow me to alter the story and how I interact with my friends and enemies. Throw in cool-ass lightsaber fights and I was in love.


Morrowind - probably one of very first game games I have ever played. Made me lifelong scalie/furry who grieves over how little single player games have a character creator with proper furries in it. Introduce to a world that seemed (at the time) to be so big and full of unexplored places, with memorable characters.

Pokemon crystal- my introduction to pokemon and later handheld gaming. I’ve had psp before but my dad played more games on it then I ever did- for me it was just a fancy music player. I admit I have played this on emulator, to later buy current game in serie Pokemon black. Johto remains my most beloved region.

Rayman 2- Rayman remains the definition of 3D platformer games for me to this day. It developed my early sense of aesthetics, be it for character design or landscapes. My brother and I borrowed it from his friend at our bloc and the experience was amazing-getting stuck, then having to ask the boy he borrowed the game from what to do at this part, then solving it… I haven’t real played the game at that point in time- just watched my brother beat it but cheering him on during difficult parts, laughing at jokes or the sheer euphoria when we reached the ending are one of my most cherished memories.

Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy- this one is very bittersweet for me. My brother was a lifelong SW fan- we had most of material that was released in Poland at the time, several comics, books, video games (including one in russian we bought in Wilno). But out of all video games this one was easily the best and most memorable. The goofy tone was perfect for young kids like us,it was challenging but not too much, you could play as so many characters and also create your own… The world was your oyster (well, not real but that how it felt like). And we could play something together at the same time which was a real novel idea for us.

But the reason I put it down as a defining game for myself is related to what happened while we were playing this game.

(Warning for car crashes and child death)

We were just before the final mission in the Episode IV (we had already beat the VI since you could play them in any order), when my brother got hit by a car and died three days later.

After that happened one of things I real wanted to do was to finish what we started, even though it was extremely painful for me. So I got my dad to help me and somehow we beat all episodes.

Lego Star wars II is very much a game I associate with the way my life got broken into two periods- first, where my brother is alive and second, where he isn’t. It is a transitory game, a symbol of childhood that just suddenly ended and trying to regain at least a little bit of it but failing. It may be a very bitter association but I don’t hold any grudges against it. But it does remind me of what I can’t have anymore.


Tetris but specifically Tetris DS. In high school I went on a lot church/school/band trips that involved long bus rides across the yawning deserts of the Southwest. One day in bumfuck nowhere New Mexico I picked up a used copy of Tetris DS for like 8 dollars or something. Luckily most of the group I traveled with also had DS’s and that version of Tetris has 10 person local multiplayer off of one cartridge. Hours of driving were passed with intense games of block stacking that forged and fractured friendships in equal measure.

Smash Bros. Melee A common answer, but an important one. Many late nights were had messing with my friends in the variety of modes. I have spent a good amount of time on the other games in the Smash series, but this was the first and for that I will be grateful.

Shadow of the Colossus I love hiking, I love ancient ruins and civilizations that hold mystery and wonder. I love that SotC brings these things together in a poignant and unique way. Here is a ruined world, and my presence only makes it worse, but the only way to experience is by engaging. The beauty and the tragedy of living in nature all wrapped up into a contemplative experience.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island One of the best platformers ever made. And also a formative gaming experience for me. This game, despite the cutesy exterior, is diabolically hard, and as a young kid I spent weeks bashing my head against bosses and jumping puzzles. But it also has some of my favorite things that make me love Nintendo games. The levels are all unique and engaging (Lakitu Wall, Touch Fuzzy, The Blizzard, The Raven Boss) while also being visually dynamic and tightly controlled. On the GBA it went with me wherever I was, I took it to baseball games, family road trips, and into the many corners of my home.


Jade Empire
Jade Empire was the first time a game awed me in how it communicated its depth of story, characterization, and world building. It was a game whose ending is wholly unexpected, shocking, but more importantly, satisfying. I had never played a Bioware RPG before then, but afterword I was enamored with narrative games. I haven’t revisited it since playing it in high school, so I don’t know how well its mythical East Asian setting holds up to more thorough scrutiny. But damn near every chapter of that game is memorable and surprising. Maybe not by today’s storytelling standards, but truly surprising the first time through. In fact, one chapter about a dam and a flooded, haunted village was so memorable they included the exact same scenario in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Honorable Mention: Dragon Age: Origins

The Edler Scrolls III: Morrowind
Morrowind was the first time a world felt alive. You could stroll through a village and ask everyone about their profession, ask them if they’d heard any rumors, or pester them until they attacked you. The world felt steeped in history and conflict, and actively encouraged you to learn more about it. It’s a game where you can (and sometimes should) read in-game books and histories that provide context to this odd world in which you have been stranded. It tackles theocracy and colonialism, jingoism and slavery. I hadn’t played a game like it before, and have been desperately searching for another one since then (I still have to see how Pillars of Eternity and Tyranny pan out). Honorable Mention: Link’s Awakening/Majora’s Mask

