Weekend Roundtable: Favorite Videogame of All Time

Dick tells me that he’d like a change from always discussing movies in the Roundtable. So this one is for him, and for all the gamers out there. Simple question: What’s your favorite videogame of all time?

Any platform or system is fair game. Since Dick suggested the topic, we’ll let him lead things off.

Dick Ward

  1. Super Mario World‘ – My favorite game of all time is also what I consider to be the best game ever made. The ‘Mario’ series has always been a strong one, but there’s nothing before or after that beats out ‘Super Mario World.’ I’ve never been one to get sucked into the story of a game or become fascinated with the cutscenes. For me, it’s all about how the game plays, and nothing out there plays better than ‘Super Mario World.’ It has the most responsive controls of any of the 2-D Mario games, and the level design is second to none. ‘World’ has a huge advantage over the earlier numbered Mario games, including the highly praised ‘Super Mario Bros. 3.’ Thanks to a save system and a friendly ramp up in difficulty, even casual players can beat ‘Super Mario World.’ That’s not to say that the game is easier, though, since there are plenty of extra challenges like the Star Road and Special World. I also want to call out the music in this game as particularly good. The entire game is filled with fantastic tunes, but the ending theme is a favorite of mine. It’s some of Koji Kondo’s finest work. I’ve played through ‘A Link to the Past,’ ‘Chrono Trigger,’ and ‘Final Fantasy VI’ a few times – and I’ve put tons of time into ‘Borderlands,’ ‘World of Warcraft’ and now ‘StarCraft II’ – but ‘Super Mario World’ is always my go-to when I need something to play. I’ve beaten it, in full, on the SNES, emulators, and GameBoy Advance more times than I can recollect. I don’t know if there is such a thing as a perfect game, since any form of entertainment is subjective. If you want to find the closest thing, it’s ‘Super Mario World.’

Josh Zyber

  1. Mega Man‘ – I don’t pretend to be much of a gamer. Sure, I’ve got a PS3, and exactly three games for it, one of which I’ve never removed from the shrinkwrap. I use the console mostly as a Blu-ray player. I have an original Xbox that I haven’t powered on in about two years. Of the 20-ish games I ever collected for that, only about ¼ of them were ever played to completion. I find most modern videogames far too complicated, what with the 75 different buttons and triggers on their control pads. I’m old, is what I’m saying. So when I do fall in the mood for a videogame, I have to go old school – NES. I still have one hooked up in my home theater. No emulator for me, I’ve still got my original NES purchased circa 1987, and it still works great. Of all my favorite 8-bit games, none trump the ‘Mega Man’ series. When I first realized that not only did you get to collect the powers of the enemies you defeat, but there’s also an ideal order to beat them in, well, that just blew my 7th Grade mind. I have all six ‘Mega’ games for the NES, as well as the Anniversary compilation released for the Xbox. Arguments can be made that ‘Mega Man 2’ was the best of the franchise, but I still have to side with the original. It’s a perfect de-stresser. I can play it to completion in a couple hours without losing a life, I know it so well. Its familiarity is like a warm and cozy blanket. But it has to be on the NES. Of the hundreds of times I’ve played this game, I’ve never once managed to get past that Rock monster in Dr. Wily’s lair without using the pause-unpause trick with the Elec-beam. I swear to god, it just can’t be done. The Xbox version disabled that cheat, which effectively makes the last stage of the game impossible.

Drew Taylor

  1. Tetris‘ – We may have blown past them in the Space Race and shuttered them during the Cold War, but the Russians have us beat on one front: the addictive, block-based puzzle game. I speak, of course, of ‘Tetris.’ The fiendishly clever game was developed by Alexey Pajitnov and first unleashed in the USSR in 1984. It was later delivered to North America in 1989. (The original box art proclaimed: “From Russia With Fun!”) It should say something that any puzzle game of note in the last twenty years has, in some part, been aping ‘Tetris.’ Things like ‘Bejeweled’ and ‘Meteos’ are riffs on the same essential gameplay: match up similar colors, and the blocks go bye-bye. I distinctly remember a car ride from Dallas to San Antonio when I was knee high to a grasshopper. I had the original Gameboy (that big gray block), and I played a single game of the original ‘Tetris’ for the entire drive. Of course, this is an embellished remembrance. (I just Google mapped the ride and it’s an almost 5 hour drive.) But I think that, if given the challenge, I would gladly attempt it today. I can still hear the original music – tinny but unforgettable, as solid and powerful as the gameplay itself.

