"So here we have Final Fantasy VII, a game that divides opinion like no other. For some it is a masterpiece, to others an overrated game that they are sick of hearing about.
I'm not going to tell you which it is, instead I'm just going to explain why it deserves to be on this list. Now FFVII may not have had the best graphics, the best gameplay or even been properly translated. However what it did have was an impact and a legacy.
FFVII helped make Sony and the Playstation the force it is today, and it is one of the the games the PlayStation had that allowed it to compete so successfully with Nintendo. It also helped thrust Japanese RPGs into the spotlight, and while there were some excellent games before, FFVII really put them on the map and opened up a whole genre to everyday gamers.
However, for me personally, it is FFVII's legacy that is the real reason it is so great. FFVII's success allowed Square to push on with its other projects, expand the Final Fantasy franchise, and secure it as a mainstay in gaming. It has spawned two films (one short) and three spin-off games, which expanded the whole FFVII universe.
Regardless of whether you like FFVII or not, there is no doubt that this one game has helped to shape gaming into what we know today." -- Written by Reiser99
"What is the definition of a truly great game? Does it mean incredibly detailed, realistic graphics? Does it mean engrossing multiplayer and online capability? Does it mean a crowd-pleaser with everything demanded by the consumer? Final Fantasy IX is none of these things, yet this is without doubt Hironobu Sakaguchi’s masterwork, a game that stands among some of the best games of all time, and one that I adore imploring the merits of at every possible opportunity.
Players are thrust directly into the action on the luscious yet deadly Mist Continent of the planet Gaia, as we follow the exploits of Zidane Tribal, amateur dramatist and professional bandit. He, along with the other thieves of the Tantalus theatre troupe, are tasked with kidnapping Garnet, the beautiful princess of the kingdom of Alexandria and taking her to the nearby kingdom, and airship capital, Lindblum. As events take their course, we meet the young black mage Vivi, the bumbling knight Steiner, the tormented dragon knight Freya, and a host of others as the party are faced with the scourge of war, the legacy of an ancient magic, and the threat of total domination of the world by none other than the ruler of Alexandria, Queen Brahne…
I have never played a game that delivers in so many areas. People pass this game up due to its cutesy art style, but play beyond the first hour and you realize that the narrative encompasses very adult themes and terrible moral dilemmas. The writing is slick, the music is beautifully composed, gameplay is among the best the series has to offer, and I have spent countless hours trawling through the expertly crafted details that the developers so lovingly put in place. Part hilarious comedy, part heart-breaking tragedy, Final Fantasy IX deserves its place in the echelon of gaming greats, and so it should: it is an absolute triumph of a game." -- Written by paul_matthias
"What needs to be said about this game that hasn’t been said already? Goldeneye 007 was a first person shooter based on the movie of the same name and in my opinion is the best first person shooter of all time. From the opening level that ends in the epic jump from the dam right up until the end credits, the game took everything that was great about the movie and gave us, the gamers, a chance to experience every heart-pounding moment ourselves. Whether you were sneaking around a building trying to use stealth to avoid the guards knowing you’d escaped their custody or causing wanton destruction on the streets of Russia in a tank, this was the first video game to put the player in James Bond’s shoes.
Aside from a brilliant story that followed the movie’s plot closely (even turning moments in the film that lasted mere seconds into entire sprawling levels), the multiplayer is what truly made this game so popular and memorable. Back in the days when gamers needed a peripheral plugged into the player two slot to have more than two people playing at once, the N64 was a revelation with its four controller ports and Goldeneye 007 truly helped make that innovation work the way Nintendo wanted it to.
Who could ever forget playing Goldeneye 007 with three other friends and having the arguments start as soon as you hit the character select screen? Strangely, my friends argued over who got to play as Sean Bean’s character rather than Bond himself. There were also unwritten rules (nobody allowed to play as Oddjob due to him being hard to hit because of his short height for example), but the most fun to be had was playing the Temple map with no MP map and settings changed to License To Kill (players died in only one hit) and, to make it extra fun, Slappers Only (your weapon was a karate chop).
