"Imagine a rustic Spanish village. It’s drab and gray, but still full of life. You can see farmers bustling around as they do their daily chores, and the buildings are made of wood of the surrounding forest. There are even a couple of chickens wandering about. It’d be almost quaint…except for that corpse they’ve got burning in the bonfire in the center of town. Before you can even register just how disturbing that is, someone screams, UN FORASTERO! An axe goes whizzing by your head. People pour out every nook and cranny in sight, and they’re carrying weapons. Thanks to the superb graphics - this game is arguably the best-looking title on the Gamecube, if not of its generation - you can see these villagers in all of their deranged, grotesque splendor. The blood and filth on their hands and mouths. Their dead eyes, staring at you with not the malice of an enemy, but of the sinister, animalistic rage of something unnatural. Depending on how experienced you are, you’ll either scramble around town in a desperate attempt to avoid getting killed, or you’ll make a beeline for the nearest house, barricade yourself in, and try to stave off the mob for as long as possible. Or you could charge right in, delivering roundhouse kicks, incendiary grenades, knife stabs aplenty.
That’s the beauty of it; the game shoves you into seemingly impossible battles, then gives you all kinds of ways to get out of them. What begins as a tiny skirmish in a village slowly evolves into a lengthy and satisfying struggle for your life. Not only can you blow people’s heads off, but they’ll occasionally get back up. That’s on top of the epic crusade through the incredibly ornate castle, the chilling confrontations with all kinds of nightmarish creatures, the constant waves of diehard foes, and that all-too disturbing reveal of the Regenerators. Imagine a flesh-eating zombie that, no matter how many times you shoot it, refuses to go down until you’ve hit its hidden weak point…even if it has to flop around on the floor like an undead piranha to devour you. Not to mention just how easy it is to die; the death screens - all of which are animated in gut-wrenching detail - are some of the most violent images in gaming. You may never look at a chainsaw quite the same way. But you’ll enjoy every second of it, and that’s the point." -- Written by discoinferno84 (originally nominated by SilverMasamune)
"Final Fantasy VI is a great RPG, and one of, if not the, best games the Final Fantasy series has to offer. It was in many ways revolutionary. First, Final Fantasy VI was one of the earliest games to use a modern-style RPG story that was more complicated than simply “Stop the evil villain as he/she tries to take over the world.” Also, Final Fantasy VI implemented several gameplay elements that would become staples in later RPGs, including a semi-universal skillset alongside character-specific ones and Limit Break-type attacks that can be unlocked under special circumstances.
More importantly, however, is the fact that the storyline and gameplay were both stellar. The story is rich, and all the characters were all memorable and generally well-developed considering the size of the final cast. Throw in a very solid storyline and the brilliant use of a plot device rarely seen in RPGs that literally rewrites the map and you have one great story. The gameplay is equally impressive. While the game is relatively easy, it is easy to make challenges to increase difficulty if you so choose. Also, the battle and field map systems are generally fun to work with. But most notable is the gameplay in the second half of the game; there are many sidequests one can do during this part of the game, which are completely optional but add enormous amounts of depth to the gameplay as well as the storyline. Final Fantasy VI is truly a classic, and well worth playing through at least once." -- Written by dude202 (originally nominated by SilverMasamune)
"On a list that already has two other Zelda games on it, you’d think it’d be hard to justify a third. But each of the entries on this list epitomizes a different aspect of adventure games to really put them over the top of other games – and for Link to the Past, that aspect is exploration. The kingdom needs saving, and you’ll have to trek across the whole thing to do it. As Wind Waker taught us, however, it takes much more than a big world to trek across to make for a good game, so what is it that pushes Link to the Past to the top?
To put it simply, the game rewards you every step of the way. Map squares very rarely have little going on, and more often than not, there’s something unique going on everywhere you go. More important than enemies and NPCs – there is a huge variety of weapons and items to find strewn about the world – only some of which you have to find. Your rewards include devastating, screen-filling attacks, a cloak that makes you completely intangible, and the mighty Ice Rod. Beyond items, you can find free health refills, upgrades for your old equipment, an imp that will double your magic, and the legendary Golden Bee.
