The Satirical Troll’s Top 100 games of all time update (50-1)

50. Earthbound (Nintendo, 1994)- 

When you think of RPGs, you mostly imagine games set in high fantasy, Steampunk, Cyberpunk or retro-futurist backdrops. Very few RPGs take place in the real world, and that’s what gives Earthbound its appeal. You’re not fighting against mythical beasts or giant robots; you’re fighting against evil politicians and corrupt police officers. You’re not using swords or staves and magic; you’re fighting with yo-yos and baseball bats. The whole game has the feel of a group of kids playing make believe, and this is why I love it, it’s such a unique and refreshing take on the genre. It’s easy to see why this game was met with incredibly harsh critical reception upon release, it just undermines every preconceived notion of what RPGs were at the time. Luckily, the game has since gone from being a cult-classic to just being seen as the classic it truly is. 

49. Deus Ex (Ion Storm, 2000)- 

While John Romero was busy telling everyone how he was going to make them his bitch in the lead up to the disaster that was Daikatana, the sensible people at Ion Storm’s other branch were busy making one of the all-time classic PC games. Deus Ex isn’t a shooter with RPG elements, it’s an RPG where shooting is one of the many possible gameplay routes you can take. The open-ended levels really feed into the central idea of player choice and allow you to organically choose how you want to deal with each scenario based on the character you’ve created. What I really love about Deus Ex though is the engaging story. So many of its themes are still relevant to today, as it weaves a tale about class warfare and the global elites taking advantage of the middle and lower classes in a time of crisis. That’s not relevant at all, now is it Square, we just had to put the stupid racism allegory into the sequels…

48. Mega Man II (Capcom, 1988)- 

Mega Man has a lot of great titles in its catalog, but the second is easily one of my favorites. Mega Man II is simply put side scrolling perfection. So many of the levels, and especially the music, has really been something that’s ingrained in my memory. The weapons are fun, especially the blade gun and the time stopper you get from flash man. Not only are the weapons cool though, but the boss vulnerability cycle is also as equally polished as the rest of the game. This game introduced so many conventions of not only the Mega Man franchise but run and gun platformers as a genre. What I love about it is the simplicity of the title. Sometimes all you need is solid gameplay and memorable music to make an amazing game. 

47. Rayman 2: The Great Escape (Ubisoft, 1999)-  

 Rayman games have always been near and dear to my heart, but Rayman 2 is the one I have the most nostalgia for. I didn’t have the special memory pack that was required to play Rayman 2 on the N64, so I would play as far as I could get every day before having to turn it off and lose my saved progress. Because of this, the first 5 or so levels of this game are absolutely seared into my brain and even to this day, I could probably complete them blindfolded. As an adult with access to the full game via Steam, I found the rest of Rayman 2 to be a fantastically varied 3D platformer, full to the brim with character and clever puzzles. 

46. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (Konami, 2003)- 

The Series’ third and final installment on the Gameboy Advance, Aria of Sorrow is a bit shorter and absent of new ideas compared to the brethren it shares a console with. Despite this, where it makes up for its shortcomings is by not only combining the best features of the previous games, but also cutting down on the filler and getting right to the best parts to make a fantastic Metroidvania game. This game has the best soundtrack out of the 3 GBA games as well, and I really got into the soul collecting mechanic. Soma is also one of the coolest protagonists in the franchise. I don’t think I truly appreciated this game enough when I played it as a kid, but as an adult, it’s one of my favorite Metroidvania games. 

45. Half Life (Valve, 1998)-

 Surely explaining why Half Life is good is unnecessary to a bunch of hardcore gamer girls like yourselves. Half Life was the link between old school shooters and new. Its more realistic approach to the shooter genre was a revelation at a time when all shooters were like Duke Nukem and Doom. Half Life wasn’t just a revolutionary step towards engrossing realism in games though, it’s also a pioneer of interactive storytelling in the medium. The gameplay shifts constantly to match the story beats but neither one is ever sacrificed for the other. It’s an incredibly well paced game, and the story itself is a fantastic, twisty tale of interdimensional aliens, conspiracy and government coverups. Gordon Freeman is one of gaming’s most iconic protagonists despite not saying a word. This was one of the first games I ever played on PC, so you can blame Half Life for why I’m a PC gamer. I recently played the Black Mesa remaster/remake, and this is the best way to experience this classic.  

44. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo, 2017)- 

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a magical game. After a string of great but by the numbers titles, BOTW finally returning to the roots of Zelda with a truly open world and thousands of secrets to find is a breath of fresh air. Breath of the Wild is a sandbox game to its core. You can go anywhere after the Great Plateau at the start of the game, even straight to fight Gannon an hour in if you dare to do so.  The so called “Chemistry Engine” paired with the physics engine, allow the player to come up with fun and unique ways to approach combat and getting around the open world. This extends to the dungeons and the new shrines dotted across the land, as you can often solve puzzles in whatever way you find, even if it isn’t the intended way.  I love this type of organic game design, but what really makes BOTW special is the world.

The sheer size and verticality of the open landscape really stimulates the sense of adventure, as knowing you can go anywhere on the map that you see is an incredible feeling. Sure, there’s a lot of repeated content and the main dungeons and bosses aren’t great, but BOTW can truly stand on its own as one of the best titles in a series full of all-time classic games, and the open-ended sandbox gameplay helped redefine what an open world game could and should be. 

43. Super Mario 64 (Nintendo, 1996)- 

So many game franchises really struggled in the transition from 2D to 3D. Mega Man, Sonic, Castlevania; they all dropped in quality massively the moment they bit the poison apple that was 3D gameplay. Mario on the other hand made the jump from 2D to 3D as if he was simply leaping over another sluggish goomba. I don’t need to explain why this game is classic and how important it was. The game encourages you to constantly experiment with the movement, and the level design facilitates this as well, allowing for a crazy sense of player choice and flow. Mario 64 also has the best hub world out of any game I’ve ever played. Peach’s castle is so full of secrets and things to do, yet it never feels like it’s getting in the way of the core gameplay. This is probably the best game ever to watch speed runs of as well because people just do absolutely insane things with this game’s mechanics. I realize that this title hasn’t aged well in a lot of aspects, but 64 was the first game I ever played, and it has really stuck with me after all these years. 

42. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (Silicon Knights, 2002)- 

One of the greatest Survival Horror games, Eternal Darkness is a Lovecraft inspired, time-spanning adventure about the Tome of Eternal Darkness; the off-brand version of the Necronomicon. The game itself isn’t the scariest, but it has an amazing atmosphere, and where it really stands out is its use of the sanity meter. Many horror games use this feature, but Eternal Darkness has the most creative implementation of this mechanic ever. It doesn’t just make your character weaker or make your vision a bit blurry, it does some crazy 4th wall breaks. These include pretending to turn down the volume on your tv, swapping what controls are mapped to which buttons, and even feigning like you’ve accidentally deleted your save file. The combat is probably my favorite part of the game, as it’s very in depth and allows you to target the specific limbs of enemies. Lovecraft is my favorite racist, I mean, author, so it would make perfect sense that I enjoy Lovecraftian horror games. 

41. Super Metroid (Nintendo, 1994)- 

The game that created the first half of the genre title “Metroidvania,” it’s honestly hard to believe that a game like Super Metroid exists on a console with the limitations that the Super Nintendo had. A sprawling, atmospheric world filled to the brim with secrets, Super Metroid was an ambitious undertaking that would go on to spearhead my favorite genre of games. It’s a blast to play, it’s perfectly designed, and so replayable that even now new generations of people are discovering and being enthralled by its classic gameplay. Not many games can work on so many levels simultaneously – existing both as an intense, moody adventure of exploration into an isolated alien world, but also being one of the best run-and-gun action platforming experiences of all-time. 

40. Final Fantasy X (Squaresoft, 2001)-

 Final Fantasy is a series that for 3 decades has remained the gold standard for JRPGs. Final Fantasy X was their first venture into the new era when it debuted on PS2 in the summer of 2001. The characters are a bit goofy, and the story is kind of dumb, but the gameplay, soundtrack and visual design of Final Fantasy X are what set it apart. The tropical island atmosphere is a pretty unique setting for a JRPG, and while the gameplay isn’t anything new, it is the ultimate traditional JRPG battle system, and the sphere grid is an amazing level up mechanic. Final Fantasy X also doesn’t get enough credit for showing that huge, next generation RPGs could be fully voice acted, which is something we take for granted now, but at the time it was really ambitious. While the story might be kind of your standard JRPG plot on the surface, I love the themes of sacrifice and loss here, especially when it comes to Tidus and Yuna’s relationship. The HD remaster fixes almost all the issues the game had and is something I highly recommend. 

39. Xenoblade Chronicles (Monolithsoft, 2012)- 

Released as part of Project Rainfall that would act as the Wii’s swansong, it’s hard to believe that this now fan favorite JRPG almost never got released in the west. Nintendo doesn’t make a ton of new IP’s so the fact that nearly all the characters from this (sort of) new series have become beloved in Nintendo’s cannon as much as some of their classic characters is just a testament to how good this game is. The sprawling, beautiful open world of this game was so ambitious for the Wii’s hardware, yet it is one of my favorite worlds in all of gaming. What I really love about Xenoblade though is the combat. It’s a mixture of real-time and turn based mechanics that hits the sweet spot that many hybrid systems fail to. And the soundtrack… Oh my fucking god the soundtrack. 

38. Banjo Kazooie (Rareware, 1998)- 

Another total nostalgia pick, most of my childhood gaming was spent playing this game and its sequel. Banjo Kazooie is a game made from an incredible spark of creativity and this is Rareware at their peak when they were almost untouchable. Everything from the perfect moment to moment gameplay, to the variety of levels to Grant Kirkhope’s incredible score is pure platforming bliss. There’s so much attention to detail in this game that makes it, like how the music changes based on the environment within the level, or how each level has unique characters and assets. Banjo Kazooie is the type of game that you pick up and start playing and then before you know it, 7 hours have passed because the game is just so goddamn fun. You can play it on Rare Replay at an actual good framerate, and I highly recommend it. 

37. Killer 7 (Grasshopper Manufacturing, 2005)-

 One of the most utterly unique and stylish games ever created, Killer 7 is what introduced the world to autor developer Suda 51. Killer 7 is an eclectic mix of first-person adventure game, rails shooter and (a little bit) roguelike. It’s a totally bizarre game about a hitman that is 7 other hitmen that is actually a different hitman from the first one. While it has a stream of consciousness style weirdness to it, Killer 7 also has some very poignant political commentary and themes. Killer 7 is an odd duck, but that’s why I love it, there isn’t a single other game out there that’s anything like it, and in an industry where it feels like AAA developers are constantly hitting the “Insert AAA game here” button, it’s nice to be able to revisit something completely one of a kind. The soundtrack is also very underrated.

36. Persona 4 Golden (Atlus, 2012)-

The Persona series is a spinoff from the Shin Megami Tensei universe and at this point, it’s probably more popular than the franchise that it spun off from, at least in the west. Persona 4 Golden is the revamped version of the classic 2008 PS2 game. Sure, the turn based dungeon crawling is fantastic, but it’s the story and characters that make the game. There are so many loveable, fun and charming characters in Persona 4 Golden, it ends up being one of the best casts in any RPG to date. There’s also something about the cozy, small town vibe and the detective murder mystery that I really like. While I enjoy the actual gameplay and soundtrack a lot, the high school life simulator half of the game is what really kept me engaged. This game is so good that for years it was worth owning a Vita or PS TV for alone. 

35. Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal (Insomniac, 2004)- 

I was always a huge fan of the Ratchet and Clank franchise, and Up Your Arsenal is my favorite in a series of games that I hold very dear. This game doesn’t innovate a lot on the series’ formula, but it refines all the franchise’s mechanics into the best version of the gameplay to date. This is the most varied game in the franchise, and probably has the most interesting and fun weapons as well. I love how Up Your Arsenal has a game within a game that turns into a 2D side-scrolling platformer with the vid-comics. The clever writing and fun characters really make the game. Up your Arsenal oddly has also stuck with me as the first time I discovered the then wild and crazy world of online multiplayer, back when that was still a novel concept. 

34. Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (Naughty Dog, 2001)- 

Jak and Daxter was the first game I ever played on my PS2, so it has a lot of nostalgic value for me. Jak and Daxter isn’t the most original game out there, the levels are standard platformer fare, and the overall structure is pretty generic by genre conventions. Where Jak and Daxter really excels is in the presentation and visual design. Even in the days before Naughty Dog were known for their cinematic storytelling, they were still the cream of the crop when it came to technical prowess. Each hub area acts as a seamless entry way to each level with no load screens. Even by today’s standards, it’s fairly impressive. The levels have this cool mixture of nature and ancient technology powered by primordial energy that I really love, especially the jungle level and underwater city. The story and characters are full of personality and charm, and the constant clever dialog is what makes the game so memorable. The other games in the trilogy are also great, but they’re completely different games, and the original is still my favorite. 

33. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (Bethesda Softworks, 2002)- 

An ambitious and insanely deep RPG, Morrowind is one the first CRPGs that got me into the genre. The world of Morrowind is so rich and full of deep character and lore, even more so than the later Elder Scrolls games. My favorite race in the Elder Scrolls has always been Dark Elves, so it’s only natural that the game that takes place in their homeland would be my favorite in the franchise. Some people would point to the obtuse and harsh gameplay and see it as a negative, but I like it because it forces you to actually role play, and while newer games are way more accessible, they’ve always felt watered down because of it. In this game, your choices really matter, and your progression in strength feels like a gradual development. If you aren’t good at magic, you won’t be able to cast even the most basic spells. If you choose to become a vampire, you will be shunned by society, and you must play the game in a completely different way. A lot of people will be frustrated by these aspects, but this is the kind of depth I personally love in games. Grab this game on PC, mod the hell out of it and experience a great open world single player RPG with a fantastic critical path. 

32. Mass Effect 2 (Bioware, 2010)- 

Mass Effect 2 is one of the best Western RPGs of the generation, and a real standout in Bioware’s already amazing catalog. The gameplay isn’t anything special, it’s your standard cover shooter mixed with light RPG elements and some real time strategy aspects. But it’s the story, writing and fleshed out world that really makes Mass Effect 2 pop. With so many choices, characters and twists along with the amazing Star Wars-esque sci-fi world they’ve built, Bioware proved they were still masters of game storytelling. This game has an amazing voice cast as well, with stars like Jenny Hale, Michael Sheen, Yvonne Strahovski, Adam Baldwin and Seth Green among others, it really makes the troupe of already memorable and amazing characters come to life. The final mission will forever go down as one of the best endings to any game period.

31. Persona 5 (Atlus, 2017)- 

Many RPGs attempt to get you to bond with a huge cast of characters and most of them end up being hit or miss. Persona 5 on the other hand has one of the most likeable crews of teammates from top to bottom in any game. I’m a sucker for any turn-based RPG and Persona 5 is the best one we’ve gotten this decade. The combat has a hypnotic rhythm to it and the overall style of the UI presentation and aesthetic of the game gives it a flashy edge over a lot of its contemporaries. But honestly, it was the day-to-day life sim elements and amazing soundtrack that really hooked me. Turns out, I like being a high schooler in Japan. If you want to play a good dungeon crawler, Persona 5 is a damn good place to start, as this is one of those games that was an instant classic upon release. I haven’t finished Royale yet, but I look forward to experiencing even more of this incredible game. 

30. Valkyria Chronicles (Sega, 2008)- 

Valkyria Chronicles is a Strategy game that really reminds me of a classic PS2 era JRPG in the best of ways. When you think of big budget RPGs, you immediately think of high fantasy. Even in the realm of other genres, there are so few games set in the World War I era compared World War II or modern day that I think it’s refreshing to have a game set in a thinly veiled version of WW I. The colorful cell shaded graphics, energetic and fun characters and overall presentation of this game are great, but what really makes it stand out is the unique take on the SRPG formula. You move each unit individually on a grid as you normally would, but you get to manually aim and execute attacks. Because of this, I think even people who wouldn’t normally play a turn based SRPG will be more open to engaging with it. Valkyria Chronicles is hands down the best RPG that Sega has ever made in my eyes.

29. Final Fantasy Tactics (Squaresoft, 1997)- 

Speaking of fantastic Strategy games, Final Fantasy Tactics is easily one of the best spinoffs from a major franchise ever. I could go on and on about how polished the job system is, or how amazing the cast of characters is, or how Ivalice is one of the best worlds that a Final Fantasy game has ever been set in. But all of that would just be preaching to the choir because anybody who’s played this will know how great this game is, so instead, I will just write a limerick. 

There once was a company named Square 

For their best franchises they no longer did care 

The Tomb Raider reboot was a tragedy 

They don’t make turn based Final Fantasies 

Make a new Tactics game you pricks 

Until then you’re dead to me. 

