Gameological Q&A

Super Mario Bros.

There And Back Again

What game have you played through, from start to finish, more than any other?

By The Gameological Society Staff • September 19, 2013

Welcome to Gameological Q&A, where we throw out a question for discussion among the staff and readers. It’s extremely similar to The A.V. Club’s AVQ&A feature. You might even say it’s exactly the same. If you have a brilliant question that would make a fun Q&A, send it to brilliantquestions at gameological dot com.

Today’s question pertains to games that warrant repeat visits:

For many of us, a childhood love of video games meant saving up allowance, mowing lawns, and begging your parents until that next cherished piece of plastic entered our lives. The time between new games was filled with revisits to the ones already in your possession. The added responsibilities of adulthood and the length of many modern games make repeated journeys more difficult, but surely there are a few that you still tackle again and again. What game have you played from start to finish more than any other and why?

Anthony John Agnello

Replaying games is the best. I sometimes savor the second time through even more than the first, doing everything a little differently or perfecting earlier maneuvers. Chrono Trigger, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and a few other medium-sized games have become tri-annual staples, things I dive back into habitually to reconnect with. But when I look back at the things I’ve replayed the most, they’re always Capcom action games, like Mega Man 2 and Bionic Commando. The king of them all, though, was my very first Super Nintendo game, the arcade game Magic Sword. As a kid, it was my go to. On a phone call with a girlfriend? Play some Magic Sword. Got half an hour before dinner and the homework’s done? Time to find Lizard Man and put the kibosh on Lord Drokmar. I’ve been playing that stupid game over and over for 20 years now, and the act has become mesmeric, yet I keep doing it. Magic Sword never holds your attention too closely, but it also doesn’t coddle you. Capcom is incapable of making a game so pure and unassuming these days.

Ryan Smith

Because it can be done in literally five minutes, beating the original Super Mario Bros. a number of times is hardly an achievement. It’s funny. I’ve completed Mario’s first journey through the Mushroom Kingdom so often, but I’ve never actually owned a copy of the game. I think my lifelong contrarianism began in grade school when I thumbed my nose at the NES in favor of the much-maligned Sega Master System. As a result, I had to play Super Mario Bros. at a babysitter’s house that I was stuck in for three straight summers. And I played at a local Qik-N-EZ gas station down the street that had a Nintendo Play Choice 10 arcade machine to go along with a Pinbot and delicious 10-cent chocolate swirl ice cream cones. The only thing nagging at me is that 90 percent of my Mario playthroughs involved heavy use of the Warp Pipes, which is like a Cliffs Notes version of the game. I have a similar conundrum with movies. I’ve watched The Goonies more than every other movie—but only the sanitized edited-for-TV version copied onto a blank VHS tape. I feel like a fraud.

John Teti

Since I had a limited budget for NES cartridges as a kid, there were plenty of games that were in heavy rotation out of necessity, so I had to think for a while to figure out my answer for this one. There were a lot of possible candidates. But as it turns out, I think the cartridge that ended up getting the most wear is not a gem from the NES years but rather one from the next generation: Super Castlevania IV on the Super NES. The ghoul-whipping, Dracula-killing game has few differences to offer the second time you play it (or the third, or the fourth). I think I kept coming back to it, though, because it’s such a pleasant way to spend a lazy afternoon. It’s pretty, the music’s good, and it’s so kinetically smooth that every move seems to flow into the next. Just as important, Super Castlevania IV is on the easier side as cartridge-era Castlevania games go—your whip is unusually flexible and powerful. And sometimes you don’t want to deal with the frustration of a more taxing game. On the whole, it’s not the best example of Castlevania design (don’t get me wrong—it’s still really good), but as satisfying, semi-mindless fare to fill a couple of hours, it’s tough to beat.

Drew Toal
Dragon Age: Origins - "The Darkspawn Chronicles"

I’m not quite sure when Dragon Age: Origins snared me. I somehow got on EA’s list, and they sent me an unsolicited copy. I knew nothing about it. I started it up, played about 20 minutes worth, and turned the machine off, profoundly unimpressed. Maybe a month later, bored, I started it up again, this time with a different character. Since then, I’ve probably played through half a dozen times. I would have a really hard time explaining just what it is about the Grey Warden’s adventure that kept me coming back for so long. I don’t think it’s even that good of a game. Maybe it’s the same reason that I have gone back and read Robert Jordan’s Wheel Of Time books (which are not just derivative and unoriginal, but also 800-page doorstops)—there’s something about the familiarity of Dragon Age’s world and my mastery of it that was comforting. Hanging around the camp with doofy Alistair, drunken Oghren, and Shale, the snooty, sarcastic golem, never got old. Eventually, on my last playthrough a couple of years ago, I opted to sacrifice myself to stop the Arch Demon, rather than my usual choice to miraculously survive. It symbolically ended my time in Ferelden. Still, I can’t promise I won’t one day go back and whip the darkspawn again in preparation for Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Joe Keiser

My preference for longer story-driven games means that these days I only play through anything once. But there was no space in my mind for that sort of thing during my Pop Rock-fueled childhood, so instead I played through Contra over and over again. That ‘80s classic of shooting and shirtlessness is considered pretty difficult today, but it was actually one of the easier home games of the time. With the code for a ton of extra lives in hand, my cousin and I could tear through the game’s alien menace effortlessly. It eventually just became something we did with our hands while we discussed more thoughtful issues, like what parts of the playground we were going to try to eat today. I guess a lot of my tastes have evolved since then.

Samantha Nelson

I prefer sprawling and open-ended games so, like Joe, I have to go back to my youth to find something I played over and over again. I spent a lot of time in the car as a kid, whether it was going on family trips or visiting grandparents or just having to tag along for a bunch of errands or my brother’s T-ball practice. My parents discovered the Game Boy’s magical power to keep me from annoying behaviors—like reading every road sign I saw aloud or singing “This is the song that never ends”—so they were happy to let me spend the rides playing games. I logged countless hours in Tetris, Super Mario Land, and Wario Land, but the game I played through the most was Kirby’s Dream Land. The first entry in the Kirby series was easy enough for my 8-year-old self to master and so short that I could reliably beat it before I got where I was going. And when I was in for a longer trip, the cutesy game served as a relaxing way for me to ease into a nap in the backseat. My exhausted parents may have loved Kirby as much as I did.

Cory Casciato

The childhood games are pretty well covered, so I’ll skip ahead to my 20s, a time when I played an unreasonable amount of the first Halo. I’m not sure how many times I played through the campaign, but it’s somewhere between five and a lot more than five. I’ve lost count. I know for sure that I played through it twice, back-to-back, in my first 10 days with the game, then played it through at least twice more with a couple of friends along for the ride. I’ve played it on every difficulty setting but easy—and that includes Legendary, the hardest setting, which took me literally months to complete. I even played through it once more for old times’ sake when I first got my Xbox 360 and didn’t have anything new and exciting to play on it for the first few months. If you throw in the untold hours playing multiplayer—I hosted a LAN party every Friday night for close to 18 months—I probably spent roughly as much time with that damn game as with most of my girlfriends.

Matt Gerardi

Cory stole my answer. I’ve been through the halls and canyons of Halo: Combat Evolved more times than I can remember. It and Super Smash Bros. Melee dominated the social gatherings of my early teenage years, where their frantic competitive matches were king. But Halo’s story mode is full of enough secrets and allows for enough randomness in each firefight that it was always my go to when only one other buddy was around. Its best action sequences take place in big open areas and its variety of guns and vehicles mean you could take a new approach every time you go through. I was never able to finish Halo on the hardest difficulty like Cory did, but that’s probably because my friends and I were too busy seeing how high we could launch our invincible jeeps with the glitchy explosive force of a few grenades.

Zack Handlen
The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time 3D

I love replaying games, but I hardly ever have time anymore; even if I get the itch to pick something back up again, it’s with the full knowledge that I’ll most likely play for a few hours and then get distracted and never go back. So the games I’ve been through the most are the ones I’ve known the longest. I was in college before I bought an N64 and picked up The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, but I think I’ve probably played through the whole game at least three times, maybe four. Which doesn’t sound like a lot, but still makes it unique among my favorite games. I recently picked up a 3DS in no small part because I wanted to try a handheld version of my favorite Zelda. While the results were mixed (I got up to the hover boot dungeon, but just haven’t felt the same spark), it’s still the game I always think of whenever someone asks me to pick a favorite. It’s just the right balance of open world and guided storytelling, and I think I’ll be hearing Navi say “Listen!” in my ear for the rest of my life.

Matt Crowley

The game I most often return to is Pokémon Red on the Game Boy. It’s a funny game—forgoing the fast-paced action and competition of most Game Boy offerings, it’s a long, slow slog toward the Indigo Plateau and the final rivals you must defeat. It has lengthy mazes, capricious restrictions, and little in the way of clever dialogue or exciting graphics to break things up. There are sizeable stretches during your journey that are plain boring—trekking through the labyrinthine Rock Tunnel or zigzagging through endless tall grass to eke out a few more experience points for your bench of monsters. Yet I was swept up in the first wave of Pokémania along with seemingly every other preteen in America, and I first beat the game weeks after getting it for Christmas. Since then, I’ve returned to it again and again. There’s something about that very plodding, inch-by-inch nature of the game that gives a real sense of accomplishment as you build your team and conquer increasingly challenging foes. And who can deny the inherent appeal of adorable monsters?

Derrick Sanskrit

With the exception of puzzle games like Tetris Attack and Picross, I don’t tend to replay whole games very often. Usually I’ll move on to something else about halfway through a replay or just jump to particular scenes or levels I liked. Something about de Blob, though, just won’t let go of me. Since the game’s release in 2008, I’ve played the entire campaign from beginning to end five times, roughly once a year. Sometimes it’s to see how quickly I can get through it. Sometimes it’s to explore every nook and cranny to finish with 100-percent completion. More often than not, though, I just find the game incredibly gratifying. The way the horizon slowly colors itself like watercolors bleeding across wet paper, the way the music steadily evolves along with your progress, and the delightful gesticulations of your over-excited co-conspirators in the Colour Underground, it all just makes me happy. It’s a game that makes me feel warm and welcome and safe, even when under enemy fire, and I’m never more than a couple months from popping the disc back in for another visit.

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298 Responses to “There And Back Again”

  1. PugsMalone says:

    Gotta go with Star Fox 64. It’s short and you can play through it in any number of different ways.

    • Colonel says:

      Sector Z was brutal.  I could get well above the required amount on all other stages except that one.  I’ll never get those cool shades…

    • Xyvir says:

      Came here to say this. Dangit, beat me to it! Love this game, a top contender for my all time favorite video game ever.

    • Necrogem says:

      I was reading through this Q&A and scouring my brain trying to think of a game I’ve played more than twice all the way through, and had settled on Ocarina of Time (at three playthroughs), when I saw your comment and it all came flooding back.  There was a period where every day after I got home from school I would fire up Star Fox and play through two or three times at a crack.  I think I did manage to get expert medals on everything, but every time I went the Sector Z route, I could never get past Star Wolf the second time, so no shades for me either :[

    • Lily says:

      My Uncle Ian just got an awesome six month old Lexus RX 350 SUV just by some parttime working online with a cheap laptop… useful reference


  2. Enkidum says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever played through a game more than once. I’ve nearly completed a game and then come back to it several times, oh, and I guess I did complete Fool’s Errand way back in the day and got close to completing it again… and, uh… I think that’s honestly it.

    I dunno, every time people here talk about multiple playthroughs I get confused. I’ve just never really had the urge.

    • Girard says:

      Maybe if we include boardgames, you might find something to include?

      • Enkidum says:

        I suppose so, but Scrabble and Monopoly don’t seem to quite fit with the Q&A idea somehow. 

        There’s things like Civ that I’ve played multiple games in, but that doesn’t seem to quite fit either. In terms of something with (a) a story, and (b) a clear beginning and ending, nada.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      Trying to think of a game I’ve beaten more than twice is tough. I mean, all the way through. I’ve beaten Chrono Cross plenty of times, but most of that is extra endings.

