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34 Formative Video Games Everyone Should Play – Review Geek

  Two people playing a video game in a living room.

Every video game you like today is thanks to the games that came before it. The games that you grew up with have taught you new concepts and new ways of playing, so you have, as it were, created your digital taste. Some games rise above others to really inform your taste and change the way you view and approach games. Everyone should play such a game at least once in their life.

As old gamers, the Review Geek crew met several formative video games. It's the games we can't recommend to others because of the perfect story, the gameplay or a change in the way a genre works.

And because the video game industry is changing so fast, it's easy to miss out on a base game simply because of age, platform or bad luck. That's why we've put together a list of games that have changed the way we approach gaming, and we think everyone should play them. Without further ado, here are those games.

Andrew Heinzman, Review Geek Staff Writer

  A screenshot of Zelda Majoras Mask.
Zelda Wiki

My co-writers have managed to boast some of my favorite formats. games before I had a chance to start writing. But it's probably better that way, because I had to think extra hard about some of the games I played when I was younger, and I remembered a few items I completely forgot.

  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64 / 3DS): I think Majora's Mask was the first game that struck me. it scared. I played it a lot when I was little, and I was always fascinated by the music, the characters, the story (this is the only Zelda game with a real story) [ Editor's Note: LIES] and the apocalyptic mechanic where the world is destroyed after three days. Majora's Mask is really stressful and disturbing, in part because of the primitive Nintendo 64 graphics and the soft CRT televisions we had back then. I couldn't afford the Majora's Mask 3DS remake when it came out, but I will be playing the game again when it comes to the Switch.
  • Super Mario Bros 3 (NES): Of all the classic Mario games, I think Mario Bros 3 has become the best. It's rock hard, but it's still fun to play and has all the weird quirks I loved as a kid. You know, the frog costume, the wands – things like that.
  • Animal Crossing (GCN): I don't want to know how much of my life has been spent playing Animal Crossing . If you haven't played the Gamecube version then it's worth picking up. It feels a lot smaller, less forgiving and more time sensitive than newer iterations. At least that's how I remember it.
  • Castlevania: Symphony of The Night (PS1): What a weird Castlevania game. It is very similar to Metroid where you are stuck exploring one giant map. There are RPG elements, transformation spells, and cool boss battles. This is another game that drove me crazy as a kid (watch the game across the screen), and that's probably why I remember it so well. Anyway, I've replayed it recently (after watching part of the Castlevania anime) and it still persists minus some repetitive parts.
  • Destroy All Humans (Xbox, PS2, PC, Xbox One, PS4): You may have heard of Destroy All Humans . It is an exciting game in which you play as a brain-eating alien with various psychic abilities. I don't remember the story from this game, but it is quite vulgar and you get the chance to blow up a lot of cars and tanks. There were also a lot of funny glitches – cows and police getting stuck in walls, things like that. A remake of Destroy All Humans is now in the works and it will be released on July 28.
  • Excitebike (NES): I always sucked on Excitebike . It just doesn't make any sense. Still, I played it a lot when I was little and have always enjoyed it a lot. Would I recommend playing Excitebike for someone who has never experienced it? Damn it, but I had to throw it in here.

Most of these games have been re-released on newer consoles, so it shouldn't be a problem to track them down. I've tried to rule out everything I wouldn't be playing today, but some of these titles may not be as old as I can remember.

Cameron Summerson, Review Geek Editor-in-Chief

  Joel and Ellie watch the giraffes in The Last of Us

I've been playing video games for more than half my life. While I wouldn't call myself a hardcore gamer at all, I will say that I am quite passionate about my favorite games. Because for me, the best games aren't just titles that are fun to play. They are games that literally change the game or pull you in and make you feel something meaningful. Some of the titles on my list are going to be & # 39; gaming & # 39; to other forms of art, while others evoke a unique emotional response that cannot easily be described or compared to other media.

