I've been working on my top 10 video games list for a while, but the problem was defining the criteria. Of course I'd rather play Halo 3 right now instead of the original Zelda, but Zelda's greatness in unquestioned. So as a video game addict, I'm defining greatness as to what degree I'm chasing the feeling I got when I first played these games. For example, when I play any new hockey game I'm hoping to achieve the same kind euphoria I got when I played the original NHL Hockey on Sega Genesis. I'm strictly a console gamer, so PC games were excluded.
1. Super Mario Bros. Nintendo Entertainment System. I don't remember whose house it was, but I was at someone's birthday party when I caught a glimpse of a television on top of a dresser between a wall and a closet, across from the foot of a twin bed. This kid had just gotten the Nintendo Entertainment System Deluxe Set, bundled with Super Mario Bros. and two other titles. It was unlike any toy I had ever seen. With it's bright colors and large characters, it made Atari and Commodore 64 games look archaic. It wasn't long before I got my own, as my other toys went the way of Woody in the first two thirds of Toy Story.
2. Final Fantasy VII. Sony PlayStation. With over 40 minutes of still gorgeous full motion video and the biggest virtual world ever seen, this 4 disc behemoth redefined the epic. Friends of mine would sit in my room and watch me play. As a cheer emanated from my room as I neared the end, my neighbor in college burst through my door draped in a towel, as his obviously frustrated girlfriend followed a few minutes later in an oversized t shirt.
3. Tetris. Game Boy. I was skeptical about Nintendo's cartridge based handheld system when it first came out, until the first time I played Tetris not tethered to a television. Sorting the endless stream of blocks was incredibly addictive, and led to the incredible lifespan of the Game Boy.
4. Grand Theft Auto III. PlayStation 2. It set the standard for sandbox gameplay, which basically refers to the unlimited freedom you have to continue the game's narrative or to just wreak havok as you see fit. There was just so much more to do in the world of Liberty City than in any other PS2 game, and numerous imitators were spawned.
5. The Legend of Zelda. Nintendo Entertainment System. The first game which featured an internal battery to save your progress (previously games used passwords or started you at the beginning when you turned the system off), it was also the first true adventure game, with never-before-seen nonlinear gameplay and equipable weapons and items.
6. Super Mario 64. Nintendo 64. The third launch title on this list, this silky smooth 3D platformer set the standard for all 3D games at the time, as well as the proper use of an analog stick on a console. Tomb Raider was released on PlayStation as a competitor, but the controls of Mario 64 set it apart.
7. Super Mario Bros. 3. Nintendo Entertainment System. The moment it was revealed in the climax of The Wizard, it became the most anticipated game of all time and it did not disappoint. The best selling non-bundled game of all time, the graphics were unlike anything anyone had seen, and the gameplay was deep, althought the story wasn't.
8. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Nintendo 64. When OoT came out, the question most commonly asked was "How is anyone going to improve upon this?" The most revolutionary aspect of the control scheme was the "Z targeting," where you could hold a button to strafe an enemy. The number one reviewed game of all time according to gamerankings.com.
9. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Sony PlayStation. This old school 2D adventure game proved that you didn't need a third dimension for a good time. The role playing aspects had been done before in Super Metroid, but this title featured amazing animations and an all time soundtrack.
10. Soul Calibur. Sega Dreamcast. Widely considered the greatest fighting game of all time, the graphics were such a cut above anything seen of PlayStation or Nintendo 64, and the 3D gameplay was also next generation. The number two reviewed game of all time according to gamerankings.com.
Honorable mentions: Chrono Trigger, Contra, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Final Fantasy III, Gears of War, GoldenEye 007, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Halo, Halo 2, Herzog Zwei, John Madden Football, Metal Gear Solid, NHL Hockey, Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic, Street Fighter II Turbo, Super Metroid, Tecmo Super Bowl, Tekken 3