This week, we’re running a big list of what we — and a group of trusted friends — recently voted as the 500 best video games of all time. For the backstory, criteria, explanation of why Breath of the Wild isn’t on the list, etc., head to the beginning here: The 500 best games of all time.
For numbers 400-301, scroll down.
400. Mirror’s Edge
(2008, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, others)
Keep moving. That’s the main objective of Mirror’s Edge. Releasing alongside dozens of first-person shooters, Mirror’s Edge stood for daring to be different. Putting an emphasis on using first-person parkour to outsmart enemies, rather than just shooting through them, Mirror’s Edge was a flawed beauty stuck in the memory of those who just kept running through its clean, white city.
(2008, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, others)
In many ways, the modern indie explosion started with Braid. Unlike anything people had seen at the time, Braid and its time-bending puzzles challenged the way stories were told in games.
398. Shovel Knight
(2014, PC, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, others)
Shovel Knight is a great example of “what’s old is new again.” But it’s the latter part that makes this game so special. An homage to 2D side-scrolling games, Shovel Knight was praised for being an callback that also felt fresh and deceptively deep. It is, as Polygon’s Griffin McElroy put it, a “game people write love letters about.”
(1981, Arcade, others)
Frogger will never not be fun. Players were tasked with merely getting a frog across a busy road, then across a busy river, but Frogger’s addictive gameplay constantly left them wanting to try one more time, because with one more try they just might make it to the other side.
396. Nights into Dreams …
(1996, Sega Saturn, others)
Nights into Dreams is what happens when creators are allowed to do whatever they want. Led by Sonic the Hedgehog veterans Yuji Naka, Naoto Ohshima and Takashi Iizuka, Nights was influenced by the works of psychoanalysts Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, culminating in a game that felt like flying through a dream.
395. Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord
(1981, Apple II, others)
Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord was one of the pioneers in bringing role-playing games to the PC — particularly those styled after Dungeons and Dragons. Introducing the idea of adding different races and classes, parties and color graphics to the genre, Wizardry left its mark on every role-playing game of its type released after.
(1986, Commodore 64, others)
Uridium was a pioneer in lifelike graphics — even if it doesn’t look like it now. Renowned for its ability to show depth, impressive sound design and solid arcade-style shooting, Uridium raised the stakes of video game presentation in the late ’80s.
(2002, PC, others)
Silent and retrospective, Syberia explored the meanings of love and relationships long before Firewatch and Catherine. Telling a story of trying to finalize the takeover of a toy factory, Syberia also explores what it’s like for a relationship to fall apart. When it released in 2002, many critics praised its intelligent, thoughtful script and emotional depth.
392. Stephen’s Sausage Roll
(2016, PC, others)
Stephen’s Sausage Roll is one of the hardest puzzle games in recent memory. Requiring sausages to be rolled perfectly over platforms to be cooked on grills across various sides, the challenge in getting the perfect sausage with no burns is immensely challenging but satisfying thanks to some of the best puzzle design in recent memory.
391. Silent Hill
(1999, PlayStation, others)
Silent Hill probably shouldn’t exist. Created by a team at Konami that was otherwise under-performing on projects, the affectionately titled Team Silent revolutionized the survival horror genre with a game that put more emphasis on psychological horror and real world terrors than it did zombies and mutated sharks.
390. Pillars of Eternity
(2015, PC, others)
Pillars of Eternity is notable for two reasons: First, it’s a great role-playing game. Second, it was one of the pioneers in crowdfunding in the game industry. Obsidian Entertainment, thanks to charitable donations of fans, was able to make the game it dreamed of.
389. Mega Man 2
(1989, Nintendo Entertainment System, others)
Mega Man 2 was a second chance. After the lackluster performance of the first game, Capcom, surprisingly, greenlit a sequel. Expanding on the action-platforming that went on to make this series such a hit, Mega Man 2 received praise for how much of a enhancement it was over the first Mega Man. It’s still, to this day, the best selling game in the series.
388. Koronis Rift
(1985, Atari 8-bit, others)
Koronis Rift made a huge splash in graphical innovation. Requiring exploration of maze-like levels in search of enemy ships, the game made use of the Atari 8-bit’s color pallet to fade in environments — rather than them just popping in — through a method called depth cueing. This enhancement gave Koronis Rift the feeling of traveling in a real world with actual depth.
