With Thanksgiving coming up, we at The Koalition thought it was the perfect time to talk about some of the games and franchises that we’re most thankful for.
American holiday aside, this is a post meant for gamers across the globe.
Final Fantasy series (1987 – current)
Gary A. Swaby – Co-founder / UK Manager
The series I’m most thankful for is Final Fantasy from Square Enix. As a lover of thought provoking storylines, Squre Enix has consistently done a great job of telling brand new stories with each new iteration of the Final Fantasy series. While my favorite of the series is Final Fantasy VII, each game has an emotionally captivating storyline that is certain to occupy a place in your mind for years after.
You can literally pick any of the numbered Final Fantasy games and fall in love with the story and characters. Even the heavily criticized Final Fantasy XIII had a solid story and spawned one of the best female Final Fantasy main characters ever (Lightning). I feel like she’s one of the strongest female lead characters to come from a game in the past ten years, but she’s often glossed over because of the reception of the XIII series.
The grinding element to Final Fantasy games which includes exploring in order to level up, unlock new equipment and abilities never gets old and is consistently enjoyable. Many RPGs can fall victim to being tedious with the levelling system, but I’ve never hated grinding in a Final Fantasy game, and the developers always do a fantastic job of rewarding you for your efforts. Want to mop the floor with that final boss? Want to obtain a weapon that will make the fight a little smoother? Then put the work in and you’ll be laughing all the way home. Even if you don’t want to grind that much, the challenge of boss battles are still fun. The battle systems in Final Fantasy games are so addictive that I’ll pick up and play one of the games just to battle a few enemies when I want to kill some time.
Square Enix also does a great job in the aspect of world building and I can’t recall a single, dull world in the series. The Final Fantasy games are some of the most balanced RPG games out there, and that is why I am thankful for them.
Metal Gear Solid series (1998 – current)
Tony Polanco – Executive Editor
What can I say about one of the best franchises in video game history that hasn’t already been said? Not much, but I’m going to do it anyway because, more than any other series I’ve experienced, the MGS franchise is the one I’m most thankful for as a gamer.
When I first saw the intro of Metal Gear Solid, I was blown away by the fact that the credits were rolling as the game started. I had never seen anything like that in a game. I’ve been a fan of movies my entire life and Metal Gear Solid felt like the perfect marriage of film and games. Sure, we had a ton of Full Motion Video games in the early 90’s (thanks, Sega), but even though they had actual live action actors, they didn’t quite capture the cinematic feel that the first Metal Gear Solid did at the time. The rest of the games in the series were, and are, no different in that regard.
Metal Gear Solid 3 in particular is, what I like to call, “the greatest movie I’ve ever played.” Even now in 2015, no game I’ve played comes close to matching the cinematic feel and scope of 2005’s MGS3. I could have easily tossed this game here by itself. THAT is how much of an impact it has made on my life as a gamer.
I’m also thankful for the historical lessons these games provide. Many gamers are too young to remember the constant threat of annihilation felt during The Cold War; the fear that, at any moment, your life, and the life of those around you, could be eradicated by nuclear fire. The MGS series captures the sense of dread and paranoia that those of us who grew up during the time experienced. It also goes into the politics behind The Cold War, and deconstructs the nature of Mutually Assured Destruction, and the willingness, or lack thereof, of mankind to make itself extinct.
There’s obviously so much more I can write about when it comes to MGS: the memorable characters, the expertly realized stealth elements, the over-the-top boss battles, and the countless Kojima-isms that make the franchise so special. Without the MGS series, my life as a gamer and perhaps my life in general, would be a bit less diminished.
Halo series (2001 – current)
Anthony Nash – News Editor
When we decided to put this list together, I thought long and hard about what game I was truly thankful for. There are so many iconic franchises to speak of (and many that some other staffers have chosen), but only one stuck out to me when it was all said and done. After all, where would we be without Halo?
Halo, if you didn’t know, was one of Bungies very first creations, and quickly became the flagship franchise for the Xbox. While the story may not appeal to everyone, it’s what Halo did that we should be thankful for. At the time, not many first person shooters were establishing worlds to inhabit like Halo was, and not only did they write the blueprint for how to turn a franchise into a full-blown behemoth (countless books, games, and short films have been made around the franchise), they also influenced the way we play video games with each other.
Between the first and second Halo, Bungie single-handedly introduced online gaming to platforms while they reveled in the spotlight. I don’t think it’s an extreme overreaction to say that Halo 2‘s release and subsequent handling of online multiplayer was a total shift in the gaming landscape. With a highly praised matchmaking system that set the groundwork for how online gaming works today, Halo is as important to gaming history as Pac-Man and we should be very thankful for it.
