The 25 Games You Need to Finish Before You Die
It's inevitable. One day -- and let's hope it's not today, because we totally did not make our beds or even shower this morning -- we will all have to go "into the light." You can't escape it, unlike Dick Clark or those crafty kids in "Final Destination." (What a movie!)
But before you go into the great beyond, instead of visiting the pyramids or making peace with your alcoholic father, make certain that you've guided these 25 games through to their final credits. [Crispy Gamer Pro Tip: Print out this list, tack it to your fridge, and cross out the games as you work through them.]
If you don't finish these 25 games, don't come crying to us when you're on your deathbed, and all your people are singing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," and you have this strange sense of unfinished business. You won't be able to come crying to us anyway. Because you will be on your deathbed. And even if you could come crying to us, all we would say is: "We told you so."
25. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (Dreamcast/PlayStation/N64; 2000)
What you'll miss out on: Virtual skateboarders were free to explore huge, outdoor environments. (And unlock secrets, like the hidden pool in the "School II" level.) No interest in skateboarding? Shut up and play it anyway.
24. Shadow of the Colossus (PS2; 2005)
What you'll miss out on: The story of a boy, his woefully short sword and his quest to save a very pale girl. Bringing down the game's big, sad giants is somehow satisfying and troubling at once.
23. Resident Evil 4 (GameCube/Wii/PS2; 2005)
What you'll miss out on: The guy wielding a chainsaw with a burlap sack over his head. And he does not appear to be here to give you candy. Nothing, and we mean nothing, in Resident Evil 5 holds a candle to this moment.
22. God of War (PS2; 2005)
What you'll miss out on: The best hydra battle of all time. It makes what King Kong did to that T-Rex in the original movie look like a game of patty cake.
21. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PlayStation; 1997)
What you'll miss out on: Unlocking Dracula's second, more bizarre castle.
20. Super Mario 64 (N64; 1996)
What you'll miss out on: Sliding/racing with a giant penguin in the "Snow Mountain" level; swimming with a gigantic sea monster; seeing coins float in three dimensions.
19. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES; 1992)
What you'll miss out on: The story of a pudgy boy named Link, his woefully short sword and his quest to find a princess with the name of an exotic dancer (Zelda). Face it: This game is better than the windy, less-focused Ocarina of Time.
18. DOOM (PC; 1993)
What you'll miss out on: A battle with a towering, goat-horned Cyberdemon that will make your palms itch afterwards.
17. Chrono Trigger (SNES, PlayStation; DS; 1995)
What you'll miss out on: One of the deepest, most satisfying storylines in gaming history. "And," John Teti adds, "Ayla was pretty hot."
16. Final Fantasy VI (SNES, PlayStation; 1994)
What you'll miss out on: More rich and varied characters than a Robert Altman movie. Yes, we said VI, not VII. Don't even start with us.
15. Grand Theft Auto III (PS2, PC, Xbox; 2001)
What you'll miss out on: The birth of the sandbox genre. And Rockstar somehow made all of it look completely effortless.
14. Fallout (PC, Mac; 1997)
What you'll miss out on: The only way one should ever visit the Wasteland.
13. Mafia (PC; 2002)
What you'll miss out on: Imagine the Godfather games, only done with wit, intelligence and conviction.
12. Advance Wars (GBA; 2001)
What you'll miss out on: It sounds dull -- it's chess done Nintendo-style -- but there's a jaw-dropping amount of content crammed into this tiny cartridge.
11. Guitar Hero II (PS2, 360; 2006)
What you'll miss out on: The quintessential I'm-playing-a-little-plastic-instrument moment: playing Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird."
10. Beyond Good & Evil (PC, Xbox, GameCube, PS2; 2003)
What you'll miss out on: One of gaming's great heroines -- the green-lipstick-wearing Jade -- and one of the most ambitious (and poorest-selling) videogames ever made.
9. BioShock (PC, 360, PS3, Mac; 2007)
What you'll miss out on: Gaming's oddest odd couple: the Big Daddy and the Little Sister.
8. Metal Gear Solid (PS1; 1998)
What you'll miss out on: The tightest, most efficient MGS in the series. This was before Kojima went insane.
7. Super Mario Bros. (NES; 1986)
What you'll miss out on: The game that launched a thousand platformers. If you haven't finished this one, there's really no hope for you.
6. The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (Xbox, PC; 2004)
What you'll miss out on: Something that no other game on this list arguably has: a terrific third act and grand finale.
5. Super Metroid (SNES; 1994)
What you'll miss out on: The exploding-ship/run-like-hell/now-I-have-to-fight-Ridley opening sequence.
4. Ico (PS2; 2001)
What you'll miss out on: The story of a boy, his woefully short fighting stick and the strange, tall, willowy girl who has the ability to open rock-gates by shooting lightning out of her body.
3. Portal (PC, 360, PS3; 2007)
What you'll miss out on: The world's first FPP (first-person puzzler).
2. Half-Life (PC; 1998)
What you'll miss out on: The story of a bespectacled man, his woefully short crowbar and his quest to figure out where all of these one-eyed alien freaks are coming from.
1. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! (NES; 1987)
What you'll miss out on: The ultimate gaming challenge. Many have claimed to have KO'ed Tyson, and many of those people would be lying. Beat Tyson -- not Mr. Dream, who replaced Tyson after his legal woes began -- and you, friend, can die with an accomplished smile on your face.
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