With any list of video games, there’s bound to be dissent. And that’s a good thing– after all, if there wasn’t dissent, how would we ever know how passionate everybody really is? And though we spent literally weeks rearranging and rearranging and rearranging our Top 100, well. Let’s just say that some of us are less excited about certain video games than others, and some of us are a little too excited. (Though we’d never admit it.) The most important thing to remind ourselves of, though, is that we’re all gamers, and we all love to play video games. In that regard, at least, we’re united. Even if we’re not when it comes to, I don’t know, the specific placing of Dragon Quest IX.
(You’re all fired.)
You’ve seen this week’s offerings. You’ve fumed and frowned. And now it’s time for the rest of the staff to do the same. On this week’s round table, we talk about what should have made the cut, and maybe even what shouldn’t have. After all, we’re talking about the hundred best games of all time. This is serious business.
Before I go onto my “WHAT THE HELL, MAN?!” complaints, I do want to say that my list is probably going to be the most confusing. It’s one of those things that took me a lot of thought and I’m still not 100% sure if I did my list well enough. I’m sure I forgot a few folks.
My first complaint is the lack of Kirby games. Am I really the only one that put a Kirby game in their list? I suppose it’s all opinion of course, but I really would’ve thought that Kirby Super Star or even Kirby’s Epic Yarn could crack one of the other lists. Especially the latter. I don’t know if I’ve ever played a game that made me as happy as the latter. Just everything about that game made me so damn happy.
A lot of great Kirby games fell through the cracks of our lists (especially Air Ride, you know!? -Ed.) but may it’s because Kirby’s just so small in stature?
I’d go into the lack of Okami but I’m more than certain that Katharine can argue that one far better than I can. However, I will pick a bone with picking Super Mario Galaxy over Super Mario Galaxy 2. Not that I didn’t love Super Mario Galaxy. That game is fantastic and so much fun to play, but Super Mario Galaxy 2 took that to another level. That is one game I’ll never get tired of playing. I understand that Galaxy was the original but there was just something about the second one that I just adore the hell out of.
Probably my finale gripe that I really had is probably the lack of sports video games. However, this one is actually defendable since we have a decent amount of Europeans on the staff along with us North Americans. I did see Mario Tennis, Mario Golf, and Wii Sports Resort but I’d have thought that maybe something like one of the Tony Hawk games, maybe one of the Madden football games or at least NHL ’94 where your could make Gretzky’s head bleed. But alas, that’s how it rolls.
Ho ho ho, where do we start? I’m a little sad that Killer Instinct on SNES was overlooked in favour of Mortal Kombat, to be honest. Yeah, Mortal Kombat introduced blood and gore and awesome finishing moves, but Killer Instinct went one uppercut further and let you rip out an Ultra Combo of pain on your opponent. That’s 20+ hits to you and me, but some skilled players got their Ultra Combo numbers up to 80. It was the ultimate humiliation technique, and many childhood arguments were settled based on the score of your Ultra Combo.
But moving on from the ultra-violent to the ultra-artsy, where is Ōkami ? One of the most beautiful games ever made, and definitely one of the finest on Wii, Ammy and pals definitely deserve a place on this list. It may have been a port of the PlayStation 2 version, but Wii was always arguably its rightful home due to the ease of painting Ammy’s ink-wash world with the Wii Remote. That and it was a cracking adventure through Japanese mythology and back that put other action-adventure games to shame.
And speaking of artsy games, what about Rayman 2: The Great Escape? One of my favourite Nintendo 64 platformers, this game was so charming and engrossing that you couldn’t help but be pulled into its strange and wonderful world. There was always something a little sinister about Rayman 2 as well, giving it that extra edge over similar platformers like Banjo Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64.
I’m also a little disappointed by the lack of Golden Sun love too. It was one of the few decent original IPs on GBA, and it was a pretty great adventure to boot too. And where’s F-Zero GX? This was the racing game on GameCube. Forget Mario Kart: Double Dash, F-Zero GX was where it’s at. Sure it was super difficult and sent you flying off course at the mere suggestion of tilting your analogue stick too fast, but F-Zero GX definitely put the pedal to the metal with its high octane speeds and tricky, adrenaline-fuelled tracks. And while we’re on the subject of hard games, Donkey Kong Country Returns deserves a mention too. Perfect level design, throughout.
(And I know we have the Metroid Prime Trilogy on the list, but that still doesn’t stop the original Prime from being one of the best games of 2002!)
