With one decade over and another one beginning (or maybe decades end on the 9 who knows), I saw a decidedly lack of Top X Games of All Time list I was met with 5 and 10 years prior. Both 2010 and 2015 were pivotal moments in the way I looked at games. 2010 was when I got my first personal computer and dived into a world of lists upon lists ranking games for various reasons. I only knew what had cool boxart on the GameStop shelves prior, and now I have a list that tells me what the 100 best games of all time were? That’s overwhelming but also taste defining as I would slowly descend and play all these “Best of All Time” games. 2015 saw the transition from high school to college and with it a much more critical lens into games. Suddenly I was in a college class where I’m tasked with comparing the themes of Atlus’s Persona 4 and Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. With five more years having passed, I’ve come to both love and hate Top X Lists, mainly stemming from dissatisfaction from The Game Awards. I ran my own game award show last year, where I boldly claimed that an award show can be interesting and make a statement. I think Top X lists can say so much and are so interesting, so I wanted to crack my hand one.
I decided that my own take would take form as a mini award show, where the 100 Excellent Games of All Time come in. I’m not claiming that these are the best or that this is some definitive ranking. This is 100 games I find excellent in some way, ranked vaguely in an order that says how much I like them. I will give each game an “Excellence in X” award, and then write a blurb that’s more in detail about the games. Every game is eligible and there’s no restriction other than I have to have played it. This isn’t even my top 100 favorite games, it’s just 100 games that are excellent. All images used in this list are taken from https://www.igdb.com. The console next to the studio is likely the first platform the game released on. If it released on a number of platforms simultaneously, it’s likely the one I actually played it on. Also spoiler warning for any game. Most shouldn’t have spoilers, but I’m sure I’ll drop a few.
100. FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 – HB Studios (Wii)
Excellency in Sports Simulation
In the year 2010, I had never once cared about sports, despite playing Tennis for years prior. Attending someone’s birthday party gave me a collectible stickerbook for the FIFA World Cup 2010, and everything changed. I love collectible stickers and I was surprisingly good at geography, so with the fever that came over probably every South Floridian middle school class, I had to collect them all. In the process, I started to actually care. This is mostly because I accidentally predicted Spain winning over Netherlands in the finals before the tournament even began just off of pure support for underdogs. I was made fun of but never got to brag, so this is my bragging. I eventually cared so much, I bought the game and played it a whole bunch. Finally I understood why people played sports game; it’s because they’re fun.
99. Sneak King – Blitz Games (Xbox)
Excellency in Bad Games
Everyone knows The Room and the joys of bad movies. The joy of playing bad video games is something that escape most people. To play Sneak King, you have to manage to find a copy and an Xbox 360 and a controller and cables, and and and. This is the same for all bad games, which is wholefully sad. One day in high school, my friends and I went into GameStop with a challenge, who could buy the most games for $20. I don’t know who won or I don’t even think I got sneak king during that endeavor, but playing all of those games is some of the most fun I’ve had … ever. Sneak King stands as my favorite among all the bad games I’ve played in my life. It’s horrifying in the best ways. It plays like a stick of frozen butter. It’s disgusting corporate advertising. It’s beautiful.
98. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Nintendo EPD Group 3 (Wii U)
Excellency in Open World Gameplay
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild truly feels like the first open world game. The open worldness doesn’t just extend to “you see that mountain, you can climb it,” but further to where the gameplay itself feels open world. The game doesn’t limit you to what you can do, if you see things and think you can do something, chances are you probably can. This obviously leads to the wild exploits you see speedrunners go through, but even on an “everyplayer” basis there’s so many times where the systems all interact in games you want them to but didn’t expect. The world isn’t just open in it’s traversal; it’s open in it’s interactions.
97. Goof Troop – Capcom (SNES)
Excellency in Bonding
Goof Troop is an extraordinarily curious game where it could be said that it’s Capcom’s first Zelda games, but that’s not what makes Goof Troop good. Goof Troop lets you play with two people. You go on this adventure where you kill pirates and shovel basically every tile you can see trying to figure out how to solve these sliding block puzzles. The game utilizes the top down Zelda gameplay in a way Nintendo wouldn’t figure out for another nine years and still fail to top. Solving puzzles and doing the adventure together bonds you in a way that’s both beautiful in real life and a great adaptation of the themes the Goofy franchise holds at it’s core. The game doesn’t force you to play with two players. You can go down this adventure alone, but why would you want to.
96. Xenoblade Chronicles X – Monolith Soft (Wii U)
Excellency in Open World Design
There’s tons of open worlds I love in games, from Hyrule to Manhattan, but none have enticed me to explore just on the world alone quiet like Xenoblade Chronicles X. Planet Mira takes the center stage of the game for good reason. The game’s story and characters and gameplay are all just a means to the end of seeing this world, and you really don’t have to interact with them all at. My favorite part was wandering around to all the nodes and just seeing what’s around. There’s a beautiful sight at every corner and I genuinely wanted to see them. Mira begs to be explored
95. Astebreed – Edelweiss (Microsoft Windows)
Excellency in Shoot ’em Ups
Astebreed perfectly encapsulate the fantasy I imagine when I play a shmup. You get to be a badass mech weaving your way pixel perfectly through barrages of laser bullets as anime characters scream things you can’t understand at you. Your eyes everywhere at once and you eventually are going to mess up and have to restart again, and again, and again. The fantasy combined with the fact that I can actually play Astebreed thanks to it’s more forgiving nature (which is still massively challenging, just for the genre), make it easily one of the most excellent shoot ’em ups out there.
94. Sonic Generations – Sonic Team (PlayStation 3)
Excellency in Speed
Sonic Generations does a lot of good things, but the best thing it does is be a Sonic game. Up until Sonic Generations, Sonic games have been a barely functioning hodgepodge of greatness. Sonic Generations takes the greatness of what came before it and bundles it into the first experience that truly lives up to promise. The game has you running at sonic speeds and then there’s a button to go faster. You get to mercilessly plow through enemies as the Crush 40 fills you with adrenaline all to hammer in the idea speed is what matters and nothing should slow you down. You gotta go fast.
93. STARWHAL – Breakfall (Microsoft Windows)
Excellency in Sports Adaptions
Video Games and Sports despite being constantly pinned as polar opposite have the same intertwining DNA. Adapting sports into video games has actually been a much tougher endeavor for probably the most popular genre than a more monumental task like adapting sports into video games. To decypher that, a wide majority of sports video games simulate the experience of watching a sports game. You take a birds eye view and coach players with strategy while imploring minor technical challenges. Sports themselves overtime have become more like video games with their use of technology to eliminate the iffyness to their rules and systems. Games that play like how sports play is exceedingly rare and almost never overt. Playing Rocket League is more like the act of playing soccer than playing FIFA is, and playing Starwhal is certainly more like fencing than Red Steel 2 (not actually a fencing game) might be. Starwhal is a massively fun competitve multiplayer experience that whittles down to extremely tense defensive duels where your main weapon is your only line of defense. I’ve never fenced, but I sure feel like I understand what’s it’s like to fence much more than I understand what it’s like to play football.
92. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX – Namco Bandai Games (PlayStation 3)
Excellency in Juice
I never truly understood Pac-Man. In a way, I still don’t. He’s a character in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U that throws fruit and fire hydrants and keys and the main villain in his game is a ghost named Clyde. I didn’t experience the Pac-Man fever of the 1980s; listening to Buckner and Garcia comes close but it doesn’t cut it. I don’t know why I picked up the championship edition of the arcade game that I deemed mediocre, but I’m glad it did. Pac-Man Championship Edition translates Pac-Man to the 21st century with thirty years of improvement to game juice applied in full force. The VFX, the graphics, the number rising, the sound effects, the hit pause, the everything. I still have the feel of gaining a long trail of ghosts, getting the power pellet, and devouring the whole line as it paused each ghost you hit in the most rewarding way possible. This must’ve been what playing Pac-Man in 1980 felt like.
91. Among Us – InnerSloth (Android)
Excellency in Social Games
Social Games have always been a favorite genre of mine, but they rarely if ever make their way into the video game realm. There’s good reason for this, the main gameplay is looking and listening to other players, so why do you need a screen. Among Us solves those problems. It gives you a good reason to play a video game version of a social game, and it’s not just the pandemic. The way you interact with the game world of among us controls the flow of information defining their matches. Among Us is the game world you preside in. Mastering the maps and how to abuse these systems to your advantage is why a social game should be a video game. There’s more to social games than if you body language or voice is telling, it’s how you navigate the rules of this world.
90. XCOM: Enemy Unknown – Firaxis Games (PlayStation 3)
Excellency in Tactics
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a game known for how bullshit it is that your 93% shot missed. Missing a shot in a first-person shooter isn’t only expected, but it’s insignificant. Missing a shot in XCOM means the world because the world is on the line. The tactics matter not just because aliens are invading the world, but because the characters you love and your entire save game is on the line. You can pour ten hours into building your squad up and one missed shot will not only break your heart as you see everyone you know and love die, but also leave you worse off and likely to result in your whole 30 hour game resulting in a loss. All of the systems work together in harmony in XCOM: Enemy Unknown to make the tactics at it’s core matter.
89. Pokémon Go – Niantic Labs (Android)
Excellency in Mobile Gaming
I didn’t play Pokémon Go during the summer of 2016. It didn’t work on my phone and it makes me deeply sad that I’ll never get to experience it. Two years later, my phone breaks, and I get a new one. The fad is over, and it doesn’t occur to me to download the game. Sometime later, I walked around a lot, so I guess some day I thought “hey why don’t I download it” probably because I took hour long walks between apartments when I was moving. When I got the game I was surprised at just how well it works. Not optimization mind you, it’s optimized terribly for my LG Stylo 4, but the simple gameplay of catching pokemon you see pop up while walking is immaculate. It’s really the only game I’ve ever played that really works as a mobile game. It gives me a simple task that fills me with immense joy over collecting all these creatures I’ve come to love over the years. The game didn’t need strategic battling where I’m concerned over whether or not to set up rocks or switch out because that’s not the point of Pokémon Go. It’s a mindless distraction to fill the small gaps in stimulus of every day life, it’s encouragement to explore and exercise, it’s an excuse for me to get way to excited that I can finally catch a Deerling.
