Over the course of a lifetime, it’s safe to say I’ve played a lot of games. Perhaps too many. Consumers always feel the need to get their money’s worth when it comes to buying video games, and while short games can offer some short-term fun, if they have no replayability, they’re likely to sit on the shelf for a while. Wouldn’t it feel somewhat deflating to spend sixty dollars on a shiny new AAA game, only to play it for a combined ten hours of gametime? Games become more memorable and more impactful when the player feels as though they can spend long periods of time with it without getting bored. This emphasis on replayability is something I feel most game developers don’t account for, but it hasn’t always been that way. For this list, I’ll be counting down the Top 10 games I’ve personally put the most time into, and not researching the Top 10 games that would likely be the most time-consuming to complete. That list would be full of MMORPGs. I also tried to limit this list to one game per franchise, so it’d be safe to assume that if a sequel/prequel game appears on this list, I’ve likely spent a lot of time with others games in its franchise, too.
10. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2
Anime wasn’t always a near-constant in my life, but if there was one series that always suited my fancy, it was Dragon Ball Z. It always amazes me to this day how much time I spent on this relatively pointless game. The game is a fighting game, in a style similar to that of most other fighting games. It provides a variety of modes and activities for the player to partake in, but all amount to collecting money or other artificial collectibles to obtain moves or special abilities for characters to fight more efficiently. In the long run, it doesn’t seem to warrant playing it for so long, but as a child, there was always one thing I enjoyed more than anything.
This mode was simply dubbed “Dragon World.” It served as the major mode of the game, akin to a “Story Mode” of sorts. It displayed the story of Dragon Ball Z in a board game-like fashion, with selectable characters as pieces on a large map that corresponds with the story. While on the surface this seems trivial, there are also hidden collectibles throughout each stage that make exploring the world more appealing. One can search for stat boosts, dragon balls, money, and others while combating the characters that make their approach. As a kid, I always loved this style of play where I could boost my character’s stats to absurdly high levels and obliterate the competition without any effort. I’m also a fan of exploring, too, so the options given during this mode always had me digging in every spot I landed in. It’s nice when your attack stat is at 170%, your defense is 180%, and you can move three spots a turn.
I’m sure some would read this and think “How can this stay entertaining for multiple hours at a time?” I’m inclined to agree with their confusion, because I really couldn’t tell you. Every level in Dragon World is essentially the same: dig for goodies and beat the bad guys. Eventually, the player will be transported to a different location where they’ll get to do it all over again with other characters. There’s really no reason why this should be so fun for so long, but I really enjoyed it, and I played it for a very long time. If not for Dragon World, I’d be entering Tournament Mode to compete for money and going in and out of the Item Shop to look for specific skills. Most importantly of all, I just enjoyed playing this simplistic, yet effective fighting game. I wouldn’t put up with everything for so long if the game wasn’t fun. It certainly was.
9. Sonic Adventure 2: Battle
It’s almost cliché to say at this point, but Sonic Adventure 2 was one of my favorite Sonic games as a child. This game was basically an accumulation of everything about the Sonic franchise I held dear. I got to go fast with Sonic and Shadow, treasure hunt with Knuckles and Rouge, and blow stuff up in cool machines with Tails and Eggman. This was a truly magical experience for my childhood mindset, and one that I will always hold dear, despite the fact that the game today is a little less than satisfying.
While it may be cliché to say that I loved this game as a kid, it might be even more cliché to say that the game is very clearly overrated. The story makes zero sense, the sound quality is jarring, and the enjoyment of the game really depends on the level of interest one has with the style of gameplay each character incorporates. Going fast, treasure hunting, or shooting things with robots. It all sounds fun, but Sonic Adventure 2 has a way of making things more dull than meets the eye, but this isn’t a full review.