28. Super Mario Galaxy (Nintendo, 2007)- 

Space is almost always the final escalation for any franchise, but with Mario, it actually meant scaling back his freedom. Galaxy has much more restricted movement mechanics and less open-ended level design compared to 64 and Sunshine, but where it makes up for that is having hundreds upon hundreds of unique ideas. Lesser games would crumble under the weight of even half the ideas Super Mario Galaxy effortlessly presents, yet it never dwells on any one thing for too long, and even when it reuses mechanics, it repackages them in a new and interesting way. The atmosphere of this game is extraordinary, as once again, Koji Kondo’s remarkable orchestral music steals the show. If you can soar through space while hearing the triumphant New Egg Galaxy music in the background without feeling emotional, then stop playing video games because you are dead inside. While this game is a bit on the easy side if you’re just playing the critical path, 100%ing this game was a fun challenge.

27. Final Fantasy VII (Squaresoft, 1997)- 

I don’t need to explain why Final Fantasy VII is one of the most beloved video games of all time. So much of this revolutionary title has been ingrained not just in the minds of fans, but in the medium’s entire collective consciousness.  Even if you haven’t played the game, you basically know all the story beats because they’re just that iconic. Sephiroth is arguably the most monolithic villain in any game ever, and how he is introduced is a masterclass in how to build up an antagonist. The soundtrack is fucking perfection, and Final Fantasy VII is just such a complete and content-rich game that you wonder how it was even possible in a time when most developers were struggling just to model 3D characters without it turning into a Lovecraftian abomination. Obviously, the characters are special, the cyberpunk setting is unique and the story’s environmentalist message makes it memorable, but for somebody who has zero nostalgia for the game, even I was able to form great memories with it. My first time beating the Emerald and Ruby WEAPONS after hours and hours of trying with my uncle is still one of my greatest gaming victories. 

26. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo, 1998)- 

More so than any game on this list, Ocarina of Time is a true classic in every sense of the word. Very few games can claim to not only be as iconic as OOT, but also as influential. Taking the base they created with A Link to the Past, Nintendo turned their attention to the realm of 3D, and just like with Mario, they stuck the landing the first time. Even going back at an older age with no nostalgia attached to the game, it really holds up as being an amazing adventure. So much of this is due to Koji Kondo’s masterpiece of a musical score, but what makes OOT so special is how it tells its story through visuals and gameplay. The brilliantly used time travel mechanic is a perfect example of this. As kid Link, the world is full of color, joyful and bustling with life, but the moment that you turn into adult Link, you just immediately know from the change in visuals and atmosphere that the world is fucked up now.

There’s so many amazing easter eggs, secrets and hidden things to find, it’s honestly astonishingly impressive how fully realized of a world this game has despite coming out when most developers were still figuring out how movement in 3D space worked. The dungeons have since been surpassed in quality and creativity by a lot of other games in the franchise, but they still all have a unique atmosphere about them, especially the Shadow Temple, Forest Temple and even the infamous Water Temple. This game truly stands tall as a towering achievement in action-adventure games and should not be missed by any self-respecting gamer, check out the 3DS version for the definitive experience. 

25. Rayman Origins/ Legends (Ubisoft, 2011/2013)- 

I just combined Rayman Legends and Origins since you can basically play all of Origins inside of Legends and fuck you, I don’t have your stone, and it’s my list anyway. Both are beautifully animated, charming and fun 2D platformer with some of the best level design ever in a video game. After years of being relegated to the awful Rabbids games, Rayman finally made a victorious and triumphant comeback with Origins and Legends. The Ubiart engine is the perfect animation style to use for a game about Rayman’s goofy and funny friends. The levels are so creative and interesting, Gourmand Land where the entire level is made from food is still one of my favorite worlds in any video game.

The music is great, and it was just nice after years and years of ultra-serious brown and gray military shooters to have a fun, lighthearted games like Origins and Legends. But the real reason I hold Rayman Origins in particular so highly is because of the personal meaning to me. I didn’t play many games from around 2008 to 2013 and having just moved across the country to a new state, I felt a bit out of sorts. Not only did this game get me back into playing video games, but it also provided a lot of fun in my life when I was feeling a bit down, so Rayman Origins will always hold a distinct place in my memory. 

 

24. Mega Man X (Capcom, 1993)- 

If Mega Man II was run and gun platforming perfection, then I don’t even know what to call Mega Man X. Every single stage of this game is flawless, and while it doesn’t add a whole lot new to the formula, Mega Man X is such a perfection of the franchises’ core mechanics and equation that it’s hard to really get mad at it. This game’s bosses are easily some of the most notorious in the entire medium, and the music in the game is fantastic. I could be in a room with somebody playing this game and know immediately what level they are on just by listening to the music because these levels and the bosses at the end of them are so iconic. The timeless graphics are also a huge boon as this game will never look bad. If you’re a fan of platforming games, and you haven’t played Mega Man X, in the immortal words of Reggie “What’s wrong with you?” 

23. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo, 2006)- 

I hesitate to say that Twilight Princess is a better version of Ocarina of Time, because that is reductive to both games. Twilight Princess is like an updated version of OOT for a new generation. Twilight Princess has the best dungeons in the entire franchise, with people mostly arguing about which is the best in the series between just the ones in this game (even though it’s obviously Arbiter’s Grounds.)  This is the closest we’ll ever get to a “cinematic” Zelda game with the cavalry duel on the bridge of Elden and a one on one swordsman’s faceoff with Gannon as the conclusion being two of the most memorable moments in the franchise’s illustrious history. It’s just a given that the music in the game is fucking amazing, but I also love the art style and aesthetic of Twilight Princess, even if the whole light/dark world motif has been done to death. I also think Midna is one of the best helper characters in the entire series, and wolf Link is a cool change of pace. Twilight Princess isn’t perfect, the start of the game is painfully dull, and the less said about the bug hunting the better, but I think it’s the Zelda game I have the most emotional connection to, so it will always have a special place in my heart. 