387. Jumpman Junior
(1983, Atari 8-bit, others)
An early pioneer in platformers, Jumpman Junior iterated on the first Jumpman with more complex levels and enhanced visuals, all the while building upon the game’s innovative use of multiple running speeds. At the time, Jumpman Junior was seen as one of the finest platformers, and it went on to be a major influence on the genre as a whole.
386. International Karate +
(1987, Commodore 64, others)
International Karate +, a successor to International Karate, changed the pacing of typical ’80s fighting games by pitting three fighters against each other. Rather than whittling down a healthbar, players win at IK+ by scoring six points. This unique approach to fighting games made IK+ a standout, one incentivizing strategy over button-mashing.
385. God of War 2
(2007, PlayStation 2, others)
God of War 2 is unfathomably big. Introducing a scale not often seen in games at the time, it constantly subverts expectations by putting players on moving, shape-shifting levels, all the while fighting some of the biggest enemies then seen in games. God of War 2 remains in the conversation about the most impressive technical achievements in games, even 10 years later.
384. Fire Emblem Awakening
(2013, Nintendo 3DS)
Fire Emblem Awakening is a great entry point for newcomers and a worthy addition for series regulars. One of the best role-playing experiences on handhelds, Awakening is both accessible and deep. Pushing the production values for Nintendo DS games, all the while having some of the best-feeling combat to date, Awakening proves handhelds can rival console experiences any day.
383. Fallout 2
(1998, PC, others)
It looks a bit different than the Fallout games that brought the series to the mainstream, but Fallout 2 is consistently considered one of the best role-playing games of all time. Its handling of mature concepts, like sex work and slavery, combined with its open nature — something the series is lauded for now — makes Fallout 2 one of the more influential open-ended role-playing games ever released.
382. Devil’s Crush
(1990, TurboGrafx-16, others)
Devil’s Crush helped define the pinball video game. Taking a tried-and-true game, pinball, and turning it into a flashy, exploration-driven game with bosses, Devil’s Crush exemplified the way video games could take something old-hat and make it into an entirely new, fantastic experience pushing beyond what people came to expect.
381. Hunt the Wumpus
(1975, BASIC, others)
One of the earlier commercial computer games, Hunt the Wumpus was a text-based game where players more or less played hide and seek with a monster called the “Wumpus.” Hunt the Wumpus‘ revolutionary input commands and deep gameplay helped usher in a new wave of text adventures, in turn paving the way for mass video game popularity.
380. Crazy Taxi
(1999, Arcade, Dreamcast, others)
For a while at least, Sega constantly pushed the boundaries of games, taking the mundanity of something like driving a taxi and turning it into the wildly inventive and addicting Crazy Taxi. Driving as fast as possible, pulling off stunts and delivering passengers to destinations quickly caught the eyes of arcade-goers who couldn’t get enough of its irreverent take on transportation.
(1997, Arcade, others)
Giving players a recreated DJ turntable, as well as a record for scratching, Beatmania gave players similar inputs to those a real DJ would have. Beatmania took the music genre’s basic rhythm inputs to those more akin to the real-world experience of making and performing music.
378. Ant Attack
(1983, ZX Spectrum, others)
Many consider Ant Attack the first isometric personal computer game. Evading and fighting back against a race of giant ants, players were given the then-revolutionary ability to travel up and down throughout the game’s levels — rather than just north, south, east and west.
377. Mortal Kombat
(1992, Arcade, others)
Mortal Kombat changed everything. Its hyper-violent approach to the fighting game genre all at once captivated eager players and horrified their parents. Alongside making huge waves in the game industry, Mortal Kombat helped lead to the founding of the Entertainment Software Rating Board, which promptly slapped the game a “Mature” rating for its gory content.
(2005, PlayStation Portable, others)
Lumines flipped the script on block puzzle games by having a “timeline” remove connected blocks off the playing field. And the timeline traveled in sync with the game’s beat, changing the game’s difficulty of the fly. Requiring attention to multiple things at once, Lumines was an inventive take on an old idea.
375. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
(2008, PlayStation 3)
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots rides the line being a game and a film. One of the more emotional games in the series, Guns of the Patriots bent the stealth genre by leaving characters with few places to hide, and bent gaming in general by not being afraid to make the player put the controller down through lengthy cutscenes.
