SHADOWGATE (1989, NES)
Replay Appeal: Memorization, MysteryThis adventure game puts you in a castle filled with all sorts of things that will kill you instantly if you make a wrong move. Meaning there is a right way and a dead way to do things, and once you know the right way it makes you feel very cool to blaze through the game in 15 minutes or so. This desire to play through a game that requires specific, memorizable steps again "just because you can" is a desire I get with a lot of adventure games. There were also some elements of the game world that were never explained and that mystery kept the game on my mind.
Check out the rest of Albo's replay list after the jump...
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: A LINK TO THE PAST (1992, SNES)
Replay Appeal: Emotional ImpactThis is still my favorite Zelda game, and I've played it through many times because of the strong emotional pull the story has. The opening is one of the best in gaming--on a dark and stormy night, Link awakes to find his uncle leaving the house, ready for battle. Link sneaks out after him, finds him mortally wounded, and takes up his sword. The bleak despair of the Dark World and small character touches like the Flute Boy in the Haunted Grove had such a strong emotional impact on me in my first play through that I feel compelled to relive those emotions in much the same way I'd watch a favorite movie a few times.
ANOTHER WORLD (1992, SNES / 2006, PC)
Replay Appeal: Memorization, Cinematic QualityThis is a game of trial and error where most of the enemies and environmental obstacles run on strict scripts. Like Shadowgate, you press the button you're supposed to press or you die. So while the game could take you a very long time on your first playthrough, once you memorize the thing you'll be polishing it off in under ten minutes, which feels great. What this game brings to the table that Shadowgate doesn't is that it is truly a work of art. This game is a beautiful, evocative feat of design, and to play through it seamlessly is like watching a great animated short film. You can download a fantastic hi-res Windows version of this game from designer Eric Chahi's website.
SHADOWRUN (1993, SNES)
Replay Appeal: Emotional Impact, MysteryThe dystopian future presented in this game has the same effect on me as Link to the Past's Dark World--I can't help but want to beat the game again just to satisfy a personal desire to overcome the despair of it all. There are also so many dark corners and mysterious characters and dangling plot strands that I can't help but think there's something I might discover on another playthrough.
DOOM 2 (1994, PC)
Replay Appeal: Skill BuildingThe more you play a game like Doom, the better you get at it (duh!). After a few playthroughs you'll know where every monster is and be able to dodge a barrage of imp fireballs coming from all directions. And much like the aforementioned Memorization appeal, it feels awesome to be really good at something.
FULL THROTTLE (1995, PC)
Replay Appeal: Memorization, Cinematic QualityThis kind of game was a rarity back in 1995: great writing, great animation, great voice acting... Knowing all the necessary steps and executing them flawlessly results in what essentially is a supremely satisfying little film that also happens to keep your fingers busy. The only kink in this being the motorcycle fight and destruction derby action sequences, but we can excuse these little adventure games their delusions of action grandeur.
THE BEAST WITHIN: A GABRIEL KNIGHT MYSTERY (1995, PC)
Replay Appeal: Memorization, Cinematic QualityThis game falls under the same umbrella as the other adventure games I've mentioned that play out like little movies upon a memorized playthrough. Except this one practically is a movie, with full motion video (before it was a dirty word) and a truly epic scope. I've started it again recently, and while I can't claim it holds up technically, it's still a joy to remember all the right moves and relive the story of a reluctant New Orleans writer thrust into a world of Werewolves and Wagner in Germany.
GOLDENEYE 007 (1997, N64)
Replay Appeal: Skill Building, New ExperienceSomething this game introduced that I don't immediately recall from any previous game was that harder skill levels introduced additional mission objectives. Playing through the game again on a harder skill level no longer just meant tougher enemies, it now meant a significantly different level progression. That is irresistible to someone who finishes the game and is craving more action.
DEUS EX (2000, PC)
Replay Appeal: Emotional Impact, New ExperienceDeus Ex is usually the first game that pops into my mind when I'm thinking about my favorites of all time. The main reason being the intense emotional manipulation that the story puts the player through. You begin the game as an agent of the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition, and carry out a few missions under their banner before realizing they may be the real bad guys in this global conflict. Which means you've been killing the good guys. And it's not like the game telegraphs this twist with shady bosses and questionable mission objectives--it makes sure you are a willing and eager soldier that doesn't think twice about what he's doing, until the rug is pulled out from under you and you're left feeling dirty, guilty, angry, and gullible. Whew, just thinking about it gives me goose bumps. This leads into another reason why I had to play it again... I didn't have to kill all those good guys. In fact, to beat the game you don't have to kill more than a few people, as there are many ways to approach every situation in the game and killing is almost always avoidable. Crazy for a FPS, right? But there a lot of choices to make during the game, and these choices can lead to entire subplots you missed the first time around. The impact your decisions have on the game world make it a prime choice for replaying just to try and see things you missed the first time around.
RESIDENT EVIL 4 (2005, GCN / 2007, Wii)
Why I Played It Again: New ExperienceSurely I'm not the only one who began my second playthrough immediately after beating the game? The gimmick of letting you keep all of your gear and money from the first playthrough matched with the allure of new, extremely powerful weapons was all it took for me to start over. It's like I wanted revenge on all the parts of the game that frustrated me the first time through, as in "Let's see how this horde of zombies that killed me ten times last game likes a freaking unlimited rocket launcher up its ass!" Very cathartic. The whole time I was playing the game on the Cube I couldn't help thinking how cool it would be on Nintendo's recently announced "Revolution," so my third playthrough came when I couldn't resist picking it up for Wii. This playthrough held some of the same cathartic value as the unlimited rocket launcher, because the added accuracy of the Wiimote really made mincemeat outta those zombies.
GUNSTAR HEROES (2006, Wii VC)
Why I Played It Again: Fresh Meat, Skill BuildingThis is a really fun game for two players, so when I've got a friend just sitting around my place looking for some buttons to press... Loading up my VC save state for this game and introducing a new friend to it always provides some kicks. The game provides a hefty dose of challenge, but with unlimited continues you just keep hammering on it and eventually you eke through. It's an extremely rewarding game to overcome.
Why I Played It Again: Emotional Impact, Mystery, Fresh MeatI don't want to talk too much about why Portal is one of the best video games ever made, as that's a horse that's gotten a significant amount of beating around these parts. But suffice it to say, it's an extremely well-constructed emotional journey that has some of the best writing ever bestowed upon us lowly gamers. The little nooks and crannies with clues as to the true nature of the experience produce that all-important mystery that draws me back to explore further. And while I've only played the game through myself three times, I've sat down and watched other people play it another three or four times. Friends, family, anyone who will give the game a shot gets my rapt attention. Observing how someone else's mind handles the spatial puzzles is really interesting, especially when that person's a non-gamer.
And now, tell me what games you've given the double dip!