By: Nick Catto
I’ve been playing video games since I was four years old. Some of the earliest memories I have consist of holding a Sega Genesis controller, dribbling a basketball, and testing how many stairs I could jump off of in my house (yes completely random lol). Video games are most likely my biggest hobby, only rivaled with sports, music, movies and politics. I honestly couldn’t imagine my life without them, because I can’t remember a time in my life without them. Doing this list made me realize what an amazing gaming career I’ve had. So before I jump in, here are a few important facts. I was a Genesis kid and I played all the NES and SNES games later in life and I didn’t play a ton of Playstation 1 games (I’m currently working on that!). I’m also leaving out all collections/compilations. Anyways, without further adieu, here are my top 25 games of all time!
25. Catherine (PS3)
Catherine is a game that I never expected to enjoy. I don’t like anime or most Japanese games, but this one got its hooks into me. The puzzle gameplay was crisp and rewarding, but what really set this game apart was the bar scenes. Texting the different Catherines and talking to your friends was amazing. This is a game about infidelity and the horrors of cheating. What’s not to love!
Nostalgia Tidbit: My entire group of friends played this game, and upon discussion, a lot of judging took place based on which choices we made. My friends have better morals than I thought!
24. Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (PS2)
Ratchet & Clank is a special franchise, and Up Your Arsenal was the pinnacle of it. Great back and forth conversations between Rachet and Clank, fun platforming and over the top weaponry set this game apart from the others.
Nostalgia Tidbit: I used to run around my house pretending my Nerf gun was the Rynocirator. I was 12, so its okay, right?
23. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
Mario Kart Wii is far from the best Mario Kart game (Double Dash is FYI), but it’s the one I had the most fun with. The introduction of bikes brought a whole new level of gameplay to the series. “Aggressive” mode was a must-play option. It’s more of the Kart you love, but with more shells flying your way!
Nostalgia Tidbit: When I lived in Orlando, my friends and I would play this until 4 AM almost every night, much to the dismay of my roommate. The profanity that was yelled out will not be repeated here. Just know that you weren’t the only one who got blue shelled… You know who I’m typing too.
22. Mega Man 3 (NES)
Mega Man 3 is extraordinary. It’s the longest in the franchise and has some of the best robot masters to fight. In my humble opinion, it’s the hardest in the franchise. Shadow Man is a badass…
Nostalgia Tidbit: When first attempting to beat this game, I was confident after defeating the robot masters. My mind was blown when I found out I had to fight all the masters from Mega Man 2. It was not a good mind blow either.
21. Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic (XB)
Star Wars is my favorite thing of all time. Knight of the Old Republic was the first Star Wars game where you chose your own path, whether that be light or dark. The dialogue between your party members and the relationships you could build with them was spectacular for the time. All the force powers were awesome and KOTOR had one of the most iconic twists in all of gaming.
Nostalgia Tidbit: In my first playthrough of KOTOR, I was a sith lord. My brother was mystified that I could make such a choice. That’s the day he discovered his younger brother had been a member of the dark side all along. Jedi are so easily tricked…
20. Super Metroid (SNES)
Super Metroid took the non-linear, side scrolling genre that the original Metroid created and perfected it. The soundtrack and atmosphere of Super Metroid gave you a constant eery feeling when exploring. To this day, Super Metroid looks stunningly beautiful. The pixel art is some of the best ever created.
Nostalgia Tidbit: I pleaded with my good friend Matt (from the podcasts) to give Super Metroid a chance. He always shut down my attempts, until one day he randomly called me saying how amazing Super Metroid is. He 100% the game. I take small credit for this. #NickWasRight
19. Mega Man X (SNES)
Capcom took the blue bomber and injected him with some attitude. Mega Man X is without a doubt one of the best Mega Man games ever made. X is also an upgrade over the original blue bomber in the appearance department. The game made the franchise grow up along with the gamers that played the OG Mega Man games. Mega Man X also has one of the best soundtracks in all of gaming.
Nostalgia Tidbit: I used to work at a restaurant named NBA City. When the shift ended and we all were doing side work, I used to bust my iPod out and jam out to Storm Eagle’s theme. I was pretty clutch at work needless to say.
18. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (GEN)
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was the very first video game I played growing up. Without Sonic’s fast-paced platforming and spindash, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. While Sonic 2 isn’t my favorite game of all time or even my favorite Sonic game for that matter, not a single game means more to me. I will forever be in Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s debt. Thank you for making me a gamer!
Nostalgia Tidbit: My Mom originally didn’t want me and my brother to own a gaming console. Needless to say, my brother basically lived at our friend Jared’s house, playing Sonic 2 until dinner time arrived. My Mom got so tired of him being out of the house that she allowed us to get a Sega Genesis. Thanks, Mom!
