Contra (1988 Konami) - A "run and gun" action side-scroller that helped define action side scrolling for all time! Dozens of games tried to be this game and all fell short. I could only get away with playing a game where a man with a machine gun kills hundreds and hundreds of other men because the enemies are all alien!
If you're a retro gamer, you not only have played this game... you know the Contra code. (uuddlrlrba)
Special Mentions: Castlevania - In my top 5 franchises of all time
Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross - Contain some of the best soundtracks in any games, thanks to Yasunori Mistuda
Special Poop: Call of Dookie and all its offsquirts - The games in this franchise are as indistinguishable as the Madden games but far more apt to make cursing, rabid, couch zombies of would-be discerning gamers.
The Cranberries - This was tough to choose because I'm not at home with my music library right in front of me. Of all rock bands most pertinent to me currently, I need to go with Cranberries... and not because I'm particularly fond of them, but because on rare occasions (possibly even this Saturday night), my band covers this song.
Special Mentions: Chris Cornell - One of the best rock voices ever.