Top 100 Games of All-Time: #10

Final Fantasy 7 Remake

Release Date: April 10, 2020

Platform Played On: PS4

2018 Placement: N/A

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What It Is:

Of all the games that people have clamored for a remake, Final Fantasy 7 is probably the one that has gotten the most (or at least the loudest) support. The game itself is stuck in early polygon-era models, but since it captured the hearts of many and also had several later spinoffs (and a movie sequel) with better graphics there was a lot of hoping for an HD upgrade to the story.

People finally got their wish in 2020 as the Final Fantasy 7 Remake finally came out. It had the updated graphics everyone asked for, along with an all-new action RPG system that used elements of the original game. Because the project was so big, Remake only told the story of Midgar, the opening city of the game. For comparison’s sake, this 40 hour game was about 4 hours of the original game and was only a small portion of the first disc. The city of Midgar is brought to life even more than before with side characters being expanded upon and entire new areas and enemies to fight, along with old enemies being refashioned into bosses and characters that don’t show up until later in the game making much earlier appearances (here’s looking at you, Sephiroth).

But it wasn’t just the original game’s story with a shiny coat of paint and a different battle system. As the game progresses, things get weirder and start deviating from the original story. And before you know it, you release you aren’t just playing a remake: you’re playing an entirely new game. And it’s awesome.

Why It’s Important To Me:

When I sat down and started playing FF7 Remake, I knew I liked FF7 a lot. But I didn’t realize how much these characters and this game had influenced me until my emotions started running rampant as I played through this. I tore through this game as the COVID pandemic was starting its tear through everyone’s lives, and falling back into the comfortable, updated nostalgia of this game was just perfect timing.

And then the story beats went in an entirely different direction than I was expecting. It blew me away to the point that I ended up loving this game even more than the original. It does something with storytelling that can’t be replicated in any other medium as far as I’m concerned. It took something familiar, something beloved, something that people had been clamoring for, and built upon it and gave something nobody asked for. It was amazing. I’d never played anything like it and I haven’t played anything like it since.

My Strongest Memory:

To stay (heavy) spoiler-free: the set up of the Air Buster showdown. In the original game, the Air Buster is simply the second boss. It has a mechanic that you have to hit it from behind to do more damage but it’s otherwise fairly unremarkable. But the game takes your expectation and turns a pretty standard boss into an awesome setpiece. There’s so much build-up – fans of the game know what’s coming but the game ratchets up tension as you basically see it be built to attack you as you progress through the chapter. If you’re smart, you can disable some of its parts to make the eventual fight easier. And then the fight itself is just balls-to-the-wall action fun. You couldn’t ask for a better execution.

And then, of course, the remixed music. They took the original legendary soundtrack and just made it better in every way. The battle theme gets so many different variations: from the Airbuster version to a gym version. There’s even new songs for new bosses that kick ass. And there’s a remix of one of my favorite video games songs of all time, Crazy Motorcycle, that nearly tops off the game as it’s played towards the end of the Midgar section in the original game. I was looking forward to hearing the remix the entire time I played and man, finally getting to hear it did not disappoint.

Why It’s #10:

This is the last game on this list that wasn’t on the 2018 list. When I originally made the list in 2021, I was a little worried that recency bias was making me overvalue FF7 Remake. But the stupid smile I got while thinking about this game and listening to the music again as I wrote this entry just washed away any doubts. This is a fantastic game, and while it’s hard to replicate 20+ years of nostalgia wrapped into a surprisingly perfect package, if it does apply to you this game will hit your feelings hard and I definitely think it’s worthy of being in the top 10.

Top 100 Games: Honorable Mentions

This entry is a bit of a bonus edition, as I wanted to highlight 5 games that have released since I started posting the top 100 list back in 2021 that would likely have a place on the list. Since it’s unlikely I’ll do a list like this in its entirety again (at least any time soon) and it’s been a year and a half of MORE GAMES for me, I wanted to specifically talk about a few games in quick succession before the top 10. These are not in any particular order.

