It’s always difficult to say what the greatest games of all time are, because our opinions are always subjective, no matter how hard we try to keep that shit out. So, I’ve decided to just make a progressive list of games that are my favorite at the moment (ATM).
I know, it’s not that interesting to hear someone else’s opinions of what they’re enjoying right now, but you know what, I don’t care!
10. Yoshi’s Island:
If you avoided Yoshi’s Island because it looked too kiddy you really need to reconsider that choice. This game may be the most masterfully crafted platformer I have ever played. Every level presents new innovation and challenge, the controls are frankly the best of any platformer I’ve ever played. The tongue is perfectly implemented, the extra floating makes Yoshi feel super powerful, shooting eggs is oh so satisfying.
Known also as Super Mario World 2, this game was originally supposed to have those pre-rendered graphics as seen in Donkey Kong Country. Thankfully, Shigeru Miyamoto decided to scrap the style and replace it with the beautiful crayon drawn style that made it so iconic and just damn beautiful.
9. Master of Magic:
Yeah yeah, whatever, this is just a Civilization clone with medieval skins. Except not! This game had so much fucking depth, complexity and originality that I still find new things to this day. This game is just, so good. There’s just nothing more satisfying then when you get that invulnerability spell and train an army of invincible griffins and just go wreck the entire map with a couple dudes. Or when you start out in the dark world and build up forces until you invade the parallel world
Orignally released for DOS by Simtex this game is currently available on GOG.com, so yeah, go fuckin sink weeks into this game.
If you haven’t played this game do yourself a favor and go buy a PS3 (if you don’t already have one) and play it. This is truly the best argument for video games as art that I have ever seen. It’s simple, elegant, poetic and just so magical. The first time I played this game I cried like a little baby with tears of joy. This game fills the player with a sense of wonderment and ecstasy that can really only be achieved through this medium.
This game speaks multitudes in its silence. Never does it fully disclose what has happened, but through clever story telling and some of the greatest co-operative play I have ever seen, it sucks you in emotionally and refuses to let go. Journey may be one of the most finely crafted experiences I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy and deserves to stand on the same level as such masterpieces as Citizen Kane and A Starry Night.
7. Shadow of the Colossus
Another game that stands as an argument for games as art, this game is truly an epic experience. When I first played this in the demo case at my local game store I didn’t get it. Maybe it was because the demo started after the intro sequence so I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing, but it just seemed boring. It looked like an action rpg, but I couldn’t find any towns, there wasn’t an inventory, and my character just looked so… weird. It didn’t help that the game would start over before I could get to the first colossi, talk about a let down.
It wasn’t until I played this game at a friends house that I understood that I had been playing one of the most epic and heartfelt games ever crafted. From the first Colossi to the melancholy ending this is truly one of my most cherished experiences and a splendid game.
6. Super Metroid
You hear a lot of game critics talking about games having “atmosphere” these days, but what do they really mean by that. Basically what they mean is how well a game can imitate Super Metroid cause that game fuckin invented atmosphere! But no, seriously… it did. This game just oozed with personality and ambiance, so much so that devs are still trying to play catch up.
Based heavily off of R. Gigers Alien universe, this game gave you such an immense and foreboding feeling of just absolute loneliness that few games can conquer, especially with the hardware limitations of the 16-bit era. Also, you get to play as one of the most badass bounty hunters since Bobba Fett. This game was inventive, it was innovative, it was downright massive and nothing in this world can match the feeling of hitting a random tile seeing it blow away to reveal a new power-up… awesome!
5. Act Raiser:
If it seems like I’m putting a lot of SNES games on this list, it’s because I am. And for good reason, the SNES is still one of the greatest systems ever released and to this day holds its own against modern releases in terms of fun. And if it’s fun we’re talking about than look no further than Actraiser! Yeah!
This game, created by Quintet and published by Enix was a launch title for the SNES and boy was it awesome. This game had you playing as “The Master” a god like being whose mission is to crush the monsters of (earth?) and allow people to repopulate it. Along with a totally kick ass side scrolling action, this game also had a fully realized sim game where you control a cherub and build your towns to repopulate the world. This game also had some of the greatest music from the 16-bit era. To bad Quintet went under in the early 00’s, I sure wouldn’t mind seeing a GOOD sequel to this game.
4. The Legend of Zelda (The entire catalog)
I’ve recently been playing through every single Zelda game again and I am just floored by how masterfully crafted all these games are, except for you Skyward Sword, you just suck.
Every game brought a new and fun innovation to the series that made the entire saga grow as a whole. Sure, there were some innovations that were put into newer games just for rituals sake, and some innovations that just kind of sucked (like a side scrolling Zelda) and also innovation just for innovations sake (like that stupid fucking pointless spinning top in Twilight Princess). But when Zelda gets it right, you better believe that whatever they did is gonna be an industry staple for years to come.
Yeah! Gradius! The arcade down the street from me just got one of these machines the other month and I have been pumping quarter after quarter into this sweet machine. There’s nothing quite like having a crowd of people gather round you as you plow through the first boss on one life, and then hearing cheers when you crush number three on the same life.
I didn’t grow up around arcades since my family sort of shunned video games, so this has been my first experience of being able to plant my name among the gods on that high score board, or having random people hand me quarters when I get a game over so they can watch me keep playing. It’s something magical that I’m sure a lot of people missed out on and people that did get to enjoy it miss. So if you’re around Portland, Oregon drop into Ground control and lets play some fuckin Gauntlet Legends!
2. Secret of Mana:
Oh, so sublime! The soundtrack, the art style, that feeling when you and your friends rock the socks off a tough boss. Sure, the story isn’t FF6 tier, but it’s there, and it has a lot of heart.
Known as Seiken Densetsu 2 in Japan (cause we always have to fuck that shit up for some reason) this game got insane acclaim in Japan, but sold only moderately in other regions. Despite getting generous reviews it never took off in the U.S. the way it should have. Which is even more of a shame because Seiken Densetsu 3 is widely hailed as the best action-rpg of the 16-bit generation and never saw a release in the States. While you can get a translated reproduction, that shit is steep, son, and will run you anywhere from $50-100.
1. Aladdin (SNES)
What can I say, this game is just so damn good! It’s a serious guilty pleasure of mine and I love it to death! The gameplay is tighter than Fort Knox, the art style is original and lively, the sound effects touch my soul in a way that only the wizards at Capcom can do. Everything about this game is just pure and unadulterated FUN!
Maybe this is only up so high because I spent way to much time playing this for that Genesis vs. SNES Aladdin (which you should totally read). But I stand by this game as one of the best platformers ever made, sure it may be short, and it may be unforgiving-ly and sometimes unfairly difficult but I think that’s what makes it fun in that Dark Souls kind of way. My roommate and I played this game religiously while I was writing that article and had just the most amazing time doing it. And isn’t that what this is all about? Having fun and enjoying yourself.
Thanks for reading!