22. Bioshock (Irrational Games, 2007)-  

This modern classic spiritual successor to System Shock 2 is not an amazing RPG or even the best shooter. But what it does have in spades is an incredible atmosphere and story. The sunken city of Rapture is such an amazing setting for a game, and the beautiful visual style really makes for one of the best worlds in gaming. There are a ton of games that have great stories, but before Bioshock, I’d never felt a game story had ever posed so many strong philosophical questions, as the whole plot centers around the ruined city of Rapture itself as a counterpoint to Objectivism. The only characters that haven’t been turned into horrible monsters are the few main characters of the plot, including Andrew Ryan, who is one of the best villains in gaming, and Bioshock for my money has the best intro to any game ever. The cherry on top is the mind-bending 4th wall break twist near the end. Yes, the game is tremendously flawed, but it’s still one of the best immersive sim games despite its shortcomings.

21. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Ubisoft, 2003)-  

The Prince of Persia series’ first attempt at 3D went over about as well as a Jewish joke at the Nurnberg trials, but when Ubisoft was given a crack at it on the Gamecube, they learned from the mistakes of its predecessor and said “Well if there’s going to be tons of unfair, cheap instant death traps and ridiculously hard platforming, then why not give the player the ability to avoid the frustrations of these things by having a time rewinding ability?” It’s amazing how such a simple mechanic can be so much fun as it fits perfectly with the franchise’s signature parkour platforming.

But I think Sands of Time’s biggest achievement is the fact that Ubisoft managed to write a whole story where the main characters talk like normal human beings. The chemistry between the Prince and Farah is amazing and charming, and Farah herself is a great heroine. The romance story and how the characters grow together is genuinely one of the best romance plots in fiction in my eyes, and the ending where the prince must give up his love to save the kingdom, doomed to have her always treat him as a stranger, is truly tragic.  The combat is repetitive and a bit boring, but that can be forgiven seeing as the rest of the game is almost perfect. 

20. Portal (Valve, 2007)-   

There is no such thing as a perfect video game, but Portal makes a case for that statement being false. This modern classic puzzle game is so devoid of flaws and fat that it’s hard to really point to something and count it as a negative. The simple idea of having a gun that shoots two portals that you can go in and out of seems like it would get boring quickly, but Portal never lingers on any ideas too long, thus making for constantly fresh uses of the game’s very simple premise. It’s only as long as it needs to be, yet it doesn’t feel too short. On top of this, Portal has a very charming story with a very dark and sarcastic sense of humor, but it never comes at the expense of the gameplay. Glados is one of the most beloved and memorable villains in a game and for good reason, so much so that her lines have become essential parts of meme and internet culture. Portal is a title that I think everybody should experience at least once, even if you aren’t into puzzle games. 

19. Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo, 2017)- 

Occasionally, Nintendo makes a game that is so goddamn good, you wonder what the fuck other game developers are even doing with their time. Super Mario Odyssey is one of those games and shows Nintendo is still one of the best game developers in the world. Super Mario Odyssey continues the trend of Nintendo franchises going back to their roots as Odyssey throws back to the open-ended levels of the Super Mario 64 and Sunshine days. But comparing Odyssey to these games is silly, because Odyssey is so much more than a platformer. It’s a celebration of both Mario’s history and an amusement park of platforming perfection. Every level has so many secrets to find, and the mechanic of throwing Mario’s cap and turning into different enemies or objects, as well as just jumping on it gives way to so many great ideas that the game barely feels like it scratches the surface of what is possible with them. The final level of Odyssey is one of the most uplifting and memorable ending sequences in a video game ever. 

18. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (Intelligent Systems, 2004)- 

The second game in the Paper Mario series, this amazing turn based RPG takes everything good about the original game and cranks it up to 11. The gameplay is so polished and perfect that Nintendo still hasn’t released a turn based Paper Mario game since. There are so many great characters in this game, and so much clever writing to go along with the amazing gameplay. The original Paper Mario game is also one of my favorites, but it mostly stuck to the generic forest/desert/water/ice etc. world structure of typical platforming games. In Thousand-Year Door, there’s a level that takes place in a pro wrestling tournament and on a ghost pirate island that you get to by helping a Pianta mob boss’s daughter convince her father to let her marry one of his henchmen. The badge system is such a cool mechanic that it makes me angry that they never brought it back after the first 2 games. My personal favorite part of the game though is how this was the first game in the franchise to really lean into the “everything is paper” gimmick, with a lot of the abilities being clever takes on papercraft. 

17. Final Fantasy IX (Squaresoft, 2000)-

 One of the last games released on the PS1, it went down in a blaze of glory with arguably its best game in a long running series of genre-defining RPGs. The directors of Final Fantasy IX wanted the game to be a return to the series’ roots, and that’s exactly what it feels like; a combination of new and old. I really like this game’s setting, as the machinepunk meets natural high fantasy aesthetic really works for Final Fantasy. Vivi is one of my favorite characters in the whole series, but the entire cast of characters is amazing, with Zidane and Princess Garnett being two of the most memorable protagonists in the entire franchise. The overall plot is special to me as well. Plus, it’s just a given that music in a Final Fantasy game will be fantastic. One of the more nostalgic Final Fantasy games for me, I always say this: Final Fantasy 6 is my favorite one, Final Fantasy 7 is the most important one, but Final Fantasy 9 is the best one.

16. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (Nintendo, 2000)-

 Nintendo, for better or worse, has never really followed trends, and that extends to their own franchises’ formulas. Even if they don’t completely reinvent the wheel, they add some unique gimmick that gives every game in a series its own identity. Majora’s Mask is one of those times where Nintendo’s wild experimentation with a series’ formula produces something magical. Majora’s Mask isn’t exactly unique in terms of core mechanics, but the Groundhog’s Day style 3-day time loop you are stuck in leads to some fantastic gameplay and story moments. The dungeons aren’t the best in the series, but Stone Tower Temple is arguably the best one out of any game, and while the game world is small, it really gets the best use out of the 3-day mechanic with engaging character quests. Much like with Thousand Years Door, it shows that direct Nintendo sequels, rare as they might be, are often some of their best games. It’s not my recommendation for the first title to play in the series for a newcomer, but Majora’s Mask is easily one of the most memorable Zelda games. 