A large portion of my time dedicated to this game came in the form of “Chao World.” This mode isn’t even part of the main storyline. It’s a side thing where players can raise little creatures called chao and use them to compete in wrestling, races, or otherwise keep ’em company. Defeating robotic enemies in a level will have them drop a certain colored core, and the player can take them to the Chao Garden where the chao will feast upon the nutrients to raise its individual skills. That sounds horrifying described that way. In any case, my love for leveling things up powered through and gave me an innate motivation to power these little buggers up to the highest possible level, while having them transform into “mature” chaos. This process of leveling up and caring for the chao takes quite a bit of time, too. One can’t expect to raise a perfectly OP chao over the course of a weekend. It takes weeks of dedication and playing the game over and over again. While it may seem cheap as it’s supposed to take a while, Chao World is probably the single-most largest reason I spent so much time logging hours into this game. Not for the game itself, but for a cute side mode that requires time and dedication. Almost like Tamagotchi or something.
8. Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense
It’s at this point in the list where we can finally get down with our bad selves.
This game is already familiar to those who read my Top 10 Most Impactful Games of My Childhood list, so there isn’t much need to go over a lot of for this list. Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense is a poor man’s Twisted Metal. Though I would be willing to debate that this game is better than Twisted Metal. With a full roster of unique (and peculiarly diverse) characters and a premise of “blowing shit up,” Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense is a revamped and reloaded sequel that manages to remain fun and fresh throughout time. Whether or not this infatuation of the game is due to my own nostalgic spectacles is beyond me, but it won’t stop me from recommending it every chance I get.
This game, unlike the two games before it, is something I actually still play to this day. Sonic Adventure 2: Battle gets old after the first couple of playthroughs, and Budokai 2‘s gameplay mechanics and modes pale in comparison to future titles, such as Budokai 3. What makes this game so amazingly replayable is… to be honest, I’m not really sure. Whether it be, once again, the nostalgic value I feel for the game, the overpowered cheat codes, or the glitchiness of the game that makes the gameplay incredibly unpredictable, 2nd Offense has this magic power over me that has me wanting to play it every time I think about it. The catchy music, the memorably bad (and almost indistinguishable) character dialogue, the silly story, the bizarre character-specific special weapons; this game has so much going for it that it’s a shame not many know about it. I cannot begin to describe the amount of entertainment this game has provided me.
The only reason this game doesn’t make it higher on the list is because when I do play this game, it typically isn’t for very long. Completing the game 100% shouldn’t take more than a couple of days, and aside from doing the Quest Mode, most other modes are pretty mediocre. The only one I can recall off-hand is Survival Mode, which is exactly what it’s titled. Something I’d do once maybe for something different, but it’s not really too immersive. Had this game not had that magic longevity to it, it probably wouldn’t have a long shelf life. But it does have that magic to it—at least in my eyes—so it remains as one of the most replayable games among my video game library.
Now that I’m thinking about it, I should start playing this game again…
7. Pokémon Silver
It seems like I’ve been talking about this game a lot recently. No matter; Pokémon Silver is the game that introduced me to the main line of Pokémon games. It’s the game that introduced me to the gaming phenomenon that the Pokémon empire had been building up to that point. I was already fond of the Pokémon anime, along with various Pokémon game spin-offs, but I never really got the taste of a true Pokémon experience. Until I played Silver.
Like 2nd Offense (You’ll be seeing this a few more times), Silver is a game I still play to this day. While I no longer have a physical copy of the game, I still have an emulator to play the game for me, and the amount of time I spent with the game as a kid combined with recent playthroughs, Silver has taken a pretty big chunk of time out of my life. While the game is somewhat limited with the efficiency of certain pokémon as competent main party material, I also do my best to vary the pokémon I have with every playthrough. I actually went through with Togetic as a main party member with my most recent playthrough, and have even used Corsola as a party member before. Who uses Corsola?
Admittedly, the game does get a little stale after the first couple times. I don’t play this game religiously, and only ever start another run after a year or so. I know almost everything about the game at this point that it becomes more of a chore to grind and listen to familiar dialogue than anything. Still, if I was so tired of it, I wouldn’t continue to go back to it. Regardless of its age and lack of player-friendly resources, Silver remains the pinnacle of Pokémon in my heart.
