Favorite Games List - Game Boy Advance (Part Three)

Today brings the close to my Favorite Games of the Game Boy Advance. Day One featured Harvest Moon and PokemonDay Two focused on RPGs like Kingdom HeartsGolden Sun, and Sword of Mana. And today will close out the series with one of my go-to themes: Final Fantasy.

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Favorite Games List - Game Boy Advance (Part One)

Well, it's been a couple weeks since I wrapped up my Favorite Games of the sixth generation of consoles: PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Gamecube. And now that I'm all moved into my new place, I was able to pull out the next series of handheld games to discuss. Here is part one of my favorite games of the...

Game Boy Advance

Finally, after more than a decade with the Game Boy (and a few years of the Game Boy Color), Nintendo finally produced a completely new handheld in 2001 with the Game Boy Advance. With the GBA, Nintendo finally produced a series of new, more powerful cartridges allowing for a leap in the design of their games. Game Boy Color games had added a new spectrum of color to the latter part of the previous generation but was still basically technology from the late-80s. The GBA had processing power comparable to that of the Super Nintendo (and as such saw a number of SNES ports make their way to the system). It was also a part of Nintendo's first attempts at a dual-screen experience in that the system was designed to be compatible with the Gamecube, unlocking exclusive content in games like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and Pokemon Colloseum.

Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald - The first games in the series I didn't play through with my sister, Ruby and Sapphire (and later Emerald) were some of my go-to games to play on the college campus in between classes. Playing through the Hoenn region, this generation's Pokemon trainer wound up caught in the battle between Team Magma and Team Aqua on his or her quest to catch 'em all. With Team Magma wanting to dry up the oceans and Team Aqua hoping to flood the planet, it only makes sense for a ten-year-old child and their pets to fight through the world filled with all of that crazy. But who cares about plot? Now you could have two Pokemon in battle at once with the game's new Double Battles!

Pokemon FireRed/LeafGreen - The first set of Pokemon games to get remastered, FireRed and LeafGreen returned players to the original Kanto region to save the work from Team Rocket. Upgraded to accommodate all of the Pokemon introduced in Gold, Silver, Crystal, Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald, I tried at one point to play through these two in concert, one on my original Game Boy Advance, the other on my Game Boy Advance SP in an effort to go back and filled the PC with every single Pokemon. I don't remember how far down the rabbit hole I actually got but it involved pretty much every Prima Strategy Guide released for the series (of the games and the Pokedexes). If these versions had been re-released on the 3DS eShop recently instead of the original RedBlue, and Yellow, I might have considered picking them back up. But I don't have the patience to sit through the incredibly slow pacing of the originals any more. 

Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town - As I touched on back in the Super Nintendo and PlayStation One lists, I have a deep love of the Harvest Moon franchise. And while the console versions of the franchise went a direction I wasn't overly fond with in the PlayStation 2/Gamecube era, the handheld versions did a great job maintaining what I loved about the series. Borrowing heavily from my favorite iteration, PlayStation One's Back to NatureFriends of Mineral Town provided an experience that felt like the greatest hits the original Super Nintendo version, the Game Boy Color version, the PlayStation One version, and the Nintendo 64 version.

The only reason it doesn't overtake Back to Nature as my favorite is probably because I just didn't ever put enough time into it. This was predominantly a console experience for me. So if I was ever really in the mood for it, I typically opted to play the PlayStation version on a 30-something inch television instead of the few inches of the Game Boy Advance screen. If I spent more time on my Wii U, I'm almost certain I'd enjoy experiencing it now on the Virtual Console but it's unlikely.

Before Stardew Valley, there was Harvest Moon. And it was something special.

Favorite Games List - Gamecube (Part Two)

Part One of my Favorite Games for the Gamecube covered Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and Viewtiful Joe. I forgot to mention that one of the prized possessions that came from Wind Waker was the bonus promotional disc that came with the original Nintendo Zelda games, as well as the Nintendo 64 ones.

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Favorite Games List – Gamecube (Part One)

Because I came so late to the system, I wound up missing a lot of the staples of the Gamecube like Super Mario Sunshine and Luigi's Mansion.  And since I was primarily a lone gamer during this era, Super Smash Bros. Melee never really resonated with me either. I have it. I played it. But those games are best enjoyed with friends so it doesn't quite make the cut. Heresy, I know. Anyway, let's get to a few of the games that did make the list.

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Favorite Games List - Xbox

I graduated high school in May 2003, about a year and a half into the life cycle of the original Xbox. As evidenced by the multitude of games I wrote about on the PlayStation 2 side of the new console war, I was very much a PS2 guy. I don't know that I ever would have bought an Xbox myself as I was making the transition from high school student to starving college student during this generation. But every year, in an effort to curb kids going out and drinking and driving after graduation, my school put on an event called Project Graduation, where the students were all bussed to a location for an overnight party/lock-in. Mine was at a local mini-theme park called Castles and Coasters in Phoenix.

In addition to having mostly free reign over the place all night, the school also had a raffle where everyone got 25 raffle tickets and you could distribute your tickets among the prizes. The top prize was a flat screen TV from what I remember and, of course, also had the lowest odds of winning since most people put their tickets toward that. I took a more strategic approach, putting a few of my tickets toward a $50 Best Buy gift card and the rest toward an Xbox Burnout Bundle. They announced each prize winner one by one. When I won the Best Buy gift card I figured my luck had come in. Then I won the Xbox and they said only one prize per winner so I gladly took the Xbox and let some other person take the gift card. I wasn't really a car game guy so I wound up returning the copy of Burnout and swapped it out for my first entry on the list.

