60. Mass Effect (2007)
Western RPGs represent their hemisphere quite well. The western desire for freedom and expansion is shown greatly by the role playing games created by American and European game developers. Mass Effect is a perfect example of this come to fruition. While there is a definite story to follow, Mass Effect encourages the player to explore the galaxy (literally). A great emphasis is put on inter-character relationships which is showcased through the expansive conversation mechanic. As Commander Shepherd you can spend hours just talking with the wide array of characters you meet in this game. Few games feel like Mass Effect, as it actually conveys what it may be like to be a real space-person. Everything about Mass Effect was revolutionary in 2007. It created the new normal for RPGs. You also get to drive a big space-truck around on the moon, and there’s nothing wrong with that!
59. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (1987)
The greatest sports game of them all. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! is some of the most frustrating fun I’ve ever had. It’s also a memorable experience. I can think back to summers in my old basement, frantically dodging Bald Bull’s charge so I could land the perfect body-blow, NES controller slipping in my sweaty, nerdy hands. Few games were able to evoke this feeling of pure competition against the computer. Little Mac is also the perfect hero, and the greatest underdog since Rocky Balboa. Mike Tyson is easily one of the hardest final bosses in the history of video games. Punch-Out!! difficulty proves that video gamers are just a little insane. It has a ridiculous cast of characters from all over the world and boxing mechanics that still feel great. It’s hard to not love Punch-Out!!. It’s a TKO!
58. Sonic CD (1993)
Arguably the best Sonic game ever made, Sonic CD is a bit lost in the ether. It originally released on the Sega CD back in 1993, one year after the fantastic exploits of Sonic 2. CD felt as though it wasn’t supposed to be judged on the same level. Sonic CD is a much different story that takes the blue furball into the future, the past, and back again. There’s a lot of depth in Sonic CD, as the game is designed to make you defeat Robotnik’s (Eggman’s) evil machines in both the past and future to get the perfect ending. Platformers outside of Super Mario didn’t really contain that much depth in the 1990s. Sonic once again proved that it’s not all about “running to the right”. Sonic CD is darker, has a deeper story, and incredible gameplay. It’s also one of the few games whose American soundtrack is superior to its Japanese soundtrack.
57. NBA Jam (1993)
HE’S ON FIRE! NBA Jam is one of the most perfect sports games around. It’s not serious by any stretch and it just prides itself on being fun. You get flaming basket balls, monster dunks, and a virtual attempt at Marv Albert that just says some of the most ridiculous things ever recorded. Gamers have been yelling “Boom Shaka-Laka” and “Razzle Dazzle!” for over 20 years because of NBA Jam. It was the perfect fake sports game for the 1990s colorful excess. It’s a classic.
56. Mortal Kombat II (1993)
The original Mortal Kombat gave us a new, bloody, and goofy way to play fighting games. It was a total tongue-in-cheek attempt to make kung fu movies into video games. While MKI made moms across Earth very upset and got all the positive press, Mortal Kombat II matured the gameplay of its predecessor and gave us a better game. MKII is the best Mortal Kombat game. Its iconic look and feel gave us more of a fantasy story for the series and brought the player further into Outworld. The more diverse cast of characters also helped. MKII’s arcade version is a great fighting game, and is the perfect uncola to Street Fighter.
55. Crash Bandicoot: Warped (1998)
There was a time when Crash was KING! The mid-late 1990s were all about the Playstation and Crash Bandicoot. As Naughty Dog has continued to prove how great of a game company it is, it’s not a surprise to realize how great the original 3 Crash games were. Warped is the culmination of everything great about Crash and it continued to prove that 1998 was a benchmark year for gaming. Warped is addictive and fun while packing its game filled with content. There are secrets, a multitude of stage-types to play AND you don’t just play as crash. Crash’s time-traveling adventures represent an end of an era, and I miss it.
