Christopher Koep’s Top 10 Games of All Time
Gaming has been a part of my life since I was a young boy. I spent my childhood on a SNES and PS2. Later I went all around, owning everything from a Retron, to a PS3, Gamecube, and more. For this list, I didn’t necessarily want to pick the “greatest games” I had ever played. Rather, I wanted to look at some of the most important games for me. Games that got me into a franchise, or I felt had the most depth. Games that were not only fun, but also had a profound impact on me. So without further ado (and in no particular order), here are my top ten games of all time:
Mario Kart 7
In addition to adding new land and sea segments in most maps, Mario Kart 7 refined its controls, added additional kart customization options, and allowed for 8 player local multiplayer (download play supported I might add). Combine this with the game’s catchy soundtrack and level design, and you have one of the best Kart racers of all time. Mario Kart 7 makes this list for not only being one of the greatest entries in the series, but also for the many memories I’ve made playing this game for hours with friends.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Subsistence
What a thrill. Snake Eater originally turned me off as a young gamer. Its difficulty and strange camera perspective made it difficult to find my way or even understand where to go. Not to mention, stealth was never my genre. This all changed once I got older and obtained the Subsistence version. The camera changed to a 3rd person over the shoulder view more in line with most action games, and I had grown to understand how to progress. What awaited me when I revisited Snake Eater was a cinematic masterpiece, weaving themes of loyalty, politics, and war together seamlessly with gratifying stealth combat and gunplay. Learning the story of Big Boss’s origin is an amazing journey filled with memorable encounters and an ending that works both as an entry in the Metal Gear franchise and its own stand-alone piece.
Street Fighter 3: Third Strike Online Edition
Third Strike is one of the pinnacle fighters of the Capcom legacy, combining excellent gameplay, wonderful stages and music, and an interesting roster. Each character feels unique, and while the game is unbalanced it still remains fun. The addition of the parry system allows for more interesting strategies (do you block and take chip damage, or parry to counter but risk getting hit?). The online edition ups the ante with a solid GGPO netcode allowing you to take the fight outside of your couch and into the globe. While Capcom fighters may come and go, I still find myself periodically coming back to Third Strike for a few rounds.
Persona 4: Golden
Persona 4 Golden was the first JRPG I actually sat down and invested time in, and looking back I’m glad I did. The story of Yu Narukami’s time in Inaba and the case of the Midnight Channel is rife with characters and moments that left a lasting impression on me, and the message of the importance of friendship is something I carry with me still since the almost five years since I began playing it. Golden also has an amazing soundtrack that bounces between upbeat J-Rock battle themes and softer instrumentals for time spent outside of combat. I’ve spent over one hundred and thirty hours exploring Golden, and it was time well spent.
Fallout: New Vegas
I’m a novice when it comes to Fallout, only playing New Vegas and a little bit of 3, but I love what I’ve played so far. New Vegas’ desert is rich with intimate character driven moments and strong action/RPG gameplay. The bright orange hues of the desert sands radiate atmosphere, and enemy types are nicely varied between the mutated fauna, and the psychotic humans who inhabit the Mojave. Combine that with some of the best gambling minigames and weapons I’ve seen, and New Vegas is certainly a trip worth taking.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Black Ops 2 does a lot right: an engaging story filled with blockbuster setpiece moments, a robust multiplayer mode that caters to both off and online play, and the frantic Zombies mode that continues to entice since its introduction in World At War. Black Ops 2 contains some of the tightest gunplay of the franchise, offers iconic maps, and provided me with hours of entertainment both off and online.
Borderlands blew everyone away during its 2009 release. How do you follow up one of the most groundbreaking games ever made? Do it all over again, but improve in every way possible. Borderlands 2 offers more missions, larger skill trees, a bigger Pandora, and even more randomized loot. Combine this with 4-player online and offline co-op, and a story that is not only side splitting, but contains one of the greatest antagonists ever created, and Gearbox has crafted a masterpiece FPSRPG, a term that they themselves pioneered.
Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening Special Edition
Dante’s Awakening is the debated pinnacle of the franchise among its fans. The prequel shows Dante’s origins as a devil hunter, and the rivalry between himself and his estranged brother Vergil. The concepts that were introduced in the original Devil May Cry were finally introduced, switching between weapons was easier and more fluid, allowing for better and more insane combos. Boss fights were difficult, but not frustrating. The game was chock full of unlockables such as costumes, modes, and even the ability to play as Vergil. 3 Would also mark the introduction of the Style System, allowing different ways to play (whether you liked to use guns, swords, mobility, or defense) and adding great amounts of replayability to levels.
Sometimes your favorite doesn’t have to be the best in the franchise. Case in point: Tekken 4. While the game receives flack for some poor gameplay decisions (less characters, roster imbalance, uneven stages, etc.) there still seems to be an inviting vibe for me to always keep coming back. Tekken 4 was the first Tekken game I put an amount of time into (well, more time than others that were “let’s try and beat arcade mode” back when arcades were a thing). From unlocking all the characters, to playing through Tekken Force, I couldn’t escape. The bright colors, inviting stages, and cool character designs kept me hooked. Not to mention the soundtrack was a softer jazz/electronic/funk mix that was a delight to listen to. Tekken 4 introduced me to some of my favorite fighting game characters, such as Jin, Violet (yes I prefer Violet over Lee and yes I know they’re the same character), and Steve Fox. It’s one of those games I keep in my closet and pull out every once in a while for a few rounds when I want to relieve some of my younger days.
Super Mario All-Stars
The game that started it all. I was raised in a household that had a SNES, and on that SNES was this game. SMAS was my first foray into gaming. The Mario Antrhology was a way for my mom and I to bond, and for me to understand how to play games. The importance of timing and patience, and the age old practice of “try, try again.”. I bounced around the catalog, from the original Super Mario Bros., to 3, and the fake Super Mario Bros. 2 us Americans got for fear that the “Lost Levels” were too hard. I’ve spent hours if not years with Mario, and that’s all thanks to this game. From here it would go to Mortal Kombat, Batman Returns, Turtles in Time, and more. Then to the PS2 era, then Xbox 360, PS3, and now PS4. I left out some consoles here and there, but you get the idea. Super Mario All-Stars was the game that introduced me to gaming as a whole.
And that concludes the list. I’m curious to see how my feelings compare looking back on this in the future. Perhaps Persona 5 will usurp Golden. Perhaps I will have finally seen the flaws in Tekken 4. Only time will tell. In the meantime, I’m curious as to what you think. What games are your favorite? You can let me know by commenting below. Thank you for reading!