17. Mass Effect 3 (PS3)
Mass Effect is like a fine wine, it only gets better with age. Mass Effect 3 is the pinnacle of the franchise in regards to the story, gameplay, and its epic scale. The character development is unrivaled, every dialogue choice you make matters. The mission on the Turian moon truly made you feel like you were in a battle zone.
Nostalgia Tidbit: My friends always make jokes about the way Sheppard dances. We’ve all done the Sheppard dance in the club.
16. Bioshock (360)
I’ve never been more intrigued by a place than Rapture. The whole concept of extraordinary minds creating their own city under the sea is amazing. I’ve always wanted to play a game that takes place before the fall of Rapture. Fighting a big daddy for the first time is terrifying.
Nostalgia Tidbit: I’ve never been more infuriated with a game than I was towards the end of Bioshock. When Andrew Ryan tells you to jump and walk across the room… It broke my soul to have to physically input the commands to move on. Damn you Ryan!
15. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (PS3)
Playing Uncharted is like watching an interactive movie. Uncharted 3 keeps the epic moments happening constantly. Whether you’re in a huge gunfight or falling out of a crashing plane, you’re always on the edge of your seat. Nathan Drake is a “one of a kind” character for sure.
Nostalgia Tidbit: One of my friends got really drunk one night. My brother picked him up and he was covered in rust. When we asked him why he was so rusty, he responded by saying “I was jumping trains like Nathan Drake”. Yes, he went to an abandoned railyard and jumped across trains while under the influence. Truly a Nathan Drake move.
14. Gears of War (360)
Gears of War was the game that truly made me feel like I was gaming in the “next gen”. The graphics astounded me along with the gameplay. Gears of War was really the first 3rd person shooter to work for me. You can thank Cliffy B for the chest high walls because every damn game copied them.
Nostalgia Tidbit: Matt and I were godlike in Gears of War multiplayer. We both had over a 2.0 KD. Every day after school I’d get a phone call from him, and all he’d say was “Gears”. That was all that needed to be said.
13. Sonic 3 & Knuckles (GEN)
The fact that you could “lock on” game cartridges was badass. Locking Sonic 3 onto Sonic & Knuckles created the best Sonic game of all time. Playing as Hyper Sonic with his “shine attack” as we called it was amazing.
Nostalgia Tidbit: Sonic 3 & Knuckles delivered my first “edge of your seat” moment. When I was flying through Doomsday Zone, trying to collect rings while the epic music was blaring had my heart pumping. It was quite a rush.
12. The Last of Us (PS3)
The Last of Us is the most brutal game I’ve ever played. Smashing bottles over people heads, stabbing people with scissors and lighting them on fire with molotov cocktails just felt so intense. Naughty Dog also delivered one of the most riveting plots of all time. They made me change my opinion of Joel over and over again. I disliked him but respected the hell out of him.
Nostalgia Tidbit: I have a minor obsession with beards. Every time I start growing my beard out, I call it the “Joel beard”. I’ve almost surpassed him now thanks to Dollar Beard Club and the Urban Beardsman.
11. Mega Man 2 (NES)
Mega Man 2 is a pure gameplay experience. When you master all the techniques of the game it just feels fluid and smooth. Finding all the quirks of the game is also fun. For example, if you stand still before you start fighting Metal Man, he won’t do anything. Mega Man 2 has far and away the best soundtrack ever assembled. Inafune created a legendary game for sure.
Nostalgia Tidbit: I used to go over my friends house when I was little. He was obsessed with Yoshi Story on Nintendo 64, a game that I happen to hate. When I asked if he had anything else to play, he brought me to his living room where his NES was hooked up. Mega Man 2 caught my eye. Every weekend, I’d go over his house and play it for hours. When I finally beat it I was so happy.
10. Super Mario Maker (Wii U)
In recent memory, no game has taken over my life quite like Super Mario Maker. Nintendo created an endless 2D Mario game. The way players design levels also changed the way you play 2D Mario. Instead of just moving right, players created puzzle levels where you have to explore and problem solve to complete the stage. With Super Mario Maker, Nintendo also invented a fun and easy to understand level creator. This game will be relevant for a long time.
Nostalgia Tidbit: I’m a hardcore Saints and Philly sports fan. My teams were hot garbage this season, so I had nothing to root for until the rivalry between Patrick Klepek and Dan Ryckert started. I watched Klepek play every level Ryckert created for him until the very end. I watched the final stream of The Armageddan for 5 hours and purchased the t-shirt Ryckert made. I’m slightly insane for this.
9. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (360)
I waited years for Skyrim to release. When I finally got my hands on the game, I played it for hours on end. The addition of dragons and dragon shouts gave this Elder Scrolls game a different feeling. Tamriel was a gorgeous open world, full of quests and things to get lost in.