6. Smackdown vs. Raw 2008
Here’s a fun fact: I was a gigantic fan of the WWF/E as a kid. Wrestlers such as The Undertaker, Kane, Hulk Hogan, Booker T, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and more hold such a nostalgic place in my heart as one of the most testosterone-fueled interests I had as a kid. It was also the only testosterone-fueled interest I had as a kid, as a childhood reclusive gamer. I played a lot from the Smackdown vs. Raw franchise, but 2008 was the one I remember playing the most, as it was the only game from the series I actually cared enough to own.
Growing up, I only had Nintendo consoles, for the most part. The Smackdown vs. Raw series of games didn’t make the jump to Nintendo consoles until this game (though optimization to the Wii was not pretty). I was introduced to the series by a friend of mine, who had a Playstation 2, and was a huge fan of the WWE. Several years later, I was given an Xbox 360 as a Christmas present(?) by my father, along with a copy of this game, which is where the timely love affair began.
One of the most charming things about this game is not the story or its large roster of characters. It’s the Creation Modes. Creating wrestlers in this game (and most other games in the series) is an abject fetishist’s dream come true. The possibilities given to the player are downright hilarious. Players can choose to create characters with deformed limbs, absurdly huge or small body parts, and can even have accessories such as horns and wings added to the character for good measure. The creative monster within me always has a blast creating horrid, abominable creatures to duke it out in the ring with normal wrestlers. I truly wish I had the ability to share an archive of characters I’ve created over the years. Believe me, they’re things of beauty. Playing through the Story Mode with these created characters is equally as entertaining.
The other thing that has made me spend so much time with this game is something called General Manager Mode. It’s a mode where the player can act as a General Manager of one of three shows the WWE has to offer, where they can assign matches, build wrestlers’ popularity and work with their needs, and compete in ratings with the other two networks to achieve an award by the end of the year. As this is a week-by-week sort of basis, this mode takes a very long time to go through in its entirety. And I was horribly addicted to it. I’ve always been one who enjoys control in video games, and given the opportunity to control an entire brand of the WWE, choosing who I want to be champion and who gets to be popular and who gets to be in a rivalry and… you get it. It was something right up my alley, and I never looked back. I must’ve played this mode a good dozen times before I ever got tired of it. The hours racked up like crazy, and when I start at noon, then look down at the clock to see it half past five, that’s when you know you’re completely immersed. Oh, how unproductive of a teenager I was.
5. Team Fortress 2
I’ve already dedicated an ode to this game that you can read up on, but in case you have, I’ll make this entry quick.
Team Fortress 2 is a game I’ve known about for a while, but never really had the know-how to download it onto my computer. That all changed one day when I was informed that the game had become free to play on Steam. After finishing off the still-humorous character trailers available for each class, I was ready to download and play the game for myself, and I had myself a damn good time.
I played this game for years, and have seen it go through constant amounts of updates and changes, but despite all of this, I’ve only accumulated a little over 100 hours of playtime, according to my Steam. I think part of this is because the game doesn’t take very long to play. Each match ranges from two to maybe seven minutes tops, while varying modes take varying amounts of time to complete. After I’ve had my fill of every string of matches, only an hour or two has gone by, and that’s mostly how it went whenever I played. Team Fortress 2 isn’t a game I can play for long stretches of time. It doesn’t have enough substance for that. This is a game one can play to have a near-guaranteed good time, but that’s about it. While it has some staying power, there are times when the game can become stale. After all, I haven’t played the game in years.
I’ve stated before that having games like this compete with games such as Pokémon Silver, which is supposed to take 20-30 hours to complete a run through, is somewhat unfair, but for what its worth, Team Fortress 2 took up a longer span of my life than Silver did, which I think accounts for something. It isn’t so much that Silver doesn’t have staying power, but Team Fortress 2 can stay fresh for extended periods of time. The only thing is, for people who enjoy a “point” in a game like me, it’s a game that’s destined to sit on the shelf for a while. Only its spontaneous results can save it from staying there for too long.
