The 100 Best Video Games of All Time

Ready? Fight! Yeah, that’s pretty much what we signed up for when we decided to rank the top 100 video games of all time. But our undying love for both games and ranking everything (best mustards: 1, Guldens 2, Grey Poupon 3, French’s) steamrolled right over of our fears of being judged for being judges.

One bit of advice: Don’t bother looking for some fancy algorithm or time-tested formula for how we arrived at these 100. We just locked ourselves in our mom’s basement, poured some good whiskey, and started talking. The conversations went back and forth for weeks as we sorted through the seemingly endless titles that have been released over the 40+ years. We covered every platform from the arcade and Atari offerings to more recent console titles, and touched on every game type from FPS games to your favorite fighters, and everything in between. The following list is what transpired after countless emails and phone conversations – and yes, they are in order. Enjoy the journey to #1 as we delve in to the list of the 100 best video games ever released.

The Oregon Trail

100. The Oregon Trail

Released: 1971
Platform: Multiple Systems

It’s only fitting that our road to #1 begins on The Oregon Trail. The original release was simply meant to teach school kids about 19th century pioneer life on the Oregon Trail, but it went on to become one of the first video game icons. Why? Because “You have died of dysentery.”

Pokemon Red-Blue

99. Pokemon Red/Blue

Released: 1996
Platform: Game Boy

Sometimes when making a list like this, you have to weigh other peoples’ opinions—like the 31 million people who dove head first into this one on the Game Boy. You couldn’t just pick up and play this game and truly see the appeal; you had to dive deep. But if you did, you were rewarded with a crazy deep RPG that had the potential to suck you in like no other.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

98. Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Released: 2008
Platform: Nintendo Wii

With stellar production values and playable characters ranging from Mario and Link to non-Nintendo stars like Sonic the Hedgehog and Solid Snake, Super Smash Bros. Brawl brought the kitchen-sink approach to the Wii and wound up becoming one of the best games for the system. The local multiplayer matches were balanced, beautiful, and always a blast, even by the series’ already high standards.

Pitfall

97. Pitfall!

Released: 1982
Platform: Atari 2600

The Atari 2600 may have been a smash, but its ability to emulate arcade experiences was lackluster at best. Some of the best games for the legendary system came in the twilight of its glory days, and Activision’s Pitfall! is perhaps the best. One of the earliest games to blend side-scrolling and platforming, gamers could actually invest more than five minutes in the game as the Pitfall Harry, swinging from vines and carefully standing on alligator heads—the only way to stand on alligator heads, by the way.

Blades of Steel

96. Blades of Steel

Released: 1987
Platform: NES
The first notable hockey game to feature fighting, it’s ironic that those brawls had nothing to do with what made the game so great. Instead it was the fast-paced action and satisfying puck-passing that made Blades of Steel an addictive NES staple. This one barely edged out Konami’s other great sports game from that period, Double Dribble.

Angry Birds

95. Angry Birds

Released: 2009
Platform: iOS

Simple, silly, and painfully addictive, Angry Birds is the biggest success story in the history of mobile gaming. If you needed to kill 10 minutes at the doctor’s office, a slingshot and some pig houses are all you need for a delightful diversion.

Seaman

94. Seaman

Released: 1999
Platform: Dreamcast

Virtual pets normally don’t do it for us, but Seaman was different. Using a microphone peripheral, you grew a bizarre fish-human hybrid in a water tank, only to find that this species was fond of sarcastic putdowns and needling you about your sex life. As funny as it was weird, Seaman was gone too soon. Rest in peace, jerk.

Mortal Kombat

93. Mortal Kombat

Released: 1992
Platform: Arcade

Before Mortal Kombat came along, parents were only concerned about their kids spending too much time playing video games. After Mortal Kombat, they worried about their kids seeing virtual spines ripped from their bodies. What the game lacked in finesse it made up for in fatalities, made even more graphic with its realistic (for the time) digitized graphics and buckets of blood. The game also led to the creation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), so every time you hear rated M for mature, you can thank MK.

Star Wars 1 Video Game

92. Star Wars

Released: 1983
Platform: Arcade

It may have emerged in arcades six years after the first film, but for Star Wars fans, Atari’s first-person space simulator was a revelation. You played as Luke Skywalker in his X-wing fighter, with 3D color vector graphics immersing you in the mission to destroy the Death Star. With John Williams score, voice samples from the movie, and in some cases, that wicked cool cockpit to get into, this was the ultimate way to use the Force for years.

Pole Position

91. Pole Position

Released: 1982
Platform: Arcade

The first great racing game, Pole Position exploded onto the arcade scene in 1982 with its vivid and appealing graphics, eye-level point of view, and newfound sense of realism. The top grossing arcade game in the US in 1983, Pole Position spawned sequels and a Saturday morning cartoon, and still holds up nicely.

Streets of Rage 2

90. Streets of Rage 2

Released: 1992
Platform: Arcade & Sega Consoles

A deeper and slicker upgrade to the original Streets of Rage, this 1992 side-scrolling beat-em-up sequel gave us everything we wanted: more moves and a new special attack, more levels, and another shot kicking the ass of Mr. X. We also wouldn’t mind hearing that soundtrack again the next time we’re in the club.

