Feel free to also discuss games that have made a big impact on you throughout your game-playing history (the original topic of this thread). You know, the games that defined you and really stayed with you. Has this gen produced any titles that totally blew you away? That you will always fondly remember your experiences with?
I feel like, for all the piles and piles of solid, capable games that we've been getting, there have been far fewer that really, really connect with me. It's why I prefer the GBA library to the DSeseses. And why this generation has kind of underwhelmed me. The main exception that I can think of is Monster Hunter Tri. Even that might be kind of cheating, since the series began last gen, but, nevertheless, that is one of the only games that kept calling me back, impelling me to keep playing, similar to Animal Crossing and Wario Ware last gen, Metroid and Mario and Bionic Commando (and so many more) in the NES era, Super Mario Kart in the SNES era, Perfect Dark and Mario Kart 64 on the N64, WipeOut on the PS1, Alpha Centauri and DOOM on PC, various C64 games that no one else will remember, tons of Arcade games, etc.
I guess I can also include Yoshi's Touch and Go on DS. Super-brilliant and innovative, super-addictive. Good things come in small, perfectly polished packages. I might even toss in Mr. Driller, since I got totally addicted to the DS game, but that core design has existed in pretty much unedited form for quite a while, and I already had the Gamecube game. But maybe I'll throw in Crackdown for the 360. Vertiginously platforming from skyscraper to skyscraper felt like something new. And something awesome. Flawed, but great. It was a key in my choice of the 360 over the PS3. That's it for this gen, though, barring any other missing memory cells. (EDIT: Holy shit, WII SPORTS! I can't believe I forgot that one. Wii Sports was a revelation to me. The first time I swung my arm and heard and felt the thwack of a tennis ball against a racquet, I was sold on motion control. Later games failed to fully capitalize on that promise, which perhaps makes Wii Sports an even more amazing accomplishment. The other incredible thing about the title is the way it facilitated fun multiplayer experiences among hugely disparate groups. Inclusion, rather than exclusion. That was a sea change.)
I won't dismiss the possibility that I'm just getting more and more jaded, playing increasing amounts of games on more systems, but appreciating each less, but I feel like the peaks in gaming just aren't as high anymore, and most developers are headed full-steam in a direction that I'm not particularly interested in. If Red Dead Redemption is supposed to be the future of gaming, count me the fuck out.
(I know, I know, downloadable games. I like them a lot, often better than retail games, but they still aren't completely doing it for me.)
EDIT: You know, after all of my edits and additions, this gen doesn't seem so bad. But it did have a pretty long, protracted stretch of meh for me, from Wii launch-ish to Monster Hunter Tri. And I have been quite disappointed in HD retail games, for the most part. Perhaps that's why I had such a poor impression of it.
Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 - the first 3D Mario games to really knock one out of the park, IMO New Super Mario Bros. Wii - completing the game in co-op with my girlfriend is one of my favourite gaming experiences in a long time Monster Hunter Tri - such a fresh experience, having never played an MH game before. Hardcore to the max, incredibly satisying and addictive, not to mention excellent online multiplayer (shout out to the Negative World MH community!)
I'd almost include Twilight Princess. That game was very satisfying to me, the first 3D Zelda that I was (almost) totally happy with, with tons of fun puzzles. But it stood on the shoulders of OOT a bit too much to give it the nod (even though I find it way better and more playable than Ocarina).
Super Mario Galaxy 1 (maybe 2, we'll see in time) - Love the soundtrack and the focus on pure, creative fun. Little King's Story - Surprisingly addictive, great world and cast! The ending was a heck of a downer because I was rather invested with the goings-on. Phoenix Wright trilogy (especially the third game) - Extremely well-done, three-dimensional characters and great twists. Impossible not to like. Trauma Team - Forensics missions, mainly. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories - Clever, thought-provoking, and mature (like, actually mature!) Super Smash Bros. Brawl - In a small way. The cast is chock full of character in their animations, and I have a lot of good memories playing this with friends.
The one game that really "resonated" with me from years ago is Chrono Trigger. That game was pitch-perfect, in every sense of the word. I loved it. I still do, in fact.
Another one is Mega Man X - the original game of the spin-off series that started on SNES. It can be seen as a silly 2D action game that centers around blowing away sentient, malevolent robots that are based off of animals... but there was the underlying theme of what gives something life, and the consequences of one's choices and actions, and then dealing with those consequences afterward. The most poignant moment in the game was when Zero sacrificed himself to save X from VILE. Watching him fade away after the battle was done was.... I dunno. It stuck with me, for some reason. This other soldier just gave his life to save someone else's... it wasn't something I was expecting from a Mega Man game, y'know? And the last few words of the epilogue about how "those that lost their lives will never return" just drove home that feeling I had.
