I've been wanting to write about my favorite games for a while. I've played a lot of games, from the Atari 2600 and on, and I'm not picky when it comes to genre (minus sports games). That said, making an honest to goodness top 10 list is hard. I've said before and I'll say it again; some franchises just have an edge. Honestly, few games reach the high standard of excellence that the Zelda franchise has set. Mario is the same way, along with Metroid. So I was thinking that for my list, I'd limit it to one entry per franchise. On top of that, I thought it'd be a good idea to limit this list to console games. The entities that are console, handheld, downloadable, and PC gaming evolved in such different ways, it's amazing that we've finally arrived to a point that they can exist together at all. Lastly, let me just remind everyone that this isn't supposed to be some be all, end all list. I'm not trying to make some top 10 most influential games of all time (that would be too hard), I'm just making a list of my to 10 favorite videogames of all time, based solely on my personal opinion.
Alright then, let's get to it.
Let's get this out of the way...yes, I know that Halo is overrated, and yes, I know that it's fanbase is full of brodudeskis that only play mature games for mature gamers such as themselves, but that doesn't change the fact that Halo is a damned fine first person shooter.
Halo for me is one of those dirty little secrets. I know a lot of SERIOUS GAEMERS don't take Halo seriously because it didn't actually do anything new or interesting. That may be, but I'll be darned if it doesn't combine all of those old, uninteresting things into some sort of near perfect shooting experience.
First thing to note is that Halo popularized and perfected the twin stick FPS control scheme. Yes, other games did it before it did. However, none of those games went on to be as successful as Halo. It also popularized regenerating health and a two weapon limit...again, it wasn't the first that did it, but it never claimed that it was; fans did that after the fact. Halo never presented itself as being anything but a sci-fi military shooter, and I don't fault it for that. It had cool sci-fi guns, cool sci-fi vehicles, and cool sci-fi aliens; that's all I wanted out of it, and it delivered on my expectations...and then some.
The story may have been a cliche last Spartan/Sci fi/military adventure amalgam, but that didn't mean it had nothing new to offer. The first time I set the Master Chief's feet on the halo, and looked up to see it in all of its splendor, I couldn't help but feel awestruck. For a fleeting moment, I actually imagined how awesome it would be to explore this structure, as if it were really connected to the spot I was standing on and not just a ridiculously awesome skybox. One of the story elements that is easily overlooked now (and even despised at this point) involving the *SPOILER ALERT* Flood was a total shocker at the time. Until the moment they were revealed, it was nothing but awesome fights with the Predator-like Elites and their little Grunt and Jackal minions (with the occasional Hunter pair thrown in for good measure), and there was no reason to assume this was going to change...nor was there necessarily any desire for it.
The AI was (and is still) impressive, and fighting the Elites while they did everything from dodging for cover when a grenade got too close to charging forward when your shields were down was something you just didn't see in most FPS games at the time...other games were more like IMMA SHOOT AT YOU UNTIL YOU DIE OR YOU SHOOT ME DEAD. Of course, if that's your thing then the Flood certainly added that play mechanic after their introduction. The actual reveal of the Flood was pretty awesome too, and it was awesome seeing the relatively mindless Flood fighting the smarty Covenant. 3 way battles in an FPS, a console FPS no less...unheard of at the time.
And if the single player wasn't your bag, there was an awesomely balanced multiplayer for anyone willing to give it a chance. Sure the pistol was a bit on the strong side, but with some of the best symmetrical maps this side of Facing Worlds or 2Fort, that hardly mattered. Sprinkle in some fantastic vehicle gameplay, and you have a recipe for one of the most fun competitive multiplayer experiences you could ever hope to...experience. CTF on Blood Gulch anyone?
9. Super Mario RPG
Ironic that my favorite Square developed RPG isn't a Final Fantasy, let alone a Square franchise. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, or simply Mario RPG, is arguably the most fun you'll ever have with an RPG. Of course, the arguments that could ensue following that statement would involve other Mario RPGs (Paper Mario, Mario and Luigi), so regardless, the most fun you could ever have with an RPG WILL involve Mario in some form. The main reason Mario RPG is so fun involves the timing mechanic involved with the main battle system. Most JRPGs rely completely on turn based gameplay, and very little else. Mario RPG, on the other hand, threw a wrench into that clockwork, and encouraged the player to press the attack button at precisely the right moment after that attack initiated to gain extra damage. This also applies to defense, so time that button perfect when an enemy attacks, and you'll take significantly less damage. Considering that the timing is different per character/enemy, and you can see why the battle system is considered more engaging than other typical JRPGs.
