Here is a list of the video games that I have really enjoyed playing. This list is incomplete; I hope to discover worthy games in the future. The list is sorted by publication date, I played a few of these years after they came out.
A platformer where you play the role of a cabin boy on a pirate ship. Involves climbing up and down ladders, opening doors, and avoiding the pirates. The graphics are pretty ugly and the music hurts my ears, but those were the early ZX Spectrum days. I enjoyed the puzzle element, for the keys have to picked up in the right order, and to figure out the right order you sometimes need to die a few times. I also liked the multi-dimensionality of the game, for behind each door is another hold with a different configuration. I recall making maps on paper so as not to get lost. I wouldn’t play this game now, but when I was 4 years old it was like crack.
Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards (1987)
A smutty, funny, adventure game. Larry is desperate for sex, and aren’t we all? I liked the novelty of the text based adventure, although the novelty faded quick. I think this is one of the only text adventure games that I played right through. What I take from this is that there really should be more sex and humor in video games.
Prince of Persia (1989)
A platformer where you run and jump around a prison and try to avoid the guards. I enjoyed the scale of the game, simply exploring the different levels. The game could be puzzling at parts with the timed gates gradually closing behind you. I don’t think I would enjoy playing this now.
Super Off Road (1989)
An arcade game where you race tiny monster trucks around a circuit. So simple, so fun, although only when playing with friends. I liked the basic physics, the power-ups and multi-player aspect. I also really enjoyed upgrading my vehicle, I believe this was one of the first games to offer vehicle upgrades.
A strategy game where you guide a civilization from humble beginnings as a single bronze-age village to the ultimate goal of reaching to the stars. I enjoyed reading the in-game encyclopedia, learning about history while playing. I enjoyed building things, and micro-managing my cities. This is the best game that I have ever played.
Dune II (1992)
The first real-time strategy game. I enjoyed building bases, harvesting spice, and even destroying the enemy. This was one of the first games that I played that had really good music and sound effects, this added greatly to the enjoyment. I would have enjoyed more strategic control over the shape of the war, as the battle screen didn’t leave much choice as to where to attack next. The story of Dune could have been better integrated into the game, the backstory never made much sense until I read Frank Herbert’s book. I remember imagining a greater version of the game where the individual stages were removed and the entire planet was one massively-multiplayer battle field.
Star Control II (1992)
An adventure game where you explore space, encounter alien species, trade, do battle and ultimately save the universe for humanity. The back story for this game was incredibly rich, and the volume of dialogue stupendous. I really loved the exploration aspect as well as the many odd and interesting characters.
Frontier: Elite II (1993)
A space exploration and trading game. To be frank, this doesn’t really count as a game so much as a simulator, for there is only the slightest of story and there is no game mechanic besides trading and occasionally firing a cannon. The enjoyment hinged on the possibility to range far and wide across the galaxy discovering exotic worlds. I really enjoyed the star map and the classical music jukebox. The size of the galaxy is quite unbelievable, I scratched my head for a long time trying to figure out how they stored so many stars. It’s a trick, the stars are not stored, they are generated in real time using a seed. Explanation here : http://www.jongware.com/galaxy1.html
Simcity 2000 (1993)
A simulator of a city, be mayor of your own metropolis. The newspaper articles were so zany. Keeping a balanced budget is not easy. Building is always fun for me. I have since realized that Simcity reflects some of the worst crimes in 20th century urban planning : central planning, priority of roads over rail, separation of uses through zoning and relegation of pollution. I’d like to see Simcity with a European bent, with plazas, crooked pedestrian streets, bikeways, trams, mixed use, etc.
UFO: Enemy Unknown (1994)
Lead a global government-funded agency in the fight against an all-out alien invasion. Scramble the fighter jets, shoot down the UFOs, touchdown at the crash site and secure the area with a crack team of soldiers. Let the scientists dissect the alien corpses, unlock their secrets, and then use engineers to manufacture their weapons and use them against them. Ultimately, travel to Mars to destroy the main base. This game is pure genius, leveraging the full lore of Ufology, including flying saucers, little grey men, animal dissections. The tech-tree mechanism is borrowed from civilization, but the isometric battle mechanism is to my knowledge quite original. I would have loved to fly the interceptors myself, and a real-time multi-player FPS for the battles would be fun. Also, I had considered the possibility of playing the side of the aliens, and perhaps even playing a long-running massively-multiplayer war.
Transport Tycoon (1994)
A transport construction simulator, for those who liked playing with model trains. I especially enjoyed building transport links between towns with ever-greater capacity. Playing on the flat is a bit easy, so I started to play with mountainous terrain; more bridges and tunnels makes for an exciting railway. I liked the cutesy graphics and the sound quality was great.
Worms 2 (1998)
A artillery game where you lead your squad of quirky earthworms into deadly battle, armed to the teeth with bazookas, grenades, uzis, exploding bananas, baseball bats, ming vases, and many more somewhat improbable weapons. The voices are funny, I’ve never laughed so much playing a video game.
Counter Strike (1999)
An ultra-violent first person shooter, play either terrorists or counter-terrorists, kill the other team before they kill you. It’s pretty bad-ass, one shot and you’re dead, run-and-gun doesn’t work here, thinking and tactics are imperative. This is a great game for multiplayer, the more the merrier.
Civilization III (2001)
A worthy successor to Civilization I. The ability to trade luxuries and resources was a great addition. I especially enjoyed the scenarios, such as playing a warlord in Edo-era Japan.
Seems ‘91-‘94 were really the golden years. Since 2003 I’ve been cruising around Europe, hooking up with girls and getting high, which is way more fun than playing video games. That said, I do really need to get back in touch with my inner nerd. The games that I have loved have generally incorporated an element of story-telling, an element of exploration and adventure, alternatively I also enjoy action games when I play with friends.