And some are just plain fun like

  • The Last of Us (PS3 / PS4): If anyone would ask me what is the best video game of all time, the odds are 110 percent that I will say The Last of Us. I got into this game a few years after its first release, but I've still played it more than 30 times since. To me The Last of Us is not just a game, it is a movie you can play. The story is deep and meaningful, and it gets you thinking about the effort you would put into protecting your loved ones. At first glance, it may seem like a typical zombie survival game. Even if that's not your typical genre, give it a shot – you'll find it's so much more. Beware of the hotel basement.
  • Red Dead Redemption 1/2 (Xbox, PS3, PS4, PC): The first Red Dead Redemption was one of the greatest, most memorable gaming experiences I can remember. The game is set in the early 1900s just as the Wild West was tamed. You play as John Marston, an outlaw who wants to change his demeanor and hunt down his old gang. It is a fascinating story that is both captivating and fun. Red Dead Redemption 2 is technically a precursor to the first game, but it's just as much fun with an excellent storyline. I strongly recommend them both.
  • Portal 1/2 (PS3 / Xbox / PC): Do you know how I said the best games attract you and make you feel something? Well, that's not what the Portal series is about. It's great for other reasons – like the incredibly witty writing and great physics puzzles. The first game is pretty straightforward – but totally worth playing just for the experience and the funny banter – but the second is where the magic really is. It is more dynamic, witty, more challenging and has a deeper storyline. Play them both, but enjoy the second. It is pure gold.
  • The Metal Gear Solid Series (PS2 / PS3 / PS4 / Xbox): There was a time when I didn't play a lot of video games. At some point I had destroyed my first car and had no transport, so I traded in an original NES and some games for the first PlayStation and Metal Gear Solid . This actually revived my love of playing games, and Metal Gear was unlike any gaming experience I've ever had. To this day I still remember the first time I fought against Psycho Mantis. What a journey! I love the whole franchise of Metal Gear although I am quite in favor of the first two games. The others are fine, but 1 and 2 will always have a special place in my heart.
  • Super Mario World (SNES): Let's go back. Far back. Back to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, launched when I was just a little boy. (Really, I was like 9.) The entire Super Mario franchise is generation-defining, but I'd say no one has changed the game like Super Mario World . It is typical Mario to me. And the best part? It persists to this day. If you've played modern Mario titles but haven't touched the old catalog (or haven't played for a while), it's still definitely worth playing today.
  • Super Mario RPG (SNES): Historic. I am not a big fan of RPGs. But Super Mario RPG is an exception to the rule because it adopts the typical RPG format and somehow combines it with the platformer style that Mario is known for – and it does it in a way that's really just great. This combined effort between Nintendo and Square Enix ( Final Fantasy ) is without doubt the best one-off project ever to exist. There has never been another RPG like Super Mario RPG— and I mean that in the best possible way.

Trying to narrow this list down to something consumable has been challenging for me because there are so many great games out there. I feel like I should at least mention some of the others to get the names out, so here are a few extra nods to some of my personal favorites: Contra (NES), The Suffering 1 & 2 (PS2), Dying Light (PC, Xbox, PS4), Days Gone (PS4), Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4), Soul Reaver 1 & 2 (PS2) and the Mario Kart series (Nintendo platforms).

Joel Cornell, How-to Geek Staff Writer

  Street Fighter II Arcade
Martina Badini / Shutterstock

I never played games in my youth and the impact they have had on my life is quite clear. My taste has always been skewed at the games that offer massive amounts of release when victory is won or declined, whether it's a 60-hour campaign where my strategies pay off or a fighting game where my style and dedication end up with heartbreaking results stand. finality. I also love gardening.

  • EarthBound (SNES): EarthBound was initially not a big hit for many reasons, but eventually became a cult classic due to the unique blend of light humor, dark tones and music that this theme & # 39; 39; s reinforced. Part of its cult status stems from the way it serves as a universal bildungsroman for the unpopular children and hides an intelligent game system in a dorky aesthetic. It contrasts the frivolous adventures of modern youth with the weird exploits of science fiction, comics and fantasy. EarthBound was astonishingly different from the traditional RPG rate and left an impact that reflects that uniqueness.
  • Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen (SNES): I chose Ogre Battle over the most important tactical RPG of this era, Final Fantasy Tactics because of the more complex system and its resemblance to modern autochess games such as Dota Underlords or Teamfight Tactics . Determine your starting units through moralized tarot card draws and embark on a classic anti-authoritarian campaign to save the kingdom from itself. Combat takes place on a large strategy map where units move in real time, while skirmishes are played out automatically based on where you placed certain units on your 3 × 3 grid. The system offers everything a tactics enthusiast could wish for, without the modern adjustments of the quality of life.
  • Harvest Moon 64 (Nintendo 64): There is no better way than farming and village simulation games to discover how true it is that time was never a waste of time. # 39 ;. While Animal Crossing was under development exclusively for Japan at the time, Harvest Moon 64 was unparalleled in offering the opportunity to work your soil, build your farm, enjoy of village life and starting a family. Modern games such as Stardew Valley Graveyard Keeper My Time at Portia and more have built a wonderful legacy on what the Harvest Moon series of games achieved.
  • Street Fighter II (SNES / Arcade): The wonderful spirit of the fighting game community comes from the same place as for any sport: a common love of competition, dedication, strategy , creativity and focus. My love of the genre stems from the countless nights I spent with friends spamming my first main, Chun-Li, and how my heart would always beat so much the better I got. Decades later, I was sure my younger self would scream these old bones, but the game has left an indelible mark on my approach to improving myself, overcoming defeats, showing compassion and learning to love the game's spirit.