I hate random battles, so it's a good thing that Mario RPG doesn't have them. Instead, enemies appear on screen and will attack you if you venture too close. You can jump over them if you're quick enough, or avoid them outright if you're too chicken. This allows more skilled players (ones that are good at timed hits) to simply avoid tedious grinding, since they can rely on their own reaction time instead of a simple numbers game. Awesome, I say.
It's important to note that while the story is interesting and well paced, it never takes itself too seriously. After all, it is Mario RPG, not Final Fantasy 7. Jokes are heavily interwoven throughout the narrative, and there are plenty of inside jokes on top of that for the Nintendo/Square faithful.
Mario RPG is awesome. The battle system is awesome. The story is funny (and awesome). The characters are awesome. The music is awesome. Mario RPG is awesome.
8. Phantasy Star Online
I was tempted to put Phatasy Star IV on this list...but then I decided against it in favor of its modern brother, Phantasy Star Online. PSO is more or less a modern day Gauntlet, with a bit of Diablo thrown in for good measure. 4 players crawl through a dungeon killing monsters, looking for treasure, and repeat. It's crazy fun, addictive, and relaxing. Just 4 friends sitting around, killing countless monsters in a variety of randomly generated dungeons, hoping for a rare monster or rare drop, or just hoping to make it to the boss and gain lots of experience. It's an addictive formula, and was the number 1 reason to own a Dreamcast that wasn't called Soul Calibur. Add to this a fairly interesting story, some great expansions, cool contests, and PSO becomes even more appealing. It's a pretty simple, strait forward game, and that's why I like it. Oh, and holy crap the music is great. If I were to make a top ten videogame music list...PSO would be in the top 3, that's for sure.
7. Mass Effect
Mass Effect. It's awesome, and everyone should play it. It's sequel is even more awesome. Why is it then that Mass Effect is at #7 and Mass Effect 2 isn't? Simple; Mass Effect introduced me to its [inter]stellar universe and colorful array of characters, species, and locales. While Mass Effect 2 improves upon the original's formula in just about every way, it doesn't have that "Holy cow, this is crazy interesting" hook that the original did...at least not to newcomers. Sure, importing your save from the original is interesting to series veterans...but to people who didn't play the original who are stupid enough to start with the 2nd...they aren't going to be blown away the same way they would have had they started with the first. It'd be like starting [insert trilogy here] at the second movie; sure, it may be entertaining, but it's going to be confusing. tl;dr Start with the first or it's gonna be overwhelming.
ME manages to create a new, interesting genre melding...that of the third person shooter, RPG, visual novel, and dating sim genres...or TPSRPGVNDS for short. Allow me to explain. The player shoots enemies in third person, he gains experience that goes towards leveling up and enhancing his (or her) stats and abilities, then you talk about stuff in an engrossing choose-your-own-adventure style dialogue tree system that is intensely interesting, and then whilst doing all of that you have the option to court a fellow team member. You get to decide whether Shepard is an evil prick or a kindly saint, who to kill and who to save, who to have sexy time with and who to friend zone. You also get to make important story decisions that carry over into the sequel (and the sequel after that), so choose carefully.
To sum up Mass Effect in one sentence; Mass Effect is like playing an epic sci-fi trilogy where you get to influence the beginning, middle, and end in significant ways. Yeah, I know there's more to it than that...but I think that's the most universally appealing thing about it. Besides, if you say you're playing it for it's "engrossing gunplay" or "great cover system," or even its "awesome dialogue system," you're kind of missing the point.
6. Sonic 3 and Knuckles
16 bit era Sonic the Hedgehog was awesome. His games had awesome colorful graphics, they were easy to beat for a kid, while still managing to be challenging enough to interest 'hardcore' folks (Sonic speed runs are fun to watch), and had some truly classic music. To me, Sonic 3 and Knuckles sums up why 16 bit era Sonic was awesome. Lock-on technology aside, Sonic 3 and Knuckles managed to impress on nearly every level (and by every level, I mean every individual element in the game...but I guess it works on a literal...level...as well).
S3&K had impressive music for the Genesis sound chip, not to mention being very catchy and hummable. It also had no slow down to speak of (which is important in a game all about speed), multiple animated background layers, 14 emeralds to collect in super cool 3D bonus levels, tons of enemy types unique to each zone, fun boss fights at the end of each act (that's right, act, not zone), 3 playable characters (Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles) each with unique abilities and end bosses, and lastly a save system.