Of course, Capcom brought pretty much EVERYONE back for the next game, which lessened the blow quite a bit, but back in 1993, before the sequels were made... it was different. The original game even seemed to give Sigma some credit... like, he really felt what he was doing was right. He wasn't just bat-shit crazy, infected with the Wily Virus and blood thirsty like he was in the later games. He was a cool, calculating villain, with a true purpose and motive, beyond just "kill all humans." Maybe that was just my interpretation, though. His final words to X ("How could you do this to us, X? The Reploids could have ushered in a new age!") made it sound like X betrayed his "family" or something. The ending music was sad and hopeful at the same time, which I felt was part of the "theme" of the game. So it definitely "resonated" with me.
This gen, only a couple games really "hit" me . Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII got me. The story was told wonderfully well, and my nostalgia for the original PSOne classic was well served. The ending was a real tear-jerker, even though I knew it was coming.
An unexpected "resonation" came from SUPER Street Fighter IV. In Ryu's ending, (or maybe it was his opening?) he has a monologue that has him wistfully thinking how fighting always feels like "coming home" - he realizes this is likely because he's been fighting since he was young. In a strange way, those are kind of my thoughts as well, regarding the Street Fighter franchise. I've been playing this game since it came out on SNES back in the day. I was in 6th grade, and I've been playing every iteration since then. And because Capcom really doesn't mix up their fighting engine, whenever I play a Street Fighter title, it feels familiar, and welcoming. Playing a new Street Fighter title kinda does feel like "coming home" - probably because I've been playing the series since I was a kid. I understand you, Ryu. Man, we get each other!
That's all I've got for now. Let me think about this, I may have some more thoughts later.
Many that have already been mentioned, but for me, it's the Rock Band franchise...particularly The Beatles: Rock Band...that game is nothing short of amazing, especially to die-hard Beatles fans (I'm irked that Hey Jude and Let It Be aren't on there, but I understand why) I know Guitar Hero popularized the genre, but Rock Band is elevating it (especially with the release of Rock Band 3 in just two short months).
Fun thread idea Anand. While I could stack a bigger pile of memorable games from the last generation compared to the current, there still have been some absolutely wonderful experiences that will stick with me for a long time.
Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 - The soundtracks are already written into my genetic code because they're so awesome, and the level design is still some of the best I've explored in a 3D plat former. True modern day classics through and through.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney - I can't include the whole series since I haven't finished it yet, but this is my favorite of the series as of now. Like what TriforceBun said, the character's personalities and quirks are always front and center to build upon the story, humor, and game play. It's one of my all-time favorite adventure games.
Hotel Dusk: Room 215 - Which brings me to my favorite adventure and overall game on the Nintendo DS. Ace Attorney and Hotel Dusk have very contrasting styles, but they both follow the same code - the characters make the game.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl - It would be hard to cram so much Nintendo power (lol) into a game and not have it resonate with me. The music, characters, trophies, and general content feels like a celebration of some of the best video games have to offer.
Wario Land Shake It! - I honestly can't think of one bad thing to say about this game. It's one of the best 2D Nintendo games I've played, and there's even more to come this year in the form of Donkey Kong and Kirby. These games are just great.
There are so many but I'll list the most obvious one first with the largest impact: Dead Space. I finally decided to study videogames/3D because of that game alone and I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
Limbo has actually had a huge impact due to it being very influential and inspirational for me.
Resident Evil/ Resident Evil Remake with the former still being a hell of a lot more life-altering. I have loved this game since I first HEARD about it from a friend. I was a pretty good Nintendo fanboy who didn't want anyone taking a piece of Nintendo's pie and I didn't give a shit about the Playstation until my friends described Resident Evil to me. They also had Wild Arms and mentioned that to me, but I had no interest in that (initially), all I cared about was RE. I gave them the ok to bring over the Playstation and we borrowed it and both games. We owned a PS shortly thereafter with both games. Resident Evil is absolutely one of my favorite games of all time.
Resident Evil 4: It took away the formula I loved from classic REs and for that I could have hated it but I didn't. I saw an influential game which I knew would cause a wave to affect others for years. Also one of my all-time favs.
Super Metroid/Metroid Prime: Both were so incredibly immersive and atmospheric in their own right, though I'd still have to give the isolation and minimalist direction to Super.
Half-Life: Quite possibly my favorite game of all time. The amount of hours I've spent on single and multiplayer must literally be in the...tens of thousands? I played this game pretty much every day for like 5 years. I play it every now and then to this day, and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life
Goldeneye/Perfect Dark: These two games got me started on multiplayer first of all. This was probably the first or second videogame in my life I had an obsession for. It wasn't necessarily better than other games but it just took me over. I liked this game a lot and it began me spending a ridiculous amount of hours playing multi/single. I spent too many hours in high school on the latter with a ton of friends. Memories I'll never forget.
Super Mario Bros/Castlevania: Both first games in the series, both first games I ever played in my entire life
King Kong on 360: First HD game I ever saw in my life. My knees nearly buckled when I saw it. To that point I don't think I'd even seen much of any pics/footage of the 360. I had no idea what it really looked like and seeing the demo at Future Shop was truly breaking. I called up my brothers with like tears in my eyes since it was a realization of a dream. I could NOT fucking believe the graphics I was seeing on-screen.
Turok 1: Groundbreaking classic I'll never forget with so many firsts.
