Well here it is! The long awaited (well, maybe not), much requested (by nobody), update to my Top 100 games list! I was surprised how well received this was last year, when I released it in sets of 10 leading up to the Thanksgiving Holiday. I’d been working on the list for a long time, so when Skirmish Frogs provided me with the opportunity to publish it and have an audience ready to read, I was very grateful. One of the best things that came out of that was getting connected to more people and getting the chance to talk about some fun games – even though many disagreed on my rankings. Surprising, perhaps, was how many people actually *agreed* with me (especially when it came to more obscure titles). But, a whole year has passed, and I’ve played a lot more games. Not only that, but I’ve had the chance to re-evaluate some of the others on here.
(If you’d like to read the original list, complete with game descriptions, links to all of them can be found here: http://skirmishfrogs.com/2015/11/27/my-top-100-games-the-top-ten/)
Never Played.. Before This Year!
First though, a bit of an intro. In the introduction to my original post, I mentioned several games that I expected would be on this list if I had played them. I did get around to playing two of them:
- more Zeldas
- Kingdom Hearts series
I was definitely right about these – most of the Zelda games that I’ve played in the last year for the first time (there were several) have made it onto the list. And though I’m still working through Kingdom Hearts II, the original definitely is on here somewhere. This was a good year for playing new games for me, and I’m hoping 2017 will be even better!
A few adjustments to my honorable mention list, as well:
- NOT METROID!
- Star Fox Zero
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
- Uncharted 4
- Zelda: Link Between Worlds
Firstly, the original Metroid is OFF of there. I just went and tried to play that game again, and it’s just not good. I did not have any fun with it. The mechanic of starting the player back with 30 health on a respawn, even if they’ve gotten more energy tanks, is just too punishing.
Star Fox Zero is a really nice game – really captures the feel of Star Fox 64. Not on the level of its predecessor, though. Theatrhythm is one of the chillest game experiences I’ve ever had. I absolutely *LOVE* FF music, and this is a great way to experience it. Link Between Worlds *almost* made the top 100, but the weird item system keeps it off, though the LttP feel they were going for was definitely achieved and very much appreciated. Uncharted 4 is the first game I’ve played from the newest gen, and it’s kind of amazing – like playing a movie. But I wonder how much it’s really a game – it really might be more of just an interactive movie after all.
And Undertale is… cool? Noteworthy, I suppose… but *severely* overrated. I had a few moments where I laughed, and it has some neat gameplay elements, but mostly I was just ready for the game to be over as soon as it could. It definitely isn’t the “RPG making fun of classic RPG tropes and bringing out the feels and being a meta experience that transcends gameplay” that so many people claim it is.
Now Playing and Coming Soon
There are a few games I’m currently playing through which warrant some mention:
- Bravely Second
- Zelda: Wind Waker
- Kingdom Hearts 2
- Final Fantasy XV
These guys are currently underway. I already can tell Bravely Second isn’t going to make the list. It’s fun, and has some definite improvements over its predecessor… but it just is too weird from a story perspective. Wind Waker (HD) is beautiful and interesting – but I’m barely into it. Too early to tell. Kingdom Hearts 2 and Final Fantasy XV are also too early to tell – could go either way at this point.
I’ve got quite a few games in the queue as well:
- Dark Souls
- Last of Us
- Final Fantasy XIII-2/Lightning Returns
- Radiant Historia
- Final Fantasy Mystic Quest
- Zelda 2
I’m hoping to play all of these games in the next year – or at least get started on some of them. Many of these games have been either been very well regarded or have some quirk that makes them interesting. Dark Souls, Last of Us, Mystic Quest, StarTropics, and Zelda 2 are all candidates for Blind Plays on my YouTube channel. Of course, the Nintendo Switch (and the new Zelda) will be coming out as well. I don’t expect to get one until next year’s Holiday season, but it certainly has the potential to add a game or two. There is a lot of really long stuff on this list, though, so I almost certainly won’t get to all of it. But if I revise this list again next year, any of these could make an appearance.