So here we go!

HM #1

Persona 5 Strikers

Release Date: February 23, 2021

Platform Played On: PS4

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What It Is:

A full-on sequel to Persona 5, but instead of another 90-hour JRPG, it’s a 40-50 hour musou-infused ARPG. The story is a continuation of the original game, picking up four months later as Joker returns for summer vacation to hang out with the Phantom Thieves again. They end up having to re-enter the Metaverse as they go on a road trip that’s part vacation, part saving the world. Koei Tecmo takes their patented musou gameplay and makes it uniquely Persona because you have to balance enemy weaknesses with your party’s attacks. The bosses end up being more strategy than just hack-and-slash and it turns into one of the best ARPGs I’ve ever played.

Why It Would Make The Top 100:

I love Persona 5 and this game just took the energy from the first game and kept it going. The story is engaging, all the main cast return and it just turns into a bonus round of getting to see some of my favorite characters in their element and interact with each other. The first game has a lot of great interactions, but the full cast is drip-fed throughout the whole game so you don’t get to see them all just hang out with each other much. Strikers is wonderful because you start the game with everybody together; there’s no slow “getting the band back together” phase. It’s just 100% good times from the start and I wish more sequels did that.

Also the music kicks ass and rivals the original: just listen to Loving Wonderland, the first Jail music and Daredevil.

HM #2

Elden Ring

Release Date: February 25, 2022

Platform Played On: PS5

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What It Is:

If you’ve been living under a rock since 2022 started (and really, who could blame you), Elden Ring is From Software’s latest entry. Taking the Souls gameplay they perfected and expanding on it greatly, Elden Ring is a grand open world that contains the challenge many players have come to expect from From. It’s another dark fantasy entry with sorceries, miracles, and blood magic. The sheer amount of weapons, armor, spells, summons, etc. let you play the game pretty much any way you want to. Co-oping with friends has never been easier and while the game can be punishing, it also ends up being one of the most accessible games for new players to date.

Why It Would Make The Top 100:

I’m one trophy away from the Platinum on this game. It would be my first From Platinum, and all I need to do is beat the game one more time. I’ll do it eventually, but the fact that I went through and beat the game twice already just says something about how engaging this game is. I spent over 100 hours on a single character and tried many, many different playstyles. The world is super engaging and every time you think you’ve seen everything, you find a new cave/dungeon/something to explore. When I played it the first night, me and two friends pulled off what felt like a Wild West heist on a big cart being pulled by a giant troll and escorted by a large number of enemies. The wonder this game produced is one of the highlights of gaming for me. Go anywhere, kill anything.

HM #3

Final Fantasy XIV

Release Date: August 24, 2013

Platform Played On: PC

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What It Is:

The followup to Final Fantasy XI, the initial release of the MMO Final Fantasy XIV was dreadful. But in one of the greatest comeback stories in gaming, A Realm Reborn was born from the ashes of the initial attempt and over the course of a decade ended up dropping one of the strongest stories in video games. The game is an MMO-ass MMO in its gameplay, but the main story and its characters are done so well that even I, a noted not-fan of MMOs, managed to play through 500 hours of content and enjoyed myself immensely. There’s something to do for everyone – from hard tactical endgame content to designing your own house, from helping new players to RPing with friends, the FFXIV community is huge and anyone can have a good time with it.

Why It Would Make The Top 100:

I spent 6 months and 500+ hours playing FFXIV. I don’t think I’ve been enraptured by any other single game for as long a time. I love the trial and raid gameplay – dungeons are great too. Endwalker, the most recent expansion, concluded a decade-long arc and was one of the most moving stories I’ve ever experienced – it touched on nihilism and the meaning of an individual’s life. I laughed, I cried, I did other cliche things. Final Fantasy XIV happened to me at the exact moment in time it needed to. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the time to dedicate so much of my time to a single game ever again, but from July 2021 until December 2021, I was neck-deep in FFXIV and wouldn’t change a thing about it.

