Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Top 10 Best Game Series

NOTE: These are my favorite gaming franchises, and thus are ranked not simply by critical breadth but what the series mean to me personally. Furthermore, the standards I will rank the series by are the length of the series, the quality of the games in comparison to the series' length, and how well the series evolved over the course of its duration.

10) Megaman - this series is one that has its popularity gripped tightly in the nostalgia that comes from its NES and SNES games; however, Megaman has done a superb job at creating a presence for himself in the game industry. The Megaman series has grown to have its own mythos and memorable characters, and even its gameplay has become a timeless beacon in the industry. However, Megaman has not aged well over the years, and, as I stated before, most of Megaman's popularity comes from the nostalgia factor and not his continuing presence in the game industry.

9) Super Mario - this series is one rich in quality, but only in its flagship titles (Bros. series, World, Yoshi's Island, and Galaxy series); outside of the flagship games, the Super Mario games are either spin-offs, sports games, or spiritual successors to past games (such as the "New" series). Furthermore, while the Super Mario games have superb gameplay and memorable music, they've done very little else in the way of unique graphics or story. Thus, Super Mario may be an icon, but he's more remembered at face value than for his games.

8) Sonic the Hedgehog - similar to the Super Mario series, Sonic is remembered nowadays more at face value rather than for his games, which is thanks to the massive amount of merchandizing and product that has come from the character, and similar to the Megaman series, Sonic is more fondly remembered in a nostalgic way due to the quality of his past games over the newer ones. However, despite all of the ups and downs Sonic has had over the years, his presence shines very brightly thanks to the world that Sonic Team have created with Sonic and his friends. Many memorable characters, storylines, and events are paced throughout the Sonic series, thus giving him an even stronger lasting impression than Super Mario or Megaman. There may not be a whole lot of memorable gameplay moments, but its enough to warrant this position.

7) The King of Fighters - here's a series that has been treated with so much passion and care that it has the strongest presence of any fighting game series. Street Fighter was the fighter to go to for the tried-and-true gameplay, but KOF was the series to go to for over-the-top style and beauty (and the gameplay wasn't bad either). KOF is a brilliant series because of how it created its presence not only with gameplay, but characters, art, graphics, and music that were all its own. You can tell a KOF character just by looking at them, and you know your listening to a KOF song just by listening to it; there will be no question. That is the power of this series. While it may not have the strength it once had with its newer games, the Orochi Saga of KOF will forever have a place in the history of fighting games.

6) Donkey Kong Country - while this series may have only 4 entries, very few series defined their generation like the DKC games on the SNES. The graphics, the music, the atmosphere, and gameplay all combined into something unheard of during the days of the SNES, and that massive presence can still be felt to this day. The DKC games have aged very well, and still provide a unique experience even against today's modern technology. There may not have been much of a story, but the strength of the game's atmosphere made up for it. The only reason this series isn't higher is because it isn't a particularly long series.

5) Castlevania - a truly under-appreciated series. Castlevania created something truly amazing with its first installment on the NES and from there the series only grew grander and grander in scope, from graphics to gameplay to story, the series continued to expand itself. It is this growth in the series that gives it this spot. Castlevania also has a strong presence in gaming thanks to its impeccable style; the stylized-horror theme is truly its own, and it resonated with every game in the series, all accented by superb graphics and music; truly legendary music.

4) Final Fantasy - this series stands out not simply due to its high quality and popularity (which has expanded into many mediums and products), but simply how each installment is so different from the last. While they are all RPGs and retain the same style of role-playing, the FF series makes it a crucial part of its execution for each installment to be different than the last. This is a risky business decision on Square's part, but it has payed off by providing the world with a series so rich in diversity from characters and story to gameplay and design that everyone can find at least one installment in the series that they find interesting.

3) The Legend of Zelda - the Zelda series is one that has a truly powerful presence in the game industry; not only for providing tried-and-true action-RPG gameplay mechanics, but because of how revolutionary many of its titles were. Furthermore, the series has built itself with some of the most memorable graphics, music, stories, and gameplay mechanics of all time. The Zelda series is one remembered on many levels, and thus it has titles that stand the test of time, and yet it continues to forge memories into even modern gamers. The Zelda series is a rare gem in that its older titles have not lost their luster and its newer titles continue to forge new memories for players now. It is hard for a series to retain its original qualities and yet still succeed in modern day, but the Zelda series has truly succeeded. The reason its not higher on the list is because the same formula has been used for Zelda since Ocarina of Time, and while this formula still holds up to this day, the lack of change can be daunting, especially to older gamers.

2) Kirby - if there is one game series that has been around since the NES and developed alongside the technology of advancing game systems while still retaining all of its charm and gameplay creativity, it is the Kirby series. Kirby games have spread across many genres and many systems, and yet each game has always been superb in terms of gameplay, graphics, music, and creative execution. This is due to Kirby being a series blessed with a talented developer that has never strayed from the development of its titles nor ever changed what Kirby is all about: fun. If there is one series that represents the fun and joy that comes from videogames, it is the Kirby series. Always creative, always trying new things, and always being superb experiences. Kirby stand the test of time.

1) Metroid - Quality. No other game series personifies quality better than the Metroid series. Every entry in the series, even the pinball game, is one of truly high quality. Like Kirby, the Metroid series is one that truly advances with the growing technology of videogame consoles, and the end results are games that are truly state-of-the-art. From graphical and musical direction to gameplay execution; the Metroid series is a thing of beauty, and as such, is a videogame series truly deserving of respect and admiration. If Kirby is the bright and radiant sun, then Metroid is a beautiful and solace moon. Never relying on over-the-top antics, bright colors, or gimmicky gameplay mechanics; Metroid is a class act through and through, and truly my favorite and most respected videogame series ever.

NOTE: To be honest, I would have Metroid and Kirby be a tie for the number one spot, as I believe they both represent two sides of the same coin when it comes to the best game series.

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