Here are the five games that turned me into the gaming addict that I am today and forevermore.
1) Super Mario World: The first platformer I ever played was Donkey Kong in the arcade. I was a kid and it blew me away. By the time Super Mario World came out I was no longer interested in video games. But this game plugged me back in. Unlike DK, it had an open world to explore. The humor and the ingenuity of the levels kept me coming back to see what was next. This is the game that truly started my life-long love of platformers.
2) Baldur's Gate: Who can forget the first time they discovered Baldur's Gate? I was told about it by a college professor who was losing sleep because of it. I decided to check it out for myself. Unlike many RPG's to follow, BG really made you feel like you were guiding the story. Areas remained in darkness until you uncovered them, revealing who knew what form of good or evil. Party members interacted with you in scenes of dialogue that really helped to drive the story. And most importantly, this game was HUGE. It felt like you could explore forever.
3) Fallout: The original Fallout grabbed my imagination like no other game ever had. The best way I can sum up my obsession with it is by recounting this moment from my first playthrough. "I was trying to get together weapons for an assault against a Deathclaw nest. I just didn't have enough money. I decided to knock over a weapon shop with my trusty dog, Dogmeat, by my side. It was brutal. In the end, the dog and I barely made it. I limped inside the store (now MINE) and found a near limitless supply of weapons, ammo, and armor. I was a happy man." It might seem mundane now, but at the time there had not been anything like Fallout.
4) Prince of Persia - The Sands of Time: It was Super Mario World that showed me how fun and engaging platformers could be. It was this remake of Prince of Persia that showed me they could be an art form. The time-altering aspect of the game, although now a much overused gimmick, was the shot in the arm that platformers needed then. It completely reinvented how players and developers conceived of traveling from point A to point Z. But for me, equally as revolutionary, was the story. This was the first video game that made me truly feel that I was watching a movie. A Disney movie, maybe, but a movie nontheless. I played through the most daunting puzzles to see what would happen to the Prince and his Princess. And in the end, I'm only slightly embarrassed to add, I teared up a little. The greatest accomplishment of any video game, in my opinion.
5) Grand Theft Auto IV: I barley have words to describe the impact this game has had on me. Action unparalleled, social satire, strong character definition, and a moving story are all elements used to describe films. Thanks to GTA IV, the same can be said of video games. Every video game developer out there now has to work that much harder. For me personally, this game stuck with me like some of my favorite movies. Now and then, I miss the characters a little and have to go back and play some more. Like taking down my Sopranos dvds to relive thier story. The only difference is that I'm the one driving. (And I'm STILL looking for all those freakin' pigeons!)