    • BobbyMcD says:

      Same here. I’ve played games for many, many hours but always in the quest to complete them. Once I’m done, I’m done.

      Same with movies. I’ve seen maybe 2 or 3 movies more than once in my entire lifetime.

      • caspiancomic says:

         That’s pretty interesting, because I’ve always been the exact opposite way. I serially replay my favourite games and rewatch my favourite films. I went through a period when I was at uni where I watched Withnail & I every day for two weeks straight. Also, I once watched Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and when it was done, started it right back up again and watched it a second time. This was after already having seen it multiple times, as well. I’m the same way with TV, I’ve seen my favourite Futurama episodes countless times, and I’ve been rewatching Doctor Who episodes almost pathologically in preparation for the 50th Anniversary Special. I wonder what it is that makes one person chronically relive old favourites while someone else maintains a “one and done” policy?

  3. Merve says:

    I rarely replay games, so if I go for a second playthrough, it has to be something really special. I’ve played through Mass Effect and Psychonauts three times each, but the game that holds the crown for most replays for me is Commander Keen 4. I’ve played through that game at least half a dozen times, if not more. My love for that game is so strong that I even own a Commander Keen hoodie. I’m the coolest kid on the block!

    • zerocrates says:

      Disclaimer: Merve may not be the coolest kid on the block. Ask your doctor if you’re healthy enough for nerdy activity before wearing video game hoodies.

    • NakedSnake says:

      Commander Keen! So it 4 the best one? Did you play the original Duke Nukum?

      • feisto says:

        @baneofpigs:disqus, if he’s talking about Goodbye Galaxy Pt. 1, then I’d also agree that it’s the best of the Keen games. Lots of environmental and game-play variety, plus there’s a bouncing red ball with a smiley face that you can, with practice, learn to ride around like a boss.

        • NakedSnake says:

          Cool – I played the shareware of a few of them, but I never bought them. Maybe it’s time for a revisit.

      • Merve says:

        I’d say 4 and 5 are probably tied for the best. 4 has a lot of varied environments, as @feisto:disqus points out, but 5 has more challenging gameplay.

      • Andy Tuttle says:

        My grandpa LOVED Commander Keen and Duke Nukem. He got a computer pretty late, around 2000, but all these Apogee games were really cheap and free so he picked them up. He wasn’t too hot on Duke Nukem 3D with all its raunchy content, but those side scrollers really did it for him. I miss that guy.

    • Andy Tuttle says:

      I need a link to the site that sells the Commander Keen hoodie, please.

      • Merve says:

        I got this design printed on a green zip-up hoodie.

        • caspiancomic says:

           Whoa this website is looking seriously excellent. How’s the quality of the hoodie?

        • Uncle Roundy says:

          Redbubble is excellent. A trusted source (i.e. my wife) tells me that I’m getting a RB gift certificate for my birthday in a few weeks. Getting this first, then seeing where my fancy takes me.

          If you haven’t played the fan-made The Universe Is Toast! trilogy, starting with The Keys of Krodacia, you really ought to. 7 and 8 are pretty much 1:1 mods of 4 and 6, respectively, but 9 (a mod of 5) diverges from formula just slightly with some moderately ambitious, if sometimes cheap, AI mashups. Being as you’re such a big-time Keen fan you definitely should check it out.

    • Miko the Squiz says:

      I barely ever finish a game at all, I typically get bored either eight hours in or halfway through, whichever is sooner. I have finished Psychonauts three times, though, the last time with 100% completion. I think I’ve also done the first two Monkey Islands and Day of the Tentacle three times each, but those don’t somehow quite seem to count in the same way.

  4. Citric says:

    I’ve definitely seen the ending of Wario Land more than anything else, but that wasn’t from start to finish very often – though I did need to start fresh a few times because my young nephews were very amused by the delete save animation.

    I actually think it has to be Final Fantasy VI. I know I’ve played it so many times that I could probably go from beginning to end in my sleep.

    • For a game that’s stunningly long (without feeling very padded, either) I’ve played through FF6 more times than I care to count, too.  Whenever I’d get to the end I’d beat Kefka/watch the end credits a couple of times then start a new save.

    • Dr. Clint Handsome says:

      For a few years, every summer I’d start a fresh game of Wario Land 3. There’s just something addictive about how you progressively gain new abilities until you become a virtually unstoppable Wario.

  5. Effigy_Power says:

    I think it’s probably Dragon Age Origins also. I’ve played every single combination that was possible, well… at least when it comes to the Mage and the Rogue/Warrior combo. I played some for both genders even. And the DLC. And Awakening.
    It had to be some RPG, I definitely finished Neverwinter Nights more than 3 times. Closely followed by either Knights of the Old Republic.
    Surely I have more hours in the Elder Scrolls games, but I probably only finished the games, as far as you can finish them, twice each.

    • Girard says:

      That game is SOOOO LOOOOONG! Even playing it once, the fact that I was 60 hours closer to the grave was palpable, and I haven’t mustered the energy to go into the DLCs. Playing the whole thing again, multiple times, sounds like a herculean task.

    • patagonianhorsesnake says:

       i’ve started dragon age a bunch of times, but i’ve only got through that first section before the battle (in the very beginning)… twice, i think? this is a problem i have with games with so many starting options. i want to try them all out, and in the process, everything past the unique intro becomes incredibly tedious.

    • Smilner says:

       For some reason, DAO didn’t click with me.  It should have been right up my alley, but… nothing.  Beat it once, then sold it back for the three damned dollars Game Stop credited me.  I think the credit went toward a used copy of Arkham City.

      Anyway, I think it’s the lack of respawning that killed it for me.  I’m an inveterate level grinder.

    • a_scintillating_comment says:

      Yeah, DA’s not # 1 for me, but it’s definitely up there

  6. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    Final Fantasy II, née IV.
       I picked it up the same day as the SNES, right after Christmas, ’91.
       Watching the airship fleet putter across the landscape in miraculous mode 7 during the intro blew my mind.
       It was the only RPG I owned until VI came out three years later, and I revisited the game regularly the whole time.
       That, in tandem with twenty subsequent years of remasters, compilations, remakes and reformatting and my weakness for such, has pretty much assured I revisit that magical realm of crosses, double-crosses, secret-reverse-crosses and ninjas with Dagwood hair every handful of years.

    • Dikachu says:

      FFIV is still my favorite of the entire series.  The scope was just amazing, and the 2D sprite graphics have never looked so clean and crisp before or since.

      The shitty-looking polygon remake I got for my DS (without knowing it was a remake) fucking broke my heart.

      • stepped_pyramids says:

        FFIV is the best game in the series for sure. It really hits the sweet spot of ambition and execution.

        I don’t like the DS remake for a few reasons. It’s needlessly difficult and the character designs are pretty bizarre.

        FFIV: The After Years is also really bad.

  7. Colonel says:

    Banjo-Kazooie is definitely the game I’ve played more than any other.  The perfect difficulty slope, the fun levels (except for Clanker’s Cavern…Fuck Clanker’s Cavern), just the atmosphere of it all!  Even replaying it on the Xbox 360 I still get melancholic on the fall/winter areas of Click Clock Woods, knowing my journey is almost over…

    As for an RPG, Final Fantasy X would probably be the one.  Sure I switched the feed during the laughing scene and Tidus could be unbearable at times, but it was so fun and familiar.  I really wish the FFX HD remake would come out for the Xbox but who knows if it ever will.  I guess I could always borrow my friend’s PS3 but how would I play it again 10 years from now?

    • Mr. Glitch says:

      I just picked up a copy of Banjo-Kazooie at a thrift this week. Looking forward to giving it a shot; I missed it (and everything else on the N64) the first time around.

    • Dikachu says:

      Banjo-Kazooie was everything that SM64 should have been, and more.  What a fucking amazing game that was.

      • Andy Tuttle says:

        But it just looks so ugly. I can’t stand N64 graphics, they’re so, I don’t know, ucky.

        • Colonel says:

          I think BK and SM64 look just fine on the N64.  Their cartoony graphics compliment the bizarre proportions you have to have to make anything stand out.

          Goldeneye on the other hand…eugh.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

        Banjo-Kazooie kind of sucks. It’s got a great example of how awful Rare was at the time about making collectibles a thing. You have to get notes to open doors, but it only counts notes you collect after you beat the record on whatever level. So if you collected 60 notes the first time through a level, it will only start adding to your total when you get 61. It’s tedious as hell.

        That said I played the shit out of it. I liked Banjo-Tooie a lot more though.

        • Colonel says:

          I think BK had the right amount of collectibles (Donkey Kong 64 being the wrong amount) but I agree that have to get all 100 notes on one life could be hell on later levels (I’m looking at you, Rusty Bucket Bay).

          I have a love/hate relationship with Banjo-Tooie.  On one hand, it’s classic BK action.  On the other, the levels are just way too big.  The level design in BK was tight; almost every bit of the area was used for something.  There are just too many stretches of nothing but walking to the next thing.  The dinosaur land was a big offender of that to me.

  8. Cloks says:

    Not really an entire game per-say, but the tc_hydro map in Team Fortress 2 is probably one of my most completed things in gaming. It’s never been a terribly popular map even though the territory control concept is pretty solid. Somehow it just never took off and Valve declined to make any more tc maps, leaving this one to stand as the proof of concept. I found a server that hosted it 24/7 and played it often enough that I became familiar with most of the other people on that server – if one of us joined the map, the rest would soon follow and we’d play for a few hours. After so many TF2 updates we all started losing our interest in the game and petered off in the same way a man becomes bankrupt – gradually, then suddenly. After pruning my friends list multiple times, none of the people that I used to play with remain on it but I occasionally wonder what happened to them and if they still play TF2 or even just think about those times we shared.

    If anybody reading this remembers that, my name on Steam at the time was “Woody Allen” and my avatar was a character from Questionable Content.

    • Cloks says:

      Other games I could’ve listed: Pokemon Silver, Pokemon Ruby, Shining Force.

      • caspiancomic says:

         Shining Force! I’ve only beaten the original once or twice (the first time I beat the game it was by loading some other guy’s save file on a rental copy of the cartridge), but I’ve played SFII to within an inch of its life.

  9. HobbesMkii says:

    Betrayal in Antara. I loved that story, although nowadays I realize the game isn’t very fun (and the story isn’t particularly inspired as far as fantasy goes).

    Although, I’ve actually never played to the end. The game shipped on something absurd like 3 CD-Roms (in 1997!) and with a crippling bug on the final (9th) chapter. So the game perpetually ended on the cliffhanger that concludes Chapter 8, where the family estate of one of the main characters is under attack by pirates. Chapter 9 would allow you to walk as far as the first corpse before the game would crash to the desktop. By the time I learned that it was a bug and easily fixable via a patch, it wasn’t really compatible with the current version of Windows and the game, which was already fairly dated upon its release, couldn’t hold a candle in terms of graphics and gameplay to its contemporaries.

    • Sarapen says:

      Did you ever play Betrayal at Krondor? Because that was awesome. It was my first experience with the kind of early fumbling attempts which eventually turned into the open world games, of which I compulsively sink untold hours into. Krondor’s graphics were great at the time but seriously ass nowadays.

      • HobbesMkii says:

        I didn’t actually. The only reason I knew about BiA was that the demo was bundled with my other favorite Sierra games of the day: Lords of the Realm II and Caesar II

        • Sarapen says:

          Oh damn, Lords of the Realm II! That takes me back. That was when I first learned about the Angevin empire. It was Medieval: Total War before Medieval: Total War.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          I lovehated those Caesar games, because I loved the massive classic-era city that grew, but hated the fact that it inevitably ended in fire.
          I didn’t even get to play the lyre wistfully while it was burning. I just got to sit there with clenched fists and see the computer burn down 3 hours of work.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          @Effigy_Power:disqus I remember Caesar II being infinitely more complicated than Caesar III, or the city building that followed in the vein of Caesar III, like Pharaoh, Cleopatra, and Zeus. In particular, I remember Caesar II being not that much fun to play.

        • NakedSnake says:

          Slaughter these villagers, my Lord?

