I am a person who has always loved video games. I began playing them when I received my NES as a gift on my second birthday. Since then video games and I have shared a love/love relationship. They’re my escape, my doorway into different worlds, and a way to decompress after a long day. I owe a lot to video games and it’s about time that I develop my “best of” list. Before we start here today, I’d like to share some points of warning about this list:
1. While this list will have many of the mainstays here; their overall placement represents their impact on my life. If you have a problem where I place “Game X” over “Game Y” I’d love to talk with you about it. Feel free to comment away!
2. There will be many Nintendo games on this list. There will also be many an RPG on this list.
3. Yes, Chrono Trigger is there. No, it’s not #1.
4. As a real 1990s kid, I love the 1990s more than most things. You will see that on my list. If you really want to get the flavor right, make a 1990s play list while reading this list. Make sure to include a nice smattering of 1990s pop, rock, hip hop, and dance music.
5. Last of all, video games are about fun. SO HAVE SOME!
100. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (2013)
In 2013 Ni No Kuni was a breath of fresh air. It combined nostalgic and classic gameplay with brilliant visuals designed by Studio Ghibli. Any fan of Miyazaki movies would feel at home playing Ni No Kuni. It is an absolute fairy tale. Luckily, we get a sequel in a few years!
99. The Wolf Among Us (2014)
Adventure games always did it for me (You’ll see Grim Fandango a little later). The Wolf Among us beautifully captures the world of Fables in dark, grimy, cell-shaded graphics. If you don’t already love Bigby Wolf (I do), you’ll love him as a protagonist here. Also, go out and read Fables. No seriously…read it.
98. Beyond Good and Evil (2003)
Strong female protagonist? Check! Gameplay that could give Zelda a run for its money? Check! Vehicle combat? Check! PIGS?! Check! Beyond Good and Evil is a strange-yet-perfect adventure game. Jade is a criminally underused character, and its story will captivate you. Always considered one of the most underrated games ever, Beyond Good and Evil can easily stand toe-to-toe with any other Action/Adventure series. I seriously hope the sequel happens!
97. Burnout 3: Takedown (2004)
Racing games are rarely this fun. Burnout is an absolutely unrealistic racing game that feels like an arcade on steroids. It’s also one of the only racing games that rewards you for massive explosions and causing property damage. It may have rubber-band AI, but it’s certainly a blast to play.
96. Super Mario Maker (2015)
The most important game Nintendo has made in years, or decades. Super Mario Maker will eventually find its way into the top 20 of any “100 greatest” lists. It’s so massively important to the platform genre. With endless possibilities, Super Mario Maker forces your imagination to run wild. You can also spend weeks playing other people’s stages online! Worth every penny, and then some.
95. Katamari Damacy (2004)
This game is weird. If you can get past the INSANE opening sequences, and the ridiculous soundtrack (which I actually like), you can appreciate Katamari Damacy for what it is: A unique “puzzle” game that is incredibly relaxing. You roll a big ball, you collect as much stuff with that ball, and make sure it’s the biggest it can be. It’s so.much.fun.
94. Super Mario 3D World (2013)
Nintendo proved with 3D World that it still can make a solid platformer. This game brought Mario back to the new basic. It’s inventive while being nostalgic and it’s challenging while being rewarding. You cannot go wrong with Super Mario 3D World! It’s such a great time.
93. Hearthstone (2014)
My GOTY for 2014. Hearthstone made me quit Magic: The Gathering and never look back. Finally a card game that I can play any time, anywhere, and only get judged slightly. With Blizzard’s future plans to make an ESPN of gaming, it’s going to be amazing to see how Hearthstone grows in the competitive circuit.
92. Shadow of the Colossus (2005)
Team Ico loves making beautifully melancholic games. Shadow of the Colosus is no different. As a game that is only boss fights, it would make sense if it got boring. Shadow does not suffer from this problem. This game is good til the last drop, and easily one of the most gorgeous games around. Any art-student should have this in their collection.
