Top Ten Video Games of All Time
Hey everyone, here is THE place to read about what Jim, Mike, and Corey consider their personal top ten video games of all time. We’ve discussed the lists on our podcast and now you can read a little more about why we picked each game, and what they mean to us.
DISCLAIMER: These are personal lists, not what we think are unanimously the best or most influential games of all time. These games represent our own personal favorites and many games are omitted due to lack of personal experience with them or genre biases…at least that’s how Mike did his list…
10. Pokemon Red/Blue
This is the game that started it all. Red and Blue were just amazing games. Released in 1996 for the Game Boy Color and then re-released as FireRed and LeafGreen for the GBA, these game have sold over 10 million copies combined. I remember playing this game for hours just trying to catch ’em all. Once I had them all, I then had to get all of them to the highest level. The amount of time I spent puts this game in my top ten of all time.
I made a post about Yu Suzuki still wanting to do a Shenmue 3 not too long ago. I must have played through this game at least 4 times and the amount of just endless hours spent in the arcades and all the side games, I had to put this in my top ten. This game introduced the world to quick time events, not God of War like most people probably think. The only thing lacking in the game was the ease of the fighting sequences-funny since it was done by the man who brought us Virtua Fighter, but it is an RPG. The great story really wants you to see it to the end. Unfortunately right now, that isn’t possible.
8. Mario Kart 64
Power sliding to number 8 on my list is Mario Kart for the Nintendo 64. I don’t really remember the actual race mode in this game, as all I ever did was go to a friends house and play battle mode for hours upon hours.
7. Halo: Combat Evolved
As stated on our podcast, this is why the Xbox is where it’s at today. When I originally saw this game at E3 in 2001, I made fun of it endlessly. It looked just terrible and the multiplayer was horrific. I remember saying that Goldeneye crushed this game. In a few months I was eating those words, as Microsoft completely changed first person shooters for me. I am not a huge fan of this genre, but I love this game.
6. Super Metroid
The SNES was probably the game system that I played more than any other. I played this game with a friend of mine every weekend till we finished it completely. We went through and found every nook of this world and loved every minute of it. This is on the top of a lot of gamers’ lists of all time favorite games and it should be, I would play this again actually if I could find my cartridge and my SNES at my parents’ house.
5. World of Warcraft
My name is Jim, and I’m a WOW addict. I was clean and sober for about 2 years after a dark time in my life. I would wake up at 2 or 3 in the afternoon after an all night raid on BWL and then immediately start playing again. Recently I’ve fallen off the wagon again and have been spending a ton of time in this game. The release of Cataclysm changed the game enough for me to want to experience it again and again. Hundreds of hours of my time are put in this game, and with over 12 million subscribers, I’m not alone on this one.
4. Mass Effect 2
It took me forever to start playing this series. I regret that, but at least I did play a more polished copy of Mass Effect 2 with the update to the scanning planets system. If you haven’t played this game yet, you need to. It’s now available on PS3 using the Mass Effect 3 engine, but if you stick with the Xbox version you will get a more complete story, since you can play Mass Effect on the console. We talk about it on every podcast, this game is awesome.
3. Super Mario 64
I beat this game once 3 times in a sitting just to keep playing that last battle and watch the ending. This game changed Mario forever in my opinion. The game launched with the N64 and really made the system worth buying right away. I can remember being in awe of how good the graphics were and how complex the levels could be, once you really started trying to get all the stars.
2. Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past
Yes, A Link to the Past, not Ocarina of Time. I personally played this game more than Ocarina. For me, this was the first time I could really experience the world of Hyrule, and it was great. The first Zelda game was awesome, don’t get me wrong, but this game just perfected it.
1. Dragon Force
A lot of people don’t know what this game is. That’s a real shame actually, as you all are missing out. First, I never owned a Saturn system, but thank you Corey for getting one. The game was released on the Saturn way back in 1996. The game’s graphics aren’t great, and the story isn’t amazing, but for some reason you just can’t stop playing the game. An Strategy/RPG game released by Sega, I can remember the awesome catch phrases of the characters and the battle cries of your troops as you command them into combat. I also remember the character Rock always deserting us after combat. That traitor! Anyway, this is my number one game of all time. I have two copies of it currently in my room, and if Corey’s Saturn could still save games, I would be playing this right now.