374. Prince of Persia
(1989, Apple II, others)
Prince of Persia pushed games as a medium for cinematic expression long before others like The Last of Us and Metal Gear Solid. Credited with being one of the first cinematic platformers, Prince of Persia’s use of rotoscoping to create realistic movements proved massively influential on both the genre and games looking to meld interactivity and story.
373. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
(2004, GameCube, others)
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door gets credit for the discoverability in its levels — a trademark in Mario games, but not always role-playing games. Compounded with a story “closer to Finding Nemo than Final Fantasy, which is very much a compliment,” according to Eurogamer, this is just one of dozens of Mario games standing the test of time.
372. Daytona USA
(1994, Arcade, others)
At the time of its release in 1993, Daytona USA was one of the best looking games ever made. Made to showcase Sega’s Sega Model 2 arcade board, Daytona USA stripped away the flat look of Virtua Racing, replacing it with fully-textured environments — a revolutionary step forward at the time.
371. FTL: Faster Than Light
(2012, PC, others)
FTL: Faster Than Light is a game people lose hundreds, if not thousands of hours to without really noticing. This Kickstarter-funded roguelike forces players to think ahead as they go through waves of tougher enemies, all the while managing their spaceship, making it intense, deep and addictive.
370. Star Wars: X-Wing
(1993, PC, others)
Star Wars: X-Wing taps into a dream dozens of kids have had over the last 40 years: being an X-Wing pilot. Giving players a first-person view of an X-Wing cockpit, X-Wing was one of the first games to use 3D polygon graphics, and gave context to the events during and after A New Hope.
369. Ultima 4: Quest of the Avatar
(1985, Apple II, others)
Four games in, Ultima 4: Quest of the Avatar flipped the script. Moving on from the hack-and-slash gameplay of previous Ultima games, Ultima 4 introduced ethically ambiguous dilemmas for the player to tackle, making a role-playing game free of simply overcoming an evil adversary.
368. Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins
(1992, Game Boy, others)
Just because it was on a handheld doesn’t mean Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins didn’t change the Mario series forever. Six Golden Coins featured the first appearance Wario, who became a series mainstay as time went on.
367. Pokemon X and Y
(2013, Nintendo 3DS)
Pokemon X and Y revolutionized the Pokemon series — one that’d been largely the same for almost 20 years. Introducing a story about dismantling a criminal organization, full polygonal 3D graphics and a new form of Pokemon evolution, X and Y were breaths of fresh air in the long-running, seldom-changing series.
Voter’s choice: Parappa the Rapper
Beyond its role in creating the music game genre, Parappa (PS4 remaster shown above) offers one of the most human coming-of-age stories in games, no small accomplishment for a game about a puppy with a crush on a flower.
Like many game protagonists, Parappa gains new abilities over the course of his adventure — but his “adventure” involves trying to impress a girl, and the abilities he accrues are things like driving and cooking. He addresses realistic problems with self-improvement, a heroic journey I could safely and happily imitate. Instead of a power fantasy, Parappa is a fantasy about the power of growing up.
– JC Fletcher (@jcfletcher)
366. Parappa the Rapper
(1997, PlayStation, others)
One of the first rhythm games, Parappa the Rapper may still be one of the strangest games ever released. Focusing on hip-hop — a genre exploding at the time — the game’s unique, 2D art style combined with an all-originals soundtrack to make this one of PlayStation’s first landmark games.
(2010, Xbox 360, others)
Whenever the conversation around games as an art form comes up, the name Limbo soon follows. Mixing a bleak, oppressive atmosphere with a challenging 2D platformer, Limbo exhibited an unashamed nact to make its players uneasy by displaying gruesome child deaths. Along with several other games on this list, Limbo was one of the pioneers in the most recent indie game explosion.
(1991, Amiga, others)
Lemmings is all about thinking ahead. Guiding the titular Lemmings through obstacle courses of varying difficulties, players must alter levels in necessary ways to get a required amount of the creatures to the end of a level. Lemmings was one of the best-received games of the ’90s.
363. Castle Crashers
(2008, Xbox 360, others)
Castle Crashers’ hilarious script, role-playing elements and call back to classic brawler games culminated in one of the most fun games on the Xbox 360. Combing the challenge and depth of multiple game genres with the levity of a LucasArts game, Castle Crashers is an adorable trip through a beautiful medieval universe.
(1982, Arcade, others)
Joust, while not the first to do so, helped popularize the concept of cooperative games. Spawning dozens of ports, sequels and clones, Joust pushed forward how games were played by making them social endeavors, where players could work together rather than in competition.
