The 500 best games of all time

100. Warlords

(1989, PC, others)

Warlords pit four players against each other, all fighting to destroy the others' castles with projectiles while defending their own. When it released, the game was praised for its evolution of Pong's gameplay — due to its projectiles being similar to the Pong ball — within an addictive multiplayer game.

99. The Sentinel

(1986, BBC Micro, others)

Offering more than 10,000 playfields to solve puzzles in, The Sentinal featured a first-person view and visual depth that marked a big step forward for game visuals — and gave players the impression they were in a different world.

98. Suikoden 2

(1999, PlayStation, others)

Suikoden 2 made waves by being huge. On top of a near-uncountable number of secrets, minigames and side missions, players were able to recruit more than 100 characters to their party. The sheer size of Suikoden 2 is still unparalleled by most other games.

97. Manic Miner

(1983, ZX Spectrum, others)

Manic Miner was the first title on the ZX Spectrum to have in-game music. Initially thought to be impossible on the machine, Manic Miner's inclusion of music marked an early example of how video game developers could learn to push hardware farther than its creators thought possible.

96. Homeworld

(1999, PC)

Homeworld, in a lot of ways, was more of the same for the real-time strategy genre. But its visuals completely moved the bar forward. Unparalleled in detail at the time, Homeworld's recreation of space caught the eyes of critics and players, raising expectations for how games after it should look.

Grand Theft Auto 4
Rockstar Games

95. Grand Theft Auto 4

(2008, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)

Grand Theft Auto 4 pointed an angry finger right at the American dream. Telling a darker story than previous Grand Theft Auto games, Grand Theft Auto 4 was a bleak, violent look at what life could be like for an immigrant who came to the "land of opportunity" in search of just that, only to find the cards stacked against them.

94. Guitar Hero 2

(2006, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360)

Guitar Hero 2 only improved what was necessary from the first Guitar Hero, adding more complex ways to play like three button notes. While not full of revolutionary upgrades, Guitar Hero 2 cemented the series as a cultural phenomenon, as well as sparking the release of numerous expansions and spin-offs.

93. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island

(1995, Super Nintendo, others)

Yoshi's Island's beautiful, hand-drawn art style made it one of the best-looking games of the 16-bit generation. With Yoshi as a playable character, the game introduced numerous mechanics players hadn't seen before, such as a flutter jump and the ability to transform.

92. Robotron: 2084

(1982, Arcade, others)

Every time you enjoy a twin-stick shooter, remember to thank Robotron: 2084. Though its twin stick controls were never widely adopted by other arcade game developers, as time went on they became a natural fit for the dual-analog sticks present on most console pads.

91. Dragon Warrior

(1989, Nintendo Entertainment System, others)

Dragon Warrior was the template from which nearly every Japanese role-playing game drew inspiration. From the point of view, to the turn-based combat, to the story stretching over multiple games, Dragon Warrior did it first. Though the game itself never proved a hit in the west, Dragon Warrior's influence still stretches to games today.

Eve Online

90. Eve Online

(2003, Mac, PC)

One of the most complex games ever made, Eve is often described as a part-time job, one requiring constant work and attention to keep track of the politics and economy. But for many, the effort is worth the payoff — in one battle, more than 10,000 players fought together, amassing an estimated more than $30,000 in damages.

89. Metroid

(1987, Nintendo Entertainment System, others)

Metroid, unlike other platformers, doesn't really reward players for rushing through it — though it has become a popular speedrunning game. Instead, its emphasis on exploration has been highly influential in games being worlds to explore, not just obstacles to overcome.

88. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

(2007, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, others)

At the time of its release, Modern Warfare was unparalleled in its intense portrayal of war — something later entries would build upon. But it was the game's multiplayer that proved most impactful. Introducing killstreaks, a level-up system and many other new features, Modern Warfare's multiplayer changed the dynamics of multiplayer shooters forever.

87. NetHack

(1987, Mac, PC, others)

A clone of the game Rogue, the roguelike NetHack was a far richer experience, one players were invited to change as they saw fit. Using an open-source distribution model, NetHack became a "metagame-within-a-game … [where] anything could and probably would happen," according to Engadget.