Grim Fandango

89. Grim Fandango

Released: 1998
Platform: PC

Wacky, whimsical, and wholly original, Grim Fandango took PC gamers on a Day of the Dead-inspired neo-noir adventure. Director Tim Schafer’s (Psychonauts, Brutal Legend) creative genius was fully revealed with this cult classic full of laughs, soul, and a memorable cast of characters.

Heavy Rain

88. Heavy Rain

Released: 2010
Platform: PlayStation 3

Developer David Cage approaches game design with a refreshingly unique perspective. His Indigo Prophecy had some amazingly cinematic, emotional moments, but badly sputtered out in the third act. Heavy Rain has its flaws (controls, too many loading moments), but what it does right – tension, plot, atmosphere, and an interactive experience on par with playing a movie – makes for an unforgettable journey.

Tekken 3

87. Tekken 3

Released: 1997
Platform: Arcade

Fighting games took a big step forward with the release of Tekken 3 into arcades in the spring of ’97 (and onto the PlayStation the following year). With a third axis of movement now in play, gamers could sidestep in or out of the background, and with character jumps were no longer cartoonishly high, a palpable sense of grittiness was injected into each brawl. From its tight controls to its sparkling graphics, Tekken 3 left it all out on the floor.

NBA Jam

86. NBA Jam

Released: 1993
Platform: Arcade

For years, sports video games tried their best to mirror their real-life counterparts and usually failed. With NBA Jam, any attempts at realism were tossed away like a pair of imitation Jordans. Building on the over-the-top action of games like Arch Rivals, Midway’s B-ball behemoth featured big-headed NBA stars soaring to the ceiling and catching fire as the sweet sounds of “Boomshakalaka!” rang out across the arcade.

Medal of Honor

85. Medal of Honor

Released: 1999
Platform: PlayStation

On the heels of Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg (a well-known gamer himself) and DreamWorks created a first-person shooter genre that would create a cottage industry for years to come: the World War II shooter. With sweeping music composed by Michael Giacchino, tense gameplay, a great attention to detail, and an intro movie that totally pumped us up to dismantle Hitler’s regime, our addiction to Nazi-dropping began here.

Asteroids

84. Asteroids

Released: 1979
Platform: Arcade

Asteroids was an arcade juggernaut. With its sparse but sharp vector graphics, increasingly tense gameplay, and space theming that was hotter than a light saber in those days, Asteroids went on to become Atari’s best-selling arcade game of all time. It also was just fun to press a button called “Thrust.”

Shadow of the Colossus

83. Shadow of the Colossus

Released: 2005
Platform: PlayStation 2

A spiritual successor Ico, it was that same development team that somehow managed to capture lightning in a bottle four years later with this spellbinding adventure. The brilliant art design, orchestral soundtrack during boss fights, and of course the sense of scale when battling the 16 massive colossi, all made for a totally unique gaming experience that holds up quite well a decade later.

Castlevania- Symphony of the Night

82. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Released: 1997
Platform: PlayStation

As most video games made were making the migration to 3D graphics, Konami kept the Castlevania series in the 2D, and in the process delivered this cult classic. With a fantastic soundtrack, wide range of weapons, and a break away from the linear platform style towards an action RPG, Symphony of the Night is vampire-slaying at its finest.

Dark Souls

81. Dark Souls

Released: 2001
Platform: Xbox 360 & PlayStation

How hard do you like your games? As we’ve gotten older our answers to that question have changed from “Hard!” to “A nice challenge” to “Um, can I finish a level before bed?” But Dark Souls made us enjoy a return to old-school trial-and-error agony with its deep combat. The dread-to-joy ratio your feel here when taking on bosses and finally slaying the game’s brutal bosses might be the highest we’ve ever encountered.

The Secret of Monkey Island

80. The Secret of Monkey Island

Released: 1990
Platform: Multiple Systems

Humor is hard to come by in games. Granted, most of us don’t look to a video game for laughs, but when you get it, as was the case with The Secret of Monkey Island, you never forget it. This classic point-and-click adventure game had perhaps the best name of any game character ever (Guybrush Threepwood), plus wittier dialogue than every episode of Major Dad and Designing Women combined.

Resident Evil 4

79. Resident Evil 4

Released: 2005
Platform: Gamecube

The grandfather of all survival horror games, it took the Resident Evil series nearly a decade to churn out a true gem, but it all came together with Capcom’s blockbuster for the GameCube. You had loads of weapons, a terrifically tense atmosphere, breathtaking action sequences, some of the best cinematics ever, and perhaps the most gorgeous graphics of any game at the time.

Counter-Strike

78. Counter-Strike

Released: 1999
Platform: PC

From humble Half-Life mod to FPS legend, Counter-Strike’s four-on-four matches were – or are, since amazingly there are still lots of people playing it – an addiction for millions of competitive gamers. Always evolving, always fast-paced, and yet rewarding teamwork and precision, this game helped pioneer the E-sports industry.

Mega Man 2

77. Mega Man 2

Released: 1989
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System

After the middling success of Mega Man, Capcom quickly revamped the franchise for a sequel. The result was this gem of an action platformer that featured a killer opening sequence, thrilling gameplay, vivid colors, cool power-ups, memorable music, and strong replay value. Easily one of the best games to grace the NES.

Tecmo Super Bowl

76. Tecmo Super Bowl

Released: 1991
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System

The cult following for this game is Hail Mary-deep, and with good reason. Since it was the first sports video game to feature the teams and the players it sought to emulate, it seemed we had reached football nirvana (coincidentally, in the age of Nirvana). Bo Jackson up the middle. Nuff said.

