On January 20, 2010, I posted a list called the Top 10 GameFAQs Top Ten lists. It was the 2019th top 10 list to be posted, and it looked back over the previous 2000 lists and picked a handful to highlight as exemplars of the medium and its potential.

As it turned out, that was terrible timing. A few weeks later, GameFAQs updated its top 10 list interface to allow images, formatting, and paragraph spacing. What followed was a golden age for top ten lists: the writing over the next few years was at times borderline literary or academic. There were lists that could have easily been the foundation for chapters or books.

I'm not looking back through rose-tinted glasses when I say that. At the time, I was a graduate student; now, ten years later, I'm a faculty member at an American research institution with two published books to my name, but when I say that the writing at the time was almost academic or literary, it's based on a recent reading of the content from back then. As part of the project I'm about to describe, I went back and read—in whole or part—every list posted from January 20, 2010 to today. I can say in 2020 that the lists written by the authors of the early 2010s were truly that good.

That might make you scoff today. The volume of top 10 lists over the past several months has dropped tremendously. Since the debut of top 10 lists in 2005, there have been over 3000 lists posted. Almost half came in the first three years, 2005 to 2007, but they still flowed in at a steady rate over the next few years as the quality rose: almost 200 were posted in 2010, and over 100 were posted per year through 2017. 2018 saw only 57, 2019 had 46, and so far in 2020, we've had only 25. Only seven lists have been posted in the past four months. Quality content is still there, of course—darkknight109, in my opinion the best Top 10 author of us all (myself included), published two lists earlier this year, which makes them among the dozen most recent lists in the archive. White_Pointer is still writing, and I published my most recent list last December.

Still, you'd be forgiven for thinking the quality of the enterprise has dropped. The lower authorship rate means that when a subpar list comes through, it stays on the front page for far longer; and if a single author is writing a lot, they can dominate the space, transforming the perception of the medium into a perception of their own work. The result of that, then, is that other potential authors don't contribute because they don't see the potential of the medium, a self-perpetuating cycle that drives the quality of content into the gutter.

So, I set out with a goal of reminding folks of the potential of this medium. I wanted to create a Part 2 of my Top 10 GameFAQs Top Ten lists, highlighting the ten best lists of the past decade. So, I sat down and read (in whole or part) every single list posted since 2010. I then made a note of every list that was good enough to have been included in that original top ten ranking.

And that's where I ran into a problem. I ended up with 168 lists that were at least as good as the ten I featured ten years ago, by 77 different authors. 168 is an underestimate as well because once I decided I wouldn't feature lists from larger series in this write-up, I stopped adding those to my list. When I said there was a 'golden age' of top ten lists, I'm not kidding. The content was phenomenal—especially at the start of the decade, but even continuing to more recent contributions. Five of the 168 are from this year's 25 lists.

So what do I do with 168 lists to highlight? Well, I do what we all do when we have too many things we want to highlight for a particular list topic: I make a series, or a series of series. In this case, I'm going to start by highlighting more of the best top ten lists, with two key rules: (a) only one list per author, and (b) only standalone lists, not series of lists. (a) is because without that rule, I wouldn't be able to reasonably keep this series under ten lists: there are authors who could have an entire top ten list written about their lists alone and still have some glaring snubs. (b) is because it is difficult to judge a single list in a series against a truly standalone list: it's like comparing a single MCU movie to a standalone blockbuster production. A list in a series is more than the list alone. There may be times I fudge on (b) a little to highlight lists that later got "sequels" or two-part lists (rather than three-or-more parts), but generally, this is a list of the top ten standalone GameFAQs Top Ten lists. Oh, and of course (c), none of my own lists. That'd be selfish.

Then, I plan two more lists (or list series) following this: a Top 10 GameFAQs Top Ten List Series, and a Top 10 GameFAQs Top Ten List Authors.

The goal of this is not to pat ourselves on the back for how awesome at this we are. It's not meant to be self-congratulatory or self-serving, although at times it will certainly seem that way. The goal instead is to remind you, dear reader who arrived here from that link on the front page, of the potential of this medium in hopes that you'll join us and start writing lists of your own.

Unlike my previous Top 10 GameFAQs Top Ten Lists, this one is going to be sorted by posting date, not by quality. For authors that had multiple lists in my selection of 168, I first chose which of their lists to feature, and then put them in order. Images will generally be some game representative of that list's topic. Numbers in parentheses after list titles are the list ID; put that number in this URL to jump straight to that list: https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/top10/[number]- (make sure not to leave off that dash at the end).

So, without further blathering, here's Part 2 of 4 of my selections for the Top 10 (well, Top 40) of the last 1000 GameFAQs Top Ten lists (and Part 3 of 5 of the series overall).