Now, since new games have been added, some games had to be cut. Here they are:
- Counter strike
- New SMB Wii
- Smash 4
- Blades of Steel
- Mortal Kombat 2
- Duck Hunt
- Mario Land 2
- Wii Sports
- Angry Birds
I added 10 new games to the list, so naturally 10 had to fall off. Most of these were ranked in the 90s anyway, so no real surprise. I did adjust the positions of a few others as well, upon further reflection. Some of these games were on there for nostalgia but really didn’t add up (Blades of Steel, MK2) – some were recency bias (Splatoon, Smash 4) – others were just because they had to make room for games that were simply *better.*
Alright, without further ado, here’s the list. I’ve included the whole list of 100 in order to give context, but have only provided commentary for games that are new or have had their position adjusted. Check the original posts if you’d like more detail on any of the others.
100. Guitar Hero (PS2, Wii)
I can’t believe I left this off of my original list. I guess I just completely forgot it existed. I suppose that doesn’t make much of a strong starting argument for this game to be on the list. And I really, really tried to leave it off. But I just had so much *fun* with this series. I spent *hours* in the dorms in college just playing this with friends, and I actually got pretty good at it before all was said and done. There are dozens of songs that I will sometimes hear on the radio and instantly associate them with playing Guitar Hero. Ultimately, that was the final straw that made me feel I had to include it. For a game to have that kind of lasting impact on me, it has to be on this list, and I never should have left it off to begin with.
99. Snoopy’s Grand Adventure (Wii U, PS4)
A surprising addition to the list, and one I really didn’t expect to enjoy this much. My children really love Snoopy, you see – as many of us do. So when my son saw this game in the store and instantly wanted it, my natural reaction was “no way.” Movie tie-in games do not have a good history. But he managed to eventually save up $11 of his own money and buy it on Amazon. Being a good father, I went to watch some YouTube videos of the game to see if it was appropriate for my son. Not content-wise, but rather just to make sure the game didn’t suck. Imagine my surprise when I saw a well-polished platformer with interesting levels, charming music, and fun movement mechanics! More than that – the game looked like it could be fun to speed run! So while my son played a *lot* of the game after buying it, I did too. And it lived up to those first impressions. It’s not a *great* game, by any stretch. But it is an excellent introductory platformer game, and trying to speed run it added a whole other level of difficulty and a bunch of replay value (as speed runs always do). I’m currently the World Record holder in this game, a record I hope to take even lower next year.
98. 1080 Snowboarding
97. Oregon Trail
96. Star Wars: Episode I – Racer
95. Star Wars: Rebellion
94. Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety
93. Donkey Kong 64 (N64)
Given that I’m mostly well known for rolling monkeys around quickly, it often would come as a surprise to people that I hadn’t played this game. Well, I had – but I got only to the fourth world and then it just lost my interest. Normally I complete games like this to the max, but I found this one to just be… strange. And that was as a 13-year old. Movement mechanics are awkward, the camera doesn’t behave, and the game design has a lot of really tedious moments. I’ve always kind of felt this game is really trying to be Banjo-Kazooie, but it just doesn’t get there. I tried again when the game was released on Wii U VC and ended up quitting at the exact same place – that awful, awful, water stage. Finally in the last few months I decided to give it one last shot… and everything clicked! I ended up having FUN! I would find myself at work thinking about which golden bananas I needed to try to get next. As I worked through some of the game’s later worlds, the different ways to use all the Kongs just sort of became more obvious and entertaining. Going back and revisiting some of the old worlds ended up being really fun, too! I did indeed end up getting 101% completion (plus all 100 bananas per Kong per stage). It still has all the flaws that I mentioned earlier, and it’s definitely trying to be Banjo-Kazooie and failing…. But it’s fun and I liked it. So here it is.
92. Sim City 2000
91. Madden NFL Series
90. Super Mario Land
89. Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3
This game was on the original list, but I dropped it down quite a bit. I got it again for 3DS VC earlier this year, and it is just *not* as good as I remember it. I’m still leaving it on the list because I had a ton of fun with it when I was a kid, but it just simply doesn’t deserve to be at the high spot I had it at.