Chrono Trigger

75. Chrono Trigger

Released: 1995
Platform: Super Nintendo

For many gamers, the time travel-based Chrono Trigger was the Japanese role-playing game that started it all, and – if nostalgia is allowed to play a role – has never been equaled. With multiple endings, numerous plot twists, a great soundtrack, humor, and a clever design, it stands as a landmark JRPG at the very least.

NHL 94

74. NHL ’94

Released: 1993
Platform: Sega Genesis, SEGA CD, Super Nintendo

The first hockey game to introduce one-timers and have all the licensing locked up, NHL ’94 is one of the elite members in the sports video game Hall of Fame. Having four players go at it was one of the best ways to spend a Saturday night. Recognizing the deep love affair gamers have with ’94, EA’s NHL ’06 featured a full version of the old school classic on the disc.

Lumines

73. Lumines

Released: 2005
Platform: PlayStation Portable

The PSP had a pretty strong run for handheld system, and while God of War: Chains of Olympus was great, we’re going with Lumines as our favorite game to grace that system. Why? Pick-up-and-playability. Before smartphones were commonplace, this Tetris-inspired block-dropper was the way to kill a half-hour on the plane.

Punch-Out

72. Punch-Out!!

Released: 1987
Platform: Arcade/NES

The first boxing video game and still the undisputed champion in our hearts, Punch-Out (or Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! on the NES in North America) pummeled its way into our hearts forever with us in the role of Little Mac, the diminutive pugilist. 30 years later and we can still tell you what Glass Joe, Bald Bull, Don Flamenco, and King Hippo looked like and what their weaknesses were. That says it all.

FIFA 12

71. FIFA 12

Released: 2011
Platform: Multiple Systems

Mentally parsing through three decades worth of soccer games was a daunting task, but we settled on EA’s superb pitch effort in 2011. FIFA 12 featured a slew of advances, including better AI, the new Player Impact physics engine, and the Precision Dribbling mechanic which gave players a more precise touch when attacking.

Contra

70. Contra

Released: 1987
Platform: Arcade/NES

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start. Nuff said. Contra wasn’t technically the first game to feature a cheat code, but it caught fire in in the late 80s, with seemingly every kind, tween, and teen knowing it by heart to get 30 lives. Besides that dynamite distinction, this run-and-gun affair was a ton of fun to play with a friend, making it one of the earliest and best co-op experiences around.

Baldur’s Gate II- Shadows of Amn

69. Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn

Released: 2000
Platform: PC & Mac

Dungeons and Dragons fans finally had a reason to set down the multi-sided dice with the sequel to Baldur’s Gate. Numerous aspects of Shadows of Amn elevated it to landmark status: excellent voice acting, a wide variety of monsters to slay, beautiful graphics that made your sorcery come alive, and most notably, the perfecting of the top-down hack & slash action that kept us coming back for more.

Quake III Arena

68. Quake III Arena

Released: 1999
Platform: PC

The Quake series was perhaps the first series to really master the twitchy, aggressive, intense feel that made first-person shooter deathmatches the couch-soaking sweatfests they’ve become today. While any of the Quake games could’ve easily made this list, we’re singling out Quake III Arena for its sharp graphics and finely tuned online shootouts that helped us build our FPS muscles.

Myst

67. Myst

Released: 1993
Platform: Mac

No computer game sold more copies in the 20th century than the breakthrough point-and-click adventure, Myst. Sure the puzzles could be maddening to solve, and if you were looking for action, no sir. But the graphics were gorgeous, the atmosphere sucked you in, and most notably, the game pioneered the popularity of the CD-ROM.

Diablo

66. Diablo

Released: 1996
Platform: PC

The definitive hack & slash dungeon crawler, Diablo consumed players like crazy in the 90s with its simple but addictive gameplay. The path to hell was paved with plenty of evil beings needed to be destroyed as either warrior, rogue, or sorcerer, but it was the online multiplayer component that stretched the game’s lifespan considerably and vaulted it to legend status.

Sid Meier’s Civilization V

65. Sid Meier’s Civilization V

Released: 2010
Platform: Windows & OS X

Almost any of Sid Meier’s spectacularly deep Civilization games could be featured on this list, but Civ V is probably the one that could win over the non-RTS fan the fastest, while still pleasing the purists. The core world-building gameplay remains as addictive as ever, but this time buoyed by better combat and superb graphics and presentation.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12

64. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12

Released: 2011
Platform: Multiple Systems

There have been plenty of great golf games over the years, and no series has been more consistently fun than this one. In 2011, this EA staple finally landed the most famous tournament in the world, The Masters. It also introduced an in-game caddy and the hushed tones of longtime CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz.

GoldenEye 007

63. GoldenEye 007

Released: 1997
Platform: Nintendo 64

Millions of gamers have a soft spot for GoldenEye, and for many of them this was their introduction to the world of first-person shooters, which had been primarily a PC experience through the mid-90s. With thrilling two- to four-player split-screen deathmatches and nice touches like bullet holes, lingering smoke, and the classic 007 theme, it was understandably the 3rd best-selling game on the Nintendo 64.

