Replay for Keeps: What videogames do you replay?

Let me start by linking to this article, which was the inspiration for this piece.

It got me thinking about games in my own life that I love and replay multiple times, and the various reasons that lead me to do that. So, I’ve decided to start a little segment where the crew and I explore the games we’ve played through time after time, and why. Then, at the end, we’ll compare lists and decide…something, I’m sure.

While it might come off as a “Best Games” list, similar to the one we compiled already on the site, this one is different because I’m focusing primarily on replayability. So, Metroid Prime, which I think is one of the best games ever, is out, because I’ve only played it once.

One caveat in the competition: only games with a lengthy campaign count. This means that the original Super Mario Bros. works, but titles like Star Fox 64, which features short levels designed to encourage exploration of multiple paths, or Super Smash Bros. Melee, don’t count.

I’ve ordered the list based in ascending order of the number of times I’ve completed it. Here we go.

Super Mario 64

Times played through: Three

1998, 2000, 2004

The game that might be more responsible for the true breadth and depth of my love for gaming, Super Mario 64 is a game I don’t think I’ll ever stop playing. It’s managed to age perfectly, a testament to its absolutely unparalleled, solid mechanics. Even though the game’s “Mario” now looks like a bunch of jagged legos trying to resemble an abstract art painting trying to resemble the seminal plumber, it doesn’t even matter, because the control is so tight and the game world is so rich. Mix in the classic soundtrack and impeccable level design and pacing, and you have a game that I will be completing many more times before my own rapidly advancing Game Over. And by that I mean death.

Because Mario Twin Wonder Powers activate.
Because Mario Twin Wonder Powers activate.

Kingdom Hearts II

Times played through: Three

2006, 2006, annnnnd…2006

Some of you have heard mutterings about my highly publicized “fat phase.” Well, I’m here to tell you that everything you’ve heard it true. Yes, I gained 80 pounds. Yes, I rolled out of bed at noon, turned on my videogames, played non-stop save for a Chinese buffet dinner break, and then rolled back into bed. Literally. My bean bag was right next to the bed.

Well, the game I spent most of my time with was Kingdom Hearts 2, and in a rare hat trick, I played through the game three times back to back to back. I don’t know if it was the characters, the epic plot, or the excellent, frenetic gameplay, but I couldn’t get enough of this game. Once I can confront the horrors of my past again, I’m sure I’ll play it again. Maybe when Kingdom Hearts 3 comes out? HAHAHAHAHAHA GOOD ONE THAT GAMES NEVER COMING OUT.

Because at this point I'd accept even this to play KH 3.
Because at this point I’d accept even this to play KH 3.

Final Fantasy IX

Times played through: Three

2000, 2002, 2005

If you follow me obsessively, which why would you do that at all, you’d know that Final Fantasy IX and VI are my favorite in the series. For me, IX brought back everything I loved about the franchise, but what made it so great to replay was the amount of layers Square embedded within the title. Multiple play-throughs invite you to seek out hidden ultimate weapons, learn obscure abilities, find secret items, fight elusive bosses, and enjoy the same great characters and plot that made the original playthrough so amazing in the first place.

Because shut up.
Because shut up.

Mass Effect 2

Times played through: Three

2010, 2011, 2011, 2012

Mass Effect 2 is unique because of the impetus that drove me to play through it four different times – I was BENT on creating the perfect character to lead into Mass Effect 3 with. My first time through was too pure, and I thought I came off like a damn pansy. I couldn’t save the galaxy if I was too busy curtsying to ever villain and ally across the galaxy.

So I decided to go a little more Renegade. On this side, I had fun, but didn’t like how I treated my fan Verner (it broke my heart). Also, I let Samara get murdered by her daughter, which was interesting, except there was NO context for it. It’s like when your parents tell you you’re going to “talk about it later,” but then they never do, and you don’t want to bring it up, because you’re afraid.

Finally, I said SCREW YOU MORALITY POINTS, and went with a balanced character. He tended to skew a little more towards Renegade, but was more like a just, Jack Bauer figure than a borderline anti-hero.

Then I did it again for a refresher before ME 3 released, the end.

As I side note, I refused to let any of my crew die in any iteration. Because f*** that.