88. The Legend of Zelda (NES)
So… yeah. I didn’t play this game until this year. I mean sure, I’d played a level or two a long time ago, but never did I actually do the whole thing. And you know what? It’s actually *really, really* good! I mean, who would’ve figured that the game that launched one of the most beloved franchises in all of gaming could be actually quality, eh? I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about just being dropped into a wide open world with no direction – but it works! The game is a lot smaller than I imagined it would be (probably since my experience with Zelda is with the later games), so it wasn’t too difficult to learn to find my way around. There were some pretty silly things – bombable walls or burnable bushes with no clues at all to help guide you – but in general it was a really fun experience. I could see the origin of so many Zelda tropes that lasted over the years, and that really just made for a great history lesson. I played a lot of new Zelda games last year, and this is the game that got me excited to do exactly that.
87. Final Fantasy
86. Super Mario Bros 2
84. Legend of Legaia
83. Bomberman 64
82. Kirby’s Dream Land 2
As with Wario Land, this one just didn’t belong as high as it was. In playing through it again, I definitely still found it to be a very fun game, but it’s shorter than I remembered and just not as interesting over all. Kirby’s Adventure is far superior to it, so now I think I have these spots corrected.
81. Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance
80. Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Another game I dropped in the lists. Nothing really changed – I actually have played this game relatively recently and enjoyed it. I just thought about it a bit more and realized it just didn’t deserve the spot I had it in. Not a big drop, but the right choice.
79. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
77. Bravely Default (3DS)
When I was given a 3DS for a Christmas present last year and went to Twitter to ask for recommendations, this was very quickly suggested to me. I picked it up and am very glad I did. It’s quirky, weird, and a bit grindy, but all-in-all is a great classic Final Fantasy experience. The Brave/Default system takes a bit of getting used to, and there are almost *too* many job options. I’m not somebody who necessarily takes a lot of joy in experimenting with different combinations, so I just had to grab some online suggestions for good attacks and just roll through quickly. The story really breaks down about halfway through the game, too – as anyone who’s played it can attest to. But it’s the characters that really give this game it’s charm, and the story highlighting the differing perspectives on two sides of the same conflict is a mature take on this sort of thing. And once you get the hang of the battle system, it’s possible to craft some really overpowered combos, level up quickly, and blitz through enemies – all of which is something I really enjoy.
76. Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (Wii U)
I came into this game really optimistic and excited. I had just finished playthroughs of the Oracle games – (which I LOVED – guess where *they* show up on this list?) – and was excited for more Zelda. But I started off not being super impressed with it. The game was a bit slower paced and the story a little awkward. I never got really immersed in the game’s world as with some other Zeldas, and I guess that never really changed. But the game really grew on me as it went on. In particular, I thought the dungeons were absolutely fantastic. This game had some of the most creative use of puzzles and items that I’ve seen in a Zelda game. An interesting mix of traditional puzzles and new gear made it wonderful. So while not my favorite Zelda game, it was definitely fun and worth a playthrough, and I’d recommend it to anyone else looking for a new Zelda to try.
75. Yoshi’s Wooly World
74. LEGO Harry Potter 1 & 2
73. Super Mario Maker
Very tiny drop for this game – massaging the list, really. But even though I’ve played very little of this game in the last year, I watch a *lot* of it on YouTube. I really, really like watching people play through difficult Mario Maker levels. I recommend KronicSauce’s stream and Grand POOBear’s stream/channel. I’m really very disappointed that they didn’t give the 3DS version of the game access to the big library of Wii U levels – here’s hoping they’re able to keep it going strong for many years with the Switch.
72. Ori and the Blind Forest (PC)
Honestly, I’m a bit surprised this game didn’t land higher on the list. I loved it. It’s an absolutely beautiful experience all the way through. The landscapes are beautiful, the music is evocative, and the gameplay and stage design are top notch. It’s a relatively short Metroidvania-style platformer, with a lot of really creative abilities and fun movement options. Special shoutouts to my friend OverlordBossk for gifting me the game and sharing the experience!
