Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time dared to go where no other game in the series had gone before- the third dimension. Taking Link and the world of Hyrule into a fully-realized 3D world brought a whole new level of immersion and exploration to the series.
Yes, you could go from point to point on your adventure, but not exploring the charming, beautiful world and the secrets it held would not do Ocarina of Time justice. The game brought incredible dungeons, a range of weapons and equipment, and intense boss fights to Nintendo 64 owners. Often heralded as the best game in The Legend of Zelda series, Ocarina of Time is quite possibly the best way to experience what the series has to offer and one that you owe to yourself to play.
Super Mario 64
The Nintendo 64 was a bit of a revolutionary console. Not only did it bring Ocarina of Time, but also Mario’s first fully-realized 3D outing too. Starting you off in the grounds of Princess Peach’s castle, you’ll find out that Peach and her servants have been kidnapped by Bowser and imprisoned by 120 Power Stars. Therefore, it’s up to you as Mario to acquire all of these stars and rescue Peach. This means exploring many of the portraits within the castle that are actually portals to other worlds.
Playing a Mario game for the first time in 3D was a huge step for Nintendo and its titular plumber. The portals to other worlds help showcase all of the magic of the Mushroom Kingdom and exploring each and every one of them just felt right in 3D. No longer was the Mushroom Kingdom just something you saw a tiny slice of in the 2D games, this was a real world, and somewhere that hours could be spent just trying to see every last bit of it.
Mario’s translation into the third dimension didn’t screw up the classic gameplay, either. In fact, controlling Mario around these worlds felt natural, and stomping on goombas was all the more satisfying now that their angry faces could be seen up close. If you’ve never played a Mario game you really should check out Super Mario 64. It’s one of the pivotal games in shaping the series into what it is now, and it’s a magical experience to behold.
The Last of Us
The Last of Us was quite different from the tried and tested formula that Naughty Dog had with Uncharted. Yet, its beautiful storytelling, excellent voice acting, and interesting world made sure there was absolutely nothing to worry about. The Last of Us sees Joel and Ellie travel across a United States that has suffered at the hands of a viral outbreak and is in the process of being reclaimed by nature. Why exactly they’re travelling across the US, however, we’ll leave for you to find out.
If you’ve ever wanted to play a game where you can truly get attached to the characters and feel like the world you’re exploring is actually alive and inhabited then look no further. The Last of Us did a great job at making you care for Joel and Ellie. They go through a lot and rather than it being any huge action blockbuster cutscenes that will wow you, it’s the dialogue between the two characters and the little moments that form their relationship which make The Last of Us a must play. With the game now available on PS4, with much prettier visuals and the Left Behind DLC included too, this is one game you should go out and buy right away if you haven’t experienced it already.
Bioshock is like no other shooter out there. Not just because it gave players the ability to wield both a physical weapon in one hand and a special power known as a plasmid in the other, but because it acknowledges the world that surrounds you more than any other shooter that came before or even after its release.
Bioshock’s underwater city of Rapture is a failed, and now desolate and ruined attempt of an isolated utopia. This was a world where people lived together in harmony, a futuristic escape from the real world. Because of this, there’s plenty to see and explore in Bioshock. Bioshock’s story has you gripped throughout, and won’t fail to disappoint toward the end. Its Big Daddy encounters and attempts to save the Little Sisters are epic, smaller quests in the larger picture of trying to escape Rapture. You’ll start off in the underwater city a little creeped out, but it won’t take long until you’re exploring every crevice in search of everything it has to offer.
Grand Theft Auto V
The GTA series has always been about open-world exploration, crime, and violence. The three are a perfect match and GTA V went further than any game in the series has gone before. The little side-missions and distractions of former games were taken and evolved into full-fledged mini-games themselves. Heck, go for a round of golf in the huge, expansive world of Los Santos if you want some time away from the criminal lifestyle. Los Santos is quite literally your oyster to do as you see fit.