L'Oreal. Because she's worth it.
L’Oreal. Because she’s worth it.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Times played through: Four

1998, 1999, 2001, 2011

Due to the unholy amount of hype this game received in the months leading up to its release, Ocarina of Time might be my most feverishly anticipated game ever, and I’ve definitely given it its fair share of play-throughs. My vote for best game of all time, I’ve gotten to enjoy the title many times for many different reasons.

  • The first run was the initial “awe” campaign that took place during a single rental. I had to speed through the game, and returned it only moments after I shoved my sword in Ganon’s pig forehead.
  • In my second run, I was able to take my time and soak more of the experience up. This was probably my favorite play-through, as I was able to explore the world, interact with characters, and traverse the dungeon’s at my own pace.
  • The third run was my completionist play-through – I sought out every Piece of Heart and Gold Skulltula, and finally obtained the ice arrows…which really did nothing but were cool.
  • My final go was afforded by the rerelease on the 3DS, and it was an amazing experience to revisit the game with better graphics, more intuitive controls, and occasional 3D.
Because fan fiction.
Because fan fiction.

Final Fantasy VI

Times played through: Four (and a half)

1996, 1997, 2003, 2008

Like I stated above, Final Fantasy VI was the series epitome for me, and thanks to handheld releases, missable characters, and Super Nintendo memory errors, I’ve gotten to experience the journey of these classic characters many times. It still stands as the series best, and the way the series is going lately (I barely finished XIII once, let alone four times), they could learn a thing or two from this installment.

To clarify the half, I got to the world of ruin for the first time, and was so excited. That’s when God spited me and threw a lightning bolt at my house. When the electricity came back on, the cartridge’s memory was wiped completely clean, and I learned that day what a broken heart felt like.

Because suicide is a thing in this game.
Because suicide is a thing in this game.

Pokemon Red/Blue

Times played through: Four

1998, 1999, 2001, 2004

So obsessed was I with this series that I played through both different version to catch them all. And I succeeded, at least originally. Then, after hearing the rumor about gaining access to the secret area to catch a Mew, I deleted my perfect game save to try again.

The rumor was false. And so my heart broke yet again.

This one is kind of cheating because my final play through came on Fire Red, but let’s get real – it was the exact same game, just spruced up and more attractive. You can put lipstick on a Bulbasaur, but it’s still a Bulbasaur.

Bulbasaur.

Because F*** YOU GARY
Because F*** YOU GARY

Metal Gear Solid 2

Times played through: Four

2003, 2004, 2006, 2012

I take a lot of flak for loving Metal Gear Solid 2 the most in the series, but what can I do? Lie to my heart? I approach play-throughs of MGS 2 like I approach my favorite movies, and each run is a chance to soak up the great (often verbose) dialogue and twisting narrative. In terms of scope, you don’t beat Metal Gear Solid 2, and the set pieces alone could fill an entire list of my favorite game moments. Say what you will about the story and characters, but this is the game that introduced the major threads of Metal Gear Solid 4, and is solely responsible for the game’s best parts (the fight with Vamp, everything with Raiden), as well as Raiden’s own solid spin-off. It should be regarded as one of the best games ever for what it does (ambitious themes, forward-thinking plot) as much as it what it doesn’t do (follow a tired, formulaic structure).

L'Oreal. Because he's DAMMIT I USED THAT JOKE ALREADY
L’Oreal. Because he’s DAMMIT I USED THAT JOKE ALREADY

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

Times played through: Five

2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009

As a gamer, it’s fascinating to discover which classic games you’ll enjoy once or twice and leave on the shelf, and the ones that will continue to stay relevant over the years. For all of the guffawing regarding Wind Waker’s “tedious” sailing, limited dungeons, and silly design, I’ve somehow found a way to play through this game five different times already, with a sixth run coming soon once the update is released on the Wii U. Wind Waker tells the best story in the series, the characters are varied and dynamic, the pacing is almost perfect (having to track down the pieces at the end does get slightly monotonous, though I enjoy it more than most), and the gameplay is immaculate – I can say, without a doubt, that the swordplay in WW is the most enjoyable in the series, both in control execution and aesthetic flourish. And because of my disturbingly abysmal short term memory, every time I play through the dungeon’s, it’s like I’m experience it for the first time. Hooray for early-onset Alzheimers disease!

Because this in no way relates but I think it looks badass.
Because this in no way relates but I think it looks badass.