Honorable Mentions: Super Punch Out, KOTOR, Batman Arkham Asylum, Final Fantasy VII, Bomberman – Saturn, Uncharted 2
Before Bioshock came around, I was not a very good hardcore gamer. Sure, I played “hardcore” games but only if I was already familiar with the characters or the franchises. But when I heard all the fuss everyone was making about Bioshock, I had t o check it out. I wasn’t disappointed. This game got story and atmosphere right in a way that no game had done before and few, if any, have done since. Also, despite its ability to tell a compelling story, it gave the player freedom to tackle the many challenges in the world in a wide variety of ways. If something was proving too difficult for you in Bioshock, you probably just needed to step back and think of a whole different way to do it. Sometimes when games try to tell a story, freedom to choose multiple approaches disappears- *cough* Uncharted * cough*. Bioshock struck a delicate balance between storytelling and freedom and was one of the most engaging and immerse single player experiences in video game history.
9.Assassin’s Creed 2
What makes ACII so good? It starts with a very detailed, sometimes chillingly feasible conspiracy story that satisfyingly resumes where the first game’s cliff-hanger ended. Next, there’s responsive and oft-imitated free-running and climbing controls. The mixture of stealth take- downs and counter based combat have also been imitated liberally in recent games. The Truth puzzles are easily the most compelling and engaging puzzles I have ever encountered in a console game. Everything about this game is a massive improvement over its predecessor. This game also proved that you can make graphically stunning open worlds that are still very interactive and quite large. I played this game to death and got all the DLC for it, with no hesitation. Ezio is introduced as the protagonists of this game and he may go down as one of the best video game characters of all time. He is 3000% more interesting than Altair from Assassin’s Creed. In video games, sequels often are better than the original because of all the improvements they make on on the existing engine. However, too many sequels can lead to staleness. That is why the second entry in a series is often the best and why Assassin’s Creed 2 is the first of many twos on my list.
8. Halo 2
Do you know why online gaming is so popular now? Halo 2. Sure, the original Halo introduced many of the principles of the series, but the sequel brought the fight online and changed multiplayer gaming forever. Suddenly, gaming could be intensely competitive and you and your friends could have split screen death-matches not just with each other but with anyone in the world. The masterful balance of weapons and vehicles made sure the game (mostly) played fair. If the gameplay were broken, everyone wouldn’t want to play the game. But it wasn’t and they did play, oh, how they played. The implications of the first of the competitive online shooters are staggering for the game industry and we are obviously still feeling the effects of Halo 2’s success now…Running riot!
7. Mario 64
I literally dreamed about having this game before I actually did have it. It was simply awe inspiring to see a fully rendered 3D world at that time. You know why the N64 Christmas kid was so freaking excited? It was this game. With Mario, the icon of the gaming industry, and his newly 3D whimsical world at your fingertips, this game really was the stuff dreams were made of. 3D platformers may be on the way out now, but at the time Mario 64 was revolutionary and is still probably the best 3D platformer ever made.
6. Fallout 3
100+ hours of gameplay. If you log that much time in game, you’ve got lo love it. Fallout 3 is so big and so expansive, it can be daunting. However, once you finally get your hands on some good loot, you’re addicted. But what really sets this game apart is its narrative interactivity. The fact that the world and the characters react directly to who you are and what you do is mind blowing. Every character is kill-able and if you do kill someone, their friends will not take too kindly to you and any quest involving that character will be lost. You can wipe out whole cities but expect to hear about it from other characters. The sheer amount of branching dialogue that must have been recorded for this game is staggering. Fallout 3 is unique in that it stresses consequences for all your words and actions. A great post-apocalyptic setting, a bounty of collectibles and weapons, the series trademark dark humor, an interesting story that is completely malleable, and days of replayability make Fallout 3 a game for the ages.
5. Super Smash Bros Melee
This game is another game that represents countless hours of battle between me and my friends. The groundbreaking Smash series had an interesting new take on the fighting genre that can best be described as steroid-abusing stuffed animals trying to knock each other off the world. So frantic, so fun, and so surprisingly deep and balanced. This game was pick up and play but it also was a tournament fighter. The middle entry, Melee, is often considered the best in the series due to its balance and cast of characters. Also, Mewtwo was awesome, ’nuff said.
4. Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles
Sega! I was a Genesis kid, I admit it. Growing up I was all about Sonic-and why not? The speed, the graphics, the great level- design, music, and bosses (Dr. Robotnik, NOT Eggman)were all top notch. Secrets, stashes, multiple tiers and branching paths made Sonic surprisingly complex. Sonic was side scrolling action platforming ramped up to top speed. Also introduced by Sonic: a reason why jumping on enemies would kill them: you’re a super sonic spinning ball of spikes! Sonic 1 was good, Sonic 2 was great but Sonic 3 perfected the formula but alone it was short. That is why you were meant to use the lock-on tech to play the massive full game Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles. With music secretly composed by Michael Jackson, new power-ups, the introduction of Knuckles, and Tails’ player-controlled flight all make this game stand out from its predecessors. It has loads of levels, a secret extra set of emeralds and more story than you’d expect from a game of its type. This was the height of Sonic’s success and the height of 16 bit gaming.