HM #4

TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge

Release Date: June 16, 2022

Platform Played On: PS5/Switch

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What It Is:

Developed by Tribute Games, TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge is an homage to the 80s television show as well as the classic beat ’em ups from the 80s and 90s. It sticks mostly to the beat ’em up staples, but modernizes the gameplay enough to not make it feel old and unnatural to play now. The animation is fantastic and the game is 16 episodes in length, making it long enough to be enjoyable but never overstaying its welcome. With 7 total characters to play as and pretty much every major character from the TV show showing up either as a boss or NPC/collectible, it’s a perfect Ninja Turtle nostalgia trip.

Why It Would Make The Top 100:

Considering both Manhattan Project and Turtles in Time made the original list, Shredder’s Revenge is a no-brainer. It has great music and perfect references. From backgrounds that reference older games to bosses having the same animations for certain attacks, it’s clearly a love letter to anyone who enjoyed those games in the past. And I’m one of those people. I’ve played it through twice already – once solo and once with a couple friends – and it’s still not old. It’s pure Ninja Turtle goodness in the year 2022 and honestly I can’t believe we got this game and it was executed so perfectly. Well done, I’m happy.

HM #5

Triangle Strategy

Release Date: March 4, 2022

Platform Played On: Switch

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What It Is:

The follow-up to Octopath Traveler (both in creative team and weird naming convention), Triangle Strategy is an SPRG with tactical battles and an interesting political story. While the battles play out similarly to games like Final Fantasy Tactics and such, the story plays out with Game of Thrones-esque webs of intrigue. Your characters have opinions, and while you can convince them to change their mind with the right information, when it comes down to important decisions the characters make them instead of you. It’s a neat mechanic that makes the story that plays out feel a little more personal on top of the strategic battles.

Why It Would Make The Top 100:

I’m always looking to find the high that the original Final Fantasy Tactics gave me with tactical battles, and Triangle Strategy is the closest it’s come. Each character has their own special skills and abilities, so choosing who you bring into each battle has weight. Balancing your typical mages and healers with other unique support type games makes the gameplay more engaging. One of my favorite characters to use was a trap master, and setting up traps that would send enemies flying was an endless source of entertainment. On top of all that, the actual story is fantastic and while the game ends up very text-heavy following all the factions, I was never bored and never lost interest.

Top 100 Games of All-Time: #28

Disco Elysium

Release Date: October 15, 2019

Platform Played On: PC

2018 Placement: Unranked

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What It Is:

Imagine a role-playing game where your main party members were the emotions inside your head. Instead of a full party of adventuring heroes, you’ve got a full party in your brain. And boy is it a rager. In Disco Elysium, you’re a detective who partied so hard he gave himself complete amnesia in the middle of solving a case. The decisions you make in this RPG influence what this cop becomes – you can be a hobo cop or a communist or a complete asshole, it’s all up to how you respond to conversations.

The game plays out a lot like a tabletop RPG where there is constant background dice rolls based on the stats/emotions you’ve invested in. If you pass a check, you’ll hear a voice or get some sort of success. If you fail a check, 80% of the time the game won’t even tell you there was a check to pass. There’s also barely any combat in the game, and combat scenarios don’t play out as actual action mechanics – they go by the same rolls as everything else. It’s very much a reading and thinking game that has amazing story and lore that grips you from the beginning.

Why It’s Important To Me:

I wrote an entire review on why I enjoyed Disco Elysium so much, and I still think it’s one of my best pieces of game writing so you should probably just read that instead of me trying to repeat myself. It’s very good, I love it very much.

My Strongest Memory:

I talk about my favorite memory in my review – a very non-descript side case where you talk a spouse through their partner’s accidental death. It was poignant and emotional in all the right ways.

