Some games don’t have to be the best games you’ve ever played, they don’t even have to be the prettiest. This is a selection of titles that have impacted some of the collaborators here at 9to5Gamers.

What would you add to this list?

Game: Kingdom Hearts

Release Date: September 17, 2002

Official Synopsis: The Kingdom Hearts story begins here! Meet faces both familiar and new as you become the hero of your very own tale! Fight alongside an all-star cast! Tap and swipe to execute mighty attacks! Equip character Medals featuring beloved Disney and Final Fantasy characters to call on their strength in battle! Customize your equipment and find new strategies to overcome fierce enemies!

Collaborator: Steven W.

Platform: PlayStation 2

Quote:As crazy as the later games got, the first game was decently grounded. It had a great cast of characters mixing the magic of Disney and the greatness of Final Fantasy. The music was wonderful and the story was moving. I still tear up a little every time I hear Simple and Clean.”

Check out articles by Steven W. here.

Game: Persona 4 Golden

Release Date: June 14, 2012

Official Synopsis: Inaba—a quiet town in rural Japan sets the scene for budding adolescence in Persona 4 Golden. A coming of age story that sets the protagonist and his friends on a journey kickstarted by a chain of serial murders. Explore meeting kindred spirits, feelings of belonging, and even confronting the darker sides of one’s self.

Collaborator: Jack C.

Platform: PS Vita

Quote: When it comes to talking about games that are special to me, at the top of that list, without a doubt, is Persona 4 Golden. Persona 4 Golden has a special place in my heart when it comes to gaming for several reasons. Firstly, I have hundreds of fond memories of the just larger-than-life yet relatable cast in that game. Furthermore, the overall music to this day is still some of my favorite I have ever heard in any game period. From amazing visuals to an outstanding soundtrack and gameplay loop. Everything about Persona 4 Golden I adore.

However, what makes Persona 4 Golden special to me is the overall story that is brought into the game, which for over one hundred hours, is just great all the way through. Overall, is Persona 4 Golden Perfect? Not even close. However, to me, the game just holds such a special place in my heart. From the music to the amazing cast, the great story, and introducing me to the PS Vita. Even Persona 4 Golden got me into one of my favorite series in gaming… the Persona series. This game to me is just special for so many reasons and that’s why I love it so much.

Check out articles by Jack C. here.

Game: Elden Ring

Release Date: February 25, 2022

Official Synopsis: Rise, Tarnished, and be guided by grace to brandish the power of the Elden Ring and become an Elden Lord in the Lands Between.

Collaborator: Josh

Platform: PC (Windows)

Quote: Imagine walking into a world so expansive and open that it didn’t tell you what to do, what the true lore of the realm was other than you are a tarnished person looking to help rise up against demi-gods. Imagine traversing this world and not knowing if every time you entered a cave or turned a corner if you were going to meet your maker. Imagine exploring various settlements, and churches, and trying to piece together what happened and how you could help overthrow that imbalance.

Elden Ring is so unique, challenging, and yet doesn’t have to be. The game is gorgeous and open, truly a free open work game where you can explore the lore at your own pace, and nothing forces you to speed through it. The game allows you the freedom to take on quests or bosses when you want and ultimately how you want. Souls games always seemed so hard and pointless. Elden ring broke the mold and it was a game that so many of my friends played at the same time, challenged each other, and constantly pushed through. We would spawn in each other’s games and die immediately only to try different tactics over and over until we got it right, or wrong. We would then switch roles and help the next person all while never losing interest in the game. So much so that getting through the battles and the ending was riveting and an experience I am not sure any game has replicated to date, or will for years to come.

Elden Ring is such a great game and to me the time spent with friends exploring, uncovering lore, and pushing ourselves to play a game like no other in ways we didn’t realize we could, just made the experience of that game special. I hope another game could bring a similar feeling into my life.

Game: Destiny

Release Date: September 9, 2014

Official Synopsis: In Destiny, you are a Guardian of the last city on Earth, able to wield incredible power. Explore the ancient ruins of our solar system, from the red dunes of Mars to the lush jungles of Venus. Defeat Earth’s enemies. Reclaim all that we have lost. Become legend.

Collaborator: Jack C.

Platform: PlayStation 3

Quote: I’ve been playing games for most of my life: whether it was playing Tomb Raider with my Mum or my first introduction to Pokémon with Diamond and Pearl. However, the game series I hold the most fondness for and the one that has affected my life the most is undoubtedly Destiny.

