As with Season One of That Ultimate Video Game List Show, we’ve given the panelists from Season Two the opportunity to provide their own ranking of the 20 games that were selected. Enjoy Brandon Gann’s list.
Hi there! Thanks for checking out my ranking for the list of 20 games that comprised That Ultimate Video Game List Show Season 2! This was an absolute blast to do (even the final 30 minutes of episode 5 and the back half of episode 6), and it’s been a highlight of my 2020 so far. Hearing everybody bring their games and why they love them made the hours melt away. As games were nominated, I ordered along the way and as you read, keep in mind the following: The bottom 13 were games I have not played while the top seven I could speak to. Within the rankings of games I haven’t played, I ordered them from the games it would take the least effort to convince me to play (#8) to the games where paying me would be the only option to ever get me to spend any of my time with it (#20). One final note before jumping in: If you, for WHATEVER reason, have NOT listened to any of the season, I highly recommend you do so, not only because, you know, spoilers, but also they are fun episodes (go back to episode 5 to witness my anguish. I’ll never not feel quasi-wronged/dirty from that. Bah-humbug. My fellow panelists and our considerate moderator are monsters. Lovable monsters, but monsters all the same). Anywho, that seems like a good enough intro. Let’s get started.
20. Grand Theft Auto V
This is the ONLY game on my entire list that I have any negative connotation towards. I just don’t get why GTA is appealing. Well, I kind of do, because the capability for people to be as depraved as they choose, both online and off, but as a game, it’s not my thing. Sure, its commercial and critical success is inarguable. And Rockstar’s pedigree for crafting not just a massive open world, but a world overflowing the brim with so much detail that I’m sure not a single person has seen it all. And then there’s Online. Still, I’m in tune with my interests to know: I will never play, nor like, a Grand Theft Auto.
19. Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel
What makes MGS: GB next up on my list is twofold: The system and the franchise. If there were someone who wanted me to play it, well, working Game Boy Colors are becoming rarer by the day. But the bigger hurdle is the fact it’s a Metal Gear Solid. For a long time, I never consumed any MGS content, going off the narrative this franchise is one of the most convoluted in all of gaming (Plus some other quirks Hideo Kojima is known for in his game design choices, both mechanically and content). I’ve watched a full playthrough of the first game and that was enough to solidify: Not for me.
18. Mischief Makers
Until Scott said this game’s title, it did not exist to me. This is the ONLY game of the entire season that I hadn’t heard of and had to Google on the fly to better understand just WHAT this is. As is the case with this show, it’s typically Episodes 4 and 5 that highlight the wild picks, and of the entire list, this, in my opinion, is the wildest. I don’t ever see myself playing this game, both because of the system (I’ve never owned an N64 and have past the point of justifiably owning one), and to me, it’s not that great looking. But many older games don’t age well, and it’s not necessarily the game’s fault. Yet, when you’re vying with 19 others for ranking purposes, it’s a harder hill to climb.
17. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
New Horizons is upon us, so the current zeitgeist is getting swept up in AC Fever. My issue with Animal Crossing as a franchise (not just New Leaf) is I don’t like games (or modes within games) that don’t necessarily “end” unless you get tired of playing or the game beats you (this of course falling into the former category). It’s super laid back, and one of those games that is a great recommendation to play something that doesn’t really involve much commitment but give me an end. A goal. If I’m going to fill my time with a game, I want to make sure it’s going to have a satisfying conclusion.
16. Stardew Valley
Stardew Valley BARELY edges out Animal Crossing in my rankings for two reasons: 1.) There’s more variety of activities you can do and 2.) I prefer this game’s art style over Animal Crossing. But as I just said, no matter how many options you give me, if it’s a never-ending game (much akin to the irksome [but not related to this] “live service” trend that’s been prevalent for the eighth generation), I don’t care enough to invest my time. There are many other games, both to try and especially replay.
15. Kirby Air Ride
Racing games are a genre that, while I’ve dabbled in with the likes of Gran Turismo, Burnout, and Mario Kart, doesn’t offer incentive to keep playing. Sure, kind of opposite of what I’ve said over the last two entries, racing games DO have an end. To single races. But if all you’ve got are races, with no end goal, then I’m out. Plus, through no fault of Kirby, not only are there much better offerings out there (Forza Horizon and Crash Team Racing to name a couple more), there are better looking games. Kudos for selling as much as it did though.