91. Shovel Knight (2014)
Retro is back and Shovel Knight is its esteemed herald. I’m so thankful for Shovel Knight and its homage to retro gaming. There is almost nothing wrong with this game, except it may be just a little too difficult sometimes. Easily one of the greatest games of 2014 (my #2 actually), Shovel Knight is a love letter to everything that makes a video game great. I play it constantly, and foresee myself playing it forever, like Mario, Mega Man, or Sonic.
90. BioShock Infinite (2013)
There’s always a lighthouse, a man, and a city. BioShock Infinite expanded upon the idea of the multiverse in 2013 and gave us one of the best games of that year. It also introduced us to Booker Dewitt and Elizabeth Comstock, two characters that will go down as some of the greatest of all time. BioShock Infinite took what the original BioShock did in 2009 and made it a much heavier and more personal story. It’s beautiful and poignant and plays like an absolute dream. Irrational is wonderful at crafting perfect ambiance, and BioShock Infinite is proof of their excellence.
89. Devil May Cry (2001)
IT’S ALL ACTION! That’s what the back of the box says. They’re right, it is. DMC came out of left field back in 2001 when Capcom was only making survival horror games (like: Resident Evil, Onimusha, and Dino Crisis). Dante gave us a new leading-man that nerds would be cosplaying as for years, and breathed necessary life back into the action genre. DMC also laid the foundation that all future action games would be built upon.
88. Valkyria Chronicles (2008)
It’s like X-Com with anime characters. That makes me like Valkyrie Chronicles that much more. As a Strategy RPG and JRPG fanatic, VC represented the perfect blend of genres to me. The action combat is so fluid that it makes VC one of the best SRPGs of all time. You can also play as some of the awesome characters from Skies of Arcadia. Nice work Sega!
87. Batman: Arkham City (2011)
I didn’t love Arkham Asylum. It felt very mundane and ultimately too similar to itself. Arkham City changed that by making this game more of a sandbox. What makes Arkham City so great is that you feel like Batman. You punch people in the mouth, solve mysteries, and have strange fights with Ra’s Al Ghul. Rocksteady gave us the perfect Batman game we’d been dying for.
86. Guitar Hero 2 (2006)
I like to thank Guitar Hero 2 for getting kids back into rock music. I’d also like to thank it for getting many a non-gamer into video games. GH2 is possibly one of the best and most important party games of all time. It’s also AMAZING. Rhythm games had been around long before GH but Harmonix really perfected the genre with this series. More plastic guitars please!
85. Bayonetta/Bayonetta 2 (2009/2014)
If DMC laid the foundation for action games, Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2 put the finishing touches on the house. By 2009 the action genre was tired, filled with Gods and Ninjas and Demons. We needed some JPop singing, bullet shooting, hair swinging action! Not to mention that it totally perfected how action combat should work. Bayonetta 2 is the better game, but Platinum gave us something special with this series. I hope there’s a #3.
84. Bravely Default (2014)
This title may be a little suspect, but I’m a nostalgia hound. Bravely Default was everything we wanted Final Fantasy to be. From its new job classes, to wonderful characters and music, BD was a blast to play on the 3DS. I still wish I had more time to spend in that world. I sunk over 70 hours into this game, so that’s saying something. Bravely Default is my favorite 3DS game and may shortly become one of my favorite JRPGs of all time.
83. Ms. Pac-Man (1981)
Pac-Man is great, but he’s got NOTHING on the Ms. She’s faster, better, and much more fun. I can’t think of too many classic arcade games I like more than Ms. Pac Man. I wish I was playing it right now.
82. Tetris (1989)
Did you have a GameBoy? Then you most certainly had Tetris. The game that would teach you what frustration was all about. As you swore loudly at a green-scale screen in the back of your dad’s Buick you learned how a great puzzle game should be created. I hate Tetris, but at the same time love everything about it. Not to mention, one of the greatest video game themes of all time!
81. Shenmue (2000)
I’m a sucker for adventure games. Shenmue is one of the best! Its ability to make the banal life of a normal guy so captivating has always made Shenmue stick out as perfect for me. It’s a mystery, and adventure, and filled with enough conversations to keep anyone stuck to the Dreamcast for days. This game makes me long for the DC days, as I miss Sega, what it was, and everything it could be.
Stay tuned over the next week for the rest of the countdown!