"This was one of the first high-profile games of the Playstation 2 era and for the most part lived up to the hype. It was one of (and still is, in my opinion) one of the prettiest games out there. The beautiful in-game graphics were supplemented by some stunning cutscenes and the transition from exploration to battle was near-seamless.
Graphics aside, there were several new features to get excited about, including the ability to switch out characters at will and the sphere grid leveling system. The latter allowed some fairly deep customization of characters – for example, having a mage that knew Stonestrike or a warrior with healing magic. The customization extended to armor as well, prompting tremendous satisfaction when producing Grand Marlboro proof armlets! Then there was the love-it-or-hate-it minigame, Blitzball. If it clicked, a person could spend hours just playing Blitzball outside of the main story.
When it comes to the story, FFX had a few tricks up its sleeve to keep one interested. The first half of the game seemed like standard Final Fantasy fodder – “Hai guiz, it’s time to save the world!” But then it took everything you thought you knew and turned it on its ear, multiple times. The characters drew you in (even as some of them annoyed you) so that it was easy to care about what happened to them.
Despite a few flaws, this was truly one of the best experiences available on the PS2, and it has enough content to keep you going back again and again." -- Written by siara79
"Terran, and Zerg, and Protoss, oh my! Starcraft is just one of those games that doesn't grow old. Having come out in 1998, many people continue to play it. Heck, I remember when I used to have get togethers with some of my friends and play some closed network battles using Panera Bread's wifi. That was high school...2006. Only now since release of Starcraft II has the hegemony of Starcraft perhaps come to an end. But despite whatever technological advances Starcraft II possesses, Starcraft is a game that continues to be a fun game for RTS players. Starcraft is simply like one of the original Mario games for real-time strategy players. What makes the game so exciting is how Blizzard successfully made a basically balanced triad. The advantages of one race are offset by those of another and if all players are equally skilled with their race, then it comes down to who can be the better micro-manager. Some luck helps as well. But skillz is the real name of the game. Whether you lift-off your command center, mutate a drone into a living and breathing sentient building, or warp buildings into existence from the void, every player learns to find his niche with one of the races. Some like the bling and shininess of the Protoss, some enjoy the guts of the Zerg, and others just want to stay human as Terran. Besides multiplayer, the fact that the campaign itself is multilayered and takes you through all the races demonstrates the positive intricate structure of this well-designed game. “I need a light”...this brother means business." -- Written by harryjamespotter
"What can I even say about Final Fantasy Tactics? I wrote an 11-page review about it, that should tell you plenty – but I earnestly believe that Final Fantasy Tactics is the greatest game ever made. That's a bold claim, considering how many games I haven't played, but Tactics is so far and away better than anything else I've ever played that I'd be pretty surprised if there was something in the interim (although admittedly, I'm just now finally playing through Chrono Trigger).
I could go on about the battle system, gameplay variety, pacing, etc., but with Tactics, it all comes down to the story. This was the game that confirmed my suspicions that video games can be a true form of literary expression, on the order of books and movies. They provide numerous very unique affordances: with games, you experience a story rather than witness it; you can give it the length of a book, but the visual appeal and viewer connectedness that only come with visible characters and environments; and because of the intermingled gameplay elements, you can give a much deeper sense of immensity and significance.
Final Fantasy Tacticsleverages all of these benefits of video games to its advantage. It puts the player in the literal shoes of the main character, to experience the gripping story. It reveals a long and winding plot that somehow manages to provide an instantly-immersive introduction and satisfying conclusion, while also attending to the middle in a way few narratives succeed in doing. On top of that, it capitalizes on numerous popular story devices, like the introductory prophecy, to provide what is, in my extremely bold and controversial opinion, the modern era's closest competition to classic playwrights." -- Written by DetroitDJ
"The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is the fourth Zelda game, and it had to follow the massively popular Link to the Past. No small task, considering it was released on the good ol' GameBoy, which obviously had its limits. However, Nintendo managed to use the hardware to its fullest, and delivered a genuine masterpiece, which was a wonderful addition to the already rich Zelda universe. It used classic elements, like familiar puzzles and items, but added a ton of new elements to it (good examples are fishing and an ocarina, which have becoming important parts of newer Zelda games). The thing that made Link’s Awakening stand out most to me, however, is the world, its inhabitants and the story. There’s no Hyrule here. There’s no Zelda who needs saving from Ganon. Instead, Link is stranded on the island of Koholint, where he meets friendly people who are simply living there live in a happy village. Of course, monsters have been showing up, and it is up to you to save the day. Well, if you ever wanna leave the island, that is. If you never played this, I really recommend it. You’ll be amazed by the graphics, the lovely music (Tal Tal Heights is a personal favorite), the cameos (<3 Yoshi) and just the sheer amount of fun you’ll have. Oh, and don’t steal from the shopkeeper, you thief :)" -- Written by Kaas
