Almost a year ago I made a list of my favourite games of all time on another subreddit. Now I’ve spent more time playing and reflecting and, at first, considered to update and revise that list. I also considered trying to justify it, by making the case that these are some of the best games ever, with aggregate ratings from GameRankings, and Metacritic, and give a brief explanation of why I think these games are so awesome. However, seeing as most of them are retro and that many modern gamers probably don’t even know them, I cut the list from 20 to 10 to keep it brief (although those were great games), and purposely left out my favourite game (keeping it to myself). 🤫
So, here are many of my favourites, and I would argue are some of the best games, and so would be my nominations for best games ever.
Note: this list is heavily biased towards older games since I typically play “retro” games. I give my rating first and then include GameRankings and Metacritic and other review data.
- Rez (Rail shooter, Music) (Dreamcast, and PlayStation 2 2001, 2002; Xbox 360 (Rez HD) 2008) 8.5/10 Great (Metacritic PS2 78; Metacritic Xbox 360 89)
Rez Infinite (Rail shooter, Music) (PlayStation 4 2016; Microsoft Windows 2017) 9/10 Amazing (Metacritic 89)
This game is included in Wikipedia's List of Games Considered the Best. A unique on-rails shooter, and music game. It is an example of video games as art; and some of the design was influenced by the art of Kandinsky. Amazing visuals, and music (Area 1 , Area 2, and the ending is my favourite for music). Also, despite minimal storytelling it has a great plot of you being a hacker trying to awaken a sleeping AI in a system full of viruses, and infected firewall. It makes reference to the evolutionary history of life, etc. It’s really a fantastic experience, although with a controller the gameplay, especially towards the end can be quite challenging. Rez Infinite makes the game much better and accessible with easier mouse and VR controls. The VR and new Area X make it an even more immersive experience.
- Shenmue II (Action-adventure, life simulation, social simulation) (Dreamcast 2001, Xbox 2002) 8.7/10 Great (GameRankings: 90; Metacritic: 88)
This game was on the Popular mechanics list as the #99 greatest game. It was included in the book 1001 Games before you die.
This game improved on its predecessor in almost every way, learning what worked and what didn’t. The pacing is much better here, without leaving you scratching your head trying to figure out where to go, and without the annoying need to waste time to get to the next event, now you can skip the time. Also, the world of Hong Kong and Kowloon are huge with tons of scenery to explore. Way more action, drama, and fighting in this game over the first game. It tells a great story of Ryo Hazuki trying to find Lan Di, the man who killed his father, but there is so much more. It does remind me of a kung fu action film. The QTEs, although frustrating at times, are typically filled with lots of action, and the 3D fighting is actually very good once you learn some basic techniques. It’s a great experience.
- Journey (Adventure, art game) (Playstation 3 2012; PlayStation 4 2015; Windows, iOS 2019) 8.7/10 (Metacritic: 92)
This game was included on Wikipedia's List of Games Considered the Best. A unique gaming experience. A minimalist game where your objective is to get your character from one point to the top of the mountain on your “journey”. Seeing the remnants of a lost civilization. Using your sound ability to activate carpets that allow you to move forward. A beautiful experience being in part an analogy of the journey of life. It is a short and beautiful game, and many find this a wonderful experience, especially since you can interact with other online players in the game, and without competing with each other.
- Marvel vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes (2D Fighting) (Arcade, Dreamcast 2000; PlayStation 2, Xbox 2003) 8.7/10 (GameRankings, Metacritic: 90)
This is a great or even the definitive edition to the Marvel vs. Capcom series, with a large roster of characters, and intense tag-team 2D fighting mayhem. I’m really conflicted of putting this here instead of Vampire Savior (another Capcom 2D fighting game). Due to its simplicity of play, quick paced action, and lack of air combos I may haven chosen Vampire Savior over this game, but due to the large roster of characters in MvC2 with totally exaggerated, over the top special moves, great animations and great tag team action I decided to put this here instead. Even if you’re not particularly good at fighting games, this is a great one to have some fun with. It’s been featured in many best fighting games of all time lists. I love it how all the characters come together as friends at the end when you beat the game.
- Mario Kart 8 (Kart racing) (Wii U 2014; Nintendo Switch 2017 as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe) 8.7/10 (Metacritic 92)
It’s the best Mario Kart game to date, what more needs to be said? Mario Kart is an exception to my general dislike of racing games. Tons of fun, the driving is not so difficult, and there is some strategy and luck with the power-ups. Can be both a good relaxing escapism, and competitive. I did get a chance to play this one, despite not owning a Wii U or Switch. Close runners-up would be Mario Kart Wii, and Mario Kart DS.