Two of GameCube’s very best games from 2006 are completely absent from the list. The first is Baten Kaitos Origins, which was released in the fall of that year to almost no fanfare. Origins absence is likely because of two things: 1) few people actually played it and 2) it came out in 2006, at the end of GameCube’s life cycle, which assures it of being lost in the Wii/DS-dominated 2006-present category we opted to use. In my view Origins it is arguably the best RPG on GameCube – better than Lost Kingdoms (which I found clunky and uninspired) or even Tales of Symphonia (whose combat is a thrill but whose plot is a convoluted mess). Origins has an excellent combat system that is technically a “card RPG” yet plays absolutely nothing like other such game, and has a really solid plot with an incredible twist.
Perhaps more astonishing, to me, is the absence of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which was released at the end of 2006 as both a GameCube swan song and a Wii launch title. As a GameCube game it was one of the deepest and best-looking adventures on the system, with over fifty hours of tightly polished exploration and combat. As a Wii game it was even better, with swordplay that was so polished and free that I’ve yet to see it surpassed on any game that doesn’t use Wii MotionPlus (and, honestly, I like it better than a couple of games that DO use Wii MotionPlus). I can only guess that Twilight Princess was either 1) lost in the same 2006 wash that killed Baten Kaitos Origins or 2) omitted to keep too many Zeldas from crowding out the list. Either way, I would make the case that Twilight Princess is better than at least four or five of the 2006-present games, if not more.
Like Mel, I also lament the lack of Kirby. Kirby’s Adventure was a great game, but Kirby Super Star was definitely better. It had hats, for crying out loud! Speaking of franchises being underrepresented, where the heck is Fire Emblem? It’s one of Nintendo’s oldest and best series! There weren’t even many strategy games on the list, but when you talk strategy, you gotta bring up the Fire Emblem games. To exclude them entirely is just cruel. Ike is just too dreamy to see forgotten…
Kyle wasn’t happy that Super Mario RPG was omitted from our list. He wasn’t the only one, either.
And where is Super Mario RPG? If I made a list of the best games of the ’90s, I couldn’t find a reason not to include that game! It’s madness! And of course I must reiterate my sadness at the snub of Paper Mario for Nintendo 64 as well. It’s the greatest game ever, and that’s a fact. I would also like to throw out a bone for Chibi-Robo! on GameCube. It’s a seriously cool game that often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. I guess that what happens to games that are released in the final years of a system with little fanfare. So it goes.
Lastly, I noticed there is a farming sim shaped hole in our Top 100 that could easily be filled by Harvest Moon 64. If you don’t like that game, you probably don’t have a soul.
M. Noah Ward
Thank goodness for this round table! Because I definitely agree with my peers on the lack of Super Mario RPG and even Rayman 2, a wary rental that ended up a “gotta buy this” experience. And Kirby, another series I avoided too long, had two fantastic, recent entries (Epic Yarn and Mass Attack) that I love but can understand didn’t hit the mainstream, hardcore gamer zeitgeist as much as they did for me.
But beyond those, in my skewed little world, I also really wish Blast Corps had made it on the list. Like many Nintendo machines, Nintendo 64 launched with, what, three decent games to choose from? And this drought continued for months. So Rare’s nuclear annihilation-driven, urban destruction action puzzler was a sublime, February ’97 follow-up to the N64’s anemic September ’96 release. I really, really wanted a great game on my powerful, new machine, and Blast Corps delivered in spades, creepy ape-like humans (Rare reusing a little too much DKC assets, eh?) aside. Figuring out how to level cities and structures in the way of an unstoppable runaway truck carrying defective nuclear bombs was addictive and surprisingly difficult. I am desperate to see this title re-released on any platform, just so I can play it again, and see if I can get all the way back to the over-the-top ending level.
Noah is so into his puzzle games that we actually think his cells look like Tetrispheres.
Another underrepresented N64 gem is H2O Entertainment’s Tetrisphere, a game that would be a brilliant eShop title for 3DS! Of all the Tetris knockoffs and variations I have played, this is the top of my top three. Visually arresting, fantastic Neil Voss electronic soundtrack and just plain nifty, only Nintendo nostalgia-fueled Tetris DS and The New Tetris‘s multiplayer madness (holla, N64!) can be considered peers.