"Is there anything left to say about this game that hasn’t been said yet? Ocarina of Time has been featured in dozens of lists, and topped the charts in many “best games” rankings. Practically everything is known about this game, almost every gamer has at the very least heard of this game, there have been countless speedruns and I’m pretty sure it’s one of the most played N64 games ever. Heck, it’s the first 3D Legend of Zelda game, features the best N64 music (imo, of course) and sets the bar for all adventure/action games to come. Many gamers will remember the much dreaded Water Temple, hunting for gold Skulltulas, setting foot in Kakariko Village for the first time, the screaming Re-Deads when they exit the Temple of Time, or simply talking to the Deku Tree. And who can forget the wonderful characters who inhabit the world of Hyrule? Sure, there’s Zelda, Sheik, and Ganondorf, but what about Ingo, Sarah, the 7 Sages (wasn’t it cool to discover the towns in Zelda II were named after them?), Epona, the annoying owl Kaepora Gaebora, Biggoron and Malon? Skull Kid (who became quite important in the sequel) appears for the time, and even Dark Link shows his face again! I almost forgot to mention some of the greatest songs in video game history (which a lot of people are gonna hum along now): the amazing Song of Storms, the now-classic Hyrule Field theme, the controversial Fire Temple theme, the relaxing Kakariko Village song, and my personal favorite, Gerudo Valley. Well, I hope you enjoyed this small trip down memory lane, and don’t forget to Hey! Listen!" -- Written by Kaas
"Oh the Playstation era of RPGs. When every developer wanted to create more human-like characters and real futuristic environments, Final Fantasy 9 went the other direction. The easiest way to explain this? Look at the characters. The main character had a tail. Among the others available for your party include a child-like black mage, a "qu" that speaks broken english and is motivated by searching the world for new food to eat, a rat-like dragoon and a girl with a guardian moogle. Unlike the previous two Final Fantasy games of the era which were dark and downtrodden, Final Fantasy 9 actually resonated a positive vibe with bright colors and a true fantasy world free (for the most part) of the manufactured factory look of the previous two games. Unlike the previous two games, the look doesn't dictate the game, meaning that even a vibrant fantasy world was capable of a well-developed plot supported by a deep NPC cast that starts slowly and completely engulfs you by the time you reach the final disc. Final Fantasy IX featured two of the best mini-games of the series as well: Chocobo Hot and Cold, essentially a treasure hunt where you develop your chocobo, and Tetra Master, a 4x4 card game which didn't feature a rule that was universally hated (Hello there "random" from Final Fantasy XIII!) The only things holding the game back? The graphics, which looked fantastic a decade ago but hasn't aged well, and an inconceivable decision to have people who purchased the guide search online for help. Yes, the official guide actually left things out on purpose forcing you to visit the games PlayOnline website and use the keywords in the guide for guidance. It didn't make sense then, it makes even less sense now, and unfortunately is the legacy of the game to many. Regardless of a foolish guide decision, the game is the peak of Playstation-era RPGs and earns a well-deserved spot on our list." -- Written by DarkAngel13
"If you were to ask me what my memory of classic gaming is, you would get this game as an answer. I've played this game to the point that I know every little secret 1-up, know the location of every special stage and my Genesis cart has 8 saves all with all emeralds collected. This is what Sonic should be. Also it might be weird to see the 'lock-on' game being on this list, but I refuse to call Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles separate games. It is not very well known that it was intended to be one game the whole time but due due to time restrictions they were forced to cut the game in half to meet the deadlines. So this is what Sonic 3 should have been the whole time. In this game you have the perfect balance of platforming and speed, just the right amount of story in a Sonic game. (No annoyingly bad voice acting...) The story was presented in a simple way, but it was easy to make out what was going on without any text. This is the level of story all the games since should have had. It was the first Sonic game to save the last level you were on and the number of extra lives and continues you had. This was perfect for someone who can't sit still on one video game for an extended period of time like myself. The music in this game is amazing. There are so many good tracks like the Ice Cap Zone that still sit in the hearts of old school Sonic fans. However the real test for me is the fact that I still play this game frequently. Even though Sonic 3 & Knuckles came out in 1994, I would say I break out this game more often than any other game I've already beaten. This game holds a huge place in my video gaming heart and I will continue to play it as long as I can." -- Written by Error1355
"It's strange to think that a game more than 15 years old can still be considered the pinnacle of one of the most well-known series in gaming. The fact that time after time Final Fantasy VI (or FF3 as many of in North America know it as from the original release) is among the highest rated games both critically and in public opinion shows why this game could not be ignored for this list. The story, to simply put it, is the best of the series. What starts as a simple rebellion against the empire shortly delves into a rich plot dealing with then-real world issues in a manner no RPG had before. The game is set in an ever-changing world with numerous plot twists and one of the most memorable "bad guys" of the series and finishes neatly wrapped up with an ending that is among the best in the series. The music? Phenomenal. One of the few video game soundtracks actually worth purchasing back before digital distribution was popular. When released in 1994 the game was the peak of sprite-based graphics on the SNES. Vibrant colors and a dark theme to the second half of the game were a perfect addition to the memorable character design. The large cast (up to 14 playable!) has very few "throw-ins" which gives each character a complex background for you to discover within the game. Each has their own unique abilities, so with a four member party and up to 14 characters each play through can be experienced in a completely different way. The apex of the SNES and 2D RPGs shouldn't even be an argument. This game got my personal vote for greatest of all-time and considering that it's one of two Final Fantasy games to make the IGN Hall of Fame, it should be pretty obvious why Final Fantasy VI is cited as one of the best games ever." -- Written by DarkAngel13
"Chrono Trigger is widely regarded as one of the best games of the SNES era, and with good cause. The story was unique for a “mainstream” RPG in that your main character traveled through time while attempting to save the world. (While saving the world might be a standard RPG cliché, Chrono Trigger did it with style.) Also, it was unusual in that you could finish without the main character in your party. Speaking of your party, you had a cast of very colorful characters from each time period – from the past’s cavewoman Ayla, to the future’s Robo, each character had their own special abilities (and later, special sidequests to flesh out their stories).