Josh Hendrickson, Review Geek News Lead

  The cast of
Square Enix

You can almost guess my age from my list of choices. I grew up with a Nintendo, Super Nintendo, a Sega Saturn (I know …) and then an original Playstation at my house. So it should come as no surprise that games from that era are on my list. It's not that modern games don't inspire me. I love Ori and the Blind Forest and the Uncharted series. But without the games that preceded it, I'm not sure I could have the same rating as now.

In a way, it was clear that the games I grew up in are so genre-defining. in the fact that most of them are still available to purchase, and half of them have remakes in one form or another.

  • Chrono Trigger ( SNES, iOS, Android and more): I own more copies of Chrono Trigger than I want to admit. For me it is an almost perfect RPG. You've got it all, music that adds to the game, characters you're actively looking for, and the classic storyline & # 39; save the world & # 39 ;. But this time you travel in time. And what's great is that the different time periods work correctly; past changes affect the future. You can see the shifting continents. And everything, I mean everything, is related. Chrono Trigger also introduced the sophisticated version of NewGame +, a mode where you replay the story, but with all your levels, skills and items. And this time you will see new endings.
  • Final Fantasy 7 (Playstation, Switch, Xbox): Final Fantasy 7 is another game I bought on multiple platforms. It stood out thanks to the 3D graphics and amazing cutscenes. But because of the story itself, you constantly wanted to know more. The game also showed courage (and a touch of meanness) by permanently killing a beloved character. It's a decision so controversial that there are rumors that you can bring the character back to this day. If you can't handle the outdated graphics, Final Fantasy 7 Remake is very good, but not quite the same.
  • Myst (Sega Saturn, Playstation, iOS, Android): Myst is unlike any other game on my list. You start the game by being sucked into a book and transported to a mysterious deserted island. You find two brothers stuck in two books with missing pages, and broken messages beg you to find more books, travel to new worlds (called ages), and the missing pages to their books restore to free them. But each warns you that the other cannot be trusted. Myst is a beautiful game that is fully reflected in the state-of-the-art graphics at the time. It's essentially a point and click puzzle game, but the music, illustrations and storyline are an experience. You can play an updated version called realMYST that is fully interactive, which is arguably the best experience in today's gaming world. I played the game on Sega Saturn, a system that deserved better than the treatment it received.
  • Legend of Zelda: Link & # 39; s Awakening (Game Boy, Switch): The first striking thing about Link & # 39; s Awakening is that it is a Zelda game without Zelda. Link travels by ship when a storm hits him and shipwrecks him on an island. He can only leave by waking the windfish. This is how a journey across the island begins to find instruments that can wake up the dormant fish. Since it started on the Game Boy and because it won't be long, Link & # 39; s Awakening is the first game I have ever completed (I don't have to fight for my brothers' control). However, you don't have to find an original version to play; it was recently re-released on Switch with updated graphics. In addition to those adorable 3D graphics, it's a shot for shot remake.
  • StarFox (SNES): I spent hours and hours playing the original Star Fox game. Technically it was a simple & # 39; on rails & # 39; shooter, but it didn't feel like one. You could accelerate and slow down (at least temporarily) and survive multiple hits. You even had co-pilots who would help (and you in turn can help). That was all new, along with the very latest graphics. And in this is a story that can no longer happen. The original Star Fox featured a black hole hinting at the tragic loss of Star Fox's father. You played the level as long as you want (in a loop) before taking one of the outputs that would occasionally appear. My brothers convinced me that if you repeated the level the correct number of times (47 as I remember) you would save Fox's father. I've tried it – so many times. The internet is now one thing and tells me it was never true.