All in all, Goldeneye 007’s enduring legacy as a fun single player and memorable multiplayer make this one of the greatest games of all time." -- Written by enterthemadrox
"In a medium that ages about as well as a carton of milk in the sun, Super Metroid stands as a rare example of a timeless video game (at least, so far and for the foreseeable future). Despite being the same age as a college student, Super Metroid can be enjoyed regardless of nostalgia or irony, without any kind of disclaimer excusing its graphics, story, controls, level design, or any of the dozens of other things we’ve made significant improvements to over the years. There are two reasons for this astonishing longevity.
The first and most obvious is that the game is simply fantastic to play. The controls are remarkably smooth and simple, and incorporate the shoulder buttons the first two Metroids so desperately required. The challenge level of the combat is, by most accounts, perfect. The level design is huge and open-ended to an extent that players had not yet experienced in 1994, but it’s also detailed and focused in ways that the bloated, colossal sandbox games of today neglect. And all of this is still just the polish on the rock-solid core of the game – a perfect balance of exploration and combat propelled by a collection of entertaining and well-implemented weapons and tools through some of the most vibrant and memorable environments in gaming’s history.
But more importantly, the second component of Super Metroid’s timelessness is, appropriately, that it was ahead of its time. Super Metroid deliberately uses concepts and techniques that weren’t even known to exist at the time of its development – specifically, atmosphere and gameplay-story integration. The result was an experience that was ground-breaking in ways most players couldn’t even explain at the time. Through nothing but 16-bit aesthetics and on-screen actions, Super Metroid successfully conveyed strong characters and a collection of emotions that modern games are still struggling to match – from paranoia to wonder to rage to respect. And that is why it’s one of the greatest games of all time." -- Written by SSpectre
"In 2007, an amazing compilation came out for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3: The Orange Box. People couldn't wait to nab it as it not only contained Half Life 2 and its first expansion, but also a brand new expansion for Half Life 2 as well as the long awaited sequel to Team Fortress. Naturally, a lot of buyers overlooked Portal, a so-called experiment included with it. But a few curious gamers tried it out and soon, the entire internet knew the cake was a lie.
Portal featured a simple concept that was executed with perfection: shoot two Portals at any stable surface and you can traverse between the two no matter how far the distance. Throw in the fact that the physics made it believable (dropping into a portal will shoot you out of the other side at the same speed or Portals can only be shot at a specific type of wall) and the game's numerous puzzles that involved utilizing said physics (such as flying across chasms and up platforms) and you can see how this fun concept turned into an awesome game.
But the icing on the lie was GlaDOS, the sentient robot watching over the test subjects to record both the results and to comment on their progress. While at first she simply appears to be a normal automated voice helping you through the game, her witty dialogue and funny banter will keep you coming back and completing those test chambers.
If you haven't had the experience of "Thinking With Portals", grab a Weighted Companion Cube and a slice of cake and traverse through the twenty test chambers with GlaDOS at your side. At the end, you'll be glad you're Still Alive and will see why Portal is amongst the favorites of gamers everywhere." -- Written by Jerrynsteph4eva
"Final Fantasy VI is a game that gets a lot of love. Certainly, I am nowhere near the first to extol its virtues, but there truly are a multitude of qualities that make this a game that has stood so well against the test of time for so many fans of RPGs (and even many that don't much care for the genre as a whole). Some praise it for an outstanding soundtrack by Nobuo Uematsu, and a rich world that draws heavily from steampunk and fantasy. Some praise the gameplay for offering a unique set of skills for each character, as well as a magic system that allows for character customization in terms of both detailed spell selection and stats. Others value the unusual experience offered by the very open second half of the game, giving the player a significant amount of control over how the story is experienced. And a great many praise the staggering shift in mood within the story that involves what many consider to be one of the greatest villains of all time.
But that's only half the equation.
When I think about Final Fantasy VI, while every element is valuable to the complete experience of the game, the thing that stands out the most for me is the endearing and well developed cast of characters you spend the game with. While it's true that Terra and Celes both have a lot of attention directed toward them at certain parts of the game, this isn't a story solely about them. It's a story about the treasure hunter seeking something precious, the inventor king of the desert, and the martial artist who chose freedom. A story about the loyal knight with nothing left and the boy of the plains. A story about the gambling lunatic and the assassin with a mysterious past. A story about the girl who paints and her protective grandfather. The characters are the heart and soul of Final Fantasy VI, and you might just be surprised how invested in them you truly are when the time comes." -- Written by Avvil
"Several years ago, a friend and I found ourselves in a surprisingly bitter argument with a rather pigheaded and obstinate mutual acquaintance of ours over whether or not a video game can truly be a piece of art. She insisted, rather ignorantly, that jumping on turtles, saving the princess, or eating white dots could never equal the artistic majesty and brilliance of whatever play she was obsessing over at the time. For a person whose conception of video games does not extend beyond the original Super Mario Bros. and Pac-Man, her viewpoint is understandable. For the rest of us, though, we have our counter-arguments, forged in the complex characters, engrossing plotlines, or flow-inducing fugues we have come to appreciate over the years.