Halo: Combat Evolved
Halo was my foray into twin-analog first-person controls and when it came out, it was a miracle to console kids who didn’t have the budget for a PC. More importantly, it was the first game that let me pull it, flip it, stretch it, and even break it a little bit just to find more fun. I spent hours on the couch in split screen, speedrunning campaigns with my cousin before either of us knew what speedrunning was. We even instituted a game night with coworkers just to play a custom multiplayer mode (no shields, no radar, pistols and shotguns only). It was the only game that ever made me unplug the old CRT in my parent’s bedroom, strap it into the passenger seat of my pick-up, and drive dozens of miles to one house or the other for LAN parties. Honorable Mention: Halo 2, because a dorm room LAN tourney gets BUCK WILD

And finally…

Super SMASH Bros.
It’s just really fun.


This has been a fun question to work through with my wife all evening trying to separate best games from games that define me. My four:

Ultima 4 (Sega Master System): The first console I ever had, but this game stood out by a mile. Made me think about morality more than most any game. Attack enemies, but let them flee if they try. Give to the poor even if you have little money. Find a town of demons, but talk to them. Are they’re responses full of anger, or maybe fear of you and shame at what happened to the town. I’ve spent years since looking for games like it.

Pokémon Blue (Gameboy Pocket): I still love Pokémon games, with a huge renewal of my love affair after playing through Pokémon X with my wife playing Y. Pokémon cards, cuddly plushes which we have in our room, playing in online tournaments. Definitely remains pretty much well up there in my favourite series, all from Blue. I really wish I hadn’t accidently hit the Missingno glitch and lost my original hall of fame team…

Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS): I play this game a little every day since I got it not long after launch. It falls into place like having a warm blanket to wrap up in before I get ready to sleep. Never played a game like it before. I find it in some ways surprising how easily I can suspend more analytical thoughts about the gameplay and become engrossed in how in my game each villager is entirely different, each event since I played a history of villagers come and gone. How the now very rare Badge man visits are all the more exciting as I’ve still not quite got every fish. I love it.

Kirby: Planet Robobot (3DS): Everything in this game clicked for me. I fully 100% “platinumed” the game and would happily play it right now. It has made me retroactively buy every Kirby game and so far I’ve enjoyed them all. All the sub-games are really good fun, and while it’s definitely not the first 2-D side-scroller I’ve played, it stands out for the effect it has had on the games I continue to play my way through today. (Incidentally, Box-Boy is fantastic!)

Honourable mentions: Sonic 2 (SMS version), Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Links Awakening




Halo: Combat Evolved
This is the game that got me into gaming as a hobby. I played through that campaign about a dozen different times, went to LAN parties, and fooled around with weird Warthog physics for too much time. I bonded with my older brother on split screen, and to this day, I’ll play every damn Halo game they make.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
This was my first real RPG, and my first exposure to a game where you could make decisions that could actually affect the story and characters. I enjoyed spending time with the characters, got to become an all-powerful Jedi (or Sith) and enjoy a legitimately great story that still has my favorite plot twist in a game.

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Because sneaking through levels, stabbing guards, lining up headshots, all to the grizzled voice of Michael Ironside, is just a fantastic combination. I enjoyed the earlier games, but his one solidified my love affair with stealth games as a genre.

Mass Effect 2
Because contrary to whatever some individuals at one GIANT BOMB DOT COM might say, THIS IS THE GAME OF THE GENERATION. I enjoyed the first ME greatly, but this one is an all-timer. The refined and streamlined combat, the huge cast of memorable, moving, funny, and all-around enjoyable characters. The lump in my stomach the first time I played through the Suicide Mission, cuz I cared so much about each character, and could not live with myself if I let even one of them die. It’s just all so great. My partner just finished playing through it for the first time (in her words, it was “the first real long game I’ve ever beat!”), which has only inspired me to play it again for the umpteenth time. I will never tire of this game.


I did this on twitter, but you can find my reasoning here.

Final Fantasy X-2 – This was my first Final Fantasy and first real RPG outside of Pokémon, totally warping and making my tastes fresh. It has to be on this list.

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance – This was a little ways into my RPG career, but this set the terms of my engagement with the genre. A preference for tactics, shading towards a focus on hand-scripting and politics, and strong thumbnail characterisation. I’m way less hot on Fire Emblem now than I have been in the past, but it did define me.