4. The Sims 2
This is the part of the list where I feel especially ashamed of all the time I wasted.
I feel this is an easy choice for a lot of gamers out there. How couldn’t you spend a lot of time on a game like this? On a game that lets you simulate real life? The game is absurdly popular and is a safehaven for almost every kind of gamer out there, especially casual gamers. I know people in my family who almost never play video games that have spent countless amounts of hours on this game. There’s just something about this game that has people from every type of life obsessing over controlling gibberish-spewing human models.
I already explained before about my love for control. This should have become an immediate thought after stating so. Why not control the lives of fictional people the way I want to? Why not create myself and live the life I was destined to live? Oh, the exploitations this game can have on one’s ego. Make yourself skinny. Have lots of friends. Get all the girls/boys. Get your dream job. Explore the vast world of this fictional Earth! Y’know what? I think I know why this game is so popular.
I was one of the little pudgekins who enjoyed divvying up fictional characters into a community full of normal people. For the most part. The Sims 2 also plays host to some leniency when creating characters. One can make aliens, most notably, and can also contort characters’ faces and bodies into that of horrid creatures. Not to the same degree as Smackdown vs. Raw 2008, but enough to get some chuckles out of. But if one has some mods for this game, prepare for complete chaos. However, I tended to take this game rather realistically. I enjoyed playing God with my characters and genuinely cared about their well-being, so I guided them through to an upstanding path, straight and narrow. I enjoyed it so much that I did it for years. But alas the game, like most, gets dull after so long.
I haven’t played The Sims 2 in many years, along with subsequent sequels. However, I played it enough during my childhood and teenage years to warrant a very high spot on this list. Once I was getting up there in age, the game became more fun to play around with than take seriously, so I decided, with the help of my brother, to change the tale of Pleasantview and its population to that of murderers and psychopaths, all living within a world of immoral and disgusting acts of anarchy. The appearance of the people were changed to suit this new setting, and it entertained me for a long while. But a joke gets old quickly, and afterwards The Sims 2 became yet another dust collector for my old cupboard. I can only look back fondly and think, “Wow, I was an evil child.”
3. Guitar Hero III
The passion started with Guitar Hero II, but once I had my hands on Guitar Hero III, I never, ever let it go. As a teenager, I always felt somewhat ashamed that I knew almost everything I knew about music because of the Guitar Hero games. But now, I see it more as a blessing than anything. It’s amazing how a collection of video games can help improve my knowledge and widen my horizons on the world of rock music, and it certainly did. Bands like Kansas, Heart, Foo Fighters, Danzig, Black Sabbath, Social Distortion, Thin Lizzy, Avenged Sevenfold, and many others were introduced to me (some only by name) thanks to this collection of games. I think it’s amazing that a game can both be fun and educational, though this type of education probably isn’t one that’ll likely be very useful in real life.
While this game specifically isn’t one I still play today, I do fancy some playtime with other Guitar Hero games every once in a while. But this one is what I consider my favorite, as its the one I spent the most time with, and the one I used to nurture my skills to near perfect levels. I’m able to play on Expert with ease, with very few songs able to put me on edge. Through the Fire and Flames, specifically, is one of those songs. I’ve gotten through it before (Though I probably couldn’t now), and damn was I proud when I finally got through that hellish intro. It took me hours just to get through that part alone. Playing the rest of the game, well, that’s a story of its own.
Guitar Hero III is one of those rare games where I can always pick it up and instantly have fun. I really enjoy the variety of different songs to play and the complexities of some of the harder songs. A lot of the bonus tracks provide great fun, too, especially Impulse by Endless Sporadic. Many people regard the Guitar Hero series as overhyped games for casual players, but most casual players wouldn’t be able to play on Expert Mode. I almost shudder watching someone mess up on difficulties lower than Hard. I don’t see Guitar Hero III or any of the other games as “casual games,” but I can definitely see why people would consider them so. The game is far too tough for me to consider it casual.