For me, though, the counter-argument is Final Fantasy Tactics. I, personally, did not experience the game until three years ago, twelve years after the original release date. I consider that a blessing and a curse: it's a curse that I spent so much of my video game career playing comparatively mediocre games trying the masterpiece. However, I'm blessed that my impression of the game is not biased by the nostalgia goggles or adolescent idealism that leaves me with such fond memories of Pokemon and Final Fantasy VII. Instead, I say confidently and without reservation that Final Fantasy Tactics is an absolute work of art, a literary wonder that ought to be analyzed and dissected alongside the greats of literature, theater, and film. I would be pressed to name a plot in any medium that was better constructed in terms of its beginning, middle, and end, nor any play or book with characters as tragic and developed.
The Smithsonian Institute has given a strong vote of confidence in the capability of video games to be art, and for me, none fit the bill more aptly than Final Fantasy Tactics." -- Written by DetroitDJ
"A Link to the Past is to the Zelda series what Super Mario Bros. 3 was to the Mario series. It is the breakout game that defined the series in terms of both major plot elements and recurring game mechanics while still using almost every traditional game element from its two predecessors. The Master Sword, bottles, the hook shot, and the bug catching net all appeared for the first time.
But it was more than new items that made this game a classic. LttP had unparalleled gameplay, even in an era when innovative gameplay was at its peak. The multi-level dungeons that crossed back and forth between the newly introduced Dark World were far superior to just about any similar experience in the gaming industry.
Almost equally as important, the game had a simple, but compelling story. Far more interesting than the previous installments, the game made you feel like your character and the story grew and changed as the game progressed. It wasn’t the epic of later chapters, but it revealed pieces of canon that forever defined the series, including the role of the Sages, the background of Ganon, how the Dark World formed, and a partial history for the Master Sword.
The best game and story elements of Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword all owe a debt to this classic SNES game and that is high praise. But even if those sequels didn’t exist, LttP would still be one of the greatest games of all time. Over two decades later, the graphics still depict a beautifully populated world and the gameplay is still addictively fun." -- Written by mikestrauss
"Friends, it's time to talk about Chrono Trigger. I know, I know...
You've heard it all before; the multiple endings, the all-star development team, the New Game +, the characters, the tech system... For some reason, this is often where the conversation ends; a bulleted list of positives considered "enough" to justify why public opinion of the game has risen sky-high over countless JRPGs that can still go toe to toe in quality measurements. Is the game simply overrated? Is it the "best" by way of averages? Did changing positions really alter battles in any significant way?
Gimmicks, gameplay, and graphics aside, I'd suggest what Chrono Trigger really brings to the table is a different design philosphy; one that respects the player enough to experience the game (and narrative within) as they see fit, all within a subgenre typically overcome by hand-holding, awkward 'insider' logic, and forced linearity. What Chrono Trigger really offers to players, to JRPGs, and to video games as a whole, is freedom.
Let's think about Crono; how often will a designated protagonist be removed without forcing their intended return? Let's think about the Geno Dome; how often is it that a sidequest is considered, even though its outcome will be thematically erased upon completing the main quest? Let's think about Lavos; how often do you see developers so confident in their core narrative that they literally throw the final boss away, with the game's ending being accessible at almost any point in a bucket at the end of time? The actions you complete in Chrono Trigger may offer in-game rewards or advance the story a little further, but they're also actions you ultimately chose to complete, gaining a level of personal investment far greater than an on-rails narrative could ever hope to earn alone.
