50. Phantasy Star Online Episode III: CARD Revolution, GC (2004) Sega/Sonic Team
An interesting expansion on the back story of the PSO world, and although the gameplay was vastly different, it was an interesting card-based strategy game and i spent quite a bit of time in online duels
49. Toe Jam & Earl, Genesis (Virtual Console version 2006, original game 1992) Sega/JVP
A trippy game with a soundtrack that overcomes its MIDI limitations to be quite memorable, and given the randomly generated stages and item progression that is very similar to a dungeon crawler, this game captures the appeal of those games while having a funky style all its own and, while it is not altogether easy (damn biker ducks...) it gets points for lacking the head-exploding difficulty oft-present in dungeon crawlers
48. NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams, Wii (2007) Sega/Sonic Team
One day i hope to have the opportunity to play the original NiGHTS, but until then, this game will suffice for something that captures the true beauty of music, color, and whimsy. Although it's certainly a game where aesthetic was put ahead of gameplay (as those horrible ground missions show), but the gameplay was mostly delightfully zen, even in combat
47. Mario Kart DS, DS (2005) Nintendo
The first of many Mario Karts on the list, but this one is the lowest down, despite introducing such features as the classic tracks. Why is it so low down you ask? Snaking. Despite Snaking it was fun enough to beat out Super Circuit, which does not make my list at all
46. Wrecking Crew, NES (Virtual Console version 2007, original game 1985) Nintendo
One of the more clever puzzle games i've ever played. I have a disdain for puzzle games in general, and this is the only one in my list, but this one encourages creative thinking, and also punishes with the relentless cruelty of NES games. Having the Select button serve as an instant Reset button was genius, because you'll need it with all the ways you can instantly fail a level (but the game won't tell you). A real brain workout
45. Pokemon Black and White, DS (2011) Nintendo/Game Freak
In one of those ever-unfair conundrums, Black and White is a superior entry to many of the other Pokemon games on this list, but the others win nostalgia points and come out many places ahead. Black and White, however, will remain the first Pokemon game where i finally took Pokemon training seriously, and reaped the rewards of a perfectly-balanced team. Final squad: Emboar, Krookodile, Swanna, Zekrom, Celebi, Weavile
44. StarFox 64, N64 (1997) Nintendo
Other people in this thread have already listed many reasons for this game's greatness i've noticed, so i'll just leave it with why it sits relatively lower down. This is due to the game's sometimes circular difficulty (whereby the worse you do, the harder it is, making you do yet worse...)
43. Okami, PS2 (Wii version played 2008, original PS2 version 2006) Capcom/Clover Games (PS2)/Ready At Dawn (Wii)
An incredibly misleading journey through the stories of the Kojiki and the Nihongi, founding mythological stories of Japan. Despite vast theological inaccuracy and the games often-repetitive combat, this game ends up being endlessly charming between its mythic art style and Zelda-esque characters and the wide variety of techniques you are given to make the repetitive combat somewhat thought-provoking.
42. Sonic Adventure, DC (GC version played 2004, original 1999) Sega/Sonic Team
As a spoiler, this is the prequel to the game that is #2 on my list, and so retains many of the properties that made me love that game so much. The same type of gameplay, which unlike so many 3D sonics, emphasized platforming, and they introduced the glorious Knuckles treasure-hunting stages. The problems, of course, are that even the GC version, which was somewhat remastered, had some buggy gameplay, and while i don't hate Big the Cat for who he is, those fishing stages can burn.
41. Pokemon Stadium 2, N64 (2001) Nintendo/HAL Labs
This was during the height of my own personal Pokemania, and the last Colosseum type game i bought (skipping Coloseum, XD, and Battle Revolution), so it has a special place in my heart. As unbalanced as the earlier Pokemon games were, nostalgia points for all the hours spent strategizing, battling, or just dicking around with the mini-games (also the free mystery gift! And a girl to fight in that one room in Veridian!) gets this game the 41 spot.