361. Contra 3: The Alien Wars
(1992, Super NES, others)
“Arguably the best installment in the Contra series,” according to IGN, Contra 3: The Alien Wars utilized the Super Nintendo tech to create a more visually and mechanically impressive game than the first two Contras. The levels were complex, giving players use of numerous interactive items in the world.
360. Super Bomberman
(1993, Super NES)
Super Bomberman is a pretty good game … until you play with someone else. Then it’s a party. An intense, fast-paced puzzler, Super Bomberman with up to four players quickly turns into a battle of wits, testing who can combine the most explosions at once, knocking players out of competition.
359. Fantastic Contraption
(2016, PC, others)
Fantastic Contraption makes virtual reality a social experience, among other things. Allowing players to livestream their creations using the game’s rudimentary materials, Fantastic Contraption strips away the idea that virtual reality is an isolating experience, instead turning it into something multiple people can enjoy and experience together.
358. Far Cry 2
(2008, PC, others)
Far Cry 2 stands out as being one of the most unusual games in the series, all the while establishing many of its defining features. Open-ended and full of options, Far Cry 2 forced players to deal with realistic dangers in its African environment, like jamming guns and malaria, making it more a survival sim than a destruction sim like other Far Cry games.
357. Valkyria Chronicles
(2008, PlayStation 3, others)
Valkyria Chronicles is one of the best takes on the tactical war genre. Abandoning gritty, hyper-realistic visuals, Valkyria Chronicles instead makes use of a stylized, hand-drawn aesthetic to tell its story of warring country superpowers. Praised for its grid-free gameplay allowing for more freedom of movement, Valkyria Chronicles was the freshest war game since the series’ inception.
356. Balance of Power
(1985, Macintosh, others)
Balance of Power’s thoughtfulness and perhaps all-too-real premise quickly cemented it as one of the most innovative games of all time. Assuming the role of a political leader during the Cold War, players had to avoid nuclear annihilation. The game’s emphasis on inaction is still today immensely exciting and innovative, creating a whole new type of gameplay not focused on violence.
355. Stunt Car Racer
(1989, Amiga, others)
Rainbow Road before Rainbow Road, Stunt Car Racer challenged players by putting races on an elevated track with nothing stopping them from driving off. Ahead of its time in more respects than one, Stunt Car Racer made players contend with damage and loss of time due to their own careless actions on the track.
354. Rocket League
(2015, PC, PlayStation 4)
If you blinked, chances are you missed the tremendously quick rise of Rocket League. This car-soccer game wasted no time becoming one of the most-played games of 2015 — thanks in part by being free for PlayStation Plus subscribers — and becoming a sought-after esport in the ever-growing industry. Just over two years after release, Rocket League’s sold more than 10 million copies.
353. Return to Castle Wolfenstein
(2001, PC, others)
Remaking and rebooting the Wolfenstein series, Return to Castle Wolfenstein was a true return to form. With development overseen by the original developers, the game was somewhat of a combination of the original top-down games and id’s first-person games. Bringing the series into full 3D, Return to Castle Wolfenstein helped revitalize the series, and paved the way for the most recent games.
352. Panzer Dragoon Orta
(2003, Xbox, others)
Seen as “one of the best traditional video game shooting experiences ever made” upon release, according to GameSpot, Panzer Dragoon Orta refined its approach, emphasizing the shooting mechanic rather than exploration.
351. Call of Duty
(2003, PC, others)
The birth of a titan, Call of Duty marked a different World War 2 experience. Unpredictable and unafraid to put players through tough spots, Call of Duty is arguably responsible for modernizing the military shooter, emphasizing scale and destruction while not losing sight that war is fought by humans. Bombastic and surprisingly personal, Call of Duty’s influence can be felt in every first-person war shooter since.
350. I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream
(1995, PC, others)
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream pulls no punches, not that it has a choice. An adaptation of Harlan Ellison’s story of the same name, I Must Scream deals with topics games still shy away from. Telling the story of Earth’s last five survivors, kept alive and tortured for a century by an AI, the game tackles issues such as rape and genocide.
349. Forza Motorsport 4
(2011, Xbox 360)
Forza Motorsport 4 is a love letter to racing. Continuing the series reputation for excellent driving and customization, Motorsport 4’s Autovista mode allowed players to really appreciate the hardware of a car, seeing details in the interior design and engine parts. This attention to detail, and the game’s amazing gameplay, highlights a series made for car fanatics.
