Super Mario Bros.
This is the very first video game I was ever introduced to. For years I found myself playing this game for hours on end, finding the hidden secrets and beating the game a few times over. I have my dad to thank for showing me Super Mario Bros. and for being Luigi when I wanted to play as Mario.
Like many other people, my Super Mario Bros. cartridge was shared with Duck Hunt which led to, what you might guess, double the fun. I also owned the NES Zapper to play this magnificent game that had one of the biggest trolls in gaming history - the dog. Every time that dog would laugh at my failure, a little part of me died inside. Of course, a few times I did the cheap way to win (shooting the gun from the side of the T.V.) and showed that dog who was the boss. Let's not forget you had the extra clay shooting game within Duck Hunt that added more frustration to my childhood.
Super Mario Bros. 3
This is the last great game I got for the birthday before I moved on to the Sega Saturn in my younger years. Super Mario Bros. 3 added so much more to the original Mario franchise that it was taking large leaps into the capabilities of the NES. You had a plethora of new suits to give Mario new abilities, a heavy amount of secret ways through the game, and more than just one boss to fight over and over. I honestly really cherished this game until I finally moved on, trying to best my time for getting to the final boss. Also, being able to stomp all over Bowser's children was one of the most enjoyable times spent with this game.
Who didn't love Pokemon Red/Blue? Really? Although I originally bought the Blue version, eventually I did get all three Pokemon games of that generation (Red/Blue/Yellow), and I spent probably over 100 hours in each version just catching those little beasts and cherishing each one like my own children. Although I didn't own the cable myself, I found myself constantly trading friends in school, trying to get pokemon that weren't attainable in each version or that were necessary to trade and evolve. Eventually, I ruined my Blue version by exploiting the item duplication glitch and catching that mysterious M pokemon that corrupted your cartridge. That's okay though, I had Red and Yellow versions to keep me company in the end.
Mortal Kombat 3
I never directly owned this game myself, but I spent countless hours with cousins playing this game on the Sega Genesis. Animalities were some of the coolest attacks I had seen in a game to this point, and being able to uppercut an opponent into another layer of the stage was jaw dropping at the time. Although as violent as the game may have been at the time, it was by far one of the most enjoyable times I had as a kid playing games with a bunch of my family around.
Final Fantasy IX
This game still holds the top spot in my ranking of Final Fantasy games. Although someone can argue how good VII was, Final Fantasy IX has so much personality and a rich story that was belied by its childlike characters. Regardless of the younger looking characters, Final Fantasy IX really started to gain a much deeper and darker story towards the end of the first disc. We were also reintroduced to the separate classes of characters (black mages, thieves, warriors, etc.) that Final Fantasy originally started with. In the end, I sunk a lot of time not only into the main game, but into all the extra chocobo mini games, card games, and looting to find the ultimate weapons.
This one still holds the highest standard of any other Pokemon game that I have ever played. Why you might ask? There were a significant amount of changes that Gold and Silver presented to you without getting a tad out of hand like current Pokemon games tend to feel like today (and yet I still play them). The pokemon limit was raised from 151 to 251 (add one if you count Celebi); you got the night and day cycles; berries; new Poke Balls; exploration of Johto AND Kanto; the Elite Four; and, of course, the infamous Red trainer battle. Although I still haven't gotten my hands on the updated versions and compared them to the originals, Gold and Silver will always hold a place in my gaming history as the best Pokemon game(s) of all time.
Spyro the Dragon
It's a shame that Insomniac Games no longer has the rights to Spyro. I spent many, many weeks playing this game from start to finish, exploring almost every inch the game had to offer. Although this wasn't my first game with the PlayStation console, it was the first that offered the closest to an open-world experience for me. The sequel to Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage, was an amazing step up. What made the original special was that this tiny dragon managed to save a bunch of much larger and capable dragons from the wrath of Ripto. Sometimes size doesn't matter.
My first ventures into competitive gaming was with the original Halo. Not only was the campaign a major time waster on legendary difficulty for hours of fun, but the split-screen and system-link capabilities made this game stand ahead of the pack. It's because of Halo that console shooters became an obsession and staple for me. Also, embarrassing my much older cousins was always enjoyable. I thank Halo for the leaps it presented in console gaming. High School is much easier when you can bond with a group of friends over a nice couple of matches of Halo.
I might still be worried about the direction and story progression that this series is presently going in, but the original still ranks high in the RPGs of my childhood. Disney and Final Fantasy have always been somewhat of a necessity growing up, and being given the chance to see these two worlds collide could never have made me happier. Although Donald and Goofy could sometimes get in the way, the combat system was still extremely fun and easy at the time. I found myself engulfed in the story and realized it a couple of hundred hours later. It's this game that still keeps me in high hopes for its next successor. Kingdom Hearts is an unlikely mash-up that ended up being highly beloved in the end.