The rest of the game is far from lacking – the many dungeons you will explore are packed with clever puzzles, mazes, monsters, and some of the most fearsome bosses in Zelda history. It truly is a masterpiece from start to finish, and remains one of the greatest examples of adventure gaming to this day. " -- Written by ccaad5 (originally nominated by jumi)
"Final Fantasy Tactics is one of the few games that provided a truly compelling story. It was the grand, sweeping epic of a realm torn apart by war told through the eyes of its protagonists. Ramza, the naive and idealistic child of the privileged upper class, learning the grim and immoral realities of his surroundings. Delita, whose cunning, ambition, and resentment of others drive him to both incredible and unspeakable lengths. They are two sides of the same coin, and they reflect on the game’s themes of politics, mortality, the influence of religion, social class struggles, morality versus duty, and corruption and integrity. Even with the occasionally atrocious translation, the story still sticks with you; few RPGs have ever depicted their heroes’ struggles in such gripping, fascinating, and poignant ways. By the time those final cutscenes end, you’ll sit back and ponder what you’ve just seen.
Combined with an absolutely stunning soundtrack and impressive graphics, the game would have been memorable enough. But that’s only part of it; the real meat of Final Fantasy Tactics is its superb design. Final Fantasy Tactics redefined the SRPG gameplay mechanics: your team would have to defeat enemies on a chess-like board, taking different terrain heights, attack range, and other strategic aspects into consideration. More importantly, the game gave you the freedom to tailor your party to anything you wanted it to be. Nearly every member of your party could learn and combine the skills that came with the various classes. Half the fun of the game is tweaking your characters in different ways and discovering how to turn even the lowliest squire into a killing machine. Or you could self-impose your own challenges, like using only a certain class, or a certain number of party members. It doesn’t matter how you approach it; the point is that you have the choice. Final Fantasy Tactics may be have aged, but it’s still arguably the finest game of its genre. " -- Written by discoinferno84 (originally nominated by Panthera)
"Chrono Trigger is to JRPGs as Eminem is to rap: Even people who hate the genre still like it.
Visually stunning, even now, it's incredibly large and detailed sprite work are a sight to behold. While there's beautiful artwork throughout the whole game, personally, it's the beautiful stained glass windows in the trial scene that will always stand out in my mind.
Plot-wise, the game is mostly generic, the stock JRPG "mute spiky-haired teenaged hero saves the world with the help of a rag-tag group of friends", but the strength lies in the writing of the characters themselves, and the genuine heart and soul that was given to them, a significant amount of which is owed to the excellent translation work of Ted Woolsey. The ability to see 13 different endings is still unheard of today, let alone in the time of the SNES.
Infamously, the game caused a search for a way to save Schala, a widely-liked character unfortunately fated to die. Due to a vague translation in a single line, players would swear for years that there was a way to save her. While disassembling the game would later prove this untrue, it's still a long-running and well remembered urban video game legend.
But perhaps best remembered is the soundtrack. Expertly composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, the music has so many memorable themes to gamers that it's almost unthinkable. Any gamer who played it can recall the epic announcement of "Frog's Theme", the soft piano and strings of the 600 AD them "Yearnings of the Wind", or the dramatic tribal grooves of "Burn! Bobonga! Burn!". When people mention the greatest soundtracks of the SNES, Chrono Trigger shall forever be on that list.
Leaving a legacy that includes two sequels (one of which is Japanese-only), several ports, a remastered release with cutscenes animated by Akira Toriyama of Dragon Ball Z fame, and a devoted fanbase that to this day, still seeks to improve the game, Chrono Trigger will always be spoken of as a classic of the genre - A game that every JRPG should admire for its strength in art, music, and characters." -- Written by Sor Eddie (originally nominated by SilverMasamune)
"Memento mori. An apt phrase for a game whose initials are also MM. Majora’s Mask is what you get when the Young Link of Ocarina of Time has a bad psilocybin mushroom induced nightmare lasting three days, out cold in some Hyrule Market back alley while dogs lick his face.
The villain in Majora’s Mask is… a mask. He is a parasitic entity contained in a mask whose ultimate goal is the total destruction of a world into which he is accidentally brought by a humble yet alarmingly grave traveling mask salesman, presumably by the same inexplicable black hole into which you fall in the beginning of the game. Fantastic premise, let’s go. That the world will end in exactly three days is a known fact—known not only by you but by everyone you meet. What would Earth be like if memento mori, were a quickly-forthcoming established fact, with no room for evidential doubt, with the moon observably so apocalyptically close? Why it would feel just like that one Majora’s Mask game. To this day, my most moving video game moments were Sniper Wolf’s monologue and watching sisters Romani and Cremia in Romani Ranch on the third day. The Earth is rumbling at regular intervals and they are silent. They’re eating a carefully prepared dinner on a carefully laid table, and they know it’s their last meal together—their last day alive. I cried.