54. Little Big Planet (2008)
Media Molecule has proven time and time again that they’re just ahead of the curve. Little Big Planet represents their ingenuity and creativity. Seven years before Super Mario Maker, LBP allowed users to create stages online and share them with their friends. While its interface may not be as user-friendly now, Little Big Planet was a game about imagination. It’s a beautiful experience. The game also just has a unique feel of weight. Sackboy feels like a beanbag, even if you can’t actually feel him. Media Molecule was able to create a game that appealed to more senses than just your ears and eyes. LBP was easily an influence on games like Minecraft and Super Mario Maker. It’s a master-class in game creativity. Media Molecule has also gone on to create more unique and creative games like Tearaway. They’re all worth every minute of your time.
53. Mario Kart 8 (2014)
Mario Kart has been pretty great since the beginning. There is just something about Mario Kart 8 that takes the proverbial cake. Could it just be that its in HD? Probably not, but that is absolutely a big positive. MK8 just feels so good. The controls are fluid and the characters just POP off the screen. As Mario and friends race off into the sky, the sea, and even to the beach, it just feels perfect. Mario Kart 8 the the experience we’ve wanted since back on the N64. It’s hard to see how Mario Kart can grow from here, but I hope they continue to beef this series up. MK8 also has some of the best DLC around. Nintendo knows how to get you every time with DLC!
52. Portal (2007)
There are puzzle games, then there is Portal. While Portal is a quick run through, it’s one of the most unique games around. It’s usage of physics and the portal gun has created a worldwide internet phenomenon. Portal feels like nothing else, and while It took me some time to get to it, I was completely flabbergasted at how different this game was. Valve has been reinventing the wheel for decades now, so it only makes sense that Portal gave us something so original. Also…the cake is TOTALLY a lie.
51. Resident Evil (1996 & 2003)
While I am a rather frantic and jumpy individual, no game has scared me like the original Resident Evil. This was Capcom at its best. Resident Evil created a genre that would be copied time and time again by every other major company out there, but nothing is as good as the original (or its remake). I still play the Gamecube remake on the regular. Resident Evil just plays wonderfully and has great pacing. It’s a great blend of action and puzzling, and was one of the first real cinematic games. While the voice acting was horrific, it gave us something we weren’t used to. You are literally playing a horror movie. While the series has misstepped quite a bit in more recent times, Resident Evil showed us what survival horror was all about. Luckily we survived.
50. Super Mario Bros. 2/USA (1988)
We all know the story how this wasn’t really a Mario game in Japan. That’s why it’s so weird! I like weird! Mario 2 offers a very different take on the Super Mario family. It’s a great oddball platformer that introduces quite a few different mechanics that provide the perfect differentiation from other games in the series. I love Mario 2 and its great characters and soundtrack. Luckily, Nintendo still pays homage to Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA) often in its other games. Gotta love that Luigi flutter jump!
49. Ninja Gaiden (2004)
Between God of War and Devil May Cry, we got the greatest action game ever. Ninja Gaiden was a huge hit in 2004. It’s just so addictive and difficult. Only the hardcore need apply here. Ninja Gaiden is the perfect evolution from the 8-bit days. Ryu Hayabusa’s quest on the Xbox is a bit bigger and definitely grittier. It’s a bloody mess, literally. The game has some of the smoothest action controls around and has become a classic. It has also been remade a few times, so you know it’s good! For all you action fans, go get Ninja Gaiden, Ninja Gaiden Black, or Ninja Gaiden Sigma.
48. Final Fantasy (1987)
Final Fantasy was the first RPG I ever played. While it’s simple, it’s a great way to kill 10-11 hours. Final Fantasy’s first game gave us a franchise that has become timeless. Without the time I sank into Final Fantasy, I would have most likely not loved RPGs as much as I do. It’s not perfect, but it represents the beginning of a genre, it’s the grandaddy of all great RPGs. All RPG fans grew up playing Final Fantasy, so it’s a special game. It’s still quite good, and I still play it today. Love this one.
