Yoshi’s Island for the SNES was probably the first game that stuck in my head in terms of originality and design. It was just so warped and really broke from the clean lines of the previous games.
Second for Freespace, the two most memorable bits for me was the last level of the first game where you’re in the wormhole with the huge cruiser and have to zip around it Star Wars style disabling their engines and things. Second was in Freespace 2 I think where, after a rather long mission, you’re just about to warp out but you suddently get an" unidentified signal" warning and a massive ship appears right beside you and catches you in its engine wash.
Scale. That was a word you became familiar with in that game. ;)
XIII too, first cell shaded game I played through and although the novelty began to wear thin and take away from it somewhat it still looked pretty awesome.