40. Super Mario Bros DX, GBC (based off 1985 and 1986 NES games, GBC version 2000) Nintendo
This game brought together one of the most influential games in history and its direct, super-hard sequel. For a lover of platformers such as myself, these games are foundational scripture, and i owe so much of what i love in video games back to this one, coupled together in a handy Game Boy Color version adding special challenges and the original Mario Bros 2
39. Mario Kart: Double Dash, GC (2003) Nintendo
Although snaking existed in this game, i was never exposed to it due to the lack of online play, so it is not marred by that frustration unlike Mario Kart DS, and fights its way further up the slot. Double Dash's original tracks as well as the introduction of character-specific items made for an interesting experience, and though the game is not as important in terms of nostalgia as Kart 64, objectively this game is much better balanced.
38. Metroid Prime 2, GC (2004) Nintendo/Retro Studios
The worst of the three main Prime games, but that still gets it up to number 38. I found the enemies and scenario were less believable than in Prime 1 and 3, which de-immersed me from the experience, but the core gameplay that made that series so great is still there. The original version also was quite unbalanced in terms of difficulty, though this was rectified in the Trilogy edition.
37. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 2: Rogue Leader, GC (2001) LucasArts/Factor 5
This game encapsulates the classic moments of the original trilogy's timeless battles and packs in some other varied, interesting missions, with lots of secrets, a challenging medal system, and some truly epic missions, this game really captures the appeal of the jet-fighter genre while perfectly synchronizing with the legend of Star Wars.
36. Yoshi's Story, N64 (1998) Nintendo
The game was controversially overcute, involving baby Yoshis fighting baby Bowser in a saccharine world so sugar-sweet you'll likely go into insulin shock if you're unprepared, but at the same time it was a unique take on the platformer genre, with the individual Yoshis being your only lives, and exploration of the 2D levels being your goal, with some stages being surprisingly tough, and more than a few secrets to serve.
35. Super Mario Galaxy 2, Wii (2010) Nintendo
A testament to the glories of 3D platforming, here was a game that tests all your platforming skill. It refined the form of the original Galaxy game and focused almost exclusively on tests of skill, with the bonus stars bringing the only exploration element into the game as a bonus. The only reason its much lower down is it simply lacked the originality of the original, so made a less strong impression.
34. Pokemon Diamond & Pearl, DS (2007) Nintendo/Game Freak
Once again, objectively better Pokemon games that end up lower on the list due to a lack of nostalgia in their favor, but this game was the first Pokemon game i had played since Silver (having skipped the 3rd gen), and it made an excellent return to form, being the first Pokemon game i beat without help from cheats or glitches. Final team: Empoleon, Luxray, Staraptor, Mismagius, Alakazam, Palkia
33. Wii Sports Resort, Wii (2009) Nintendo
Resort offered the kind of expansion of depth that should be expected from a separately sold product, as opposed to Wii Sports. Multiple sports, and each side-mode of many sports now became it's own event, making for a varied experience. Golf, Frolf, Swordsmanship, and the airplane mode all held unique and lasting appeal as games good in themselves, and great use of motion controls
32. Wario Land 3, GBC (2001) Nintendo
Another game closely related to a game much further up my list, this game really showed you how a game where you can't die can be a really challenging and engaging experience. It focuses on exploration in a 2D environment, as well as harrowing boss-battles where the only penalty was a ring-out. It loses points for being a little too non-linear, and thus rather daunting in the early parts of the game.
31. No More Heroes, Wii (2008) Ubisoft (USA publishing) & Marvelous (original funding)/Grasshopper Manufacture
Generally i don't go in for "artsy" games, which is what makes this game unique. It's an unflattering commentary on otaku and gamer culture alike, wrapped up in a vestige of fun violence and pointless minigames. Travis Touchdown's journey through an empty world filled with other interesting assassin personalities is just a unique experience all around
30. Bomberman 64, N64 (1997) Hudson
This game had the tendency to be frustratingly obtuse. For a game in the 3D era, death came easily and in many forms, and the game did not make what you had to do at all obvious. That being said, it was a distinct take on previous Bomberman games in both adventure and multiplayer, making for a fun and unique game.
