Our Favorite Games Through the Years - Part 1 - Gaming Thoughts

Estimated Reading Time: 11 minutes

It doesn’t get more subjective than ‘favorite’ does it? What makes something your favorite? More precisely for this series of articles – what makes a video game your favorite out of all of the possible competition on that platform? Memorable characters, an emotional story, a soundtrack that sticks with you once you turn off the television, graphics that make you just pause and say “wow”, or just the sheer fun of it all that has you coming back to it time and again? There are no right or wrong answers – but that it certainly makes for a challenging exercise. Here is a list compiled from members of our team as they look back at the years gone by and we call out our favorite titles.

This first batch? We’re going way back.


NES: Excitebike

For all of the wonder that the NES brought into our home in the late 80s, the one game that always pulled me away from my Transformers and G.I. Joe toys, was Excitebike. When my brother wasn't around to help in more difficult titles like Guerilla War, Jackal, and RC Pro Am, Excitebike was always the game I would go to. If the NES had a "chicken soup for the soul" of a video game, for me it's Excitebike.


PC 1990s: Planescape: Torment

The Guilty Pleasures of Guilty Pleasures.

Dungeons & Dragons, a character that cannot die, a floating sarcastic skull and a world that can be approached in a variety of different ways. Might, magic, skill or wit, while IceWind Dale was my first real love for Forgotten Realms in the video game world, Planescape Torment had me coming back again and again as each playthrough could take vastly different approaches. While the combination of writing and approach may be a bit dated in some senses by today's standards, it is still miles ahead of a lot that is being put out there.

NES: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Where it all started for me. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES was my very first video game ever. And probably a good thing that it was this over Super Mario Bros. as while I would come to love our famous plumber, this was “hard” in a different way and that thrill of the challenge would carry on through the years and probably why I jump onto every new Soulslike like a fish trying to get back into water as I just need it! *laughs*

TMNT still holds up today for a challenge. You have your four turtles, an overworld, inner connecting levels that move you forward through boss fights and challenges, I can still easily do the water level *proud of themselves*, and it’s a challenge to see if you can make it from starting to ending credits in one go as these games didn’t have save data or codes like Mega Man.


Over the many years I've been playing games, I've seen quite a few. Some have been really awful, and some have been great. But we aren't here today for either of those, we're here for what I consider my favorite games across the ages, and platforms. A couple of ground rules for my list before we get into things: the game does not have to be good, only one title per platform, no full franchises, I will only be including games I either own or have played to completion, cross platform is fair game, and it has to be standalone (basically it can't be or include DLC unless it can function on it's own). With that said, let's dive right into it.

MS-DOS: Heartlight

That's right, we're starting things a pretty long time ago. If you've seen any of the other's favorite games list, chances are this category from the early 1980's is on there as well. My favorite title? Easily gotta be Heartlight. For those of you unaware, Heartlight is a game where you collect hearts and drop rocks and grenades and make your way to an exit. Similar to Boulderdash if you know it, and available to play online if you find the website, Heartlight was my very first introduction to video games. You can thank my Dad's college roommate who he is still friends with for that, and so do I. Heartlight started my love for puzzle games, and that slowly grew to just a general love for video games, no matter the platform and across a wide variety of genres.

PC: Jumpstart 3rd Grade: Mystery Mountain

Jumpstart 3rd Grade: Mystery Mountain wins this category for sure, although the Super Solver series of games does give it a run for it's money. Yeah, that's right, it's one of those "educational" games from back when they were actually good, and occasionally frustratingly challenging. Making this list actually had me going back and breaking out this old gem again, and I can honestly say the History and Art based puzzles still give me challenge. It says Jumpstart 3rd Grade, but honestly even as an adult some of the higher level tasks can be pretty demanding. Still though, it's chock full of fun minigames, a good learning medium, and it's really fun. If you've got an old PC that can run this game, or an old Windows emulator, I highly suggest taking it for whirl, or getting your kids to try it. I remember spending hours playing this game as a kid.

Gameboy: Snoopy's Magic Show

So, I'm making sure the Gameboy series of handhelds is split up for the specific reason that I've got this interesting title right here for the "non color" version of the Gameboy: Snoopy's Magic Show. I don't know how to describe this other than sort of like jazzball but you're dodging the balls and collecting a bunch of birds, presumably Woodstock. I don't know why I loved this game so much, but it's definitely my favorite. No real reason, it just is.