List: Top 10 Implementations Of User-Generated Content

Author: SubliminalFunk

Link: https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/top10/2398-

Summary: Nowadays, user-generated content is a mainstay and prominent part of the game industry. Games like Mario Maker and Animal Crossing have thriving user-generated content communities. In 2012, though, the effort was still relatively new. Here, SubliminalFunk takes us through ten of the methods for implementing it that had had success at the time, including LittleBigPlanet, Minecraft, and—likely still the king of the genre—Starcraft.

Praise: One interesting part of going back through these lists has been that, obviously, many are now outdated. Thousands of games have been released since 2012. When the list is about a particularly contemporary topic like user-generated content, there are going to be numerous examples that would make a rewritten version of the list today. What is thus always interesting to me is: how interesting is the "outdated" list to read now? In this case, a modern incarnation would most certainly include Mario Maker and lots of more recent examples. However, the writing in the list is still fascinating, informative, and accurate. The list is far more than the games in order: it is the history lesson embedded in the writing of their descriptions. That's part of what makes a great list: it should not need to be rewritten or remastered a couple years later based on more recent releases, but rather should still be historically interesting on its own.

More by This Author: If you enjoyed this list, check out these others by SubliminalFunk: Top 10 Unconventional Forms Of Travel In Video Games (2252) and Top 10 Non-Shooter Xbox Live Arcade Games (2382).

List: Top 10 Things That Can Help To Make Games More Accessible

Author: FreshFeeling

Link: https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/top10/2400-

Summary: Accessible design is an important by challenging goal for modern video game designers. Some elements are legally required, but all open up additional markets, not only from the players who require those features to play but also from others who benefit from them directly. I do not have any hearing impairment, but I keep captions on for every game so that I can play while my kids sleep upstairs. In this list, FreshFeeling takes us through some of those features that can add additional accessibility and bring new audiences into the gameplay fold.

Praise: I work in and teach human-computer interaction, and one thing that I find fascinating is how certain design decisions can have significant unforeseen effects, both positive and negative. A quick, seemingly insignificant decision like whether to visualize full health as blue or green can be the difference between playability and total inaccessibility for a color blind player. Here, FreshFeeling goes through exactly these kinds of design decisions: things like zoomable text and motion controls, which seem to be purely subjective design decisions, can have powerful accessibility implications as FreshFeeling documents. The focus here isn't on the big, obvious, high-cost features like one-handed controllers, but rather on low-cost, high-impact additions that any game can incorporate.

More by This Author: If you enjoyed this list, check out these others by FreshFeeling: Top 10 Good Games That Start Very Slowly (2315), Top 10 Masamunes (2301), and Top 10 Ragnaroks (2321).

List: Top 10 Most Unique RPG Battle Systems

Author: wheresatari

Link: https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/top10/2402-

Summary: When someone describes a game as an RPG, a number of criteria likely come to mind: certainly things like experience points, skill trees, movesets, and equipment, but likely elements of battle as well, like turn-based vs. real-time. In fact, when I wrote RPG right there, a number of design decisions likely immediately popped into your mind. In this list, wheresatari looks at games that buck those conventions and, while still staying true to some elements of the RPG formula, demonstrate some true and much-needed innovation in the area of the battle system.

Praise: I throw around a lot of random words of praise when describing top ten lists: a list is good if the reader learns something, if it doesn't feel outdated even years after it is written, if it justifies its selections with some objective criteria, etc. But these are games, after all, and games are meant to be played, not read about or watched. Perhaps the ultimate praise for a list, then, is that it gets the reader to play one of its games. This list did that for me: several years ago, it convinced me to pick up The World Ends With You again after I had hated it the first time through. Now, eight years late, I'm probably going to pick up Resonance of Fate based on this list's description. (That said: if you do read the list, mentally slot Baten Kaitos in at #11... for my money, it has the most unique RPG battle system I've ever seen. There's another game I wish was more easily playable nowadays. Oh, and Skies of Arcadia. Come on, virtual consoles and classics library, catch up!)

More by This Author: If you enjoyed this list, check out these others by wheresatari: Top 10 Villians You Would Never Want To Invite To A Party (2465), Top 10 Betrayals Across The Platforms(2477), and Top 10 Videogame Characters That Would Never Make It Through Airport Security (2569).

List: Top 10 NES Co-op Experiences

Author: Terotrous

Link: https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/top10/2408-

Summary: In this list, Terotrous introduces us to ten different high-quality examples of co-op gaming from the NES era. From Battletoads to Bubble Bobble, from well-known games to obscure hidden gems, Terotrous describes the gameplay and co-op features of each.

