3. Metroid II: Return of Samus – GameBoy 1992
I love the structure of this game. To have players travel through the vertically challenged tunnels of the Metroid home world (SR388) with the sole purpose of eliminating them forever gives a type of intensity that is wholly different from the rest of the franchise. I may also adore this game just for its minimalist nature. The music tracks use a lot of silent beats, the suit upgrades are clearly defined and have direct impact on your playthrough, the use of negative space to create a sense of scale to a planet, despite playing on a tiny little 2 square inch GameBoy screen. The game also has the introduction of how Metroids evolve, resulting in the very intimidating Queen Metroid. But even through eliminating every devious creature on the planet, Samus and the player encounter a metroid hatchling, and once it imprints on her, the realization comes to you that even in the darkest corners of space, the circle of life, and of evolution, has meaning. That’s something that was insanely deep for a portable action game in 1992.