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Welcome to the new and improved list of the Best Games Ever. Forget nostalgia - these are the finest games you can play right now , even accounting for modern standards or series unfamiliarity.
To prevent long-running series like Mario and Zelda from unbalancing the list, we're only allowing one game per series with representatives for both the 2D and 3D iterations if need be.
This isn't a compendium of the most important games of all time , either; historic significance doesn't mean diddly if it ain't still fun to play.
Regardless of how you feel about our ordering, you have to admit that all of these games are truly excellent. So, which titles do we collectively cherish above all else?
Only one way to find out You usually associate space with sleek modernism. Clean lines and pristine conditions, the sterile interiors of spaceships and orbiting stations all reflect the bleakness of space back at it.
It's space as seen through a CRT screen. A signal in a haze of static. Seeing the future from the past. As such, it captures the earlier films' spirit perfectly - specifically the original, where a single alien puts up more than enough fight.
It's scary enough for you to hide in a locker or crouch under a table when you hear so much as a blip on your chunky green radar, or ready a flashbang when you see the sharp end of a physics-enabled tail whip round a corner.
Even after 15 hours of atmospheric exploration and cowering in terror, Alien: Isolation maintains its survival horror scares until the end. Ya ya ya ya ya!
So sings Dexter Holland as the craziest of all the taxis leaps from the bit San Francisco hills and straight into our hearts. The soundtrack comprises punk-rock anthems from The Offspring and Bad Religion, with both matching the action perfectly.
It's got the official licenses for a load of real stores, which sounds insipid but actually serves to give the cartoonish world a surreal twist.
And the Dreamcast pad seems to be better suited to the incredibly deep control scheme than any other controller.
It's pure blue-sky gaming, with an incredible score system and brilliant game design that's fun whether you're playing it for the first or five-hundredth time.
The most divisive game on this list? Held up by some as a step forward for gaming as a whole in terms of interactive storytelling; yet decried by others as a tedious exercise in instruction following that holds both your hands way too tight.
The truth of course lies somewhere in between. Other games have certainly told their tales better, but Heavy Rain undoubtedly creates investment in the player thanks to its deep sense of authorship.
But the real reason why David Cage's best game to date has made it in here is because it's different. Different good and different bad, but titles that stray off the beaten path deserve to be celebrated.
Especially those which let you tap Square to amputate your own finger. Buy it on Amazon. There's something about Battlefield 3 that hits the sweet spot for the series.
While it doesn't push in new directions as far BF2 did, tell a story as effectively as Bad Company, or have the shiny visuals of BF4, it's just a fantastic multiplayer game.
Its class types are well rounded, it balances on-foot combat with vehicular mayhem, it's mostly solid online, and the DLC is largely brilliant.
Right now, it's a complete package - a brilliant, modern military FPS that still has a healthy community to this day.
The maps represent some BF series highs too. Operation Metro may be an awful meat-grinder, but it's one that clever players can counter.
Caspian Border is a delightfully violent playground for big team battles, and Damavand Peak The multiplayer campaign is so fantastic that the forgettable campaign is, well, forgotten.
But there's a catch: How are you going to pull this one off, Agent? You could take down a waiter, dress in his garb and slip a toxin chaser into a fancy beverage.
Or you could 'borrow' a Santa Claus costume from a drunken entertainer and gain access to the back rooms, gently nudging the target off a balcony when he goes for a smoke.
Alternatively, you could skip the whole 'subtlety' thing and just shoot out the bottom of the pool with a shotgun. Blood Money is one of the most gloriously open-ended games ever, and begs replaying to see all the execution methods you might've missed.
It's called 'Retro Evolved' because the idea is simple: The steadily increasing difficulty and different behaviors of enemy craft some dodge your fire, some snake around menacingly, some divide into two when hit is enough to carry the concept through, but compelling modes provide something extra.
There's King, where you can only fire from random safety zones. There's Waves, which tasks you with destroying horizontal and vertical lines of rockets.
And there's the beautifully pure Pacifism, in which players must simply survive against an onslaught of enemies without firing a shot. It's got all the simple purity and chaos that defines classic arcade twitch shooters, with neon visuals that still amaze to this day.
The last great hurrah from the core team behind GoldenEye , Timesplitters 2's status as a local multiplayer great remains untarnished in the HD age.
Iconic characters Robofish is banned on the grounds of Oddjob rules, natch , finely-crafted levels, and a memorable suite of weapons who can forget the brick?
But its appeal extends to its solo offerings too. With modes boasting ideas far ahead of their time it feels ready-made for online scoreboards and the matchmaking capabilities of today's platforms , TimeSplitters 2 is packed with classic missions and addictive challenge maps that ruthlessly target the 'one more go' mentality.