Most of my friends skipped over Sonic and Knuckles...something I don't particularly blame them for. On its own, S&K is simply a fun, albeit short Sonic game with 2 playable characters, a couple of particularly hard acts, a sweet end boss, and no save system. Once locked onto Sonic 3 though, it becomes some sort of mega game that no other 2D platformer before or sense has managed to come close to in terms of variety (even Mario). It's just a shame that most people overlooked it as some sort of gimmick...which it was, I admit...but it was a gimmick that actually lived up to the hype, and delivered on every feature it promised. If you claim to be a Sonic fan, but haven't played through Sonic 3 and Knuckles...do yourself a favor and play it from beginning to end in one sitting. I promise you will not come away disappointed.
2 Nintendo related SNES JRPGs [Super Mario RPG was the other] on one top 10 list! What's my problem?
My problem is, that of all the JRPGs that are hailed as classics, Earthbound is never taken seriously amongst the Square faithful. They look at it as some sort of quirky Dragon Quest ripoff that for some reason beyond their comprehension has a small but very devoted group of fans dedicated to spreading the gospel that is Mother 2. Well JRPG brethren, gather 'round, and let me tell you why Earthbound is JRPG king.
While the argument that Earthbound is nothing but a quirky Dragon Quest ripoff isn't entirely inaccurate, it is a gross oversimplification. At first glance, it seems that the whole "no characters on the screen except the enemy during fights" thing would be the only nail required to close this coffin...but it takes a lot more than that to bury Earthbound (although it does bury Earthbound's predecessor, Mother). Visual resemblances aside, the battle system is considerably different than Dragon Quest, or anything else for that matter. I very rarely hear people talk about how cool the health dials were, and I can only assume that's because many people didn't even notice them. Your HP is represented by a number dial, similar to an old fuel gauge in a car. When you take damage, your HP dial starts rolling down. This isn't a purely visual element; even if you were hit with an attack that did 9999 damage and you only had 300 HP, as long as your guts were high enough, you could heal yourself before your dial hit 0 (or 1 if your GUTS stat was high and you got lucky). Once you realized the dial wasn't just a visual representation of your characters' HP, but an honest to goodness gameplay mechanic, the otherwise tough, slow moving battles suddenly became easier, and much much much quicker. It keeps the battles fresh and exciting, and manages to make a simple numbers game much more interesting.
A couple of other things I should mention that set Earthbound apart...there are no random battles (just like Mario RPG), and grinding is made quicker and easier. How, you may ask? By engaging a low level opponent (low level in comparison to your party), you will automatically win the fight. No quick hits of the action button; simply walk into the enemy, watch the screen react like you were about to start a fight, and BAM you already won the match and got any minimal experience and items associated with the low level opponent. If only more JRPGs did this, the world would be a better place.
Another reason why Earthbound deserves to be on this list doesn't involve graphics, story, or battle system (even though all those things are interesting), but its music. JRPGs in particular are known for their epic tunes, and I'm not going to argue that Final Fantasy as a franchise doesn't have some of the best music in the industry, but Earthbound does something with its music that very few developers are willing to do; be different. Actually, that pretty much applies to Earthbound as a whole...everything about it is different than the norm. The music always manages to be interesting, shifting its style throughout the entire game. If you had to classify the music as a single genre, you wouldn't get anywhere; it's simply drawing from too many influences. One minute you'd think "Oh, there's some techno," and the next thing you know and it's switched to rockabilly...then you get something that sounds like the Beatles...and then there's some heavy metal. You would think that all these different influences would result in some sort of random mishmash of nonsense, but instead you get music that fits the moment. The game doesn't worry about confusing the player...that's pretty obvious from the beginning, and honestly that's half the point...but there's something incredibly charming, even artistic, in its presentation. If any JRPG could truly be called surrealistic, Earthbound (or Mother as a franchise) would be the ultimate example. One minute you're at a library just looking for a map, the next you're fighting a wooden robot piloted by a knife-wielding thug, and later you're riding a lake monster, and at one point you're trapped in a dream world where everything is bizarre and backward. All the while, the music fits the moment, and instead of being utterly confused, the player feels like it all fits together and makes sense somehow. I really could go on and on about how awesome the music is in Earthbound, but I'll leave it at that.
In fact, I'll leave it all at that. I don't want to ruin the ride for anyone willing to give it a go. It's an amazing experience, and it is unlike anything you might hope to experience from something else...like Final Fantasy.
