Amnesia: The Dark Descent
2011, Frictional Games
Mac, Windows

This is one of those games that you need to play in a dark basement with a diaper on, away from family and friends, because you will scream and curse and maybe pee your pants, and it would be humiliating for you if anyone saw that. It’s the scariest game ever. Coming from me, that isn’t saying a lot, because I take games too seriously, and when I used to play Tony Hawk Underground I would cry when I’d crash into things. Anyway, Amnesia is like…your fears come to life. You’re basically wandering around a creepy mansion alone in the dark, and the game just feeds on your tension. I think it’s the best of the survivor horror genre because it goes out of its way to get into your head. I wasn’t convinced to play it, but then I saw this, and I HAD to, and now I’m obsessed. Play ittttttttttttttttt. —Arabelle

The Lost City
2012, Fire Maple Games
iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Nook

Last week, I played The Lost City on my Nook Color, which I use almost exclusively as a video game console. It’s a good thing, too, because otherwise I would not have discovered this game and fallen in love. The gameplay is this: you click (well, tap) around on an island, looking for clues and items that will help you solve a mystery whose plot is kind of irrelevant—something to do with a dead grandmother’s mysterious legacy? Whatever, I forget, it’s not really important. What’s important are the graphics, which change as you control the seasons on the island in order to reveal new things to study and collect. You do this by gently stroking colorful stones into decaying statues. So weird and so great. Everything her is detailed and artistic—it’s the video game equivalent of that book you just can’t put down once you start it. The developer, Fire Maple, has another game that’s only slightly less good called The Secret of Grisly Manor, which I also recommend. Commenters, do you have suggestions for me? I’m badly in need of more stylish mysteries whose plots I will only vaguely remember afterwards! HALP! —Amy Rose

World of Warcraft
2001, Blizzard Entertainment
Mac, Windows

I succumbed to World of Warcraft’s role-playing allure because my boyfriend and two of our best friends have been playing it like it is their job. Until recently, I was gun-shy (pun intended) about video games that seemed violent because of my inner flower child. One day, I overheard my sweetie tell me about our friend who plays the game as a healer, laying her hands on everyone who is injured and roaming through the realms with her pet penguin. I was intrigued when I heard I could acquire a cute pet! But mostly, I loved the idea of a game where I could support those who needed me. Before I go off on a tangent about thinking of World of Warcraft as a metaphor for world peace, I’ll just say that I love the game because it appeals to both my warrior and peaceful self—I can kick butt to defend my friend when necessary, but also heal the wounded to bring light into the world. Oh yes, and playing dress-up is pretty fun—my priestess avatar had raven-colored hair, a fierce goddess gown, and a nose piercing, which I have always wanted but am too scared to try. World of Warcraft is addictive. Try it out. Be a night elf or a human, a hater or a healer. You can be whomever you want to be. —Jamia

ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron
1993, Sega
Sega Genesis

In this sequel, as well as the original ToeJam and Earl, the eponymous characters are fully hilarious, both intentionally and, well, otherwise. For one thing, there’s a lot of dialogue regarding “funk,” which is funny coming from two early ’90s aliens made of pixels. It’s even funnier when that flimsy approximation of what “funk” is gets extended to the whole board, which in this case is named, yes, Planet Funkotron. Also, the use of vintage California slang is HEAVY, you guys, which is excellent—or should I say TUBULAR? So it’s a scrolling platform game, and you play the aliens, who are the heroes. The enemies are hokey human beings invading your home and taking pictures of everything, which is, incidentally, something any of you living in major cities will be able to relate to. —Amy Rose

Super Mario Sunshine
2002, Nintendo

Goddamn, I hated and continue to hate Super Mario 64. I can’t place why—I just found it awkward to play and somehow less colorful than all its Mario predecessors. This is part of why I love Super Mario Sunshine, which is one of the most vibrant and fluid games you could ever want. It’s also pretty innovative, having been the first in the franchise to introduce a new world, Isle Delfino, as well as new characters (species?) to inhabit it, including the Piantas and Nokis. Mario’s also the recipient of some fancy new technology, namely a water cannon, F.L.U.D.D., that makes it easier to attack enemies, perform acrobatics, and do lots of other nifty tricks. All in all, this game is bizarre, especially when compared with the others in the series, which is what makes it such a delight to play. —Amy Rose