Voter’s choice: Tony Hawk’s Underground
Tony Hawk’s Underground changed everything.
More than adding a story and the ability to get off the board, Underground helped usher in a new wave of skateboarding popularity. Joining magazines like Big Brother and shows like Jackass, Underground made celebrities out of skateboarders lending their likeness to the game. Kids were buying more skateboards than ever and trying to learn the tricks in the game — of which there were more than ever. Underground’s “real” story about the rise from skaterat to professional went beyond games and injected itself into pop-culture at large.
– Blake Hester (@metallicaisrad)
348. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
(2001, PlayStation 2, others)
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 continues the solid, skater-focused gameplay that made Pro Skater such a phenomenon. Introducing a revert mechanic enabling the player to keep a combo going with a manual after a vert trick, Pro Skater 3 opened whole new ways to for players to string together tricks and is seen as one of the series’ best changes.
347. Max Payne 2
(2003, PC, others)
To this day, most games can’t touch the level of passionate storytelling Max Payne 2 does. An exploration of life and love after tragedy, Max Payne 2 tells the story of a disgraced cop constantly caught up in bad situations and romantic ambiguity — all set in the gritty, dangerous noir streets of a New York that hasn’t existed in decades.
(2016, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, others)
Pulling off a contract in one of Hitman’s many expansive, sprawling levels feels like assembling a master clock. Though initially mocked when announced as episodic game, Hitman’s drip feed approach gave players the time necessary to see the hundreds — if not thousands — of nooks and crannies available to hide or kill in.
(2011, Xbox 360, others)
When Bastion came out, indie games were still kind of an unknown quantity. Though critics praised games like Super Meat Boy for tight gameplay, Bastion raised the bar for storytelling in the indie space. Feeling like moving through your favorite children’s book, the game’s presentation creates a world to feel attached to, one you want to be in — not just conquer.
344. Fruit Ninja
(2010, iOS, others)
There’s something amazingly cathartic about Fruit Ninja. Slicing through flying fruit, after a while, becomes second nature as you fall into the game’s rhythm, enjoying the colorful splashes. Its push and pull of challenge and fun gameplay highlight just what make the best mobile games perfect pastimes.
343. RollerCoaster Tycoon
(1999, PC, others)
RollerCoaster Tycoon is a simulator for kids — mostly. Free of the heady, difficult concepts such as building and running cities and setting up transportation routes, RollerCoaster Tycoon is a lighthearted sim allowing players to create the amusement parks of their dreams. This accessibility makes it the best first step into an otherwise obtuse genre.
342. Ninja Gaiden
(2004, Xbox, others)
Brutally hard and brutally violent, Ninja Gaiden rebooted the series on Xbox with amazing graphics — some of the best seen at that time — and smooth character control that rewarded precision over button mashing.
341. Dungeons and Dragons: Pool of Radiance
(1988, Commodore 64, others)
Dungeons and Dragons: Pool of Radiance is a helping hand, one that’ll easily guide people into the role-playing genre. It’s beautiful-for-the-time graphics and easy to get into gameplay made for a great introduction to one of the longest-running genres in games, even if veteran role-players won’t find anything groundbreaking compared to other games today.
340. Dead Space
(2008, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Dead Space scoffs at the typical zombie trope of putting a bullet in the head and calling it a day. Giving players a large, mostly-desolate space station to explore, Dead Space forced players to dismember its monsters before pronouncing them dead, with numerous inventive weapons altering the way a fight could be approached.
339. Bayonetta 2
(2014, Wii U)
Bayonetta 2 is a sensory overload. With a combat system as much about finesse as it is mayhem, Bayonetta 2 continued to add to PlatinumGames’ reputation for tight, thoughtful combat as deep or accessible as the player would like, all the while pelting them with wave after wave of enemies.
338. Yakuza 0
(2017, PlayStation 4, others)
Yakuza 0 is a game about pain. It’s about friendship, family and the meaning of loyalty. It’s also about beating the ever-loving crap out of “Street Thugs” with traffic cones. Yakuza 0 made North American players finally pay attention to this once-cult series, finding a story that is as goofy and irreverent as it is heart-wrenching and nuanced.
(2014, iOS, others)
Threes seemingly accomplishes the impossible: it makes times tables fun. Really fun. Prototyped in only a night, the game asks players to slide numbered tiles around in an attempt to match up multiples of three, making what used to be one of the worst homework tasks into an addictive mobile game that’s nearly impossible to put down.