Oh, and it's also home to some of the sweetest, most satisfying zombie headshot rules ever committed to a gaming disc. Dragon Quest mastered its successful formula a long time ago, and on the surface, the series' ninth entry seems to follow the pattern closely.
All the essentials are there - a dense-but-approachable job system, complex battles that are simultaneously straightforward and layered, and an all-ages fantasy story that gets surprisingly personal.
But Dragon Quest 9: Sentinels of the Starry Skies is also more experimental than any previous Quest. DQ9's approach to local multiplayer somehow makes turn-based co-op feel as active as Monster Hunter, and the expansive collection of MMO-ish side quests make it feel like the journey is never-ending.
It gives it all a modern feel that re-energizes Dragon Quest for a whole new audience, while still satisfying the old one.
DQ9 pulls off this delicate balance without breaking a sweat. The fact that a year-old first-person arena shooter is still considered essential should give you some idea of this game's quality.
Forget the convoluted lexicon that swamps shooters today - once upon a time, an FPS didn't need killstreaks, supply drops, and attack helicopters to keep it exciting.
In the fiery crucible of UT, everyone starts with the same badass Enforcer pistol. You get out there and take it, soldier. Once you jump into the action, you realize this death-drenched disco has it all: The Sims changed the face of gaming when it came out 15 years ago, but The Sims 2 smoothed over the original's quirks and made it something truly special.
Sims evolved from blocky, robotic lumps of polygons to actual humanoids with aspirations, careers, and babies made through actual implied sexual interaction instead of prolonged make-out sessions.
It's the perfect Sims game to play, because unlike more recent versions, the base game is perfectly fine as a stand-alone product, with expansions that simply add more unique content without feeling like necessities.
It never tries to be more than what it is - a daft, loveable, completely over-the-top pastiche of real life. And you can totally create a house full of everyone who's ever broken your heart, then set it on fire.
Not content with simply balancing a unique and engaging blend of multiplayer classes and then letting them loose in an array of engaging modes, Valve went the extra mile with TF2 by adding an artistically interesting and genuinely funny sheen atop the whole package.
Seriously, what other online shooter has produced a cast that's half as memorable? A teeming community has kept the same maps and modes fresh for years with its ingenuity; Engineers' turret positions du jour are continually adjusted, Spy tactics have evolved, and Scouts are now pixel-perfect jumpers capable of dodging every bullet in your clip.
Sure, some may consider it a hat simulator, but TF2 remains a benchmark that few multiplayer shooters have even approached.
Zombies is one of the most delightful games in existence. From the happy bouncing of your invaluable sunflowers, to the gentle groaning of the goofy-looking zombies, to Crazy Dave's incoherent babbling, every aspect of PvZ's neighborhood is chock-full of personality.
And it's got the gameplay depth to make all those wonderful character designs worthwhile. Just when you feel like you've got the optimal Peashooter positioning figured out, along comes a new zombie type or backyard layout to throw you for a loop.
But with every unfamiliar challenge comes an awesome new plant type, and there's nothing quite as satisfying as blasting undead chumps with a well-placed potato mine, or catapulting corn to decapitate zombie football players.
And that theme song It's sometimes easy to forget what a small game Limbo is. Not because of any extraneous padding or attempts to seem grander than it is, but because it makes the most of each pixel it has available.
This serenely spooky puzzler executes every move perfectly, twisting you around its finger to tell a tale both rich and abidingly direct.
A simple platformer at its core, Limbo's gameplay is bolstered by perils that hit a deep vein of discomfort, what with the giant spiders and unstoppable buzzsaws.
Those terrors are couched in environments crafted to intensify their fearfulness, all abandoned machinery and deep forests full of things that could spell your grotesque end.
It offers a timeless framework, leaving plenty of room for your imagination to fill in the gaps with whatever frightens you most.
It's telling that the only Star Wars game on this list is one that exists outside the film trilogy. Lucas made three prequel films?
Nope, never heard of them. Let's talk about the real prequel instead. Knights of the Old Republic works because it takes a refined, semi-turn-based RPG system and fleshes it out with all the good stuff from the Star Wars universe and none of the bullshit.
Because it isn't desperately trying to nod and wink at the films, KOTOR is free to tell an engaging tale of deception, love, and the lure of the dark side.
Thanks to the robust combat, great voice acting, and the fact that its character models haven't aged tooooo badly, this is still a damn fine RPG, and a better Star Wars story than any of those films with Jar Jar Binks.