        • His_Space_Holiness says:

          Zeus was my favorite of the Sierra city-building games, partly because including mythology made for so much goofy fun and because they finally eliminated the little guy who wanders around looking for people to work at the industrial buildings. TURN LEFT, YOU MORON, THE HOUSING DISTRICT IS RIGHT THERE! NO, DON’T KEEP WALKING THAT WAY, ARRRRRGH!

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        I played Betrayal at Krondor…I either got to a point where a glitch prevented me from progressing, or an unavoidable battle that I couldn’t win.

      • O Superman says:

        I loved Betrayal at Krondor! I think I was like, 8 at the time, and I was obsessed. Those Moredhel (sp?) chests were so fun.

      • I was 9 years old in 1993, when we got our first computer, and I had to play Mavis Beacon until I could accurately type 40 words per minute before my mom would let me play Betrayal at Krondor.  It was totally worth it.

    • a_scintillating_comment says:

      The sequel ‘Return to Krondor’ actually got me to check out Raymond E. Feist’s books. For better or worse, I’ve read nearly twenty of them, and most of them were shit. Why did I read so many….?

      • Yeah, I was hooked on them from a young age, and I totally loved Magician, Silverthorn, and A Darkness at Sethanon..  I kept at it, though, and it’s just a terrible lesson in the inherent problem with genre fiction.  It’s awesome if the author doesn’t milk it, but they all do.  After I heard a huge variety of characters describe the “reality is an onion” theory first described by Nakor, I was like…  ugh.  It was profound the first time, but it has diminishing returns, Ray.

      • Sarapen says:

        I’m in the same boat. The Tsurani books were much better but that’s because he had a collaborator. Apparently he’s finishing up everything so I’m forcing myself to get through the last books out of some weird sense of obligation to my younger and dumber self.

        • a_scintillating_comment says:

          I agree with both of you. I can always return to the first four, and Tsurani books, but I don’t thinkg I’ll ever return to his others–I’ve actually donated most of the other sagas to some poor sap. If you haven’t already read ‘the last book’, don’t. I did, and was extremely disappointed. I was all in, and needed to know how he would wrap it up, but….yeah, don’t do it.

  10. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    As games get longer and more involved, I end up playing through them only once.  But back in the day I replayed quite a few.

    My general limit for playthroughs is two or three times.  (Not counting short games like Altered Beast for Genesis, where a playthrough is 30 minutes long.)  Do strategy games count?  If so, Master of Orion II and/or Master of Magic probably garnered at least a dozen playthroughs each.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      Well then I could say Civ IV, even if I’ve only run the games to completion maybe 10 times.

    • HobbesMkii says:

      I think it has to be strategy with a defined plot, no? Because otherwise I’ve won Close Combat V dozens of times (because the computer is no match for humanity).

  11. The_Helmaroc_King says:

    I can’t remember all that many games I completed as a kid, let alone more than once. I’ve been better at completing the games I start as I’ve grown older, but I can’t think of many that I’ve completed more than two or three times, usually when finishing the harder difficulty levels. If remakes count for the original, there might be some that bump up to three or four.

    There are at least two games that I’ve completed at least half-a-dozen times apiece, both on Steam:

    I’ve beaten Ys: The Oath in Felghana at least once on each of the six different difficulty levels. If you know what to do the easier difficulties can be done in two or three hours apiece. I haven’t 100% the game either, given the bonus bosses in boss rush mode; unless I suddenly decide to remaster the game, I likely won’t.

    I’ll also go for an easy answer and say The Binding of Isaac, which I’ve completed at least nine times. Yeah, yeah, it’s a roguelike where a victorious playthrough from start-to-Mom can be done in an hour or so, but I can’t think of many other circumstances where I’d want to replay a game all that often.

    • Citric says:

      I don’t know why a mention of Ys always makes me happy, but it does.

    • caspiancomic says:

       Agh, The Binding of Isaac is a really good choice, I’ve played that one from start to finish loads of times. I think I’ve gotten all the endings, but I don’t know if I ever actually unlocked all the content. Most perverse part? I’m actually really excited to buy it again when the PSN remake comes out. God help me if the 3DS version ends up getting off the ground.

      • needlehacksaw says:

         It’s not perverse. IT’S WHAT THE GAME DOES TO YOU. Naturally, cruelly, effortlessly.

        I mean, I have the Golden God-achievement on Steam (which means that I have finished it many, many times… yes, even the real ending, for which Mom is nothing but a mini-boss).
        And still, I won’t hesitate to buy the updated version day one. It’s… what it has done to me. WHAT HAS IT DONE TO ME?

        • Basement Boy says:

          Absolutely! I’ve been regularly playing for TBOI for almost 2 years now… recently passed the 1,500 hour mark and now the splash screen is a huge, blobby Isaac that says “STOP PLAYING”… but I *can’t*!!

          When my GTA/PS3 bundle arrives today, I might finally start spending less time with Isaac, tho I’m sure I will return pretty often.

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          If the game itself tells you you’re playing it too much…then it needs to shut the hell up, you can quit anytime you want!

        • needlehacksaw says:

           @AuroraBoreanaz:disqus Given the nature of the game, I think it’s fair to say that you should never, ever even think about doing what it tells you.

          (Even though one of those heartwarming calls from EarthBound would actually make for a nice break from the usual rather depressing amtosphere in Isaac’s cellar.)

    • Unexpected Dave says:


  12. ItsTheShadsy says:

    My former roommate and I are big fans of the Halo series, warts and all. In the two years between Halo Reach and Halo 4, we played through Reach‘s co-op campaign probably at least 10 times. It’s not the best of the Halo campaigns, but it was really a great deal of fun. Plus, we had the script memorized fairly pat by the end. (“MAC rounds? In atmosphere?”) We kept finding ways to mix it up once we beat it on the hardest difficulty, even if that was just custom soundtracks.

    Great memories came from those late-night Halo sessions. I can probably still walk through the campaign in the sleep.

  13. DrZaloski says:

    Do FTL and The Binding of Isaac count? I’ve played a lot FTL and The Binding of Isaac.

    In all seriousness though, I can’t really say for Sure. I’ve played through all of Half Life 2 at least four times, I’ve played all of VVVVVV a lot, and I’ve punched in over 100 hours of Torchlight, must’ve beaten it at least four or five times. Ultimately, I think I’m going to have to go with Cave Story. I’ve beaten Cave Story easily about, eh, let’s say half a dozen times, with all the various endings, of course.

    Wait, now that I think of it, I’ve beaten Sonic 3 a lot. Probably about a dozen times, going to have to go with that. Also Super Mario World.

    WAIT. It’s Super Metroid. It is so Super Metroid. It is totally Super Metroid.

    I’ve also beaten Fire Emblem for the GBA about three times, and I think it’s the only strategy game besides Starcraft I’ve beaten multiple times, which I’ve only played through entirely twice. 

    Oh no, then there’s the Zero games. Oh god, then there’s Megaman X! And Megaman 2!

    Total time though, has probably gone into replaying Okami. Beaten that goddamn epic three times, and have gotten about half way another three.

    I’m just going to stop before this gets any more depressing.

    • NakedSnake says:

       Oh man, I forgot about the mega mans. Either 2 or 3 could make a play for the crown for me.

    • craigward says:

       Super Metroid is my second most replayed game.

      And I did NOT have it when I was a kid.  I just got into it last year via Wii virtual console.

      • Andy Tuttle says:

        I went through that game quite a few times as a teenager. Only once as an adult when I bought it on the VC, but I surprisingly remembered where just about every secret was.

      • 2StoryOuthouse says:

        Hey, me too! Super Metroid is the only older game I’ve gotten later in life that I’ve still managed to give multiple playthroughs.

        I really don’t know why I never bought SM back then. I had an SNES, I had the original Metroid, and I bought a Gamecube late in the console’s life just for Prime (and Windwaker and Smash Bros).

    • needlehacksaw says:

      The easy answer would have been a game from my childhood as well. Most probably “Duck Tales” or “Double Dragon II”, the latter of which was an excellent coop-game and thus was played every time friends were over.

      (The only two games played even more often would have to be “Super Bomberman 5” and “WWF Raw”, both of which do not have a proper ending, alas.)

      But since that does not count, and roguelites are a special case as well, I would have to go with “Cave Story” as well. I mean, I never even made it through hell, but I’m perfectly happy to down the core and call it a day. In a time when even finishing games, let alone replaying them, seems so difficult with all those games in the backlog waiting for me, it takes a special game for me to return to. “Cave Story” is that game, which is even more surprising since the love for the game is not fuelled on nostalgia. Still, it’s a game that feels like… a good place to be in. Simple as that.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

       I’d love to count FTL IF I COULD JUST BEAT IT ONCE.

      • Sarapen says:

        It took me like thirty or forty tries before i beat it, I think I’m at fifty-something and I’ve only got two wins. Losing ain’t no thing in FTL.

        Hint: teleporters is awesome. Abuse the living shit out of them.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      FTL and BoI are sort of special cases, I guess, since they are meant to be replayed in order to advance and unlock things… They are by no means less of a game, but yeah. Probably went through FTL at least 15 times now. But at about an hour each that doesn’t even scratch the surface of a single DA:O playthrough.

    • TheInternetSaid says:

      I loooooove Okami so much.  On the second playthrough I got all of the stray beads, so at some point I’ll do a third playthrough as the most baller dog-god ever. 

    • Captain_Tragedy says:

      Metroid would be mine. It got to the point where in college a few of my friends and I actually had a thing where we’d just get some beers and weed and I’d go for a complete run with the best ending.

  14. rvb1023 says:

    KOTOR 2 or Diablo 2.  The only other ones that come close are RE4 and Shadow of the Colossus.

    The first time I played KOTOR II I immediately started up again and played it Light Side instead. Then as a Dark Side Female. Then Light Side Female. Then I tried a blaster only run. Then I replayed it multiple times through various stages of the Restored Content Mod. Kreia is still one of my favorite video game characters and probably the best written one period.

    Diablo 2 I couldn’t count the number of times I have beaten it, at least 3 times with each class.

    RE4 I played religiously during that dry spell on the Gamecube before getting a Wii and PS3.

    Shadow of the Colossus I just play once I year because I love it so much. I should really do that with Metroid Prime and go replay the Metal Gear Series as well.

    Also Final Fantasy X, which will get at least one more playthrough clocked in when the HD remaster finally comes out.

    • CrabNaga says:

      Yup. Diablo II for me. Hell, I’ve probably spent more time killing Mephisto over and over for precious uniques than I have playing most other games. Finally putting the finishing touches on gearing out my corpse explosion/summoner necromancer (the most awesome class ever) was a hallmark of my gaming career. Being able to teleport on top of an enemy and have 15 skeletons instantly wailing on them, only to use that dude’s corpse to kill everyone else around…gods that was the life.

    • WorldCivilizations says:

      I replay games pretty often, but I’d say that Diablo II probably tops my list too. Especially if you count paying a sorceress to run you through normal mode in 15 minutes as a playthrough.
      The top of the list is probably crowded with similar games, where you can play a variety of character classes. Dark Souls has to be up there – I’ve beaten it at least once each with a STR build, DEX build, FTH build, INT build, a VIT build, every hybrid in between, plus a handful of games with self-imposed restrictions (e.g. no leveling).Of course, there are a few games that are high on my list of time-played but that I haven’t completed many times – Morrowind and Dungeon Crawl come to mind.

    • Andy Tuttle says:

      Oh man, the first Resident Evil game had quite a few spins in my PS1. I liked part 2 a lot more, but the first game was just so much more focused in my opinion, which allowed for multiple playthroughs.

  15. Derek_Noakes says:

    Metal Gear Solid for me, without a doubt. I wore out my original copy, then played The Twin Snakes version on GameCube about a billion times. Not to mention the few runs I’ve made through the digital download on PSN. Easily my favorite game of all time.