3. Mass Effect 2
All three of us have this game on our lists so I’ll keep this short. ME2 was the perfect sequel. It address every single gameplay issue the solid first game had while maintaining its thematic feel. Using the save file from the first ME for your second game introduced new levels of narrative interaction and changed the way video game designers would tell stories forever. The universe it created with an unbelievable amount of branching dialogue paths and good voice acting paid homage to the Battlestars, Star Treks and Star Wars without blatantly ripping them off. The story got better and more complex in Mass Effect 2 despite there being so many possible stories a player could experience. Mass Effect 2 lends credence to the claim that some of the best stories being told today are not in film or literature, but in video games.
2. Batman Arkham Asylum
Remember when superhero games sucked? There are no more excuses for bad superhero games now because Batman Arkham Asylum came along and was not only unquestionably the best superhero game ever, it was also one of the best overall games ever. This is the only game I ever 100 % completed. I actually did it twice since I lost the saved game once. I gladly played through the entire game and re-earned all the medals on all the challenges a second time. This game has great graphics, intense stealth sequences, clever environments, and a revolutionary rhythm based countering fighting system that never really gets stale.
It was 100% genuine Batman. Batman the Animated Series vets Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamil, and Arleen Sorkin all reprised their roles as the definitive voices of Batman, Joker, and Harley Quinn respectively. Grittier style, a boatload of comic book inspiration and references, and Jim Lee’s artistic style ensured that Bat-fans would know that the creators understood what Batman was all about. This is Batman the way he was meant to be.
So much has been said about this game. The first successful movie tie -in. The first successful console shooter. The first game to popularize split screen death-matches. All of this is true but Goldeneye is more than that. It did what any tie-in should do but most fail to: it expanded on the world of the movie make both the movie and the game complementary in a way that enhances both versions. Goldeneye is one of the better written Bond movies and that story is further explored in the game.
There is so much depth to the single player missions with their multiple difficulty specific objectives and secrets hidden everywhere. The soundtrack is also an under-appreciated strength of Goldeneye. Many levels are simply takes on the James Bond theme but they all are very different enough to remain distinct and maintain that same sense of echoing danger that the movie’s soundtrack achieved. The FPS controls set the standard for console shooters by using the N64’s analogue stick effectively. The weapons were so varied, very few games even try to match the sheer number and types of weapons available in Goldeneye, even today. Little things like the Magnum being able to penetrate multiple enemies or any explosive, including fired rockets being able to explode if shot are sublime details that are sometimes conspicuously absent from modern shooters.
And of course, the multiplayer is what everyone remembers about this game. With all the modes, characters, and weapons anyone could possibly want, Goldeneye parties based around the split screen matches were rampant in the late nineties. I went to several of these and hosted a few, as well. I still do go back and occasionally revisit the game on my N64. This is where multiplayer copnsole FPSs started. There would be no Halo and no Call of Duty without Goldeneye. To this day, Goldeneye, especially its single player campaign, is still more fun to play than anything from both of those series.
Honorable mentions: Perfect Dark, Spider-man 2, 007 Everything or Nothing, NBA 2K11, WCW vs. nWo Revenge
10. Virtua Fighter 2
I was a huge fighting game fan back in the day. Sure, Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat 2 were good and all, but the fighter that I played more than any other was Virtua Fighter 2 for the Sega Saturn. The easy to learn, impossible to master fighting system had no equal. There were no fireballs or freeze rays here folks. Just pure martial arts at their best. With ring outs and a THIRD dimension to consider, Virtua Fighter 2 was easily one of the most advanced video games at the time, let alone fighter.
9. Uncharted 2
Uncharted 2 is the best example of a cinematic experience a video game has to offer. The sheer amount of effort the developers put into this game really shows. The combination of how good the graphics are, the way the stages are put together, and the interaction between each character makes you feel like you are part of the story and not just watching it.
8. Super Mario Kart
Power sliding to number 8 on my list is Super Mario Kart for the SNES. Wait…that sounds familiar…oh well let’s just go with it. This was the game that started the whole kart racing genre and has yet to be bested. OK, maybe there were a few kart racers that came out after that have been better, but none of them left me with such fond memories the way this game did. Jim might have something to say about this, but given the choice Super Mario Kart is my pick every time.
7. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
When BioWare was given the Star Wars license no one knew what to expect. What we got surpassed everybody’s wildest dreams. Set 4,000 years before the events of the movies gave them freedom to create a story that wasn’t tied down by what was taking place in the films. The game gave us the interesting choices, such as whether you wanted to be a Jedi or succumb to the darkside and be a Sith Lord. We could wield a lightsaber…heck we could dual-wield lightsabers, and not just any old lightsaber but the lightsabers we frakking built ourselves! I remember searching for hours just to get the right crystals so I could have the color I wanted. No game has ever represented the Star Wars universe better than Knights of the Old Republic, and the twist at the end is the only time I ever literally experienced a jaw-dropping moment.
6. Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Growing up we all chose sides (and sometimes that side was chosen for you be your parents, but that’s beside the point). You were either a Nintendo fan or a Sega fan, there was no in between. I was a Sega fanboy all the way and Sonic was my guy. Looking back now I can appreciate both Mario and Sonic for what they were, and I was this close to putting Super Mario World for the SNES on my top ten list, but Sonic the Hedgehog 2 makes it instead. For me Sonic 2 gets it over the original because of the multiplayer aspect. I loved how fast the action was and being able to play with my brother was great! All the 16-bit Sonics hold up extremely well and the second in the series is no exception. I cannot tell you how many times I played through the game (and enjoyed it every time) just to get all the Chaos Emeralds so I could get a glimpse of Super Sonic at the end.
5. Goldeneye 007
Remember when first-peron shooters were only good on PC’s and licensed games sucked all kinds of…well you know what…? Well it was at this time that Goldeneye 007 for the N64 was released and it taught us that we don’t need a mouse and keyboard, and that a licensed property can actually complement the original brand. What made Goldeneye so good? It was the first time you actually felt like you were the character from the movie, with all the gadgets and cool weapons right at your disposal. Plus the multiplayer was nothing to sneeze at.
4. Halo: Combat Evolved
Halo: Combat Evolved single-handedly launched Microsoft into the video game market. Deathmatch and Slayer had new meaning to the console player once it was released. Although there was no online component to the game, that didn’t stop everybody and their mother from system linking the crap out of it. It was the first console game to have 16 player multiplayer matches and the single player or co-op campaign wasn’t too shabby either. It even made people reconsider how they score (musically) their games. Goldeneye 007 knocked on the door with regards to FPS’s on consoles but Halo kicked it down and never looked back.
3. Dragon Force
You all know that this is Jim’s number 1 video game of all time and for good reason. Unfortunately, it came out for the Sega Saturn and many of you probably didn’t have the pleasure. The game is a Strategy/RPG in which you command a number of soldiers (up to a whopping 100) each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The charm of the game is the interactions between the battle sequences and the current affairs moments. I remember after a battle you could capture your opponent and throw them into the dungeon only to offer them a job fighting for you the very next moment. Keeping them loyal by giving them gifts and troops to command was just as fun as the battles themselves. If any of you happen to get the chance to play this game, do yourself a favor and dive right in. You won’t be disappointed.
2. Mass Effect 2
If you follow our site and podcast you know we all love this game. What can I say? Mass Effect 2 is the complete package. The story, the combat, the characters, the weapons, the armor customizations, the music, and even the DLC are all outstanding. There also has not been a better conversation mechanic implemented in any other game ever. Being able to bring over everything that you have done in the first game into this one, and then over to the 3rd one is just a remarkable feat.
1. Panzer Dragoon Saga
And now my number 1 video game of all time is…Panzer Dragoon Saga for the Sega Saturn. The scope of this game at the time of it’s release was just far and beyond anything that has come before it. Not much since has even come close to what this game did. You play as Edge, a guard at an excavation site for the empire. The site gets attacked and all your friends are killed. The reason for the attack appears to be a girl buried within the site you were working at. While chasing after your attackers you fall down into a cave where you meet your dragon. Together you go out and just like in every RPG save the world and get the girl. What sets this game apart from the rest is how this mesmerizing story (the best I’ve ever played) is told and the attention to detail with every plot point. They even created their own language specifically for the game. Everything you do is important and every battle counts. I was emotionally invested in the characters and by the time the end came I couldn’t wait to experience it all over again. With all the HD remakes being produced these days, this is the game I wish they would make. Not only is it the best RPG I ever played but it’s also the best video game I ever played.
Honorable Mentions: Shenmue, Saturn Bomberman, Daytona USA, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Super Mario World, Fable II
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