Praise: I always thought co-op was a relatively new phenomenon in gaming; growing up in the SNES and Nintendo 64 eras for the most part, I remember being intrigued when more and more titles in the PlayStation 3 era started to emphasize co-op gameplay, either local or online. I always attributed it to the easier way in which co-op experiences can be developed when players had their own screens. Little did I know that my niche experience just didn't introduce me to more such games: I had no idea there were so many NES-era games featuring this style of gameplay. In this list, Terotrous demonstrates a phenomenally deep knowledge of the landscape of the NES, from well-known titles like Battletoads and Bubble Bobble to obscure titles like Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers and Snake Rattle 'n Roll. And did you know Pipe Dream on NES had a co-op mode? I didn't!

More by This Author: If you enjoyed this list, then... I guess search for NES on the top 10 list archive, since this is the only thing Terotrous has written!

List: Top 10 Under-the-radar Video Game Soundtracks

Author: roadtosalvation

Link: https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/top10/2433-

Summary: There are a lot of very well-known video game soundtracks out there; there are entire Spotify radio stations devoted to the medium. Final Fantasy and other RPGs are mainstays on their lists, but nowadays pretty much every AAA title is expected to have a good soundtrack as well. Looking at my own recently-played soundtrack channels, they're dominated not by RPGs, but by Skyrim, Halo, The Last of Us, and Assassin's Creed, interestingly enough. But in this list, roadtosalvation takes the charge to write about under-the-radar soundtracks seriously, introducing us to over 20 games (including honorable mentions) you'd never see on such a playlist.

Praise: I find most lists that talk about 'underrated' or 'under-the-radar' games are just the author's excuse to write about one of their favorites at #1, and then add enough filler earlier on to fill out the full ten. Not in this case, though: while (based on the writing) I'm betting roadtosalvation does have a special appreciation of Battle Arena Toshinden, every other game (excepting Xenosaga, and I think that's just because I had a friend who went on and on about it) was indeed a surprise to me. Even the well-known games that are included aren't well-known for their soundtracks specifically, and I'd be hard pressed to remember many details from the soundtracks of Doom or Mega Man V.

More by This Author: If you enjoyed this list, you probably also like the Baha Men and The Buggles, since you have a thing for one-hit wonders: this was the only list roadtosalvation has written!

List: Top 10 Games Which Went Through Development Hell

Author: highwind07

Link: https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/top10/2545-

Summary: The phrase 'development hell' is often used to describe movies or TV shows that have been subject to long development cycles featuring lots of hand-offs between different companies or directors; as video game development timelines have grown to mirror those of other media, the term has been extended to game development as well. The complexity of gaming and the ever-changing technology underlying it mean that when a game is stuck in development hell, it stays there for a lot longer because if it stays there long enough, it almost inherently must start over from scratch for a different console generation. Here, highwind07 walks us through several examples of games that went through development hell: some emerged well, others poorly, and still others not at all.

Praise: The depth of highwind07's history here is truly phenomenal; this list could be a pitch for an entire book about development hell in the context of video games. For every single entry, he walks through in painstaking detail the hand-offs and exchanges and back-room agreements and obstacles that affected the development of these games. For other lists that might be overkill, but for a list like this, that level of detail is necessary to understand the complexity of the situations: any sort of high-level summary would fail to do justice to the severity of the issues. You'll want to pour yourself a cup of coffee (or two) before sitting down to read this one, but you'll be glad you did. And then, pour another one and read Part 2 (2560).

More by This Author: If you enjoyed this list, check out these others by highwind07: Top 10 Conversion Modifications (2568), Top 10 Games That Were Restricted Or Banned In Different Countries (2631), and Top 10 Industry Icons That Parted With The Companies That Made Them Famous (2789).

List: Top 10 Glitches That Became Features

Author: Eesgooshee

Link: https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/top10/2563-

Summary: We're all familiar with glitches in video games, and while most are obviously undesirable, some occasionally can introduce new and interesting effects that go on to become part of future designs of games in the franchise. In this list, Eesgooshee takes us through ten examples of unintentional design features that went on to become deliberate inclusions in subsequent games.

Praise: The idea of a glitch becoming a feature is pretty common (there's even the classic meme quote, "It's not a bug, it's a feature"), and most of us are familiar with the well-deserved #1 entry on Eesgooshee's list, the Space Invaders' increasing speed. The feature is so iconic that it is difficult to imagine the game without such a clearly desirable inclusion. Can you name other examples, though? You probably can, but you don't know that you can because you yourself don't realize they are glitches in the first place. That's what makes this list from Eesgooshee so good: we are all familiar with the features that came from the glitches, but most of us didn't know they started out as glitches in the first place. The entire Grand Theft Auto franchise of games, and arguably the entire fighting genre in general, started off because of a well-timed glitch.