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell- Chaos Theory

62. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Released: 2005
Platform: Multiple Systems

Among Sam Fisher’s many adventures, we think Chaos Theory deserves a spot on our coveted list. On the fading 6th gen systems, the graphics were simply spectacular. The tension and politically-charged storyline was on point, the stealth-based action was refined, and the co-op missions gave the game a healthy dose of replayability.

Okami

61. Okami

Released: 2006
Platform: PlayStation 2

Games don’t come much more original and beautiful than Okami. Steeped in ancient Japanese history, the cel-shaded environments are like interactive Picasso paintings. You play as a female Japanese Sun God who turns herself into a wolf, and yes, it is as weird as that sounds, but in a fantastic way.

Halo- Combat Evolved

60. Halo: Combat Evolved

Released: 2001
Platform: Xbox

Halo didn’t blaze any new trails when it debuted with the first Xbox in 2001, but it did raise the bar in just about every aspect of what we expected from our first-person shooter games. With an immersive sci-fi universe, a sweeping score, vibrant graphics, couch co-op through the campaign, and intense action-packed gameplay, Bungie’s original entry still is our favorite.

Limbo

59. Limbo

Released: 2010
Platform: Xbox 360

Atmospheric, eerie, haunting, brutal, funny. A work of art. Limbo is all of those things. Coming out of nowhere in 2010 as an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive, this simple sidescroller might be the best black & white game ever, with a trial-and-error formula that’s results in a minimalist masterpiece.

Super Mario World

58. Super Mario World

Released: 1990
Platform: Super Nintendo

Super Mario World didn’t represent a massive leap forward for Mario and friends, but it did add new moments of magic on a new console that made for an addictive and enthralling adventure. Mario now had the ability to spin jump, and when we had that cape feather on and glided across the screen, we fell in love (sorry, Peach). Another example of an amazing Nintendo console launch game.

Red Dead Redemption

57. Red Dead Redemption

Released: 2010
Platform: PS3 & Xbox 360

Its elevator pitch – “Grand Theft Auto with Cowboys” – was simple and not very original, but Rockstar created the greatest Western game ever with Red Dead Redemption. Sure, killing a few hundred people to get your wife and son back from the government seemed a tad excessive, but no game we’ve ever played captured that Old West vibe so well. From breaking wild horses to intense shootouts to a relaxing game of horseshoes, we happily gave this game dozens of our hours.

Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty

56. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

Released: 2001
Platform: PlayStation 2

Epic, insane, and unforgettable, Metal Gear Solid 2 was so good it even survived the most annoying plot twist in gaming history. Only creator Hideo Kojima could make a game with mature themes like political conspiracies and censorship, yet also have you battle a rollerblading bomb-thrower named Fatman.

NBA 2K11

55. NBA 2K11

Released: 2010
Platform: Multiple Systems

It’s hard to pinpoint which year might be the best in the best pro hoops franchise of all time, but we’re gonna say NBA 2K11 takes the ring. Instead of throwing a current-day star on the cover, the game went with His Airness, Michael Jordan, and featured the Jordan Challenge mode that let players try to replicate 10 of MJ’s signature career highlights. If the online gameplay wasn’t so weak, it’d have ranked higher.

Mass Effect 2

54. Mass Effect 2

Released: 2010
Platform: Xbox 360 & PC

Despite a wealth of pre-hype, the first Mass Effect was underwhelming. But BioWare made sweeping changes to the sequel, with vastly improved combat, better AI, and despite the denseness of the game, a much more cohesive structure. The mature script and wide array of compelling characters you encounter make this space opera a classic. Plus flirting (at the very least) with alien babes is kind of fun. We’re kinky like that.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3

53. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3

Released: 2001
Platform: Multiple Systems

The first Tony Hawk game was a trailblazer. The sequel was excellent. But the third game in the series refined the gameplay to new levels; levels that, graphics, aside, really have only barely been surpassed since. With newfound freedom, the introduction of the revert, and the debut of online play, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 was an instant classic.

Mario Kart 64

52. Mario Kart 64

Released: 1997
Platform: Nintendo 64

For decades now, Mario Kart games have yielded more thrills per lap than any other racing game franchise. But which one is the best ever? It came down a choice of three: Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart DS, and the game we’re going with, the biggest game-changer of the bunch, Mario Kart 64. With the introduction of 3D tracks, drivers could now encounter changes in elevation, bridges, walls, pits, and longer courses overall. The four-player multiplayer matches represented some of the finest party gaming experiences ever had on a console.

Donkey Kong

51. Donkey Kong

Released: 1981
Platform: Arcade

Game design god Shigeru Miyamoto had been at Nintendo for five years before hitting the jackpot with this platforming pioneer. Donkey Kong featured bright, colorful graphics, a simple but engaging storyline, and, at the time, a unique gameplay mechanic—jumping. They didn’t exactly stretch their creative limits when they named the mustachioed protagonist “Jumpman,” but thankfully he’d soon be known as Mario, the world’s greatest plumber.

Shenmue

50. Shenmue

Released: 1999
Platform: Dreamcast

Yu Suzuki aimed high – perhaps too high – when creating Shenmue, but even when it failed (anyone up for driving a forklift for 45 an hour?), it still was a bold step forward for the industry. With Hollywood-style production values, a strong, revenge-themed plot, day and night cycles, variable weather patterns, mini-games, quick time events, and more, Shenmue was the epic adventure for Sega’s gone-too-soon console.

