What makes a game your favorite?

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With my birthday review published, I have been pondering about what it means for a game to be “the favorite”. After all, despite the high score I gave to Recettear there have been games I have rated higher and there are a ton of nitpicks in that game that I could go in-depth on. While it is my favorite game, it is by no means the best game I ever played or even the most polished one.

What it means for a game to be “the favorite” really comes down to what kind of person you are, what kind of games you play, and what those games really mean to you. I have worked with a cashier who absolutely adored Assassin’s Creed II because that game was just packed with content for him, but most people I hung out with at school all swore by whatever their childhood classic was. For some people the best game will literally just be whatever they are playing right now because games are just a diversion for them that isn’t that important in their life. For others it’ll be a good-looking, cinematic game like The Last of Us because games are super-important in their life and they want to see games like these prove gaming’s merit as an art.

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Few of those explanation really apply to me. Popularity and graphical fidelity fade in time and multiplayer games I am anxious to invest time into because I realize that, in time, the servers will become ghost towns and that game will die. While many people think a super-cinematic game would appeal to me, I actually think it’s self-defeating to make games like movies because that implies they can’t be art on their own.

To me, my favorite games are the ones that mean something to me. They are the games that told stories that moved me and had fantastic gameplay to boot or that offered me an experience so pure and unique that I can’t help but love them. Recettear falls in both categories at the same time for me, offering gameplay that no other game has and coming darn close to perfecting it at the same time, all the while letting you play with a cast of truly interesting characters that share a really good chemistry with each other. It’s my feel-good game, a title that I can pop in whenever I am feeling down and which guarantees I will end that session feeling absolutely rejuvenated.

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My favorite anime, by comparison, is almost the complete opposite. Higurashi: When They Cry is a show that will absolutely break me and has done so many times in the past. Not a shred of manliness remains when I watch this show, it will bring me to tears, and with each finished episode I find myself getting more and more depressed as the characters struggle, often in vain, to survive the horrors plaguing the village of Hinamizawa. It completely sucks me in and makes me care about the fates of its characters, so that by the time it finally all pays off in the last few hours, the excitement I feel simply can’t be matched by any other show.

Anything I am willing to brand as a favorite or a contender for favorite is guaranteed to be a piece of media that awakened such emotions within me and which has changed me in some way. Chances are they won’t be the best around, maybe even a 6/10 when you really get down to it, but to me, personally, these will always be 10/10 material.

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