Ten years ago (back when Gaming Nexus was only six years old), we asked ourselves one question: If our collections were reduced to five games for the rest of our lives, what would they be?
The staff — and certainly gaming — has changed a lot in the 10 years since we last asked that question. Then again, in some ways it hasn’t. Chuck Husemann continues as the site’s editor-in-chief, and he’s (still) going on about hockey this and hockey that. John Yan continues as the site’s owner, operator, and senior hardware editor, with sports and role-playing games (still) taking front and center in his gaming library. Even Cyril Lachel is lurking around here somewhere, (still) 100-percenting open-world action games.
So, taking under consideration each game’s timelessness, longevity, and replayability, we asked the old guard along with the youngbloods the question once again: Which five?
Super Mario Bros. 3
For almost 25 years since the day I first played it, Super Mario Bros. 3 is still my all-time favorite game. Being heavily into the NES when I was younger (and still am today), this was like the original Super Mario Bros., only bigger and better. It may only take me a couple of hours to beat it nowadays, but it's still one that I'll pop into the old toaster NES any day.
While this wasn't the first role-playing game I played and, sadly, I didn't play Chrono Trigger until college, it quickly became not only my favorite RPG but also my favorite Super NES game. Between the graphics, the music, and the story, Chrono Trigger is definitely a game that everyone should experience at some point, and definitely sits towards the top of my favorite games of all time.
I tend to talk a lot more about classic games than those that are more modern, but that doesn't mean I don't play them. Case and point? Borderlands 2. Much like Super Mario Bros. 3 was to the original, Borderlands 2 is bigger and better than the original. Better story, better mechanics, and some of the best dialog I've heard in a game in a long time. With six characters to choose from and multiple missions and playthroughs, Borderlands 2 is one of the best modern-era games I've played in quite some time.
Mega Man Unlimited
Yeah, I'm putting a fan game on my list. Deal with it. Anyway, this was a toss up for me between Mega Man 2 and Unlimited. While 2 is my favorite game in the classic series, Unlimited has a lot more of a challenge to it with 10 Robot Masters, an Endless Mode, and an Endless Boss Rush. This game looks, sounds, and feels as close to an official game as you can get without slapping Capcom on it somewhere.
Can't have a "five for life" list without a Legend of Zelda game on it. For me, at least. I loved the original Legend of Zelda, so I instantly fell in love with A Link to the Past the first time I played it. I hate to keep repeating myself, but just like Mario 3 and Borderlands 2, A Link to the Past is like the original, only bigger and better. Some consider Ocarina of Time to be the best Legend of Zelda game of all time. For me, I've always been more of a fan of the top-down isometric view games, and I'll gladly play A Link to the Past over Ocarina of Time any day. But before anyone gets mad, yes, I love Ocarina of Time as well and I have Majora's Mask 3D on pre-order.
I feel like Link to the Past gets overlooked with gems like Majora's Mask and Ocarina of Time, but Link to the Past was my favorite Zelda and still is. I couldn't imagine not including this in my final five, so it gets the top spot.
Final Fantasy VI
So many FFs to choose from, but I have to go with the sixth entry. With no true central character, a diverse magic system, two separate worlds, and one of greatest villains in gaming history to deal with, this still gets the top spot out of all other FFs for me personally.
I would probably lose my mind without having FIFA to play. It has become a staple of my gaming collection for quite some time now, and being able to log in and take out a bunch of Gooners as Tottenham Hotspur always makes me feel good.
I was never huge on real-time strategy or SimCity-style games, but Civ V absolutely roped me in. "Just...one...more...turn..." is a phrase that gets muttered by every Civ player, and with so many different ways to achieve victory, the game is never the same twice.
I had a hard time coming up with the final spot, but with the trilogy offered in one nice, neat package, I have to include it on my final five. Commander Shepard and his crew captivated me across every title in the series, and the game is always fun to go back and play through time and time again.