14. Persona 5
I know it’s blasphemy on the Internet, regardless of what circle you occupy, friends you have, content creators you follow, etc., to have ANY Persona game NOT in a top 10 (much less a Top 5 for my die-hard friends out there), saying a game is going to take 100-120 hours to FINISH not necessarily 100%, is NOT the selling point it once was. Plus, I don’t the like the look of it. Again, I know, blasphemy. And I’m aware I’m probably going to get the most flak for this entry more than any other (yes even GTA and upcoming games with how high they are). Sure, I do commend Persona’s attention to detail and focus on investing, cultivating, and flourishing relationships, both platonically and romantically, but with the gameplay, style, and the sheer “anime-ness” of it all, I am NOT a Persona person.
13. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
I pretty much have the same length qualm with Xenoblade that I do with Persona, but at least it looks a bit better to me. But like most other major time-sink life investment RPGs (Not to mention JRPGs, and SEQUELS to said JRPGs), it’s difficult for me to look at Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and think, “Sure, this is the first Xenoblade I’ll try.” That and the fact I don’t own a Switch and don’t foresee myself ever getting one. Still, I think the concept of the game taking place on a colossally massive (to the point of incomprehensible) creature is one of the more unique ideas out there.
12. Bubble Bobble
This is the one game on my list where I am so completely neutral. I have no ill will, no positive thoughts, no desire to play. If someone dropped it in front of me and said, “Try this,” Sure. If I never see or hear about this game again, that’s fine. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in person, and I don’t think I could confidently name it if someone pointed out screenshots to me and asked what this was. Keep on keeping on Bubble Bobble.
11. Diablo II
Now it’s getting to the point where it’s easier for a case to be played can be made. Not saying I’ll ever play Diablo II when Diablo III exists, and the fact said sequel is on consoles, because I don’t game on PC. But I don’t really have an issue with gaining better loot and ultimately completing a story. However, loot-grind games can be hit-or-miss. If done right, I’ll come back to them (hiya Borderlands), but if they’re mind-numbingly dull, there’s serious reworking that needs to happen (looking at you Destiny). It’s a fine line, and while I haven’t experienced how Diablo does it, I don’t think I will because again of platform, and the sad side-effect of Blizzard’s top brass being money first, human rights second.
10. Super Mario Galaxy
We’ve cracked the Top 10 and the top half starts with one of the best 3D Marios out there. One of the best games you can find on the Wii, the outer-space motif is a positive draw for me. Because of the system it’s on, it’ll be hard for me to ever play it, but if I ever had a Wii, this and the sequel would be on the short list to own. Also, keep in mind this came out in 2007, a.k.a the best year of the seventh generation and is arguably Nintendo’s GOTY for that year. I would be down to watch a friend play or try it out some day.
9. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
I must be honest here: The only reason this is so high is because of Cloud (More on him later). Plus, this isn’t the Smash I could be convinced to play. That distinction belongs to Ultimate. But within the confines of this list, I wouldn’t mind if I was wildly swinging and attacking with Cloud for a fun night with friends. But the issue I have is the genre. I find fighting games too high of a learning curve and beyond that, Smash is strongest with friends, and greatly falls off in entertainment value if it’s just me, myself and I. I DID own Melee what feels like a lifetime ago, but without other people I didn’t play much of it. So I’m sure the same principle applies to every Smash, regardless of iteration.
8. Pokemon Heart Gold
This is the highest ranked game on my list I have not played. However, that means it would take the least effort to get me to play it. Pokemon is one of the first franchises I knew as a kid, but at Gen 4, I dropped off for multiple reasons: I hated the transition into the blocky 3D models, the balancing is MASSIVELY off, I didn’t like many of the new Pokemon, and there are certain gameplay mechanics and features that are unnecessary. Plus, as someone who DOES like the first three generations, I find it quite perverse to see later generation Pokemon in a previous gen’s region. Still, of the games I’ve discussed, this is the one I would try first (Well, actually Soul Silver, but you get my point).
