(2002, Nintendo GameCube)
Depending on how you want to look at it, I've either played through Metroid Prime twice, or I haven't played through it at all. See, twice I played a borrowed copy all the way through to the climactic battle against the Metroid Prime itself. Both times, circumstances intervened to prevent me from beating it. Yet I can't imagine having been more satisfied with the game, even if I had polished off that boss.
The first time I played it was due to pure charity. A kid in my dorm had hooked up his GameCube in the common room, and decided to leave it there so others could enjoy. I took full advantage of this. Frankly, it probably bugged him that every time he came in to play, I was in there, usually on the ass end of a several-hour play session, and well deeper into the game than he was. But he was nice about it, probably because he was a freshman and I was a senior and that was the natural order of things, dammit.
Besides, it was hard not to play Metroid Prime at every available opportunity. Super Metroid is one of my top two games of all time, and when I played Prime I thought that I'd never played such a skillful 3D translation of a sidescroller. Everything that made Super Metroid great, Prime did, too. The powerups, the exploration, the sense of delving deeper and deeper into an actual, physical location -- they were all there. You get a real sense of adventure playing Metroid Prime, not just the thrill of action. Samus is a swashbuckler.
And it was more than that. The difficulty was exactly as I remembered it, with most enemies merely giving you something to do on your travels, while bosses were huge, imposing, and tough without seeming cheap. The developers at Retro Studios made the morph ball even more fun than it had been in the slower, 16-bit era. Lock-on targeting did away with some of the more frustrating aspects of console first-person shooters, and did so in a way that made complete sense within the story, and within series tradition. Graphically, the game was stunning, even at a time when the GameCube was earning a reputation for being less powerful than the PS2 and Xbox (this would be a recurring, and unfair, accusation).
So why didn't I finish it? Because some douchebag stole the GameCube out of the common room. This was probably the most important lesson the freshman victim would learn at college: never do anything nice for anybody, ever.
The second, less interesting time I failed to get through Metroid Prime, I needed to give it back to the person who loaned it to me because semester break was over. I know, that's not exciting at all. But the game was just as good the second time! And surely I didn't miss anything by not technically beating it, right?