As Abraham Lincoln once said, “boy, do I love a good video game.” But since his time, how many of those video games have actually been life-changingly good? How many video games can we truly describe as “The Shawshank Redemption of shmups” or “The Shrek 2 of JRPGs”? Well, I put that answer to you, dear readers.
We all have different taste in games, but we all (hopefully) also have a Top Five of all-time, engraved into our brains alongside our favourite food (egg) and our favourite operating system (Windows 95) as markers of our personality. Mine, for reference, usually includes Fantasy Life, Ghost Trick, Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, but depending on my mood, sometimes Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney sneaks in there, too.
But Fantasy Life is a game from 2012. Ghost Trick is ten years old. Apollo Justice’s court adventures came out in 2007. Paper Mario: TTYD is almost twenty, and Majora’s Mask is old enough to be able to drink in the US. Dragon Age: Inquisition is the newest of those, and that was a 2014 release, which makes it older than Mad Max: Fury Road, the third Star Wars trilogy, and that jar of olives I have in the fridge.
What does this mean? Are my favourites dominated by games that have that fuzzy coating of nostalgia to make them look better? Or have we just not seen a good game in the last decade?
Obviously that’s not true. I’ve absolutely adored quite a few games in the last few years, including 2019’s Slay the Spire, last year’s Disco Elysium, and the fantastic What Remains of Edith Finch from 2017. Also, because I am a terrible procrastinator, I own (but haven’t got around to playing) recent releases Paradise Killer and Genesis Noir — but I’m 100% certain I’ll love them, too. I have fantastic taste, thank you very much, even if the rest of the staff apparently think I only play farming games. Sob.
But none of them have cracked that top five, which, admittedly, is fairly arbitrary anyway. A lot of games from 2019 and onwards are probably in my top ten, in fact! And rest assured that the thesis of this talking point is more definitely not “games have been a bit pants since around about 2014”, but evidently, none of them have grabbed a hold of my heartstrings in the way that my top five did. Especially the latest Paper Marios. The less said about them the better. Double sob.
(Relatedly, it has just occurred to me that only two of my top five are games that I had to review. Hmmm. Wonder if that’s relevant.)
So, I turn to you, dear Nintendo Life audience: when was the last time a game made it into your all-time favourites?
Tell us your top five in the comments below!