15. Resident Evil 4 REmake (Capcom, 2023)-   

Resident Evil is one of my all-time favorite franchises, but by the time Resident Evil 0 had come out, the series had started to stagnate. Resident Evil 4 was the game that revitalized the franchise. Not only is Resident Evil 4 a great horror game, but it was a landmark title in 3rd person action games as well. One would think that these two things would clash, but Resident Evil 4 makes it work. There are effective uses of pacing in this game, and it realizes that to make an action horror game work, it needs to go from 0 to 100 on a dime. The tone of the game is also perfect. It doesn’t take itself seriously, and really leans into the camp in a way the other games failed to do, which makes its stupid story work. The recently released remake absolutely restored this game’s luster which had been dulled with age. The remake unlocks a goldmine of potential, although you can’t exactly go wrong with the original either. Capcom really struck lightning in a bottle twice with this amazing game. 

14. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (Level 5, 2004)- 

Level 5 were the unsung JRPG heroes of the sixth gen, and they also took the reins of one of the most beloved JRPG franchises of all time on the console and completely knocked it out of the park. Dragon Quest VIII isn’t the most innovative game, it’s standard traditional JRPG fare. But it takes those traditional mechanics and shines them to a glorious sheen. DQ VIII is seriously the most polished RPG I have ever played. The gameplay is so fine-tuned and perfect, but it still reattains that classic Dragon Quest charm that fans of the franchise have grown to love over the years. The characters are amazing and memorable, with the lead being such an icon in the industry that 90% of people I see playing as the Dragon Quest Hero in Smash Bros Ultimate use the alternative costume that makes him look like the character in this game. DQ VIII is such a sprawling and lengthy adventure, but it never feels padded. This title is such a complete and content rich game that you could play it for 100 hours and still not see everything it has to offer. Dragon Quest VIII was so good that Level 5 was given another crack at the franchise with DQ IX and big surprise, that game is also fantastic. 

13. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Konami, 1997)- 

The game that contributed the second half of the name Metroidvania to the genre title, Symphony of the Night is one of the best side scrolling action games of all-time. One of the titles that inspired everything from Shadow Complex to Dark Souls, Symphony of the Night is Metroidvania in its purest form. This was the first Castlevania game in this style, and with the advent of CD technology, games now had a bit more elbow room. Usually this resulted in 3D graphics or FMV’s that have aged awfully, but SOTN decided to stick with 2D pixel art and sprite work, and it has aged so much better than other games from this era. It’s amazing how many different types of enemies with highly detailed sprite models there are in this game. The gameplay is standard Metroidvania exploration, but SOTN also added in some nice RPG elements as well. The music is so varied and cool, it really gives a nice atmosphere to each room in the castle. The entire game culminates in one of the best “holy shit!” moments in gaming when the entire castle is flipped upside down and the second half of the game is playing the same castle but with all the rooms inverted. 

 12. Final Fantasy VI (Squaresoft, 1994)-

 I don’t really need to say that much about Final Fantasy VI, do I? If you think this game is anything other than one of the best video games ever made, then you deserve to be stabbed. 

11. Chrono Trigger (Squaresoft, 1995)- 

Chrono Trigger is one of the all-time great JRPGs ever put inside a cartridge. This is Squaresoft at their peak when they were releasing literally nothing but classic after classic in the SNES/PS1 era. Chrono Trigger is one of the few stories in any medium that uses time travel effectively and interweaves the plot into the gameplay in a smart manner. The music in this game is fucking spectacular, and the timeless graphics spearheaded by fantastic character designs made by the infamous Dragon Ball and manga artist Akira Toriyama make the presentation top notch even to this day. Chrono Trigger also boasts a lot of innovations to not just the genre, but gaming as a whole. Back then, in turn based RPGs when you entered a random battle, there would be a scene transition into what I like to call the “battle dimension.” In Chrono Trigger, the battles take place on the same screen, which seems very quaint by today’s standards, but back then it was a huge novelty. Chrono Trigger is nowhere as long as other RPGs tend to be, but it also created what we now know as New Game + mode. Chrono Trigger is one of the best RPGs ever made, and one of only a handful of games I consider a 10/10. 

10. Dark Cloud 2 (Level 5, 2003)- 

Dark Cloud 2 is a game I can firmly place in my top 10 for numerous reasons. The first being that this game probably has more nostalgic value to me than any other game on this list. I played this game fervently growing up, and some of my earliest and most cherished memories are of playing this game on my brand new PS2. I would go as far as to say that this is the best game sequel of all time in terms of improving on an already amazing game. It takes everything that made the first game great and fixes the problems while also adding in tons of new mechanics that work perfectly. The graphics are better, the story and characters are more interesting and the gameplay is perfectly refined so that all the small annoyances from the first game are addressed.

At its core, Dark Cloud 2 is the same dungeon crawler with city building elements that the first game was, but this iteration adds so much more content it’s insane. There’s fully fleshed out photography, golf, cooking and even the best fishing mini game in the history of gaming. All of these things sound like side distractions, but in reality, they fit perfectly into the core gameplay loop.  Dark Cloud 2 is long, but it never feels poorly paced because all the content has a purpose. My step dad played this game a lot with me and he doesn’t even like video games, so it obviously did something right. I’m so happy that Dark Cloud 2 is finally getting the attention it deserves with the PS4 port, as it was one of the most criminally underrated games of all time when it originally released. 

9. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (Kojima Productions, 2004)-  

The Metal Gear Solid series is arguably the most consistent franchise of all time. Whether it’s the revolutionary storytelling in the original, or the emphasis on freedom in the gameplay of V, MGS has always been on the cutting edge of whatever artistic and technical ideals it tries to tackle. MGS 3 is my favorite in an amazing franchise. The jungle setting in Cold War era Russia is such an amazing place to have a stealthy spy adventure, and this was the first game in the franchise to have a somewhat open-ended world. Just like in other MGS games, Kojima really thinks outside the box and breaks the 4th wall effectively. The best example of this is that you can kill an elderly boss of old age by setting the time on your console forward. The crowning achievement for me is the relationship between Snake and his mentor, and the fact that he must make the ultimate sacrifice for his country. The story is so well done, and all the characters, even the bosses, are insanely memorable. Also, the theme song is literally the best non-Bond Bond theme ever, and when it plays as you climb the ladder to the end of the game has to be one of the most iconic moments in all of gaming. 

8. Resident Evil HD (Capcom, 2002)- 

Resident Evil HD, the newest version of the classic REmake on the Gamecube (Or as it’s colloquially known RE-RE-RE-REmake) is the HD version of what I consider the golden standard for Remakes. The original PS1 game is a classic by its own merits, bringing the concept of the survival horror genre to the mainstream. But REmake is a not just a fantastic reimagining of the PS1 game, it’s a seminal release in its own right. The game has aged flawlessly, and still looks amazing to this day due to the pre-rendered environments. REmake follows the same beats as the original, while adding in content that was cut due to budget and time constraints, yet it feels like such a natural part of the game that you wouldn’t even know it wasn’t in the original if you didn’t have prior knowledge. The crimson head mechanic that forces you to burn the bodies of any zombie you don’t decapitate, or they return as stronger, faster zombies is a brilliant addition. While the game isn’t as scary as some of its contemporaries, the atmosphere is top notch as the game has incredibly effective pacing and amazing sound design. REmake is one of the best Survival Horror games ever made, and a game that I replay every single year around Halloween as sort of a tradition. 

7. Metroid Prime (Retro Studios, 2002)- 

Games like Hollow Knight, Ori, Shantae and classic Castlevania are all Metroidvania titles I hold in high regard. They all have one thing in common though; they’re all 2D games. Metroidvania has never really been translated all that well into 3D space. The other games in the Metroid Prime trilogy were on this list, but the original stands head and shoulders above them as the shining example of the genre in the third dimension. Metroid Prime is such a fun game to play, the controls (especially in the Wii version with motion controls) are so responsive and natural feeling, and it has translated platforming to a first-person perspective in a way that even modern games still haven’t figured out how to replicate.

The atmosphere in Metroid Prime is so thick, and that is in no small part due to what might be one of the most underrated soundtracks in the history of video games. This being a Metroidvania game, there naturally is a lot of backtracking, but it never feels like a chore because each area is so unique from each other and there are hundreds of secrets to find along the way. The pacing is for the most part excellent, and while there are a lot of small remnants from this era of gaming that will annoy some modern gamers, Metroid Prime has aged so incredibly well, and still holds up as one of the best games in the genre. Pick up the recent Remaster and enjoy one of the best video games ever made.  

6. Dark Souls (From Software, 2011)-  

The original Dark Souls is the definition of a flawed masterpiece. Fromsoft has created a title that spawned its own genre with “Soulslike” games becoming something of a cultural zeitgeist over the last decade. Yes, Dark Souls is fairly difficult, but that’s not why I love it. People seem to think that Dark Souls = a difficult game with slow, methodical combat, but that’s only a small fraction of what makes the games special. It’s the Metroidvania style world that’s so intuitive to explore that it doesn’t need a map. It’s the unique visual design and dark story told through item descriptions and the dialog of the few NPC’s you meet. It’s the amazing soundtrack and the depth of world building that the game has.

That feeling of accomplishment is great when you finally beat a boss, but it has the Silent Hill 2 effect where your small victories are always going to be short lived, and I think that’s what makes the games so satisfying. Dark Souls eschews the standard anime look of most JRPGs and instead opts for a more western dark medieval fantasy aesthetic that works well. I think I’ve probably replayed Dark Souls more than any game just because playing a different build changes the game so much. I basically know this game and the world like the back of my hand at this point, so much so that I could probably guide people through it without even looking things up. It’s definitely not perfect and probably takes a lot of perseverance to be able to enjoy it at first, but you would be hard-pressed to find a more influential and deep game from the last 15 years than Dark Souls. 

5. Shadow of the Colossus (Team Ico, 2005)-

 Shadow of the Colossus is one of those games that is so utterly unique and special that it’s hard to really define why it’s so good to somebody who’s never played it. On paper, a game about running around a big world that’s completely empty besides 16 boss fights sounds awful, but when you play it, it’s hard not to be engaged. Set in a unique and beautiful ruined world, the player is tasked with taking down 16 colossi who are these massive monsters that you must kill to revive your lover, but killing each one slowly corrupts the main character’s soul. The entire game is basically a series of cool boss fights, but they aren’t just about recognizing patterns and hitting the boss. Each one is its own unique puzzle to the point where it almost becomes a puzzle platformer.

What I love about SOTC is that these colossi feel exactly that, colossal. When you climb one of these monsters to reach their weak point, you really get the sense of scale, like you are a flea clinging desperately to the fur of these enormous primordial beings as they paw at you and try to shake you off. Of course, that orchestrated soundtrack is fucking iconic and even before the PS4 remake, the graphics and atmosphere were beautiful. Sure, in a lot of ways it’s aged poorly, and for a lot of people, it will be hard to get over the fact that it still plays like a janky PS2 game, but SOTC is one of those games that I point to when I get tired of the modern gaming industry and complain about how much better things used to be. Shadow of the Colossus is a title that simply would not be made today in the AAA space because nothing about it feels safe or restricted or focus grouped for maximum profit. It feels like a group of people’s shared artistic vision, and it’s just damn good. 