336. Quadrilateral Cowboy
(2016, PC, others)
When describing Quadrilateral Cowboy, creator Brendon Chung once said he likes to “try different things.” It takes less than a second to see Quadrilateral Cowboy is, in fact, different. Assuming the role of a 1980s hacker in a surreal cubist world, Quadrilateral Cowboy went on to receive numerous awards for its inventiveness and design.
335. Dishonored 2
(2016, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
Dishonored 2 doesn’t believe revenge is a dish best-served cold. It’s a dish best served however you want it. The sequel to landmark immersive sim Dishonored, Dishonored 2 trusts its players to get the job done — no matter how. Never holding the player’s hand, Dishonored 2 builds upon Dishonored‘s open structure and mission design, creating a game necessitating experimentation.
(1989, Amiga, others)
Designed by controversial video game auteur Peter Molyneux, Populous lets players be a god in the literal sense — in fact, it’s considered the first in the genre. Populous tasks players with growing their own following, all the while trying to eliminate the followers of rival deities, increasing the scale of the strategy game genre to that of cataclysmic proportions.
333. Hot Shots Golf
Golf is, to many, boring. Hot Shots Golf — which kicked off the series now known as Everybody’s Golf — attempts to remedy that, but not without staying true to the source material. Hot Shots Golf strips away the mundanity and seriousness of the sport, replacing it with a humorous, cartoon-like atmosphere, all the while retaining precise ball physics and realistic golf gameplay.
332. Deus Ex
(2000, PC, Mac, others)
Deus Ex is square one. A surprise accomplishment from the notoriously-dysfunctional Ion Storm, Deus Ex revolutionized the way players can approach video games, opening up options and depth never before seen. Deus Ex’s influence is still felt today in games, and is — in part — responsible for the successes and acclaim of games like the Dishonored series.
Voter’s choice: Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption flipped the open-world genre on its head in many ways, but its most remarkable achievement was its doomed protagonist, John Marston. He wasn’t just a sympathetic character; he was lovable. He remained a gentleman even under impossible circumstances — you could press a button to tip his 10-gallon hat toward a stranger.
Marston was a reformed outlaw looking to settle down with his family. So many Americans headed west for a fresh start on a new frontier, but perhaps the poignant element of Marston’s story was that the arrival of civilization wouldn’t let him escape his past.
– Samit Sarkar (@SamitSarkar)
331. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
(2000, Nintendo 64, others)
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, narratively, is the most unusual game in the series. With players constantly hopping back in time to stop the moon from colliding with Earth, Majora’s Mask’s three day time-limit mechanic — and the sense of urgency it added to a series usually about adventure and wonder — still stands out as one of the most interesting additions to the landmark series.
330. Samurai Shodown
(1993, Neo-Geo, others)
Samurai Shodown doesn’t really care about what its fighters can do with their fists. Changing up the traditional hand-to-hand combat of fighting games of the time, Samurai Shodown was one of the first head-to-head games to feature weapon-based combat, making players think strategically about how to utilize the tools given to them.
329. Puzzle Quest
(2007, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, others)
There are a lot of role-playing games on this list, and a lot of them iterate on tried-and-true mechanics. But Puzzle Quest truly feels like something different. Using Bejeweled-style puzzle solving in place of normal combat mechanics, Puzzle Quest dares think outside the box.
328. Panzer Dragoon 2 Zwei
(1996, Sega Saturn)
In response to criticisms, Panzer Dragoon 2 Zwei is a much easier game than Panzer Dragoon, but it’s also a much richer game. A more story-intensive game, with multiple routes for getting through each level and better visuals, critics cited Panzer Dragoon 2 as a sequel that improved upon almost every facet of its predecessor.
327. Miner 2049er
(1982, Atari 8-bit, others)
Considered by Analog Computing Magazine as “one of those rare games which looks as if it were designed, not just thrown together” when it released, Miner 2049er is a much larger platformer than its contemporaries. Released in 1982, Miner 2049er shipped with an unheard of 10 levels for players to jump around — more than double that of Donkey Kong released one year earlier.
326. Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes
(1998, Arcade, others)
Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes slows down for no player. A cross of Marvel superheroes and characters from various Capcom games, Marvel vs. Capcom’s colorful, non-stop action made a near-seamless transition from arcades to consoles, staking a claim at the time as one of the flashiest, most over-the-top fighters on the market. Its sequels may have overshadowed it in the long run, but it’s hard to ignore the initial impact Marvel vs. Capcom had.
325. Lunar Lander
(1979, Arcade, others)
The origins of arcade game Lunar Lander run all the way back to the early ’60s when the original idea was conceptualized. Tasking players with safely piloting a lunar landing module on the surface of the moon, Atari’s Lunar Lander with its vector graphics helped pave the way for one of the company’s most successful and important projects, Asteroids.
(2013, PC, others)
It’s not enough to simply call Gunpoint a puzzle game; its dynamic problem solving makes it so much more. Allowing players to chose how to approach the game’s stealth-based levels, as well as rewire entire buildings to change that approach, Gunpoint sits somewhere between a puzzle game and a play-your-way stealth game, and it’s better than most games in both genres.
323. Gran Trak 10
(1974, Arcade, others)
Gran Trak 10 changed an entire industry. It’s simple by today’s standards, as players drove a car around a track from a top-view angle, passing checkpoints and avoiding obstacles. However, simplicity aside, Gran Trak 10 was one of the first games to utilize integrated circuit-based read-only memory graphics, rather than diode-based visuals — an industry standard going forward.
322. God of War
(2005, PlayStation 2, others)
God of War protagonist Kratos begins his quest as a one-dimensional murder machine. But the game is also a study of unbridled anger and how it can, sometimes irrationally, influence actions. With beautiful levels and an addictive, fluid combat system, God of War remains one of the biggest video game series 12 years later after its debut.
321. Empire: Total War
(2009, PC, others)
In a list full of strategy games, it’s hard to stand out. Empire: Total War, though, knows how to do so. Putting land and sea battles in real time while focusing on the difficult technology of gunpowder weaponry, Total War’s surprising depth — even compared to other strategy games — and historical setting make it a unique and amazing entry in the strategy genre.
320. Dungeon Keeper
(1997, PC, others)
The objective of Dungeon Keeper is right there in its name: establish, maintain and run a dungeon, with the ultimate goal of taking over the game’s world. That description may be selling it short, though. Led by Peter Molyneux, Dungeon Keeper is often cited by developers as an influence, as well as establishing a standard of comparison for strategy games going forward.
319. Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse
(2005, Mac, PC, Xbox, others)
“Painfully short.” “Relatively little plot.” “Never boring.” Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse subverted a long-running video game trope by putting the player in the role of a zombie on the hunt for brains. Garnering a cult-following, Stubbs the Zombie is a bizarre, funny bloodbath reminding everyone to not always take everything so seriously.
(1995, Mac, PC, others)
Descent never lets its players feel safe. Given a full-3D environment with no gravity, players have six degrees of movement — as opposed to the two degrees of other shooters. This choice opens up everything, all the while giving enemies similar options. Though this approach wasn’t adopted by many first-person shooters going forward, Descent revolutionized the way zero gravity was handled in games, implementing a more realistic approach.
317. Computer Space
(1971, Arcade, others)
Everything started here. Computer Space was both the first arcade video game and the first commercially distributed video game. Computer Space was responsible for making the video game industry just that, an industry.
(1980, Arcade, others)
Battlezone put players face-first into the action. Considered by many to be one of the first virtual reality games, Battlezone made its players active participants in its tank combat, rather than controllers of a third-party.
(2003, GameCube, others)
Bringing the 2D vertical shoot-’em-up genre back with contemporary advancements, Ikaruga was called a “masterpiece,” “a shooter-fan’s shooter” and a “work of art.” While it didn’t bring a massive new wave of shoot-’em-ups flooding the market, Ikaruga’s influence is still felt in games today, like Nier: Automata, which borrowed from Ikaruga‘s inventive take on an old genre.
Voter’s choice: Paradroid
Paradroid was the first computer game to really capture my imagination as a young teenager, and to start me thinking about the possibilities of truly ingenious gameplay design. Andrew Braybrook was a C64 legend but this remains his masterpiece. It’s a simple eight-directional 2D shooter with one genius game-changing gimmick; you start as a low-powered robot but can commandeer the more powerful ones you encounter via a clever circuit-hotwiring mini-game. Brilliantly simple and simply brilliant, Paradroid is a landmark classic of the 8-bit era, and my all-time personal favorite. Find it, play it.