What I find even more impressive is that I played this game on the Wii, which is notorious for lagging. If I can boost my skills that much playing the game for years on the Wii, the Xbox 360 version came as a Godsend. It was then that I could truly challenge myself to get as high a score as I could, and get the longest streak of notes hit. However, a lot more time spent on this game was done so in the efforts of bragging rights. If you’d like to get a glimpse into my Guitar Hero obsession and slightly cringey comments, you can go check out my page on Scorehero, where I spent heavy amounts of time back in 2009.
2. Madden 12
People who read my blog had to have seen this coming, especially for people who read my ode to it a few months back. I already described the massive amount of hours I’ve put into this game, and still do to this day. It’s essentially my Minecraft; even when the action gets dull, I still find it fun from my imagination alone.
My love for Madden 12 came at some point after my blooming love for football in 2011. It allowed me to memorize all the names of all the teams and all the players and all their numbers and all their heights and weights and all their ratings and holy hell how long will this sentence run on? I was in a phase of my life where I was experiencing something enormous for the first time, and Madden 12 was sort of the gateway into that realm. It eased me into the rules of the game, the players who inhabited it, and the complexities of offenses and defenses. It did so much for me in terms of what football really was, almost in the sense that Guitar Hero III introduced me to a wider margin of musical talents. Madden 12 is the game that keeps on giving, even if in the eyes of normal people the game is rather half-assed.
The game is basically just that: football. You can either choose to play exhibition matches, play as a single superstar, or control one (or all) entire organization in Franchise Mode. What would you assume a lover of control chose to spend the most time with? Indeed, Franchise Mode is the go-to mode for me whenever I decide to play. In fact, it’s the only mode I’ll willingly play. I am literally only playing this game for a single purpose, and for some odd reason, that single purpose has yet to become boring to me, even after four years. I still log countless hours into this game, though it helps when games take an average of forty-five to fifty-five minutes to complete. It’s almost cheap, in a way. But what if I told you I spent more time organizing teams and playing with players’ stats than I have actually playing in the games? Wipe the pity off your face. I’m just as ashamed as you are.
It’s simply a game that never gets boring to me. There are stretches of time where I don’t play it, but once I start playing it again, I can’t put it down. It’s genuinely the closest I’ve come to an addiction to a certain game in my entire life. I can back up this claim by also mentioning that I have bought four copies of this game, broke one copy out of frustration, and returned a copy just to come back a month later to buy it back.
I need serious help.
1. World of Warcraft
I don’t think this really needs a thorough explanation.
It’s a gigantic and popular MMORPG, one of the most ambitious games of the mid-2000’s, and very, very captivating. This is truly the pinnacle of fantasy gaming and has been for many years. While its current state leaves much to be desired, private realms still exist to give back to the community the magic that Blizzard Entertainment once gave to millions of people worldwide. I was one of those millions.
Let me describe how much time I spent with this game. Over six years of me spending half the day traveling through Azeroth and the Outlands. Buying every expansion pack up to Cataclysm. Making at least a hundred characters, and getting them to varying levels. My mother constantly jabbering the family about how addicted we were to the game. My already minimal social life dwindled into obscurity. My weight skyrocketed. My eyes shrunk. My life was forever changed after one recommendation from a long-lost online friend.
World of Warcraft wasn’t so much a game but a larger than life experience to me, but I’m sure everyone says that after becoming addicted to the game. The amount of detail to the game was staggering for the time, and the huge map to explore made the game incredibly time consuming. The quests, the impact, the lore, the everything. Everything was great about World of Warcraft. I couldn’t possibly leave it alone. And it couldn’t leave me alone.
That’s enough gushing. Fact of the matter is, World of Warcraft is, by far, the biggest video game time sink I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Is it a predictable choice? Yeah. Is it an easy choice? Yeah. Does any of this make its spot any less warranted? Absolutely not. The amount of time that has zoomed by because of this game is on levels unheard of by mortal beings. It’s not just me, either. Many people can attest to the amount of time this game has spent biding their time. But hey, it was fun, and that’s all that really matters. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Honorable Mentions: Mario Party, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door