88. If Found… – DREAMFEEL (Microsoft Windows)
Excellency in Visual Novel Mechanics
I’ve wanted to make a game for a long time that was essentially a visual novel where a coloring book told a story about my experiences with depression. I never managed to get the drawing right, so the project would end up getting ditched multiple times. Then I played If Found… and felt like someone else had made the game I wanted to make. It’s not the same game at all. Instead of a soothing and relaxing coloring, you destructively erase the past Kasio struggles with. It’s a polar opposite take on the same prompt, and it works so well. Visual novels have been evolving to have more interesting mechanics and interactions. This really nails it as interacting with the text IS the main interaction. It’s not escape rooms that spice up hours of reading. There’s meaning in every word you erase both before and because you erased them. If Found… mastered the merger of visual novel text and mechanics.
87. Monster Prom – Beautiful Glitch (Microsoft Windows)
Excellency in Dating Simulation
It’s odd that I don’t play any dating sims. I’m someone with no romantic prospects in real life who loves becoming attached to fictional characters. I loved playing match-maker in Fire Emblem Awakening, but it really isn’t the same. Monster Prom stands out among all the other dating sims I never got anywhere into because it’s multiplayer. Playing it with friends perfectly emulates the feeling of 2 am sleepovers in high school where people would shyly profess who they liked and their plans for how to woo them. The game is reminiscent of the most fun part of high school romance, and I get to experience the fun again and again with these millennia old Halloween villains. The romance between you and your partner isn’t the star in Monster Prom, but how you get there.
86. Another World – Eric Chahi (Amiga)
Excellency in Narrative Platforming
Another World is a game about failure. Narrative platformers aren’t a common kind of game because the main interactions you have with the game is failing. All you do is make mistakes over and over. The story starts with failure and even ends with only the tiniest amount of success. Once you’ve failed a lot though, you are successful. I played the game again not in full and made bounds of progress in the time it took to advance only a few screens initially. This was in class ,and I surprised my substitute TA. They claimed I was “likely the only student who ever took this class and completed this game.” That is a shame.
85. The Unfinished Swan – Giant Sparrow (PlayStation 3)
Excellency in Exploration
Painting just everything is not an uncommon theme for a game, but I don’t think any make use of the idea as well as The Unfinished Swan. It is fun to go and throw these paint balls and see the paint splatter, but the true joy is discovering what was already there. I don’t remember what the story with that swan you follow was all these years later, but the she joy of throwing a paintball, turning the camera, and seeing what was there over and over again never escaped me.
84. Ring Fit Adventure – Nintendo EDP and 1-Up Studios (Switch)
Excellency in Exercise Games
Ring Fit Adventure is the first exercise game to abuse the skinnerbox. Video games love to implement to squeeze every last dollar out of us through microtransactions, but for the first time this skinnerbox is being used for pure good, to make us healthier. The game is great the RPG mechanics work perfectly to motivate you, show your growth, and facilitate varied exercise. I go in wanting so desperately to only work on my ass, but I know I can’t defeat Dragaux unless I do core. Also it’s definitely the most exercise games. While Wii Fit Plus might occupy my favorite video game local Wuhu Island, Wuhu Island is about relaxing and is purposefully juxtaposed to the actual way you’re engaged with it. Ring Fit’s world IS exercise. The enemies are exercise equipment, the main way people expect you to do anything is through exercises, the roads are long jogging paths, Dragaux’s main objective is to be buff but, like, evil. The game envelops you with exercise and then it tells you that it’s okay if you need to stop playing after only 10 minutes. It gives you legitimately good advice through begging you for moderation. The skinnerbox is so often used to promote excess; it’s extremely refreshing to see it used in a way that’s so caring.
83. Florence – Mountains (Android)
Excellency in Interaction
Florence is a game that tells it’s story solely through your interactions with the game. The process of performing the actions the characters take connect you to the seemingly insignificant. Looking in a mirror isn’t a world shattering affair most of the time, but the moment I wiped away Florence’s frown, I felt the rumble (both figuratively and literally). Describing the plot of the game seems like a complete characterization, when I could describe how you get to paint a picture of a butterfly.
82. Injustice: Gods Among Us – NetherRealm Studioes (Wii U)
Excellency in Super Heroes
I’ve never really cared for the DC Universe other than the Master of Games episode from Teen Titans being burned into my immortal soul. The heroes just seemed boring with Batman being a rich guy and Superman being a god. When I heard Injustice was a great game and had an amazing story mode on top of that I was curious. It’s the first piece of media that handled Superman in any interesting way that I’ve seen. Not only does a nigh unbeatable God weak only to a rock work much better as a villain, but him becoming some authoritarian world dictator over a misguided sense of justice stemming from him killing his wife and unborn child just seems to make sense. Superman didn’t make a good villain because he’s unbeatable; he made a good villain because he’s Superman. Getting to see the villains and heroes jumbled based on their conformance to Superman’s ideals also was fun. Like who doesn’t want to see Joker and Batman team up because the world is just that fucked. That’s just the story, the game play is super fun too. It’s up there for the amount of time I poured into a fighting game, and I played a lot of fighting games.
81. Hades – Supergiant Games (Switch)
Excellency in Rogue-likes
I love playing games where I progress in them in tangible ways, so Rogue-likes are genres I have conflicting feelings with. I love most of them but never get very far because I don’t love them, THAT much. Hades is completely different even if I can’t even beat the second world. It’s not just that the game offers ways to buff your character offering permanence to each run. That’s great and definitely helps, but the world and characters are really what makes this one work. Time and time again I’m offered with the choice to either make fountains heal more or change the colors of the curtains, and I choose the curtains every time. The interior design factor in Hades is wildly important not just because you visit this main hub so many times, but mainly because you get to exercise any amount of control over this architecture that oppresses you so. Sure the monsters might be what kills you every time, but if the underworld just let you leave a room without slaughter you could just ignore everything and run. Arguing with Hades over the interior design isn’t just funny, but sweet victory that you can make claim to the space against the wishes and control of Hades. There’s even an entire section devoted to just basking in the horror that is the underworld you need to escape. Hades would be a good game without the interior design. Getting to pet Cerberus after each run is reward enough. The interior design aspect pushes Hades to the greatest heights the genre has seen yet.
80. The Jackbox Party Pack 5 – Jackbox Games Inc. (Microsoft Windows)
Excellency in Local Multiplayer
It’s hard to chose which Jackbox pack is the best one, but You Don’t Know Jack, Patently Stupid, and Mad Verse City are definitely in the upper echelon of Jackbox games as a whole. While Jackbox Party Pack 5 ditches the board game aesthetics of the previous entries in the series, it’s hard to divorce the packs from this representation. Opening a pack is just like dropping a box of games onto your table on game night. You take a tour from one game to the next, having a blast and laughing your ass off. There tends to be different styles of games in each pack. You Don’t Know Jack is a long running series, but it’s a genius way to tackle trivia. It’s not just about pulling a large list of facts from the back of your melon; you can know the answer and get it wrong because you couldn’t decipher the question. The best part is is that even if you don’t know the answer the game is still genuinely funny, offering value outside the trivia itch. Patently Stupid is a perfect mixture of showing off your bad drawing skills, getting creative with user generated content, and testing player’s improve skills. It acts as sort of the ultimate Jackbox game as it ties so many of their common elements into a cohesive package. Mad Verse City has rapping robots.
79. Tetris – Alexey Pajitnov (Some Computer in Russia)
Excellency in Tetris
It’s like fucking Tetris like it’s the same game over and over and it still slaps.
78. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax – Arc System Works (PlayStation 3)
Excellency in Fighting Games
Look at this game it fully captures the Persona style but also it lets you perform super sick combos and has bizarre mechanics. Jumping into a fighting game is a daunting task knowing the sheer rigidity of the genre. It’s so impressive that fighting games look so fluid in the hands of pros because how rigid they feel when I pick them up. Utilizing the familiar Persona to cloak the game in joy allows me to know it’s okay that I’m not able to beat a Mitsuru spamming A5 or whatever. The game lets you bask in the shier coolness of it’s mechanics with baseball meters and rhythm game super, and then you can watch pros play and it’s so hype. There’s also so many characters and half of them are bad clones, but who cares I love bad characters. I’m not a fighting game professional, and every one has their own favorite, but this is definitely the fighting game I’d choose to be good at.
77. Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle – Arc System Works (Switch)
Excellence in Fighting Game Playability
I’m not good at fighting games. Blazblue Cross Tag Battle lets me pretend like I am. That’s not knocking the game; it’s still a great fighting game. Blazblue Cross Tag Battle makes a concerted effort to allow you to do all the cool things you want to do in fighting games. There’s autocombos, universal overheads, two button shoryukens, probably more stuff that doesn’t go so easily noticed. It’s a blast to be able to play a fighting game without devoting so much time. I’ve never been patient; one of my signature comments when playing Smash is that I hated training mode and have only labbed one completely insignificant combo just to spite it. The result was my combos, movement, execution, all that were terrible, but my neutral was far beyond the rest of my skillset since I only practiced by playing others. But hey, if you don’t lose neutral; you can’t lose the game. I’m so glad Blazblue Cross Tag Battle exists because it lets everyone in on the fantasy. I don’t want every fighting game to be Blazblue Cross Tag Battle. I don’t want to lose the awe of seeing people master these completely mindbogglingly complex and rigid systems and turn them into a battle of the bands. I do think we could use a few more fighting games like Blazlue Cross Tag Battle though.