29. Mario Kart Wii, Wii (2008) Nintendo
Third and next-to-last Mario Kart game on my list, this one gets further up for having far more balanced gameplay, neat new tricks for players to master, and best of all, online that, for a while at least, wasn't dominated by cheating/snaking. The snaking never appeared (may it stay dead forever!) but cheating killed it inevitably, but it was a damn fun ride while it lasted, so it lands here
28. Super Smash Brothers, N64 (1999) Nintendo/HAL Labs
Ahh Super Smash Brothers. Here was the only game (aside possibly from Sonic The Fighters) to break past my utter disdain for the fighting genre, and its sequels only grew in my heart. It's not about the Nintendo characters (though they certainly lend to the charm), but about making fighting games fun and accessible, without actually losing depth. Not the last time this series appears on this list. Mains: Kirby, Ness, Luigi
27. Sonic Heroes, GC (also PS2 and Xbox) (2004) Sega/Sonic Team
Although Sonic Heroes was a step backwards on the graphics front, as far as 3D Sonics go, this one seemed to get it all right as far as what the critics supposedly demand: focus on speed and platforming and none of the other modes of play available in Adventure (though i liked those modes). Heroes proves that the critics don't know what the fuck they want from Sonic, and the roller-coaster games we've gotten since are a testament to critical ignorance and Sonic Team's gullibility. Team Rose was, of course, quite annoying, but the gameplay was solid and it had strong replay value
26. Metroid Prime 3, Wii (2007) Nintendo/Retro Studios
This game brought back a more believable story and introduced engaging Wii pointer controls, bringing it further up the list than 2. It loses points, however, in that the discrete planets meant less free-flowing exploration, though each planet was often deep enough on its own. Elysia is beautiful.
25. Super Mario Sunshine, GC (2002) Nintendo
As much as this is the weakest of the 3D Mario games (and it indeed is), being weakest of a superlative breed still gets it this far up the list. Super Mario 64 had two distinct flavors: tests of skill and searching for stuff. The Galaxy games went with the test of skill route, but Super Mario Sunshine was much more about large worlds, and much of the game's fun came from parkour-esque point-a-to-point-b travels. Worth more than it's remembered for.
24. Pokemon Blue, GB (1998) Nintendo/Game Freak
Ahh youth. Here is the only game i followed into from a fad, the height of anticipation of my 4th-grade self, and so it wins major nostalgia points despite being horribly unbalanced compared to later Pokemon titles. Still, the core formula is there, as were some interesting glitches that gave the game a lot of life (Missingno. and its family of glitches)
23. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, GC (2003) Nintendo
To some Nintendo fans, the GameCube era was notorious for seeing some of the weaker entries in franchises, and while i would argue that the Wind Waker had a lot of weaknesses, its strengths made up for them. Beautiful music, memorable characters, a huge world to explore (even if the actual content of the world was debatable). Despite its flaws, i've played it many times, probably more times than any other Zelda game barring Ocarina, so it has to have done something right.
22. Super Mario World, SNES (GBA version played 2002, original 1991) Nintendo
This game remains undefeated in my eyes as the epitome of old-school 2D Mario, which makes the admiration for Super Mario Bros 3 (which i have played thoroughly) seem odd to me. This had the most intricate maps, the greatest challenges, sternest bosses, and just endless secrets to discover. Here is 2D Platformer Nirvana.
21. Goldeneye 007, N64 (1998) Nintendo/Rare
The only non-Metroid-Prime First-person game on my list. Despite my general apathy for First Person shooters (not that i dislike them, just never saw the mania), this game leaves an indelible print on my youth much like it has on many gamers here i imagine. The game's soundtrack has been genuinely memorable, and i often remember elevator music in an elevator
20. Kirby 64, N64 (2000) Nintendo/HAL Labs
Similar to Bomberman 64, despite the fact that this is a rather off-beat game in its franchise (what with the "combine copy abilities" and all) it endures in my memory longer. Like both Bomberman 64 and Goldeneye, the music of this game often comes to me at random intervals. My favorite ability was dynamite, because of the adorable little hardhat Kirby got with it
19. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Wii (also on GC)(2006) Nintendo
Here is a game that wins many of its points from style, tone, and content, but is slightly weaker on the gameplay front. Twilight Princess improved little from the problems of Wind Waker, for instance, except that it was longer with less filler. Improved archery and some fun items as well as the game's often-haunting style win its slot for it.