    • caspiancomic says:

       Metal Gear Solid is a great choice, that was one of my runners up. I remember when I was about 13 I planted myself in the basement and played the game from title screen to credits three times in a row. I already had all the little toys and hidden items, had seen Tuxedo Snake and Spider-Ninja, gotten both endings, and done basically everything the game had to offer, but I kept playing it and re-playing it for the sheer joy of it. I eventually started experimenting with some really weird crap, just to keep the whole thing fresh for myself. Fun facts I discovered: you can kill guards with chaff grenades if you use enough of them (I would equip the stealth camo and hold the grenade directly inside a guard’s body. Still takes like six or seven grenades to kill them), and the PSG-1 is a viable option for fighting Rex when Liquid’s cockpit is exposed during the second half of that fight.

    • miltthefish says:

      In a moment of weakness I bought the MGS Legacy Collection thinking it would be a nice trip down memory lane. I just finished replaying MGS for the first time in 15 years.  It’s pretty goddamned terrible but in a good way – it shows just how far gaming has come in a short time.

    • Kyle O'Reilly says:

       I beat the entire first disc in one afternoon staying at a family friend’s house in South Dakota where no one was near my age.  You can powerhouse that game pretty quick if you know what you’re doing.

      • caspiancomic says:

         Truth. Just a few weeks ago a bud and I decided to see how far we could get in a single sitting. Consensus: final boss. By that point it was 2 AM and we were both tired and not at peak performance anymore, though.

  16. PaganPoet says:

    Truthfully speaking, I will have to go with Chrono Trigger. I actually got Ayla’s Bronze Fist from replaying that game so much. In my defense, it was the first game I ever played that had a New Game+ mode, and I was obsessed with making my team unstoppable. BUT…given that the game has 13 different endings, I feel like many people played through it many different times.

    One game that had quite a lot less on the replayability value index that I play through over and over and over is Super Metroid. It stands far above any other game as the perfect 2D platformer, and I get the urge every couple of years to play through it for nostalgia’s sake. The game is genuinely creepy, especially for a SNES game (anyone else remember being freaked out by the head statues “activating” and watching you as soon as you got the Morph Ball? Or the corpse being devoured by scavenger aliens right before Kraid’s lair?). The music is deliciously haunting and surprisingly atonal at parts (I’m thinking of the underwater section of Maridia). The gameplay is perfection. Just writing about it now makes me want to start a new game.

    • caspiancomic says:

       I’m a massive fraud, so I’ve only played the DS version of Chrono Trigger (and only the Advance version of FFVI. I’m sorry, Ted Woolsey!) I got something like seven of the endings, mostly because I dedicated myself to unlocking as many as I could manage while bedridden one weekend. I’ve been meaning to go back and finish the whole thing off. The DS version keeps track of which endings you’ve unlocked, so my lack of follow through will be staring me in the face if I ever return to that game.

      • Girard says:

        If “Only getting seven endings” in CT on DS makes you a “massive fraud,” then I’m probably history’s greatest monster. I’ve gotten one, crappy ending (the Nu ending) playing it on an emulator in 2001, and haven’t played the game since.

        • PaganPoet says:

          Wait, so you haven’t gotten either one of the main endings then?

        • Girard says:

          @PaganPoet:disqus Uh, I guess not? I didn’t do anything especially weird on my playthrough. I just knew there were lots of endings, and the one I got was the boring one with the Nu walking next to the black credits. I wasn’t aware that some were more ‘main’ than others.

        • PaganPoet says:

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus Oh, I didn’t mean to imply that you “did it wrong” or anything. The ending you get is the ending you get. I just meant that there are two endings which are the “canon” endings (they’re essentially the same thing other than how the credits roll). First time players of the game typically get one of the two, which is the only reason I was surprised you got a different one.

        • PaganPoet says:

          The best track in the whole game plays during those credits, too:

        • Unexpected Dave says:

          That’s weird, as @PaganPoet:disqus says.


          Do you remember when and how you killed Lavos?

        • Girard says:

          @davedalrymple:disqus It was over a decade ago, so, no. But I don’t remember doing anything especially out of the ordinary. Just going through the various quests in what seemed like the logical order, etc.

        • stepped_pyramids says:

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus It’s just weird because the Nu ending has a pretty narrow window, and it’s very early in the game — before you fight Magus, even. I wonder if you may have had a glitchy ROM.

        • Girard says:

          @stepped_pyramids:disqus : My save states are lost to the winds of time, so I can’t be sure. I do have a vague memory of the game seeming shorter than most JRPGs of the era, so maybe it’s possible I beat early, hit that window, and was none the wiser, since I wasn’t using an ending FAQ or whatever (I was only aware that there were multiple endings, and what they were, from an old Nintendo Power – I didn’t know what triggered them, or that some could be triggered much earlier than others). 

          If my only playthrough of such an estimable game was actually severely truncated, I guess I should give it another go sometime…

      • Captain_Tragedy says:

        I finally got around to working through Chrono Trigger on a DS emulator a few years ago. I didn’t finish, though. I got to the point where the game was super-open-ended, and you had to do a bunch of stuff to ensure you got the best possible treasure at every point, and I just got overwhelmed and quit playing.

    • ByronAytch says:

      I think that Maridia tune might be my favorite piece of game music ever:

      It’s so creepy but evocative. For me, music tends to be a huge factor in making me want to replay a game. Most of the tunes in Super Metroid are amazing; they really amp up that atmosphere of loneliness and mystery that I love exploring every few years.

      • PaganPoet says:

        It’s definitely top 5 for me. I even quoted the melody in my undergraduate final project (I was a music composition major) which was a piece for full orchestra.

  17. Mr. Glitch says:

    I have a little confession to make: The NES bundle I got as a kid included just the console and a single controller. I was mooching games from my friends for weeks until my brother bought our first NES game; Double Dribble I think. I never owned the one game that every other NES owner on the planet was guaranteed to have lying around somewhere.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is… I’ve never beaten Super Mario Bros. I’ve never done the infinite lives trick, I don’t know what the pattern is to make it though the last castle’s maze, and I didn’t realize until just recently that Peach wasn’t a natural blonde.

    I’m such a fraud!

    Did get pretty good at Double Dribble, though.

    • Girard says:

      No worries. I had the SMB/Duck Hunt bundle, and have never beaten SMB, which is probably a more heinous crime. The challenge of the game, and my playing it during my early youth when ‘beating’ a game was never even considered a possibility to strive for, meant I never seriously tried to complete it. By the time I was a little older and more interested in playing games to completion, my focus was on the later, flashier platformers like Kirby’s Adventure, and the MegaMan games I love so much.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      I received my first video game system, the NES, from mfather, and I guess my mother felt very strongly about any depiction of on-screen violence, so instead of Super Mario Bros. I received the game with a copy of submarine simulation Silent Service. I still played the heck out of it, but good gravy was I happy when I had Marble Madness and Captain Skyhawk to play as well. Never beat any of those games, though.

    • Sarapen says:

      Dude I’ve never finished any Mario game either, I thought it was one of those things that everyone did.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      I’ve never finished ANY Mario game because I tend to quit in frustration whenever I get stuck on rotating fire wheels or googly-eyed bombs. I have it better under control now, but Platformers to this day still have the ability to get me like that.

      “Well, this is comparatively harder than it is fun. QUIT.”
      On the PC I can just use cheats or a trainer to at least see the rest of the story play out, if I care, but on the old consoles I never knew any of the codes.
      In fact I hadn’t heard of the Konami code until I read GS. So I think you’re probably okay, @Mr_Glitch:disqus. ^_^

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        New Super Mario Bros. for Nintendo DS. That’s the one I finally beat. And I’ll get Super Mario World 3D finished soon.

  18. NakedSnake says:

    The hardest game I’ve ever one-hundred-percented would have to be Dead Rising. I had to beat it, I think, 5 times to do it. It was one of those experiences that kind of snuck up on me. Dead Rising’s core gameplay, which really mostly consists of getting from point A to point B (except there are zombies in the way), is so fun and simple that it somehow never gets old.  The replay value is enhanced by a rigid time structure that really limits the amount of “foolin’ around” time you are allowed per playthrough. So for the first couple of playthroughs, you keep getting the feeling you’ve missed something.

    I’ve also played System Shock 2, what, like 5 times through? But that’s because its the best game of all time.

    • NakedSnake says:

      Oh, and Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos! I’ve played that game through at least once ever 4 years since I was 12. I have it on my phone right now! I’m at the mines with that big ugly slug and those gross two-headed flying tapeworms. Just learned fireball.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Oh yeah.  I’ve beaten System Shock 2 at least twice in the past (once normally, and once with 3D glasses), and just picked it up again via a Steam bundle.  Looking forward to playing through it again, most likely in two years or so.

      • NakedSnake says:

        Haha, I did the same thing. I have a run-through going on right now. One thing that’s great about it is it’s definitely a game where the higher difficulty levels add replay value, since you need to be so much more careful about the decisions you make. The game is all about survival against all odds anyhow. Having to do more with less just enhances the feeling that you are the ingenious rat who skulks under the shadow of the great and powerful. Your continued survival alone is a grievous insult to their egos.

  19. caspiancomic says:

    To the surprise of absolutely nobody: Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which I’ve played start to finish multiple dozens of times in the 21 years it’s been out. Really any of the three point five Genesis era Sonic titles qualify, but Sonic 2 is the game I return to the most even today. It’s basically interactive comfort food for me, the gaming equivalent of a big plate of fish and chips, or of wrapping yourself up in a blanket and watching you favourite movie for the millionth time.

    Runners up: Metal Gear Solid, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Power Stone 2. I also have a list of RPGs that I’ve played through multiple times, but really, due to the time commitment it takes, I haven’t played them nearly as often as I have the sorts of platformers you could beat in somewhere between an afternoon and a weekend. I’ve played Suikoden II, Final Fantasy IX, and Shining Force II more times than I can really remember, though. A half dozen times each, at least? I have a tendency to play games over and over and over and over again, it would seem.

    • George_Liquor says:

      I’ve probably played Sonic 2 more times than any other game, but I’ve rarely finished it. It kinda peters out after Mystic Cavern Zone, so I’m usually content to end my Sonic 2 session at that point.

  20. ocelotfox says:

    So, I had a copy of Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest that, about after owning it for two months, was unable to keep save files.  So, every time I played, I’d have to play through the game from the very beginning.  My eight-year-old self was not above doing this, so I ended up playing through the whole game at least 20 or so times (mostly with friends who’d come over and get angry that I had no save data).  And once I got it on VC on the Wii, played through it another three times.  It’s not my favorite game (though it’s definitely up there), but I always loved that a flaw in the actual product made me play it more often.

  21. Crusty Old Dean says:

    I love replaying games. I think during my teen years I pretty much always had a playthrough of Final fantasy VI – X going. There’s something very satisfying in playing jrpg:s “the right way” right out the gate; managing character stats, knowing to keep on the lookout for whatever little knick-knacks the game offers, not being taken by surprise by hard bosses etc.

    Of course plot heavy games lose something on subsequent playthroughs (espescially if it’s full of TWISTS!). The second time around is probably the goldilocks zone for me, where everything feels comfortably familiar but not yet worn out.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      I’m finally going to beat FFVII now that it’s on my laptop, but man, those early hours that I’ve played at least 7 or 8 times are surprisingly wearing on me. I’m finally across the ocean, so I’m getting a little further out from that part you play every time you sit down and play it over the weekend, but man, I don’t know, I think this is my last time through the game, so I better beat it.

      • Crusty Old Dean says:

        The last journey through FFVII… That thought is just unbearably sad to me, even though I’m quite fed up with it as well.

        I imagine I’ll take it for a spin in the old folks home, and possibly once or twice before that.

        • DrFlimFlam says:

          Strange, isn’t it? I just sold my copy of FFVII because I figure this PC run has got to be my last one, and my kid won’t want to play this ugly game (though I think the combat models look surprisingly good on PC) ever.

      • miltthefish says:

        I recently put 30 hours into FFVII – I was well into disc 2 collecting the huge materia – but just couldn’t bring myself to continue because most of the rest of the game is about grinding for chocobos and AP. 18 year old me loved that shit but I’m now in my 30s and have such precious little time for gaming that I couldn’t be bothered.  

        So I instead popped Diablo III into my PS3 and have been loving it – it’s giving my id the childhood nostalgia it’s been craving but with modern graphics and gameplay. 

