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Ryan’s Top 5 Games of All Time

/ Oct 16th, 2015 No Comments

Best Video Games of All Time

Gaming Illustrated’s Top 5 Games of All Time is a series in which Gaming Illustrated staff members list their completely biased top five videogames of all time. To see the Top 5 lists from each of our staff members, click here.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a gamer. That term may conjure up images of friendless losers and lonely basement dwellers, but gaming had the opposite effect on me. Through videogames, I have developed new relationships and strengthened existing bonds. I have spent countless hours playing games, but there are a few that stand out due to the memories they created. Here are my top five games of all time.

5. The Simpsons Arcade

Throughout my childhood, any trip to Chuck E. Cheese was not complete without spending handfuls of quarters on The Simpsons Arcade. The classic side-scroller wasn’t much different than the popular arcade games of the time — Turtles in Time, Sunset Riders and X-Men were all in my rotation — but The Simpsons Arcade was unique in that it creatively reproduced the humor of the animated show.

The Simpsons Arcade

Saving Maggie one donut at a time.

Completing a full game was one thing at home, but doing it at an arcade created an even greater sense of accomplishment. And in order to experience this, I would crowd around the cabinet with my cousins and frantically thrust Bart’s skateboard or Marge’s vacuum into enemies. To this day, we still have to play The Simpsons Arcade together on the rare occasion that we see it.

4. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2

In the year 2000, skateboarding was at the height of its popularity, and when Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 released, so was the game’s cover star. As much as I hated to admit it at the time, I wasn’t going to be personally performing any McTwists or frontside nosegrinds. However, I could live out those fantasies in the game.

Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2

THSP2 also taught players a foreign language.

THPS2 is about as close to a perfect game as one can possibly expect. Pulling off long combos and collecting items scattered across levels was extremely rewarding, and brutal bails were almost as much fun. Memorizing complex combos and unlocking new content and hidden characters (Spider Man!) mixed in classic videogame formulas within the modern, fast-paced gameplay. But the thing that really put THPS2 over the top was the soundtrack, with songs by Powerman 5000, Rage Against the Machine and Anthrax setting a perfect tone for the game.

3. Sonic the Hedgehog 2

There is one single game that I have spent more hours of my life playing than any other game. That game is Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The speedy blue hedgehog with an attitude (if you put your controller down for too long) and his clumsy AI companion Tails captivated my heart, even though I barely knew what a hedgehog was.

Sonic 2

Tails as useless as always.

I spent many late nights at sleepovers attempting to accumulate enough lives to eventually pass the game. The vibrant world, the hidden items and the boss-beating formulas planted the seeds for my gaming obsession. But best of all was the amazing soundtrack. From the Sega Genesis to Xbox Live Arcade to emulators on my phone, I’ve played Sonic 2 in all its forms, and it will always be the best incarnation of Sonic in my opinion.

2. NBA Jam TE

NBA Jam Tournament Edition is probably the most innovative sports game of all time. Rather than creating a watered-down basketball sim, developer Midway created a two-on-two arcade masterpiece. This made the game more accessible without sacrificing the official NBA license. NBA Jam had it all — impossible dunks, masterful voiceovers and totally 1990s cheat codes (the Fresh Prince, Bill Clinton).



NBA Jam came at an interesting time in my life. I had reached an age where I felt that my older brother was starting to see me as more than just his annoying baby brother. He no longer completely disdained hanging out with me, and the way we bonded was through countless of hours of NBA Jam TE. My brother would occasionally dash my hopeless attempts to beat him at Super Street Fighter 2, but I was mostly relegated to watching him play single-player games until he got bored and it was my turn to play. However, when we played NBA Jam, we were equals, and more importantly, friends.

1. Red Dead Redemption

Rarely do two things come together to form a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Turns out that two things I love — westerns and Rockstar Games — go together like peanut butter and jelly. When Red Dead Redemption released in 2010, I felt that Rockstar had created a game specifically for me.

Red Dead Redemption

The beauty of the Wild West.

Taking cues from the Grand Theft Auto franchise, Red Dead Redemption was an open-world period piece set at the end of the old west. Rockstar developed a massive world with stunning environments and populated it with interesting characters and wild animals (and bigfoot). John Marston was the perfect flawed hero, and the mystery behind his past built intrigue. The beautiful open world and the perfect western soundtrack immersed me into an old west I’ve always wanted to explore.

Ryan Bloom

Ryan Bloom

Chief Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Ryan Bloom is a writer and avid gamer from Orange County. He received a B.A. in Communications with a minor in American Studies from California State University, Fullerton in 2010. Follow him on Twitter @BloomsTweets.
Ryan Bloom
Ryan Bloom

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