Super Mario World – you can’t just play it once (pic: Nintendo)
GameCentral readers discuss the single-player video game they’ve replayed the most, from Castlevania to Mass Effect.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Cranston and asked which game with an ending (so not counting multiplayer) have you come back to the most times and why?
We had a lot of entries for this one, but the clear winner was Resident Evil 4, although it was helped by the number of times it’s been re-released on different formats.
Any format, any time
My most replayed game is probably Super Mario World. Since having it as the pack in game for my SNES I have bought it again several times since just because it’s a game that I always want to be able to play when occasionally the mood takes me.
There are a number of reasons why I have played it so much, the main two being that it’s an excellent game that still holds up nowadays and nostalgia, as I associate it with my SNES and it was my first Super Mario game.
I still know all the secret exits etc. and it’s one of the few games from that era that I can play without ever getting annoyed at the difficulty, if I’ve messed up I know it’s entirely my fault.
I don’t care what format I play it on, it’s a great game and never disappoints me.
All or nothing
The single-player game I have played the most is easily Resident Evil 4, which is my all-time favourite game. I originally owned the game on the GameCube and played it through a number of times on the different difficulty settings.
Alas, I no longer own my GameCube and feeling the urge to play it again I borrowed my son’s Xbox and downloaded the game and can say that it is still as playable now as it was before. I have mixed feelings about the remake as can see this being a shortened version of the original game which will be a travesty in my view, as the original was perfect.
The answer to the question posed is easy to answer for me. Most replayed single-player game of all my gaming years is Super Mario World. I’ve 96-ed that more times than I can keep count of. Aside from that (best of all time) game then I have to give it to Eternal Darkness. I’ve played through this five times over the last, nearly 20 years. I absolutely love the diversity of the characters involved, as well as the diversity of the settings and also the application of the passage of time to them. It really does become an epic adventure.
The word epic is very overused these days but it’s not hyperbolic to say that this game is truly epic in scale. Add to this the Lovecraftian lore, the undertone of humans existing as an inconvenience to higher powers, the sanity effects, the music and mood setting, the jump scares and then the option of taking one of three paths even before you know what is going on right at the start.
I wouldn’t want a sequel to this game as I don’t want its legacy ruined by a lazy cash-in. This game is more akin to a great novel rather than a video game, it resounds with me more like the former. I’ve only ever taken the one path at the start of every playthrough so I know there is more replayability to come by following the other two paths on offer. I would honestly put this game/experience up there as one of the best I ever did engage with.
It’s the reason my GameCube still takes pride of place under the big TV. It’s also the reason I have a back-up, backwards compatible Wii in the cupboard. Sounds like a lot of hassle? This is a story I need to re-live. Just like a good book that you keep on a shelf. Just a shame about the physical space, energy and cables to make it happen. I’ll take that in a heartbeat though.
Fun fact: Alexandra Roivas’ surname is Savior backwards in American English.
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Nothing like it
I surely won’t be alone here in saying that my game is from my youth, when a) games tended to be much shorter and b) I had more free time. It’s Gunstar Heroes, from Treasure (whatever happened to them?).
It was a run ’n’ gun in the Contra/Probotector style (indeed many of the developers came from Konami). There were so many different ways to play it, with four different ammo types that could be combined with each other (including to make a lightsaber if you used the flame/lightning combo), two different methods of shooting/moving, and even some cool hand-to-hand moves. More than this though the game was just a joy to play, with every level being packed to the rafters with enemies and bosses to take on – including the mighty Seven Force (twice)!
Each level felt very different to the last and included anti-gravity mine carts, a board game to fight your way around which was different every time depending on what squares you landed on, and an R-Type style shoot ‘em-up stage.
As well as the great moment-to-moment gameplay, it had some great presentational touches too. The last stage took place on a giant TV screen that the head bad guy was watching with his elite soldiers, which he sends out to take you on one by one before the final showdown itself.
The whole thing could be completed in about an hour, and I must have completed it dozens of times, either by myself or with a friend in co-op.
I’d love to see a modern, 3D version of this. There’s loads of third person shooters but they’re all cover-based, instead of encouraging speedy and skilful attack and evasion. The nearest there is probably Vanquish, but that itself is years old now.
Game without end
I think probably the game I have replayed the most is Zelda 2: The Adventure Of Link.
I believe I got this in 90/91, so have had it some 30 years. Since games were so expensive back then I played it tons and had probably completed it dozens of times before I got a SNES. Even then, I’d still go back to it from time to time, as I absolutely love the combat system. It’s very tough, yet rarely is it unfairly so – almost all enemies have patterns designed to let you defeat them if you study them carefully.
The downthrust attack, 30 years on, remains one of the most satisfying attacks in a game to me, especially when you almost pogo jump between tightly packed enemies using it (I’ve always wondered if Capcom were thinking of this attack when they later came up with Scrooge’s cane bounce in DuckTales).
The music is also superb, and the graphics are pretty good for the era. Zelda 2 was the main reason my NES remained under my TV until 2004, when I got the GameCube Zelda collection and started playing it that way.
Since 2011 I’ve been playing the 3DS version, as it’s the easiest one to quickly pick up and play. I tend to play it about once a year now, messing around with the experience system to make the game easier or harder depending on how I feel for that playthrough (you can choose to put experience into strength, vitality or magic). Given how long I’ve been replaying it, I can’t see myself ever stopping now!
Gotta be Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night for me. People say there is no such thing as a perfect video game but there is and Symphony Of The Night is one. It’s definitely helped by the fact the game has been re-released so many times, on so many different formats, but every time it is I can’t help but pick it up again.
I’ve probably 100%-ed that game at least 20 times over the years, I’d guess. And I’ve loved it every time.
Never again (probably)
It’s got to be the Mass Effect trilogy for me. I originally played a friend’s copies on the Xbox 360 and then replayed them several times over.
This was due to innumerable combinations of character classes, equipment loadouts, squad selections, branching story paths, dialogue choices, love interests, playable character, gender, etc. A few years later I picked up a PlayStation 3 and repurchased a digital copy of the trilogy under the tenuous justification that the experience will be markedly improved by not having to swap discs during my latest playthrough, à la the Xbox 360 version.
A few more years later still I built myself a modest gaming PC and discovered the joy of 60fps and 1080p resolution becoming a new standard and developed a slight obsession with replaying playing Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 era titles as they always ‘should’ have been played. Inevitably, for said reasons of visual and control fidelity, I triple-dipped on the trilogy yet again, the 60fps/1080p combo being particularly transformative for the, notoriously janky on consoles, first game.
The divisive third game notwithstanding, the bond you build with the mostly varied and interesting characters in a fleshed out believable universe with plenty of lore and backstory to get stuck into, paired with slick gameplay (OK less so in the first game) just kept me coming back.
Having said that I’m not planning on picking up the planned future trilogy re-release unless it offers a significant graphical upgrade over the one I’ve already enjoyed on PC. So… here’s hoping it offers a significant graphical upgrade!
PS: runner-ups for multiple playthroughs would be the sublime Persona 4 Golden and Shenmue 1 and 2.
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