Mike Attebery

  1. Crazy Taxi‘ – Two words: ‘Crazy Taxi.’ Six more words: Crazy taxi crazy taxi crazy taxi!!! I don’t really play videogames – my mind wanders, my eyes glaze over. I’ve just never had the game bug. But I love, love LOVE ‘Crazy Taxi’! To me, there’s nothing better on a cool fall night than coming home from a long day in the salt mines and tossin’ on the ole ‘Crazy Taxi.’ I think of myself as a good driver, even if I do have corneal problems and a penchant for over-consumption of caffeine, but there’s just something about a game that awards points for faster, wilder, borderline psychotic rides that hits my funny bone in a very special way. Why isn’t this out for the PS3 or Xbox? Why?! I must have it. I must. Which reminds me, time to take the ole Dreamcast outta mothballs and fire this sucker up, just in time for September. Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeahhhhh!

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

  1. Rock Band 2‘ – If I were writing this a few months down the line, there’s a pretty good chance my answer would be ‘Rock Band 3’… But hey! That’s not out yet, so I’ll have to side with ‘Rock Band 2′ instead. Part of the reason is kind of a shameful admission. See, I have an entire room in my house that’s filled with nothing but musical instruments – racks of guitars and basses, two Moog synthesizers, a banjo, an accordion, an electric kazoo (!), and the list keeps rambling on and on from there – and I can’t play a single one of ’em. Music didn’t get to be a big part of my life until the tail-end of my teens, and by that point, I was just a bit too lazy to learn how to play an instrument. I keep gobbling up new instruments with the mistaken hope that this will be the one that makes me devote the time and energy to learn, but…nope. Never happens. That’s one of the things that means so much to me about the ‘Rock Band’ franchise. As wholly incompetent as I am with all of my real instruments, this game still gives me a way to connect with songs I love. Plastic instruments trump air guitar and air drums any day, and I can’t think of anything I’ve attacked in three decades of gaming that’s as much of a multiplayer blast as the ‘Rock Band’ series. The diversity of the songs built into the game, the massive quantities of downloadable content that helps keep it all feeling fresh, the online play, the way I can tailor everything to my skill level and my tastes… I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve put more time into the four ‘Rock Band’ games out now than every other game across all platforms from this generation combined. I’m more excited about ‘Rock Band 3’ than anything else on the horizon right now. And…hey, with all those new Pro gaming modes, instructional tools, and fully-functional instruments, maybe it’ll teach me how to do at least a little something with all those guitars and synths downstairs.

Your turn now. Tell us your favorite game of all time in the comments.


  1. Alex

    Sid Meier’s Civilization. And I’m going to count the whole series since the gameplay remains largely unchanged since original version. Just for fun, I’ll toss Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri into the mix as well as it was the true sequel to Civ II. My entire childhood, from when I was an eight-year old whipper-snapper until I graduated from High School was composed of four things: School, Snacks, Sleep, and Civ. It didn’t matter how many times I had conquered the world, how many technologies I had acquired, how satisfied I had been that my Armored Tank Division had squashed that Roman Phalanx into marinara sauce, I would still go back to the beginning (and in the beginning the earth was without form and void…. 🙂 ), to the dawn of time and rise to power once more. Perhaps this time I would be a scholar or a diplomat. Perhaps I would be an expansionist, an economist, or a vicious dictator. The possibilities were endless, and I loved every moment of it.

    • Good choice! I love the Civ series, but the standout for me has always been ‘Civ II.’

      I’m really interested in all the changes in the new one, and I’ll be playing it hardcore on my PC when it launches, but I’ll still always have ‘Civ II’ ready to go on my netbook 🙂

  2. besch64

    The most perfect game ever made is Guitar Hero III.

    But I don’t like to count rhythm games (despite it being my favorite genre), so my top games would look more like this:

    -Metroid Prime
    -Resident Evil 4

  3. Shayne Blakeley

    Bubble Bobble. Nothing even comes close to being as ludicrously perfect as Bubble Bobble.

    Honorable mentions go to Super Mario 3, Lode Runner and Mike Tyson’s Punchout.

  4. Jeff Cahill

    You covered most of the ones I would consider. For me, it’s more of a right place right time type of selection criteria. It’s a dead tie between Pirates! for the commodore 64, (yes I am dating myself) and chrono trigger for the snes.

    With Pirates! it was the romanticizing of the era, an actual map of the carribean, and the ability to capture the adult elements of the game that allowed me to enjoy the game right up until my system died. Many replicas have followed but the pre grand theft auto M rated game was a kiss of capital ruin for any game publisher. All of the latest attempts were junk.

    With chrono trigger, it was the 11 year old in me being taken for a trip through time and having to deal with the decisions my character made earlier in the game in a profound way.

  5. Jane Morgan

    KOTOR. In fact, every game from Bioware. I put them above all others, for their sexy flavor of interactive storytelling. No one else creates this kind of epic, choose-your-own-adventure, sci-fi/fantasy experience. I don’t know why, but I almost always play through as an evil lesbian.

    My only problem with Bioware, and video games in general, is that I’m getting older, and the games are not. I want true R-Rated content. But to keep sales up, the games have to censor down to PG-13.

    Recently I’ve been thinking about canceling gamefly, which I’ve had for four years, and switching from playing 12 games per year, to 2.