Michael Crider, Review Geek Reviews Editor

  Skies of Arcadia screenshot

I've played a lot of games – possibly more than I should have. So it is quite a challenge to limit them to only the most & # 39; formative & # 39 ;. But the following seven are certainly the most memorable for me. And of the ones I've played, they made the biggest impression on me, the biggest impression on games like medium, or somewhere in between.

  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Genesis): This is the first game I can remember playing alone since my parents gave me a SEGA Genesis one Christmas and Sonic 2 came in the box. Although I admit to being biased, I think Sonic 2 is a true classic. The visual and audio fidelity clearly beat everything Mario pumped out, and if it didn't really beat Nintendo in terms of gameplay innovation, it still offered some significant steps forward. Time has not been right for the Sonic franchise – or SEGA itself – but there's no denying that the console war was truly a fair fight for a blazing moment in the '90s.
  • Command and Conquer: Red Alert (PC): Remember when real-time strategy games made up a big chunk of the gaming market? I did, because it was the go-to multiplayer experience in my house, where my dad's computer system in the dining room occasionally became a LAN party. There were better strategy games than Red Alert but none of those so beloved by me as it included some super units like Tanya, the mad bomber, that I could use to beat my dad's more conventional tactics. The indulgent cheese from the single-player campaign, an alternate history of World War II with time machines and lightning cannons, was also a lot of fun.
  • Metal Gear Solid (PlayStation): Subsequent entries in the series went off the rails – nanomachines, son! – but there is no denying that Metal Gear Solid is a brilliant example of gameplay and story that grew up in the early days of 3D graphics. Other PS1 mega hits such as Final Fantasy VII Resident Evil, and Tony Skats Pro Skater showed that you could entertain adults with more ambitious console games, but MGS proved that you can tell a story at least as good as the average Hollywood blockbuster without resorting to a full and fairly slow RPG. The gameplay is far from perfect – clumsy controls are the biggest problem – but the thoughtful stealth stealth perfectly complements the exciting story.
  • Skies of Arcadia (Dreamcast): I have never been a big fan of Japanese RPGs unless Pokemon counts. But something about the world and mechanics of Skies of Arcadia " just clicked with me, so much so that I've played it at least three or four times. I have been told that it is quite typical of JRPG's, and quite simple in terms of story, but the clear graphics, excellent music and elaborate world make it a diamond even in the star-studded library of Dreamcast. Unfortunately, it's quite difficult to play these days – you'll probably have to use an emulator – but well worth it.
  • Grand Theft Auto III (PlayStation 2): Confession: I was playing ] GTAIII long before my parents would have allowed me if they had known . (Thanks, anonymous eBay seller who accepted a money order!) But beyond the violence and "sharp" content, you see the bones of the modern open-world game genre. Without the fully realized 3D world of GTAIII newer and better examples of the genre such as Just Cause Horizon Zero Dawn and Red Dead Redemption would not be possible to be. It deserves a place of honor for this.
  • Mount & Blade: Warband (PC): If you've never played Mount & Blade and you have a gaming PC, close this tab and go buy it. If you can get through the admittedly awful graphics, you'll see an incredible combination of real-time strategy, thoughtful action battles, and open world empire construction unlike anything else in the world of gaming. The long-awaited sequel is out now, but still in its infancy – grab the original for a song and prepare to lose a year or two of gaming to its amazing depth.
  • Universal Paperclips (Browser): I was vaguely aware of "clicker" games and rejected them as casual knickknacks. Universal Paperclips gave me a lesson in humility: it taught me that the simplest mechanics can create absolutely incredible gaming experiences. Sometimes less is more, and in this case almost nothing is Universal . Check out this article if you want to see what I'm talking about, or better yet, just go play it yourself. All you need is a browser and some time.

Suzanne Humpheries, Review Geek Staff Writer

Darkest Dungeon / Red Hook

As a child, the video games I played taught me many of the crucial skills I need to navigate everyday life . From looting corpses and eating any food I find on the ground, to stealing cars and hitting trees, I'm sure these skills are the only reason I thrive as an adult. Here are some of the best video games I've played over the years that I would find the most formative for me.