76. Detention – Red Candle Games (Microsoft Windows)
Excellency in Period Pieces
Detention scares me. I’m scared easily, but the scary thing about Detention isn’t the jump scares: it’s the martial law. It’s also the jump scares, and the monsters, and the fact that you’re in a creepy abandoned school at night alone. Reading about how terrifying the martial law of Taiwan was is deeply horrifying, but playing Detention horrified me. This book list led to so much despair and torment. Playing a WWII shooter is just an excuse to have a shooter where you know the enemies are cool to kill because they’re nazis, but really they rarely matter that they take place in WWII. Detention utilizes it’s historical setting like no other game has.
75. Club Penguin Rewritten – RocketSnail Games/CPRewritten – (Web Browser)
Excellency in MMOs
Club Penguin was an essential part of my childhood. I would log in every day, play tons of mini games, spend my coins on clothes I’d never wear. The game itself isn’t the huge draw, but it was the community. There were blogs upon blogs and forums upon forums of other people who just loved the world Rocket Snail created. These cute flash looking penguins had so much style, and the game was constantly expanding to add new things. The parties were so exciting, they added full blown adventure games with the spy content. The way this stuff was seemingly integrated into the world like it had always been there just you didn’t know about it was amazing. When you played the game there was so much stuff there you don’t know about already! Like so many people remember the pizza parlor, less even knew you could make pizzas, and even less knew there was a dessert pizza mini game. The world was brimming with things to discover and people to talk about those discoveries with. There was constant construction so when new things were added it felt like they were really being built; they’d even give you jackhammers and hard hats and such. You can’t play Club Penguin in the glory days before Disney sucked it dry, but I’m sure the rewritten community is a new adventure. I mean I visit for nostalgia every once in a while, but it must be exciting to follow the redevelopment.
74. Mario Kart 8 – Nintendo EAD Group No. 1 (Wii U)
Excellency in Racing Games
Mario Kart 8 is beautiful. Like look at it. Look at Shy Guy Falls, Toad Harbor, Mount Wario, fucking SNES Rainbow Road even. A game shouldn’t be allowed to look this good. They’re scared; I’m scared. It’s a shame the game never lets you take in the beauty. Like let me live here goddammit. The racing is also fun too.
73. inFamous: Second Son – Sucker Punch Productions (PlayStation 4)
Excellency in Particle Effects
When Sony unveiled the Playstation 4, they promised 2 things: wrinkly old men and particle effects. A few months after the release, inFamous: Second Son drops and delivers on the particle effects. The powers in this game are just awesome and they look even better. Forget lighting and ice, those are for weaker consoles. We have smoke, neon, digital, and concrete. Like what does that even mean? These powers are some of the most fun ways to interact with a world, and the succeed because they just look so damn good. The neon power is neon like oh my god these particle effects. PlayStation 5 better come in 2015 because the PS4 is done the particles won’t get better, and I don’t care about the wrinkly old men getting more wrinkly. The PS5 is here, and I still haven’t seen better.
72. Hearthstone – Blizzard Team 5 (Microsoft Windows)
Excellency in Card Games
Hearthstone is a wild game because it has so many games in it. There’s an auto-battler, puzzle game, rogue-like, drafting, boss fights, etc. The amount of free good single-player content in the game is astounding that I would easily recommend people only play that. It’s harder to recommend the competitive multiplayer because it’s free-to-play which means it’s actually exorbitantly expensive to succeed at. Without that in mind, it’s easily the most fun competitive card game there is. The feeling of all the cards and pieces just are unmatched. It looks clean unlike the clunky feeling of most digital card game. The game oozes so much of it’s own style that it’s hard to believe it’s based on Warcraft. The card designs are so cool like just the new effects they print always blow me away. I couldn’t conceive of them printing a card that spins a wheel to determine what effect happens, but then they print that. There’s so much great about Hearthstone and I wish so much that it didn’t cost $180 a year to not receive every card.
71. Persona 5 – P-Studio (PlayStation 3)
Excellency in Menu Design
I don’t think a single other game I’ve played I was told the first thing you should do is look at the menu. Not have to do, should do. Persona 5 is different because it’s menus are fucking unbelievably cool. Gone is the efficiency and easy readability. The menus are flashy, feature long animations, and constantly move and shake, and they’re amazing. The menus are a big fuck you do modern graphic design which fits perfectly into the game’s central motif of rebellion. The best thing is that the menus work. Not just function, like they work wayyyyyy better than most traditional menus. They begged to be seen and explored, and because of that, the player becomes intimately familiar with them. I know where everything is and how to access it far before the mechanics relating to that menu are introduced. Why wouldn’t I want to explore I need to see all these cool transition animations. The menus never get bad; the stuff is still as badass at 120 hours in as it was at 1. The game’s sense of style and graphic design in general is off the charts, but it shines far the brightest in the menus. When Joker was announced for Smash, I said they better make the stage the menu, and they fucking did. These menu’s are so good that no location in the game begged to be made into a fighting arena more than the fucking menu screen for good reason. Masayoshi Suto should go down in history for making such unbelievably amazing UI and menus for this game.
70. Mario Hoops 3 on 3 – Square Enix (DS)
Excellency in Sports Games
Mario sports games let you play sports but like more fun. I think everyone wants sports to be cooler like of course I would swim across the tennis court if I could. Sport games have always been so limited in their vision like we have all the graphical processing power of a Nintendo DS why would we settle for a normal dunk when we can Konga Dunk. Mario Hoops 3 on 3 also lets you play as Cactaur, and I love Cactaur. Basketball deserves to be played by Mario and Final Fantasy Characters because only they can realize what James Naismith truly envisioned.
69. The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game – Grace Bruxner (Microsoft Windows)
Excellency in Comedy
Comedy games are a rare treat where a game does everything it can to make the interactions you perform all result in some sort of laugh. I don’t think any game is as funny as the Frog Detective ones. The sense of humor just understands what is really funny. It’s the idea that you need pasta to make dynamite; that’s what’s funny. So many games use comedy as a bridge between their main gameplay spectacles, but in Frog Detective comedy is the spectacle.
68. Vanquish – Platinum Games
Excellency in Cover Shooters
Cover shooters are a ubiquitous genre in games because they make so much sense but they also don’t? Like, of course you’re gonna shoot from behind cover; here’s a bunch of a waist high walls. That’s not the fantasy of the shooter though, you wanna run around and shoot people at lightning fast paces looking like a cool. You don’t want to get shot though because nothing is worse than repeating a section of gameplay you just did a few minutes ago. Vanquish solves the cover shooter dilemma so elegantly because it gives you a big booster to zoom around the map with and tells you you are way cool for being way cool. Now sure you’re gonna hide behind cover but you’re not just sitting there it’s just a temporary pause between blasting out at breakneck speeds to put some bullets in some aliens or whatever the plot involved. Why haven’t more shooters had giant rockets that boost you around.
67. Overwatch – Blizzard Team 4 (Microsoft Windows)
Excellency in Team Multiplayer Gaming
Overwatch’s world is so alluring. Not actually like it seems pretty horrific, but you don’t actually see any of the bad stuff like the race wars and oppression while playing the game (most of the time). You got magic ladies, talking scientists, cyborg ninjas all trying to drive the worlds slowest car. It’s almost sad that this is a competitive multiplayer game and not like a single player platformer or something that lets me explore the world. The multiplayer is super fun though. It consumed my life for like a whole year. All the decisions they made just felt so right. It had good variety, the characters were super fun, and I felt like I mattered to winning and earned every one that I got. I love that you can play it without being good at twitch reflexes like most games require and that it values other skills. I do miss the higher power level a lot of characters had as I slowly watched them all get nerfed, but I’m not sure how the meta actually is anymore.
66. Paradise Killer – Kaizen Game Works (Switch)
Excellency in World Building
The world of Paradise Killer is extremely horrifying, so why do I love it so much? Like it’s a big allegory for capitalism showing just how bad it is, but then it’s also visually beautiful and super interesting. Part of the reason the game is so enticing to explore and investigate is because this alien world begs to be understood. You can understand the crime pretty intimately, but you really can’t understand the world. It’s just so bizarre like these immortal beings trying to resurrect gods on paper is basic but as you explore the world and see the statues and monuments and plaques you start to get more questions than answers. I can understand how it all relates to criticizing capitalism, and I think it works very well in that regard.
65. Battle Chef Brigade – Trinket Studios (Switch)
Excellency in Match 3 Games
I don’t think I really enjoyed a match 3 game until Battle Chef Brigade. I don’t dislike them, but there’s something about the world and style that gave so much meaning to matching. Choosing the ingredients defining the puzzle on my own terms made the puzzles more interesting, and cooking is just fun. The time limits and balance between side scrolling action and the puzzles provide great balance and challenge. The game also just has great visuals and characters and charm that all make it that much better of an experience.
64. The Beginner’s Guide – Everything Unlimited Ltd. (Microsoft Windows)
Excellency in Something
Beginner’s Guide is a game that doesn’t want to be talked about. Maybe it does. It’s weird to think a game has wants. Obviously a lot of people talked about it, me included. It’s criticism on Game Analysis is really interesting and important but also like I just did it? I’m sure there is a line between hyper analyzing a person based on their work and analyzing the inherent meaning in a work, but it’s also fun to think the game just doesn’t want to be understood.
