The Fifty Best Games Ever

…In my opinion.

This post was spawned courtesy of this thread, which asks when people last played their fiftieth-favorite game. It’s an interesting question — everyone has their dozen or so favorites that they can play over and over and over, but few people make time for the games they liked well enough, but which didn’t rock their world or anything. I was curious as to what the answer was for me, so I banged out the following list (in alphabetical order):

  1. Baten Kaitos Origins
  2. Chrono Trigger
  3. Donkey Kong Country
  4. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest
  5. Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble
  6. Final Fantasy VI
  7. Final Fantasy VII
  8. Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword
  9. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
  10. Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
  11. Kirby Super Star
  12. Klonoa: Door to Phantomile
  13. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  14. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
  15. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
  16. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  17. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
  18. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
  19. Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story
  20. Mega Man 2
  21. Mega Man 3
  22. Mega Man 9
  23. Mega Man X
  24. Muramasa: The Demon Blade
  25. New Super Mario Bros. Wii
  26. NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits
  27. Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber
  28. Paper Mario
  29. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
  30. Pokemon FireRed/LeafGreen
  31. Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver
  32. Pokemon Platinum
  33. Sin & Punishment: Star Successor
  34. Skies of Arcadia Legends
  35. Star Fox 64
  36. Suikoden
  37. Suikoden II
  38. Super Mario 64
  39. Super Mario Bros. 3
  40. Super Mario Bros. Crossover
  41. Super Mario Galaxy
  42. Super Mario Galaxy 2
  43. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
  44. Super Mario World
  45. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
  46. Super Metroid
  47. Super Smash Bros. Brawl
  48. Tales of Symphonia
  49. Tetris
  50. World of Goo

Weird list, huh? It’s strange — I’ve played hundreds of games, and could easily put together a top ten or twenty, but once you start enlarging the number the choices become… questionable. There are games on here I’ve only played once or twice (Klonoa, NyxQuest), games I have serious problems with (Radiant Dawn, The Wind Waker), and games I like more for their aesthetics and feel than their gameplay (Muramasa, FFVII). It reminds me of something Bill James wrote when he was ranking players for the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract — it’s astonishing how few truly good players there have been in baseball history. At each position, you’ve got 10-15 true immortals, 10-20 guys who are charter members of the Hall of Very Good, and then the rest is guys who were… well, good players, but flawed, and not anyone’s idea of a Hall of Famer. By the time you get into the lower half of a Top 100, the differences become negligible — seven good years against five, 12 homers a year versus 10.

Happily, I have played or replayed almost all of these games within the last two calendar years, several multiple times, so I don’t think I’ve forgotten what makes them tick, and there’s only a few that are just begging for a revisit in the near future. Chief among these is Yoshi’s Island, which I haven’t played in about four years and which has been on my to-do list for the past year or so. (Majora’s Mask would be on the list as well but for the forthcoming LP.) I suppose that gives me sufficient motivation to continue expanding my horizons.

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