Beyond the emotional impact of the game, the scenery is as gorgeous, the music even more so hauntingly lyrical, and the dungeons and puzzles are clever as they ever have been in a Zelda game. Just this factor alone may make it my favorite—saying nothing of the myriad transformation and practical masks, even sans Fierce Deity. It’s the only game I own on three different consoles. In fact, I like to start a new file every Fall, playing one quarter of the game per quarter year, and watching the game's environment follow the real seasons!" -- Written by gotta scratch (originally nominated by SilverMasamune)
"I think Metroid Prime is so well received because it so effortlessly combines some of LUE’s favourite genres. Platforming, adventure, and FPS all rolled in to one. There’s even a small element of RPG in there, if you count collecting new weapons and increasing your health bar.
The greatest aspect of the game is undoubtedly the atmosphere. I doubt many will disagree with me on this. The switch to FP view makes you feel like you’re actually exploring a new planet teeming with new forms of both peaceful and dangerous life.
The search to get to 100% is also quite fun and never feels tedious. Each discovery gives you an upgrade as well, so it doesn’t feel pointless.
Some people believe backtracking is the worst part of the game, but I’m sure Metroid fans agree that it adds an element of nostalgic fun. I personally love going back to old areas of the game and seeing where my new upgrades will take me. Some of them are quite obvious as well, and it’s easy to remember places you’ve seen that you know will later be accessible through a specific item, and this adds a level of anticipation to your next discovery.
The game is even loved by old school, hardcore Metroid fans as there are tons of ways to sequence break the game and beat it with as little items as possible, in the fastest time possible. The game certainly doesn’t end after your first playthrough." -- Written by DaruniaTheGoron (originally nominated by XyendorAlmighty)
"Super Mario Bros. redefined gaming, Super Mario Bros. 3 did that again and even more. The best selling NES game of all time, if you had a NES and didn’t have this game you truly missed out on something truly great.
While the story is pretty much the same as in the first game, rescue Princess Toadstool from the evil and dreaded King Koopa, the game offers a truly wide world to be explored with the inclusion of Maps within each World. 8 Worlds and in every World there are 8 levels, a Fortress and a Castle. And the game gets harder as it progressed, giving you a harder challenge each level you get through. And there’s also a lot more enemies to defeat, not to mention the Koopa Kids who are controlling each of the Castles throughout each World and have to beat to get to the Princess.
Luckily, this game also includes new and pretty cool Power-Ups that can aid you throughout the game. In first SMB you only had the Super Mushroom and the Fire Flower, now you have more Power-Ups you can use. The Super Leaf, which transforms you into Raccoon Mario and lets you fly across each level and very difficult paths; and the Frog suit, useful for swimming underwater and get across swiftly those dreaded water levels. There are also 3 other Power-Ups, the Hammer Suit, the Tanooki suit and the Kuribo Shoe, which can grant better powers to you but are really hard to get. The Power-ups are really useful to reach certain areas in each level that can’t be reached otherwise.
SMB 3 offered what SMB 1 gave us and more. More levels, more challenge, more of everything that made SMB 1 such a hit. While I think the best 2-D Super Mario game is Super Mario World, we wouldn’t have that, or any Super Mario game to date, if it weren’t for Super Mario Bros. 3." -- Written by Y2k deft colin (originally nominated by jumi)
"The Legend of Zelda's first foray into the world of 3D has been often hailed as the greatest game of all time, and for good reason. It pioneered many elements that are still seen in adventure games to this day. The graphics were stunning at the time, and even nowadays I'm in awe of them.
The side missions are perfect. There are all sorts of quests and games to play. And you never feel like they're getting out of hand and adding all sorts of unnecessary length and you don't have to keep trying at them hundreds of times to achieve your goal. New games have achievement systems that are the exact opposite of this.