Fencing has such an aura of discipline and tradition that it's easy to forget it's a sport about stabbing someone before they can stab you.
Nidhogg removes this haughty aura, adds in a seriously trance-inducing soundtrack and a super-blocky pixel style, and in the process creates some of the most unforgettable local multiplayer duels ever made.
Standing a few feet away from your opponent, swaying your foil up and down as you try to diagnose a weakness in their defenses, is equal parts paralyzing and electrifying.
Will you go high and stab, exposing your soft underbelly for a rolling counterattack? Or will you aim low and shuffle in, leaving your head vulnerable to a soaring dive kick?
Either way, some pastel blood is going to spill. It would be easy to look at piles of plastic drum kits and chunky-buttoned guitars gathering dust and scoff at the rise and fall of the music genre, but just one song is all it takes to rediscover Rock Band's magic.
A quick word of warning: The definitive entry in rhythm-action's finest series, Rock Band 3 and its library of thousands of available songs is the pinnacle of party gaming.
While the likes of SingStar and Dance Dance Revolution alienate those with scratchy voices or two left feet, Harmonix's masterpiece offers something for everyone: Got a gaming get-together?
This should be at the top of the pile. A man in a white suit drags himself along the floor, hands cradling his grotesquely fractured skull.
Neons swell and seethe in the background, in sync with a soundtrack you're not cool enough to have discovered on your own.
With that room now painted red, you're already in the next one, braining three gangsters with a broken bottle and a sociopath's resolve.
Hotline Miami is everything the baby boomers feared in the video games of the late '80s: Its woozy visuals and much-lauded music induce a trance-like state, in which your own death means nothing more than an extra hit of the retry button.
Every attempt is in pursuit of those perfect few seconds of gameplay in which you could take down an entire floor of enemies.
Few games have been, or will be, as stylish or as singular in their purpose. Ever since we first took this arcade racer for a spin with the top down and the tachometer cranked, we knew Outrun was something special.
And while arcades may be few and far between these days, this reboot provides the definitive OutRun experience for those who might've missed it the first time.
The core sensation of driving over smooth tarmac at 60fps is wonderful, with its equidistantly-spaced trackside scenery evoking the Super-Scaler sprite effect of the original game.
The surroundings even flatten and raise anew at the end of each stage, in a nod to the original's scenery changing technique. But there's also one of gaming's most satisfying drift mechanics to enjoy, and a sublime challenge-based Heart Attack mode to keep you playing long after all the split-ended stage routes have been explored.
AM2's 'beautiful journey' is still picturesque despite approaching its tenth anniversary. Oh, and play it loud. Gaming never sounded so good.
Max Payne's first journey into the night is great for so many reasons, but one clearly stands above the rest: Alright, fine, so maybe the bullet time shootouts are slightly more notable, but the cut-scenes come right after.
It's almost pedestrian to watch a bullet fly from your gun to a goon in slow motion these days, but that's all because everyone was just so damn impressed by Max Payne's balletic hails of gunfire.
Sailing through a doorway with Uzis akimbo and capping a half dozen gawping mooks before you hit the ground never gets old - and even two sequels later, the original Max Payne's raw machismo can't be topped.
Quake 3's continuing quality is testament to something that fuels a great many games on this list: Whatever your story, however delightful your graphics, however popcorn-launching your set-pieces, if you get your core, moment-to-moment interactions right, your game is gold.
Arena gets them oh so right. Arena shooting at its absolute purest, Q3 needs nothing more than a locked roster of guns and a few standard deathmatch and team options.
Within that framework, there are years of meaty, nourishing, constantly escalating gameplay. It's the physics that do it.
Robust enough to provide consistency, yet also strong enough to bend without breaking, Quake 3's lightning-fast, high-flying control rules are a theme park for experimentation.
Once you've mastered its mobility possibilities, like the bunny-hop or rocket jump, the possibilities for strategy or just showing off become endless.
A free-to-play online collectible card game has no right to be this good. But Blizzard pulled all of its best tricks to take Hearthstone from being a fun little diversion for Warcraft fans to one of the most intuitive card games we've ever played.
All you need to do is look at the cards in your hand and decide how best to spend your ramping allotment of mana each turn. Sounds simple, and it is: But you'll only know true mastery hundreds of hours later.
As you practice with each class and unlock more style-defining cards, you'll find there are so many interesting ways to fill out your deck and crush your opponents.
By the time you realize that you can earn booster packs just by completing daily quests - and that you can break down the cards you don't need, to synthesize them into cards you actually want - you're as good as hooked.
Reboots are dime-a-dozen these days, but few hit a homerun as clear and true as Crystal Dynamics' reinvigoration of a venerable action icon.