63. Until Dawn – Supermassive Games (PlayStation 4)
Excellency in Directorial Gameplay
Until Dawn is odd as an interactive drama because there’s not really bad choices. Generally in an interactive drama it’ll give you like 4 options and maybe 2 of them are meaningfully good and the other 2 are just bad and your game will be different flavors of those experience and if not it’s something wholly unsatisfying. Until Dawn is different because it’s a horror movie. Everyone dies but the good christian girl? Cool that’s what I was expecting. Everyone lives? Wow a testament to their courage and survival skills. Just a super fast death to everyone? That sounds fun to do. You just want to kill someone cause you hate their character? Hell yeah they deserve it. Kill everyone because they’re ALL annoying but we’ll keep Matt he’s cool? Finally we’re getting somewhere. You get to play as the director of this horror film, and I hope more interactive dramas take this route to their gameplay, although making it work in genres outside of horror might prove a challenge.
62. Out For Delivery – Yuxin Gao, Lillyan Ling, Gus Boehling, John Bruneau (Microsoft Windows)
Excellency in Documentary Games
I don’t think I really play non-fiction games like ever. I’m sure there’s quiet a few out there, but the agency of the user makes it really hard to make non-fiction and game jive. Out For Delivery is a non-fiction game and it’s really powerful. I could already imagine that food courier is a job that’s a major abuse of labor from already reading so many articles about their mistreatment in the US and from knowing capitalism. Out For Delivery bringing you on the journey for just a bit both is an entertaining trip through Beijing while alerting you just how horrible these things are from the workers themselves. The game also is a snapshot of the first day of the covid lockdown which is a coincidence that really adds future value to this game. I really recommend just playing this it’s only 42 minutes.
61. Doom – id Software (MS DOS)
Excellency in First Person Shooters
Doom isn’t the first FPS, but it’s like the second. It’s still one of the best. I love how fast pace the gameplay is. You just zoom around and boom boom boom the demons are dead. Most First Person Shooters these days are pretty slow comparatively. I would imagine it’s the result of introducing aiming, which is a skill that I’m glad is being tested, but also I kinda miss how fast Doom was. You didn’t really need to aim in Doom. There’s no vertical camera movement, so you just got to get the bad guys somewhere close to the center of the screen. This kinda makes it more of like a timing and rhythm thing rather than an aiming one. It’s about shooting when your paths cross with the demons on your unrelenting carnage towards some elevator key. This just really lets you perform the shooting dream of shooting things well even when I suck at shooting things.
60. Sid Meier’s Civilization V – Fireaxis Games (Microsoft Windows)
Excellency in Clicker Games
I feel like I play Civ wrong. So many people talk about strategy and focus on the military victories, and I just don’t really care about that. I just like making the numbers go up, but specifically, I want ALL the wonders. When I start games I’m always like, you can win, but I better get the Eiffel Tower. My friends usually took the Eiffel Tower.
59. I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream – The Dreamers Guild (MS DOS)
Excellency in Point and Click Adventure Games
Old school adventure games have a, sort of, stigma. They can’t really be beaten by a normal human. They’re not unfairly punishing; just most players can’t solve every puzzle without brute forcing them. I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream might have that. It probably has that; I don’t remember. What I do remember is a goddamn terrify experience about how the industrial military industrial complex will cause the end of the world if left unchecked. I just remember being absolutely horrified all the time, and it’s all just fascinating. I don’t think I even beat the game because getting the ending where you turn into the green slug thing that has no mouth and can’t scream just FELT like the ending.
58. One Night, Hot Springs – npckc (Microsoft Windows)
Excellency in Cuteness
One Night, Host Springs is a really cute game. I think this works super well for this story since it’s like a melancholy ruminence on trans struggles. The game is overall super positive and happy, but it also doesn’t shy away from the stuggles Haru faces in the story. The cuteness helps bring levity to these bad situations which make sense because I’m sure Haru faces this stuff on a regular basis and doesn’t let it get to her. It also helps make the cute scenes even cuter cause it is cute that girl gay and accepting.
57. Octodad: Dadliest Catch – Young Horses (PlayStation 4)
Excellency in Fatherhood
Plenty of games let you be a dad or father-figure, but how many games let you be a normal dad? There’s always, like, zombies getting in the way. Finally Octodad comes and offers the pinnacle of fatherhood. You can be a normal human dad looking after your normal human kids. Cooking burgers, buying cereal, this game has it all. The game is surprisingly great fun in multiplayer as you and your closest friends get to share the responsibilities of being a father: a task too big for some. Octodad is truly the pinnacle of fatherly gameplay.
56. The Last of Us – Naughty Dog (Playstation 3)
Excellency in Moments
The Last of Us has a lot of great moments. There’s the first one, and that one in the middle, and the two at the end. You probably know which ones I’m talking. They involve the intro, some brothers, a giraffe, some doctors. Maybe you have some other favorite moments like Ellie brutally murdering someone, but I think the point is The Last of Us delivers on the moments it offers us. They stick with you for a long time, much past any time you sneaked up and shivved a clicker. he moments did matter, not just individually, but because they were tied together with all that clicker shivving. You know I originally hated the ending to The Last of Us, but a week or so later I came around to loving it. Not many games sit in your brain as much as The Last of Us does.
55. The Walking Dead: Season One – Telltale Games (Playstation 3)
Excellency in Interactive Drama
Interactive Dramas are so fun. I love seeing all the little ways the stories can bend. I’m not gonna complain that there’s not 500 endings because I know how game dev works. Seeing the little changes is what matters. The Walking Dead: Season One definitely stands out among the rest. You really feel like you’re constantly making important choices, and you are. Like you might have a completely different character be alive because of your actions. The bond between Lee and Clementine is great to see developed. I love the two so much and it made me that much more invested in making sure they survived this apocalypse.
54. Animal Crossing: Wild World – Nintendo EAD Group No. 2 (DS)
Excellency in Life Simulation
Animal Crossing: Wild World is just a joy to play. The relaxing atmosphere and music really let you wind down with catching fish and decorating your home. The events are super fun. The best part about Wild World is that you get free friends, like Stitches. I love stitches; he was in my town to start off. I talked with him all time time, ran errands, wrote letters. We became the best of friends, well almost. He didn’t give me his photos, but you know maybe he will soon. Then he told me he’s planning on moving out soon. I don’t want him to go, but despite my pleas he says he must. What if I had been a better friend? If only I was nice enough to become best friends, maybe he would have stayed and given me his photo. I hope he comes back one day; I miss him. Animal Crossing: Wild World is such a sorrow to play.
53. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening – Nintendo EAD (Gameboy)
Excellency in 2D Zelda Games
Zelda as a genre is weird because everyone knows it, and it’s definitely it’s own genre. At the same time, it hasn’t really spawned an actual genre of “Zeldalikes” in the vein of Roguelikes, Soulslikes, or even Metroidvanias. So we got a genre that all the best games are Zelda games, and Zelda games are all some of the best games of all time. There’s a few others like Darksiders, Ittledew, and Goof Troop. Among all the Zelda games that are in the top down 2 dimensional perspective, I think none work as well as Link’s Awakening. The dungeons work really well. I love the overworld. It’s smaller than a lot of other games, I think that makes it work better. There’s still surprises around every turn, but the world feels intimate. It’s a place I could live in, and that plays really well to the game themes. It makes the ending all that much more impactful. This game brings all the puzzly adventure goodness of 2D Zeldas, but in my favorite kind of package.
52. Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time – Insomniac Games (PlayStation 3)
Excellency in Action Platformers
Okay everyone it’s the PlayStation 2. We got more polygons than every and no one wants to just breath fire on people anymore, they want guns and hitting shit. We gotta give them this jumpy shit but they won’t take it unless things go Kaboom. That’s what I imagine every studio went through at the beginning of the PS2 era because platformers were no more and now we have action platformers. Even Mario gotta shoot things now even if it’s paint plants. Ratchet and Clank were one of the best of the action platformers by far. All the funs were unique and fun to use. The comedy really makes the game shine. Most of this genre stayed in the PS2 era, Ratchet and Clank went into the PS3 era and we ended up with the best one, Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time. It does have the worst inappropriate pun title like, what, is it just the word crack?
51. Kirby’s Epic Yarn – Good-Feel (Wii)
Excellency in Touch
Can you touch a game? Absolutely there’s board games and contact sports or any sports. Can you touch a video game? Well you can touch the controller. There’s touch controllers on your phone, DS, Wii U, Mario Galaxy on the switch if you’re feeling masochistic. So why does the game I want to touch the most not let me touch it? Look at that yarn! It must be the grandest yarn string ever, … strung? The whole game makes me want to rub my fingers over it, feeling the different textures. The ever so light glow on the strings just make them see unbelievably better to touch than any normal world string. No wonder this studio is called good feel; I want to touch all their games so badly.
50. Katamari Damacy – NOW Production (PlayStation 2)
Excellency in Destruction
There’s no game more satisfying than Katamari Damacy. It’s like all the goodness of cleaning but in a way better coat of paint and lacking physical labor. Who doesn’t want to destroy everything in their path. It feels so good to just roll up everything. The giant ball of your destruction births a star at the end. That’s definitely some beautiful shit unless you’re one of the countless people the prince rolled up who aren’t immune to the power of nuclear fusion. It’s okay though they got to listen to the amazing soundtrack in the final moments of their life; presumably what most people would want to listen to.
49. A Short Hike – Adam Robinson-Yu (Microsoft Windows)
Excellency in Hiking
If you want to make a game about dealing with emotional turmoil, you gotta make it about climbing a mountain. A Short Hike has that, but it also kinda flattens things and lets you hike it. Nature hates me, so every Hike I’ve done has ended in disaster. A Short Hike lets me experience what an actual human might experience on a hike. It’s so relaxing to just traverse the environment. It really lets you think like I felt like I went on a hike with my character.
48. Rayman Legends – Ubisoft Montpellier (Wii U)
Excellency in 2D Platforming
Rayman Legends nails what a traditional 2D platformer should be. The game has it all. There’s fast-pace action, precision jumping, exploration. I think the rhythm levels really showcase just how good the rest of the game is. They’re the best levels that are thrown in as a bonus at the end of each world. They don’t have any puzzles or explorations featured in other levels, but it’s a sacrifice not made in vain. The levels demand you platform perfectly, and when you do you’ll play along to a remix of a famous song in a whole new style. It’s super satisfying and the rhythm informs to the timing of your acts. I think anyone who’s played this can say medieval-rock Black Betty or mariachi Eye of the Tiger are standout moments in all of gaming.
