The next 10 games in my list start to normalize things a bit more. The games are still a little bit quirky and less mainstream, but a lot of what you’ll see on most of this list begins to show up: platformers, RPGs, and strategy games. Of course, a random other game makes an appearance here or there throughout, but since those are the genres I most love, those games are well represented!
90. Star Wars: Rebellion (PC)
A pretty unique strategy game. If it wasn’t Star Wars, it probably wouldn’t make it in the list. The tactical mode left quite a bit to be desired, especially when compared to an RTS like Starcraft or Age of Empires. But the strategy mode was just so fun! Positioning your forces, trying to recruit planets to your cause – all during the rebellion period of Star Wars!
89. Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety (SNES)
The better of the two Super Nintendo Spider-Man arcade-style games. While Maximum Carnage has the more memorable characters and story, this game has better gameplay and a slightly more attainable difficulty curve. Fighting six different symbiotes, each with their own abilities, made this game particularly interesting. While I typically am not terribly partial to arcade beat-em-ups, I love Spider-Man, and any chance to partner up with Venom to take on Carnage is one I can’t ignore.
88. Sim City 2000 (PC)
The ultimate simulation game. Took the ideas from Sim City and turned them into something truly special. The sheer number of things that you could do or control in this game was absolutely huge. I spent many hours trying to build many different types of cities with different starting conditions. Not to mention throwing random disasters at the place just to see what happened! I don’t normally like open-ended sandbox games, but this one was special.
87. Madden NFL 2003 (PS2)
I can’t speak to the modern entries in the series, but in the early-to-mid 2000s these games were the pinnacle of football simulation. I am a huge fan of the NFL (specifically the Green Bay Packers – yes, I picked that image for a reason), and absolutely loved playing through seasons of the Madden games. This series really had the formula perfected – probably why it remains so popular to this day. Shout outs to the NCAA Football series as well, which might actually have had the better games. But I’m more a fan of the NFL than college, so Madden gets the nod. Why 2003? I played it the most, I guess – but you really can’t go wrong with anything from the early 2000s.
86. Super Mario Land (GameBoy)
Fun game that really kicked off the Game Boy experience. While much more limited (and much more difficult) than its NES counterpart, it still did a great job of providing a unique experience. With memorable and unique levels and music, solid gameplay, challenging bosses, and of course, the introduction of Daisy, this game really showed what portable platformers could be.
85. Final Fantasy (NES/iOS)
The original. I never played this on NES, but I did get to play the iOS release of the Dawn of Souls version. While a bit grind-heavy for my taste, it was still very cool to experience the origin of so many features that I came to know and love in the series. Beyond just nostalgia, the game still holds up very well as a standalone RPG in its own right! A vast world to explore, many enemies to fight, and several unique character skills to master make it absolutely worth experiencing.
84. Super Mario Bros 2 (NES)
SMB2u. Sorry, I mean Doki-Doki Panic. I mean… well… whatever you want to call it, this game clearly stands out from the crowd. I consider it to be the most challenging of the 2D Mario platformers, and certainly the most quirky. The game physics are a little weird, but the world is immersive, and the level design is unique and interesting. Perhaps most worth of recognition is the sheer number of enemies and elements it added to the Mario series: POW blocks, Shy Guys, Birdo, and more were first introduced in this game, and it’s hard to imagine Mario without them.
83. Tetris (GameBoy/Everything)
Ahhh, Tetris. Who doesn’t love Tetris? The consummate puzzle game. So simple, yet so engrossing. In particular, I have the Game Boy version in mind, but it’s been ported to and implemented on practically every platform that exists. It doesn’t really need more introduction, so I’ll just leave you with these videos. Prepare to !
82. Legend of Legaia (PS1)
Quirky and fun RPG with an entertaining story and great battle system. How you could set up combos was almost like playing a fighting game. Pretty challenging, too – especially in the early game. The idea of a mysterious “mist” plaguing the land and spawning monsters was first introduced here – well before FF9 got ahold of it. I don’t have a lot more to say about this game – I just remember it being really fun.
81. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (GameBoy)
Wario’s introduction came in a game that showed really high-quality platforming could be done on Game Boy. While the first entry in the Super Mario Land series was fun and challenging, this game really introduced a lot of character into the series. Every world was unique and introduced different gameplay mechanics, which was a novel thing in portable games at the time.
Again, I will leave you with a tease! Find out why this is game 80 tomorrow!
Bomberman 64 (N64)
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.