Emerging from the disproportionate image that first propelled then diminished her on consoles gone by, the new Ms.
Croft is younger, fiercer and more resilient than ever. Time to watch your back, Mr. The treacherous island that surrounds Croft is everything you could hope for in a reborn Tomb Raider.
A vicious tale of survival and the ignorance of youth tempered into adulthood, Lara's reimagined origins build a captivating synergy between environmental puzzles and gunfights that more than stand their ground in a post-Uncharted world.
Whether you're battling wolves, bandits, or the elements themselves, this Tomb Raider sets a new standard for captivating adventures.
Sometimes, games are just games. Go in, fight the things, get the best sword, beat the worst thing, save the world, roll credits.
But sometimes games are more than that: Dragon Age has always been about lore and love stories, and Dragon Age: Inquisition perfects the art.
Nuance is the key: The landscape and story don't just unfold, they radically change based on your unflagging efforts, making it totally ok to play this for something hours rather than focusing on boring things like socializing or personal hygiene.
What's a game about spherical simians doing on this list? Surely there are better options than one which involves rolling around collecting fruit on floating, tilting platforms in a barely-explained premise?
As a puzzle game, there's plenty to love, hate, or be driven mad by - particularly the low-friction banana frenzy, with levels that twist, turn, and ripple beneath you, threatening to cast you off into the abyss below.
Its mini-games, particularly the still-perfect Monkey Target, are the precursor to the kind of colorful point-grabbing you'll find in any number of modern party games.
Ergo, Super Monkey Ball is the precursor to all games ever, and that's why it's the best and there's nothing more to say on the matter.
Built atop Resident Evil 4's solid foundation, Dead Space takes a fresh approach to the survival horror genre.
With more than a little inspiration from Ridley Scott's Alien - not to mention a dash of John Carpenter's The Thing - the developers at Visceral were out to make the game as terrifying as possible, trapping players in quiet corridors with some of the most horrific enemies in gaming.
Dead Space's vision of the future is lonely, dark, and bloody. The original Dead Space lacks the larger conspiracies and action set-pieces that bogged down later entries.
Instead we follow one desperate man's lonely, terrified search for his girlfriend on a space station that long ago gave way to madness. The game's HUD-less display and sparing use of sound gives a naturalism to the sci-fi, all of which heightens the terror.
And even when the scares might be too much for you, there's always something oddly addictive to shooting off enemy limbs.
It's like popping bubblewrap - so satisfying. Sid Meier's Civilization 5 remains one of the best entry points into the series, as well as a great game in its own right.
It skillfully blends the depth and complexity of previous Civ games with the accessibility of Civilization Revolution to create a unified whole that'll get you hooked in under an hour, and keep you playing for a hundred more.
Designing your strategy maybe absolute conquest with Russia, or a cultural victory with the French and then adapting that game plan based on the changing geopolitical landscape, is a fun and engrossing challenge every time you play.
But Civ 5's greatest strength is its bottomless well of fan-made content. From Game of Thrones to My Little Pony , if there's a feature you hope to see in the game, chances are someone has made it a reality.
EarthBound treads where few RPGs dare: Instead of quaffing health potions that you picked up from the local general store, order a pizza and take it to-go.
Or better yet, scarf down a cheeseburger you found in a trash can - no one's judging. Hitch a ride to the next town with a band that looks an awful lot like The Blues Brothers.
Most games would be lucky to have one or two memorable moments like this. EarthBound has them in spades. It's a pastiche of American pop culture wrapped up in the wackiest Japanese role-playing game ever made.
It's heartwarming yet haunting; playful yet sincere. But most of all, EarthBound proves that the adventure of a lifetime can start right in your own backyard.
And there's nothing else like it. Treasure has crafted so many wonderfully obscure shoot-'em-ups that it seems almost gauche to nominate one of their best-known and most accessible works for this list.
But Ikaruga 's genius lies in the way it serves as a gateway drug of sorts, teaching shoot-'em-up dabblers how to swoop and swoosh across the screen like a score-chasing fiend.
Almost more puzzler than shooter, Ikaruga is built around a 'black and white polarity' conceit: Thus, the screen's entire geometry changes in an instant, leading to countless death-defying, heart-stopping runs through waves of lethal plasma.
Fable 2 provides a more literal take on role-playing, letting you shape a hero through behavioral gestures that see you turn from twinkle-in-the-eye Prince Charming to pants-shitting jester with the press of a button.
This latter accident - the result of a farting mini-game gone wrong - is funnier than it should be, especially when deployed before a crowd of yokels who've gathered to admire your fine dancing.