A game that is near and dear to my heart. One of my two favorite game series of all time. I have played through the original Doom countless times and I will probably go through it countless more before I die. There is just something so incredibly perfect about this game to the point where it never gets old for me.
Resident Evil (Game Cube Remake)
Another game that I could play over and over again. This game is just so brilliant in terms of the puzzles you have to solve, and how the game is all about psychological terror. Yes, there are a lot of jump scares, but what the game does perfectly is make you terrified of what's around every corner. Anytime I run past a window, I cringe at what may come flying through it.
Fire Pro Wrestling Returns
The greatest wrestling game ever made, in my opinion. If you are a fan of pro wrestling and the art of pro wrestling, this is the game for you. Fire Pro Wrestling has done what no other WWE or American wrestling game has been able to do: capture the feel of an actual pro wrestling match. The matches are all about psychology. The match's buildup, and the finish to every single match — win or lose — is incredibly satisfying.
My current addiction. I have logged over 1,000 hours in SMITE since I started playing it in July of 2013, and there is no end in sight. Every new character released in the game brings with them exciting new gameplay elements and strategy, and its been such a blast watching this game evolve over time. 2015 may truly be the year when SMITE becomes huge.
Mortal Kombat 2
My favorite fighting game of all time. This was the first video game that I ever became attached to, and I credit the Mortal Kombat series with making me the gamer that I am today. I have so many amazing memories of playing this game on SNES and in the arcades. The fighting, the characters, the story, the music, the fatalities. Everything about this game was perfect to me and was such an amazing sequel to the already amazing Mortal Kombat.
Since you guys are nice enough to allow me to use a trilogy as one game, my first pick is Mass Effect 1, 2, and 3, because no game or series has brought me more joy or gaming longevity.
My second choice is Dragon Age: Inquisition. I'm hoping that should I only have five games to play for the rest of eternity, I might finally complete Inquisition.
Third choice is FIFA 15 because it's the best FIFA game yet, I never seem to get tired of career mode, and I'll never get tired of seeing Harry Kane lead the league in scoring for Everton.
My fourth choice comes from the Far Cry franchise. I'll go with Far Cry 3, simply because that game has stuck with me in ways that Far Cry 4 has not yet had a chance to.
My fifth choice is GTA IV, and, similar to why Far Cry 3 is on my list instead of Far Cry 4, GTA IV has likewise stuck with me in ways that GTA V hasn’t had a chance to either.
Three of the best action-adventure titles ever made on one disc, with optimized graphics and controls? I'd be an idiot not to include this collection. It also helps that they're three of my favorite games of all time, and the small but entertaining multiplayer in Metroid Prime 2 could serve as a fun diversion if friends stop by. 60 hours of some of the best gameplay ever pressed to a disc--no brainer.
The original emergent gameplay hit, there's a potentially limitless amount of time I could sink into Minecraft. This is one game where you really get out of it what you put in. With an infinite procedurally generated world, a bottomless supply of resources in Creative mode and a huge modding community, I could conceivably build anything and keep myself occupied forever. Minecraft is like my zen garden; after spending time blasting things apart in more violent games, I go there to reflect, build and relax. I've already constructed a Dyson's Sphere and a fleet of spaceships to guard it, so why not keep going?
I have to agree with Mr. Carter on this one. Not only is the main series packed with content and an endlessly addictive multiplayer mode, but fans have been making custom levels and content for Doom for over two decades. I could play Doom for the rest of my life and never see all of the mods, level packs and megawads built in honor of this blood-soaked hellscape.
If I could only play one Zelda game for the rest of time, this would be it. In terms of sheer content this game is the biggest, taking me around 60 hours to beat the first time I played through it. The art style, story and gameplay are also my favorite of the Zelda series so far. This is the Zelda long-game, where the tutorial takes a leisurely hour and traversing the massive kingdom of Hyrule takes 30 minutes at a full-tilt gallop. The new Zelda Wii U game might supplant Twilight Princess as the biggest and the best later this year, but for now Twilight Princess is it.