Another highlight of this game was that there were multiple endings. Each ending had its own set of requirements and some of them had a very short window to access. All endings depended on two things: when you defeated the Big Bad, and what actions you had performed up to that point. The New Game+ option enabled you to take on the final boss anytime, anywhere.
The first half of the game was mostly linear, but after a certain point there were a number of different sidequests available, including several based on your actions in different time periods. None of these were necessary to finish the game, but they did help you gain levels and special equipment to make that task much, much easier.
The PS1 remake added some gorgeous cutscenes that fleshed out the story as well as created a firm connection between CT and its sequel, Chrono Cross. Unfortunately, it also added horrendous load times which ruined the experience for many. Finally we got the “director’s cut” version – a DS remake that included the anime cutscenes of the PS1 version PLUS a fantastic retranslation on the level of FFIV DS. (It also had a bland new dungeon and a new boss/ending to tie it even tighter to Chrono Cross.)
With multiple endings, optional sidequests and bosses, and now the new Bestiary, Item Library, and monster raising functions on the remake, CT is a completionist’s dream – worth replaying again and again." -- Written by siara79
"How do you argue with one of the most successful video games in history? It does seem quite a feat. Super Mario Bros. 3 is commonly notated as one of the best-selling video games of all time. It can be cited as influencing nearly every Mario Bros. game that came after. From significant bits like the world map (which became a staple element of Super Mario World) to a silly thing like Bowser's red hair (I know -- "lolwut" -- but he didn't have hair in the first game), SMB3 is progress in every sense of the word. Most of all, it's just damn fun to play. Grab a Leaf and fly away, or grab a Starman and KILL ALL GOOMBAS. It's not always about how to defeat the level, but about how you choose to play the level. Should you try and go to the Toad House, or plow through an easier level, inching ever closer to the castle? The choice is truly yours. The scope of the gameplay is truly an accomplishment to be rewarded. How do you argue with greatness? You don't; you bow to its every whim. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Super Mario Bros. 3." -- Written by Tidus9554
Method: The method for this list differed slightly from the others to account for the significantly smaller user base. Like the others, it opened with a nominations phase. The purpose of the nominations list was to have a public list of potential games, to guard against a voter suggesting a game late that many previous voters would've voted for had they thought of it.
Then, the games (106 total) were entered in a large multi-week poll. Voters were allowed to vote for up to five games. Then, the top 20 vote-getters in that poll were entered into a final round of voting, in which each voter could up- or down-vote each game. These rankings determined the final list. Write-ups were contributed by whoever wanted to write them. About 35% of the moderators on the staff participated in one stage or the other.
Full Results: 20 total games made the final voting round. The other eight were, in finishing order:
Final Fantasy 8, Portal, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Final Fantasy 7, Perfect Dark, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Metal Gear Solid 3, Pokemon FireRed/LeafGreen. Also, SBAllen gave Final Fantasy IV such a big vote that I'm mentioning it here, too.
DDJ's Brief Analysis: The GameFAQs moderator staff probably has a significantly higher average age than the average GameFAQs social board, and that shines pretty clearly in this list. Only one game -- the 12th-place finishing Fallout 3 -- hails from the last nine years, compared to 4, 7, 6, and 6 from the previous four lists (alphabetically). The moderators' top-ranking game, Super Mario Bros. 3, is considered in many places to be one of the three or four greatest games ever made, but yet appears on only one other board's list (#9 on Poll of the Day's). Also notable is the absence of Final Fantasy VII, but the presence of its less-appreciated successor, Final Fantasy IX.
List by DDJ (10/28/2010)
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