Doom 3: It was the precursor to Dead Space. That alone would solidify its mention on my list but the game itself is damn awesome, damn atmospheric, and still damn impressive to this day. I also saw the leak and thought I was seeing Alien Technology.
Mario 64: Need I say more? Seeing it at a Kiosk at Toys R Us with a huge crowd around it was something I'll never forget. I'll also never forget holding the controller and controlling Mario for the first time, while holding the 64 pad wrong haha. Then the night we got the game like, a month later. Religious.
I initially thought there were only a few games that I'd really put top shelf, but skimming through the lists (thanks, Bold!), I found myself (throughout the course of 10 seconds) saying "hey, I like that game, too!"
Monster Hunter Tri I've spent the most time playing. I've logged well over 100 hours with the Negative World guys alone. Good stuff! Rock Band 2 and Beatles Rock Band were so so so awesome to me. I never thought of myself being a RB/GH guy, but those games are so great..and they bring the family together, too.
Muramasa is the prettiest game this generation by far, and I LOVED the retro-feel to it. Simple, yet deep enough to be extremely satisfying, which it is. Tales of Symphonia (both of 'em) were great games, and I enjoyed the crap out of them. PuzzleQuest: Challenge of the Warlords was another game that is incredibly easy to play, but requires a lot of strategy as rounds go on. If you want to "get everything," you'll be playing the game a LOT longer than those who just like matching up colors for minutes at a time.
Fire Emblem is a great series, and I enjoyed those games as well. I haven't played Path of Radiance yet, though I do own it. Lets leave the list at that right now.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories -- Still get goosebumps from the story and its ending. Plus, it's a game that oozes immersion. Using the Wii remote as a flashlight/cel phone was brilliantly implemented, and remains one of my favorite uses for the device so far.
Twilight Princess -- Zelda is my gaming equivalent to a drug addiction (I'd assume, I don't do drugs ). It did so many things right, even if the formula was starting to get stale by the time it released. I love so much about it, and replay it often. Snowpeak Ruins is my favorite dungeon of the series, and is really what set TP apart to me (and has me excited for Skyward Sword). If the series can introduce more areas like this, I'd be a happy camper.
Uncharted 2 -- I'm a sucker for big budget action blockbusters (Jurassic Park and The Mummy being some of my favorites). Uncharted 2 took the formula of an action blockbuster and translated it perfectly into a game. It was really the first time this gen where I legitimately forgot I was playing a video game a few times. I cared about the characters and nothing felt forced. Plus it was PURE FUN. And usually I cringe when over-the-top graphics get in the way of a game (developers making every texture shiny, over-animating hair strands, etc)...but that was never present in Uncharted. You can tell so much care went into the look of this game and it pays big time. I never thought about the graphics, it's simply just a gorgeous piece of entertainment (one that I am in awe of every time I play). Oh, and the multiplayer still has me hooked...
Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 -- I'd have payed 50 bucks each for their soundtracks alone. Beautiful one second, frantic and quirky the next...I love it! Each galaxy made a little lasting impression on me. It's definitely the game that reminded me why I play video games, and why I'm still a fan of Nintendo so many years after playing the first Mario (too cheesy? Sorry, but it's true!).
I really could go on for pages with Mario and some others. But since I'm at work, I'll cut it short and say Trace Memory and Fable 2 (and probably a few others I've forgotten) would be on this list as well...
Super Mario Galaxies: The first was spectacular, the second was perfection in the form of a sequel. I find it hard for them to improve upon 3D Marios after this generation, but I really hope they try. As long as there's orchestration, I'm there.
flower: A game that demands to be played, I dare you not to feel something while blowing around the lush environments.
Pixel Junk Shooter: I used to play/imagine scenarios like this as a child. I even had my own syndicated sci-fi series, haha!
Monster Hunter Tri: The opening sequence alone speaks volumes of this game.
Wii Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 - these games reminded me how time and time again Mario makes me melt New Super Mario Bros. Wii - similar to the above but with that classic tinge Little King's Story - what a unique game I didn't even know I'd like until it blew me away.
DS Picross DS - the discovery of this game and the kind of game has altered my needs for problem solving. I'm addicted. Final Fantasy Tactics A2 - my first game of this type. I was entirely consumed by it and have been wishing for another since. Animal Crossing: Wild World - the Animal Crossing series gets me like few games do and this was better than the Wii version
The World Ends With You- The story and gameplay just had me hooked. The story was mysterious and kept me going to the end. The twists really surprised me and the end just shocked me. The game play was great because of how much you were able to customize your pins. And the soundtrack! It had a mix of J-pop,J-rock,J-rap?, and whatever the intro song was. It was an experience that I was not expecting. The funny thing is that Yahtzee was the reason I rented the game in the first place. Strange world Isn't it?
Persona 4- I heard about this game on this board first. I checked some videos out on Youtube and ended up watching the first hour and a half of the story. It really hooked me with the characters and the story was something I wanted to see to the end. IT also had great twist on the typical turn based battles. It was challenging and fun(even though I died a fair amount of times). Then I saw the social links with the other characters. It was just a great experience all around.