Other than those, DMA Design’s fantastic Uniracers (SNES ’94) is fondly remembered and unfortunately never to be seen again thanks to overzealous Pixar lawyers who halted production of the goofy, speedy stunt racer. I’m so lucky to have one of the copies of the limited 300k run. Beetle Adventure Racing also deserves a nod as a purely licensed N64 title that was actually a lot of fun. Last, I spent many a Nintendo 64 game party playing a couple games some would consider “junky”– Gauntlet Legends and Xena: Warrior Princess: The Talisman of Fate that I to this day will insist are classics, at least when you get some pizza and some good friends together.
How can the savior of modern video gaming not have been included on this list? I mean seriously, no Fortune Street? You think I’m kidding, but then again you’ve probably never played this masterpiece. Go buy the game right now, shove it into your Wii, grab some random people off of the street, and clear your schedule for the next 6 hours (so that you can finish at least one game). No need to thank me, thank the masterminds over at Square-Enix; for I am simply the messenger boy.
Oh, and no F-Zero GX for Gamecube?
Choosing the top 100 games over a few decades is an arduous task. Naturally there will be a few of everyone’s personal favorites that didn’t quite manage to make the list. Here are a few of mine. The SNES was awash with quality RPG’s over is incandescent lifespan. The Trilogy of Soul Blazer, Illusion of Time and Terranigam is of the highest quality, and at least one (I’m rooting for Illusion of Gaia) should have made this list. It was a phenomenal game, mixing fact with fable, and offering unique surroundings and situations throughout a vast world. However it was cruelly overlooked and as such, finds itself absent from this list.
Should Street Fighter have featured somewhere in our list? Let us know in the comments’ below.
I also think Street Fighter Alpha 2 should have been included if only for its brazen disdain for the laws of SNES physics. This was a game that really should not have been possible to develop. Even the PS1 made hard work of the title, so bringing it to a 16bit console, pretty much intact, was incredible. Ok so the sound was a bit–jarring, but other than that who could really complain? This was Alpha 2 on SNES which in itself is still a very strange thing to say.
Snowboarder Kids for N64 is another one of those titles which would have crept into my own list. The multi-player was seriously addictive with four players and it had some excellent course design which made for some inventive and infuriatingly sneaky tactics when it came to item usage. The game may not be remembered as a classic, but for me (and many of my friends at least) it will always be on par with Mario Kart in the racing steaks on N64.
My final entry would have been for Parodius on SNES. This parody of Gradius (hence the title) was a far cry from the humdrum locales and clichéd starry skied space levels. What other game has a giant go–go dancer as an end of level boss, or a panda wearing a tutu? More to the point, which game has a flying octopus, and penguin as two of their main characters? This title deserves a place for being so damn Japanese and different to my untainted western eyes. Highly recommended for anyone who has yet to experience this game.
The fact that Phantasy Star Online: Episode I & II did not make the list absolutely horrifies me. One of the only games on the GameCube that utilized its broadband adapter, and the only game in Nintendo’s entire North American/European repertoire during the GBA/GCN period that used online capabilities, Phantasy Star Online: Episode I & II provided my brother and I with endless gaming sustenance. I still remember waking up in the wee hours just to play my RAcast or my FOnewm through Forest 1 on Very Hard repeatedly just to get a rare Rappy wing, and playing local split-screen with my cousins when I decided online wasn’t quite such a great deal anymore. I still revisit, sometimes. Ragol is definitely an amazing world, and I can’t wait for Phantasy Star Online 2.
And come on, guys. What about Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest? Far superior to Donkey Kong Country in every way, including the debut of Dixie Kong in a co-star role with Diddy, DKC2 had cooler enemies, bigger stages, and a difficulty level that was quite literally hard to beat. And Pokémon Red and Blue were on the list, but not Dragon Warrior Monsters? Come on– with its intense breeding minigame (some would call that THE game) and its way-crazier difficulty than its Pikachu-filled brethren, Dragon Warrior Monsters truly was and is hardcore. It was basically your tried-and-true Dragon Quest game, except with cooler party members. And who doesn’t want that?
You guys. You guys. I’m so disappointed.
You could make a top 100 list out of all the games that we missed in our feature, but for the sake of brevity I will only bring up what I consider to be some of the more notable exclusions (in rough chronological order).
First, I’ll have to echo the love for Super Mario RPG. That game was responsible for introducing me to the role-playing genre, so I may be a bit biased toward it, but it was still a compelling, lighthearted adventure that did a great job of marrying two disparate play styles into a single title.
