TSAG_DOS_frontThe Simpsons Arcade Game
1991, Konami
Arcade, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network

This was the first of the many Simpsons spin-off games I have known and adored over the years, and it’s still the greatest. The side-scrolling levels in this game are based on different places in Springfield, the suburb that some of us might know better than the towns where we actually grew up. (Yes, it includes Krustyland.) You can play as any of the four members of the Simpsons’ immediate family (I always choose Lisa because DOYE, she’s probably the greatest TV character in history). Also, she attacks bad guys with a weaponized jumprope, and what other video game hero(ine) can you say that about? One of the many, many things I appreciate about this game is that it gives a shout-out to the comic strip Life in Hell, Simpsons creator Matt Groening’s lesser-known masterwork, by using its bunny protagonist as one of the villains. Never have I been so entranced by a fighting game–then again, no other fighting games out there allow you to bring the pain in the picturesque setting of Moe’s Tavern. While I firmly hold that the best way to play this is on one of the original arcade tabletops, if you can’t find one, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy it–and you should, even if you end up choosing to play as Bart, because who am I to tell you who to love? –Amy Rose

rookie_goldeneye007_01GoldenEye 007
1997, Rare
Nintendo 64, Xbox 360, Pinball

In my opinion, GoldenEye 007 for N64 is one of the best multiplayer first-person shooter games out there. The single-player mode closely follows the plot of the GoldenEye movie by using key characters, locations, and even trademark weapons from the James Bond franchise, and really makes you feel like you’re a stealthy agent infiltrating secret Russian bases. That’s awesome enough, but the coolest thing about this game is its trailblazing multiplayer gameplay. The whole thing is customizable, from the characters (drawn from the James Bond universe) to the locations (all over the world) to the weapons (you can choose to fight with only automatic weapons, only knives, or even no weapons at all!) to the movie-themed gameplay modes (such as License to Kill, in which gunshots act as one-hit kills). All of this allows for a dynamic and engaging group game–friends can play for hours without its ever feeling redundant. You can also play as a female character (Natalya Simonova, Xenia Onatopp or May Day), which was a rare pleasure at the time the game came out. This is definitely a landmark game in videogame history as well as in my life, and it’s still fun today. –Allegra

harrypottergameThe Harry Potter Collection
2004, Griptonite Games/EA Games
Xbox 360, GBA, Xbox, PlayStation2, PC, Nintendo DS, Nintendo GameCube, Game Boy Advance

The Harry Potter Collection is made up of three different games: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and my favorite and the most advanced of the games, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Each game lets you experience the books’ intricate plots and do what any Potterhead longs to do: fight monsters and enemies; use spells that make you feel as if you are actually battling, say, a Red Cap; and collect Famous Witch and Wizard Trading Cards. I really love how the makers followed the plot of the Harry Potter story so closely. And if you need any more reason to play these games, you get to ride a Hypogriff in the third game. –Britney

TWD-game-coverThe Walking Dead: A Telltale Game Series
2012, TellTale Games
PS3, XBox360, Windows, Mac, iOS, Vita

I have never read the Walking Dead comic books, but I have watched the show religiously. The thing I like most about the show, and about zombie stuff in general, is what the reality of undead humans trying to eat us does to our own humanity. The TellTale version of The Walking Dead explores this question in great detail by constantly giving you choices about how your character will react. In most games, if you’re given a choice, it’s usually “Feed these adorably hungry kids or murder a bunch of kittens–YOUR CALL!” and it’s quite obvious what the “right” choice is. In this episodic point-and-click horror adventure game, no choices are easy. You’re often asked to choose between two characters you’ve grown close to, and your decisions have lasting implications on the rest of your story. On top of that, a lot of care has been put into the voice acting and the characters’ faces, which go a long way to help you empathize with them. This was my favorite game of 2012, and—good news for all of us—a season-two installment will be coming out soon! –Emily

ScottpilgrimthegameScott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game
2010, Ubisoft
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