  6. EM

    I don’t pick a single favorite easily, but at the moment the game that comes to mind is “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” by Parker Brothers for the Atari 2600. The graphics of the game, which is based on the Imperial assault on the Rebel base in the eponymous movie, are beautiful, stark, and innovative, with an uncanny 3-D-ish effect for Hoth’s landscape. Gameplay is fast and furious (eventually) and challenging, based on a combination of strategy and twitch reflexes. And of course, the game allows you to participate in one of the great action sequences in all cinema as you pit your puny snowspeeder against the Galactic Empire‘s mighty AT-AT walkers.

  7. Junie

    Agree with Tetris. If we’re talking arcade video games, Street Fighter. Other old school favorites would be Dark Castle, Combat, The Sims.

  8. that1guypictures

    I’m either going to say Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64, or Super Mario Galaxy. As far as new games go, I love Super Mario Galaxy 2. I think I’ve enjoyed playing it more than any other single game I can think of.

  9. Civilization, yes.. Mega Man, yes.. GTAIII, yes..

    But truly, there is no game that puts a smile of pure bliss on my face like Grim Fandango. I don’t know if any of you guys ever got into the LucasArts adventure games, but holy crap they are addicting. And in the case of GF, supremely well crafted and designed. Oh, and you want a really good video game all set for a kick ass film adaptation? Look no further. In fact, I think Tim Burton was behind the potential project at one time. It’s high time we resurrect Grim Fandango: The Movie.

    • Grim Fandango is still sitting on my virtual pile of shame. I’ve heard nothing but great things about it and I just keep on not getting around to it.

    • motorheadache

      Man, I never played Grim Fandango, but I love the Lucasarts adventure games– I have and still revisit the Monkey Island series, Full Throttle, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and The Dig. All of those were classics.

      And I’m still waiting for a sequel to Full Throttle.

    • The Monkey Island games just got a remake – I am discovering them for the first time. I was too hooked on Sierra games to even notice at the time that LucasArts was making them too.

  10. Great call on Super Mario World! I love it! That being said, the New Super Mario Bros Wii is also pretty good, although the shaking of the controller to do certain things is kinda weird – wish they would let me use the classic controller on it.

    The first thing that came to my mind was Zelda 3: A Link to the Past. This has always been a perfect game for me. I am really getting into this on the Wii now, and am enjoying it more as an adult than I did as a kid (probably because my problem solving skills are better). The music is classic, and sound effects are great! I love the little sound guards make whenever they notice you are there. The AI in the game is also halfway decent.

    I know many people rave about Final Fantasy 7 being the greatest FF game ever, but in my opinion, Final Fantasy 9 outshines all the others. There is just something about it that absolutely pulls you in. Its not just the story, but a combination of that, BEAUTIFUL 3D graphics (try plopping it into a PSX emulator with OpenGL support and crank the res up to HD resolutions), wonderful music, and characters that are easy to identify with. So this is probably my second favorite video game of all time.

    This may surprise many, but I was a huge Outpost fan. I understand the huge 80 page instruction manual turned many people off, but this game was absolute genious. Take what made SimCity great, add in hostile alien enviornments, limited supplies, add in stuff such as mining and processing, colonist moral, food production, and to top it all off with an absolutely AMAZING soundtrack. The Outpost series (and Moonbase Alpha) to this day are some of my favorite games, and Outpost takes 3rd place in my book.

    Katamari Damachi – 4th place for me. Its just so addictive, and great replay value. Its also great for my current gaming needs – ie a game that I can pick up and play for about 20 minutes. And you will NEVER get the music, animations, or stories out of your head.

    Number 5 for me is Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. If you played it, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, just play it. You will be hooked. Depending on my mood at the time, Chrono Trigger sometimes gets listed as my number 1 game.

    Last one I am going to list, number 6, is Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2, because 2 is really a continuation of 1 (lets not talk about the AWFUL Chain of Memories). It was a great concept that just seemed to work. Well, most of it. The Gummi ship was WEIRD. Some of the cut scenes were a little long, but the story was simply awesome. Sadly, though, once you get through the game, solve the mysteries, and figure out where stuff is hidden, the game seems to have zero replay value, which is why its not in my top 5. That being said, $20 for the first one and $40 for the second was a great price to pay for entertainment that kept me hooked for weeks at a time (time spent depends on whether you were a person who just wanted to run through the game, or a person like me who really wanted to explore the worlds created).

  11. OMG, almost forgot! The Sierra Adventure games! That was my youth! I think the paramount of these games had to be Kings Quest 6. After that, they went downhill fast, Kings Quest 7 and Phantasmagoria and Space Quest 5 and 6 were absolute garbage.

  12. My all-time favorite is still Final Fantasy 7. I fell in love with the story and the characters (with my own names in place, not stupid names like “Cloud”!!) and the music in the game is some of my favorite music ever. The cut scenes are also amazing, with gorgeous backgrounds that seem to have infinite depth. Such an engrossing game!