Arturo Bandini (along with many of this site's Top 10 list writers) will tell you that no creative work is guaranteed a captive audience. Regardless of the team involved, Chrono Trigger was a bold leap of faith for interactive storytelling, its narrative relying on willful engagement and trust without determining for the player when it's time to end (time itself was in the hands of the player after all, so it's only natural to let them decide when their time is up). That many have gone on to play (and replay) the game to completion since its release only proves it's a trust that's not been misplaced." -- Written by BlueGunstarHero
"I'm a number-cruncher, and one of the original 17 million cart-owners, so it's no surprise to me the Top-10 board picked such a time-honored classic. Maybe it was mornings cutting teeth on Nintendo's cereal, afternoons watching Lou Albano (RIP) and Danny Wells (RIP), and weekends with Captain N, but my brains were bombarded with Nintendo's blue-collar mascot. When SMB3 arrived, bringing iconic commercials, fast-food toys... that shameless movie... I'd never forget it.
This was the first SMB with true co-op; friends progressing together, not racing independently. There were still slots, plus card-collecting, memory-matching, and retro Mario VS. A deluge of innovations beyond hidden blocks and coin heaven appeared: flight, p-switches, giants, diagonal scrolling, music-boxes, and Kuribo's Shoe, had to be learned. Wonders like Toad's, endless Starman, costumes, hidden exits, and Treasure Ships litter about. This made for the biggest game yet. So big, Nintendo had drawn Mario a map. Nine, uniquely-themed, maps actually. Fighting on flying airships, trudging through sun-streaked deserts, climbing sky-high towers, navigating pipe-mazes, exploring giant pyramids, busting haunted forts, warring with wandering Hammer Bros., storing items, discovering secrets, and finally -- after brimstone and fire (and Army, Navy, Air Force...) -- finally rescuing the Princess from Bowser. (88 stages, 17 mini-fights, 28 Toads... did you skip any?)
SMB3 reverberates in re-releases, remakes, fan-mods, and inspiration (even for Nintendo: NSMB, SML3D). It remains #14 on GameFAQs' Top-50 and continues appearing on Top-10s; Ki Simpson: "Mario... on super power-giving plutonium"; LightAngelTora: the best of 3rd-sequels; WiseWarrior101: the NES' crown-jewel; JamesMcCloud91: the apex of Nintendo NES titles; Arcreium: THE awe-inspiring NES game; DetroitDJ: best of 1990. Various boards awarded it honorable mention (the Couch, Classic Gaming), 9th (PotD), 8th (WoT), 3rd (Mexico, LUE), and top-honors (the Moderators'). We might tire of Nintendo's omnipresent red-collared mascot, but we'll always love SMB3." -- Written by Pako Pako
Method: Voting for this list was broken into three phases. The first phases was a non-binding nominations phase, wherein participants could submit games to be included on a nominations list. This list is intended solely to remind other voters of possible games and mitigate rallying. The second phase allowed participants to vote for up to any five games. The top games were then put forward to the final voting, wherein participants could vote for up to four games specifically from the final voting list. These results were tabulated, ties were broken by first-round voting totals (or, for ninth and tenth, the rate at which participants volunteered to write about the games), and write-ups solicited.
209 games were initially nominated. Of these, 118 games received votes in the first round of voting. 28 games received three votes or more and were entered into the final voting round. A five-way tie in the final voting round for ninth was broken by how quickly write-ups were contributed for these games: ninth and tenth received volunteers for writing before the three honorable mentions, and thus made the numbered slots on the list.
Full Result: 28 total games received votes in the final voting round. The rest are, in finishing order:
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Suikoden II, Shadow of the Colossus, To The Moon, Silent Hill 2, Baldur's Gate, Skies of Arcadia, Journey, Metal Gear Solid 3, Lufia 2, Persona 4, Super Mario Galaxy, Batman: Arkham City, Monkey Island 3: The Curse of Monkey Island
DDJ's Brief Analysis: Interestingly, the Top 10 List board list is largely dotted with the most common games to appear on other boards' lists as well. This is the 21st list in this series, and every single game on this list has been featured other boards' lists, with many having been included over five times. That's all especially interesting given that the Top 10 List board's list doesn't include Ocarina of Time, Shadow of the Colossus, or Deus Ex, three of the most commonly-featured games among those other lists. Including honorable mentions, Heroes of Might & Magic 3 is the list's only unique entry, as both Sonic 3 + Knuckles and Metal Gear Solid have been featured on other lists in this series as well.
List by DDJ (01/13/2014)
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.