You'd never see that in a Zelda game. By putting its focus on silly moment-to-moment decisions in a world where even meat-eating can contribute to your unethical standing, Fable 2 allows your hero to gradually form over a virtual life, rather than defining them at a handful of colossal moral crossroads.
Not that the game doesn't do those, too. In fact, such is the general silliness of life in Albion that when those tough calls do arrive, they hit all the harder for it.
One of the smoothest, slickest platformers ever made, this sequel fixes the few shortcomings of its predecessor. The two-act-per-level structure means the pacing is wonderful - and a perfect fit for the fastest thing alive.
The opening sequence of Emerald Hill, Chemical Plant Zone and Aquatic Ruin is magnificent, packing three servings of gorgeous scrolling backgrounds, speed, hardcore platforming, and bosses into some 15 minutes of gaming.
And with timeless iconography, an ultra-dramatic final level, and countless opportunities for fun pinball flippers, launch ramps, slot machines, secret paths, 3D special stages, etc.
Enemy Within looks confusing in screenshots and videos - with all the little icons and aiming percentages - but it's actually quite easy to play.
You don't lose a game of XCOM because you didn't understand what was happening, or because you forgot how to command your characters.
The game doles out all the information in a way that's easy to understand. Instead, you lose because you made a mistake.
Maybe you charged your elite troops into a bad situation, or clumped them all up only to get wiped out by a single grenade.
Whatever the reason, you understand why it happened. The action is framed within a classic alien invasion scenario that gives enough context without getting in the way of the fun.
And since it comes from the same house as Civilization, you know it has that oh-so-addictive, one-more-turn effect that'll keep you up until the wee hours of the morning.
Who'd have thought the best AC game to date would be so That's not to say that Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag doesn't offer all the hallmarks of the stab-happy series; there's white hoods, sneaking missions and ancient MacGuffins aplenty.
But it's the new elements that make this swashbuckling story so captivating. Boiled down to two words? Fleshing out a small feature of AC3 into a fully-fledged part of your adventure, AC4 gives you a vibrant 17th-century Caribbean to explore and a ship all your own to rule it with.
In doing so, Black Flag becomes one of most compelling pirate stories ever told, tightly embracing the role-playing tenant that the adventure you make for yourself is far more memorable than any pre-scripted mission.
Team 17's very British turn-based battler is a true curio, something that could've only come from the mad minds of late '90s games developers.
Here you play a squad of fighty worms as they attempt to eradicate the opposing team by blasting them or knocking them into water.
True, but that doesn't mean these invertebrates can't use artillery. There's exploding sheep, banana bombs, kamikaze pigeons, and sacrilegious holy hand grenades, all taking chunks out of the level as they go off.
You can use grappling hooks, jetpacks, bungee cords, and scaffolding to reach new vantage points, and when you want to rub your opponent's' nose in it, do a bit of disrespectful skipping.
Just make sure you don't let your exuberant trooper get prodded off a ledge to his or her watery death.
The first Thief practically invented the stealth genre as we now know it. But Thief 2 does everything the original did, only better. Despite his wish for a simple life of grand larceny, Garrett once again finds himself ensnared in an intriguing plot full of pagan cults and evil machinations.
The sheer atmosphere of the shadowy stages, which blend a gothic setting with steampunk inventions, more than makes up for any ancient-looking polygons.
But most importantly, the AI in Thief 2 is remarkably smart, with enemies that feel like thinking entities that you must react to instead of simply manipulating.
Every area in the complex, non-linear level designs feels like a new logic puzzle, which can only be solved through the proper mix of cunning and the ability to adapt when your best-laid plans go to hell in a handbasket.
Ok, so it's more of a visual novel with sprite trappings than a full-blown RPG - but wow, what a story. Wrapping up themes as weighty as death, memory, love, loss and the interpersonal toll of mental illness, To the Moon is a game which will likely take you about three to four hours to polish off, but will stay with you forever.
Two doctors are tasked with delving into the memories of a dying man and reordering them to make his dream of reaching the moon come true.
As they dig deeper into his past, however, his dream seems strangely at odds with some of his most treasured memories. You don't have any real control over how events unfold, but To The Moon is an outlier for gaming storytelling which pretty much every other title on this list could learn from.
SSX the third polishes up the series' already stellar board-based acrobatics to create an enthralling, accessible, yet fiendishly demanding rollercoaster playground.
Then it explodes the whole concept outwards to create a full-blown video game holiday. In both concept and execution, the three interconnected peaks of the sprawling Big Mountain resort are a staggering achievement, mind-blowing in and still a joy to explore now.