Star Wars- Knights of the Old Republic

49. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Released: 2003
Platform: Xbox

In a galaxy full of Star Wars games, the emperor of them all is still this 2003 RPG that debuted on the original Xbox. Perfectly capturing and expanding the Star Wars universe in a story that took place 4,000 years before the rise of the Empire, KOTOR fleshed out great characters and a compelling storyline with one of the better plot twists in gaming history.

Ico

48. Ico

Released: 2001
Platform: PlayStation 2

With breathtaking visuals, innovative design, and a poignant, original plot about an outcast boy on the run, Ico instantly carved out a unique place for itself in video game history. While the gameplay couldn’t quite match the emotional pull of the story, and the sales numbers were disappointing, Ico is easily one of the greatest achievements in gaming history.

Street Fighter II

47. Street Fighter II

Released: 1991
Platform: Arcade

Perhaps the most important fighting game ever, Street Fighter II ignited the arcade brawling game boom of the 90s. Capcom’s sequel to its 1987 original raised the bar in a number of ways, including letting you choose from various characters, each with their own fighting style, and a joystick and buttons that were state-of-the-art at the time, finally requiring more skill than luck to pull off serious combos.

Braid

46. Braid

Released: 2008
Platform: Xbox 360

Jonathan Blow’s indie smash boasted a never-ending supply of original charm when it debuted on Xbox Live Arcade in 2008. From the outstanding soundtrack to the insanely creative puzzles, Braid quickly shows you it’s way deeper than a cute platformer with a main character that looks like Conan O’Brien. Plus the huge twist ending hits you like a ton of bricks and still has us debating the meaning.

God of War

45. God of War

Released: 2005
Platform: PS2

With beautifully brutal action, an enveloping Greek mythology universe, and some of the finest cutscenes ever, Kratos and God of War came charging hard onto the PS2 in 2005. Slaying baddies with the Blades of Chaos still yields the kind of naughty satisfaction that makes you almost feel a little guilty.

Super Mario Bros 3

44. Super Mario Bros. 3

Released: 1990
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System

Nintendo sent the NES out with a spectacular finale in Super Mario Bros. 3. Game director Shigeru Miyamoto gave gamers a plethora of goodies to discover, including the power of flight, opening up the level design to new heights. From the wide new slate of enemies to the joys of donning a raccoon suit, the third was indeed a charm.

LittleBigPlanet

43. LittleBigPlanet

Released: 2008
Platform: PlayStation 3

The cute platformer genre seemed to be forever destined to the memory bin until Media Molecule created this breakthrough game for the PS3. Insanely cute, creative, and deep, Little Big Planet not only gave you a great platformer, but also the ability to create your own levels – as intricate as you wanted them – and play other peoples’ creations for free too.

Final Fantasy VII

42. Final Fantasy VII

Released: 1997
Platform: PlayStation

There’s been no shortage of list-worthy games in the Final Fantasy franchise, but there’s something about VII that owns the icon status more than any other. The first game in the series to use 3D graphics, Squaresoft’s masterpiece featured a range of deep themes not often found in games, including grief, as well a standout soundtrack and a turn-based combat system that made millions of fans.

Madden NFL 2005

41. Madden NFL 2005

Released: 2004
Platform: Multiple Systems

Selling more than 100 million copies over more than two decades, the Madden series is an institution. But picking one year as the best ever is nearly impossible, as the game has become infamous for making marginal annual advances. But we’ll go with Madden NFL 2005. It had the hit stick, Ray Lewis on the cover, and it was the first Madden game to feature Xbox Live. Oh, and it only cost $30, thanks to the pricing pressure from the superior ESPN NFL 2K5.

The Legend of Zelda

40. The Legend of Zelda

Released: 1986
Platform: NES

A blockbuster on the NES, The Legend of Zelda is on the short list of the most influential games of all time. Blending action and most importantly, a new style of gaming at the time, role-playing, Link’s initial adventure took gamers into a fantasy world that most games had never been able to. As far as we’re concerned, the gold on that cartridge was real.

StarCraft II- Wings of Liberty

39. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

Released: 2010
Platform: PC & Mac

Blizzard certainly took its time (12 years) in getting out a sequel to the excellent original, but StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty turned out to be well worth the wait. This sci-fi themed real-time strategy affair delivers a deep and satisfying single-player experience, top-notch multiplayer thrills, and extremely polished presentation and visuals.

Batman- Arkham City

38. Batman: Arkham City

Released: 2011
Platform: Multiple Systems

After decades of feeble attempts, the previously impossible was achieved in 2009: an amazing Batman was created. Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Asylum wowed fans and critics alike with its masterful mashup of combat, stealth, and most importantly, finally nailing the spectacular feeling of being the Dark Knight. We’ll admit Arkham City only had to improve on the original, but the open-world freedom gives this one the edge in our book.

The Elder Scrolls V- Skyrim

37. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Released: 2011
Platform: Multiple Systems

Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls games have taken their time improving over the years, but we think everything finally came together in 2011 with Skyrim. First of all, dragons. But besides that, this devilishly deep fantasy action RPG bested Oblivion by streamlining the combat system and minimizing the frustrations found previously with leveling up your character.

World of Warcraft

36. World of Warcraft

Released: 2004
Platform: PC/Mac

What World of Warcraft has been able to do is untouchable. Grossing well more than 10 billion dollars since its release in 2004, WoW is the all-time cash king of video games. More than a decade after its release, an incredible seven million people are paying $15 a month to lose themselves in this massive fantasy world of mystery, magic, and adventure. It might not be the prettiest pony in the stable, but this MMORPG knows how to evolve and keep you hooked like no other game.

