Top 5: Videogame Series

The following series contain entries which are less than stellar, but within these franchises are some of the best gaming moments possible and the greatest games ever created.

5. Mega Man
Capcom | Best Entry: Mega Man 3

Mega ManEight evil robot masters (well six in MM1) are out to destroy the world and only the Blue Bomber can stop them. Mega is equipped with his trusty buster cannon, versatile canine companion Rush and an indomitable spirit. Players are going to need that same spirit because the Mega Man games are not easy. Each stage has two checkpoints, one at the halfway mark and at the boss, and is littered with enemies and platforming sections. Mega moves from one ‘screen’ to the next by destroying enemies and traversing the land. The series creates a true sense of verticality in the level designs; sometimes the exit requires Mega to jump on disappearing platforms or fall into a specific chasm. If a player progresses forward but then is chased by an enemy back a few steps, or if they fall down a climbing sequence, when they return those same enemies will be there again. There is no easy way to clear the stage or lure foes into traps. By defeating the robot masters at the end of the stage, who attack with a variety of patterns and can damage Mega just by touching him, players will gain an additional weapon. Each powerup is super effective against another boss and will (sometimes) expand the exploration available in other levels. Mega Man games are defined by their excellent controls, amazing music and memorable stages. The original design elements are so beloved that when MM9 and MM10 released, they were created in full 8-bit style.

This series focuses on challenging gameplay and has an easy to pickup story. Each entry can be played individually and will contain unique environments, enemies and weapons. If you enjoy platforming games with precision controls that challenge your abilities, and patience, than Mega Man is your weakness.


4. Mass Effect
Bioware | Best Entry: Mass Effect 2

commander ShepardThe ultimate space opera (sorry Star Wars) occurs within the Mass Effect universe. Players control Commander Shepard as they uncover a threat to the entire galaxy and must prevent it. ME establishes player choice throughout its gameplay. Players determine the sex, appearance, powers, history and personality of their Sheppard. The classes available for Shepard are balanced for individual play styles, there is a Soldier who focuses on firearms, an Adept who uses biotics (space magic) or an Engineer who dismantles defenses and summons allies, plus three combo classes. Shepard is not in this quest alone and will run into a rag-tag team of misfits to assist them on the journey. Depending on choices players make with their squad, their relationship can turn into friendship, animosity or a romantic entanglement. Along the way, Shepard will make choices which impact the landscape of the entire galaxy. The ME franchise is not afraid to put players into difficult situations where there is not an obvious choice, or where no matter the outcome a party member will perish. The first ME uses RPG mechanics and provides players with hundreds of equipment options. ME2 and ME3 streamline the process and turn the series into a cover based shooter where the player levels up and unlocks additional powers. The gameplay is never overwhelming when completing on Normal difficulty and players looking for an aggressive challenge can turn towards Insanity. Each entry can be played individually and will provide background information on what happened before, but to get the most from this saga you need to play entire trilogy.

This series focuses on player choice, in conversations there are multiple ways to handle the situation and in combat there are a plethora of combinations available. If you enjoy sci-fi stories with a long epic tale, squad based combat and bonding with your teammates than grab your gear because Mass Effect is your favorite game on the Citadel.


3. Super Mario Bros.
Nintendo | Best Entry: Super Mario World

Super MarioGaming’s original superhero and most recognizable mascot, also happens to create some of the best platforming available. SMB create memorable worlds by utilizing enemies, environments, music and details which bring each section to life in perfect harmony. Playing through the ice world feels different that going through the desert environment. The game does an excellent job of training players through gameplay, the opening screen will contain a single goomba who will try to walk over to you, if you run into him you’ll die. This teaches players that Mario has to jump on him to survive, lessons learned early on will carry throughout each world. By the time you reach Boswer’s castle, players will dodge fireballs, chain chomp, bullet bills and whomps with expert precision. Within each level, players must reach the end before the time limit runs out, but if they make a beeline for the exit they will miss many secrets. SMB manages to balance gameplay by providing scaled difficulty within the level design and collectables. If you want to find every secret, you will be required to perform more complicated jumps and timing sequences, but these are no always required. Within each game there are a variety of powerups which change how Mario and Luigi interact with the level and their abilities. Going through a world as a little plumber feels different than riding Yoshi with a Cape or being charged by a fire flower. There is homage to previous entries in the sequels, but the Mario games can be played in any order (I would recommend skipping SMB2).