47. Halo: Combat Evolved (2001)
As you could probably guess, I don’t really love shooters. Halo was different though. Maybe it was its story, or its characters, or maybe it was just the unique environment. Halo drew me in and kept me there. I played a lot of single player, but parties in the early 2000s were all about four people playing split-screen. I liked playing Halo more than Goldeneye. While Halo may not be as tight as it once was, this game was special. It was able to hook me, and shooters have a hard time at that.
46. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000)
Majora’s Mask was the perfect deviation from the new Zelda formula. It’s a dark and weird game. The world of Termina is a strange place, and Link finds himself in a different land that’s much different from Hyrule. Majora’s Mask challenged the player to think how a Zelda story can be told without the classic backdrop. MM’s uniqueness is its strongest suit as it also employed a time manipulation mechanic that forces the player to replay the same 3 days over and over and over. It’s good and shows a much needed left turn for Nintendo. While the Big N can play it safe all too often, Majora’s Mask represents a time when they got adventurous, which paid off massively.
45. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 + Sonic and Knuckles (1994)
Sonic 3 was great on its own, but when you combined it with Sonic and Knuckles you got 15 Zones of great Sonic platforming. Sonic 3 + Knuckles is the culmination of everything great about Sonic. It’s fast, promotes some exploration, and is just plain fun! It’s got great music and a story that’s about double the length of any other Sonic game. I spent a lot of weekends playing through this monstrosity of a double cartridge, and it was the perfect deviation from the Mario games. Sonic was its own thing, it didn’t copy any other series, and it gave us this masterpiece. Kudos to Sonic 3 + Sonic & Knuckles, it rocks.
44. Star Fox 64 (1997)
StarFox for SNES was a technical marvel when it was released, but it wasn’t overly captivating. StarFox 64 changed that and gave us a great aerial combat game that is as timeless as its characters are cool (well except Slippy Toad). StarFox 64 gives the player multiple endings, different paths to take, and the first real chance at a real dogfight in a console game. The series has not been able to replicate the greatness of SF64 yet, though I hope they do soon! This game is one of the best N64 games.
43. Ratchet & Clank (2002+)
Insomniac Games is a special company. Their best games are those starring Ratchet & Clank. During the buddy-boom of Platformers, R&C totally blew the competition away. Whether it was the Pixar-style humor, the hilarious and original weapons, or the excellent gameplay, R&C is the Sony platformer to play. The entire series is amazing, so it’s hard to pick one game here. Ratchet & Clank feel like they’re family to me, and Insomniac has created one of my absolute favorite franchises. It’s got everything, not to mention some of the best lead characters around. Clank alone should have his own cartoon. Can’t wait for their movie!
42. Okami (2006)
For anyone who says that games aren’t art (or artistic) I want them to take a look at Okami. Produced by the now defunct Clover Studios (a subsidiary of Capcom), Okami is a lost game. It’s unfortunate, because it’s beautifully amazing and amazingly beautiful. NO games look like Okami does. Few games play like Okami does. It’s the perfect answer to Zelda, and in many cases is just plain better. Okami is a game that I will forever fight for, people need to play this game. It’s completely unfair that this piece of art has been buried by the grit, grime, and testosterone of series like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. Clover gave us something creative and beautiful. Its story is captivating, and your main character cannot even speak a word (you’re a wolf). The entire game looks like Japanese woodblock art. It’s a shame that more games don’t take this path. Any gamer should give this one a shot, it’s worth every penny and every minute.
41. Grim Fandango (1998)
Grim Fandango continued the trend that made 1998 the best year ever. It’s a brilliant adventure game by LucasArts. It’s the perfect mixture of dialog, story, puzzles, and hilarity. The writing is so good! Grim Fandango is not physically challenging, nor does it need to be. It’s the perfect adventure, as Manny, the lead character, is trying to find his way to paradise. There is a great cast of characters and a great story loaded with dark humor. Games like this inspired the likes of Telltale games, and their takes on Walking Dead, Fables, Game of Thrones, and eventually Batman. Grim Fandango is a one-and-done game as well, like a perfect novel. You can now get it on PSN.