1. OUTRUN, simply by default and the decay of memory. There was a game a friend of mine owned that was a little more simple looking and came in an all-in-one unit with a wonky little gamepad; I'm pretty sure it wasn't POLE POSITION, but the graphics sat somewhere between the two. Easy enough to understand as a 5 year old, hard enough to play over and over for half a decade, I loved these kinds of games for a long time. As an aside, a lot of games got me hooked as a kid but I always had a real soft spot for SUPER OFF ROAD.
2. SUPER MARIO WORLD, because everybody's got to have a Mario, right? My neighbor had 3 but we didn't play it often enough, usually played STADIUM EVENTS instead which is hilariously rare and expensive now. Kinda happy I grew to not like that kid.
3. RESIDENT EVIL, a series I was more than a little obsessed with through RE4 (I wrote fanfic on the IGN message boards, it was that bad) and yet also remains an outlier because I was so convinced zombies were real and a potential hazard of every public restroom I'm almost religiously averse to jump-scare style horror. I'll take a psychological mess here and there, but I've always been averse to horror thanks to this first game. Other than this series, weirdly.
4. KEN GRIFFEY JR.'S WINNING RUN, a game (alongside KGJ's MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, which I actually probably played more of) that taught me how fun it was to read (and write) box scores, kicking off a lifelong problem of always wanting to play dozens of games a year but inevitably getting hooked into one sports game franchise mode (or later ultimate team mode) or another for an entire summer and ignoring everything else.
5. GOLDENEYE 007, because it was something that I was very, very good at (left handers rise up!) compared to my friends and was one of the few games my little sister, dad and I would play for hours in the basement as well. I don't game with friends (or, have friends who game) as an adult, but this kicked off a period from roughly 11-16 years old in which multiplayer was probably the most important aspect of a game's feature set.
6. GRAND THEFT AUTO III, because I could say OCARINA OF TIME but everything I'd want to say about that game I can also say here with an EDGY, "adult" subtext, plus this game opened me up to chatting on message boards about a game as it was brand new, swapping rumors and tips and just fucking around in a game to see what would stick. It's a shame this game is practically unplayable now (as in, it controls like dogshit) because I often look back on its soundtrack (which I burned to CD-R) and talk radio and voice acting and mission design and think - yeah, that really is the source of pretty much all single player games now, huh?
7. NBA 2K6, which I only bought because the Suns and Warriors were intriguing me after a decade of not caring about basketball much post-Jordan other than the inevitable Lakers Finals series' - after this game, I maybe bought three games the rest of the PS3's lifespan that weren't NBA 2K (PS+ would eventually help me pick up the slack). The last 2K I bought full price, day one was 2K17 and I consider this series to be practically the peak of trash now, but what a decade that was.
8. METAL GEAR SOLID 2, for completely blowing the lid off what a video game could look, sound, play like and be about. If you know you know I suppose. Nothing will ever hit like Snake walking down the Manhattan (Brooklyn?) bridge in the rain for the first time.
9. SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS / ICO, because it wouldn't be fair to separate either. The former stands out because I was old enough to fully grasp what was happening there and went back to the latter to right a wrong, but boy was it neat to see games as more than entertainment products for the first time. Not even MGS gave me that.
10. THE LAST OF US PART II, in which I realized just how much growth potential gaming still has as a story telling and emotion-imparting medium, but also how far so much of the enthusiast set has to go in order to allow for games to take us there. Stuck between a messy novel and an overwrought epic, there's a lot of mess in this game but I've never felt so trapped in something, so viscerally of a piece with it as this.