Written by Denayed
Since I run this joint, I decide when we need to cover hot gaming industry news (yawn) and when we need to publish silly little listicles (hell yeah). And because August also happens to be my birthday month, I am monopolizing the space with a 3-part think piece series from each of your Rally Esports writers. We’ve given you informative, heartwarming, and unbiased reviews of video games: now it’s time to share the ones that we would take to the ends of the earth.
I’m not going to circlejerk over the obvious: BotW, Skyrim, Bioshock (1), Halo (2), Witcher (3), Final Fantasy (you know which ones). This also isn’t a list of games that are Hall of Famers of their genres: Super Mario Bros, World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, Dark Souls, Grand Theft Auto. Everything I just mentioned is great. These are pioneering, iconic, culture-shifting works, some of which have even been preserved in the Library of Congress. But this is an article about what I’d bring on Noah’s Ark, clutched in the folds of my sweaty sheepskin robe, letting the legacy of everything else be lost in the ocean. So: obviously, Nintendogs is getting saved.
Just kidding, but I dare you to listen to this and not immediately get sent into nostalgic orbit.
I told the other two writers that they could either write a little about 5 games, or a lot about 1. I, personally, have never been one for brevity, so I will write a lot about 5 games. Without further ado, the following are the 5 games I would take on Noah’s Ark, in no particular order.
Before anyone rolls their eyes: Overwatch today is not the Overwatch I would take on the ark. The Overwatch I would die for existed between 2016 and 2019 and enthralled me so much, I cosplayed D.Va 3 times (and Hanzo once). A friend bought it the week that it was released and invited me over to play. It was love at first mech call. The collective dopamine rush that the fast-paced, energetic gameplay afforded was pure crack. I was in my senior year of college and didn’t own a console at the time, and I literally donated plasma until I could afford an Xbox One.
Overwatch was the whole package – lore, esports/pro scene, creators, cosplay, merchandise, active playerbase, art design – wrapped up in streamlined, high-octane gameplay. I met some of my closest online friends through Overwatch. I began coaching through Overwatch. Hell, I even ventured into the amateur esport scene through Overwatch, which is how I got to Rally. Even now, with Overwatch a shadow of its former self, I find the time to get on a few times a week and taste those sweet, sweet Ana sleeps.
- Hours clocked: 2,095
- Reason for tears: every healbot Mercy above gold
- Claim to Noah’s Ark: the game that redeemed the FPS genre for someone who was a girl in Call of Duty lobbies circa 2009
Yeah, okay, there is a Final Fantasy game on the list. But it’s not any of the ones you’d expect. My Final Fantasy 15 journey started with a simple desire to see cute boys on a road trip and escalated into a full-blown hyperfixation that had me hunting around Dragoncon for 2 hours looking for a specific artist who sold a specific Noctis keychain. Normally, this is where I dutifully say something about how objectively, the game isn’t that great. But that’s the thing: I think people refused to let go of their expectations of what the game could’ve been, and those voices were the loudest. What happened to Cyberpunk 2077 happened to FFXV. Everyone complained that the game didn’t live up to what was promised, and as a result, public opinion of the game plummeted.
Well, you know what? Take one walk through the FFXV subreddit and you’ll find hundreds of people who were shocked by how much they enjoyed the game. It has breathtaking visuals and a score that honestly tops some of the most iconic FF tracks, and most importantly, it’s got heart. It’s the simple story of a boy king and his three best friends driving to the end of the world.
- Hours clocked: 228
- Reason for tears: “Still…knowing this is it…and seeing you here now…it’s more than I can take.”
- Claim to Noah’s Ark: it’s my comfort game, Your Honor
Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life
If you know me at all, you’ll know that I am practically a farming sim apostle. Bear and Breakfast recently came out, and I’m saving it for when the first leaves of fall flutter onto my front step for maximum vibes. For my (deeply heartfelt, not tear-stained at all) thread on how the ending of Stardew Valley made me feel, head on over to my Twitter. But the Harvest Moon franchise – renamed Story of Seasons in 2014 – was the godfather of cozy games, and deserves some respect on its name.
In 2004, I was visiting my cousins for the summer. They owned a Gamecube, and one of them had bought A Wonderful Life, which had just come out a few months prior. I was freshly 9, and this was the first time I ever played a farming sim. It was one of the first times I’d ever played a video game, period (SpongeBob SquarePants: Supersponge doesn’t count). If I could capture a moment in a bottle, it would be that moment: the smell of dinner wafting upstairs, my damp hair in a towel, my bones sun-soaked from the pool, not a care in the world except whether my turnips would finish growing in time. No thoughts; just a horse galloping across a virtual grassy knoll. I take back what I said in my intro, I wouldn’t take this game to hell and back. It only deserves heaven: specifically the one that dogs go to.
Also: Celia is best girl. I don’t care if she’s more or less the default option if you don’t romance anyone else.
- Hours clocked: enough that I lost Gamecube access multiple times
- Reason for tears: Nina’s grave next to Galen’s shack
- Claim to Noah’s Ark: the first video game I ever fully completed
When I first started playing DotA 2 in 2011, I was shunted onto support by my classmates, because that’s just what you did as a girl. So I mained Crystal Maiden for a while. That wasn’t bad, but as a baby MMO player, soon I longed for guts and glory. The finesse and strategy of warding, scouting, and babysitting your carry were lost on me. I wanted blood, damnit. I picked the two hottest female heroes at the time – Drow Ranger and Queen of Pain – and decided to learn them on the sheer basis that they were hot. I never became good at either of these heroes. I had no survivability and terrible prioritization on everything, from who to gank to how to make my builds. It was a miracle that anyone kept queueing with me, but that was the magic – for the first time in my life, I had friends who gamed with me. When people set up LAN parties, I was invited. It was then that I understood how gaming could lead to community.
I eventually quit DotA 2 for League of Legends, but for years after, I’d play long games as Zeus against bots as a lil treat.
- Hours clocked: every “study period” during my junior year of high school
- Reason for tears: “Sorry lol we already have 5.”
- Claim to Noah’s Ark: the game that had me officially identifying as a gamer (give me this one cringe moment)
Trauma Center: New Blood
This is my wildcard. There’s something for most gamers in my first 4 picks, but this one? A surgery simulator from 2007? For the Wii? I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve always had an interest in medicine, and the opportunity to play as a mysterious ikemen doctor exiled to Alaska? Can’t pass that up.
Look, I know the whole game is camp. You can raise someone’s vitals by repeatedly injecting them with green liquid, slathering antiseptic cream over wounds seals them, and once a level, you can draw a star in the surgical field and activate the Healing Touch – a skill that either freezes the patient’s vitals in place, or slows time. The whole thing is so camp. But holding the Wii nunchuks in my hand and miming sutures was priceless. The way the soundtrack would shoot from innocuous under the steady beeping of the vitals monitor to a dramatic soaring alarm had my heart racing. Even the storyline, which was cliche down to the man-made disease that threatened the fate of the world, managed to convey urgency and passion. There was just something about working to save a life that stuck with me.
Hours clockedNumber of times I had to replay 7-6 because Vakhushti kept flatlining: uncountable
- Reason for tears: see above
- Claim to Noah’s Ark: the game that I became an EMT for