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Favorite Games List - PlayStation 2 (Part One)

The fact that the original PlayStation had knocked it out of the park when it came to the JRPGs I liked, it didn't come as too much of a shock when I asked for a PS2 for Christmas instead of the Nintendo Gamecube. My allegiance had begun to shift. This was around my Junior/Senior year of high school and all of the guys I played N64 multiplayer games with had started to go our separate ways. I imagine my dad and sister were a little upset that I leaned toward the single-player focused system as well. And I know my mom did as video games had become an obstacle between me and school or me and an active social life. But I was growing up. And unlike Nintendo, PlayStation was growing up with me.

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Favorite Games List - Nintendo 64 (Part One)

The N64 was the go-to system for me and my friends to play in middle school. Despite the Super Nintendo having adapters for 4-player gaming, the N64 was where we all first really got into it. I have so many fond memories of my group of friends all hanging out at one of our houses and spending hours in front of our TVs, the sometimes already small screens feeling even smaller split four-ways. My system was hooked up to our big screen in the game room so it was an ideal place to play but I also remember hanging out at the houses of my friends Luke, Bryan, and Ethan regularly. Up to six or seven of us were nearly inseparable during those years so we'd all hang out (bringing extra controllers when we needed to so we were never the guy stuck with the MadCatz controller) and have our own little tournaments. It's really the only system I ever got real heavy into multiplayer games. But I couldn't spend every waking moment with them so I still had plenty of great single-player experiences as well.

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Favorite Video Games - PlayStation (Part Three)

We've come to the final chapter of my Favorite Games on the original PlayStation. As you may have inferred from Parts One and Two (and the games listed in this iteration), the original PlayStation was very much my RPG-console. As a result, many classics of the system like Crash BandicootPaRappa the RapperMetal Gear Solid, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night never made it into my system (though I did finally play Castlevania on my Vita last year for the Kinda Funny Book Club). So these games not appearing isn't a condemnation on them, I was just not fully in the PlayStation eco-system back then.

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Favorite Video Games - PlayStation (Part Two)

I touched on two of my favorite PlayStation games last night so let's dive into some more, shall we?

Dragon Warrior VII - As I touched upon in my Nintendo and Game Boy segments, the Dragon Quest/Dragon Warrior games hold a special place in my heart just as the Final Fantasy series does. Much like the running theme in my top games of 2015 was 100+ hour experiences, Dragon Warrior VII fit that same description when I was first playing it 15 years ago. While the Final Fantasy games on the original PlayStation embraced the new technology and focused on 3D graphics, Dragon Warrior VII instead kept the series 2D sprites intact and poured the resources into an incredibly dense main campaign. Despite pouring over 100 hours into the game on at least two separate occasions, I still never completed the main story.

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Favorite Video Games - PlayStation (Part One)

My first experiences with the PlayStation were playing it somewhere other than my own home. By this point, my family was firmly in the Nintendo camp with the NintendoSuper Nintendo, and Game Boy so it took awhile to introduce another system into the house after the lackluster experiences with Sega. The timing of nearly 20 years ago is fuzzy but we probably even got the Nintendo 64 before the PlayStation, despite the PlayStation being on the market a year earlier. This was still a time when my father typically waited until he found a system at a garage sale or at the Swap Mart he worked at on the weekends. So my first introductions to the system were playing at my best friend's house or even at the house of my church's youth pastor. I don't remember really anything else about him except that  it was thanks to him that I was able to get my first exposure to...

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Favorite Games List - Middle PC

The most important element that game from these years of course was the introduction to the world wide web, even if it was through countless 1000 AOL Trial CDs and dial-up connections that took the phone line out of commission for hours at a time. But even before that, the new technology that moved video game installations from floppy disks to CDs meant much bigger games. I was a subscriber to PC Gamer during these years and was constantly playing games from their monthly demo disks. This list will even carry us through to the era of DVD-ROMs (with the next PC-centric installment focusing on the Digital Revolution and Steam years.

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Favorite Games List - JVC X'Eye (Sega CD)

When I first saw this thing at the bottom of one of these boxes, I thought, "that's weird? Did my parents accidentally put one of their old CD players in here?" Then I saw the Sega CD cases and it all started flooding back to me. Well, not really. It sparked a few memories that at least were enough to connect the dots between the two. Then I wondered why this thing didn't have the Sega brand on it. That's obviously not something I cared about as a kid: it played the Sega CD games, that's all that mattered. But as an adult looking back, I was confused. Then I remembered that this was during a time when a lot of electronics companies were partnering up to try and break into the industry. Here, we had Sega partnering with JVC but more famously, Nintendo partnered with Sony on the CD-i, but then instead switched to working with Phillips on the project. The Phillip CD-i wound up a bust, but Sony transitioned their investment into the original PlayStation, shaking up the console market for good.

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Favorite Games List - Super Nintendo

Many of my favorite games of all time were on this system and I still have one hooked up in my house to play (the only reason my original Nintendo isn't hooked up is because I don't have any TVs old enough to work with its original adapters and I haven't gotten around to picking up a Retron 5 yet). I still have upwards of 50 games that I'll occasionally boot up from time to time when I'm feeling nostalgic. Here are 10 of my favorites, in no particular order, save the ending.

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