Nostalgia Tidbit: My friend Mike used to play this game using the Kinect. To prank him, I’d wait until he was about to speak to NPC’s and I’d yell Fus Ro Dah, blasting the NPC’s back. It was pretty funny, even though he didn’t see it that way. Here’s a picture of us right after we purchased the game at midnight.
8. Super Mario 64 (N64)
Super Mario 64 was my first 3D adventure. Bob-omb Battlefield felt so massive and full of things to explore. Every world you visited felt fresh and different from the rest. Super Mario 64 also had one of the best soundtracks. Dire, Dire Docks was an instant classic.
Nostalgia Tidbit: I guess this is more of a confession than anything else. My brother had a save file with all 120 stars collected. I told my friends the save file was mine… Worth it.
7. Pokemon Blue (GB)
When Pokemania swept the nation, I was part of it. Pokemon Blue Version was my first RPG. Building the perfect lineup was an art. The story was simple but satisfying. Every badge you got felt like such an achievement. I also think everyone named their rival a derogatory term, haha.
Nostalgia Tidbit: My brother got his copy of Pokemon Red when he was visiting Washington D.C. When he got back, he showed me the game. Almost instantly, I called my Grandma and had her take me to Walmart to purchase Blue Version. It’s all history after that.
6. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)
I picked up Super Mario Galaxy 2 years after its release. I played the first Galaxy game but hated playing with the Wii-mote and nunchuck. Galaxy 2 changed that for me. The gameplay was perfect, each level was beautifully designed and just plain fun. Nintendo put all they had behind this game and it shows. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a perfect game. Hell, even the orchestra’s music fit each stage perfectly.
Nostalgia Tidbit: Getting the green stars was such a pain in the ass. I have to openly admit that I gave up on trying to collect them all. I have no regrets about that decision.
5. Kingdom Hearts 2 (PS2)
Let me start with this. Where the hell is Kingdom Hearts 3!? Kingdom Hearts 2 is the perfect example of how to make an action role-playing game. Fun, intuitive combat, amazing characters, and plot. The fusion of Disney movie characters and Final Fantasy characters fit perfectly together.
Nostalgia Tidbit: Kingdom Hearts 2 was one of the only games that I fully maxed my character out, even the summons. It was useless to do so, but in the end, it was so worth it.
4. God of War 3 (PS3)
Kratos is my favorite video game character of all time. His ruthless demeanor has never been better than in God of War 3. This game starts out epic and keeps the pace up the entire game. The way you kill each god is brutal and satisfying. God of War 3 looks amazing and is the gold standard for any hack-and-slash game.
Nostaliga Tidbit: Matt and his brother were attempting to find motivation for their workout. I recommended they put the song “Rage of Sparta” on repeat and pretend Kratos was chasing them. I think it worked out pretty well.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is by far the best Nintendo game ever created. It was the first time in a game that it felt like I could go anywhere. Even though Hyrule Field is pretty empty looking nowadays, back then it seemed like a sprawling world full of life. The “Z” targeting system also changed the way third-person action games were made. The dungeons were also well crafted and made you think. Ocarina of Time defines the N64 era.
Nostalgia Tidbit: The Forest Temple was so special to me. It’s the first time you got to play as adult Link and it had a dark vibe to it. Forest Temple made Ocarina of Time feel like a mature game. The music that played in the dungeon will always bring back amazing memories.
2. Halo 2 (XB)
Halo 2 is the best first-person shooter and multiplayer game of all time. It’s directly responsible for online play being as popular as it is today. Bungie also assembled the most iconic collection of maps in multiplayer history. Every multiplayer FPS owes a great deal to Halo 2.
Nostalgia Tidbit: I can’t begin to fathom the amount of time I’ve spent playing this game. Every day after school my friends and I would haul tube TVs into my friends garage, order the Dominos 5-5-5 cheddar pizza deal and play Halo 2 all day long. Life was so simple back then.
1. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (360)
161 hours. That’s how long I played Nightstalker, my main character in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I also created two other characters that each have over 50 hours of play time. Oblivion is far and away my favorite game of all time. Cyrodiil is filled with interesting things to explore, whether that be a huge quest, a tiny cave or an oblivion gate that randomly popped up. No game will ever replicate what Oblivion gave to me.
Nostalgia Tidbit: Walt loves The Elder Scrolls franchise as much as I do. Every day after school we’d call each other and just talk about where we were on the map, what items we had equipped and what quests we were doing. Oblivion was an obsession for us both.
Well, this is my updated top 25 games of all-time list. Not much changed since the last one, but it was worth doing. Let’s all hope that 2016 brings games that will crack all our top 25 games of all time! Keep gaming guys!