One huge, alpine open-world, littered with race tracks, stunt parks, and trick runs, its eclectic atmospheres - from crisp, woodland backcountry to pulsating neon cities - is matched by its breadth, depth, and the sheer joy of just being there.
Once you've tried a minute run from the mountain's peak to its base, taking in every area in between, you'll realize that SSX3 isn't just the best snowboarding game ever - it's among the greatest games period.
Four-player TowerFall is the best thing you can do with a lunch break - yes, even better than lunch itself. It's a frenzied mini-tournament that takes place in short, frantic bursts of rapid-fire arrows, where winning is a combination of luck, skill, and other people's mistakes.
Up to four archers, each with a quiver of arrows, fight for supremacy in a tiny space filled with platforms, item chests, and a ton of ways to die.
There's something for everyone: Its accessible, easy controls jump, fire arrows, repeat make it perfect for beginners, but genius rule variations and tons of unique battlefields will keep you brawling for years.
TowerFall is a simple premise executed brilliantly, as the best games often are. The year-old F-Zero GX not only still looks incredible, running at a ludicrously slick 60fps, but plays that way, too.
Learn the tracks and train yourself to look past the eye-watering pace, and you'll enter a zen-like state of almost precognitive proportions.
Where you see the upcoming corner, the loop, and the vital boost pad, unpracticed onlookers only see a blur. With no weapon pick-ups in sight, the focus is kept strictly on white-knuckle racing.
Besides, it's not like the game needs much inter-craft combat, as the courses themselves put up a fight, with harrowing cylinders suspended over flames, slippery glass roads snaking through futuristic cities, and routes littered with mines.
Wonder why Nintendo hasn't made a new F-Zero? Because GX already exists, and it's still brilliant. Computer-generated levels usually can't hold a candle to the ones that've been carved out by actual human beings.
Imagine how lame Super Mario World would have been if Miyamoto's expert designs were replaced with a different set of jumbled-up eyesores every time you booted it up.
But Derek Yu's potholing platformer pulls it off. Spelunky 's randomly-generated stages create a sense of wonder and exploration that pre-crafted levels simply can't compete with.
There's a sense that you never quite know what's lurking around the next corner, and leaping before you look can quickly bring your latest adventure to an end.
Not to mention the fact that the action is underpinned by hidden secrets and clever thematic twists that make the game as deep and absorbing as its near-endless cave systems.
The trouble with most co-op games is that you have to rely on other people ugh or AI 'bots with the intellect of a raisin. A Tale of Two Sons neatly sidesteps this by giving you control of both its titular leads simultaneously: Essentially, you are your own co-op buddy - and it works wonderfully.
Directed by Swedish filmmaker Josef Fares, it's a brief game crammed with detail, character development, and cute set-pieces, whether you're tricking a blood cult or hiding from a yeti.
This fantastic fairy tale of familial relations is bold, cinematic, and entirely unmissable for anyone with a heart that isn't made of icicles.
When Grim Fandango hit the scene in , there was nothing like it. Fast-forward nearly two decades and Part film noir, part Mexican folklore, with a heavy dash of LucasArts wit thrown in for good measure, Grim Fandango's tale of intrigue set in the seedy underbelly of the Land of the Dead feels just as fresh now as it did over 15 years ago.
Thanks to a recent port courtesy of Double Fine the studio headed by Grim's original director, Tim Schafer , returning fans and newcomers alike can finally step back into Manny's bones and explore the dangerous yet breathtaking Sixth Underworld on modern machines.
You'll still get frustrated by a wonky bit of old-school puzzle logic here and there, but Grim hasn't lost one bit of its well-considered charm.
Fighting games were born in the once-dominant world of the arcade, but for years, developers struggled to translate the magic of the stand-up cabinet onto home consoles.
Then Tekken 3 came along, whipped off its shades, and made the whole thing look effortless. It's so good you can almost smell that air of stale cigarette smoke and teenage ambition.
So what makes a year-old PS1 fighter so good in ? It possesses one of the finest fighting systems ever, the series' well-known juggle formula percolated into a perfect storm of throws, strikes, and suplexes.
It even adds two of the most iconic and rewarding characters to ever spill blood in the genre, in the forms of flame-trousered emo Jin Kazama and Chun-Li-aping kick connoisseur Hwoarang.
Add to that a serving of tempo-accelerating dance tunes and enough mini-games to shake a fiery fist at, and you've got one hell of a fighting champion.
Once upon the late '90s, it seemed as if everyone wanted to make the next Super Mario Some say Rare was one such contender, and cartoonish 3D platformer Banjo-Kazooie was its hopeful Mario clone.