71. Pokemon (Red & Blue)
70. Super Mario 3D World
69. Mega Man
68. Mega Man X4
67. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
66. Syphon Filter 2
65. Final Fantasy XIII
64. Metroid Fusion
63. Super Mario Bros
62. Mega Man 6
61. Mario Kart 64
60. Warcraft II
59. Diddy Kong Racing
57. World of Warcraft
56. Kirby’s Adventure
55. Mega Man X2
54. Warcraft 3
53. The Lost Vikings
52. Star Fox 64
51. Harvest Moon
50. Kingdom Hearts (PS3)
I think you just need to read my pastebin about this game. This crazy, magical, frustrating, masterpiece of a game. (http://pastebin.com/GnjjNPkx)
49. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
48. Shovel Knight
47. Metroid Prime 3
46. Metroid Prime 2
Big *jump* for this game. I just had it too low.
44. Final Fantasy XII
43. Diablo 3
42. Final Fantasy V
41. Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2
Big jump for these games as well! Played through SMG again with my kids earlier this year, and DANG that is a fun, high quality game. I’ll be playing SMG2 again this year, and as I said before, since it’s basically the same game as SMG, it’s coming along for the ride.
40. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
39. Final Fantasy Tactics
38. Starcraft 2
37. Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons (GBC)
Definitely some of the best new games I’ve played in the last year. Well – not new, but new to me. As I’ve mentioned, playing the original Zelda inspired me to check out some of the others in the series that I missed, and boy am I glad I did. These games so greatly capture the spirit of Link’s Awakening (one of my top 10), while managing to incorporate some newer elements from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. The dungeons and level design in these games was absolutely fantastic. But the highlight here was definitely the new items and clever ways that they reused older items. I group the games together for obvious reasons, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Seasons. I just think I enjoyed the season-switching mechanic more than the time travel one.
36. Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
35. Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces 2
34. Banjo-Tooie (N64)
I’m still having #TooieWithdrawals. What a great, great game this is. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it, but it definitely wasn’t this. Firstly, this game is absolutely huge. I was blown away by the scale of it. It seems like each stage was at least as big as Click Clock Wood from Kazooie, but then it would get even bigger than that. Beyond that, so many of the stages are *connected* to each other, which was really neat. One of the coolest things about this game was that it is a sequel that doesn’t ignore that the first game happened – you start with all of the moves you had at the end of the original and it just builds from there. There are so many little moments dark humor in this game too – it’s hilarious. If I have to give this game any knocks, it’s that maybe it was a little *too* big – *too* ambitious. Some of the mini games or extra abilities can be a little annoying, and there are frame rate/lag issues from time to time. Also Canary Mary. But really, it’s a very worthy sequel to Banjo-Kazooie, and I absolutely had a blast playing it.
I have a playlist on YouTube of my Blind Play of this game, if you’re interested in checking it out. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFFnYM34ibbEUcchpSoZH99hwZuPBz3fM
RIP George and Mildred 2016. #NeverForget
33. Final Fantasy VIII
32. Metroid Prime
31. Final Fantasy X
29. Metal Gear Solid
28. Mega Man 2
27. Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble
26. Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen
25. Mega Man 4
24. Final Fantasy IV
23. Goldeneye 007
22. Donkey Kong Country
21. Mega Man X
20. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
19. Breath of Fire 2
18. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
17. Chrono Trigger
16. Mega Man 3
GAME SWAP! No offense, Mega Man 3… see below.
15. Super Mario World
14. Super Mario Bros 3
13. Super Mario 64
12. Mega Man 5
… I just realized that this is really my favorite Mega Man game. I just have so much dang fun with it. I love the bosses, love the stages, love the abilities, love the music, love the speed run… everything.
11.The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
10. Diablo 2
9. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
No position change, but calling attention to my plans to learn to speedrun this game in the coming year. Banjo-Tooie reminded me how much I love this series, so I’m excited to take it to another level and get to play it a lot more!
7. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest
No change here either, but I’m *much, much, much* better at this game now than I was last year. Check out some of my YouTube or Twitch highlights.
6. Final Fantasy VI
4. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
3. Super Metroid
2. Final Fantasy IX
1. Final Fantasy VII
Reminder: I’ve considered things like gameplay, replay value, timelessness, story, unique qualities, cultural impact, personal impact, and overall just how much fun a game is. Except for the times when I don’t consider them at all. I may even think a lower-rated game is “better” than one higher than it, or even more fun. Ultimately, the criteria are entirely my own. I make the decisions, I make the ratings, and I don’t claim to be either fair or logical in any of this.