At the end of my third article discussing why gaming is leaving me behind, I promised to make a list of my top 10 games to show that I am not bitter toward gaming itself. I full-heartedly believe video games can be an art form regardless of what critics say and my list contains a number of gaming’s greatest masterpieces. A thing to remember about this list is that it is a record of my personal favorites and not a list of the objectively greatest games of all time. If you disagree then that’s fine with me, we all have different tastes. So, I invite you to sit back, relax, put on your Power Glove and Mind Link (little known Atari reference for the uninitiated), and get ready for a discussion of some of my favorite video games of all time…
Just for your information, all of these articles may contain spoilers…
10. Final Fantasy VIII
This choice might cause some contention among gamers because opinion favors Final Fantasy VII as the greatest game in the series; however, I don’t agree. It’s not that I don’t like VII; I think the game is amazing. It’s just that VIII was my introduction into the series and a darn good one at that. Squall Leonhart was the kind of dark, brooding, and inexplicably coat-wearing hero that appealed to my 14 year old mind. It didn’t hurt that he had one of the coolest and most impractical weapons ever devised in fiction, the gun blade. I can’t imagine that sword being very comfortable to hold.
So, other than VIII grabbing my attention first, what else makes this a better game than Final Fantasy VII? First of all, the Junction system was better than the Materia system. I can see some of you shaking your heads right now, “Who wants to be drawing Thundara out of a giant bee for 30 minutes?” Well, I get your point, but I still believe the junction system required much more strategy because in order to stay at maximum stats you would have to preserve your different abilities. For example, if you attached 100 meteors to the Lion Heart (sword) to give it maximum damage potential, then you were smart not to use too much and figure out another way to beat an enemy.
The second reason that VIII was better than VII was that the hero was cooler than the villains. The villains of the game were a punk doppelganger and a time traveling sorceress. The latter game went through great pains to make Sephiroth the most awesome video game character ever and gamers ate it up. However, my Christian proclivities never gravitated toward the bad guy and I was a bit turned off by VII in that way.
Last, while VII was very light on the love story elements, which were implied more than shown, VII hammered the point home with a love story fit for a gaming teenage boy. This love story, however shallow and adolescent it was, helped us feel like we were playing a more mature and adult game compared to its predecessor.