This series focuses on exploration, platforming and collectables. Players go through a myriad of worlds with interesting landscapes, memorable music and secrets to discover all in pursuit of rescuing the princess. If you enjoy videogames in any capacity then you must play Super Mario Bros, before the almost out of time music starts.


2. Legend of Zelda
Nintendo | Best Entry: A Link to the Past

LinkNon-linear options, exploration and a magical bag of weapons help make Legend of Zelda the best action-adventure game series. Players control Link (not Zelda) as he conquers through multiple dungeons and save the Princess (Zelda). Link starts off with nothing but three hearts worth of life and a hint of where to go next. Players must earn their first sword, bombs, arrows, boomerang and other equipment by exploring, solving puzzles and defeating monsters. Zelda games constantly reward players for traveling the land with additional life or a useful item. The world can be tackled in anyway the player wishes, there is an order the developers suggest but if you want to jump to dungeon four before beating three, that’s your choice. The puzzles in each section require players to utilize all of their wits and resources; sometimes the answer is not available until they gain additional equipment in the game. Combat allows players to utilize their trusty sword and shield or the weapons they discover. Each entry in the Zelda franchise follows a similar story and can be played individually in any order. Within dungeons, players will need to discover the master key, large chest (which contains a new weapon) and defeat the boss. The new weapon will, usually, help reach previously unavailable areas in the dungeon and be necessary in the upcoming battle. Besides Ocarina of Time, players must go through and figure out the solution to puzzles based off what they learned in previous areas or interacting with the environment with all of their tools. The gameplay constantly iterates upon itself and teaches players how to beat each dungeon; outside of the Water Temple no visits should be required.

This series focuses on puzzles which require players to solve through context clues, combat which requires situational awareness and a story of humble beginnings, with legendary heroics. If you enjoy games involve large mythological worlds ready for you to explore with a variety of weapons to use than, Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey look over here.


1. Final Fantasy
Squaresoft | Best Entry: Final Fantasy IX

FFRPGs are my favorite genre in videogames. Final Fantasy is the gold standard for RPGs (adjust the rest of the list based upon your tastes). Each entry in the franchise tells a complete saga and there is no bleed over between episodes. Players can feel to pick up almost any FF game and be treated to a large expansive world, interesting dynamic characters and a complicatedly layered battle system. Each entry starts players off with a single character at a low level, typically on a simple mission. What starts off as a solo job quickly turns into a dynamic rag-tag team of misfits who uncover a plot that threatens the entire world. The team is made up of unique archetype characters that bring their own abilities and personality to the group. Players will earn gold and items throughout random turn based battles, which can be used to beef up the party. Combat pits the group against mobs of monsters or enemy soldiers along the path to a large screen-sized boss battle. FF games are filled with numerous secrets, subplots, character arcs and epic scenes throughout. Exploration is key to discover everything and sometimes events have to occur in a specific order to discover secrets in the world. The final boss is not always the biggest bad in the land, and players who want to truly challenge their skills and continue to beef up and defeat the game’s hidden bosses. The series is at its best when it focuses on characters who work together, despite their conflicting interests, to save a mythological-steam punk world.

This series focuses on epic stories, character moments and deep combat options. The adventure can take 50+ hours to complete, much longer to find everything and fans will still replay it to experience everything the game has to offer. If you enjoy RPG’s than this is one series that you must equip.


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