Guitar Hero

35. Guitar Hero

Released: 2005
Platform: PlayStation 2

We can’t give originality props to Guitar Hero (that goes to Guitar Freaks), and Rock Band perfected the format during the late 00s, but the first Guitar Hero was undoubtedly the breakthrough lead singer on the rhythm game stage. With that plastic mini-Gibson in your hands, any marginally musically-inclined gamer could feel like Eddie Van Halen.

The Sims

34. The Sims

Released: 2000
Platform: PC

For decades it seemed video games had to involve fast-paced action or fantasy-filled stories. Then came The Sims, and people everywhere were deciding which room to put the virtual toilet in. Will Wright’s amazingly detailed life-simulator became the best-selling PC game in history by appealing to both male and female gamers who wanted to play god, providing them with endless options for customization, plenty of humor, and a way to live the life maybe they never could.

Super Mario Galaxy 2

33. Super Mario Galaxy 2

Released: 2010
Platform: Nintendo Wii

This platforming sequel to the already excellent Super Mario Galaxy featured improved level designs, enhanced graphics, and just an overall level of creativity that’s rarely been matched. That unmistakable “Nintendo magic” that’s so palpable sometimes is indeed at its finest right here. Looking to feel like a kid again? Play either of the two Galaxy games.

Sonic the Hedgehog

32. Sonic the Hedgehog

Released: 1991
Platform: Sega Genesis

With eye-popping colors, surprisingly deep gameplay, a bevy of engaging worlds to explore, and that trademark blinding speed, Sonic quickly became a sensation and major system-seller for the Genesis. From the addictive hook of ring-collecting to the quirky and funky soundtrack, the game is still a platforming piece of perfection.

Ms. Pac-Man

31. Ms. Pac-Man

Released: 1982
Platform: Arcade

One of the greatest sequels in the history of all sequels, let alone gaming. Everything that was great about Pac-Man was made better with the missus, from different mazes and warp tunnels to tasty bouncing fruit and the faster pace as the game went along. It’s pretty much the most successful unofficial mod in gaming history, and let’s not forget, Ms. Pac-Man was also the first female protagonist in an arcade game.

Grand Theft Auto- San Andreas

30. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Released: 2004
Platform: PlayStation 2

Along with sick thrills like parachuting and jet packing, for the first time in the GTA series, an RPG-like element was added to the mix in San Andreas. Player were tasked with building up hero CJ Johnson’s stamina, driving, shooting, and other skills. Of the three PS2-era GTA games, this one holds up the best, but it had the least amount of heavy lifting to do. Refined excellence.

Galaga

29. Galaga

Released: 1981
Platform: Arcade

It’s official: playing Galaga will never get old. This Golden Age-era sequel to Galaxian has been an arcade mainstay for decades thanks to its simple but satisfying gameplay. Letting your ship get captured so you can eventually reclaim it and double your firepower remains a thrilling expedition, and those Challenging Stages… man, we could live on those.

Soul Calibur

28. Soul Calibur

Released: 1999
Platform: Dreamcast

One of the greatest launch titles in any console’s history, Namco’s Soul Calibur debuted alongside the Dreamcast on 9/9/99 with bleeding edge graphics, more freedom than most fighting games, an unusually strong single-player campaign for a fighter, and plenty of swords. But it was the hyper-tight controls and gameplay mechanics that still stand up and make this the best fighting game ever.

Minecraft

27. Minecraft

Released: 2009
Platform: PC

Perhaps the finest example of a game being truly what you make of it, Minecraft became a worldwide phenomenon by letting players build everything from modest huts to a life-size recreation of the Taj Mahal—no goals, just go and build. The crude graphics are understandably hard to get past for some, but the creative freedom is astounding.

The Walking Dead

26. The Walking Dead

Released: 2012
Platform: Multiple Systems

Smashing zombie skulls is fun, we can’t deny that, but it’s also forgettable. What’s not forgettable is having to decide whether or not to shoot a young boy who’s been infected. It’s moment like these, focusing on story, character development, and the excruciating tests of one’s ethics, which make The Walking Dead so damn good.

Space Invaders

25. Space Invaders

Released: 1978
Platform: Arcade

The first arcade game ever to consumer quarters like a ravenous T-Rex, Space Invaders was also one of the first games to feature shooting. Yes, imagine that: There was a time when there were no such things as shooter video games. After Taito launched the game in 1978, it exploded in popularity worldwide, creating a temporary shortage of the 100-yen coin in Japan. It also made more money than Star Wars did in its first year. Damn.

Uncharted 2- Among Thieves

24. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Released: 2009
Platform: PlayStation 3

If anyone ever asks you for an example of a game that beats the experience of going to the movies, hand them a copy of Uncharted 2. Breezy to pick up and play, yet packing more thrills than most Hollywood blockbusters, Naughty Dog’s second helping of swashbuckling Nathan Drake boasted a sharp script, superior voice acting, and amazing graphics. Maybe the best game ever on the PS3.