– Gary Whitta (@garywhitta)
(1985, Commodore 64, others)
If you’ve played Nier: Automata, Paradroid will seem familiar — though it released 30 years before. A shoot-’em-up with puzzle elements, players either destroy enemy robots or take them over via a hacking puzzle minigame. Paradroid’s genre swapping makes for a tough challenge, one that lets you experiment with the best ways to play.
(1976, Arcade, others)
Taking influence from the success of Pong, Breakout iterates on the former’s addictiveness, all the while casting aside its simplicity. Bouncing a ball against breakable colored bricks, Breakout added a level of challenge unseen in Pong with a much larger playing field and more things going on on the screen for players to keep track of.
312. Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a game constantly standing the test of time. Released nine years ago, Brawl continued the Smash Bros. legacy of constantly refining its gameplay, all the while building its roster of characters from dozens of different series.
311. Battlefield 1942
(2002, PC, others)
Perhaps not the most groundbreaking World War 2 game in terms of its campaign, Battlefield 1942 opened up player options for how players could tackle objectives with numerous weapons and drivable vehicles. 1942 also set a high water mark for online shooters with its dynamic maps ripe for players of different skill levels to make use of the tools available — like the aforementioned vehicles.
(2013, Ouya, others)
If you combine Hotline Miami and Super Smash Bros., the result is Towerfall; games are fast and tense, and death comes quick. Shipping without online multiplayer, TowerFall called back to games like GoldenEye 007 and, of course, Smash Bros. with its tense local competitive matches that end friendships and prove who’s the quickest with the trigger.
(2009, PlayStation 3, others)
Released the same year as violent games like Assassin’s Creed 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Flower was a noticeably quiet game. Telling a subtle story about the dichotomy between nature and human innovation, Flower gave players time to think as they controlled its dancing petals across vast landscapes, meditating on the untouched nature in an ever-growing world.
308. Chrono Cross
Square’s sophomore Chrono game led by a who’s who of rockstar developers and artists, Chrono Cross kept a lot of the D.N.A. that made Trigger such a success, all the while boosting its visual presentation and abandoning the more grindey combat of role-playing games found in the Final Fantasy series.
(2010, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, others)
Split/Second is similar to Burnout games — you race around and cause damage. But Split/Second’s premise, that you’re causing destruction as part of a reality TV show, called out the exploitation of the genre. Never explicit in its message, Split/Second tasked players with causing the most catastrophic damage for entertainment, but also a pointed finger at the controversial TV genre.
306. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec
(2001, PlayStation 2)
Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec masterfully blends being a hardcore simulator and a game so well it found nearly unanimous acclaim from players and critics. Selling over one million copies within three days of its release in 2001, A-Spec gave players a realistic feel of what racing was like behind the wheels of hundreds of licensed cars.
305. Age of Empires
(1997, PC, others)
Though to be “the most sophisticated” strategy game compared to its contemporaries at release, according to GameSpot, Age of Empires takes a realistic, historical approach to the genre, giving players control of ancient civilizations during key real ages. Leaning more into combat than strategy, Age of Empires made for an accessible entry point for those interested in the genre, but intimated by its barrier to entry.
304. Tekken 3
(1997, Arcade, others)
One of the PlayStation’s best-selling games, Tekken 3 helped modernize the fighting game genre with its polished controls and numerous combos. It also sparked an intensely-passionate competitive community that continues to exist to this day.
303. Tempest 2000
(1994, Jaguar, others)
A remake of the 1981 game Tempest, Tempest 2000 received critical praise for its trippy graphics and techno soundtrack. It also, as many have pointed out, helped bring positive attention to Atari and its Jaguar console at a rocky time in the company’s history.
302. Day of the Tentacle
(1993, Mac, PC, others)
The first game led by Tim Schafer, Day of the Tentacle remains one of LucasArts’ most popular releases two decades later. Its time-traveling humor and improved visuals over other LucasArts games caught the attention of critics when it released, as well as placing a lot of eyes on Schafer, who went on to have a prolific career.
301. Resident Evil 2
(1998, PlayStation, others)
If the first Resident Evil was about intimate horror, Resident Evil 2 was about about creating a world of horror. Taking place in the fictional Racoon City, the game put zombies in the streets, making for sprawling dangers. Resident Evil 2 laid the groundwork for a lot of the series’ lore, serving as the basis for many later games and novelizations.
Story text: Blake Hester
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