      • Unexpected Dave says:

        I really enjoy Midgar, so it takes me a while to get bored when I replay FFVII. Crossing Mount Nibel is probably the most annoying thing for me. And save-scumming Chocobo mating, obviously.

      • Unexpected Dave says:


        The higher the racing class of your breeding Chocobo, the better the chance of getting a “special” child. It’s worth raising a “wonderful” chocobo to S class (if only for the GP and other prizes you’ll earn along the way), but racing your lower-class breeders is a fool’s errand.

  22. Bakken Hood says:

    Probably Super Mario World, what with being a kid and not being able to ditch a vanquished game for a new one.  In more recent years, I’ve put in ungodly hours on Halos 1 and 3 (replaying every mission endlessly, working out master strategies for every last firefight…I’m proud of some of them) and the first Mass Effect (six complete playthroughs, replete with the inane sidequests, plus a few I didn’t finish).

    Also, I just counted them and, to my goddammed horror, I’m on my SIXTH Skyrim character.  Fuck.  We’re not talking full 100%-completion playthroughs here, but still.  Fuck.

    • CrabNaga says:

      By the Gods. I couldn’t imagine playing Skyrim with more than two characters. I near-100%ed Skyrim with my sneaky archer/doom mage dark elf, and don’t plan on going back. I didn’t even play the DLCs, partially because I find the nature of DLCs to be less than appetizing, but mostly because in sprawling open-world games like Skyrim, I have a hard time picking up a character after several months of downtime.

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        Same here.  I interrupted my Skyrim playthrough when The Old Republic came out, and never picked it back up again even after I got totally sick of SWTOR.

      • indy2003 says:

        I’ve always had trouble with the idea of playing through an Elder Scrolls game multiple times. Sure, you can change your character and take a different approach to playing things, but for the most part, you can do just about everything the game has to offer on one playthrough with one character. I completely get why people go back for multiple playthroughs of Mass Effect or Dragon Age, but Skyrim? I dunno.

        I do want to check out the DLC at some point now that it’s available for PS3, though.

      • Bakken Hood says:

        I wanted to try out different combat strategies, partly just to see if I could pull it off.  Illusion mage?  Feeble off the blocks, but quite capable with high-level Frenzy and Pacify spells.  Melee mage (?), with conjured weapons and armor spells?  Surprisingly effective in most cases, though I need a lot of help from my summons to deal with the toughest bosses.

    • Dikachu says:

      SMW is a good choice… I somehow wound up with 2 copies of the SNES cartridge and made sure that both of them had “☆96” in all 3 save slots at all times (as well as the save file for my emulated copy).

    • ShrikeTheAvatar says:

      Super Mario World is also my answer.  It’s also my favorite game of all time.  

      • Girard says:

        I love both that game and SMB3 so very much, but I’ve only ever beaten each once. And actually, my memory of beating 3 is probably actually a memory of watching a friend’s older relative beat it…

        • ShrikeTheAvatar says:

          That’s pretty funny, because I don’t think I’ve ever beaten it either.  That last world with all the tanks and lava was always really intimidating and scary to me as a child.

    • Uncle Roundy says:

      Any Mario platformer released roughly between 1988 and 1992 is high up on my list.

  23. turboreid says:

    Bubble Bobble. Including the New Game+ of Super Bubble Bobble to get the true ending. I probably beat it every other week freshman year of college.

  24. Adam Sarsfield says:

    I recall playing Star Fox for SNES and Donkey Kong Country an incredible amount of times as a kid (a close second being Mario 2: The 6 Golden Coins on gameboy).  As an adult? Journey has been a multi-playthrough for me, as well as the first Portal and a little known iOS game called Coco-Loco which I have been waiting for updates for foolishly for too long.

  25. Girard says:

    There are a couple of possible contenders, since I haven’t kept a tally:

    Sam & Max Hit the Road, which I played through at least once or twice a year during my formative middle school years (so much of my sense of humor was informed by that game, Freakazoid, and Hitchiker’s Guide in middle school), and will still occasionally revisit.

    MegaMan X, which is kind of my ‘comfort food’ game, a game so familiar, so pleasant, and which goes down so easy, that I’m liable to just pop it in and play it through if I have a lazy Sunday afternoon open.

    Kirby’s Dreamland. While I haven’t played the first game in ages, as Samantha noted its brevity and portability (not to mention extreme easiness) made it a easy candidate for multiple replays throughout my youth.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      I knew Kirby would come up because the games are so delightful and fun. The Kirby 20th Collection is a nice experience because it includes those crusty old games, which play surprisingly well to this day.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      I played Sam & Max twice, because I bought it first on floppy disk, and then on CD-ROM with voices.

      • Unexpected Dave says:

        I first bought Sam & Max on floppy as well, and I played it to death that way.

        When I play it now, I have to turn the voices off. They’re excellent, don’t get me wrong, but my memory is so in sync with the rhythm from my imagination that I can’t bear to hear the dialogue delivered any other way.

    • NakedSnake says:

      Oh shit! I forgot about adventure games. I’ve seen the endings to both Monkey Island 2 and Quest for Glory 1 many, many times.

      • Girard says:

        Which is ironic as, mechanically speaking, that’s technically a genre with next to no replay value. But the writing is so good, re-playing them is like re-reading a good funny book or watching a good funny movie again…

        • NakedSnake says:

          That’s a good analogy. When I get to Stan’s Previously Owned Coffins, I’m always like “Oh! I love this part” or when I get to Phatt island I’m like “this is the part where the kid has two pipes!” It’s just like watching Airplane again. 

      • Smilner says:

         QFG1, yesssssssssss.  I think I have a file on my compy right now that needs attention.

    • JokersNuts says:

      Yeah, Day of the Tentacle is another one of those games that I love to go back and replay every few years or so.  It’s easy now that I have everything memorized, but in 4th grade that game was an obsession.

      Also – Ditto on Mega Man X

    • Kirby’s Adventure for NES is probably my second-favorite game of all time. The number of powers you could steal was truly impressive for a game of its time, and almost all of them were tons of fun just to screw around with. The swordfight boss at the end of world 6 (the first appearance of MetaKnight?) was so much fun that I’d get him down to one-hit health, then die on purpose so I could face him again. What a fun game.

      • Girard says:

        That was MetaKnight, and I thought it was really cool when his mask came off and he was, like, an evil purple Kirby.

        Kirby’s Adventure was definitely a high point for the NES. Such a tremendous amount of high-quality content. I loved the weird, sometimes useless powers, like ‘Sleep.’

  26. craigward says:

    Jet Grind Radio

    From the second I read an article about spraying graffiti while cel shaded, I knew JGR was my motherfucking game.  The game didn’t disappoint even the least bit, and I spent over a hundred hours (the game told me so) repeatedly playing through this relatively short game with increasing speed and ease.

    The joystick commands to execute tags eventually ruined one of my Dreamcast controllers.

  27. Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

    There are so many games that come to mind. Super Marios 2, 3 Land and World. Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past and Link’s Awakening. Castlevania IV. Halo. Duke Nukem 3D. Kwirk. Probably more I can’t think of right now.

    But the top spot would be one of three games.

    Silent Hill 2: I got every ending at least once and could fly through the game in a ridiculously short amount of time at one point.

    Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve finished this game. I will play it again. This is certain.

    Mario Kart 64: Have beaten every cup on 50, 100, and 150cc multiple times. Same with the mirrored tracks. I’ve jumped through a wall to gain a lap on the Donkey Kong track, over a wall to gain the lead in the Wario track, leapt through space to do the same on Rainbow Road. I even once awesomely (pathetically?) beat all the 150cc tracks playing one handed just because I thought it would make it more challenging. People now refuse to play against me anymore which has kind of made me dislike the game.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      Once I beat a Mirror tourney, I try not to go back. I swear, Double Dash!! aged me by a year. I still can’t believe I ever beat it. I try 150cc now and I’m competitive, but not enough to win an entire tournament.

    • indy2003 says:

      Super Mario 3 probably takes the cake for me. I never get tired of going back and playing through that one.

  28. Soredomia says:

    Oooooo!  Great Q&A, guys!  And superb answers, one and all.
    For what it’s worth– my answer to this is unequivocally Sid Meier’s Pirates!

    I’ve played every incarnation of this massive hit since it was released in its first version sixteen years ago.  EXCEPT on the Amiga and the Amstrad CPC.  I have played it on the Macintosh, the Atari ST, the Commodore 64, the NES, the Sega Genesis, the Apple II, and SEVERAL PC version (including the recent remakes, but none of the latest handheld versions).  And lovingly but honestly all the same I must report– EVERY one of these versions is bugged in SOME way!.  A design feature, I say! And all the better for it!  Seamless gameplay is for those unfit for the perils of the high seas!  ARRRRRRR! /cheer

    Favorite version?  Pirates! Gold, released circa 1993 with several fun updated features including beloved historical setting objectives and battles (E.G. play as Captain Henry Morgan and set sail from Port Royale to take over the Silver Train in Porto Bello). 

    I battled in every time period under every nationality.  I’ve rescued every immediate and not-so-immediate member of my family, and uncovered treasure after treasure after treasure from maps these close kin disclosed to my possession in gratitude for their freedom.  I’ve captured hundreds of every kind of ship available from the Sloop to the Trade Galleon to the Frigate.  I’ve majored in diplomacy to gain favor with many a governor’s daughter for easy letter of marques, to fencing in order to quell the multitude of mutinies awaiting the perilous on the high seas, to finance in order to gain deals on bartering from merchants.

    I sailed as Major Asshole, enlisted initially as Ensign Asshole.  I tried to be Mister Mister for as long as possible, but could only skirt the rigid system of uniform privateer national loyalty for so long.  And unfortunately Duke Ofearl doesn’t look that great in the DOS text prompt box, but what can you do?  At least there’s no way to die of dysentery in this game.

    And I’ve obtained every. single. solitary. ending possible in the game– from a beggar to a bartender to a guardsmen to a king’s adviser. My best game?  I conquered the Caribbean for the Dutch in its pioneer days as it was ruled over by the Spanish, only to take it all over again for the English, then the French, then back to the Spanish before I finally was forced to retire. 

    And I’ve beaten the game at its most deadliest– when it scales up the difficulty should you fail at the dreaded Copyright Protection test to name the flag nationality of the oncoming vessel, I’ve still survived countless battles to emerge victorious!  True piracy even when owning the original copy of the game!  That’s the way!

    …AND I still can’t tell you the best way to navigate around some of those damn reefs.  THE PIXELS LIE!  LIE HORRIBLY I TELL YOU.  But those were the days.  Man against pixel, and little else between as aide.

    • Basement Boy says:

      And the Internets tell me that today just happens to be “International Talk Like a Pirate Day” … good job!

  29. Unexpected Dave says:

    ActRaiser holds that place of honour for me. It’s a game that can be beaten in a few hours, and it has constant forward momentum as you switch between the Angel and the Master segments. 

  30. Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

    Times I’ve gone from “start to finish”?  Well, that’s gotta be Civilization 3.  I’ve played all of them, but I played that one the most.  Which is weird, because its not really anyone’s favorite version including mine.  It just happened to hit the point in my life when I had the most time to play.

    The number of hours I’ve spent in SimCity and the Fallout universe are the only series that even get close to Civ hours, but neither of those are games meant for you to actually “finish” (well, Fallouts are but I usually don’t. The endings are the least replayable part of any of those games).

  31. The_Horse_Chestnut says:

    I was actually wondering this myself a few weeks back.
    I think my answer would be Vagrant Story, since I’ve run through that game at least 15 times, but I have to admit that most of those times were on New Game+, and probably don’t count, and I’ve probably only done a run of it on a normal game about 4 times.
    But even then, I’m struggling to think of any games that I have played all the way through more times than 4, and I don’t think there are any. I love replaying games over and over again, but I very rarely complete games that I start again.