Destiny has been part of my life since the beginning, dating back to the Beta in 2014. That means that I’ve been playing Destiny (and its sequel Destiny 2) for basically a 1/3rd of my entire life. It’s a series that has always been there for me to come back to, to sink hundreds and hundreds of hours into, to play with some of the best shooting mechanics I’ve ever felt in a video game. What made Destiny my favorite game ever, however, was the connections I formed around it. It helped strengthen the friendship with someone who has become my best friend in real life, and from playing online I have met a whole clan worth of people who I consider my friends. People I can rely on to help me out with a Raid or a Dungeon, to suffer with me through PvP, or even to just talk about whatever – Destiny helped create that connection for me in a way that no other game really could.

Destiny isn’t perfect. There is almost always some big balance issue (as there is with most live-service games), the priorities of the game relating to PvP and PvE content have always felt a little skewed, the game is heading down a weird path with monetization and honestly, I cannot recommend this game to many people. It’s a hard sell for people not already invested in the game and the community. For me, though? It’s a standout example that I don’t think I’ll ever put down. It scratches that itch that can’t be satiated from any other medium or any other game. Destiny has shaped my life in so many small ways – what games I like, who I play with regularly, and even what I want to do going into the future – and for that, I will always be grateful. I’ve put thousands of hours in Destiny at this point: what’s a couple thousand more?

Check out articles by Jack C. here.

Game: Red Dead Redemption

Release Date: May 18, 2010

Official Synopsis: When federal agents threaten his family, former outlaw John Marston is sent across the American frontier to help bring the rule of law. Experience intense gun battles, dramatic train robberies, bounty hunting, and duels during a time of violent change. Red Dead Redemption is an epic battle for survival in a beautiful open world as John Marston struggles to bury his blood-stained past, one man at a time

Collaborator: Tyler

Platform: Xbox 360

Quote: RDR in 2010, along with Bioshock a couple of years earlier, changed how I play games. Before that, I was mostly into shooters and sports games. RDR was the first open-world game I ever finished, and I fell in love with it. Because of RDR, I’ve broadened my gaming horizons and experienced so many other types of games that I likely never would have if I had never played it.

Check out articles by Tyler here.

Game: Soul Calibur VI

Release Date: October 19, 2018

Official Synopsis:

Sharpen your swords, put on your armor, and get ready to fight. SoulCalibur, the game that defined weapon-based 3D fighting games is back! Two decades after its first iteration, SoulCalibur VI returns to its roots while bringing brand-new gameplay features to the fight. Travel through the signature 16th-century stages and experience the struggle for the two legendary swords using a complete roster of returning iconic SoulCalibur characters, along with some newcomers! SoulCalibur has never looked more dynamic or dramatic, intensified with eye-popping graphics powered by Unreal Engine 4.

Collaborator: Samuel J. (aka Cambosa)

Platform: PlayStation 4

Quote: Growing up, I wasn’t big into fighting games. I wouldn’t get into the genre until late 2017 with SFV, and while that game was my introduction to the Fighting Game Community, I wouldn’t really take my deep dive until Soul Calibur VI launched in 2018. SCVI was far from a masterpiece title when the game launched, and my list of grievances is pretty long, but at the same time the core gameplay is so fun that I’ve looked past those issues. But what really made this game special to me is the people I met through it. At my local FGC scene and in the larger Calibur community I’ve made many friends, many of whom I consider some of my closest. I went to my first FGC major for this game. I also got into tournament organization because of it, running my local SCVI bracket and stream every week, and even an online tournament series called Boominati Battles during the pandemic. In the end, SCVI ended up being a game that changed my life for the better and will always hold a special place in my heart for that. 

Check out articles by Cambosa here.

Game: Prototype

Release Date: June 9, 2009

Official Synopsis: You are the Prototype, Alex Mercer, a man without memory armed with amazing shape-shifting abilities, hunting your way to the heart of the conspiracy which created you; making those responsible pay.

Collaborator: Charles M.

Platform: PC (Windows)

Quote: Is Prototype the best game I’ve ever played? Far from it. But I will never forget this title because it was exactly what I needed at the time. In the summer of 2009, work was absolutely CRAZY! On the days off that, I could sporadically afford to take, I needed a disconnect, an escape from reality. Prototype ticked all the right boxes with its massively explorable open world, insane powers, and the ability to get what you needed from NPCs by “consuming” them.

The game allowed me to play carefully and stealthily or just blow everything to pieces and kill everyone. I still fondly remember the moments when I would “skyjack” a helicopter, which basically meant that my character would pull itself up, throw out the pilot, and man the chopper and its weapons.

Eventually, things got a bit repetitive but even that was OK. I needed that ease of not having to think too much. Consume enemy, take his abilities, wash and repeat. After all the hard work of that summer, I became the luckiest man ever when I got together with my girlfriend, who now happens to be my wife of 12 years.

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