But the other highlight for me was towards the conclusion of the main case. There is a climax at the end of one of the days where you end up in a standoff between several people that are all armed. And it’s a climax in the true sense of the word – everything you’ve accomplished since the beginning of the game weighs in on how the interaction goes. It can go well or it can go poorly. And because it’s a culmination of decisions and actions (or inaction) you’ve taken throughout the game, it’s not a “save scum and restart” kind of moment if things go sideways. Yes you might be able to redo and get a lucky roll, but some of the rolls will fail no matter what if your stats/emotions haven’t been lifted high enough. It adds tension and meaning to a climactic confrontation that is a lot of times missing in other video games and plays out so well.

Why It’s #28:

Another game that I worried had recency bias, and yet I still think about it nearly two years later. I’m excited to play it again and feel confident I will actually complete it a second time (something that doesn’t happen as often with more recent games due to them getting longer and longer) because it’s just that good and unique. If you’re a fan of RPGs in any way and like reading novels, Disco Elysium is a game for you.

Top 100 Games of All-Time: #30

F-Zero GX

Release Date: July 25, 2003

Platform Played On: Gamecube/Wii

2018 Placement: #42 (+12)

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What It Is:

The Gamecube iteration of Nintendo’s high-speed racing series (and the last one they made, R.I.P.), F-Zero GX is high-octane futuristic racing on insane tracks that loop, twist, turn, and go upside-down – and those are just the easy tracks. Boost zones refill your meter that allow you to nitro your way through the tracks, and you’re up against 29 computer-controlled characters ranging from Samurai Goroh to Black Shadow to The Skull. There are different cups with progressively harder difficulties like most racers and the good old time trial modes. There is also a story mode where you play as Captain Falcon, the racer’s most famous driver, in many different scenarios that include, but are not limited to, regular races.

Because of how fast the game moves, a lot of the skill involved in winning races in F-Zero GX is simply learning the tracks and knowing the best maneuvers on them. Replayability is high due to the number of cups and the number of difficulties available for each cup, along with a Vs. Mode that allows you to race against your friends. It’s a fantastic racer that really lives up to the golden age of arcade-style racing games.

Why It’s Important To Me:

F-Zero GX hits a specific niche of racing game for me. It’s an absolute blast to play, the cars feel fast and are unique and futuristic, but there isn’t the bombastic randomness of games like Mario Kart. There aren’t “weapons” in the game but you can eliminate opponents through spin attacks and better driving. Aside from Wipeout, there aren’t many other games that successfully blend this sort of sleek style with high speed racing.

It also has great music (as to be expected for games on my list). Osc-Sync Carnival, the theme for the Lightning courses, is probably an all-time favorite racing track for me in the energy it brings to a race. There’s also Planet Colors and Feel Our Pain, the latter of which is right up there with Osc-Sync Carnival as a beast of a white-knuckle song to listen to when you’re fighting for first place. And it’s not an F-Zero game if you don’t bring up the fantastic Mute City rendition. Just an all-around fabulous soundtrack that elevates the frenetic competition you are in while playing this game.

My Strongest Memory:

So it took me a two week break to build up enough strength to write about this game – it was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I knew coming into it this would be a weirdly emotional game for me (especially for a GameCube era arcade racer) but it is still hard to talk about why specifically this game continues to resonate in my mind decades later.

In 2008, while I was visiting my long-distance girlfriend and many miles away from home, I discovered she had been cheating on me. She was out for the day (at college classes) and I was at her place, by myself, with no idea how to process or deal with the information that had suddenly landed in my lap. So I sat down, channeled my anger, my frustration, and basically every emotion I was feeling into F-Zero GX. I reached some sort of zen-like ultra state as I beat two cups on harder difficulties that I hadn’t even gotten close to finishing before. I also went into time trial and played a course I was having a bunch of trouble with (one of the Sand Ocean tracks, I remember that very clearly) over and over and over again. I absolutely hated that track whenever I played it and I focused all my hate into the time trial and made it my bitch. I honestly don’t remember how long I kept looping that time trial but it was at least thirty minutes and could have reached an hour. Again, zen-like out-of-body experience.

