We treat some video games as one-and-done experiences but others we can’t get enough of even after the credits roll. No matter what new experiences fall into our laps, there are certain games we find our way back to again and again, either to find new secrets, to improve our skills, or simply because they offer a warm blanket of familiarity. So what games have we, the Game Informer staff, completed the most times? Read on to find out and feel free to share your most played games down in the comments!
Game: Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Playthrough Count: 30-35 (or more)
I don’t replay games very often, especially as I’ve gotten older. That’s due to both shrinking free time and an increasing disposable income to buy more games. That’s not a flex. I was a broke kid, so once I got my first job at 16 and could finally buy my own stuff, I began valuing new experiences more than revisiting old ones, even those that I absolutely adore. As a kid, things were different. I generally didn’t get new games, or anything for that matter, until the end of the year for Christmas and my birthday (which is in November). Thus, I replayed games ad nauseam and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 saw more return trips than anything else.
Despite growing up with an NES/SNES, I was a big Genesis kid. Sonic 1 hit me at the perfect age, and the character won me over with his rad ‘tude. Sonic 2 improved upon the original in every way and remains, in my opinion, the perfect Sonic game. I played it over and over, sometimes alone, sometimes with my brother using the half-baked co-op (I’m the older brother, so he was forever Tails). When I got older and began replaying the game through various collections and ports, I played it at least twice a year. My best run is completing the game in under 40 minutes while collecting every chaos emerald (and never failing a bonus stage).
I don’t have an exact count but I’d say it’s roughly 30-35 playthroughs at least. It’s probably more, but I’ll stay modest. It’s been a few years since I last picked up Sonic 2, but the reveal of Sonic Origins has reignited the flame to take one more trip through Chemical Plant Zone.
Game: Final Fantasy X
Playthrough Count: 7
I got into the RPG genre relatively late in my gaming life. Though I poured countless hours into the first console I ever owned, the SNES, I never played RPGs on it – I know, blasphemy! My first true RPG experience came when I opened my Game Boy Color on Christmas morning alongside a copy of Pokémon Blue. While I’ve replayed Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow several times, it was my second RPG ever that is my most-replayed game.
Final Fantasy X completely blew me away when I first saw it at a friend’s house; I knew I had to buy it for my PS2 immediately. I would go on to struggle through it a couple of times on PS2 before excitedly buying the remaster for Vita years later so I could play it on the go – the dream. Since then, I’ve bought the remaster collection on PS3, PS4, and Switch.
Fast forward to 2021 and I just wrapped up my seventh playthrough of Final Fantasy X. In my initial runs, I mostly mainlined the story, but I’ve since expanded my experience to include the Celestial Weapons, hidden Aeons, hidden spheres, Blitzball, Monster Arena, and more. The story, the turn-based combat, the nostalgia, it all strikes a perfect note for me, giving me a fun, comfortable thing to look forward to every couple of years when I decide it’s time to once again experience the heartbreaking, yet triumphant tale of Tidus and Yuna.
Games: Mass Effect Trilogy, Dragon Age Trilogy
Playthrough Count: 34 (Mass Effect), 21 (Dragon Age)
I don’t mind replaying games if they have a big enough impact. In fact, I find comfort in that. There are so many amazing games out there that just feel like home. For me, there are a few that I’ve gone into more than I probably should. The Mass Effect trilogy, for one. I have over 34 playthroughs now and honestly? So many more coming down the pipeline.BioWare did an amazing job at making these characters feel meaningful and real, even seeing some of those characters (looking at you, Garrus and Tali) having their own lives outside of Commander Shepard. Feeling the loss, the love, the fight to survive – everything about that tale drives me to want to return and board the Normandy once more.
In the similar vein, BioWare’s other franchise, Dragon Age, has a similar place in my life. I’ve clocked 21 playthroughs of that trilogy so far, a lot of that just to get more of the lore because every time I play I find something new, something that matters. That’s also got me incredibly excited for Dragon Age 4, which I’ve talked about in excruciating detail in the past.
If I’m not wanting a huge story fix, there are two multiplayer games that I’ve invested some serious time into. Destiny 2 with over 3,000 hours and Elder Scrolls Online with over 6,000. If you’re not enjoying your time, why play? It’s nice to get lost into a digital world. Forget about the day-to-day, become something bigger than yourself. That’s why I have so much time tanked in those types of games and also why I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Game: Persona 3
Playthrough Count: 5.5
If you ask which Persona game is my favorite, my answer never changes: Persona 3. It just came at the perfect time. The PS2 had a glorious RPG library, but you could also say it was also plagued by quantity over quality. A lot of RPGs were feeling “too much of the same” as we got later into its lifecycle … that was until I picked up Persona 3. I always appreciated the darker and more mature tone of the Persona series, but Persona 3 introduced social links, which became such a game-changer and engaged me on a new level. Something about the life-sim elements and interacting with the social links to learn their backstories made me feel connected to the experience in a way I never had before. I think it’s because the social links brought a very relatable element to the game; we all struggle in life and need help getting by, and it showed the power we have in turning someone’s life around by simply giving them our time.
So, after I completed my first playthrough of Persona 3, I needed to play it again and see all the social links I missed. There’s also something to be said about mastering how you optimize your time each playthrough. Thankfully, other versions, like Persona 3 FES and Persona 3 Portable (P3P), gave me even more reasons to boot up the game again. New social links meant new possibilities, and P3P let me see the story from a new perspective as a female character. To date, I’ve played the game five times, which for a long RPG is a feat in itself. I am currently halfway through my sixth playthrough, which I’m currently streaming. I still see Persona 3’s magic and why I loved it all those years ago, even if my opinions on some characters may have changed. Turns out, Junpei isn’t quite as lovable the older you get. That being said, Persona 3’s power over me is in its social links and how it involves them in the adventure until the very end.
Game: Tony Hawk’s Underground
Playthrough Count: Innumerable
I rarely replay video games; life is short and video games are long. However, when I was a kid, I used to replay Tony Hawk’s Underground from start-to-finish when I was bored. It only took a few hours, so it was a good way to fill time, and it remains my favorite game of all time to this day. Between you and me, reader, I have no clue how many times I did this. But for the sake of one-upping everyone else on staff, let’s say I did it 248 times.
And now, dear readers, it’s your turn: which games have you completed the most times and what keeps bringing you back to them?