This was the hardest game for me to decide where I wanted to rank it. Do I put it at the bottom of my “have played” list (which is what I’ve done) or stick it somewhere in the “not played” section despite the fact I can’t speak about games I haven’t touched? I decided to stick it here because of my history with it. Initially, I was resolved to never get Minecraft. Then in college, I had a friend convince me to get it so we could play along with our mutual friends (including myself, the friend group was six strong, with two others coming in when a couple of people no longer played/logged on). But as time went on and life had us drift apart, it came down to me and my two closest friends. By then, any interest that was created by seeing my friends’ creations had dissipated completely, and it morphed into just doing something because we were bored, and not really caring about the game itself. On top of that, there was an incident that happened in a split-second that had me delete the game and I haven’t looked back. Don’t get me wrong: Some of the things I’ve seen made in Minecraft are awe-inspiring and I wish Mojang would allow you to find, download, and save others’ creations in an easy fashion (and if they do, I dropped out of it long before I was made aware of it). But it’s a game I’ll never play again, because I’m not creative, and as for Survival mode, see my comments under Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley.
6. Resistance: Burning Skies
Yeah, I nominated this game, but I’m shaking my head this game is on the list. I still don’t feel good about it, not because of the game itself, but by the nature of how it came to be here. I want it on the record, in writing, I dislike Vetoes. Like with an enhanced passion more so than before being brought on for this season. But I digress. Resistance is one of Sony’s most underrated franchises, but as you can hear in episode 5, it does get confused with Killzone for being an FPS, but Resistance is legitimately great. And while Burning Skies is the lowest personal ranked Resistance, being the last person to have a game on the list and being limited by console forced my hand. By no means is Burning Skies bad. It’s enjoyable, but unless you’re a Resistance fan, it’s a hard recommendation. It’s short, and the story, while self-contained, doesn’t do much for those who aren’t fans. It’s a good showcase of the Vita’s capability to run a first-person shooter, the customization of weaponry is a nice concept and combat is fun, but unless you’ve already been invested in the property to begin with, it doesn’t ask anything of you to make you care.
5. Halo: Reach
As I reference through the first half of the season, in order to determine what I wanted/could nominate for the list, I used my personal top 100 games of all-time list, which means for my top five in this ranking, they are games that I think highly of. For reference, Reach came in at #99, and as such has fallen off my list entirely with the releases of Ori and the Will of the Wisps and DOOM: Eternal. Halo: Reach also has the distinction of being the highest ranked game that I didn’t bring to the show. I said quite a bit about it during episode 1, but to further refine a couple points: I love the story, with its melancholy inevitability and premise. This is my favorite Halo and the Halo that my friends had me get because it didn’t have any Flood (I, uh… don’t do well with Flood). Knowing the outcome by having any prior knowledge of Halo doesn’t damage the game’s quality. Forge world is a great way to mess around with friends, not only with their own creations, but there is a vast amount of community creations from maps to game modes that showcase how versatile Halo gameplay can be. Reach is good.
4. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
My current 42nd favorite game of all time (as of this writing), this is the lone carryover from Season 1 (though Mario Galaxy and HeartGold came close). This, in my opinion, is one of the best Star Wars stories and the greatest Star Wars game to date (credit to Jedi: Fallen Order for making a very strong case though). I actually played it for the very first time only a couple of years ago (2017 or 18, can’t quite remember which) courtesy of Xbox One’s backward compatibility and it’s amazing how well the game holds up across the board, not just graphically, but gameplay wise and again, it’s narrative. Having the ability to customize your character to a degree that hasn’t been seen in a Star Wars game prior or since is probably it’s second biggest strength. Want to be a dual-wielding Jedi? Sure. How about a gunslinging scoundrel with no morals or loyalty? You can do that too. Do you want to customize your entire party to the same degree? Go right ahead. While some quests have a confusing structure, the overall package is more immersive than some of the movies. Yeah, I said it.
3. Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom Hearts is a franchise that’s been in my life since elementary school. The fusion of Final Fantasy and Disney is a collaboration that, even to this day post Kingdom Hearts III when there’s almost a dozen games in the series, is still baffling. Many will argue the sequel or even the threequel is/are better in terms of combat, exploration, or characters. But the original is the simplest, because it isn’t too bad of an ask for someone to try where it all began. Whenever I hear or see something to the effect of, “Which games should I play/where should I start?” I cringe because unless you were there from the start, this isn’t a game (or games) you can just try without making a serious commitment or dealing with one of the (shockingly) more aggravating fandoms, while simultaneously get immediately mocked for liking the series. But if you can invest, it’s worth it. The combat, the keyblades, the stories, and the worlds all make the hours disappear. Plus, you don’t have to contend with the convoluted original made-up-as-it-goes overall arc of the Organization, Nobodies, vessels, 13 darkness and seven lights… see what I mean? None of that here. This is a game that taught me friendship is all you need when times are tough and is probably the longest lasting lesson a game has ever given me. Not bad for being my sixth favorite game of all time.
2. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
In all the PS4, Naughty Dog’s portfolio, and only outclassed by two other games on my personal top 100 list, there is no more stunning a game. From technical showcase, storytelling, and gameplay, Uncharted 4 is, to me, almost flawless. Uncharted has gotten flak for Drake being a mass murderer, frustrating aiming, and design language, but A Thief’s End is Naughty Dog at its absolute peak (though The Last of Us Part II is scheduled to arrive in a couple of months, so that sentence could be null soon). The game’s strongest moments are not when you’re exploring in massive environments with captivating detail and a moving score. Nor is it during combat, with the new stealth system, level design, and the cutback number of enemy encounters (which serve to A Thief’s End’s credit), is at the series best. No, the best moments are the quiet conversations. The character dynamics among so much of the triple A plus cast. And none shine brighter than Elena Fisher. The house that is all of chapter 4, which make it feel like one of the most lived in places in gaming with a mandatory (but still delightful) Easter Egg, catching Drake in his lie, the serious and strained conversation on the elevator on the island and the ensuing silence in the Jeep. The scene with the skeletons. The epilogue. The game’s story is one of the best, enhanced even more so if you’ve been along for the ride since Drake’s Fortune. Sure, there are those who feel the game drags a little too long, that Sam coming out of nowhere is nonsense, and the immersion being broken when a companion runs around when they should be heard or seen, but these are all minor scuffs on any otherwise phenomenal experience.
1. Final Fantasy VII
Call it my brand. Call it predictable. Call it obvious, cliché, or unoriginal. But this is my favorite game of all time, and I will defend it to the death. This game literally checks every single box for me. The only thing, the literal ONLY thing, I recognize that can’t be argued is the 3D world/exploratory character models. But the battle models, pre-rendered static backgrounds, and character designs are all top tier. The soundtrack is an all-time classic with extremely few misses. The gameplay and customization that allows you to play the game how you want is deep, but simple. The towns and environments all have a purpose. The opening is one of the best intros to any game and Midgar is one of the most iconic settings. And of course, and say it with me now, the story. A commentary on the environment, and corporate greed. A look at finding and fighting for something bigger than yourself. How to cope with the duality of loss and hope. And the characters themselves, with their backstories (Cloud, Tifa), causes (Vincent, Barret), and likability (Aerith, Red XIII). It’s not for everyone, and there is the point of someone’s first Final Fantasy being their favorite. But top-to-bottom and all around, Final Fantasy VII is a bucket list video game that everyone should try. If you don’t like it by the time you leave Midgar, cool. You gave it more than a fair shake. But it’s one of the few “MUST PLAYS” that the medium has that not giving it a go is a disservice. And by the time you’re reading this, I’m hopefully either in a week(s) long hibernation playing the just released Remake, or have fully gone through it back to front.
And that’s my list! Whether you’ve read this whole thing or skimmed to find specific games you wanted to read about, thank you so much for giving some of your time. As I said at the top, I haven’t had this much fun in quite some time, and I greatly appreciate you not just coming to this list, but for also listening and supporting my friends. If you haven’t, please go read their lists and thoughts. Until next time!
…. P.S.: Gauntlet: Dark Legacy is great and worthy of being on any top list and if you hear or read otherwise, don’t sully your intelligence with such libel, slander, and lies. Also, never trust Xyger. Ever.