This is my favorite game of all time. Bigger and better games have come and gone, but I've never fallen in love with a game like I did with GoldenEye. I know every pixel, every polygon, sound effect and extraneous inch of this game. I've played through the single player campaign at least a hundred times and I've logged God-knows how many hours in split-screen multiplayer. Leaving this off of my list would be a personal sin.
Is there any other game with the replay value of Minecraft? There is literally no end to the game, specifically with the creative mode. This could be the true definition of an endlessly replayable game.
I have never played an RPG that has engulfed me as much as P4G did. Usually I just play games through a single time and I am done, especially when it is a game that can take 50+ hours. When it comes to P4G, though, I played through it four times, amassing more than 200 hours. I found myself as interested as ever after the last play. I could literally play this game for eternity.
Tetris on its own is a true classic, but the DS edition, in particular, was especially enjoyable. I poured tons of hours into the game’s various modes and had as much fun on the first play as I did the last. The variety of gameplay modes makes this the ultimate puzzle game for me.
Super Mario World
It seems like most people have a Mario title on their list as everyone has a favorite in the long line of games. This one is mine. Don’t get me wrong, I love Super Mario Bros. 3 like everyone else, but this is the one that I enjoy the most, still to this day.
Okay, perhaps I am jumping the gun here, but right now this game is completely engulfing my entire gaming life. I just cannot get enough Hyrule Warriors. I just have to slaughter more and more legions of enemies and seek out more upgrades to my weapon arsenal. This game never gets old.
Both its time-consuming nature and one-more-click mentality make Civilization V an easy choice to include on my list of games for life. The variety of game modes, nations, and victory conditions ensure an endless assortment of matches and even more lost hours.
While Skyrim alone is an epic game in scale, the addition of the massive collection of ever-expanding mods ensures the game a definite spot on the list. From survival mods to texture overhauls, the Skyrim modding community has expanded on Bethesda's vision to create one of the most atmospheric game worlds ever.
If this list would have been compiled a few years ago, this spot would have been Grand Theft Auto IV. GTA is one of the few game series that continually feels fresh and dangerously addictive, with this latest installment continuing the trend yet again.
With a guaranteed supply of future add-ons and community content, The Sims 4 is the ultimate life simulator sandbox where the needs of your Sims because more important than your own. Hours quickly pass as you realize they've been consumed by designing the perfect house and leading your Sim to top career status.
Often I'm in the mood for a game in which I can simply drive the open road and listen to foreign radio stations. Both the massive game world and deep career system ensure that there are always more roads to discover and additional cargo waiting to be transported to its destination.
I know the game hasn't been out for long, and the plot isn't as good as everybody was hoping, but Destiny is that great game — that perfect game — for blowing off steam after work. The guns and enemies are great, and there are a ton of things to do.
MWO is the opposite of Destiny for those times when you want to blow stuff up but you want a bit more thought and action behind it. The great thing about MWO is that you can change your role and gameplay experience by swapping into another Mech. Factor in how many options there are in configuring the mech, and you've got years of customization options.
Galactic Civilization II (soon to be Galactic Civilization III)
Some of the other staffers are going to pick Civilization V as their "One More Turn" game, but mine always has been GalCiv II. I can't count the number of times I've played past midnight without realizing it. GalCiv II's greatness is found not only its fantastic gameplay but within the ship builder which lets you create all manner of space fleet.
If you're a regular visitor to Gaming Nexus, the inclusion of Half-Life 2 is no surprise. HL2 is the standard that all other single-player games are judged, and each play through of the game reveals new wonders and details. The game has been out for over a decade and still holds its own against most every modern shooter. People also forget how good the multiplayer component of the game is. And what other game allows you to kill people by firing a toilet at their head?