4. Perfect Dark
Here it is. The [spiritual sequel to the] granddaddy of all console FPSs. Perfect Dark improves upon Goldeneye's formula in literally every way. It has better guns, better level design, better AI, better graphics (thanks in part to the require expansion pack), better story (duh, Goldeneye wasn't exactly remembered as a crowning gem in the overall Bond mythos), and even *gasp* better music...of course, I would expect nothing less from Rare in that particular department. All this, and the multiplayer mode adds bots, BOTS, in a console FPS. 10 years later and that's still a 'Rare'ity.
Alright, first the guns. There are a total of 35 weapons, each with a secondary fire mode. That's a total of 70 different ways to kill someone. That's a LOT of ways to kill someone. But what's that I hear, you still want your Goldeneye weapons? That's cool, they're there too. Really, you can't argue that Goldeneye has better weapons than Perfect Dark...you just can't...don't even try.
Next, better level design. Goldeneye had some great moments within the single player campaign, one of the greatest being in the first level (WWWWOOOOOOOOOOO BUNGEE CORD), but overall the levels were a bit disjointed and the mission objectives a little vague. Perfect Dark changes this up by having a cool little hub world, and allows the player to just fart around between missions, while also adding a feeling of stability, of continuity; a real world. The overall mission objectives are also less vague, but still challenging. Admittedly, I still miss some of the multiplayer levels from Goldeneye (mostly Bunker), but the 3 other most popular maps are still there (Complex, Facility [renamed Felicity], and Temple), and the new maps are all really fun (hooray for Warehouse).
The AI in the original Goldeneye was...stupid. They just kind of stood there and got shot. In Perfect Dark it's a whole different story. Namely, they run around randomly a lot more. Although that hardly sounds like an improvement, Perfect Dark increases the number of visible enemies on screen by quite a bit in comparison to Goldeneye. So, not only are there like 3 people randomly running and shooting, there's another 3 just standing and shooting, and another 3 just running. This makes things pretty confusing, and on harder difficulties, the ones that are shooting never miss. That's quite a bit more challenging than Goldeneye ever was, that's for sure.
Those other things are less opinion and simply a matter of course. Perfect Dark has better graphics than Goldeneye. It also came out years after Goldeneye and requires an expansion pack. Goldeneye has a better story than Goldeneye. Well, although that's a matter of opinion, Perfect Dark wasn't based on a movie; we didn't know what was going to happen next. That makes things considerably more interesting than playing a game based on a movie that you've seen. And Perfect Dark has better music...this is purely based on opinion, but the Bond theme can only be remixed so many different ways before you get tired of it. Perfect Dark is 100% original music by Rare maestro Grant Kirkhope. Although I enjoy his music in Banjo-Kazooie the most, Perfect Dark is a nice blend of cheesy sci-fi effects, trance, and action movie beats. Fitting stuff overall, and catchy too.
Let me leave you with one thing. Anyone who says they like Goldeneye better than Perfect Dark is either lying, hasn't played Perfect Dark, or stupid.
3. Super Mario 64
Mario. He's Super. So is his brother...what was his name again? Mr. Green? Whatever, this is Super Mario 64, not Super Mario Bros 64. Let's get this out of the way: ALL OF THE MAIN SERIES MARIO GAMES ARE STELLAR. THEY ARE ALL VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY GOOD, AND VERY FEW GAMES EVEN COME CLOSE TO REACHING THEIR HIGH LEVEL OF QUALITY, LENGTH, AND OVERALL CRAFTSMANSHIP THAT MARIO DOES. Alright, with that out of the way, let me argue my point why Mario 64 deserves this spot more than the others.
Simply put, Mario 64 blew my mind. As a kid, I had fun playing Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World, and Yoshi's Island. However, Yoshi's Island was the only Mario game until 64 that even came close to making me think or care about the Mario universe in any real way. Of course, Mario RPG did too, but that was an RPG, it was supposed to. When Mario 64 came out, I was simply blown away. The story wasn't anything super in depth (MARIO COME EAT SOME CAKE I MADE, OH NO BOWSER HELP!) but the transition to 3D made everything real to me. If only I could run over that hill outside the castle, I could have seen more of Mushroom Kingdom! Of course, I knew there wasn't anything out there, but it's a lot easier to imagine that sort of thing compared to the backgrounds in 2D Marios.