4. Paper Mario 64 (Intelligent Systems, 2000)- 

The spiritual successor to the amazing Super Mario RPG, Paper Mario 64 is one of those video games that makes me feel warm inside when I play it. Not just due to nostalgia either. While it’s true that there’s no way I’d be as into turn based RPGs as I am without playing this game as a kid, Paper Mario 64 holds up as an adult as being an amazing RPG separate from the nostalgic feelings I have for it. With Super Mario RPG, Squaresoft and Nintendo set out to make a hybrid of RPG and platformer, but that vision wasn’t truly realized until Paper Mario 64. The future games in the series have better writing, better gameplay, even more creative settings, but none of these games can match the razor sharpness and tight focus of 64.

Paper Mario 64 isn’t big or long at all compared to your traditional JRPGs, but despite this, it feels like such a complete adventure with so much to do and collect and so much variety. You go from fighting Koopas who are a parody of the Ninja Turtles to fighting Shy Guys in a toy box to solving penguin murders in an ice world. The amount of diversity they packed into a 25-30 hour RPG is staggering, and even with all that, it feels perfectly paced. The combat, especially the badge system, is such an amazing twist on the standard turn-based formula that a lot of games have sought to replicate it over the years. Paper Mario 64 is a special game that made me fall in love with turn based RPGs, and since you’ve been reading this list, that is obviously a genre that you can tell I adore. 

3. Bloodborne (From Software, 2015)- 

If I had a nickel for every time, I raved about how fucking amazing Bloodborne is…  It’s no secret that I love cosmic horror, and if Dark Souls was a love letter to Berserk, Bloodborne is smut dedicated to Lovecraft. Bloodborne is so good at creating a Lovecraftian world that it can easily stand up alongside Lovecraft’s own work. It doesn’t do a whole lot to innovate on the Dark Souls formula; it’s still very much a Metroidvania style world with ball bustingly hard bosses, but there’s more of an action focus this time. I think aesthetically and story-wise Bloodborne really sets itself apart from the other games in the Fromsoft cannon. Its story is told in the same way as Dark Souls, but Bloodborne’s gothic Victorian setting full of horrors from beyond the veil of our human understanding is such a huge boon for me. Despite not being strictly a horror game, Bloodborne has a better, creepier atmosphere than most actual horror games. The bosses are almost all amazing with great visual design and the DLC expansion is not only one of the best Fromsoft has ever made, but one of the best DLC’s in gaming period. I could write an entire dissertation about why this game is so good, so I’ll just leave it at this, good hunter. 

2. Silent Hill 2 (Team Silent, 2001)- 

Another game that I might as well fucking marry at this point given how much I’ve announced my love for it, Silent Hill 2 is nothing less than the greatest horror game ever made. Yes, it’s an incredibly atmospheric and creepy game, but that’s only a tiny part of why it’s so good. It’s the story and the characters that make Silent Hill 2 a masterpiece. There are plenty of good stories in gaming, but there’s a tiny fraction of game stories that I feel are undeniably good regardless of the medium, and Silent Hill 2 is without a doubt the best story in any game ever. Everything is dripping with symbolism and the story has such a depth to it that I just continue to discover new things about. No other video game has made me feel the same emotions that Silent Hill 2 has.

Silent Hill 2 is not just a game I think is good, it’s a game that reminds me that despite all the characterless AAA cash grabs, derivative open world garbage and soulless, microtransaction riddled military shooters that gaming is worth defending as an art form. I could go on and on about how the soundtrack is fucking perfection, or how any single aspect of the game is brilliant, but I don’t need to do that to explain why this game is so special. All I need to say is that this game is the only one that has ever legitimately made me cry, and I think that speaks louder than anything else I can really say about it. God, please don’t let Bloober Team fuck up the remake.

1. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (Nintendo, 2003)- 

It’s no surprise that a Zelda game would end up being my all-time favorite considering the fact that I have 7 other titles in this franchise in various places on this list. But even among those amazing games, Wind Waker holds a special place in my heart. It’s not particularly different than the other games, but there’s an intrinsic feeling of adventure that comes from sailing the ocean, maybe it’s because the sea is inherently a mysterious and chaotic place, but no game has made me feel the spirit of adventure the same way that Wind Waker has. The cell shaded “cartoony” graphics were reviled before and even until well after release by fans, but now those people look awful stupid because that unique visual style has made Wind Waker withstand the test of time incredibly gracefully. Wind Waker isn’t very challenging or even long for a Zelda game, and the quality of the dungeons is debatably not up there with the best in the series, but Wind Waker has what few other games in the series do and that’s charm. Link has always been made to be the literal “link” between the player and the game, but here he has a lot of personality. He’s more animated and amiable than usual, and that even extends to Zelda and a lot of the side characters. Koji Kondo’s soundtrack also takes this game up another level just as all his scores do. 

Gannon is a world ending threat in this title like he usually is, but just sailing around the various islands where people live, you wouldn’t really sense that. The game has a laid-back vibe that gels with my own personality more than a lot of the other games in the series. As a kid, for some reason I had the strategy guide for this game even long before I ever got it, and just looking at the map of the game world and the screenshots of people sailing around and finding treasure and secrets stimulated my imagination like few other things did. The sailing has always been one of the most polarizing features in the entire franchise, but I can’t get enough of it. Maybe it’s because it makes it really feel like a swashbuckling adventure, or maybe because I have a ton of patience for mechanics that add to the atmosphere and narrative pacing of a game, but the sailing has always made the game for me. The HD version fixes a lot of the small issues the original game had, and I would absolutely recommend it. All these amazing aspects allow Wind Waker to proudly sit on the throne atop my 100 games of all time list. It was a long debate as to if this or Silent Hill 2 would win the top spot, but in the end, both are a bit of a 1A and 1B.