This is something that's been on my mind for a while now. When you think of fandoms/fanbases, it's usually for a game series or franchise, and that's true for me as well--among other games, I'm a big fan of Megaten and Kirby, for example; and yet, I don't think there's any singular game in either franchise, or indeed any others that I love, that I would call my all-time favourite.
It was a strange epiphany, but it got me curious about what's it like with other people. What's your all-time favourite video game? Is it part of a series that you're a fan of? If so, what puts it above the other installments? If not, what's different about it?
I'll start: it took a bit of time and some thought, but I've pinpointed exactly what my all-time favourite is: Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime on the DS.
I do enjoy Dragon Quest, but I'm not that big of a fan of it--I will say, though, that it's probably my second favourite JRPG franchise, right after Megaten--but the Rocket Slime trilogy is..not a Dragon Quest game. It has Dragon Quest monsters, yes, but it's very unique in the franchise, and possibly even the industry as a whole.
One half of the game is an action-adventure across a vibrant land to save the population of your village of slimes that has been abducted and stuffed into treasure chests. It's a wholesome experience not quite like anything else I've seen to watch as the village gradually recovers from a craggy, cannonball-littered ruins into the charming slime community it was before. In fact, it becomes more than it was ever before, because throughout the journey you can recruit enemy monsters who, upon first recruiting, immediately become new residents of the village.
If you've watched the trailer above you've probably already guessed what the other half is; that's right, it's GIANT TANK BATTLES. One thing I find noteworthy about these battles, and something that I wish more giant-mechanical-battle-units in games did more, is that you still control Rocket in the tank's interior, and not the tank directly; you need to run around (or…slime around) the tank to pick up ammunition that you then need to throw into the cannons to launch at the enemy. Simple premise, but the variety lies in…well, everything else. For one, the ammunition isn't just ammunition, they're actual items that you found and sent back to the village during your adventure, and each one is different from the rest, to varying degrees: of course there are regular ballistics like iron balls, missiles, swords, etc, but there are also things like shields that can deflect enemy projectiles, healing items that can recover the tank's HP, and a fire potion that can set the enemy tank's interior ablaze, making it difficult for them to reach their cannons--you can even hop inside a cannon and fire yourself at the enemy tank, if simply exiting your tank and walking down the lane isn't a flashy enough infiltration method for you, because yes, you and the enemy can infiltrate each other's tank and steal ammunition--or knock everyone out. On top of that, remember those enemies you've recruited, as well as the slimes you've rescued? They(and only some of the slimes) function as crew members for your tank, and again, each one has different abilities; some are fast and perfect for loading ammunition, some are tough and great for taking on enemy units, etc.
I should mention that I have a great fondness for round blobby slime creatures. Now I don't know if this game is at fault for that, but it's certainly a factor for why I love it. Each resident of the village is a unique slime with a unique design, and I've always loved that; sadly, no other game(or indeed person) seems to share this passion for slimes, except for maybe Slime Rancher, but that game isn't focused enough on the slimes in my opinion.
So yes, a super happy fun adventure + hella cool giant tank battles + SLIMES = my favourite game of all time
As an end note, here's a great review of it I just found