Now, I’ve been sitting here a long while wondering about the title of this post, because “5 Games I Played Too Many Times” kind of indicated that at some point, the game got boring… which is not the case at all. What I’m trying to convey is simply that I played these games more start to finish more than anyone in their right might should. Really, by the end of the list, I’m sure one of you is going to say “Why would you do that?!” out loud. Without further adieu:
1. Maniac Mansion (1990 Lucasfilm Games, Published by Jaleco, Nintendo Entertainment System)
1990. It was prime time for the 8-bit era. A year later the 16-bit systems would come to the field and change the face of the gaming industry. Before that happened, however, I discovered this game: Maniac Mansion. While the port had just reached the NES, the game itself had existed on previous platforms including the Commodore 64 and the Apple II since 1987. Maniac Mansion was what started my love for point and click adventure games. After this, I went on to games like the Kings Quest series, Space Quest, Police Quest, Uninvited, Deja Vu, Myst, Sam & Max, and The Longest Journey. Not only did Maniac Mansion introduce me to adventure games, it introduced me to the concept of multiple endings. The first time I played the game I remember thinking “Oh, that’s it?” I was a bit disappointed, until I read in an issue of GamePro that you get a different ending, depending on which teens you start with, which path you take, and which characters survive til the end. Seeing as there are 5 successful endings I played this bad boy through at least five times, then I played through several times figuring out all possible ways to lose the game. I’m not sure how many times I actually replayed, seeing as it was 23 years ago, (HOLY SHIT!) but I’m sure it was in the double digits.
Number of Playthroughs: ~11
2. Fire Emblem (2003 Intelligent Systems, Published by Nintendo, GameBoy Advanced)
Released as Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken in Japan, this title was the very first game in the Fire Emblem franchise to to be released in North America. While I had played similar turned-based strategy games before (X-Com, Chaos Gate), this was my first foray into tactical role-playing games. It would not be my last. I was in love with Fire Emblem’s rock/paper/scissors type weapon hierarchy, as well as the upgradable units, and story. What really got me was that if you ever messed up and lost a unit in battle, that’s all folks… permadeath. Similarly, if you failed to trigger certain events in-game, you would completely miss out on picking up a particular unit. You can imagine what this did for replayability. Not to mention the fact that there was an alternate story mode with the player following the story of Hector, rather than the default hero, Eliwood. By the time I had lost my GBA (sigh), I was well into my 5th replay of the game.
Number of Playthroughs: 4.5
3. Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift (2008 by Square Enix, Nintendo DS)
Like I said, Fire Emblem definitely wasn’t my last foray into tactical RPGs. I never got to play the original Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Advanced for the GBA. I may, however, just go ahead and take care of that. Well, maybe not, considering that my first playthrough had me clocked in at 90 hours, and each of my subsequent playthroughs at around 40. This title makes it to the list simply by the number of hours I spent on this bad boy. I can only imagine what I would do with previous iterations of the franchise. There was just so much to do. I swear, all the random monster encounters, and the job and character upgrade possibilities… I couldn’t help but try and explore them all. I know. I’m weak. And apparently, my weakness is tactical role-playing games. Or is it?
Number of Playthroughs: 3
4. Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. (1991 by Nintendo, Super NES, 2002 GameBoy Advanced)
Nerd confession: I only partially played through the original Legend of Zelda, and I never even picked up Link’s Adventure. I must remedy this some day. That being the case, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was the first Zelda game I fully completed. Several times. I remember how it happened, too. The copy I played on actually belonged to friend Jay. He had a save game on his cart, in which he renamed Link to “Wolvie.” We were big Wolverine fans back in the day. Jay also let me start my own save game, which I named “Ronin.” Finally, being the semi-smartasses we were, we used the last save slot to create a save called “Oh shit” just so we could read all the NPCs say things like, “Oh shit, you’re here!” and “Oh shit, I didn’t want you involved in this…” Hey, we were kids. After completing the game on those saves, I discovered that we had done so without finding the Lvl.4 Master Sword. Sacrelige! That was good for another couple play throughs. And when they re-relased the game in 2002 for the GBA, with Four Swords I beat the game another couple of times. Just because… nostalgia!
Number of Playthroughs: 5
5. Knights of the Old Republic (2003 BioWare, Published by LucasArts, XBox/PC)
Why would you make an awesome Star Wars-based RPG, BioWare? Why would you do that? Didn’t you realize it was the perfect intersection of two of my addictions? Did you realize how much I would play this game? No, I’m pretty sure you didn’t. But that’s okay. I forgive you because KOTOR was awesome. KOTOR 2, however, was something else altogether. But I’m not gonna hold it against you BioWare. Like I mentioned this game was the perfect combination of Jedi kickassery and RPG elements. This was the combat system that put BioWare on the map. Those of you who know the game know that, like many of BioWare’s subsequent titles, the decisions you make in the game affect the way the story unfolds for your character. That means, multiple endings, which means multiple playthroughs for me. I’m pretty sure when Kris, my roommate at the time, brought home KOTOR on the original XBox, he had no idea what kind of monster he had unleashed. The first playthough of this game had me as a Jedi Sentinel, and I endeavored to stay as neutral as possible. My second playthrough, I went the Jedi Guardian route, and skewed heavy into the Light Side. I ended up sticking with Jedi Guardian through my subsequent playthroughs, just because it was easier for me. I guess I’m very melee-minded. Playthrough number three had me exploring the Dark Side to the utmost. After completing it a 3rd time, I realized that maybe the story/relationship elements might chage if I played a female character. So there were 4th and 5th playthroughs for Light Side female and Dark Side female. Then, a few years later, I heard that there was additional content in the PC version, including two lightsaber crystals that were unavailable on the XBox. And all of a sudden, I had played through the game another 2 times. Multiplying that into a number of hours makes me cry a little.
Number of Playthroughs: 7
Honorable Mention: World of Warcraft. Only reason it didn’t make the list is I couldn’t quantify how many times I played through what is essentially an infinite game… unless we’re tracking by achievements, because there was that Taiwanese player that did it in WotLK. That’s certifiably insane.
And there’s that, a little insight into how bad it gets when I own a console.