All that aside, Mario 64 is still regarded as one of the most playable, fun, and overall challenging (in a good way) 3D games ever made. Considering it was the first free roaming 3D platformer ever made, this is amazing. Developers worldwide STILL can't figure out how to position a virtual camera in a 3D environment. Sure, Mario 64 isn't perfect in that regard, but it's darn near close (and every 3D Mario since HAS perfected it).
The game was also so well paced. You had to collect stars in order to advance, but you had a certain amount of freedom in the order you wanted to collect them, and also which level to collect them from. Very few games at the time, 3D or otherwise, allowed this amount of freedom (except for other Nintendo games, like Zelda or Metroid). As far as replayability goes, it helps immensely that the player can kind of skip around and not have to play the game EXACTLY the same way every time they play it.
And the music. As with every other Mario game ever made, it's absolutely classic. It's quite a bit more varied than Mario games in the past, experimenting with different instruments and genres across all of the themed levels, of which there are many. 120 stars to collect across 24 levels. That's a lot of gameplay, and a lot of different music.
Super Mario 64 stands as one of the best examples of how far games have come in such a short time. It also stands as one of the best examples on how to keep a franchise relevant. Actually, Mario 64 stands as a lot of things. That's why it deserves to be in my (or anyone's) top 10.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Alrighty. Like the last game on the list, the Zelda franchise as a whole is remarkable. Every entry has something extremely unique, while retaining the same basic gameplay mechanics that made the first Zelda so good (get item, find dungeon, explore dungeon, get item, beat boss, repeat). While the first game was unique simply in that it introduced that addictive formula, the sequels (even if number 2 changed it from an overhead perspective to a sidescrolling mess) all introduced some sort of innovative gameplay element. Link to the Past had a "Dark World" that the player could switch to at any time (eventually) that could be altered by changing things in the default Light World (or vice verca). Link's Awakening (and the other GB/GBC Zeldas) changed the gameplay drastically by requiring the player to only hold 2 items at once (counting sword and shield). Ocarina of Time, not entirely unlike Link to the Past, allowed the player to alter different plains of reality as well, only this time via time travel.
Of course, Zelda has continued this trend; Majora's Mask introduces a focus on magical masks that transform Link into other species (as well as a Groundhog's Day style time travel element), Wind Waker has Link in control of the power of wind (which is important since ALL OF HYRULE IS UNDERWATER AND NOW ONLY A FEW ISLANDS REMAIN AND LINK HAS TO TRAVEL BY SAILBOAT) and Twilight Princess returns to the idea of Light and Dark worlds...also Link can transform into a wolf for some reason. Even the handheld games kept this trend of changing things drastically (Oracle of Ages involved time travel, Oracle of Seasons involved weather manipulation, and Minish Cap was all about shrinking down to the size of a bug). The DS Zeldas use the touch screen (and have unique puzzles related to it)...also there is a magical choo-choo train in one of them.
All said, there's a lot of great Zelda games to choose from; all unique for their own reasons. However, the reason I chose OoT instead of Link to the Past (a game I constantly defend against 'new-age' Zelda fanboys) or any of the other stellar Zelda games is simple...and a little bit predictable given my previous entry. OoT introduced gamers to an amazingly well designed 3D world, and unlike Mario 64 where you're restricted to Peach's castle (detached painting worlds aside), OoT had players exploring an absolutely massive world. The world was consistent, a fact that not only made the player feel more engrossed in a game than they had probably ever felt up until that point, but also was an intentional design decision for gameplay. How else are the players supposed to have a time traveling adventure in which things in the future are affected by things you did in the past? If it was a disjointed mess, there's no way a player would know what to do and where to start.
Besides introducing an engrossing 3D world with a clever time travel twist, OoT followed the Zelda formula to the letter. The difference is in its pacing; OoT was the first Zelda to include a substantial narrative. Yeah, there were people that would talk to you in past Zelda's, and sure they helped drive the plot or add depth, but OoT in comparison had multiple times more text, and that's just the text required for progressing the narrative. That is to say, the player is required to interact with individuals in OoT in order to advance in the major story, not just engage in fetch quests (not that those are missing, though). This is a pretty huge difference from older Zeldas, which had maybe a paragraph or three's worth of text for the required story sequences. To sum up, the added emphasis on narrative created a much more engrossing experience for players, and helped cement Ocarina of Time in my top 10.