Pulling off heists with the AI in the main story was fun, but GTA Online was what put the icing on the cake. Alongside the huge single-player campaign was online heists. These allow you and a group of friends to team up and take on huge multi-mission heists ensuring that the fun of being a criminal mastermind never came to an end. The world of Los Santos never sleeps, not even when you turn the game off, the other inhabitants continue to live their everyday lives. It’s this sense of a fully-realized world that makes GTA V the definitive title in the series, and a great place to escape after a long day at the office.
Final Fantasy VII
The Final Fantasy series is the behemoth of the JRPG genre, and Final Fantasy VII is one of the highest points in the series. VII was the first in the series to heavily utilize CG and, thanks to this utilization of the tech available at the time, helped to really focus the game on narrative and beautiful cutscenes. Of course, the epic battles didn’t miss out on the love either as they became huge cinematic experiences that would leave you with a truly satisfying feeling when watching your enemies fall.
The use of CG was also used to create some of the most memorable characters in the franchise. From Tifa Lockheart to Cloud Strife, all the way to the white-maned Sephiroth, FFVII has a whole roster of individuals worth remembering. They all tied in to a story that took players from a threatened city to space and back while keeping players drawn with magic and technology. There’s a reason so many fans pushed for the upcoming remake.
Half- Life 2 is the Sci-Fi shooter you’ve probably heard everything about even though you haven’t played it. Valve’s Half-Life series is beloved by many predominantly for its enjoyable physics-based puzzles and the development of your arsenal over the time of your adventure.
Half-Life 2’s physics mechanics are what many love it for. Not many other Sci-Fi shooters at the time had physics engines quite as impressive or were utilizing them in such an intuitive and innovative way as Half-Life 2 was. The shooting mechanics are tight and the story of Gordon Freeman as he fights to free the world of the alien Combine makes this an excellent all-round shooter worth checking out.
Pokémon Gold/ Silver
The Pokémon series is a trip down memory lane for many. Giving players the opportunity to become the very best that there ever was, capturing all of the Pokémon in the land and fighting off against other trainers on the way. Pokémon is all about the adventure on your way to the top and, unlike many RPG’s that require grinding, Pokémon has perfected the formula. At no moment does grinding ever feel like a chore.
So why Gold and Silver over the others? Simply put, it’s one meaty game. Red, Yellow, and Blue were great games, but Silver and Gold pretty much threw these in as an additional quest once you’d beaten the Elite Four in Johto. The roster of 251 Pokémon was charming, and the legendary Pokémon added even more longevity to the game, as the Legendary Dogs could be a real nuisance to catch. If you’re looking to try out the Pokémon series, Gold and Silver should be your first choice. With essentially two campaigns, one of the most compelling collectathon mechanics, and a veritable ton of cool features to keep you interested, you’ll be a Poké-fan in no time.
The very first Resident Evil game is essentially the definition of survival horror. Yes, the graphics of the original game may not look all that great, but the recent release of a very good HD remake means you don’t have to deal with this if you’re not into retro gaming. Following Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, you’ll investigate the outskirts of Raccoon City following the disappearance of their team members.
Of course, with this being a Resident Evil game there are plenty of zombies and a ton of jump scares. The fixed nature of the camera added to this suspense. You couldn’t just flick one of your analog sticks to look around that upcoming corner, you just had to hope for the best. This, in turn, made Resident Evil just as entertaining to watch as it was to play, and with the gameplay’s gripping pace and challenging combat and puzzles, it combined challenge and full-on thrills.
Many puzzle games struggle to meet that balance between too easy and insanely difficult that makes them compelling to play but incredibly rewarding when you get it right. Portal 2 nailed this and threw in a ton of laughs just to be safe.
Armed with a gun that can fire two holes into surfaces allowing you to pass through one and exit out of the other, you’ll have to make your way through to the other side of tricky levels, all the while receiving a wonderful commentary from the abusive GLaDOS and little Wheatley. Building on everything that made the first game great, and throwing in light bridges, lasers, and the gels, Portal 2 is the definitive puzzle game that you’ll never get bored of.