More by This Author: If you enjoyed this list, check out these others by Eesgooshee: Top 10 Bosses That Stalk You (2306), Top 10 (Mostly) Self-Imposed Challenges: Specific (2330), and Top 10 Boxes In Video Games (2387).

List: Top 10 Most Unexpected Games In A Series

Author: NettoSaito

Link: https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/top10/2570-

Summary: Many game franchises undergo major transformations in order to stay relevant, whether it be Final Fantasy embracing more active battle systems in Final Fantasy XII or Mario jumping to 3D in Super Mario 3D. In this list, NettoSaito walks us through some of the franchise reinventions that none of us could have seen coming in advance, but that all worked out surprisingly well: from Luigi finally getting a turn as the star in Luigi's Mansion to Mega Man reinventing itself as an RPG in Mega Man Battle Network.

Praise: What really impresses me about this list is the long strides that NettoSaito takes to give us the context behind these unexpected turns in the franchises' history. It would have been easy to just write only about the unexpected game, but then those of us who were not familiar with the franchise history would not truly understand the surprise. For example, I never played Mega Man growing up; if you told me that Mega Man Battle Network was a surprising reinvention as an Action RPG, I would have shrugged and said okay. It is only NettoSaito's detailed history of the Mega Man franchise that sells how unexpected the game was. That level of detail is present for all the entries: they double as both introductions to the unexpected entry and histories of the franchises themselves.

More by This Author: If you enjoyed this list, check out these others by NettoSaito: Top 10 Fun And Helpful Glitches In Video Games (2479), Top 10 Video Game Related Things People In The Past Wouldn't Believe (Even If A Time Traveler Told Them) (2925), and Top 10 Games With Stories That Continue Outside Of The Game (2975).

List: Top 10 Mainstays In The Final Fantasy Series

Author: gmo7897

Link: https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/top10/2586-

Summary: Every Final Fantasy game (except the obvious direct sequels) may start its own world and cast from scratch, but there are still elements that cut across the franchise as a whole, uniting it thematically and interactively. In this list, gmo7897 presents ten such elements, from the superficial (all the Cids) to the foundational (minigames and sidequests) to the experiential (music) to the thematic (large weapons, Bahamut, and Chocobos).

Praise: It's difficult to write a good list about a single franchise, even one as long as the Final Fantasy series. Typically, your audience will break down into two groups: those familiar with the franchise and those who are not. Those familiar will learn nothing from your list, and probably have enough background to dispute the choices and claims. Those not familiar will not have the background to even understand your list. In this case, gmo7897 straddles the line between the two camps phenomenally, giving enough background for non-fans to understand while including details even long-time fans of the series may not yet know.

More by This Author: If you enjoyed this list, check out these others by Top 10 Things I Have Learned From Video Games (2420). That's all, that's his only other list.

List: Top 10 Competitive Video Games With The Highest Skillcap

Author: MindyK

Link: https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/top10/2593-

Summary: In this list from 2013, MindyK walks through the top ten games of the time with the highest skillcaps; that is, the top ten games where the pros can be differentiated from the experts, experts from novices, and so on. Games like Mario Kart are such that, ultimately, you can only get so good, but there's arguably no limit to how good a player can get at games like Starcraft, Quake, and Super Smash Bros.

Praise: What I like about this list is how contemporary the subject matter is to modern times. Today if we were to discuss the top esports games, we'd talk about Overwatch, Rocket League, Fortnite, and Hearthstone, all games that weren't even released when this list was written. Parts of it are timeless as well, though: Dota 2, Starcraft, Counter-Strike, and League of Legends are still among the highest-grossing esports around. In either case, the fact that the entries would have changed so much over the next few years shows how well-timed and relevant this list was, even in 2013.

More by This Author: If you enjoyed this list, yay! MindyK hasn't written any others, though.

Those lists take us through May 2013. The fact that half the lists in this four-part Top 10 Top Tens add-on come from the first quarter of the decade is a sign of the declining quantity, but not quality of top ten lists; this also takes us through half the lists written since 2010. It's also another reminder that quantity and quality are relatively independent: for three of these authors, this was their only list, while for a fourth they wrote only a single other one. It's far better to write a few excellent lists than a huge number of throwaway lists.

In Part 3 (or 4), we'll hear from some more authors that match quality and quantity, such as SSpectre, RollerBob, and Truck_1_0_1_, as well as some others that made a big splash in a small number of lists, like NegaZelda, Juhanor, and PotatoTears.


List by DDJ
(10/08/2020)

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