Dark Souls – This is the reason I still play games. Full stop.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker – This is sort of a fill-in for me being a passionate history dork and a machine for trivia. The brand of historical fiction this game offers is ludicrous but deeply interesting to talk about.


Last night I saw this hashtag and could really only think of Pokemon as being Foundational in my childhood in a way that stuck with me through life. But I woke up today and thought of some more.

Pokemon Red & Blue - Pokemon might be THE franchise that’s always been in my life, so much so that I really didn’t realize it until recently. I’ve never played much games, if anything I game more now than I ever did in my youth. But my first console that wasn’t something I had to share with my younger aunts & uncle growing up at my grandparents was my Game Boy Color. And I’m pretty sure my first game for it was Pokemon. Both came out late 1998 so I’m assuming that was my big Christmas present. I was 7, about to turn 8. The anime had been airing since September. I went on my Pokemon journey and NEVER looked back. The games have gotten a LOT better in every way since those clunky Gen 1 days, I’m by no means a “There’s only 151 Pokemon” elitists. But I gotta give credit where credit’s due. Those first games shaped my life. Can not WAIT to see a main-series Pokemon game on the Switch.

Golden Sun - Pokemon made me love the turn-based RPG. I’m bad at quick thinking strategy so I like taking my time without having to think TOO many moves ahead (hence why turn based Strategy is where I fall off), and because 90% of my formative gaming was only plated with 2-4 buttons and a D-pad to this day as a grown adult I am Awful at console controls and learning/remembering buttons and moves. But I didn’t realize any of this at the time so I never Sought Out a lot of them. It was years before I looked into Final Fantasy and I still haven’t actually played any. Golden Sun tho caught my eye. GBA, cute colorful character designs, puzzles, little collectible creatures, AMAZING music that is still stuck in my head so many years later. Love it to death. I’ve attempted to revisit it multiple times, but STILL have never actually fully beaten it. Someday… I’ve played both sequels and they scratched a lot of the same itches but never fully brought me back. Maybe that’s just impossible.

Animal Crossing - This is just the chillest game on the planet for me. I’ve tried Harvest Moon type games but the NEED to farm and date and do all the chores didn’t speak to me. I just wanted to. Hang out and walk around town, go fishing, catch bugs, and not have to micro-manage anything. I see people from time to time say the original Game Cube/N64 version is still the best AC, and while I don’t agree with that there ARE still little things I miss about this original little thing. The gyroid in front of your house, the little bed you slept in to save, and KK Slider hanging out on a little box outside the train-station (tho I’m sure me Much prefers Brewster’s). Other than these little things that don’t detract from the core game at all I’ve loved every new addition to the franchise and am crossing my fingers for at least an announcement that a Switch game is in the works. Every game adds just enough new stuff to keep me playing for a little longer every time. I’ve get to actually keep up with an Animal Crossing game for a full calendar year and I’m REALLY hoping the Switch version will be THE ONE.

Super Smash Bros Melee - This was the first big crossover game I played that probably made me fall in love with the idea of big crossover media. ALL my favorite Nintendo characters coming together in a fighting game with all their moves and stages and items. I was never good at the game, I only ever button-mashed, but I loved getting all the collectible trophies and playing through the arcade mode as every character, breaking the targets, doing the Home Run Contest, MAN it was just a fun time and I’m SO looking forward to the Switch game.

Huh now that I think about it 3/4 of these games are probably if not definitely getting Switch sequels. MAN the Switch is good…Hey Nintendo port Golden Sun to the Switch! I dont need a sequel, unless you Really wanna do it big, but I’m not even gonna pretend the 3DS game warranted that kind of follow-up.


Games that define me, eh? If self-deprecation wasn’t passe I’d make a joke about Human: Fall Flat.

Glider Pro - I mentioned this game in another thread, but searching AltaVista for custom Glider levels was my first contact with a video game community. Many of my favorite games have in common a design style based on components that can be reconfigured in myriad interesting ways. Playing and building Glider levels taught me about creating game worlds as a kind of self-expression, even though I only released one thing to the web.

F-Zero GX - It kicked my ass, then I kicked its ass right back. It took me hundreds of hours, sometimes just looping a track on free play until it was muscle memory, but I beat every Grand Prix cup on every difficulty. (Yes, even AX and Master.) This was the first time I got good.

Avernum series, but specifically the demos - First RPGs are a running theme in these threads. The games that first strike your imagination as a world full of people and places, not a level full of obstacles. You want to talk to every character, crawl every dungeon, dig up the mysteries of the world. Jeff Vogel’s generous free chunks of Ultima-ish fantasy RPG did that for me, but as a kid I was never able to buy them to see how the stories end. A long time later I got the full series in a Humble Bundle, and I still haven’t played them. Oh well.