Super Mario 64

23. Super Mario 64

Released: 1996
Platform: Nintendo 64

Gaming’s 3D revolution started in spectacular fashion with this legendary launch game for the N64. Players were granted unprecedented freedom as they guided Mario on his quest to rescue Princess Peach, with analog stick controls letting you make Mario walk, run, jump, crouch, crawl, swim, climb, kick, or punch. The vibrant graphics, brilliant level design, engaging musical score, and overall sense of scale were all up to the finest Nintendo/Miyamoto standards, firmly placing Super Mario 64 onto the short list of the greatest games ever.

Video game image #28145

22. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec

Released: 2001
Platform: PlayStation 2

Gran Turismo had earned a nice little reputation for being a car enthusiast’s game on the PlayStation, but when the level of detail was matched up with gorgeous visuals on the PS2, driving game glory was achieved. The unabashed focus on replicating the real-life auto experience rewarded players with a game they could invest dozens and dozens of hours in and enjoy every minute.

Pong

21.Pong

Released: 1972
Platform: Arcade

Two white lines hitting a white dot back and forth makes our list of the 100 greatest video games ever? Of course it does. Coming one year after Computer Space became the world’s first coin-operated video game, Atari’s Pong was the first ever sports arcade game and a major factor in the creation of the home gaming industry. And yes, it’s still a fundamentally sound game.

Baseball Stars

20. Baseball Stars

Released: 1989
Platform: Arcade/NES

There are plenty of people who never played SNK’s Baseball Stars, and for those people, we are truly sorry. It may not have had MLB players, but it didn’t matter because Baseball Stars tracked your stats! Yes, it was the first sports game with a battery backup. So whether you created your own players or played with the Ghastly Monsters, this was an RPG in stirrups. On top of that, the oh-so important batter-pitcher confrontations were excellent, as were the abilities to make diving stops in the hole or rob a home run.

ESPN NFL 2K5

19. ESPN NFL 2K5

Released: 2004
Platform: PS2/Xbox

While Madden has always been the Goliath of the gaming gridiron in terms of sales, the NFL 2K series was a very sharp thorn in its side the early 2000s. But pure shivers went down EA’s spine in 2004 when this gem of a game was sold brand new for just $20. Visual Concepts’ trademark superb presentation set it light years apart from Madden, with superb broadcasting, Chris Berman’s halftime show, customizable stadium soundtracks, and more. How did the EA suits react to seeing the best football game ever sold for 33% less than their offering? They slashed Madden ‘05’s price to $30, then locked up an exclusive deal with the NFL, killing all competition.

Grand Theft Auto- Vice City

18. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Released: 2002
Platform: PlayStation 2

Vice City improved the GTA experience in every way. We now had a speaking protagonist, a star-studded cast of voice actors (Ray Liotta, Dennis Hopper, Gary Busey, Jenna Jameson), a drastically improved soundtrack, and a sun-soaked, Scarface-inspired setting. Wanna do a drive-by while pumping Frankie Goes to Hollywood in your Banshee? You got it. There’s just no better game for reliving the best and worst of the 80s.

Bioshock

17. Bioshock

Released: 2007
Platform: Xbox 360/PC

With an inventive, intelligent, and morality-based storyline, plus an immersive and disturbing atmosphere, Bioshock wowed the gaming world in 2007. While its actual FPS gameplay didn’t raise the bar like the game’s artistic direction did, the haunting memories of Rapture and its inhabitants are a testament to Ken Levine’s creation.

Journey

16. Journey

Released: 2012
Platform: PlayStation 3

Innovative, beautiful, and captivating, Journey offered a brief yet unforgettable few hours that every gamer should experience. With a mysteriously poetic flow to it and one of the greatest musical scores ever heard in any medium, Journey took us to a unique emotional place that’s pretty much unheard of for a game.

Battlefield- Bad Company 2

15. Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Released: 2010
Platform: Multiple Systems

Whether it’s getting killed by shrapnel from the jet that just crashed in front of you or RPGing an enemy as you parachute softly down from the sky, the “only in Battlefield” tagline is legitimate. It’s tough nailing down which Battlefield game has been the best, but Bad Company 2 certainly delivered the best single-player campaign. Factor in the addition of being able to spot and tag your enemies plus a heightened level of environmental destruction, and you had a game that captured the chaos of full-scale war better than any other.

Call of Duty 4- Modern Warfare

14. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Released: 2007
Platform: Multiple Systems

The ground shook when Infinity Ward and Activision unleashed Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. It’s hard to recall now, but in ‘07, the World War II theme was drier than a dust bunny. Modern Warfare yanked the first-person shooter into modern military times, bringing with it a jacked-up level of intensity and an XP-filled, crack-like, addictive multiplayer experience that is still being emulated almost a decade later.

Grand Theft Auto V

13. Grand Theft Auto V

Released: 2014
Platform: PlayStation 4 & Xbox One

Rockstar didn’t just port the already spectacular GTA V to the next-gen systems in 2014, it added a slew of significant improvements that forced us to specify the PS4 and Xbox One versions here. The graphical overhaul, improved draw distances, extra content, and the new, surprisingly appealing first-person view were all welcome additions. The three playable characters are still all jerks, but exploring Los Santos with the trademark GTA kitchen-sink freedom is still one of gaming’s greatest thrills.

Doom

12. Doom

Released: 1993
Platform: PC

It might not have technically been the first first-person shooter, but it’s undeniably the most influential FPS ever. Upping the ante on weapons, unnerving sound effects, and graphic violence, Doom stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy. But it was really the new point of view that rocked the gaming world, as players now saw the virtual world right in front of them, not through a 3rd person avatar on the screen.