But Banjo-Kazooie is much more than that. It's a title with a ton of heart, charming in its silliness and endlessly fun to play. Benefiting from a focus on expansive, themed worlds, Banjo-Kazooie directs all its energy toward making you want to explore its every nook and cranny.
Airtight platforming controls make each location fully accessible, and a plethora of fun puzzles and silly characters leaves them feeling rich and full of life.
Add in a great sense of humor that inspires some serious hilarity we can't really think of another game where you save your sister via a life-or-death game show , and it's clear that Banjo-Kazooie does ridiculous fun ridiculously well.
World of Warcraft might be the MMO that paved the way, but in the subsequent maelstrom of wannabes, only ArenaNet's daring take on the formula broke into 'must-play' territories.
As soon as you log in to Guild Wars 2 's world of Tyria and start adventuring, you're immediately doing so alongside armies of fellow players.
Dynamic events with ever-shifting objectives kick off all over creation, with no finicky partying system required to partake.
Amazingly, here's an MMO which doesn't require a subscription, and yet manages to be updated constantly with consistently innovative content.
You can expect a fresh helping of story every two weeks, alongside puzzles, mini-games, and huge boss battles requiring hundreds of players to join forces to succeed.
And if you're more of a solo adventurer, that's ok too - each character's complex personal story is reason enough to keep questing. If you're looking for a stellar co-op game, you can't go wrong with Left 4 Dead.
As the survivors, not only do you fight off hundreds of hungry zeds as they bum-rush you at full sprint - there's also a team of zombie players hiding in the shadows, waiting to rip you to shreds.
Nothing is better than playing with a well-coordinated team and shotgun-blasting your way through a horde of zombies - or, alternatively, simultaneously pouncing on the survivors as the special infected.
Left 4 Dead has some of the most nerve-wracking gameplay you can find in a co-op shooter. The AI director knows just when to spring a surprise on the group, so every match feels different from the last.
Even more unpredictable are the actions of your teammates and foes: It'd be terrifying if it wasn't so fun.
C'mon, no one really wanted to be a lawyer before Phoenix Wright made his case. Wanting to be a lawyer is like wanting to start a pension fund, or getting excited about tax returns.
But as it turns out, the life of a defense attorney is full of intrigue, mystery, and horrible, revenge-driven murder. The first Ace Attorney game marks the beginning of a gorgeously detailed, well-written, and often wacky series; a narrative-led, understated handheld experience in a time when guns-'n'-gore were the order of the day.
Why should you play it? The music; the look; the slow, tense unfolding of the story that will keep you gripped from Press Start to finish. It's Shu Takumi's masterpiece, and its only flaw is that it makes lawyering look too cool.
Quite simply, this is the smartest puzzle-platformer ever created. To call it Super Mario with time manipulation would do Braid a great disservice: Each world presents distinct time-distorting powers and puzzles that feed your brain through the wringer, squeeze it out, let it air, and then forcefully knead it afterwards for good measure.
It's the rare product of brutal, uncompromising game design. Eager to avoid repeating a single idea, creator Jonathan Blow famously cut entire worlds from the plans when he discovered some time mechanics weren't generating enough wholly unique puzzles.
Those that remain, combined with David Hellman's classical art style and a soothing soundtrack that matches your clock-spinning antics, ensure that Braid has and will stand the test of time.
Reenacting an entire year of high school one day at a time may not sound like one of the best RPGs of the last decade, but Persona 4 Golden 's looks can be deceiving.
Inaba is a mundane town that's troubled by a bizarre string of murders, and the only way to solve them is for a group of students to band together and figure it out.
Finding the answers to the crimes involves an ingenious combination of dungeon crawling and personal introspection.
Persona 4 is a spinoff from Shin Megami Tensei, so it shares the same demonic style of monster collection and dense RPG combat. You get to know each of your classmates intimately as their story unfolds over the school year, and they grow and change along with the protagonist.
Little moments, like sewing a stuffed bunny or fishing with a friend, can feel just as earthshaking as any boss battle.
Maniac Mansion may have put LucasArts or LucasFilm Games, as it was once known on the map - but it's the sequel, Day of the Tentacle, that really holds a special place in our hearts.
Well, it's about time. See, Purple Tentacle is a little deranged, and he's gone off to take over the world.
Luckily, you've got a porta-potty-turned-time-machine, and you're off to stop the megalomaniacal appendage before he can enact his plan.
But the plot doesn't just span the centuries - the puzzles do too. Sending objects through the time-tripping toilets will change events in the past, and always with hilarious results.