So DA:I is on my list for two reasons. The first is that it's a phenomenal game full of well-written characters set in a fantastically fleshed out universe. It would require three or four playthroughs (at 40 to 50 hours each) to see everything the game has to offer. The second reason is that the game holds a special place in my heart as it was the first game my future wife ever bought for me.
I’ve been into tabletop role-playing games ever since the D&D Red Box days. Computer RPGs, however, never cut it for me. Not until 2002’s Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, that is. That was the pinnacle, right there. Well, until Skyrim. It’s safe to say that I will play each and every Elder Scrolls game made by developer Todd Howard, and I hope he keeps making them until he can’t anymore.
For some people, there’s only a particular window of opportunity for MMOs to latch onto you. Mine was during the 10-year span between leaving home and buying my first house. EVE wasn’t my first MMO, but it was my first love, and it’s the only one I go back to. But in the first decade of the 2000’s, when you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting an MMO somewhere, internet spaceships was serious business, and I was there, every night, putting in work, and loving my job.
There are two things in this life I never get tired of: 1) traveling, and 2) being just a little bit out of my element. Geoguessr is an in-browser game that uses Google Street View. It drops you off somewhere on the globe and sends you on your way with little more than a pat on the behind and a, “Good luck, kid.” Plus I’m a dad, so I do annoying dad things — like reading road signs out loud to my kid — which ties in perfectly with how you orient yourself in Geoguessr. This wonderful little in-browser game will follow me to my deathbed.
What a beautiful grind. Put a driver on a gun and drive it around the countryside on tank treads. That’s all it takes to keep me happy, apparently. It seems unlikely that a game about metric tons of boomstick and steel would be a stealth-action game, but I love the hide-and-seek and the stop-and-pop; not to mention that there’s just enough interesting and embarrassing radio chatter to make me shake my head if my wife is in the room, too.
In 1990, a game called Centurion: Defender of Rome kindled my affection for ancient Italy in ways that have never been broken. While Rome: Total War is not as far-reaching as Centurion (which had not only killer strategic land battles, but chariot races and gladiatorial combat), Rome: Total War brought back the thrill of running the map from ye olde Britain to the Holy Land, and then, scarily enough, coming home for some good old Roman house vs. Roman house action. Craziest battles I’ve ever engaged in took place right here, in Rome: Total War.
I estimate from my brother's first Game Boy in 1990 to the last one I owned, I played this game for over 12 years and have never came close to getting tired of it. There are times I hallucinate seeing Tetris blocks when I look at tile flooring. The pacing of the falling pieces is perfect, the music divine, and no Tetris has ever felt as comfortable in my hand as in the original Game Boy.
I've moved on from Winning Eleven to FIFA around 2006 or so. So, whatever the latest edition is, I'll take it.
I actually never played 14, was living abroad when it was released, and had retired my PS3 by the time I got back. The last iteration I played was 13, but I'll take the latest if it's my last chance. (Please bring this game back, EA.)
I don't think any game made as big of an initial impact on me as Killzone 2 (though Dead Space came close). The visuals redefined what I thought a console could do. I'll never forget the first time I saw the dust whipping by Pyrrhus Rise. The multiplayer had its issues with hip firing and getting stuck in your base, but it was varied and fun with great maps, a decent element of strategy to the classes, and weapons that really felt unique. The story wasn't just an afterthought like many of the first-person shooters we see today, had a good level of difficulty on the hardest setting, and a platinum trophy you had to earn with one along the way to rank in the top 1% of all players worldwide at the end of a week. Side note: I had actually cleared my schedule to achieve that 1%, but when I fired up the game to get going, all of my luck went down the drain when that week ended up being the 2011 PSN hack that shut the entire system down.
My love of gaming has more to do with RPGs and the Final Fantasy series than any other, and this is probably my favorite. Awesome story, airships, Dragoons, and the freaking moon! FF VII was even more groundbreaking, but this one had my favorite story and best represents my childhood.
