Alex Phillimore: (alex.phillimore-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2014-07-06 05:04:56
My Favourite Video Game
I'm not a big fan of 'best games ever made' lists, because, let's face it, there's no real way of accurately identifying the best game ever made. Different people have different tastes, after all, and there are so many different video game genres that it's impossible to satisfy everyone with a definitive 'this is the best' choice. You could be more successful identifying the most influential games of all time - stuff like Halo or The Legend of Zelda - but even then these games, in my humble opinion, don't belong on a 'best' list. I don't know anyone, for example, who would genuinely rate the original The Legend of Zelda as being a better game than Twilight Princess. There is no contest in my mind over which is the better game, but the original blocky NES Zelda will still rank higher on most lists, because that's how those lists work.
A far better thing to do than 'best games' lists is 'favourite games' lists, because these are personal to the individual and offer more variety than the generic Mario titles that, although good, are thoroughly predictable. It just so happens that I would place Super Mario Galaxy in my top 20 games of all time (possibly even my top 10) but that's a story for another day...
So what is my favourite game of all time? It's hard to pinpoint exactly because there are some games I have spent hours upon hours with. I invested some 600 hours into Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, making it my most-played GBA game. I have enormously fond memories of Age of Empires and Neverwinter Nights, two drastically different games that still stand the test of time now. Having played both recently, they are still enjoyable, even with spotty path-finding and outdated visuals. Then there are games like Red Dead Redemption, whose multiplayer is something I have repeatedly gone back to for the last three years and I can't see myself getting tired of it any time soon. What about some really niche gems that have stuck with me for years, such as the eclectic and fascinating Little Big Adventure 2? Then there's Fire Emblem 7, a game I loved enough to learn how to modify through hex decimal editing - and one that really pulled me into the video game community through one of its designated forums at the time, Fire Emblem Online.
But while I flitter constantly between which game is my favourite, right now I'm willing to commit to Tales of Symphonia taking the crown. The game is an excellent RPG adventure, full of memorable characters and gorgeous music and visuals. It's a long quest, too, spanning two disks in its original Gamecube majesty - I can only think of a handful of games at the time that did the same. Symphonia is a game that I played to death when it first game out. I played it, then I played it some more - then I completed it and straight away started a new save file, carried over some of my data (this may have been my earliest encounter with New Game+) and played it again. The ending made me cry - and the game is full of secrets that ensure that every file can be different. Even subtle changes, such as different dialogue depending on who within your party you're closest to, adds to the experience in a way that no other game has rewarded me before.
The game got me hooked onto the Tales of series, which is why it's a terrible shame that, with the exception of Tales of the Abyss, I haven't really enjoyed many of the other games in the series anywhere near as much, and I find the recent Tales of Xillia to be utterly lazy in comparison. But for one brief moment in time, Symphonia was the the best RPG on the market, in my opinion, and still to this day remains one of the greatest tales in gaming. I love Tales of Symphonia, and the recent HD remake, Chronicles, for the Playstation 3 gives a new generation of gamers the chance to experience it as well. I cannot recommend a game more highly than I can Tales of Symphonia - it is a beautiful, engaging and thoroughly well-made game that, right now, deserves its place at the top of my list.