The first game I went nuts for was River Raid on the Atari 2600. There is nothing like it on the system. It is so deep I have never gotten to a point where it starts repeating. It requires skill and memorizing levels. Graphics were great for the 2600. Basically its the best game of the system, and oddly enough most people agree with me on that. It is usually a top five rated game. It was funny I saw a picture of the game and said to my Dad that looks cool. He picked it up for me for Christmas, I also got some other game I had been begging for month to get, I think GI Joe maybe. My mom is still a little mad that I liked River Raid so much more. It's like that when someone drops one of the best games ever created in your lap, its quality you just can't deny.
Moving on in my personal game chronology the next game is Curse of the Azure bonds. This is the second game in the gold box D&D series. I did not play pools of darkness but of the first three this is my hands down favorite. The silver blades was way to easy. Pool of radiance was great but I felt way more challenged in Azure bond. The drow just sucked with spell resistance. The monsters were just hitting that level that they were tough to deal with. For me this was a commodore 64 game but i know it was released on several systems.
I have mentioned Capcom's Bionic Commando for NES before but damn if it isn't a hell of a game. I just picked up Rearmed 2 and was playing it last night; I love it too. This is a game were its just a joy to move through the environment. It wasn't as fun in the 3d version that came out a few years ago but 2d its awesome.
Next is the original half life and really it's expansions. I loved this game from the start. It's atmosphere is wonderful. I never felt so oppressed as when the resonance crash left me at the bottom of that facility. I remember being stoked when I saw sunlight again. Mere games don't provoke joy like that. This was a wonderful shooter, light years ahead of the games at the time. The enemies seemed smart and determined to hunt you down. There were nice little fights between the aliens and soldiers who both wanted you dead. There were points you just felt screwed and some where you felt invincible. The water monsters still fill me with terror.
The last game I will mention is Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox. This is everything I like in a game. Really this is the unicorn the 11. It was pretty hard from the beginning. Certain bosses killed me again and again. Some died easily when I applied a particular fighting style. The story and cut scenes were awe inspiring. Everything was over the top and you were collecting things to get all the special unlock ables. Moving around was great you could do little trick moves off everything and you seemed like the constant bad ass. Very challenging very deep and a 3rd person 3d battle-er. Perfect!