86. Doom 2

(1994, PC, others)

Largely similar to the first Doom, Doom 2's biggest enhancements came in the way of graphical upgrades and larger maps. However, Doom 2, unlike Doom, was sold in retail stores, putting the first-person game in more hands than the original had been. Doom 2, though not id's most influential game, played a big role in the explosion of first-person shooters in the '90s.

85. Katamari Damacy

(2004, PlayStation 2)

One of the "most unusual and original game[s] to hit PlayStation 2," according to Time, Katamari Damacy was developed around being easy to understand and fun to play. This low barrier to entry gained the game a cult-following and led to it being featured in the Museum of Modern Art.

84. Portal 2

(2011, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, others)

The first Portal's uses of telekinesis and teleportation gave the puzzle genre an exciting twist. Portal 2's expanded mechanics felt like a fresh start. Adding ways to redirect lasers and options to accelerate player speed created countless approaches to objectives, further opening up the puzzles to dynamic solutions.

83. Silent Hill 2

(2001, PlayStation 2, others)

Silent Hill 2 stood out as a game unafraid to examine sexuality in smart, nuanced ways — something hard to say about most games. A horror game on the surface — granted, an extremely scary one — Silent Hill's mature take on infidelity, lust, love and abuse showed the depth that game stories could achieve.

82. Adventure

(1979, Atari 2600)

A pioneer in many ways, Adventure is often remembered for its unique Easter egg, where players could find developer Warren Robinett's name hidden deep in the game.

81. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

(2003, PC, Xbox, others)

Knights of the Old Republic let players play on whatever side of the force they wanted, abandoning the staple light side of the movies. Taking place before the main trilogy of films, the game set the then-industry standard for how to handle a morality system in a game, balancing the experiences of both sides of the coin.

84. Portal 2

(2011, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, others)

The first Portal's uses of telekinesis and teleportation gave the puzzle genre an exciting twist. Portal 2's expanded mechanics felt like a fresh start. Adding ways to redirect lasers and options to accelerate player speed created countless approaches to objectives, further opening up the puzzles to dynamic solutions.

83. Silent Hill 2

(2001, PlayStation 2, others)

Silent Hill 2 stood out as a game unafraid to examine sexuality in smart, nuanced ways — something hard to say about most games. A horror game on the surface — granted, an extremely scary one — Silent Hill's mature take on infidelity, lust, love and abuse showed the depth that game stories could achieve.

82. Adventure

(1979, Atari 2600)

A pioneer in many ways, Adventure is often remembered for its unique Easter egg, where players could find developer Warren Robinett's name hidden deep in the game.

81. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

(2003, PC, Xbox, others)

Knights of the Old Republic let players play on whatever side of the force they wanted, abandoning the staple light side of the movies. Taking place before the main trilogy of films, the game set the then-industry standard for how to handle a morality system in a game, balancing the experiences of both sides of the coin.

Guild Wars 2

80. Guild Wars 2

(2012, Mac, PC)

Guild Wars 2 dared to be different. Implementing a mission system closer to that of a single-player game where player choice affected the game world, the MMORPG allowed players to see the world change based on how they approached different challenges.

79. Space Invaders

(1978, Arcade, others)

Space Invaders is among the pantheon of great early arcade games that turned video games from toys into a full blown business. Space Invaders also helped move games away from realistic depictions and towards fantastical settings.

78. Secret of Mana

(1993, Super Nintendo, others)

Secret of Mana shook up the role-playing genre with its real-time combat, requiring players to time attacks just right. It also allowed three players to play together cooperatively, rare for the time, with secondary players jumping in and out at will.

77. M.U.L.E.

(1983, Atari 8-bit, others)

M.U.L.E. was all about the difficulties of supply and demand. Pitting four players against each other to see which would lead their colony to be the first to survive and accrue the most wealth, M.U.L.E got credit for being both fun and a learning experience about economics.