  32. Destroy Him My Robots says:

    Probably The Secret of Monkey Island. I already played the hell out of the earlier LEC games on C64, so this was one of the first games I had to have when I finally got an Amiga. The incredible job Earwax did with the soundtrack and the distinctive black-to-blue Bayer matrix dithered gradients for night skies got me right away and never let go (the old guy at the lookout is currently my phone wallpaper). I first played it at the perfect age, too. Being up and strolling around at night represented the allure of cool young adulthood, but I of course knew more about dreams and goofing off than the reality and responsibility that lurked right around the corner, just like Guybrush. The reggae-tinted music only reinforced that. I know that may sound strange at first, but if you go back and watch the videos for Dawn Penn’s “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)” or the Reality Bites clip show that was Big Mountain’s “Baby, I Love Your Way” through the eyes of an 11 year old, I think you might understand. So while it’s warm and innocent, there’s a certain acknowledgment of maturity that keeps it grounded. It’s that balance (and the familiarity of course) that still make it my go-to comfort food game for when I’m sick or just need a time-out.

    Runner-up is Final Fantasy Legend II because it’s awesome. Took me 15 years or so to finally get the Seven sword. The remake is a slightly different beast, but it’s cool too (unlike the atrocious SoMI remaster).

    • Chuck Spear says:

      Secret of Monkey Island (and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge) are my #1 and #2. I (try to) replay them at least once or twice a year. They never fail to delight me or make me laugh.

    • Girard says:

      Liked for slagging off that shitty, shitty SoMI remaster. And for liking some good games.

  33. duwease says:

    Generally I only play games once, read books once, watch movies once… but..

    Ancient History Tier: Mega Man 2
    Middle Ages Tier: Secret of Monkey Island
    Modern Tier (Time Investment): Dragon Age: Origins (3 full playthroughs, all DLC, different genders/classes/personalities)
    Modern Tier (Number of playthroughs): Binding of Isaac.  Between the normal game and DLC, I’ve probably beaten it 20 times, not counting failed playthroughs.  Ohhhh, that game…

    • CrabNaga says:

      An interesting concept, breaking them out by era and such. Let me give it a go:

      Ancient History Tier: Probably Link to the Past
      Middle Ages Tier: Diablo II, most definitely
      Modern Tier (Time Investment): Probably Team Fortress 2 for multiplayer, but I find that to be a bit cheating. So Mass Effect. I got all the achievements in that game, which took 5 and a half playthroughs (once on each difficulty and enough to get the characater-specific achievements). 
      Modern Tier (Number of playthroughs): Either Mega Man 9 or The Binding of Isaac. I’ve beaten both of them over 30 times. I’ve almost Platinum God’d Binding of Isaac, with only a few outstanding items and achievements missing. One of these days, I’ll go back and actually succeed.
      Honorable Mentions: StarCraft and WarCraft III, especially with custom missions. Mega Man X to X3. Crash Bandicoot 1-3. Final Fantasy VIII, because I had a faulty third-party memory card that would randomly lose my saved data, which it did TWICE near the end of the game back when I first got it. Then I got wise and bought a new, official memory card. Oh also, Grand Theft Auto III. I played it a ton when it was new, and a year or so ago I was speedrunning it, so I ran through it once every other day for a couple weeks.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Ancient History Tier: Alice in Wonderland for C64
      Middle Ages Tier: Master of Orion II.
      Modern Tier (Time Investment): World of Warcraft, no contest.  I played it on a near-daily basis from January 2005 through February 2011.  SIX. YEARS.  With maybe 3 breaks of a month or so in between.  God, when I think of how much money I spent on that game (including expansion costs, monthly fees, and a couple of months where I went to a net cafe and payed HOURLY to play a game I already had at home just for some semblance of social interaction), I get really sad.
      Modern Tier (Number of playthroughs): Yeah, as I get older I rarely take the time to finish multiple playthroughs of a game, even if I want to see how it would play out if I made different choices.  I generally get about halfway through the game the second time and move on.

  34. JokersNuts says:

    A Link to the Past, probably beat it more than anything else it is my favorite game. I have fun attempting deathless playthroughs in a single sitting and have accomplished it plenty of times.

    When I was a kid though I would beat games like Ducktails and Rescue Rangers over and over.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Rescue Rangers!  One of the rare instances of a video game being far better than its source material.

      • JokersNuts says:

        Great game!  But come on, the source material was good too!  Although, I haven’t seen it since I was around 9 or something, so who knows… :-)

      • Girard says:

        That will always have a special place in my heart as the first game I ever beat, and consequently the first game to make me realize I COULD BEAT A GAME and GAMES COULD ACTUALLY BE BEATEN BY MORTALS LIKE ME. About that time I started recording MegaMan passwords in earnest and actually attempting to progress through and complete games rather than just kill time with them.

    • Marozeph says:

      A Link to the Past is one of my most replayed games too. It’s probably one of the best-designed games ever, in that there’s basically no filler – pretty much every screen has something interesting going on and the dungeons have the perfect length, not too long or too short.

      Speaking of the SNES, Super Mario World is extremely replayable because the length can basically be determined by the player. The game can easily be finished in 15 minutes by using the warp zone, take multiple hours if the player goes for 100 % or any amount of time between them, depending on the route you take. IIRC it was the first game i got on Virtual Console.

      Apart from that, i don’t know how often i finished Ratchet & Clank – Up your Arsenal. Something about that game just draws me back again and again. Maybe it’s the excellent pacing, the sheer pleasure of blowing up stuff with oversized weapons or the relentless silliness of the game, but i finished it at least seven times.

      • dimsmellofmoose says:

        If I had to pick a single best-designed game that I know of, it’s Link to the Past.

        Super Meat Boy is up there.  I haven’t played Binding of Isaac because I’m a failure.

      • Justin Leeper says:

        I’d say Super Mario World is my most-replayed game. I’ve uncovered all 96 worlds dozens of times.
        Deus Ex is probably second, and is my favorite game of all time.

  35. DrFlimFlam says:

    While I have certainly poured an unhealthy amount of time into many games, most of those either couldn’t be beat or I wasn’t playing to beat. I put 80+ hours into FFX becuase I loved blitzball so much. I have put thousands of hours into FFXI and WoW, and maxed out in the latter (since it didn’t involve herculean feats of time and coordination and effort to level up past 40 or 50 or whatever it was), but I never BEAT them.

    And I usually beat a game twice at most. The first time is fascinating but sometimes I wonder when we’re getting to the cracker factory, so like someone else mentiond, the second time is usually a nice place to rest, where you can pick out plot hints and red herrings and know what’s coming, know where you are in the game, but you’re not sick and tired of what you once loved. Like Mass Effect. I’ve beaten it three times from start to finish, once as Goody Good Guy (who is the only one I’ve beaten ME2 and 3 with so far), once as Generic Renegade Male, and once as Nuanced FemShep Who Makes Decisions Independent Of Where The Wheel Says To Answer. I MIGHT play ME1 again someday, but I certainly will not play it thoroughly. It will be plot point to plot point to plot point and done.

  36. Carlton_Hungus says:

    Hmm, too close to call, gotta be Ocarina of Time, Sonic 3, Star Fox 64 is a good one, Metroid on the NES, or Earthworm Jim.  

  37. Crusty Old Dean says:


    I can’t like! And can’t see a single like in this whole page either.
    Something evil is afoot…

  38. Chip Dipson says:

    Everyone here is a liar, because everyone’s honest answer is Tetris.

    All kidding aside, I’ve probably played Super Mario Galaxy from beginning to end more times than I can count, due to the insistence of my then 6-year-old son. His obsession with that game was surmounted only by his difficulty handling the controls and physics of the game. That left me as the primary player, and him as the cheerleader and star collector, stopping only to ask if we could play the spooky Boo levels just one more time. He’s since grown older, as children have been known to do, and while we still play games together often, I really miss those Saturday mornings fighting Bowser with him while my wife got some much-deserved sleeping in.

  39. MathleticDepartment says:

    Mine is NBA Jam: Tournament Edition and it isn’t even close. Does it count because I usually just played exhibition games? I say yes.

    What started out as “hey this is fun” quickly turned into “hey what’s the biggest margin of victory I can get no no no that’s not good enough try again”. I was mostly interested in how quickly I could score, get the ball back, and score again so I would constantly replay the game until I could reduce as much waste as possible and maximize the humiliation of my CPU-controlled opponent. As I type this, I find that my chosen career path (process engineering) is essentially a real-life application of this process.

    The real tragedy is that I cannot enjoy the game anymore. I bought the XBL version and couldn’t even play through a game without returning to old habits.

  40. Thomas says:

    Chrono Trigger and Metal Gear Solid 2. 

  41. Bad Horse says:

    One summer, 1997 I think, part of my morning routine was to just beat Super Star Wars for SNES. If I played it every morning, didn’t usually lose, carry the 1, I probably beat that game 80-90 times in that summer alone. Plus however many times I beat it before and after.

    After that, I’ve probably been through Super Metroid 10 times. This generation, it’s XCOM (5-6 times) and the Mass Effect trilogy, which I’m doing again! Because there’s still more classes!

  42. inamine says:

    Technically, it would be either Mass Effect 1 or Super Smash Bros., the former for creating different Shepards to play in ME2/3 many of which I never really ended up playing anyway for various reasons, the latter for unlocking things.

    But for a game I played multiple times from start to finish for no other reason than because I enjoyed it is Dragon Age: Origins. There was a lot of fun to be had with all the various race/class choices, romance choices, dialogue choices, and the combat itself was never boring.

    • Unexpected Dave says:

      I thought Mass Effect 2 was just about the most perfect game ever, but the first game (which I didn’t play until later)completely baffled me. But the first game has really grown on me, now. I really miss having individual cool-downs on every power.

      • Girard says:

        The first one was a CRPG with a horrendous UI that made everything needlessly complicated. The later games decided to rememdy that, not by fixing the interface, but by shaving out all of the complex systems and creating basically a corridor shooter punctuated with silly dialogue trees. I prefer RPGs to cover shooters, so I was kind of annoyed. But then the games started annoying me in other ways and that particular niggle became a drop in the bucket.

  43. If we can count multiplayer, then Super Smash Bros. Melee easily wins. I don’t even know how many hours I’ve spent playing that game. But if it’s a game with a story mode then my winner is probably the Ace Attorney series, specifically Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney for the DS, which I’ve played countless times. The best part is that it’s like a really good book, so even if I know every way to beat it the joy comes from getting to your favorite parts and laughing at it all over again. Also, Rise From The Ashes is an amazing story in of itself, even if it totally goes off the rails at the end.

    • Unexpected Dave says:

      I had to sell my DS copies of Phoenix Wright because I was replaying them too much. (I still have the WiiWare versions.)

  44. stakkalee says:

    Well, if simulators count then unquestionably Civilization 4 is the game I’ve played through the most.  I prefer playing games that don’t have a set storyline and just let you come up with your own story as you play.  For games with a set storyline I think I’ve played through the Baldur’s Gate series (I and II) about 4 different times start to finish.  There’s something about that world and the characters that inhabit it that keeps drawing me back in.  It’s a nice mix of pathos, comedy, drama and action, and barely any duds in your traveling companions (looking at you, Cernd.  You too, Imoen.)

  45. Calvin Holt says:

    Mega Man X. There’s a sticky note on the cartridge with dates and playtimes. Most are under an hour, but Sigma can trip me up a bit at the end.

    • Unexpected Dave says:

      I almost picked MegaMan X, but then I realised I hardly ever actually beat the game when I sit down and play.

  46. Kyle O'Reilly says:

    When my family first purchased our playsation we received Tekken 3, some sports game for my bros and Crash Bandicoot: Warped.  I gravitated towards the ladder and beat it in less than a week, than I beat it in less than a few days and then I beat it in… well you get the idea.  The game was  blast to play, not that hard and also incredibly pretty for the time.  Not to mention there were always interesting jet ski levels or polar bear chases or other diversions so it didn’t just devolve into stale platforming and mango collecting.  Not to mention there was something satisfying about the bandicoot’s weird-ass victory dances.  His attitude and cultural validation through Pizza Hut endorsement endeared the little guy to me.

    This is probably also why deep down I secretly believe that Crash Team Racing is a far superior game to Mario Kart 64.  YEAH I SAID IT!