Ocarina of Time's real genius comes from the dungeons, however. Every dungeon has a clear theme and atmosphere that is perfectly conveyed. Dodongo's Cavern and the Fire Temple feel hot. I personally thought the Water Temple was pure genius with a well laid out puzzle that encompasses the entire temple. The Shadow Temple and Bottom of the Well scare the s*** out of me to this day. Ganon's Castle is a great way to summarize the game as well, with all 5 temples represented in the final dungeon. Your final battle with Ganon is appropriately epic.
The entire game has this encompassing feel of a wondrous world to explore with secrets around every corner to discover, but you're likely to find danger and darkness as well. Even peaceful places like Kakariko Village have the Bottom of the Well and the graveyard, and Kokiri Forest has the Lost Woods with the Forest Temple hidden at the back of it. This game makes you feel like a kid again, but has adult themes to maintain your interest unlike any other similarly “childish” adventure game." -- Written by DaruniaTheGoron
"Start a discussion about well-written games and Planescape: Torment will come up within ten posts. Even if you've never played it, you've probably heard the name.
All that praise is well earned. Chris Avellone delivered an 800,000-word script in an open-ended style that no game before or since has managed to match. The characters are deep, the interactions between them are complex, and the player has almost total control over what happens. You play as The Nameless One, an immortal who wakes up with fewer memories each time that he is killed. His goal is to discover who he is and how he can end his own life. A simple plot, but one that allows the open-ended story to take over while still providing a goal.
Rather than forcing the player to grind for levels, Planescape: Torment hands out the majority of its experience through dialogue. Character creation is heavily biased toward a diplomat character, which some would call a flaw. Fans of the game realize that this is a blessing in disguise, as the speech trees are the true high point of Planescape: Torment. Why waste your time with weapons when The Nameless One can win a debate so thoroughly that his opponent ceases to exist? You can reach the ending with only four mandatory battles, which means that there are very few interruptions as you enjoy one of the best story-based RPGs ever made." -- Written by GauRocks (originally nominated by Gorthar)
Method: First, the board was solicited for a list of nominees. Each user was allowed to submit up to ten games for the nominations list. The purpose of the nominations list was two-fold: first of all, to give users a chance to nominate games they would like to write for if they won (nominators were given 'first dibs' on write-ups), and secondly, to have a public list of potential games. The second is 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 (236 total) were entered in a large week-long poll. Users were allowed to vote for up to four games. Then, the top vote-getters from that round (48 total) were entered into a final poll, where users were allowed to vote for up to three games. The vote tallies of the two rounds were added and the initial round votes served as the tie-breaker.
With that, the Top 12 games were announced and write-ups were solicited. Nominators had first refusal to write-ups; then, any user on the board could claim one game they wanted to write for. Write-ups were collected, added to the list and posted.
Full Results: 48 total games made the final voting round. They are, in finishing order:
Half-Life 2, Metal Gear Solid 3, Perfect Dark, Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, Final Fantasy 10, Deus Ex, Persona 3 FES, Silent Hill 2, Starcraft, Baldur's Gate II, Jet Grind Radio, Final Fantasy 9, Portal, Suikoden 2, Skies of Arcadia, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, Fallout: New Vegas, Katamari Damacy, Mother 3, Okami, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Tetris, Xenogears, Xenosaga III: Also Sprach Zarathustra, Donkey Kong Country 2, Harvest Moon: Back to Nature, Mega Man X, Paper Mario, Psychonauts, Shenmue, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Time Splitters 2, Dark Cloud 2, Final Fantasy 7, Star Ocean: The Second Story
DDJ's Brief Analysis: Like discoinferno84 said in his introduction text, LUE has an older audience, and it's reflected in the final list. Only three of the final 12 games came out in the past ten years. But easily the most remarkable element of LUE's list is the victory by Planescape: Torment. The game did not even come close to making any of the original five boards' lists, receiving only two votes among all five together. I was so surprised that I went back and recounted my votes twice, but sure enough, Planescape: Torment tied Ocarina of Time for most votes overall, and had one more vote in the first round, which was used as the tiebreaker. Also interesting is that this preserves the ongoing trend of no game taking first place on multiple boards: this trend will cease later in this second batch, but not due to the game you might predict...
List by DDJ (12/17/2010)
Discuss this list and others on the Top 10 Lists board.
Have your own Top 10 in mind? Create and submit your own Top 10 List today.