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat - First off: yes it’s a platformer that you play with a pair of bongos, no it’s not a gimmick game. Jungle Beat was Rayman Origins and Dustforce before either of those. With practice it develops an almost unmatched sense of flow as every action leads rhythmically into the next. It’s a game that asks you to replay levels not so much for a faster time or higher score, but because you know you can do it more elegantly.

1 Like

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
One of my favorite games of all time and it’s the game that I would argue introduced me to the problem solving methods I use every day in my life as an engineer.

I used to watch my dad play this game and would try to emulate his play when he was gone. This game got me started on computer games and without Starcraft I think I would be a console only gamer today

Jet Set Radio Future
This game is General is the reason I love colorful looking and sounding games today. I spent so many hours playing Jet Set Radio Future growing up and it is definitely the reason I’d much rather play Splatoon than Call of Duty

Phantasy Star Online
I struggled back and forth between this and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate both games I spent hundreds of hours on and both games I loved for simplistic reasons being able to play and connect with other people online with minimalistic interactions. Very few words were spoken but somehow a bond was still built. I loved both of these games but I think phantasy star online is probably the reason I love MH4U so much


Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
I had fun with Super Mario World before this but playing SMRPG when I was 7 is what made me love video games. It was fun, funny and so colourful and full of life. It mixed my love of reading and my (then) love for math. The story blew my mind; it totally subverted what I new about my boy Mario’s adventures. Finding out that Bowser wasn’t evil, just insecure and the backstory behind Star Road painted a fuller version of the Mushroom Kingdom in my mind. While it’s a beginner’s RPG, playing it so young made figuring out what all the stats meant really rewarding, like a proto-Dark Souls. Learning subtraction in math class really upped my game.

Final Fantasy VIII
I’ll try to make this the last time I talk about this game on this site.
Final Fantasy VIII took my previous favourite game and amped it right up. I was now 10 and was looking for something more mature, and Final Fantasy 8 was exactly what I was looking for. It had the most beautiful graphics I had ever seen, which in my mind legitimized it. The RPG systems were deeper and more rewarding. The story was more mature but also more close to me; it dealt with bullies, walking around school playing trading card games, dealing with social anxiety, the game had it all. I loved the game so much that a year later in grade 5 when I could spend an hour a week for the whole year creating a project about anything, I chose to spend it on FF8. I created plasticine models of all the characters and guardian forces, wrote an hour long speech explaining the story, and produced a full physical recreation of the entire Triple Triad card game that I got the whole class to play. That game was all I could think about for a solid year.

Super Smash Bros: Melee
I’ve had so many great times playing this game with friends so it automatically get formative points, but this game also cemented how I feel about multiplayer/competitive games in general. I was generally in the middle of my friend group skill-wise, but this game made me realize that I’m not a really competitive person, I just like doing dope stuff that I feel proud of. I would never feel bad about losing as long as I pulled something cool off, like a great meteor smash combo, or getting a K.O. by hitting someone with a capsule from the other side of Hyrule Temple. Now I care less about rankings in competitive games than I care about battling with swag.

Frog Fractions
This game is the straw that broke the camel’s back when it came to deciding I wanted to make games. I was out of University and pretty aimless. I was working in a bar unsure about what I wanted to with my life. I knew I wanted to do something creative; I had thought about writing or pursuing music but still was uncertain. This was the first indie game that I fell in love with, the first game I played made my one person that wasn’t just a modern version of a classic game. It was groundbreaking, hilarious, free. I was unhappy about where I thought video games were headed since there wasn’t that much originality in the mainstream, but this was a breath of fresh air and led me to check out more indie games.

Honorable Mentions: Ocarina of Time, Super Metroid, Earthbound, Tekken 3, Metroid Prime, Fallout 3, Dark Souls 2, Gone Home


I guess, if we’re talking about stuff that’s foundational, I’m going to show my age here, but

  1. Zork III
    One of the earliest games I remember playing. There was some stuff on the Atari that my cousin had, but we never had one.

  2. Quest for Glory 1
    The mix of adventure game and rpg was mind blowing at the time. edit to add: and worth noting, rarely emulated since despite the rich possibility space it represents.

  3. Fallout 2
    There was a period of time where I had this and basically no money for games, so I played the heck out of it. My number of times completing it was in the tens before I even stumbled upon a messageboard post showing how you could do the New Reno section in a fistful of dollars style and complete quests for all the families by strategically betraying each family at the right moment (normally you wouldn’t be given quests for a family if you were a made man for another one).

  4. Planescape: Torment
    I will fight anyone who wants to argue “What can change the nature of a man” isn’t meta commentary. (what can change the nature of the nameless one is the player picking different dialogue options, obviously)