47. WarioWare: Touched! – Intelligent Systems Co. and Nintendo SPD Group No. 1 (DS)
Excellency in Mini Games
WarioWare tasks you with decrypting what to do with basically no information, and also doing it. You actually figure out what to do almost always in one or two seconds on the first read, but the game stays hard and fun. Making it through gauntlets of games so small the series call them microgames is some of the most pure fun you can have in gaming. WarioWare: Touched! makes the best use of the WarioWare structure by far. The boundlessness and precision of the touch controls work perfectly with this game. It keeps things simple since you know how to interact with every challenge, but it gives you so much more space to explore. Also have you heard Ashley’s Song? That song is THE bop.
46. Pokémon Snap – HAL Laboratory (N64)
Excellency in Photography
I think someone just really wanted to shoot pokémon, but then someone else saw and was like “oh it’s photography.” Pokémon Snap works so well as a game because it both satisfies the Pokémon fantasy, and it makes replaying the same levels fun. You gotta catch them all, but like their essence, ya know, you don’t want a bad shot. Also art is objective now. Professor Oak is the god of my world, and I accept him willing. Rule of thirds is out the window; I befriend the dead center frame. The puzzles surrounding each stage along with the introductions of new ways to interact with this world really sell the experience. Capturing them all isn’t just about good timing to get massive points; it’s about throwing apples around aimlessly hoping some magikarp might come out and swim into a waterfall. The little hints you get towards some pokémon are great like seeing the eggs or the little porygon sticking out. Pokemon Snap might be the game I’ve played the most, and it’s a game that already makes you do the same thing over and over and over again.
45. Catherine – Atlus 2nd Creative Production Department (PlayStation 3)
Excellency in Puzzle Games
Catherine is a game about a lot of things, but what it does best is it’s gameplay. It’s such a good puzzle game that it’s actually a fighting game. If you can’t just hear edge, hoping one day the world will say it when pushing real boxes, in your head clearly, you didn’t play Catherine. You think Sokoban wouldnt work as a 3D game that actually uses all three dimensions, but Catherine makes it work really well. This game is so fucking hard, but the rules are so simple that you know you can either solve it or brute force it by pushing all the blocks off the edge really quickly. You know the reason the men turn to sheep is because the origin of the word horny. When men cheated they’d grow horns in like ancient England. That also leads me to believe that the name and maybe idea as a whole comes from Henry VIII. He had three wives named Catherine (all with a C, definitely none with a Q). This matches up with the eventual three Catherines, although I’ve never played Catherine: Full Body. Vincent’s name isn’t henry but they could’ve gotten it from VIIIncent.
44. Punch-Out!! – Next Level Games (Wii)
Excellency in Animation
Punch-Out!! gives the player an extremely small and rigid amount of options to use. Little Mac can’t do much beside duck to the side and punch. Your opponents on the other hand, all perform moves the World Boxing Organization might find a bit against the rules. Punch-out!! is all about the timing. Reacting to these elaborate feats of probably wrestling with a frame perfect left jab shows that you agree that drinking soda shouldn’t be legal in the ring. All the same time these matches are like a puzzle. Besides figuring out that your coach eating chocolate some how heals you, you can also try and see what the game doesn’t show. Tons of characters give great tells to their elaborate moves which you can punish, but most moves have several points you can attack at. Trying to think like a real boxer and hit your opponent at more ideal times usually nets you more damage or other bonuses. I assume the physics checks out cause it’s usually right before they hit you and newtons third law. None of this gameplay would be possible without the great animations of mostly European stereotypes.
43. Gone Home – Fullbright (Microsoft Windows)
Excellency in Walking Simulation Games
Walking Simulation is probably a bad name for any game that isn’t, like, QWOP, but english is bad, game genres are bad, and you know what that means. Gone Home lets you explore this house that’s way to creepy for the main thing to not be creepy at all. Your sister is gay is the best premise for anything ever, so great starting place. The way the story unfolds through you violating your family’s privacy way to much honestly makes the story all the better. You get intimate on a level a family member probably should be. Maybe the protagonist wouldn’t need to guess that her dad’s filing cabinet’s combination is 0451 because it’s the same code in every game to cry about her sister facing a hard time from her parents because of her sexuality, but I did. You sort of become the protagonist through doing something she wouldn’t do. If I played the game a second time relatively soon after the first, I wonder if I could’ve felt the same feels by only reading the things my sister intended for me to. I’d wager yes because knowing about my father’s books and the haunted house were interesting and fleshed out the world but more informed me to situation rather than contribute to the story.
42. Flower – Thatgamecompany (PlayStation 3)
Excellency in Museum Exhibits
I played Flower for the first time … not in a museum. I probably saw some youtube video that included it and got curious and I was like damn that’s some good shit. Years later, I went to a museum and it had a bunch of PS3s set up. Most weren’t playing Flower, but one was. I think they had some games you’d expect like Pac-Man and Journey, but they also had like some shooter maybe Killzone? For almost all the games, I don’t really think they suited being in a museum gallery. It felt more like a E3 show floor despite never being on one. At best they were showing off the graphical fidelity of the works. With Journey you can look at how beautiful the game is, listen to how good the soundtrack is, stuff like that, and it’d still be a good experience. Only with Flower (and Pac-Man probably) would you really get an experience that’s more than a tech demo. Sure most people probably didn’t sit in the museum for two hours playing every level, but I think just playing one level you could already understand why Flower was so great. The commentary on how saving the environment is good isn’t lost on anyone who plays the game for more than one second. You still get the beautiful aesthetics and great gamefeel on just a single level playthrough. I wholly recommend the full two hour experience, but I think it can sit in a museum.
41. Super Mario Odyssey – Nintendo EPD Production Group No. 8 and 1-UP Studio (Switch)
Excellency in Collect-a-thons
It’s weird that a Mario game is the greatest collect-a-thon since the only one that really fits is Odyssey. There’s like what 890 moons in this game? That’s so many I only collected like 300 something. That’s way more than even required. I think that’s the point the game was still super fun to collect way more than the minimum requirement, and there’s enough to collect that for 99% of players you collect until your satisfied leaving still a surplus of collectibles. Obviously some players still remain unhappy, which is why Super Mario Odyssey also lets you collect high scores on things like speed running challenges (honestly the best feature, competing against your friends is so fun), jump rope, and a really shitty volleyball game. If that’s still not enough, this game has so many entertaining speed runs it’s amazing how much quality content you can squeeze out of this game. The game also has probably the most interesting worlds in Mario ever. They still follow the basic trends for a lot of parts, like but these iterations all stand out among the trends. For Example, Tostarena outshines even the Layer-Cake Desert in terms of standing out. Can I have an aside about the Layer-Cake Desert really quickly? Like what a waste of potential. First off it’s not called the Dessert Desert like it should’ve been, and the strict color scheme really makes it hard to discern the cake themeing. I understood perfectly when I played, but it honestly could’ve easily been the best theme for a desert kingdom by far. The few kingdoms that use no themes like previously like the Hat Kingdom and New Donk City are huge highlights of the game. The purple coins use in buying outfits also helps make collecting things even more fun.
40. The Stanley Parable – Galactic Cafe (Microsoft Windows)
Horribleness in Directions
Early on into The Stanley Parable, the game offers you a choice. Do you go into the left door or the right door. The only thing is is that it’s not a choice. The narrator tells you to go into the right door. Doing that advances on with the plot. The problem is you can still go into the left door, and by all accounts, doing so is vastly more interesting. Why would the game tell me the directions to the less interesting door. It’s simply horrible at giving directions.
39. Kid Icarus: Uprising – Project Sora and Sora Ltd. (3DS)
Excellency in not being the first Kid Icarus
It’s a good thing Sakurai made Kid Icarus Uprising right? Like I just tried playing Kid Icarus for the NES, and it made me cry because it’s too hard. I read a bit about the development, and I feel really bad like they made the game in a few months of massive crunch. It’s not their fault snakes spawn endless above you with no ground so they fall at massive speeds. At least I hope it’s a glitch like they only ever spawn in the center something’s definitely up with that code. Kid Icarus: Uprising is great though it’s really unlike anything else. I don’t know why Sakurai wanted to make that, but I’m grateful for the value he saw in the franchise. They really need to remake this game and get it onto a console that doesn’t require you to break your hands to play. Like I still have the stand that came with this game. They really were like this game is so bad for your hands that you need a stand. That’s wild we have two analog sticks now.
38. Shadow of The Colossus – Team Ico (PlayStation 2)
Excellency in Boss Battles
Boss battles are usually the highlights of game. There’s all this build-up towards this spectacle that’s the ultimate test of your skill. Boss rushes are usually fun and make the bosses feel much less important by nature of having to do them all in quick succession like they’re normal enemies. Shadow of the Colossus is a boss rush but without anything else, and it works great. Every battle against the colossi is super unique and meaningful. The game would suffer from having some generic hack and slash shit between when you scale the colossi. There’s all this and the game has amazing art and music. The story is great like this game has it all.
37. Luigi’s Mansion – Nintendo EAD Software Group No. 1 (GameCube)
Excellency in Metroidvanias
If you know me, you know metroidvanias are at the bottom of my genre liking list. They’re also at the top of genres I want to like more list. I think Luigi’s Mansion is the only metroidvania that I like. It’s also fitting that it’s the only game in the Luigi’s Mansion series that is a metroidvania, and I like the whole series. Exploring the mansion is really fun for me. I love getting the keys to get new rooms or doing things like using the elements to open new areas. Maybe the metroidvania aspects are big enough that they’re there, but small enough that they just add flavor rather than define the game. Maybe it’s that the hallways you traverse so often only take a matter of seconds to maneuver because the mansion is so compact. The reason Luigi’s Mansion proper is my favorite Luigi’s Mansion is undoubtedly the metroidvania elements complimenting the ghost busting aesthetics. Now if I can just love other metroidvanias as much as I love this.