  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES): In 1991 my cousin received The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past . We spent countless hours playing in his room. I remember being in love with every detail of the world, from the shape and sound of the rupees, to the beautiful fairies that would heal you when you stepped into their pool. I thought we played the whole game, but when I played it again as an adult we didn't get very far; I think we just walked around mowing grass and kicking each other. But the music and graphics and dungeons made Zelda the first video game I ever remembered playing, and I loved every minute of it, even though we were bad about it.
  • Mortal Kombat (SNES): I don't remember how my cousins ​​got that copy of Mortal Kombat (or how they kept it from their parents), but I remember however, the game was so great that we never played Zelda ever again. Zelda was great, but like all young children, we couldn't resist the temptation to play a game we shouldn't be playing in a million years, with its blood splatter and ultra-terrifying fatalities pull a man's spine out of his body, decapitate him or rip out his still beating heart. The game was so much fun to play against each other, and the fact that we got away with it made our (flawless) win all the more enjoyable.
  • Doom (PC): My dad downloaded Doom to play after work in the evening. One day the 8-year-old asked me for permission to play Full Tilt! Pinball machine on his computer, then I ran into Doom . And opened it. And immediately fell in love with it. I was immediately obsessed with the music and graphics – it was cooler than anything else I was playing at the time (except Mortal Kombat ). I will never forget the look on my dad's face when he came in 30 minutes later and saw me playing Knee-Deep in the Dead on Hurt Me Plenty. He forbade me to play the game – because I was a young impressionable girl and Doom was a gorebath – but I kept playing until he removed it from his computer. Doom is the standard by which I stick to all other FPS games, and no matter how sharp and sleek gameplay and graphics, nothing will beat the OG.
  • Goldeneye 007 (N64): I played this much like a child that I can still hear my parents screaming to turn it off and go outside. Goldeneye's solo missions were cool and all, but the real fun was playing multiplayer. It was about remembering the best hiding places in each level (and getting there first). Oh, and lasers and proximity mines are fun, but nothing beats Slappers Only with the giant heads cheat.
  • Minecraft (PC / MacOS / Xbox / PlayStation / Nintendo Switch): Creation and building games have always fascinated me. As a kid, I loved toys that allowed me to build things like Legos and K & # 39; nex, so it's no surprise that when Minecraft was released, I was completely there. Vanilla survival mode is great at times, but it's all about the creative mode where you can access each block. Here you can build castles, cities, pyramids, underwater fortresses and anything you can imagine. I really got into the game through Achievement Hunter. These idiots are actually awful in Minecraft (even after playing together for 8 years), but they have fun creating their own hilarious story arcs, challenges and adventures with cool mods like Galacticraft (traveling to space ), Pixelmon (a Pokemon simulator) and Sky Factory, where you have built up a whole world, starting with just a tree and a block of dirt. Het flexibele sandbox-ontwerp en de oneindige mogelijkheden van de game zorgen voor ontspannende en chaotisch leuke tijden.
  • Darkest Dungeon (Steam / Nintendo Switch): Deze game is moeilijk. Deze game is woedend. Ik haat dit spel. Oké, ik ben dol op dit spel. Darkest Dungeon trok voor het eerst mijn aandacht vanwege het gotische Lovecraftiaanse gevoel, maar ik bleef voor de kerker-kruipende, monster-vechtende, buit verzamelende goede tijd die het biedt, compleet met hinderlagen en kontschoppen. Je rekruteert, traint en leidt helden om oude artefacten te verzamelen en de slechteriken te bestrijden die je voorouderlijke geboortestad overnemen. Elk van je helden is op zijn eigen manier gebrekkig. Ze zullen nog meer fysieke en mentale aandoeningen oplopen naarmate hun stress toeneemt tijdens het gevecht, wat zelfs kan leiden tot waanzin en (perma) dood. Je zult geleidelijk aan werken om de stad en je helden te verbeteren naarmate het spel vordert, maar raak niet te gehecht aan je helden terwijl je ze opvoert voor de gelijknamige Darkest Dungeon – ze hebben de neiging om te sterven. Je zult in deze game snel waardering krijgen voor kleine overwinningen en langzaamaan leren dat grotere overwinningen hard verdiend zijn.

Zoveel games als deze lijst omvat, het is zeker geen uitputtende lijst. Maar voor onze eclectische groep schrijvers zijn dit de spellen die ons hebben gevormd en onze smaak hebben geïnformeerd. Als je kunt, moet je ze absoluut spelen. En als je dat niet kunt, huilen we om je.

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