1.) Guitar Hero (RedOctane) – Everyone has that dream of being a “rock star” as a kid, whether it’s utilitizing a tennis racket as a guitar, or even the tried and true “air guitar”, everyone’s done it at least once in their lives. Guitar Hero gives players the outlet to do that and more, fulfilling that little dream of feeling like a rock star, even if you couldn’t complete the scales to save your life. Even if you’re not a fan of rock music, the game’s tracks are perfect for this game, as you need something hard to rock out with. Not to mention the awesome guitar controller that plays this game. I was a late bloomer to the series, but it becomes instantly addictive, and it’s a great party game for when the friends come over.

2.) Ninja Gaiden (Tecmo) – As I’ve said before, everyone loves ninjas. And there’s good reason. This game was revolutionary for its time. It was a faster Castlevania on steroids, coupled with the first real cut scenes in between levels to move the story along, which was unheard of at the time. Coupled with an amazing soundtrack, and some maddeningly hard, but somehow possible difficulty, this was one of the best NES platformers ever created. With its re-release on the Wii recently, it just serves as a reminder as how good this game really was.

3.) Waverace 64 (Nintendo) – For one of the first Nintendo 64 games, this was a stunner. Sure it had music that sounded like it was meant for the showcase section of Wheel of Fortune, but outside of that, it had/has some of the most realistic water physics in any video game ever created, not to mention the customization players could do for their jet skis, and the maddeningly addictive game play that made up this title. This has easily been one of my most beloved racing titles for years, and outside of Punch-Out!! and Kid Icarus, this is the other big Nintendo title I have been wanting to hit the Virtual Console.

4.) Phantasy Star (Sega) – The best 8-Bit RPG ever created. Even more than Final Fantasy. There. I said it. But there’s a reason for that. The game had three worlds to explore, a hero party with personalities, and weren’t generic, animated monsters, and dungeons that even most 16-Bit games were not able to pull off the technical excellence on how well they scaled and rotated. Phantasy Star was a fascinating title, and easily the best Sega Master System game on the entire system, combining swords and sorcery with a Star Wars-esque plot to overthrow an evil kind and save the galaxy. At least for 1,000 years, anyway….

5.) Dracula (Imagic) – For its time, Dracula was a novel concept. Instead of trying to slay the blood-sucking fiend, you got to play the blood-sucking fiend. The game had a lot of great features going for it. It stuck close to the vampire mythos as players prowled the night stalking victims and chasing them out of their homes. It also allowed players to turn into a bat, and in what was a really cool move, allowed players to turn their victims into zombies that could be controlled by the second player to attack the constable chasing you down. With all the retro-game compilations that come out, one would think there would be a larger effort to keep such a great game in the ready hands of the public. As far as I know, Activision has the rights to put out the Imagic titles, but they don’t really utilize it that much. Shame, really.

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