The video game inspired by the early-’00s comic Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and its subsequent movie is a terrifically fun side-scrolling beat-’em-up in the vein of Golden Axe, Streets of Rage and Final Fight. And it really nails this classic style. With a soundtrack by chiptune rockers Anamanaguchi and art direction by Paul Robertson (known for his intricately animated pixel art), the game has a decidedly indie vibe despite the fact that it was developed internally at Ubisoft, one of the industry’s largest publishers. Combat in the game is simple enough on its surface, but there is just enough variation in moves over the course of play that it keeps you on your toes. The game also has an RPG-style system of leveling up characters and improving their stats. The game most resembles the Scott Pilgrim books in its inventive boss battles with love interest Ramona’s evil exes. This game never quite reaches the heights of its main genre rival, Castle Crashers, but it still provides a solidly enjoyable challenge, both for those looking to immerse themselves in Scott Pilgrim’s world, and those who fancy a throwback beat-’em-up now and again. —Ragini

Casper 3DCasper: A Haunting 3D Challenge
1996, Interplay
PlayStation, Saturn, PC

Growing up, I always chose video games over Barbie. I will never forget receviving this Casper game for my seventh birthday. I had been obsessed with the cartoon show, and when it was turned into a movie, I dreamed of being Christina Ricci, whose character befriends the friendly ghost. The game was so beautiful and addicting and it let me imagine for a while that I was living in Casper’s world. –Dana

252px-Lego_Indiana_Jones_coverLEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures
2008, Traveller’s Tales/LucasArts
Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Mac, PC, Wii, Xbox 360

This is one of my favorite games. Inspired by the Indiana Jones movies (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), this LEGO-fied offering has you fighting incredible battles with dastardly enemies while traveling all over the world on the lookout for LEGO “studs” (the game’s currency). You can play as Indiana Jones or choose from 82 other characters. From the start, I was totally absorbed by the complex plot and delighted by the irreverent humor that characterizes all the LEGO games. This one has everything you could ask for: thrilling action, fun characters, and beautiful scenery. –Britney

230px-Lego_batman_coverLEGO Batman: The Videogame
2008, Traveller’s Tales/TT Fusion
PSP, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Mac, PC, Cell, Wii, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS

Like LEGO Indiana Jones, this game is an adaptation of a legendary and much-loved franchise, but with the LEGO twist. What makes this particular version so much fun is that you can choose to play as one of the heroes (Batman and Robin), or as a villain (e.g., the Joker, the Penguin, and Poison Ivy). Along with the 30 official levels, there are also secret levels that you can eventually unlock. And even when you aren’t trying to complete the levels, you can explore Wayne Manor and Arkham Asylum. Honestly, this game rules. –Britney

Sailor_Moon_Another_Story_CoverSailor Moon: Another Story
1995, Angel
Super Nintendo (Japan), downloadable SNES emulators (dubbed English version)

For people like me, who love both Sailor Moon and RPGs, this game is like birthday cake. It plays like Pokémon crossed with the earlier Final Fantasy titles, both of which, as you may know, are fun as hell. But Sailor Moon: Another Story is WAY BETTER, because you get to embody the Super Sailors and are accompanied by your loving magical cat, Luna (oh, how I wish these things were also true of my everyday life). The plot is modeled after season three of the cartoon, and the diehard Sailor Moon fans among you will adore the chance to personally give Queen Beryl, one of the most notorious villains the Sailors ever face, the what-for, as I did when I discovered this game in my freshman year of college. After finding an emulator version that I could play on my computer, I devoted a whole week collecting power-ups in the form of very stylish jewelry, battling a slew of business-meaning royal villains, and puzzling over which Sailor Scout I was most like in reality (this was and continues to be a hard one because I kind of share a name with Ami, a.k.a. Sailor Mercury, but have always really felt like a Venus–you know, on the inside). I heartily recommend a similar Sailor Moon-based marathon session/soul search to all of youse–because who among us doesn’t secretly want a talking cat-friend and strength-giving necklaces? –Amy Rose ♦