Metroid Prime

11. Metroid Prime

Released: 2002
Platform: Gamecube

The Metroid franchise was already one of gaming’s best when Nintendo went all 3D on us and wowed the world with this spectacular “first-person adventure” as they called it. Aside from some backtracking there was nothing not to like, with spectacular visuals, an immersive atmosphere, and addictive and exhilarating exploration-focused gameplay. The finest game on the Gamecube, bar none.

Deus Ex

10. Deus Ex

Released: 2000
Platform: PC

A brilliant hybrid of FPS, RPG, action, adventure, and stealth genres, Deus Ex is a landmark achievement. Director and producer Warren Specter created a fascinating, conspiracy-filled future, and gave gamers multiple options for sorting it all out. With multiple twists and turns, witty writing, and complex and compelling themes, Deus Ex is a slice of pure gaming greatness.

Metal Gear Solid

9. Metal Gear Solid

Released: 1998
Platform: PlayStation

Make no mistake, video games were taken to a new level, a higher art form, if you will, by Hideo Kojima’s masterpiece, Metal Gear Solid. Elevating the stealth genre to new levels, players guided Solid Snake on a secret mission to shut down a monster of a nuclear weapon. With Hollywood-style cinematics and brilliant breakthroughs like Psycho Mantis reading your mind (but really your PS memory card), Metal Gear Solid stands tall as a gaming classic.

Portal 2

8. Portal 2

Released: 2001
Platform: Multiple Systems

The original Portal, modestly bundled in one of the greatest game packages in the history of gaming (The Orange Box), surprised everyone with its quirky first-person, teleporting puzzle solving. But Portal 2 fleshed out the concept and raised it to new heights. With a fantastic and funny script, a great co-op mode, and an endless supply of “Eureka!” moments, Portal 2 is simply a masterpiece.

The Last of Us

7. The Last of Us

Released: 2013
Platform: PlayStation 3

The PS3 went out with a bang with this spectacular effort by Naughty Dog. Dynamic, emotionally arresting, and stuffed to the gills with tension, The Last of Us combines adventure, survival, action, stealth and constant exploration masterfully. The polished multiplayer portion adds even more value. Two years later and it’s still the best offering on the PS4.

The Legend of Zelda- Ocarina of Time

6. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Released: 1998
Platform: Nintendo 64

Virtually flawless, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has an movable spot on gaming’s version of Mount Rushmore. The first Zelda game to feature 3D graphics, Nintendo’s fifth adventure for Link broke new ground in terms of control, introducing the target-lock system and context-sensitive buttons, features that are now standard. The level design, the gameplay mechanics, the characters, the puzzles, the secret goodies… it all came together in a symphony of success and cemented Shigeru Miyamoto’s legacy as probably the greatest game designer ever.

Half-Life 2

5. Half-Life 2

Released: 2004
Platform: PC

What Half-Life flirted with – an enveloping narrative, excellent presentation, and an immersive environment – Half-Life 2 fully dove into. Crowbar-toting Gordon Freeman’s second adventure delivered top-notch tension, next-level physics, superb environments, fantastic sound design, and the greatest weapon in video game history, the gravity gun.

Tetris

4.Tetris

Released: 1984
Platform: Multiple

Simple, addictive, and timeless, Tetris runs a close 3rd when it comes to the best thing to ever come out of Russia (just behind vodka and Anna Kournikova). The premise is crazy basic – stack the seven different “Tetriminos” as they drop down onto each other to make a straight line of blocks – but oh-so replayable. Having appeared on a world record 65+ different platforms, we’re gonna go ahead and say every human being has played and enjoyed a game of Tetris at once in their life.

Grand Theft Auto III

3. Grand Theft Auto III

Released: 2001
Platform: PlayStation 2

GTA III was simply a revolution in video gaming. Never before had players experienced this level of freedom, to roam a city and let their gaming conscience guide their level of lawlessness. That freedom freaked out parents and politicians, but it was only part of what made the game so spectacular. The witty writing, in-game radio stations, mafia storyline, and off-the-charts fun factor created a perfect storm to usher in a new era in the new millennium. Of course later iterations improved on the formula, but none of them landed with the asteroid-sized impact that GTA III did.

Pac-Man

2. Pac-Man

Released: 1980
Platform: Arcade

Pac-Man was a tsunami. The first global phenomenon in gaming, it was played more than 10 billion times in the 20th century alone, inspiring sequels, cereals, crappy pop songs, cartoons, and more. Decades after it swept the world by storm, Pac-Man is still an icon, still in arcades, still leading to spinoffs, and yes, still fun to play.

Super Mario Bros

1. Super Mario Bros.

Released: 1985
Platform: NES

Defining one game as the best of all time is a fool’s mission. There are dozens of variables to consider, not to mention personal tastes. But we feel comfortable in bestowing the royal crown upon the head of Super Mario Bros. With its awesome design, precise controls, wide cast of characters, and hidden levels, Nintendo truly hit a grand slam with this system-seller in 1985. But two things put the game over the top for us: #1, the game’s decades-long coattails, with infinite sequels and spinoffs still coming, and most importantly #2, the pivotal role Super Mario Bros. and the NES played in reviving the almost comatose console video game industry in the mid-80s. We salute you, fine sir!

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