  47. signsofrain says:

    The games I know backwards and forwards eh? Let’s see…

    Half-Life 2 I’ve played through this… I’d estimate 50 or 60 times start to finish. It’s a masterpiece of tight FPS gameplay, story, and graphics that still don’t seem dated.

    Left 4 Dead 2 I’ve got about 1500 hours in this game. No two games are the same. In my opinion it’s one of the best competitive/cooperative team games ever made. A versus match between 2 skilled teams is some of the most first-person fun you can have.

    Final Fantasy VII 2-3 times on PSX. Twice on PSP (you can run any PS1 game on a PSP if you softmod it) Once on PC. I’ve started a game on the PS3 also. 

    Grim Fandango Start to finish I’ve done this one 3-4 times. Once you know the solutions to the puzzles it doesn’t have a lot of replay value, but man, I never get tired of the dialogue and music, and I always look forward to reciting a poem in tandem with a salty old sailor. Also the line “Who is the fat man I wonder, and how does he fit into this sinister puzzle?” has entered my personal lexicon permanently.

    Chrono Trigger Like so many other people, I missed this when it came out on SNES and played through it on an emulator much later. Once I was making enough money to start collecting toys from my childhood I bought myself an SNES and this cartridge, and now I’m playing it for what’s probably the 5th or 6th time, but this time on the real hardware.

    Kirby’s Adventure on NES. I’ve beaten the heck out of this game. All my save files are fully maxed out. The one thing I haven’t been able to complete is the boss attack bonus (where you have to fight and kill all the game’s bosses on one life meter)

    There are probably more but I should get back to work…

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      Left 4 Dead vs mode is SO FUN, but it’s also really fucking hard for me to ever get to play it. If I try to play solo and just join a game I always get kicked almost immediately and if I convince my friends to make a team of four It’s always a stomp in one direction or another and the other team ends up leaving. I’ve played a full campaign in vs maybe 3 times and I have hours and hours of play time across both games.

      • signsofrain says:

        Yeah you have to be really patient to find a good pickup game. I play all the time and I probably only get a full game 1/3 times. If you’re getting kicked a lot it helps to say “I don’t play a lot of versus so try to help me out guys” (A mic is pretty much required equipment) Basically because the game has been out so long a lot of players don’t have the patience for anyone who doesn’t know every death charge spot, every choke point, every map exploit… I’m pretty good after playing so much but I’m also a little unconventional and I’ve been kicked for offenses like healing when another player thinks I should have taken pills instead.

        Nowadays I can usually find a game or two with someone I know to be a decent human being. I add every decent player I come across to my friends list so I can usually find someone to fill holes in the teams when people rage quit. There are a lot of people who’ll play and they won’t mind screwups or losing the match but they’re outnumbered by people who lose their shit as soon as the game starts going in the other team’s favor.

        Add me if you want, here’s my steam profile. I usually play a couple nights a week.

        • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

          “I don’t play a lot of versus so try to help me out guys”

          I usually get through “”I don’t play a lot of versus so try –”  VOTES TO KICK:3

    • Left4Dead is one of the reasons why I can’t own my own console. If I had an XBox360, I’d have to own Left4Dead 2, and if I owned Left4Dead 2 I’d spend every ounce of free time I had playing it. I’m not even kidding.

  48. SeventhSam says:

    Going way back, I’d have to go with another Capcom classic: Forgotten Worlds. I owned the game on Genesis as a kid, and played through it a ton of times – with friends or by myself. Later on, I played it on the Capcom Classics collection on PS2. Unfortunately, I loaned out the game and my PS2 a couple of years ago and never got it back, otherwise I’d probably still be playing FW at least once a month.

    Right now though I’m addicted to the criminally overlooked Civilization: Revolutions on PS3. I think I’ve put in several hundred hours in the game since I picked it up in 2010. I still play it at least once a week – normally a couple of times of week. It’s probably the only game in my collection I come back to on a regular basis.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      I want to see that game really price through the floor, but then I want to play it very much.

      • SeventhSam says:

        CR is pretty cheap right now – I think I’ve seen it for less than $30 at Gamestop. You probably find even better deals online. Definitely do it – I hate to sound like I’m peddling the game, but it’s very good. Heck, if you want someone play online multiplayer with let me know.

    • Unexpected Dave says:

      Making console-specific versions of Civ was a great idea. (I played the SNES port of the original Civilization many times, but it’s a chore.) I’ve only played the DS version of Civ Rev, but I loved it.

  49. KingGunblader says:

    Baten Kaitos Origins on GameCube. It came out at the end of the GameCube’s life and I had literally nothing else to play at the time besides Zelda: Twilight Princess, which wasn’t going to be out for another month.

    I got my ass kicked by every boss on my first turn through. So I immediately started again, now with my mastery of the combat system in hand. Then Zelda came out. I played it wasn’t fond of it, so I played BK again. And a couple more times.

  50. Sarapen says:

    I’d like to say it was Civilization but the real answer is probably solitaire or Minesweeper, if we’re counting number of plays instead of number of hours.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      Yeah, I guess you’d have to find a middle ground between minimum length of the game and amount of full playthroughs, otherwise that Sudoku app on my Android tablet probably wins.

    • Unexpected Dave says:

      What’s great about all three of those games is that randomness makes each play feel as fresh as the last.

  51. SonjaMinotaur says:

    I only replay games (generally) when I’m sick or stressed out, so I tend to replay games which don’t punish you for having no concentration. My go to games for marathoning while sick: Lego Star Wars & Marvel Ultimate Alliance both of which I’ve played multiple times on multiple systems, and SSX Tricky on the Gamecube. And I was going to say Pikmin but the truth is I get so obsessed with getting through a single Pikmin day without losing a pikmin that I don’t think I’ve ever actually made it to the end.

    • signsofrain says:

      Did it take time for you to get into Ultimate Alliance or did you just pick it up and love it? I tried playing the PS2 version awhile back and found the controls clumsy and the game itself uninteresting. Would love to know how to approach the game and enjoy it!

      • SonjaMinotaur says:

        I think my love of the game has more to do with my childhood obsession with the X-Men rather than the merits of the game itself. The controls are clunky, my teammates wander off and die at stupid times…

        But if you just want to run around with a team of X-Men it’s a great game.

  52. Smilner says:

    ooooooooh, mine might be *FFVI, XII,* or *Catlevania II.*

    Funny, it wasn’t until, like, last year that I realized that different completion times came out with different endings.  I just plain thought you died at the end every time, and it was a fuckin’ dark game.

  53. Cliffy73 says:

    The original Super Mario game that came with my sister’s original Game Boy. Many hours were spent running through that by rote on long car trips because there was nothing else to (I can’t read in the car).

    The thing I’ve played the most by choice is the first Gabriel Knight game, which I’ve run from start to finish three or four times over the last 20 years.

  54. beema says:

    I almost never replay games. I think it would have to be something back from the SNES days. You know, back when there weren’t 15 million games a year vying for my attention. That’s pretty much the reason I don’t. I feel like I don’t have time to replay anything when there is constantly so much new stuff I need to catch up on. 

    At some point, I’d like to replay the first STALKER. 

  55. patagonianhorsesnake says:

    ultima 6 probably is the only game i’ve beat more than once. heck, back in the day my sisters and i challenged each other to beat the game as quickly as we could after the first couple times. we didn’t even know that speed runs were a thing.

    i think my older sister had the record at 17 in game days, which i’m sure some internet maniac has beat. but it was an amazing feat in my family. we all gathered around to watch the end video when she did it.

  56. Penis Van Lesbian says:

    Jak and Daxter for me (ignoring stuff like Civ). Perfect length and difficulty.

    • SamPlays says:

      The first game is indeed a perfect length for long afternoon. The seamless nature of the environment makes it very easy to just keep going, especially if you’re not caught up with collecting things.

  57. Dikachu says:

    Most recently I’ve played the absolute crap out of Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time.  Platformers are my favorite type of game, and the Ratchet series is probably my favorite platformer series.  Sadly they’re kind of fading… there’s only been a few really good ones on the PS3 (whereas there were gobs of them for PS2).  Every time I’m in the mood for getting drunk and mindlessly blazing my way through a platformer, it’s usually this one, for lack of anything newer or better.  Each time I restart, I try to get through it with a slightly different strategy (only using 1-2 different guns, not upgrading anything until I had to, upgrading everything instantly, skipping as many fights as I could, etc).

    Another one I’ve really played the crap out of lately are the DeathSpank trilogy of games.  The second one was the best by far, but on the last one I’ve somehow wound up with the third all-time highest number of “insane” difficulty level kills on PSN.

  58. Andy Tuttle says:

    I can play Final Fantasy 2 (4) over and over again. While I agree that 3 (6) is the masterpiece of the Nintendo era FF games, 2 just holds a special place in my heart because it’s the first one I played. Although I haven’t made any groundbreaking discoveries, every time I play the game I feel like I discover something new or interesting that I never noticed before. 

  59. His_Space_Holiness says:

    I used to replay games over and over as a kid, so my answer would be some mishmash of the Humongous adventure games and the Super Seeker/Solver series from The Learning Company.

    More recently, the correct answer is Marvel Ultimate Alliance, which was as perfectly in my wheelhouse as it is possible for a game to be. I’ve played with nearly every character in my party, just to see what different dialogue might pop up. And I always, always save Nightcrawler. Jean Grey can take care of herself.

  60. Treymoney says:

    For almost a year I would rent Final Fantasy III from our local video store every Friday or two, get to the World of Ruin, and have to return it on Sunday.  By the time I rented it again next, my save files would be deleted and I had to start all over.  Of course, I didn’t mind, because FFIII is awesome, but I’ve probably played the World of Order 30 or more times because of this.  When I finally did beat the game, my brother was at Scout Camp so I plugged in my VCR and recorded the ending for him.

    I also try to play Chrono Trigger and Star Control at least once a year.

  61. Everlasting_Godstabber says:

    Definitely Battletoads. Whenever I have a couple hours to kill, I fire up the Nintendo and beat me some Battletoads.

  62. Jer Link says:

    Wind Waker. and now I need a wii u apparently.

  63. The_Juggernaut_Bitch says:

    Hmm.. I think I am in the same boat as Drew.  My most-played-through would have to be either DAO or the original Mass Effect.

  64. William Burr says:

    As a tyke, I would often snag a friend to play through Contra, Life Force, or Double Dragon 2. Years later, my experience mirrors John Teti’s, except with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night instead of Super Castlevania IV. 

  65. skellatour says:

    Probably some unholy blend of Doom and Doom 2. 

    Runners up would be the original Motocross Maniacs and TIE Fighter. I’ll have those discs in my possession until the heat death of the universe.

  66. Brian Rose says:

    Goldeneye.  Goldeneye, Goldeneye, Goldeneye.  I swear to this day, I’ll still on occasion drag out the N64 and play this game.  It is that good.

  67. roguelike says:

    Seconded on Skellatour’s “unholy blend of Doom and Doom 2”. These days the games I replay are all the big Bioware titles, and I love them all, but between job & marriage (even a wife who loves those same games) it takes me sometimes months to finish a leisurely playthrough.

    The game I really replayed over and over was Secret of Monkey Island. It was amazing how many tucked away jokes there were, and how many things I noticed each time. Other adventure games were probably close behind — especially Space Quest III, IV, and V.

    Oh, shit! And duh. Day of the Tentacle. And the original Maniac Mansion. Yeah.

  68. Matt Radecki says:

    Donkey Kong Country & Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest.

    I have them back at home.  Should do a replay soon!

  69. TheInternetSaid says:

    Dark Ages: I could play all the way through Mega Man 2, Zelda 2, or Super Mario Bros from muscle memory.  

    More recently, I played Metriod Prime 1 and 2 three times and would totally play them again.  And I hated the last Indiana Jones movie so much I dug up my N64 and played Infernal Machine again to get the taste out of my mouth.Actually, ever since the last gen consoles my version of “replaying” has been to complete all of the sidequests and collectibles in a game. (e.g., feathers in Assassin’s Creed II or jumps in GTA: VC)  If I really like the game I’ll play it on my own and then revisit it with a walkthrough to get 100%.  If I don’t expect to play it again, I’ll pull up gamefaqs from the beginning.And all of this reminds me that I want a big credenza so I can have all of my old platforms ready to go whenever I get the urge.