- Napple Tale: Arsia in Daydream (2.5D platforming, RPG, adventure) (Dreamcast) 8.7/10 (Famitsu: 29/40 Dreamcast magazine 73/100 IGN: 9.3/10)
A kind of Japanese Alice in Wonderland. I didn’t think I would enjoy a game apparently geared primarily for a Japanese schoolgirl audience so much, but I did. The graphics and environments are beautiful, vibrant and colorful and the characters are cute and endearing. It reminds me of a childhood, and adolescent world that lasts briefly and never to returns. The music of Yoko Kanno is amazing, in my opinion, and one of the best parts of this game; it really helps to set the atmosphere. The protagonist, Arsia Porch, is likeable and sassy. Also, it is surprisingly deep towards the end. I just played through the main game but there are lots of side quests and things for you to discover. An English patch is available now as this was only officially released in Japan.
- Soul Calibur (3D Fighting) (1998 Arcade; 1999 Dreamcast) 9/10 Amazing (Metacritic: 98, Game Rankings: 97)
On Wikipedia’s List of games considered the Best (aggregate list). This is the highest rated Metacritic fighting game, and one of its highest rated games. This game is a “legend”. It has won several awards and often appears on many publications’ greatest games of all time lists. Easy to pick up but challenging to master. Amazing (for the time) 3D visuals, and a good ability of 3D motion across the stage. I personally like the addition of the stories for each character in the game. The music is nice, and the announcer is appropriate. This game just about gets everything right for a 3D fighting game. It would have been very cool if it was possible to use the Dreamcast’s modem to have online battles though. Soul Calibur II is usually preferred by Soul Calibur fans, but this is the game that revolutionized the series, and is considered the innovator.
- The Curse of Monkey Island (Adventure point and click) (Microsoft Windows 1997) 9/10 Amazing (GameRankings: 89)
This is my favourite of the Monkey Island trilogy, although many people prefer the second or first game (which are also great by the way). The thing that attracted me to this game is the cartoon-like animation. The catchy island music, the lovable clumsy, and funny hero Guybrush, the great humour, and a part of the game that includes pirates singing, all make this a charming game, that brings back memories of childhood. It’s seems lengthier of a game than the other 2 and has lots of different settings. I can’t forget Guybrush saying “Pappapisshu!”
- Sonic Adventure (action-adventure; 3d-platformer) (Dreamcast 1999) 9/10 Amazing (GameRankings: 87)
Okay, so I know some retrospective reviewers have panned this game, but hear me out. For the longest time this was my favourite game, in some ways it still is but due to unfixed bugs, mediocre cut scene animation, and a few sections that could have been improved I decided to demote this game two places from the previous list I made. This game was unlike other 3D platformers at the time because Sonic is supposed to go fast, and that presented a real challenge to developers. That aside there is so much about this game that I love: adolescent me enjoying this during summer break nostalgia aside, I generally love the music, the world designs which were partially inspired from photography of Central America, and Peru; the various characters, and overall story of Sonic and friends trying to save the day. I know people didn’t generally playing as Big the cat, but his part of the game is very short. All characters have different gameplay styles, e.g., you get to fly with Tails, find and collect emerald pieces as Knuckles, shooting with E-102 Gamma. I love how towards the end of the game Sonic saves the day (surprise) but then just as the clouds in the sky are clearing up, he goes back at it again (I always found that to be inspirational).
- Skies of Arcadia (JRPG) (2000 Dreamcast; GameCube 2003 (enhanced port) Skies of Arcadia Legends) 9.5/10 Amazing (GameRankings: 90, Metacritic: 93)
I was really on the fence about this game since I’m not much of a JRPG fan, and I had a false start on it a few years ago but gave up after just trying it for a few minutes. However, after playing another JRPG game that blew me away I decided to give it a chance, and it quickly became one of my absolute favourite games ever. There is nothing else quite like this game, in my opinion, it’s a JRPG that doesn’t really feel like a JRPG. The graphics are great for the Dreamcast, but the characters and world design is where it really shines. It contains beautiful settings modelled often after real geographic and historical settings. Nasrad for example models the Middle East, Yafutoma models Japan, and has a design apparently inspired by Beijing’s forbidden city. The characters are loveable and feel like they are real people with personalities, and personal struggles.
Unlike a lot of JRPGs this game is relatively cheerful despite facing the odds and having to save the world. The music is orchestrated, catchy and beautiful. The story, for me at least, was fun, emotional and engaging but nothing really creative. It may be relatively cliché but it is done well, and that's what's really important. You also get to pilot an airship, get into airship battles, and explore the skies in your airship and make discoveries! The only downside is the high random encounter rate which mars the exploration aspect. This is the only really long game that I’ve ever played, putting in about 60 hours. I will love playing the enhanced port for the GameCube next time around. It is an amazing game, and actually made me cry a little at the very end since I developed a connection with the characters.
If you were to include 10 nominations of best games, based on how much fun they are, how innovative they were at the time, how influential, etc., what would your choices be and why? I really want to hear from the gaming community. Would you include popular titles like Zelda Ocarina of Time, Super Mario World, Chrono Trigger, Tetris, Grand Theft Auto V, Red Dead Redemption 2, Resident Evil 4, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, Minecraft, Metal Gear Solid, Halo: Combat Evolved, Overwatch, Mass Effect 2, Silent Hill, etc.? What do you think of any of my picks?
Let me know what you think.
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