2007-present, Sony

The best thing about the Indiana Jones movies is that they’re the Indiana Jones movies, but the worst thing about them is that you can’t explore for yourself. The Uncharted series allows you to travel the world, from Budapest to Peru to Turkey, checking out old crypts full of trinkets and weird insects. The goals are different for each game, but basically you’re Drake, a history buff and adventurer, and you’re always trying to find the key to the treasure before the bad guys do, which can involve fighting off insects with a torch, climbing up a train car that is hanging off of a mountain, and running through a collapsing building. Two can play this game, Indy. —Emily V.

Red Dead Redemption
2010, Rockstar Games
PS3, Xbox 360

I have a fascination with the desolate, tumbleweed-filled Southwest, but it’s not enough to go down to New Mexico and hang out. (Also, I’m not sure what the tumbleweed situation is like anymore.) No, I want to know what it felt like to actually live in the wild, wild west, which is what I get from playing Red Dead Redemption. You can ride a horse, you can climb mountains and watch the sun rise over the desert, you can witness public hangings and find strangers who live and die by their honor—and you can get in gunfights quite easily. You can’t, however, swim. Your protagonist never learned, so train those horses well. —Emily V.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
2006, Nintendo

Zelda has been mine since 2004 when my brother and I bought Wind Waker. I spent that winter sitting in front of the television, enthralled with little Link, in his green hat, and the strange mystical world he inhabits. In Wind Waker, he travels across the sea to intricate and interesting islands, trying to rescue Princess Zelda—but you can also forget about her and explore to your heart’s content. There are so many weird people/creatures to make friends with and numerous side missions that are almost as entertaining as the main storyline. But we got my favorite game three long years later. In Twilight Princess, Link can turn into a wolf (SO COOL!). He uses a horse to travel across fields and bridges and up mountains and even meets the Abominable Snowman in his ice mansion hideaway. This holds so many good memories that it actually makes me emotional. —Naomi

Feed Me!
2006, Nitrome Limited

The first time I visited, I was 13-years-old. Six years later, I’m still obsessed with it. And the game that I always seem to go back to is the first one I ever played: Feed Me! In short, you’re a pixelated Venus flytrap on a quest to escape the confines of the greenhouse, and you have to fight various creepy crawlies in order to get out. It’s LITERALLY THE CUTEST THING EVER! And completely and utterly addictive. The incredible 8-bit soundtrack makes the game. I became so hooked I nearly bought it on iTunes. (Yes! You can ACTUALLY buy the soundtrack!) —Eleanor

Super Mario Bros. Wii
2009, Nintendo

Let me be clear: I am totally unqualified to talk about video games because I play Mario and only Mario. That said: it’s the best! And this particular version is so awesome that, after receiving it as a Christmas present, I knew better than to play it with a deadline looming. But once that deadline passed, it became difficult to leave the apartment to go to work, or to go to dinner on a Saturday night, or to shower. I finally beat the game in mid-2011, but was almost disappointed to learn that there is a secret world that opens up level by level if you collect ALL THE COINS from the entire game, which is pretty effing hard. But both the propeller suit, which allows you to fly with a furious shake of the controller, and the penguin suit, which lets you slide along on the ice, are incredibly intuitive and fun. Riding on the back of the ravenous, peach-eating, mushroom-gulping Yoshi is my favorite (too few levels feature Yoshi!). He lands on his enemies with a pithy, satisfying THWOMP. For days afterwards, I hear only the tempting call of Mario—or that of my preferred bother, Luigi—enticing me with their enthusiastic refrain: “Let’s-a go.” —Phoebe ♦