  70. Raederle says:

    Nethack.  Playing it right now, in fact :)

  71. AlwaysBeenTim says:

    I have gone through Fallout 1, 2 and 3 about a dozen times each and I couldn’t even tell you how many times I have played Baldur’s Gate II, but when I think about it, it would have to be Alpha Centauri. Does that count? I have played that game to completion (transcendence only – everything else doesn’t count) so many times that it shames me to think about it.

  72. zpoccc says:

    i’m not entirely sure, but i think that honor goes to half life 2 for me. i think i’ve played through that game close to 6 times…? i’m not normally very in to revisiting games at all, or more than a second playthrough if its a game i really liked.

  73. andozero says:

    Definitely Majora’s Mask for me. It’s such an intricate game; every time I play through it, no matter how much I’ve explored it before, I find something new. Just when I think I’ve got the entire game figured out, it decides to throw in another little surprise. Never anything major, of course. But these fantastic small touches that are sometimes delightful and other times disturbing.

  74. TimeTravelParadox says:

    Definitely Ninja Gaiden. When you skip the cut scenes it’s just an awesomely speedy game. Levels are for the most part short and to the point, and the sheer quickness of Ryu is a thing of beauty. 

  75. ChancellorPuddinghead says:

    For me, I think it has to be The Karate Kid for NES.  It was a dreadful game, and I knew it even then.  For whatever reason, my friend and I played the hell out it, and I had the pattern down so well that I could beat the whole game, including a perfect score on every mini game, in 8:19. 

  76. Tim Kraemer says:

    When I was around 10th grade, I had these delusional fantasies that I was going to set a world record time on Super Metroid (spoiler alert: I never did, never even came particularly close), so I did a 100% speed run playthrough after getting home from school about 4 out of 5 days for a couple of months. Sometimes twice in a row if there was nothing on TV and I had no other plans or homework. If I had a couple hours to kill before going out somewhere, yep, Super Metroid playthrough.

    That tapered off once I realized I simply didn’t have the pure twitch reflex skill to set any kind of record, but still, in the decade-plus since then, I’d bet I’ve still put in another 20 or so 100% playthroughs. Did my latest one back in July, I think.

    So Super Metroid, by far. I’ve probably played it, “THE LAST METROID IS IN CAPTIVITY” to “SEE YOU NEXT MISSION,” somewhere in the realm of 80-90 times.

  77. orborborb says:

    F-Zero, Actraiser, Super Mario World, Zelda Link to the Past, Final Fantasy II, Myst, The Journeyman Project, Star Fox, Marathon & Marathon 2: Durandal, Mario 64, Star Fox 64, Zelda 64. Those are the only games I can think of I’ve definitely played from start to finish 5 or 6 times. Metroid Prime and Banjo Kazooie hit 4 times each.

  78. Uthor says:

    Does playing through the campaigns of L4D and L4D2 count?  If so, that.  By far.

  79. stepped_pyramids says:

    I replay Deus Ex every year or so. I’ve actually discovered new strategies almost every time, even though I’ve been playing the game for over a decade. I play it with the Shifter mod, which adds some possibilities and also heavily favors my playstyle of sneaking around, hacking everything I can, and shooting everyone in the head.

    I replay Link To The Past a lot. These days, I have a special challenge I like to do — no items or upgrades until they are either required or necessary, with the exception of acquiring two jars to keep fairies in. 

    There are three heart upgrades you’re forced to collect to proceed, but after that you can complete most of the game with only six hearts. No armor upgrades, no Pool of Happiness, no sword upgrade until Ganon. In the Dark World, I go through every dungeon, collect the item, and get right to the boss door — and then walk back out again and challenge the next dungeon.

    Once I get to Turtle Rock, I relax a little bit and go grab the other two jars and the 1/2 Magic upgrade, because it’s pretty tedious without extra magic potions and impossible without either magic potions or 1/2 Magic for the boss. It’s still very hard, because the enemies do multiple hearts of damage on the assumption that you have the armor upgrade and a lot of hearts.

    Then I beat the bosses in reverse order and complete the game as usual. It’s a fun challenge and honestly neither as hard nor as tedious as it might sound.

  80. Jim Weber says:

    Probably a tie between Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Fire Emblem. That second got a lot of use during road trips and long flights.

  81. mslano says:

    I have a couple of games that I play through ritually every year.

    Donkey Kong Country 2 is the game I play to usher in Autumn, which hearkens back to my memories of playing it for the first time Christmas of 1995 (which was in Houston, so late December there feels like early Autumn everywhere else).

    Majora’s Mask is the game I play in the Spring/Summer, which started in college when I revisited it and had a new-found appreciation for how the structure of the game aligns with core mythological and psychological ideas I was starting to get interested in at the time.

    Both of these are games I complete 100% every time I play them, which has been dozens of times so far.  I still find new details to appreciate each time.  I think this aspect of replayability is overlooked in the general sense of what makes a game “replayable.”  Any game with substance to it will have aspects that are overlooked on just a single play through, much like great films or books have details that emerge only with multiple experiences.  I would think it arrogant to assume I “got everything” from just one time through something like that.

  82. muchsarcasm says:

    The one game I play far too often is a flash game called “Road of the Dead”. It’s just a fun game that can be finished in 20 minutes, and involves running over zombies and soldiers while dodging cars and bombs.  All of the dialog is completely seared into my memory even if I don’t play it for a few months.

  83. wykstrad says:

    Streets of Rage 2 was the first game I got for my Sega Genesis, and for a long time, it and Sonic 2 were the only two games I owned.  Streets of Rage 2 was the easier of the two for me, so I played through it countless times.  It took me forever to finally beat the game, though, because like all beat-em-ups from that time period it was cheap as hell.

  84. MoonlessNova says:

    Freespace 2 – for some reason I used to play it every summer during our school holidays (and uni holidays…and work shut down). Loved the game and there’s nothing that has ever come close to emulating it.

  85. Asinus says:

    Super Mario Bros. 2. I can’t even think of a game that I’ve played through all the way nearly as much. 

  86. I once told myself that I was going to play Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines all the way through using each of the 7 clans, which would mean 7 play-throughs.

    I didn’t make that goal, because it can be a long-ass game, but I did complete it as a Tremere, a Nosferatu, and a Malkavian.

  87. Dave Lowery says:

    My answer would be all three PS2 GTA games. As soon as I finish the plot, I usually mercilessly delete that save, just as an excuse to start all over again. That GTAIII intro, Tommy getting fucked over in Vice City, and Samuel Jackson bullying CJ – these are moments I always love to revisit, that fill me with pure nostalgic pleasure. GTA4 is cool and all, but the intro? Not that great.

  88. There are two for me-One is Baldur’s Gate (all four games) First with the in game characters, second with a cheat that allowed you to customize your party (I stomped through everything). Third time to get the Golem armor. and the 4th on the iPad.
    The second? Wonder Boy in Monster Land-I love the fuck out of that game. Never gets old.

  89. Andrew Allen says:

    The original FEAR. I have played through that thing so many times, and yet it never gets old. And also, KOTOR. 

  90. apple_mummy says:

    The Sam & Max series.

    Amazing music, good jokes, insane stories, potential for screwing around.
    Also, amazing music. That fucking music.

  91. Mike says:

    Double Dragon in the arcade. Or maybe Robocop. Either way, I’m dating myself…

  92. johnny quest says:


  93. Eltneg says:

    Mirror’s Edge. I have this whole schpiel about how beautiful it is, but for now I’ll just say that the gameplay’s like nothing else and it still looks stunning almost 5 years later. I can’t wait for ME2.

  94. Flying_Turtle says:

    Sid Meier’s Pirates! was the first thing that popped to mind for me. The game really does vary depending on the time period, and the game world changes as you play, so you can get a lot of different experiences (so maybe it doesn’t quite count). I missed it the first time around, but I eventually got the Xbox version. I also play my fair share of Civilization, but again, you are really playing a different game each time, aren’t you?

    Other than that, I’ve played Fallout 3 thrice and New Vegas twice, but usually I’m happy to play a story out, enjoy it, and move along to something else.

  95. Spencer Greenfield says:

    Mine is Jet Set Radio Future. There’s just something about this strange game that barely anyone I knew in school played. It was like my little secret. I love the fact that so many people seem to know of it, but just sort of neglected it.

    It’s a strange little world that I just revisit every year, and I always find strange new things to love about it. It’s like it’s my personal game.

  96. SonofIsaac says:

    I think I’ve played both Paper Mario games at least 15 times each. That’s probably a weird answer.

  97. cshumway says:

    Do sports games count?  I haven’t seen a single mention yet, but if “obsessively playing full season after full season” counts as start-to-finish then I have a long and ridiculously unproductive childhood of memories:
    Tecmo Super Bowl – the stat tracking was so ahead of its time and so irresitably addicting, I think I still have a notebook of my most dominant records.
    NES Play Action Football – honestly I don’t even remember if this had seasons, just that, like Archer, I apparently find repetitive actions calming.
    Baseball Stars – not really “start-to-finish” as I kept the same team over hundreds of leagues.  But equally pathetic.
    NHL 94 (Genesis) – not pathetic at all.  Gonna fire that shit up again as soon as I get a new controller for my PC.

  98. jnuhiscarabaid says:

    The original Metroid for NES and Halo:Combat Evolved. Played the SHIT out of those games. 

  99. cshumway says:

    (non-sports-edition) What do you get when you combine a limited game budget, obsessive personality and flexible social calendar?
    (in rough order of number of run-throughs)
    Diablo II – hardcore. always.
    King’s Bounty (Genesis) – it’s all about the music.  Everyone is always dancing like an old black and white cartoon.
    Prince of Persia (SNES) – I think the only game I owned for the first year.
    Defender of the Crown (NES) – Games were quick either way so not as many hours invested as the others on the list.
    Bionic Commando (NES) – would be higher if I counted all the times I ran out of lives swinging over lava near the end.
    Final Fantasy (NES) – Despite the hours of grinding I completed with many different party combinations (favorite: 4 fighters).  Where were my parents?

    There should be another Q&A about games that you have spent hundreds of hours on but never been able to beat (*cough*Battletoads*cough*)

  100. doctuar says:

    Super Contra; which, for some reason, was called Super Probotector in the UK).

    I could only complete it on the easiest setting, until a friend brought round an Action Replay and enabled infinite lives. I don’t recall it taking that long to finish and, at one point in the summer holidays, I was probably finishing it off 2 or 3 times a week.

  101. EmperorNortonI says:

    Roguelikes aside, it’s gotta be Master of Orion 2.  I was a nut at that game for a while.  I played all the races at least once, and made a ton of really nasty ones myself.  My two best creations were the Cockroaches (every pop max option taken and extra pop growth) and the Borg, and they were just sick.  It’s a pretty long game to complete normally, but I found that going for diplomatic victories sped it up a fair bit.  Lotsa fun.

  102. Canadian gamer says:

    I always replay my games extensively. Deus Ex HR? Four times in three weeks. Wind Waker? Five times, and it is no short game. Resident Evil 4, same story. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, 8 times, and it is linear as hell. 

    But surely there are no games I’ve replayed as much as the Splinter Cell games, all of them except Blacklist, which I haven’t played yet. I spent an ungodly amount of hours playing and replaying the first one, then the second, then, oh god, the third, oh the third. I bought Chaos Theory on Gamecube and played it through a couple of times. Then I got to play Double Agent and Conviction, after which I gave in to the urge of buying Chaos Theory on PC just to see how it measures up against the Gamecube version. It is much better, of course. My Steam account says I’ve played Chaos Theory for 108 hours, but I strongly suspect that doesn’t cound reloads. 

    When trying to explain to myself how I could replay games that much, even games that are completely linear, I got around to a bunch of factors: visual atmosphere, core gameplay loop, soundtrack, and a sense of exploration. I thus fear my reactions when I eventually come around to playing the first Deus Ex. 

  103. Most definitely..Ocarina of Time (no matter the console, or my age)

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