18. Super Smash Brothers Brawl, Wii (2008) Nintendo/HAL Labs
Another objectively-better game that loses to others in its franchise due to nostalgia (namely losing to Melee in this case), Brawl balanced what Melee had unbalanced, creating mechanisms to deliberate mess with those dreadful tournament players, and yet making a game that was incredibly balanced (closest thing to a broken character is Meta Knight, but i contend that he does not have enough launching power to be truly unbalanced). My mains were and remain: Kirby, Mr. Game and Watch, Ike, and King Dedede
17. New Super Mario Bros Wii, Wii (2009) Nintendo
In some ways, Super Mario World is the better game. But if Super Mario World was art, NSMBWii is a science, and so excels all the more from taking the precision-focused nature of high-end 2D Mario, and bringing that A-game as a console retail title. For a platformer fan such as myself, NSMBWii had the ideal curve of challenge and so much to do, so even if parts of it were less memorable than Super Mario World, it climbs up a bit higher.
16. Sonic & Knuckles, Genesis (played in Sonic Mega Collection 2002, original 1994) Sega/Sonic Team
Here is just another Sonic game... until you couple it with Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and gain a real, full-length game, with 4 ways to play, all the most memorable stages in one package (Angel Island, Hydrocity, Mushroom Hill, Lava Reef, Flying Battery, Ice Cap), the most sublime Chaos emerald collection game (Blue Sphere) and the ability to not only go Super with the 7 Chaos Emeralds, but to enhance them all and go Hyper. A triumph of color and music, speed and platforming, the top 2D platformer on my list
15. Super Metroid, SNES (Virtual Console version 2007, original 1994) Nintendo
The Last Metroid is in Captivity... With these haunting words was this tremendous game launched into the pinnacle of 2D Metroid-dom (though not the pinnacle of Metroid), a game that, despite being a retread of the original Metroid, created a perfect balance of mood, bosses and secrets. This game gives you so many reasons to love it, whether you're into art, gameplay, speedruns, precision, exploration, or just dicking around.
14. Monster Hunter Tri, Wii (2010) Capcom
Sometimes the Japanese are just wierd, and sometimes they have brilliant taste. One Piece is one case where they are right on the money, and Monster Hunter is another. You would think a game that requires you to grind monsters to acquire any sort of weapon or armor upgrades would be boring, and it can be boring in single-player (though still fun enough), but with online multiplayer you have something that just sucks the hours away. Epic fights, a wide monster variety, all sorts of weapons that offer different ways to play, the only thing bad about this game is Rathalos. Fuck that guy.
13. Mario Kart 64, N64 (1997) Nintendo
A long discussion has been held in the top 50 discussion thread already about this game. It is, objectively, the worst of the 3D Mario Karts, but that does not prevent it from looming large enough in my imagination to top its brethren and land in the 13 spot. It was the second game i ever owned, and probably the second-most influential game in terms of getting me into gaming at all. Despite its flaws, of which there are many, no Mario Kart game and few other games period have influenced me as much.
12. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, GC (2005) Nintendo/Intelligent Systems
The first Fire Emblem on my list appears quite far up the list. Despite some balancing problems in the GC game, this game really came out of nowhere to capture my imagination after i purchased it based merely on the fact that some franchise characters were in Smash Bros. A long, thinking man's game with a cast of compelling characters, a single player game that engenders replayability in so many ways as you build and rebuild different teams, strategizing to build an unstoppable killing team. It's another game that wins points on the "hours of my life consumed" front.
11. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, N64 (played on GC 2003, original 1998) Nintendo
Widely acknowledged as the best game of all time, it's only my number 11, but I enjoy it for the same reasons that many do. A lot of content, interesting sidequests, and of course a compelling, surprisingly bittersweet story. This is also a game that has withstood the test of time well.
The Top 10!
10. Super Mario Galaxy, Wii (2007) Nintendo
As a rule, i have preferred 3D Mario as my favorite franchise, and Super Mario Galaxy exemplifies why. Usually it takes me a day or two to get acclimated to a new game, and Galaxy 1 was one of the few to blow me away right off the bat, everything i wanted from a 3D Mario, from exceptionally colorful levels to breathtaking music and a wide array of challenges. Topping it all, of course, was that getting 120 stars finally gave a meaningful reward: Luigi!
A taste of the game at its best:
9. Pokemon Gold and Silver, GBC (2000) Nintendo, Game Freak
Yes, Silver is bigger because Silver was better. Lugia > Ho-oh. Here was a game that introduced some much-needed improvements from Red, Blue, and Yellow, namely differentiating between Special Defense and Defense and introducing actual weaknesses for the psychic types (that is, bug and ghost attacks that actually work), plus night and day, as well as a veritably huge world that tied in to the old world of the old games. These games were at the height of my Pokemania, and i knew them intimately.
My favored team:
8. Mario Tennis, N64 (2000) Nintendo/Camelot
My all-time favorite of any of the Mario Sports games, none of the other sports games make the list at all, then this weasels its way into my top 10, go figure, but there was something about this game that really stuck with me in a way that few other games did. Sublime local multiplayer, of course, but it was more than that. The single player modes weren't all that extensive, and the characters really lacked distinguishing features (unlike what later came in Power Tennis), so i can't quite say why this game hooked me the way it did. There were a surprising amount of secrets under the hood, of course, all the more so if you were able to buy the Game Boy Color game and play some of its minigames, enabling use of your custom characters as well as unlocking secret courts, and the hidden tournament mode (requiring passwords to get into!) was a fun secret, as were the "Open Court" matches, where you could unlock secret character color schemes by pitching the same characters against one another. Lots under the hood for little on the surface, and i guess that must have been it...
Favorite characters: Boo (doubles) and Luigi (singles)
7. Wario Land 2, GB/GBC (1998) Nintendo
This was my second 2D platformer (after Yoshi's Story), but the first one i really enjoyed (Yoshi's Story took a long time to grow on me). The game was ideally placed in terms of difficulty, just like Wario Land 3 on this list, you could never game over in this game, nor die. All you could do was lose coins from damage, coins you might need to be able to play certain treasure-gathering minigames for full completion, and bosses where the only way to lose was to ring-out (but losing this way was very easy in many cases). More fun was derived from the game's many branching paths, one of which required you to do absolutely nothing at the beginning of the first stage and let Wario keep sleeping to access. The game had surprisingly catchy music as well, plus some zany power-ups.
6. Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, Wii (2007) Nintendo/Intelligent Systems
Here we've got a long game, longer still than Path of Radiance, it's direct predecessor, but this is another case where length does not lead to boredom. Compelling chapters, one after the other, leading to a game roughly 50 hours in length per playthrough. The story ramps up the intrigue from the old Path of Radiance, taking multiple storylines, tying them all together brilliantly, and leading up to a showdown with the very Goddess that you believed to be the sacred savior of all peoples. They balanced out a few elements that weren't quite there in PoR, though in some cases they undermined other things, with the non-legendary laguz being less useful than they once were, but then there is the legendary laguz, a third promotion tier, special moves for everyone in the third promotion tier, deeper weapon customization, and lots of great characters.
5. Super Mario 64, N64 (1996) Nintendo
A simple image to represent this game that was monumental for gaming as a whole and for me personally. This was the first 3D game to emphasize camera control, making such games from something resembling Bug! or Resident Evil into the kinds of games we can recognize today and redesigning the platformer for the 3D era. 15 stages, 120 stars and three great battles against the big bad Bowser. This is *the* game, the one that got me into gaming in the first place, which shall forever have an enduring place in my heart. If it weren't for this, i wouldn't be here.
