Gaming & Technology

Playing favorites: the video games we like the most

Sometimes the Manifesto staff gets a bit reflective. We write a manifesto, after all. That happened recently as we debated our favorite games. Not our views on the best games ever, mind you. Just our favorite games.

So here goes:

'Deus Ex'

It's hard to look at Deus Ex and pick one thing and say, "That's it! That's what was so awesome."

Was it that you can play the game in almost any style you want? Was it the excellent role-playing elements tied to the smooth shooter gameplay? How about the incredible story with multiple paths and endings?

It's all those things but greater than the sum of them. All put together, it becomes a beautiful work of art that always sticks in the back of your mind.

Honorable mention: System Shock 2


'Halo 2'

I'm not picking Halo 2 because of its campaign. I could have. It had a great story, iconic hero, cinematic cut scenes and music that defined what a blockbuster game should be.

I picked Halo 2 for its multiplayer.

I met many of the friends I game with now nearly a decade ago while playing capture the flag on coagulation, king of the hill on beaver creek or oddball on midship.

Sure, this original Xbox game can't match the graphics of the current generation, and there aren't servers for online multiplayer anymore.

But it was such a strong title that new maps were still being released in 2007, three years after its release and two years after the release of the Xbox 360.

As good as games are now, nothing has come along since that has changed gaming so much and held the interest of gamers for so long.

Honorable mention: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare


'The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past'

This Super Nintendo classic was exactly what Nintendo needed and when the company needed it.

A Link to the Past followed the considerably lackluster Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. The latter introduced side-scrolling gameplay and magic to the series. The game was so radically different that it turned off some fans, including me. But Nintendo got us all back and even more with A Link to the Past.

With complex dungeons and a light and dark world that essentially doubled gameplay, A Link to the Past was loads of fun — and still is. Not a year goes by that I don't dust off the Super Nintendo to relive the battle for Hyrule.

Honorable mention: Metroid


'Street Fighter II'

I've loved fighting games for as long as I can remember, but the more elaborate they get, the more I find myself gravitating toward something simpler.

In summer 1995, my mother dropped me off at my aunt's house on her way to work each day. My cousin and I would spend the next eight hours staging epic action-figure battles, watching taped episodes of Power Rangers and — my favorite thing — playing Street Fighter II on Sega Genesis.

At least two hours a day were dedicated to mastering all the characters and unlocking ending videos. We took turns battling through the single-player mode and honed our skills by fighting one-on-one.

Fighting games have made a resurgence during the past few years. Modern fighting games, such as the recently released Injustice: Gods Among Us, are great, but they require split-second timing and memorization of impossibly long combos.

Street Fighter II had no such barriers to stymie casual players. It was a majestically simple game for a simpler time, and it's my favorite game ever.

Honorable mention: Halo: Combat Evolved


'Super Mario Bros. 3'

When Super Mario Brothers 3 was released in 1988, it was one of the biggest game launches of its time. The excitement was perpetuated by, of all things, a movie, The Wizard.

The game triggers good memories for me like those many sleepless Saturdays spent with my sister, our two cousins and friends working together to rescue the princess.

But it's not nostalgia that makes this such a great game. Sure, I could have gone with the original Super Mario Brothers — or even Super Mario Brothers 2. But it was the third in the series that truly changed the game — and allowed Mario to change from his overalls to a frog suit, hammer suit or Tanooki (raccoon) suit.

The game introduced a bevy of new skills, power-ups, and a bunch of cool minigames. Mario could run, jump and fly, float on clouds and slide down hills. The best part about the game: there were many different paths to the princess. You could warp or take alternate routes on the map.

There are a lot of good games on this list, but this is undoubtedly my favorite.

Honorable mention: Grand Theft Auto ... all of them