I’ve wanted to do a Replay for Keeps list like Shaun, Chris, Jason, Nick, and David did for some time now, but I often struggle to beat games, let alone replay them. Either my busy schedule or forgetfulness leads me to neglect a game for several months at a time, so it’s basically a miracle if I can get through them. Luckily, there are some games that I’ve stuck with to the end and even revisited over the years. It may prevent me from finishing new games, but the games that I often go back and replay have ingenious design and are so much fun that it takes very little for me to want to play them again (even hearing the music is enough). So here we go!
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
Times played: One (and three quarters)
Starting my list off! …Is the most confusing entry on here. When I first played Wind Waker, I was in elementary school and a very bad gamer. I used a guide every step of the way in my first run but over the course of nearly ten years, I never finished it, stopping when I reached the final dungeon (which is where the three quarters mark comes from). But when the game was released on the Wii U, that was the perfect incentive to restart the game. This time, I beat it and loved it. The game looks stunning, both in the original release and in HD, the gameplay is sharp, the story is dark and wonderful, and the dungeons are so well done.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Times played: Two
I first watched my brother play Twilight Princess on the Wii shortly after it came out and absolutely loved it. I didn’t hesitate to buy the Gamecube copy, and it was the first game I distinctly remember beating without using a player’s guide, finding all of the Pieces of Hearts and secrets on my own. I replayed the game at a fairly quick pace to experience the story and Midna’s character without having to stress over trying to find everything again.
Kingdom Hearts II
Times played: Two
I started Kingdom Hearts II immediately after beating the first one (literally ejected the game and plopped this one in as soon as the secret ending played out) and immediately adored it. Kingdom Hearts II knew what to change and keep familiar. Introducing new worlds and characters, refining the combat system, but maintaining the perfect balance of humor and mature storytelling makes the game truly excellent. I revisited the game again after beating 358/2 Days and Dream Drop Distance, and it’s aged really well. While the series is constantly evolving and changing, Kingdom Hearts II still has the perfect blend of fun gameplay and exciting worlds to visit that made both of my playthroughs memorable.
Pokemon Black and White
Times played: Two
Pokemon Black and White are my favorite entries in the series. It’s not even close. I love the engaging and original story. The characters actually feel like people rather than caricatures. The Pokemon designs were pretty solid all around, and the region was unique and exciting to explore. I love everything about these games and REALLY want to play a 3DS remake of this generation in particular. But I digress. I first played Pokemon Black, maxing out my Pokemon’s levels to 100 and beating the Pokemon League more times than I can count. Afterwards, I was itching to replay it and bought Pokemon White to get a varied take on the region and Pokemon. My first experience is still the one I remember more vividly though, and from time to time I still turn it on just to run around and kill everything with my level 100 team of death.
Final Fantasy IX
Times played: Two (and a half)
2013, 2015, 2016
I became interested in playing Final Fantasy IX after the first Best Games Ever list we did some years back. I remembered Shaun playing the game when I was little, and seeing it rank within the top 25 games got me curious. I barreled through it on my Playstation 2 and absolutely loved it. The story is incredibly deep and complex. The characters are realistic and lovable. I’ve played the game on three different systems now—my Playstation 2, a Playstation Portable, and my phone—and it’s still so fun every single time. I’ve written about this game so many times, there’s nothing more I could possibly say to express my love any further. It’s amazing, and everyone should play it. EVERYONE.
Times played: Three
2016, 2016, 2017
I first played Chrono Trigger as a Let’s Play for the site with Chris and if you watched my horrendous run through the game, you’ll know I loved it but struggled immensely. Even before beating it for the channel, I was already looking forward to playing it again and bought the DS version to experience the additional endings, dungeons, and refined translations. Since then, I did another completionist run on the DS and have started to unlock some of the different endings through New Game plus. Chrono Trigger is a fantastic game with huge replay value, and not just because of the multiple endings. Exploring all of the event variations excites me (like purposefully getting the guilty verdict), and the story and characters are so epic and endearing that it keeps me coming back for more.
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
Times played: Three
2010, 2011, 2013
Dark Dawn, compared to its predecessors, isn’t quite as strong. The story doesn’t hit the same highs, and while most of the cast of characters is excellent, there are some who aren’t nearly as developed or interesting. Despite how aware I am that the earlier games are superior, I still adore this game a lot and have replayed it quite a few times. Dark Dawn’s gameplay is addictive, refining what was good about the early games while modernizing it in the right places to be more accessible. Collecting all of the Djinn and the Summons is my obsession, and customizing the character’s equipment and fighting style is always so fun every time I play it.
Fire Emblem: Awakening
Times played: Four
2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
Fire Emblem: Awakening is a noteworthy game in that I was completely obsessed with it. I’ve been obsessed with games before, but not quite to this level. I played Awakening at every possible opportunity that I had. The story and characters are so great, the gameplay is fun, and the relationships and classes are addictive. Exploring the different relationships the characters could have with each other and assigning classes to max out their potential is part of why I’ve played this game as many times as I have. Fates, while good, didn’t hold my attention in the same way. Awakening had a certain magic, a perfect balance of challenging fights but compelling story and satisfying character moments. It’s only a matter of time before I’ll want to play it again.