I also have to mention Paper Mario and Conker’s Bad Fur Day, both of which were released in 2001 and were subsequently lost in the next-generation shuffle. Paper Mario was the plumber’s second foray into the role-playing genre and was just all-around more charming than its spiritual predecessor, taking the concepts pioneered by that game and putting its own unique spin on them. Conker’s Bad Fur Day, on the other hand, was another excellent (and forward-thinking) platformer from Rare. Like Mario Galaxy did with Super Mario 64, Conker stripped away much of the fat that had been accumulating around Rare’s other platforming games, excising pointless collectibles for a much tighter and more focused experience. It was also riotously funny (I will never forget the first time I witnessed the Great Mighty Poo rising from the depths of his dung-filled cavern, only to belt out opera before attacking me with pieces of…himself…), and of all the games to not make the list, I think its exclusion was the most criminal.
Chibi-Robo! is another game whose absence troubled a lot of staffers.
On GameCube, I was a bit disheartened by the lack of Chibi-Robo, but I can understand why it was passed over. However, it pains me that neither Metroid Prime nor Metroid Prime 2 made the list as they were two of the best (and most important) releases for the console. It’s true that we did mention them in the all-encompassing Metroid Prime Trilogy, but each of the three games was excellent in its own right and certainly deserved a spot.
And there are a number of great Wii titles that I feel should have been mentioned. Sin & Punishment: Star Successor, for instance, was a fantastic, hardcore shooter that certainly deserved a nod, especially for the fact that it was even released at all considering it had no chance of success. Likewise, Punch-Out!! was a fun and challenging game that took the spirit of the original and modernized it for a 3D console (not to mention had some of the best animations on the system). And I couldn’t forget New Super Mario Bros. Wii. While I may be getting a little tired of series, the Wii installment was still a fantastic game with some excellent level design (particularly in the special world) and a great multiplayer mode. That may be the most fun I’ve had playing local multiplayer this entire generation.
Wow, we really can’t agree can we?! I think we should celebrate our success of coming up with our favourite one hundred games and reach some partial form of consensus in the first place; it wasn’t an easy task I can tell you.
While I think we managed to choose the most successful, most appreciated, most important games of the last 25+ years, there are some very notable entries that we neglected to mention. The complete lack of any kind of Pokémon game on the Nintendo 64, neither Stadium game nor Snap seems a tad harsh, the first franchise offering cross platform connectivity as your Pokémon battled in (at the time) sumptuous 3D and the latter game just being the most amount of fun imaginable. Snap is one game that could definitely do with a spiritual sequel on 3DS or Wii U.
On GameCube, I still feel as if Super Mario Sunshine has been remembered harshly. Sure it followed one of the most important games in history but to carve such a strong identity with a clear sense of imagination (and better acrobatics than Super Mario 64) should nothing to be scoffed at. The game was no pushover either. And when you compare Sunshine to 64 and then Twilight Princess to Wind Waker, the former successor is simply streets ahead. I know Josh pointed out his appreciation for Link’s swansong GameCube entry but for me, it was monotonous to the point of tears. Wolf Link can scurry off somewhere else for all I care.
Elsewhere on GameCube, I too echo the cries for Chibi-Robo! down to the sheer cuteness, addictiveness and emotional involvement of the game. Similarly, I’ve always found the original Animal Crossing to be far superior than its little brother on DS. It may seem like no big deal now but back in the day, the European release of the game was very much the Operation Rainfall of its day. There were many other games from the GameCube era, the Pikmins, the Soul Caliburs, the Eternal Darknesses, that originally didn’t feature in our Top 100 but, largely thanks to majority staff pressure, were added later on in the process.
As we approach the final category and the domain of Wii and DS, the challenge to include every great game became near-impossible. It’s definitely worth remembering that we weighted each block of five years or so evenly despite the fact that video game production has expanded ten fold in the last ten years. Omissions such as Sin & Punishment: Star Successor, Tatsunoko vs Capcom, No More Heroes, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Okami were unfortunate but in the end, we went for games that used the unique hardware of Wii and took the best advantage of it. (Here’s looking at you Zack & Wiki.)
Despite these reluctant choices, we hope you’ve enjoyed our Top 100 games from Nintendo history and if you feel like we’re still forgetting some classic games (or if you agree with particular staff members) then be sure to let us know in the comments’ section below!