As a bonus Easter egg, you can even find a full copy of the original Maniac Mansion hidden in the game. It's an excellent adventure that still stands the test of Not even atrocities like Tony Hawk Ride or Downhill Jam can ever take away from the greatness of this skate-or-die classic.
THPS3 is the pinnacle of the franchise, with ludicrously smooth controls and a playful, over-the-top mentality that hasn't yet veered into Bam Margera worship.
Each of the wildly varied stages is full of sick combo lines and nifty secrets, but the two-minute time limit keeps you focused on what really matters: Let us not forget the glory of the revert, which - when paired with the manual move from the preceding game - turns every level into one giant playground.
Once you've mastered the art of stringing together your favorite tricks and slick signature moves, you can traverse the entire map in a single magnificent combo.
The eclectic soundtrack's unforgettable mix of punk rock, hip-hop, and ska ties it all together like grip tape to make this greatest skating game on the block.
There are sane, rational people in the world who've been playing World of Warcraft for over ten years. That's because WoW has been and still is the gold standard for MMOs, serving as the template that many have tried to mimic and none have topped.
With every expansion, countless refinements and fresh zones added to the realm of Azeroth justify the monthly subscription fee for veterans and latecomers alike.
What makes WoW so everlasting is the way it caters to players of all kinds. Newbies are eased into learning the pristinely tuned class mechanics, taking on quests that make them feel like the hero at the center of their own personal epic.
Meanwhile, experts will always have new ways to test themselves, either against brilliantly designed raid bosses or their fellow adventurers in intense PvP.
You know it's been a great party when you wake up as a corpse the morning after. It might sound bonkers, but such is main character Sissel's predicament at the outset of this ectoplasmic twist on the humble point-and-clicker.
As a recently deceased ghost, Sissel must piece together the events that led to his demise while simultaneously averting disaster for a cast of characters in the present.
He's only able to interact with things by possessing them, and can only travel a certain distance at a time. Oh, and when things do go wrong, Sissel's only able to manipulate events within a tiny window of time.
Cue brain-melting puzzles which gleefully dance along the line between frustration and satisfaction. We don't just mean the Nintendo worlds it brings together, but how it seamlessly fuses the competitive edge of the fighting genre with the accessibility and just-plain-fun that Nintendo is known for.
While every Smash title has its upsides, the Wii U entry is a cut above what's come before. Its gameplay is simple enough to enjoy immediately, while the depth it lends to character mastery will keep you coming back.
Refined balance makes every fighter an attractive option; you're just as likely to win with Jigglypuff as you are with Star Fox, assuming you know how to play them.
Add a roster of over 50 characters with an insane amount of alternate costumes you can be any of the seven Koopalings! Alucard, son of Dracula and the handsome hero of Symphony of the Night, has the distinction of being half-human, half-vampire.
That kind of unique fusion brilliantly captures what makes one of the great grandfathers of 'Metroidvania' so great. Developed by Sensible Software.
Published in by 21st Century Entertainment. Developed by Liquid Dezign. The genre is Arcade - Pinball. Published in by Virgin Interactive.
The genre is Shoot'em Up - Miscellaneous. Published in by Psygnosis. Developed by DMA Design. The genre is Arcade - Miscellaneous.
Published in by Rainbow Arts. Developed by Factor 5. The genre is Shoot'em Up - Platformer. Developed by Delphine Software. The genre is Adventure - Arcade 2D.
Published in by Blittersoft. Developed by Adventure Soft. The Battle for Arrakis. Published in by Virgin Games. Developed by Westwood Studios.
Published in by Image Works. Developed by The Bitmap Brothers. The genre is Sports - Miscellaneous. Published in by Cinemaware.
The genre is Adventure - Miscellaneous. Out of this World. Published in by Interplay Productions. Published in by Electronic Arts. Developed by Bullfrog Productions.
The genre is Strategy - Company. Published in by MicroProse Software. Developed by MPS Labs. Developed by Digital Illusions. The genre is Sports - Formula One.
Sensible World of Soccer. Formula One Grand Prix. Lotus Turbo Challenge 2. Published in by Gremlin Graphics.
Developed by Magnetic Fields. The genre is Racing - Cars. Published in by Thalion. The genre is Shoot'em Up - Multi-Scrolling.
Published in by Team Beneath A Steel Sky. Developed by Revolution Software. Published in by Vulcan Software.
Developed by Marble Eyes Development. The genre is Shoot'em Up - First-person 3D. Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon.
Published in by Strategic Simulations, Inc. Developed by Westwood Associates. A Hard Days Knight. Published in by Mindscape.
The genre is Simulation - Flight. Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Published in by Acid Software.