It surprisingly calmed me down as I raced all the rage out of me. I also haven’t been able to touch the game ever since because it’s like some sort of emotional talisman now. I deposited all my fury into this game over that one instance and for that I’ll always remember it and also always rank it highly in my mind, simply because it helped get me through a very specifically difficult time of my life.

Why It’s #30:

When a game has such a strong emotional resonance, even associated with a “negative” event, it can’t rank low on my list. It’s also a really strong game on its own merits – a worthwhile racing game to own and play. And maybe someday Nintendo will make a new F-Zero that is not associated with a random traumatic event of my life and I can freely play that one.

Episode 95 – Oddly Sexy Kano

We’re back with a new episode! Despite what you might think by the title, this episode is NOT about the most recent Mortal Kombat movie. Instead, it’s about round 2 of HarveyZ’s Make Me A Gamer Madness bracket! This round is dedicated to 16 video game movies as Harvey decides which one moves on to the final 4. We also talk briefly about Sony’s decision to reverse shutting down the PS3 and Vita stores and a little bit about the Overwatch League opening weekend. Enjoy!

(This episode was recorded on April 21, 2021.)

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As always, thank you so much for listening and please leave us ratings and feedback however you’re listening to our podcast! Please stay safe out there and stay out of groups if you can!

Episode 92 – That Was Awesome!

This week on Make Me A Gamer, HarveyZ gets to talk about his accomplishment over the last year: watching 12 seasons of Criminal Minds. Then Atma and Harvey get down to gaming business where they first talk about Scott Pilgim vs. the World before moving on to beat ’em ups in general, after which Atma educates HarveyZ on the awful character designs of Dragon’s Crown. Finally Atma gives their first impressions on the PS5, DualSense, and Astro’s Playroom. Enjoy!

(This episode was recorded on March 17, 2021.)

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As always, thank you so much for listening and please leave us ratings and feedback however you’re listening to our podcast! Please stay safe out there and stay out of groups if you can!

Episode 91 – The Dog With the Car Moment

It’s a new episode of Make Me A Gamer and we’ve got some really up-to-date news that is totally breaking and timely! First Atma and HarveyZ have a discussion about monster girls, before Atma celebrates Mario Day by quizzing Harvey on Mario enemies and what games they come from! Then there’s some discussion about the “new” Pokemon announcements and Atma talks about their experience acquiring a PS5. Enjoy!

(This episode was recorded on March 10, 2021.)

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As always, thank you so much for listening and please leave us ratings and feedback however you’re listening to our podcast! Please stay safe out there and stay out of groups if you can!

Episode 88 – Chillus Killus

This episode is coming to you a week late because…well, there’s been a lot of life happening this last week! But don’t you worry, this episode of Make Me A Gamer is fantastic anyway! Our hosts get down to business as they talk about the giant Resident Evil lady, whether to watch shows on a television or a computer screen, and they break down the hair style and fashion choices of Seymour from Final Fantasy X. And that’s not all, there’s even more in this jampacked episode. Enjoy!

(This episode was recorded February 3, 2021.)

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As always, thank you so much for listening and please leave us ratings and feedback however you’re listening to our podcast! Please stay safe out there and stay out of groups if you can!

Episode 87 – Big Money Z

Are you ready for a full episode of amateur quarterbacks waxing and waning about the stock market? Well that’s what Make Me A Gamer is giving you this week! Bookended by a quick gaming stock market quiz for HarveyZ and a Fantasy Games Critic league update, this entire episode is a no-holds-barred discussion on the recent developments with Gamestop’s stock. You thought this podcast was about games? Well sometimes we throw you a curve! Enjoy!

(This episode was recorded January 27, 2021.)

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As always, thank you so much for listening and please leave us ratings and feedback however you’re listening to our podcast! Please stay safe out there and stay out of groups if you can!