1. Super Metroid
Mario, Zelda, and now Metroid. Let me mention that all of the Metroids are at least good. Unlike Mario and Zelda, the first couple of Metroids haven't exactly aged well. Metroid for the NES is virtually unplayable without a map (since there isn't a built in map system), and has no saving system on top of that. Metroid 2 is pretty good, but is actually a little too open ended for its own good (mainly because, again, there isn't a built in map). Let me skip ahead to say that the post Super Metroid Metroids are all fantastic. Metroid Prime, Metroid Fusion, and Metroid Zero Mission (a remake of the NES original) are all top notch games...even Metroid Prime Pinball is awesome. But none of them are as well paced, as xenophobic, or as engrossing as Super Metroid.
For me, Super Metroid is the perfect game. It tells a story without text (minus the opening bit), and just drops the player in the middle of a wonderfully realized alien planet left to their own devices. Super Metroid took the original formulas presented in the first 2 games and perfected them. The player must explore their surroundings in any order they wish, and if they hit a dead end they have a map to keep track of places they have and haven't been. If a dead end is reached, the player will just choose a different path to take on their way back, and somewhere in all that exploring the player will discover new technology for Samus; technology that will help them get past those dead ends. It's a good formula, with most of the major technology guarded by epic boss fights.
The graphics in Super Metroid are some of the best on the SNES (in all of 2D gaming history, even), with superb animations, backgrounds, and design. Each area of the game is unique, and really makes the world feel alive. The music compliments the various areas; haunting yet catchy tunes that make the player feel like they're playing some fantastic sci-fi movie.
Gameplay wise, everything feels right; nice responsive controls and lots of different things to do. Shoot, jump, roll into a ball, drop bombs, change between regular shots and missiles, wall jump, run fast, jump high, TONS OF STUFF and it all feels right. Plus, part of the game is underwater and the gameplay reflects that with lower gravity. Pretty sweet stuff.
Going back to the story; like I said, there isn't any text throughout the game after the opening sequence. All the opening sequence establishes is that Samus killed all the Metroids except one that hatched at the end of Metroid 2 and though Samus was its mommy. Being the bounty hunter that she is, Samus takes the Metroid hatchling to some scientists for what I assume is a ton of space cash. Then some space pirates start some crap and she has to take care of it. BOOM you're on the scientist space station and all Hell has broken loose. The scientists are all dead and the space pirates have taken the baby Metroid. BOOM there's a crazy self destruct sequence and the player has to get out of the space station before it explodes. BOOM you're off the space station and land on Zebes and it's time to explore. Skip forward to the end of the game when you're fighting Mother Brain. You're forced to loose, when who else but BABY METROID saves the day, sacrificing himself/herself/itself to save Samus. Now I assume Samus feels pretty guilty for giving the Metroid to the science team in the first place and for getting the little guy who gave up his live to save hers killed. Of course, this is told via gameplay with zero text and left up to the player's imagination to fill in those emotional gaps. Other players might have simply thought "lucky break for me...stupid space jellyfish."
All in all, Super Metroid is brilliant and deserves its spot at number 1. If you haven't played it, then do yourself a favor and DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO PLAY THROUGH THIS MASTERPIECE; you won't regret it.
I already know what many of you are thinking; "WHAT, NO FINAL FANTASY, THIS GUY IS SUCH A HUGE POSER HE KNOWS NOTHING OF HIGH CLASS GAMING." Listen, I hear ya. I like Final Fantasy (especially the music). However, every single one of them is severely flawed in one way or another, and I simply couldn't find it in me to put any of them in my top 10 list. Even my favorite one (FF9) fell apart at the end. Add to this a strong personal opinion that random battles are ANNOYING and STUPID, and maybe you'll see why I didn't bother with the Final Fantasy franchise. Also, let me remind everyone out there that may have forgotten; this is a console list. There's a reason why Half Life and Pokemon and Braid aren't on here. Don't get your panties in a bunch.
Figured I'd let you guys know why a certain tactical espionage action game isn't on the list...because as much as I like the series...I have a hard time putting up something in my top 10 that is like 10% game, and 90% cinematics...sooo, yeah, sorry Metal Gear fans. Believe me, I didn't want to leave it out...I mean, I own every entry in the series on top of all the super fancy super editions that get released in the states. I'm a fan, a super fan even...but I really just don't consider it much of a game (in the same way that I don't consider Indigo Prophecy or Heavy Rain games).
UPDATE 2 (04/29/11):
Now that Metroid: Other M, I figured I HAD to come back and say that it's pretty bad and ruins everything I loved about Metroid as a franchise (and accordingly, ruins Samus as a character). By the same token, it represents everything I HATE about mainstream Japanese pop-culture storytelling tropes, minus the pedophilia. Thanks Team Ninja for setting my favorite franchise back 20 years!