End game spoilers!
4. Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II, GC (also on Xbox)(2002) Sega/Sonic Team
I have had a strange relationship with the notion of online gaming. As a Nintendo fan, of course, i've long received the very short end of the stick in regards to my options for playing online, and i don't mind that to a point, because i prefer single player gaming and don't tend to like competitive online multiplayer. PSO, however, showed me that i loved action-MMOs. This game and its direct sequel (the card game at number 50 on the list) tore through my life for two whole years, they are the reason I skipped the third generation of Pokemon, i was too sucked into this. It was another game, like early Pokemon, where cheating was easy, but did not necessarily undermine the spirit of the game (hey, you try fighting Olga Flow on Ultimate legitimately, or at least not without infinite Scape Dolls). It had two quests, episode II being tougher than episode 1, a whole slew of rare and fascinating items, spells, MAGs, event quests (grinding Towards the Future became a staple among players), and while the game had relatively little strategy (outside remembering to cast buffs/debuffs) it engrossed me for more total playtime than any game on this list except possibly Radiant Dawn, the Smash Bros games, and Monster Hunter Tri
You needed to cheat to do some of the more awesome hidden things in the game, like this:
3. Super Smash Bros Melee, GC (2001) Nintendo/HAL Labs
Now, i am not one of those Melee-worshippers that disparaged Brawl for being slower paced or for removing wave-dashing or L-canceling or whatever gamebreaking tournament shit people liked about Melee, but this game has consumed countless hours of my life of its own accord, and i never got around to completing Brawl so thoroughly as i completed this game and explored every inch of its content. This being when i was younger, i also had many more chances to play this game in local multiplayer, despite the fact that many of my friends were of the "no items final destination only" type of person that has led me to resent this game later in life. Despite that, it was my first GameCube game and really just a game i could play again and again. A truly memorable game all around.
Huh, looking at Smash wiki as i got these images, i found out my number 1 main was lowest-tier in the whole game, and my number 2 was third-lowest. See what idiocy the tournament crowd has wrought?
2. Sonic Adventure 2, DC (GC version played 2002, original 2001) Sega/Sonic Team
Much to explain here, and too little time (almost forgot to do the update for today, and it is technically tomorrow now). This was my first Sonic game (remember folks, Nintendo-only gamer here. Couldn't've discovered Sonic if Sega had lived), so this game really took me by surprise in a huge way. This explains a few of my idiosyncracies, such as my apparently sacreligious preference for 3D Sonic to 2D Sonic, as well as my absolute love of the Knuckles/Rouge treasure-hunting levels (which were my favorite in that game, and i was tremendously good at them). Oddly the one part at the game i was worst at (aside from Chao raising) was the actual Sonic and Shadow stages. Me and my friend actually collaborated to get all A-rank on all stages and thus get all medals, since he was really good at the Sonic and Shadow stages, Chao raising, and the car-driving stages and bad at everything else, so i did all the treasure-hunting and mech-piloting, and between us we unlocked the glorious reward: Green Hill zone.
So much to say, alas.
1. Metroid Prime, GC (2002) Nintendo/Retro Studios
One of the first games i ever really focused on buying day-one, which is odd because it was only my second Metroid game (and i only bought Return of Samus because i was preparing to play Prime, go figure), and the game fully met whatever odd expectations i might have had for it and surpassed them. Here is a game of subtlety and action, beauty and horror, dripping with atmosphere and with so much to explore, none of which is shoved in your face at all. With so much lore and scannable enemies you can piece together the entire intricate backstory, with so many weapons you can approach the game from many ways, whether you liked to spend a lot of missiles on such items as the Wave Buster and the Ice Spreader or whether you wanted to play more conservatively. This game made a tremendous amount of impact on me, and still stands as inapproachably perfect until some game emerges from some unforeseen quarter to dethrone it.
Monster Hunter: pissing me off since 2010.