Beatmania IIDX 22 Pendual
This is one of those games that would be constantly evolving, but if I had to pick one from the franchise, then it would be the latest and greatest of one of Konami's myriad music games. The combination of great music and gameplay that I have yet to fully master makes this game one that I could live with on a desert island for the rest of my days.
The JRPG that singlehandedly justified my PS Vita purchase, Atlus's high school simulation/murder mystery/Scooby Do-esque adventure is a joy, from two hours after the start to finish. Once you get over that initial hurdle, this is one of the finest games released for Sony's handheld that could use more loving.
EA really nailed snowboarding with this 2003 installment. The incredibly huge mountain provided so many memorable moments and gave me hours upon hours of replayability. Even to this day I pick it up from time to time to improve a character, and even when I've maxed out each character, I'll continue to make full runs down the mountain.
Square Enix has finally made an MMO that I can get on board for the long haul. I've been having a blast and I've only scratched the surface of this game. I could pick up so many different jobs and make it a full time gaming experience. I've only recently finished leveling up a Paladin to level 50, and now I'm working on a healer while still earning tomes of Soldiery and Poetics to gear out my bard, which is my first love in this game.
The definitive version of this game, which bridges the gap between this game and the lesser appreciated Chrono Cross. I still love this game nearly 20 years after it first came out. The gameplay holds up perfectly and the music is still phenomenal. Thanks to the at-the-time revolutionary New Game Plus, I could play this game until entropy takes us all.
Fallout 3 is one of the greatest role-playing games of all time. There's no argument to be had. The moment you step out of Vault 101 for the first time, sun blinding your eyes, knowing that there's a whole world to explore, is a moment that will never be matched. I want to play again just thinking about it.
Put side by side, Fallout: New Vegas is a better game than Fallout 3 (3 did more for the genre, which is why it's the better RPG, if that makes sense). But, putting it simply, I've clocked over 200 hours into Fallout: New Vegas and always want to clock 200 more. There's always a new quest to complete, a new person to meet, and a new location to explore.
A few other writers have already put Civ V on their list, and for good reason. Its inherit replayability, wonderful strategy, and one-more-turn mentality is unmatched by any game I've ever played. Not to mention, it's one of the only games that I can sit down and play for 12 hours straight without stopping.
No matter how much I love FTL or how much I've played FTL, I have never beaten FTL. I can't pinpoint what makes it special or why I keep coming back, but I'll be playing FTL until the day I die. Maybe — and this is a long shot — just maybe if it's one of the only five games I can play for the rest of my life, I'll finally beat it.
I regrettably didn't play enough of GTA V when it released in 2013. I tried to rush through the story before GTA Online came out, so I never enjoyed GTA V to the extent that I should have. There's still a ton of side stuff waiting to be completed. I'd love to pick it back up on my new-gen system, make a fresh start, and dive back into a sandbox with unlimited possibilities.
I'd definitely need a sports game to keep me occupied, and NBA 2K15 has the features and modes to keep me playing for a long, long time. I love both the GM mode and the career mode where you take part as a single player on a team.
It was tough to choose between Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. While both are great games, I like the story and the setting more in New Vegas. You can't play forever like you can in Fallout 3, but you can always do other things and not play the end game. New Vegas is one game I can go back to again and again.
I don't know why I keep coming back to it, but I do. Fun both alone and with friends, I just can't stop playing. You think by now I'd get sick of the dungeon crawl, but it's a modern day Gauntlet for me. I’d spent a ton of time on Gauntlet in my younger days and now I'm doing it in Diablo 3.
The last great SimCity game, I can build and watch cities for hours on end. The gameplay was pretty stellar in SimCity 4, and it was great to build sprawling cities and see everything work together.
So I have a sports game, an RPG, a dungeon crawler, and a strategy game. To round out the list, I'm going with a great party game in Rock Band 3. There's a ton of music to be enjoyed with it and three different instruments, as well as a vocals, keeps this game fresh and fun.
Please let us know what your five favorite games of all time are in the comments!