Bayonetta Series (2009 & 2014)
Stephanie Burdo – Managing Editor & Site Administrator
The moment we decided to give thanks to our favorite video games series’, the first thing that came to mind was Bayonetta.
Never before had a game made me feel empowered, sexy and mystical ALL at the same time. Although most women could say that Bayonetta is the direct example of the over-sexualization of female video game characters, you cannot deny that there is truly something special about Cereza aside from her blatant sexual attitude. As a half Umbra Witch and half Lumen Sage, Bayonetta is composed of both the darkness and the light. Growing up alone and on the run from strange creatures, Bayonetta had to learn to be self-sufficient. Although her guarded facade paints her as a selfish, self-fulfilling sex kitten, she is anything but.
Every time I dive back into the Bayonetta games, I find myself completely immersed in the “fabulous-ness” of the game. I love how every time after a battle, Bayonetta blows a kiss to shatter the arena seal (I would be lying if I said I didn’t blow my own kiss in unison with her every time). And you can’t deny that her special lollipops are the most brilliant attribute to in-game sexy ever. You wouldn’t think that healing could appear so sultry, but when Bayonetta is in dialogue with an enemy sucking on her tiny red lollipop, I just can’t help but fawn over how FABULOUS she is.
I would like to imagine that in a separate reality, I am Bayonetta —a guarded soul with a broken past and empowered sexual attitude. She is everything I want to be and if I could choose to be anyone on earth, I would be Cereza *weeps internally*.
The Legend of Zelda series (1986 – current)
David Jagneaux – Senior Editor
I have no doubts or hesitations when I say that The Legend of Zelda is, by far, the most important game franchise to me on this planet. I’ve written about how it helped my cope with my father dying when I was only three years old, but its importance for me goes much deeper than that.
For me, The Legend of Zelda games represent the epitome of my nostalgic innocence. I was a 90s kid and the most prolific entries in the franchise such as A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, and Majora’s Mask all released while I was a small child. That allowed me to play them obsessively, talk about them at school with my friends, and watch in awe as my older cousins easily bested the bosses and dungeons that I’d been stuck on for months. It was more than just a series of games, they were a series of adventures that I took part in. Link’s voiceless escapades shaped my view of the world around me like no other work of fiction, whether it be movie, book, or otherwise, ever could.
As I got older, the franchise continued to grow and expand with me. The Wind Waker took place on the wide open seas, a seemingly poignant representation of my life at the time. I was just beginning to reach the point in my childhood that I’d begin making choices and taking on responsibilities and The Great Sea of The Wind Waker fit my life perfectly.
After I hit high school and began to mature more, so too did Link. Twilight Princess is one of the only T-rated games in the series and features more visually realistic graphics and overtly darker themes than many others in the franchise. It felt like the culmination of A Link to the Past’s design principles in a 3D world and it was a magical adventure. While it’s not in my top three for the series, it has a lot of high points, such as the final series of boss fights at the end, which I still think are the best the series has ever seen.
Skyward Sword was wonderful as well, in its own ways, and Zelda Wii U aims to continue raising that bar even higher. I’ve probably played more hours of The Elder Scrolls, had more thrills in Final Fantasy, scored more touchdowns in Madden, and likely enjoyed more late nights in various MMOs, but I’ll always come back to The Legend of Zelda as my favorite. Thankful doesn’t even begin to express the gratitude I have towards this truly legendary series.
Jurassic Park (1993)
Dana Abercrombie – Content Writer
It’s time to give thanks, and while we’re all praising recent games, I want to take it back… way back to when gaming for me was uncharted territory. A time when there no such thing as 3D graphics, wireless remotes, or even colors. Lets go back to 1993 when Game Boy released what would forever change my life: Jurassic Park.
This simple game had a tiny pixelated avatar that would run across the green screen of the Game Boy, collecting tranquilizer guns, shooting dinosaurs, and running for its life. Stripped down to its basics, Jurassic Park wasn’t trying to impress me with an overly complicated storyline or cast of characters. Despite the technology, dinosaurs would scare me as they popped out of nowhere. The quest to find eggs was exhausting despite not having a open-world sandbox. Then there was the stampede, which gathered its inspiration from the first film. Running, jumping, and moving away from these unpredictable beasts would unknowingly prepare me for gaming today.
Those hours spent gaming all those years ago can be applied to games I appreciate today. I found the ability to play as either a dinosaur or human in the original Evolve. My ability to run smoothly is what makes me rather decent at Mirror’s Edge. That stampede is no different from running from the cops in Grand Theft Auto V. Finding eggs is no different than many side-quests you’ll find in the Batman series.
Jurassic Park, I tip my hat to you.
Those are some of the games and series we are thankful for but we want to know what games you are all thankful for. Please let us know in the comments below.