Susan N:

Commodore 64: Boulder Dash

One of the earliest favorite games that I have from childhood is Boulder Dash for the Commodore 64. You’re playing a little pixelated miner whose objective is to collect a certain number of diamonds and get to the exit. It has creatures that will chase you incessantly or stop you from getting out safely. Plus it has a time limit for each level. The more you progress in the game, the harder the levels get. And over the years, Boulder Dash has had several iterations and is a series that I snatch up. This might explain why I grabbed the remastered version of the game to review on this site (which can be found here).

Runner Up: Montezuma’s Revenge

I’m sure this is a title that most people had no idea about, but Montezuma’s Revenge was an action platformer that I played on the Commodore 64. A great game comparison would be the Mario games where you collect keys and items before getting to the exit. I sucked HORRIBLY at it back then, as I’m sure I would also be terrible today. I think part of what made this game a contender for my favorite is that Loderunner was my mom’s favorite game, and while I loved it too, I wanted to have my own game to love in the same vein. (Also, mom was REALLY GOOD at Loderunner back in the day. True story.) Besides, I couldn’t help but play a game that felt vaguely Mayan or Aztec styled even as a kid - so that’s a thing.

Amiga ST: Star Trek: 25th Anniversary (1992)

So, it took me a long time to find my favorite game for the Amiga because the version I played of Star Trek is not exactly the one you will find if you look up the 25th Anniversary game. What you’ll see is the updated pixelated graphics version of the game that released on Steam in 2015. While yes, it is still a dated game, the image stills are redone to be better suited for newer systems. It was hard for me to find because all I remember of the game are small snippets where you’d beam down the Away Team or the alien chick you had to appease before you could continue or solving the runic puzzle that took us forever to figure out. The image you see here is from the original game, not from the 25th Anniversary, but it is the same game. Also, there are so few images of the original out there which is why I struggled to find the right game.

Either way, my family is full of Trekkies (not Trekkers, Trekkies!) and we have watched/read/consumed tons of the series. I grew up with TNG but the original series still has some iconic episodes. And even as a kid, handing any of us a video game about Star Trek is going to be played. It’s not a question, it’s fact. And this love of Star Trek exists throughout my family. It has been a staple for generations! (No pun intended. Generations was a hilarious movie. “REMOVE PLANK.” “Number One, that’s retract plank, not remove plank.” “Of course, sir.”) Yeah, so this is definitely my favorite game on the Amiga ST. What can I say? I like my puzzles!

Atari: Prince of Persia (1989)

For many of us, this is where it all began. Prince of Persia in 1989 was a very interesting sort of game. It was a side-scrolling platformer which appealed to me because of its departure from other games. What makes it one of my favorites is more basic than people might think. It wasn’t really the gameplay or the compelling character. It was one of my favorites because it was developed and published by Broderbund Software. I knew of them because they had released Mavis Beacon, a popular keyboarding game for kids to teach them how to touch type. This company also released Loderunner, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, Stunts! (A game many people don’t remember), SimCity, and Myst. Oh, how far the apple does not fall from the tree… Anyways, Broderbund had my number as I played all of the aforementioned titles. But more over, Prince of Persia was a fun and challenging game at the time. I’d spend so much time trying to get past different areas because platforming is hard! It was the first Prince of Persia game released and I was willing to take a shot at it.


PC – 1980s: GATO

The only computer I owned in the 80’s was a Tandy 1000, and the game I spent most of my time on was GATO. My uncle actually owned this machine first (this will be a recurring theme – miss you Uncle Ken); but he later decided he wasn’t using it as much as I would, so he gifted it to me before the start of school that year. With it came a few different games, but the tense submarine simulation GATO was far and away my favorite. There was something oddly creepy about playing this at night with the lights off, creating my own little Hunt for the Red October as I would go deep underwater trying to avoid mines or rise to the surface and take on various boats while exposed. The sense of isolation and tension were palpable to me back then, and it was certainly memorable.

PC – 1990s: Diablo

It would be years between my Tandy 1000 and my next PC, which I did not buy until the summer of 1996. There were numerous games I plugged at. If I tossed an honorable mention in here, it would be for Magic: The Gathering by Microprose. Fallout would be right behind it. However, neither of those games could hold a candle to the ridiculous number of hours my wife, my friends and I all sunk into Diablo. My wife did not even consider herself a gamer, but it was not an uncommon sight for me to come home from classes or work back then to find her glued to the machine, hacking away at enemies. We only had one computer – it was a battle of wills to see who got to play late into the evening most nights.

