Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
Original Release: 1998, Platforms: Nintendo 64, Windows
There are two things in my life that I've always wanted to do: beat the original Ninja Gaiden and get a gold medal in the Escape from Fest stage in Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. The former is one that I've pretty much given up on. My condo is simply too small to accommodate the controller throwing that the final stages of Ninja Gaiden inspire in me. The latter meanwhile, is one that I still happily pursue (despite how frustrating it is), if only because it gives me an excuse to dig out Rogue Squadron and throw a few more hours into the already overflowing pool of time I've spent on it.
It's funny because it's not like Rogue Squadron is some unsurpassable classic. There are elements of it that haven't aged well at all. Its excessive of fog and the N64's controller (assuming you didn't play it on PC) are both hard to go back to, especially after you've played its superior GameCube sequel Rogue Leader. Likewise, after playing X-Wing I can totally understand why some PC gamers scoffed at Rogue Squadron's comparative simplicity.
All of that said, it's still a contender for my favorite Star Wars title, if only because of how obsessed I was with it back in its heyday. When Rogue Squadron first released, I played it to the point of muscle memory. I probably spent more time in the late 90s playing and replaying this game than I did anything else in my library. Entire weekends would pass with me barely stepping away from the TV because I was so caught up with trying to get a gold medal in the game. I simply can't think of another game in my life that's grabbed me in quite the same way.