30. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – Nintendo (3DS, 2013)
3DS has been home to Zelda remakes from the N64 like Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask but my favourite Zelda game on the 3DS is A Link Between Worlds. The dungeons were just the right level of challenging and the combat felt like a perfectly distilled version of what I’d grown used to in the console Zelda games. I admired the chalk drawing mechanic and when I found a corner I could waddle past to uncover a new area I felt like a genius.
29. Animal Crossing New Leaf – Nintendo (3DS, 2013)
New Leaf is every bit as wonderful as its predecessors but earns a place on my list by finally giving me the ability to customize what I’ve always wanted to: my town. As the mayor, I spent hours placing my projects in just the right place and putting a lot of thought into building my town into the animal paradise it is now. I often would adjust placement by inches to get it just right. Everything else in New Leaf is the same tried and true Animal Crossing formula. Catching insects and fish, upgrading my home, talking to my neighbours and just being super cute all the time. Badges added a new layer to my game and were very enticing as a fan of other reward systems like trophies. New Leaf isn’t a perfect game, but it is a perfect Animal Crossing game.
28. Halo 4 – 343 Industries (Xbox 360, 2012)
Every time I tell people Halo 4 is my favourite Halo game I get a scoff and “Well Halo 3 is better?” Well, this is my list and I like Halo 4 a whole lot more so ha. By the time I stopped playing I’d logged 29 days of multiplayer on Xbox Live. I’d played several consecutive matches of CTF where I captured all 5 flags myself without letting the other team score any. I had a blast in Halo 4, and the campaign was pretty cool too.
27. Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time – Insomniac Games (PS3, 2009)
When I finished A Crack in Time I was sitting next to my Dad on the living room couch. We had played the majority of the campaign side by side on the couch just like the night we beat it. But after retrying the final boss dozens of times and finally beating it there was a sense of accomplishment we shared, even though I had been playing we’d experienced it together and Dad had been there cheering me on, suggesting weapons and strategies. And as we sat watching the credits roll I looked at the hundreds of names that had touched this project and told my Dad I wanted to be a name in a game’s credits one day. He told me I could absolutely do that, and that if that’s what I wanted then I should go for it. And to this day my name’s in the credits of three published video games. Maybe it will be in the credits of a Ratchet & Clank game one day. Who knows?
26. Portal 2 – Valve (PS3, 2011)
My Dad got me Portal 2 for my 14th birthday and sat with me while I experienced it in its entirety. We laughed along with every joke, racked our brains together over the trickiest puzzles and loved the final act, albeit him a little less excitedly than me. I then played through the co-op puzzles with a friend, rounding out the awesome experience I had with Portal 2 and cementing its place as one of my favourite games.
25. Rocket League – Psyonix (PS4, 2015)
I was there on day one in 2015 when Rocket League launched. Since then I’ve played in all 4 seasons, gotten 76 of the game’s now 82 trophies and watched the community explode around this ridiculous soccer/car mash-up. With way more content than I’ll ever get into now available, I think Rocket League has settled into that category of game that I check back in on every couple weeks to see the new items, maps and play my placement matches. It’s a silly game that is way more popular than it ever deserved to be and that’s kind of awesome.
24. Sly 2: Band of Thieves – Sucker Punch Productions (PS2, 2004)
Spoilers for Sly 2: Band of Thieves.
This was the first game that actually broke me. I played through the first Sly Cooper game when I was very young, I was delighted by the characters, the world and the incredibly fun stealth platforming. Diving into Sly 2 I was expecting more of the same lighthearted globetrotting but instead, I was met by a rather deep and morally complex story, for a children’s game. And the ending utterly broke me. Bentley permanently crippled, Murray wrought with grief vanishing and Sly left feeling like he’d let everyone down. That’s how it ends. Roll credits, no resolution at all. I’m sorry but that was very upsetting for 9-year-old Stephan.
23. Assassin’s Creed II – Ubisoft (PS3, 2009)
I’m pretty sure Assassin’s Creed II is the first M-rated game I ever got, making it seem infinitely cooler to my adolescent brain than it actually was. I loved the Italian Renaissance setting featuring famous people I’ve only read about brought to life. And of course, I loved leaping from what are now UNESCO world heritage sites stabbing people in the back. The game did not age well. In fact, it seems really boring today. But it’ll always hold a special place in my heart for not only igniting an interest in history but for setting the standard quite low so it could be surpassed over and over in the coming years.
22. Guacamelee! – Drinkbox Studios (PS3, 2013)
The first game I played from Drinkbox Studios is coincidentally my favourite game from Drinkbox Studios. Interestingly the first time I ever heard the term “Metroidvania” was in a description of Guacamelee! and it became my bar for measuring other Metroidvania games against. I’ve collected everything in Guacamelee! two times now across several platforms. I hope to god I get a sequel someday…
21. Overwatch – Blizzard Entertainment (PS4, 2016)
Overwatch is fucking fantastic. The cast of diverse and exciting characters draw from cultures and experiences across the planet, the team based competition allows for new and veteran players alike to enjoy themselves. The community and developers have built this experience into the robust and evolving game it is today. I’ve played hundreds of hours of Overwatch and with new characters, maps and modes always coming I have no doubt I’ll play more.