36. HITMAN 2 – IO Interactive (PlayStation 4)
Excellency in Stealth Games
HITMAN 2’s puzzle box level design makes it the perfect stealth game. Hiding isn’t just about moving between site lines, although that’s definitely still there. You have to mix in disguises, target movements, story events, checkpoints, area level security. All these systems work in harmony to make any given assassination a massive puzzle with a million solutions. I had my fair share of missions where I just snapped a neck when I ended up with the target and no one around somehow, but I also killed people with statues and iron maidens and such more. It also helps how these areas feel like fleshed out worlds that exist without you and bend to your presence if needed. They’re also beautiful like half the reason Miami is my favorite level is because I’m from there, I mean, it’s rendered so well. It’s great how this openness leads to the game offering endless replayability with so many options you didn’t get to experience.
35. River City Girls – Wayforward Technologies Inc. and Arc System Works (Switch)
Excellency in 2D Beat ’em Ups
I don’t know if a game has occupied my mind as much as River City Girls. Most likely because I have a poster of the characters, and the soundtrack is on the shelf under my TV. Regardless, these two girls infatuated me with their punk charms. They showed me why old school beat ’em ups were valuable. They made me want to beat the shit out of a bunch of the same high school students over and over again while we look for our boyfriends. The duo just has so much energy and spunk that it bleeds into your soul and makes you love 2D beat ’em ups. Their soul is the genre’s soul.
34. Portal 2 – Valve Corporation (PlayStation 3)
Excellency in Villains
Video game villains are often infamous, but none are as fleshed out as GLaDOS. She’s great because I want a women to tell me what to do and then reprimand me for it. She’s also great because she spends most of the runtime of Portal 2 as a potato attached to your gun. This lets you form a special bond with GLaDOS that doesn’t rely on the insecurities I have with the direction of my life. You could argue that GLaDOS isn’t really the main villain of Portal 2, and you’d be correct. She’s definitely a villain that’s in Portal 2 though. Wheatley, the actual main villain of the game, is also great. He’s still adds tons of humor as the villain, but in a way completely divorced from GLaDOS’s style. Both villians define a game that already has extremely good puzzles and world building.
33. Pikmin 3 – Nintendo EAD Group No. 4 (Wii U)
Excellency in Real Time Strategy Games
Keeping track of one hundred units all at once is a nigh impossible task for the average me. Doing it while separating them into groups of three characters and then keeping tracks of groups of groups and then keeping track of multiple colors and then. Real Time Strategy is surprisingly something I’m not good at (jk it’s very unsurprising). Pikmin 3 is great in that it lets me real time strategize just as much as I can and barely skirt by and win. It’s gooey time limit lets me ignore the overarching plot to go and make the game easier if I so choose. Pikmin 3, also, has pikmin. Look at those creatures; they’re so cute. The enemies you ruthlessly murder for their bioescence are also extremely cute.
32. Silent Hill 2 – Team Silent (PlayStation 2)
Excellency in Horror Games
In Silent Hill 2, there’s a monster called Abstract Daddy. To those who haven’t played the game, this is an extremely silly sounding enemy name. To anyone who has, it’s one of the most horrifying experiences ever not despite it’s name but because of it.
31. Splatoon 2 – Nintendo EPD Production Group No. 5 (Switch)
Excellency in Shooter Gameplay
Splatoon proper solved the quintessential issue all shooters before it faced. When you shoot a gun, you can miss. Why would I ever want to miss? That shit sucks. Splatoon’s team, filled with youth and new ideas, understands just how many eggs missing sucks. Now when you shoot and miss, you’re actually doing something much more useful. Even the worst players on your team can’t help but help as they miss their opponents and accidentally paint the floor for you. This gives you either more movement options, or it distracts the enemies giving you an opportunity to take advantage of. Also, painting both is very satisfying and gives players something to do when enemies aren’t there to shoot at. It’s a masterclass in game design, and Splatoon 2 is the marginally better version of Splatoon proper.
30. Star Fox 64 – Nintendo EAD (N64)
Excellency in Arcade Gameplay
It’s weird to say the greatest arcade game is an N64 game, but maybe arcade games are better to play at home? Star Fox is fun to play over and over till you eventually beat it, and it would have been enough (dayenu) . Star Fox 64 also features tons of secrets that are easily enough to find, but tricky enough to perform that I still haven’t even played one of the levels. The branching paths leading to immensely-different, extremely-fun levels makes me want to play the game over and over and over again. It’s like a new game every time, but it’s not proc-gen.
29. Bioshock Infinite – Irrational Games and Virtual Programming (PlayStation 3)
Excellency in Bullshit Nonsense
Bioshock Infinite might be bullshit nonsense, but I love it. The game’s goal of criticizing America by comparing the unchecked nationalism of it’s people with, well American nationalism works very well. Anyone can read this game and see that putting the founding fathers as godly figures is both too accurate and very blatant. The game isn’t worse for this, though, because of the bullshit nonsense. You can find meaning in the bullshit nonsense, and you will be justified. You can also hate the bullshit nonsense and be justified all the same. I found meaning in the bullshit nonsense, but I also didn’t learn to read until one year later. That’s the beauty of bullshit nonsense. It helps you swallow the unabashedly american rest of the game it sets up for you to be horrified in broad daylight. Bioshock Infinite doesn’t need all the horror elements to be scary; american nationalism is already horrifying. The horror elements borrowed from the original game actually bring levity in the form of bullshit nonsense. No other game makes such good use of bullshit nonsense like Bioshock Infinite does.
28. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – Sora Ltd. and Bandai Namco Studios (Switch)
Excellency in Crossovers
I’ve had multiple entries in this list where I forewent any explanation of it’s inclusion because
I was lazy it was self explainable. None deserve it more than Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. If you don’t understand why this game is so hype, then this is probably the first time you’ve ever encounter a “video game.” The age old question of who would win in a fight, Sephiroth or the Wii-Fit Trainer, has finally been answered.
27. Super Mario 3D World – Nintendo EAD Production Group No. 8 Group 2 (Wii U)
Excellency in Coopertition
There is perhaps no greater activities for friends to partake in than the coopertition. You have to work together to achieve your goal and you want to work together with your friends, but you also want to show those schmucks your better at the video game. No game does this as well as Super Mario 3D World. On top of being an excellent 3D platforming entry into the Super Mario series, the game lets you play with 3 of your closest frienemies. The game keeps tracks of all the points you get and shows you with a nice bar graph just how much better your one friend is than everyone else. This already makes that friend feel vastly superior, but the game goes further. Enter, the crown. The crown is an object bestowed to the champion of the previous course. The player gets to showcase the crown in all it’s glory for the entire level and get bonus points at the end. That is if they do not die or if other players do not steal it. This crown facilitates the coorpertition perfectly because you still need to advance the level; you’re on a time limit and the crown will go away if someone dies. Other players can also go off and earn points if you’re fighting for the crown. This push and pull gameplay between the objectives and the crown really ramps up the fun. The hidden collectibles in every stage also earn major bonus points, so the coorpertition incentives everyone to search. You also need the green star collectibles to advance, which coopertition makes an insignificant roadblock. Super Mario 3D World turns the oft forgotten point tally in Mario games into the game.
26. Yakuza 0 – Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio (PlayStation 3)
Excellency in Meandering
Yakuza 0’s narrative flows like a river, but not in the way you usually describe games. Yakuza 0 is a game where you have five minutes to get to a building across the street, but you can go all the way across town to do karaoke. Whether you choose to do that in such a dire situation is up to you (I didn’t), but there’s ample opportunities for you to get sidetracked doing things. The game not only wants you to spend time living in it’s world outside of it’s yakuza narrative, but also begs you to. Yakuza 0 wouldn’t be as good of a game if it didn’t have chapters where it gives you no indication of where to go so you roam and end up starring in Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Kiryu and Majima don’t live in a non-stop, high pressure Yakuza action game, they live in Japan. Why would Kiryu immediately go to his next objective when he has several hours to kill time? Kiryu would spend all that time playing Pocket Racers, as Yakuza Kiwami shows so elegantly in it’s karaoke mini-game song “Bakamitai -Sorrow-.” You know what? Fuck it. Yakuza 0 is a pocket racing game witha yakuza action thriller mini-game.
25. Final Fantasy VII Remake – Square Enix Business Division 1 (PlayStation 4)
Excellency in Action Role-Playing Games
The materia system in Final Fantasy VII Remake made it the most fun I’ve ever had with an Action RPG. I loved figuring out which materia was best for what situation and which characters. I loved seeing which ones I wanted to develop for later even if I was worse off now, and you know I optimized the layouts to look as aesthetically pleasing to my eyes as possible. The materia system offered way more interesting decision making than the average skill tree, and then Final Fantasy VII Remake offers a more interesting skill tree on top of it. The rest of the action RPG is still great. I love the pausing to chose your moves and think. I love getting good enough to map the moves I want to use most onto quick select and actually use them. I also just love this game in general.
24. Persona 4 Golden – P-Studio (Vita)
Excellency in Soundtrack
Persona 4 Golden has so many amazing songs. Every song fills me with such emotions from boppiness to sadness to chillness. The music is so good in this game that they put it into a rhythm game that has the best soundtrack out of any rhythm game. Technically the rhythm game has a better soundtrack, as it also includes some great original songs as well as songs from other Persona 4 titles, but I do not think the rhythm game makes as good use of it’s soundtrack as Persona 4 does. “Heartbreak, Heartbreak” works much better when its playing on a cloudy day after school then when I’m seeing probably Yosuke dancing in a sentai outfit to it.
23. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door – Intelligent Systems Co. (GameCube)
Excellency in Turn-Based Role-Playing Games
Someone somewhere played Dragon Quest for Famicom and said this rules. Then someone somewhere decided they can do better. Eventually these ideas trickled into the team at Intelligent Systems minds, and they thought “what if for any attack, you press two buttons instead of one.” Bursting open a world of potential Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door lets you perform attack with one button press, and then make them a whole lot better with good timing on subsequent ones. These turn based battles are so much more engaging despite having so many fewer options than its contemporaries. Add in great world building, humor, and character designs and Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door stands out as the greatest Turn-Based Role-Playing Game. It also has Vivian, which would have been enough (dayenu).
22. Bioshock – 2K Boston and 2K Australia (PlayStation 3)
Excellency in Looking Glass Games
Bioshock is not a game from Looking Glass Technologies, but no games from the year 2000 on are. Bioshock is a game from Ken Levine, game designer at Looking Glass Technologies from 1995 to 1997; along with the rest of the team at, what would be known in all subsequent and previous years to Bioshock’s release, Irrational Games. Looking Glass games are games in similar vein to System Shock and Theif. A first person game where narrative drives the experience forward and focuses heavily on analyzing the environment. Walking Simulators are not always looking glass games, but a lot of them are. Looking Glass games can also have things other than walking and interacting like shooting, as shown in Bioshock. Of all games that I’d consider a looking glass game, I like Bioshock the most.
21. Journey – Thatgamecompany (PlayStation 3)
Excellency in Weenies
I don’t think any weenie in any game has ever been as enticing as that glowing mountain in Journey. I still think about how much I want to get there and how much it’s worth the effort. This is in stark contrast to anything I experience in my real life. I see things I really want to get to and spend an exorbitantly large amount of effort to achieve, somehow, losing something. Journey gives you friends to help you out in your journey (I swear this was an accident) to the weenie. Unfortunately the US government won’t give me unemployment.
20. Resident Evil: Revelations – Capcom (3DS)
Excellency in Survival Horror
Resident Evil: Revelations marries the excellent gameplay of Resident Evil 4 with the spooky, tightly confined space of Resident Evil proper. The cruise ship defines this game as it turns a place of gluttonous fun-having to a place of absolute terror. I still hear “mayday, mayday” in my head sometimes because it scared me that much. It also plays and looks amazing despite being a 3DS game. In fact the 3DS might’ve made the situation scarier because of the limited vision, increased depth, and hand-holdedness. What feels more cramped than a small corridor on a small screen.
19. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations – Capcom Production Studio 4 (Game Boy Advanced)
Excellency in Visual Novel Stories
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations concludes the Phoenix Wright Trilogy with it’s hardest hitting story yet. It concludes Phoenix’s story so well, you’d be surprised to learn he stars in several more Ace Attorney games. The use of mystery detective mechanics integrated into trials to put your wits to the test remains as good as it was in the original. They really make you read and analyze the text presented in every conversation to try and gain an understanding of the case. It’s always great to predict the story beats before they happen because you were paying attention.
18. Bayonetta 2 – Platinum Games (Wii U)
Excellency in Stylish Action Games
Bayonetta 2 plays so smoothly no matter how good you are at it. If you just want to mash buttons, Bayonetta will still pull off super stylish combos and guillotine some angels. If you want to dig into the advance combo systems, you can fly enemies all across the screen in a series of flurries earning you the elusive (to me) pure platinum award. Platinum Games is so great because they make these games that always feel like you’re challenged no matter how good you are at them. There’s always more to learn and optimize if you wish, and there’s always that mode where you just swipe on the touch screen and Bayo does cool stuff if you want.
17. Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward – Chunsoft (Vita)
Excellency in Branching Narratives
You could argue Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward doesn’t have a branching narrative. You’d be correct. It’s still the best branching narrative I’ve ever played. No game compelled me to go to that flow chart and fill out every single entry like Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward has. Most games don’t even offer a flow chart to use, to their detriment. The flow chart system makes the branching paths work because it’s so seamless to go and explore more content. How it all comes together in the end is just more icing on the cake.
16. Pokémon Black and White – Game Freak (DS)
Excellency in Collectible Monster Games
Pokémon Black and White let me experience Pokémon for the first time after I had already experienced Pokémon at least 4 times if not more before. All of a sudden I was talking with my current roommate in Spanish class where we were seated together by chance and he told me to play the new Pokémon. Of course, I was a lonely nerd with no friends, so I had already been playing this Pokémon game. Now, I was making friends: trading and battling with them. It didn’t have to be the best Pokémon game that this occurred with, but it was. Pokémon Black and White has the best Pokémon designs, the best story, the best characters, the best graphics, and the best everything. People will cite many games as the fall of the Pokémon franchise with most of them citing this game, and those people are dead wrong. I only love this game more and more with each passing year, and Heart Gold through Black 2 is the golden age of Pokémon. I would like it to have Fairy type in it just because my mind’s plasticity is zero, but that’s on me.
15. Sayonara Wild Hearts – Simogo (Switch)
Excellency in Musical Experiences
Sayonara Wild Hearts is like playing a music album. Tons of games have great music, but this one the music is the game. If I wanted to listen to this soundtrack while I was at home, I’d simply just play the game because it can’t be a better experience than that. The music and visuals are amazing. The gameplay is wildly varied yet extremely consistent. It’s also very very gay, one of my key requirements for games.
14. Xenoblade Chronicles – Monolith Soft (Wii)
Excellency in Environmental Design
Xenoblade Chronicles has the most beautiful environments of any game I’ve ever played. That’s saying a lot because it’s a Wii game. Monolith Soft nailed the execution of the environment through great use of colors, lighting, staging, and landscaping. You know they did an unbelievably good job when people complain that the foliage in the remake looks worse. It likely looks worse because it’s rendered with more polygons; therefore, they couldn’t apply the same physics effects for wind and movement to it. I have no idea if this is true or not, but the remake does look amazing as well. This and every entry generally is talking about any and all versions unless specifically stated. Xenoblade Chronicles likely still has the best environmental design in it’s 3DS and Switch remakes and it’s Wii U port. It’s also likely still an amazing RPG in it’s own right with engaging combat and planning, a gripping story, and lovable characters (not Juju).
13. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – Naughty Dog (PlayStation 3)
Excellency in Adventure
No games take you on such a capital ‘A’ Adventure like the Uncharted series. Naughty Dog just knows exactly what would be pure fun and exciting to have happen. Nathan Drake might not be the best person stealing ancient artifacts and murdering massive amounts of people, but I don’t care I want the spectacle. The climbing around and competing to the treasure offers pure-fun thrills like no other. The elements of adventure are boiled down into their essential form and delivered directly to you.
12. Celeste – Matt Makes Games (Switch)
Excellency in Movement
Celeste is so fun to move in. I have looked at the movement code in Celeste. I can understand it in chunks, but I can only hope to one day understand all 5471 lines of it. Those 5471 lines create a masterpiece of movement. The dash and the way it interacts with everything works too well. The game is brutally difficult, and if you EVER think it’s not your fault, you can go and look through those 5471 lines to see where the game went wrong. You probably won’t be able to do better; although, I do hope one day someone will surpass Celeste in movement. It likely won’t be for a long time, if ever. Even if it does happen, Celeste still is an amazing game because all aspects of it are amazing. The story of Madeline rings too true for me and lots of others. The struggle of climbing the mountain to work through your problems has been statically proven to be the best way to represent a character overcoming their internal strife. The art is beautiful, and I’m sure someone better than me could write books on how good the music is. Madeline is also trans so fuck yeah!
11. Butterfly Soup – Brianna Lei (Microsoft Windows)
Excellency in Visual Novels
Butterfly Soup understands what it’s like to be gay. That’s great; I love stories about gay. It’s got the laughs and feels that come along with gayness. I really love the baseball girl who only plays baseball because of anime. I’ve done that. I took a volleyball camp because of Haikyuu!!. I gave up after one class because I thought it was a class for girls and I wanted to meet gay girls, but it had a large majority not girls and there weren’t any girls on my team. Gayness and sports are very linked though. Butterfly Soup is a great story and everyone should read it.
10. Super Smash Bros. Melee – HAL Laboratory (GameCube)
Excellency in Melee
Melee is beautiful. Maybe, beauty is melee. The game mechanics in Melee work so well. The game ebbs and flows. It also had Luigi and Pikachu which was enough to enamor 4-year-old Tess. The game holds so many dear memories from playing it with my cousin in my childhood to watching the competitive scene during the 5 Gods and 4 Gods and Leffen eras. The game sort of grew up with me from me playing pokéball-only corneria matches as a child to trying to show that my Game & Watch was indeed sick while I failed to ignore my roommates watching Keijo!!!!!!!!. I will always have a place in my heart for Melee regardless of how much I wish there were more competitively viable characters.
9. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair – Spike (PlayStation Portable)
Excellency in Second Person Shooters
Class Trials are the mechanic that define Danganronpa. They are by far the most campy way of seeing a murder deduction play out and for the better. The game lets you have huge stakes because characters you actually like are dying, and then you get to play a giant game of Mafia to determine whodunnit. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair has the best characters, and the best murder mysteries of the series. I would argue, it has the best murder mysteries because it has the best characters. You know the characters are good when Gundham Tanaka isn’t my favorite character.