Arcade – 1980s: Double Dragon – Nothing ate my quarters quite like this game did. The intro theme song blaring at the arcade was absolutely kicking, and the gameplay just felt so much better than anything consoles could offer at the time. Even when it was ported to the NES and SMS, it was clear how many compromises were made. Better yet, the first time my buddy and I beat the game together and realized we had to fight one another to ‘win the girl’ at the end? That was a cool moment that we both remember (we had beaten it solo before then – not in co-op. We were unprepared for that showdown). Oh… I won.

Arcade – 1990s: Street Fighter 2

Sure, the future flavors of Street Fighter Hyper Super Duper Spiffy edition were technically better, and Motal Kombat was a rush in its own way, and I loved everything about Tekken when it released – but Street Fighter 2 paved the way. I had never heard of, let alone played, the original Street Fighter back then (having played it in collections since? I didn’t miss much). Street Fighter 2 however, was phenomenal. I lived in a college town. The 7-11 and Malt Shop each had cabinets for this game, and there were lines forming at it. I initially really liked Guile, and Blanka was the first one I beat the game with, but it was Ryu that later became seared into my muscle memory. I got good – really good. As in people putting down their quarters for ‘next’ to play me good. I probably was never great – but my memories of this cabinet are still incredible.

Atari: Pitfall

I’m not going to differentiate between the 24 flavors of Atari, because as a small child I really didn’t know the differences between the one my grandparents had or my uncle had. What I do know is I played a lot of different games, but there was something about Pitfall that kept me coming back to it over and over again. Something about the pits, the swinging vines and variety of enemies made Pitfall seem like there was just more to it than a lot of the titles back then.

TI99/4a: Parsec

Most people didn’t even know this was a thing, let alone play any games on it. It was however, my first console. My parents bought it for me for Christmas and it had a couple of interesting aspects to it. One, it was something of a lightweight computer, complete with BASIC. It was how I first learned to write code. It also had oodles of copycat games like TI Invaders and Muchman (clearly riffing off Space Invaders and Pac-Man). However, the standout game for me and my father was Parsec. This was a challenging side-scrolling shooter that threw waves of enemies, bosses, the need to refuel and the risk of overheating as you shot, all while leveraging the console’s Speech Synthesizer that created crude but unique audio events that sounded spoken.

Sega Master System: Phantasy Star

This was one of my first roleplaying games ever, and I was absolutely hooked on it as soon as I started to play it. Due to how much more popular the NES was than the SMS at that time, Phantasy Star did not get nearly enough attention until its sequels came out on the Genesis. Still, Phantasy Star was an addictive, and at the time, deep roleplaying game that I sunk a lot of time into.

Nintendo Entertainment System: Final Fantasy

My uncle bought me my NES for Christmas the year it released, and I played so many, many titles that finding just one is so challenging. This was by far the hardest console for me to try and pick a favorite out of. I lost hours of my life to so many classic titles such as the Zelda games, Contra, Punch-Out! (back when it was Mike Tyson’s), Metroid, Dragon Warrior and so many more. At the end of the day though, Final Fantasy was a game changed for me. It was not my first RPG – there had been others such as Ultima: Exodus and Dragon Warrior – but Final Fantasy just hit different. I went back and replayed that game at least four or five times, just to try out different class combinations and to make sure I left no stone unturned (I even walked that stupid bridge a zillion times to spawn Warmech – only to get my arse handed to me by him and encouraging me to come back after leveling up much, much later). I could easily do a top 20 favorites with a paragraph or two about all of them, but in the end, I think I logged more time with Final Fantasy than any others, and it changed how I looked at video games.

Game Boy: Tetris

This feels like a simple or shallow answer, and there were a ton of games that I enjoyed on my first handheld gaming system, but Tetris just always felt right here. The graphics were never an issue, it was an easy game to pick up and put down, and it was one my dad would play with me too, which gives it a bit of extra sentimental oomph for me. I never really got into the various different flavors of Game Boys in the later years (though my kids did), so my experience is with the OG system only.

Article by RobertPierre-YvesRichard, Susan N., and Nick



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