Resident Evil 5

Times played through: Five

2009, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

This one’s sort of a mystery. It’s not the best survival horror game out there. It’s not even the best game in the series. But something about the addictive nature of the treasures, unlockables, weapon upgrades, Wesker, Wesker, and Wesker, I always seem to come back to this game. It’s probably because no play-through feels like  waste of time – you’re always contributing to your money total and unlocking something, and the story is enjoyable every time. The gun zombies are introduced way too early and are way too prevalent, but the co-op is enjoyable, and the fights with Wesker, including the one with Jill, is one of my favorite in gaming. And check out this dialogue! Amazing! :

  • Wesker: “CHRRRIIIISSSSS!”
  • Chris: “I’ve had enough…of your…bullshit!”
  • *Chris punching a boulder
  • Sheva: “CHRIISSSSS!”
  • Chris: “CHRIIISSSSSSSSS!”
Because CHHRRRIIISSSSS
Because CHHRRRIIISSSSS.

Mass Effect

Times played through: Six

2007, 2008, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012

I feel like truly great game design is one that can not only deliver an impeccable initial experience, but can encourage the player to go back through multiple times. To that end, Mass Effect is one of the greatest games ever. The sheer amount of classes, powers, story options, and character moments to experiment with are staggering, and they do it with a story that is a treat to experience every time.

Furthermore, while future entries would later ditch the bulk of traditional RPG elements, the original includes them in spades. This means that it takes multiple play-throughs to max out your characters stats and abilities. If I’m a galaxy renowned Spectre, my guy/girl better be a damn god. I want to kill bosses with one shot-gun blast, and approach every situation with force. The hell with diplomacy. Only the weak try to barter or come to reasonable agreements.

And that’s why I should be a dictator.

Because you can tell it's the future when women wear pink armor and spout racist alien nonsense.
Because you can tell it’s the future when women wear pink armor and spout racist alien nonsense.

13 thoughts on “Replay for Keeps: What videogames do you replay?

  1. I actually wish I had more time to replay all the games I have that have a high replay value. The only game I can say that I’m in the process of replaying is the Mass Effect series, this time as a male Shepard. I’m halfway done with Mass Effect 2, but even then, I put that on hold because of Fire Emblem.

    It’s funny, I own a lot of games that are meant to be played again, but so far I’ve only done maybe one run of certain games so far. Kind of wish I didn’t get into gaming a little late in life…2009ish late. Maybe I’d have a list of games I loved and replayed again like you do.

    1. Yeah, and the truth is, some people *cough*Chrish*cough still consider me as a latecomer because I really got started around 94 or 95. You’ll notice the earliest most of my games go is like 1996-98, haha. That’s okay. We’re just more awesome because we can view games with a more objective eye. Yeah, that’s it.

  2. But not ChronoTrigger? Really? NEW GAME +! I mean, whatever floats your boat, I guess. I have only played through 2-3 games more than once, ever, but I don’t do stuff twice, typically.

  3. I could not agree more about FFIX and VI. Without doubt the two best in my opinion–yes, VII was great… but not as great. Both are on my list of replayed games (and I don’t do that often). Great list and, in some cases, a nice walk down memory lane.

  4. I tend to playthrough most games I get an average of 2-3 times, but there are a few standouts. Most notably, I’ve played through Mass Effect 1 8 times, Mass Effect 2 6 times, I’ve lost count of my Majora’s Mask playthroughs (I think It’s somewhere around 9 or 10), and I’ve gotten through KoTOr II 4 times. (I’d like to add FFVII to the list but I’ve never actually beaten it, I always get to a certain point before eventually starting over.

    Replaying games is like re-watching a movie or re-reading a book. It doesn’t matter that you’ve heard the story before or know how everything plays out by heart, there’s something almost magical about the experience that doesn’t fade no matter how many time you revisit it.

    1. Agreed. It’s almost more special because of the memories and feelings it evokes than the story it tells upon subsequent experiences.

  5. Super Mario 64 was one of my favorites as well. Played through it a few times. Donkey Kong 64, however, was my game. For a while, it’s all I played. I wanted to get a perfect game. Also, Kingdom Hearts for the PSP still keeps me entertained when I need something to keep me occupied.

    1. You know, looking back, Donkey Kong 64 wasn’t exactly a great game, but damn if it wasn’t completely addicting at the time. I even spent hours playing the awful multiplayer.

      DONKEY KONG IS HERE

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