8. Rhythm Heaven Fever – Nintendo SPD Group No. 1 (Wii)
Excellency in Rhythm Games
There’s a video called “The Most Perfectly Synced 5 Seconds of Melee” that I feel like perfectly encapsulates why Rhythm Heaven Fever is so good. It also, in fact, is not a video of Rhythm Heaven Fever; it is one of Super Smash Bros. Melee. Rhythm Heaven finds the rhythm in every day things and sets them to ungodly good music. Playing the game is dead simple, rarely involving more than one button. The strict timing of success makes playing Rhythm Heaven challenging, and the good music demands playing Rhythm Heaven perfectly. Rhythm Heaven Fever is my favorite Rhythm Heaven because I love it’s remixes the best, but I will always admit that Rhythm Heaven Megamix does offer more good songs by nature of having like twice as many and encompassing almost all of the base Rhythm Heaven Fever tracks. Rhythm Heaven Fever’s Remix 10 eluded my completion for many years. It’s the final remix and is long and demands practically no errors to pass. It wasn’t until I demanded my college’s game library add Rhythm Heaven Fever to it’s collection many times over the coarse of three years that I’d gain the conviction to complete it. I did complete it only a few weeks before I graduated, making it an endeavor that lasted longer than college itself.
7. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim – Vanillaware (PlayStation 4)
Excellency in Narrative Design
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim took 6 years to write. I throw that around a lot, but I’m always so genuinely impressed with that. I, for example, have never taken six years to do anything. I honestly avoid doing things that take more than six minutes. The time taken pays off immensely. This is by far the most interesting narrative that’s simultaneously the most Pepé Sylvia. The amount of things that make narratives complicated that is in this game is too large. It has time travel, multiple dimensions, time loops, 13 playable perspectives, branching paths, no specific playing order, three different game play modes the story is delivered through, ghosts, clones, aliens, robots, androids, kaiju, magic, amnesia, drugs, more complicated stuff that’s not brought up in the first 7% of the game. Somehow, despite every single thing getting in the way of telling a cohesive narrative, this game does tell one.
6. Fire Emblem: Three Houses – Intelligent System Co. (Switch)
Excellency in Ensemble Casts
The best thing Fire Emblem: Three Houses does is create the best ensemble cast. Technically you can talk about the prevalence of several characters over others in therms of story relevance, but any character can be the star of your game. You can watch all of Ignatz’s support conversations and make him the star of your combat encounters. Every single recruitable character is so well designed that I love them all. I still look at Fire Emblem: Three Houses memes and fan art to this day. I don’t do that with basically any other game voluntarily. The cast of characters is one I love so much and want to spend time and time and time and time and time again with. Heck even the non-ensemble cast is great. Gatekeeper is easily one of my favorite characters in gaming and he just stands there and reports nothing. I’ve never thought about a character that shows up and is barely mentioned nearly as much as I think about Holst. And, yes, they are hot, and, yes, that does positively effect my opinion of them.
5. [KIND WORDS] (lo fi chill beats to write to) – Popcannibal (Microsoft Windows)
Excellence in Empathy
Kind Words (I’m not even gonna try and type the full title every time) asks you for one thing: empathy. The game is beautiful because it lets you be nice to people. I’ve posted several things on the game, and I’ve only gotten great responses in return. The way the game facilitates empathy between players is great. I love the paper airplane system for people who want to share love but are having trouble currently addressing anyone in particular. The music, collectibles, and little environment really add to the experience. It sets the mood to write nice things to other people perfectly and elevates the writing of people’s letters. I’m so glad this game exists.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – Nintendo EPD Production Group No. 3 (Wii)
Excellency in Dungeons
The dungeon design in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is above and beyond the rest of the series. There’s so many unique dungeons with interesting mechanics to solve. Skykeep, The Ancient Cistern, The Sandship, and The Lanayru Mining Facility are stand-outs among stand-outs. They all provide the spectacle you want out of a dungeon without sacrificing the fun puzzlebox solving. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword also has great visual and music that I’m not equipped to talk about in any detail, much like almost every other entry on this list. The story and characters are very compelling unlike most of the rest of the Zelda series. I love that Zelda is going around getting shit done and Link just bumbles through and does nothing. Zelda is generally a much bigger badass than Link and I think Skyward Sword shows that off the best. The side characters are also great like I love Impa, Fi, and especially Groose. Obviously I do wish Fi would mandatorily talk less, but her saying “there’s a 5% chance that Flower is Zelda” (something close to that) is still my favorite line in video games. I also like the motion controls since I had virtually no issues with them.
3. A Hat in Time – Gears For Breakfast (Microsoft Windows)
Excellency in 3D Platforming
A Hat in Time has the best worlds in 3D Platforming. Mafia Town, Subcon Forrest, Nyakuza Metro, and Battle of the Birds are the most fun I’ve had jumping around. The great movement is a plus on top of the world design. The style, charm, and humor these worlds offer define the game so much. I think the game is better for the variety of levels it offers: from the murder mystery train to the lava-filled open world town. There’s not really any two levels that are alike at all outside of maybe the entirety of the Alpine Skyline and Nyakuza Metro, which the charm of those worlds being their open exploration nature. I wish more games had as creative worlds as A Hat in Time does.
2. Return of the Obra Dinn – Lucas Pope (Microsoft Windows)
Excellency in Mystery Games
Return of the Obra Dinn’s mystery is huge. There’s 60 people you need to find out what happens to. The fact that the process is challenging but completely doable is amazing. The game gives so many different ways to deliver the information you need. You can figure out who people are based on their clothing, location, accents, dialogue, visual features, and so much more. It’s generally obvious how a person dies, and the game is lenient enough that there’s only a single case I found where the way someone dies was likely unfairly presented. That’s it of 60 cases, 59 are 100% fair. I’m still not sure exactly what happened in that other case, and maybe through my playthroughs and watching of others we all just missed something brutally obvious. This is definitely the best detective game I have ever played.
1. NieR: Automata – Platinum Games (PlayStation 4)
Excellency in Direction
NieR: Automata is not a silly little thing. NieR: Automata is the best game I ave ever played, and much of that is owed to Yoko Taro. A lot of people have given their differing thoughts about what this game means, and I think text supports all these different claims. You can read NieR: Automata in so many different ways, and it’s better because of it. I think that NieR: Automata is a game about how Nihilism is beautiful because we all experience Nihilism together. You could say that I’m wrong, and you’d probably be right. You could also say that I am right, and you’d also probably be right. Philosophical readings aside, this game easily ranks among the best gameplay, visuals, music oh especially music of any game I have ever played. I love that every single sidequest supports the work thematically rather than just padding out the experience with things to do. This is the only game I have ever sought out the platinum trophy for, and not even because you can cheat and buy trophies. I did cheat for two particularly grindy achievements, but that was after already getting every other achievement included grinding for all the weapons at max level. I was not about to spend more time trying to manipulate Emil’s spawn to the Resistance Camp again. That would not have been beneficial to anything. NieR: Automata should go down years from now as one of the best games of all time. If it doesn’t, we are either really lucky or very unlucky.
This list sucks. I hate this. It’s written like a mix of a 4th grade narrative essay and a reddit post you don’t want to read. I wanted to go in and make a Top 100 list that would cover such a breadth of games that would show how far games have come. I knew that that task would not be possible alone, which is why I pivoted to the “excellent” direction. That doesn’t even work as a tl;dr for each section sometimes I go way off topic. The descriptions are a mix of bad jokes, personal stories, actual analysis, and meandering about other games. It is impossible to talk about a game without talking about other video games because games don’t exist in a vacuum, but this was supposed to be short celebratory analysis. I haven’t played some of these games in over 10 years. How was I supposed to talk coherently about Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time without replaying it. The memories from January 2012 really aren’t cutting it. This didn’t even serve as good writing practice because I wrote so much in delirium due to how massive and daunting this task was. How can I even talk about this stuff? I haven’t even played some of the quintessential best games of all time. I haven’t played Dark Souls, Hollow Knight, Tokimeki Memorial, or Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3. I did play Necrobarista between starting and finishing this list, and that game is great. It probably would’ve made the cut had I finished it a bit sooner. This is much closer to my top 100 favorite games of all time, but it isn’t even. I like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time much more than most of the games on this list. My favorite 2D Mario game didn’t make the cut. I just have to assume this list is not interesting. Also most of the games are ones I played in 2011-2015, which is when I was in high school, or extremely recently. Actually lets take a look a data distribution.
These charts are obviously flawed. How do you define AAA or Indie like what is Tetris, what is Club Penguin Rewritten, what is River City Girls? I didn’t include multiplatform releases at all, so tons of PS3 and PS4 games are on other platforms like Microsoft Windows. Even the year category is weird. I generally included the first release date but Persona 4 Arena Ultimax I used the console release and not the arcade release date, and Persona 4 Golden I used Golden’s release date and not the originals. Games with large gaps in Japanese and North American releases also seem odd like Pokemon Black and White’s release date being 2010 and not 2011 and Yakuza 0’s release date being 2015 and not 2017.
So with that acknowledgement out of the way, it’s pretty obvious just how flawed the data is. Obviously 1/5 of all most excellent games didn’t release on the PS3 probably. The year chart honestly might key into some convergence between late PS3 and PS4 life-cycles merging with early Wii U and Switch releases to create this pulsating waves of great games. Maybe 2016 was just a really bad year in games just like how 2015 is a really bad year in anime. Maybe I was just too busy playing Smash 4 and Overwatch in 2015 and 2016 that I didn’t play anything else. I probably need to play more games that aren’t 2011-2020 big budget AAA games on a PlayStation, Nintendo Games, and Indie games. That does also feel like the big flavors of games tho. Maybe Kid Icarus just hurt me too much to want to go back to older games again, but I need to figure out how to like Metroidvanias. I don’t know if I can like Super Metroid without playing Kid Icarus, but can I even play Kid Icarus? Well if anyone ever reads this, I thank you for making it to the end. I hope to one day write things that mean more than this garbled mess. Maybe one day I will get a group of people together and divide the work up and have discussion that leads to an actually interesting Top 100 Games of All Time list.