76. Habitat

(1986, Commodore 64, others)

Habitat was ostensibly the world's first MMO. Players had avatars — it's credited with coining the term — and they could interact with other players and objects in the world. The game was supposedly developed to facilitate up to 10,000 players, though it never reached that number. Released in 1986, the game had many features that became commonplace in MMOs decades later.

75. Ultima Online

(1997, PC)

Playing Ultima Online was the closest a lot of people got to going to war. Built to facilitate thousands of players at once, the game became famous for its massive, months-long events where hundreds, sometimes thousands of players would band together to take on entire cities.

Dota 2

74. Dota 2

(2013, PC, others)

After the success of Dota, which helped popularize the MOBA, there was nowhere else to go but up. Since its release in 2013, Dota 2 has remained one of Steam's most popular games, hitting one million concurrents at its peak. The game has also been one of the biggest success stories in the esports world, with some prize pools topping $20 million.

73. The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

(2011, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, others)

With The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, the ends more than justified the means. Taking influence from decades of open-ended role-playing games, Skyrim set new standards with its sheer world size, quest depth and character options.

72. Burnout 3: Takedown

(2004, PlayStation 2, Xbox)

Burnout 3: Takedown caught the eyes of racing fans when it put a focus not only on speed, but on obliterating opponents. The "Takedown" mechanic tasked players with ramming into other cars before ultimately causing an opponent to crash. The slow-motion footage of a successful Takedown remains one of the most satisfying sights in games.

71. Super Smash Bros. Melee

(2001, GameCube)

Super Smash Bros. Melee is one of the longest-running competitive fighting games out there, even though it breaks some conventional rules. Proving a game doesn't have to be perfectly balanced to be great, Melee remains at the top of the pile 16 years later.

70. Final Fantasy 7

(1997, PlayStation, others)

One of the biggest success stories of the PlayStation era, Final Fantasy 7 wasn't afraid to be weird, and its deeply emotional story remains a fan favorite still today. The game's success is, in part, credited with popularizing Japanese role-playing games around the globe.

69. Harvest Moon

(1997, Super Nintendo)

Harvest Moon is all about the tranquility of a simple life. Allowing players to decide how to tackle daily activities like raising livestock and farming, this early farm simulator turned the mundanity of farm life into a soothing, charming experience.

League of Legends
Riot Games

68. League of Legends

(2009, Mac, PC)

With more than 100 million people playing League of Legends every month, it's hard to think of game bigger than Riot's juggernaut. That success has also made League one of the most lucrative esports titles in the world, with top prize pools totalling more than $6 million.

67. Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

(2005, Xbox, others)

Chaos Theory improved just about everything that had been in Splinter Cell up to that point, from the controls to the enemy AI to the gadgets. And it was super pretty, too.

66. Madden NFL 2005

(2004, GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, others)

Madden is the king of the sports game world, and Madden NFL 2005 was one of the king's greatest achievements. It expertly rode the line between simulation and arcade game, making it possible for players of all skill levels to jump in, play and find something to love.

65. ESPN NFL 2K5

(2004, PlayStation 2, Xbox)

ESPN NFL 2K5 was the last hurrah of Sega's football series before Madden signed an exclusivity deal with the NFL. 2K5 was a remarkable celebration of the sport, one that experimented with how football games have to play and look.

64. Pong

(1972, Arcade, others)

A simple game of tabletop ping pong, Pong revolutionized entertainment and set many of the first cornerstones of the video game industry. Requiring only one hand to operate and needing a second player to go against, Pong's popularity rose in part to its frequent placement in bars.

Super Mario Galaxy

63. Super Mario Galaxy

(2007, Wii)

Super Mario Galaxy seamlessly blended old and new to acclaimed results. Taking the gameplay of 3D Mario games and giving it a gravity-bending twist, Galaxy played like a dream despite — and in part because of — the unusual Wii Nunchuk control setup.

62. Chrono Trigger

(1995, Super Nintendo, others)

Developed by a supergroup of creative minds, Chrono Trigger innovated with role-playing features like multiple endings, side quests that tied into the main plot and non-random encounters. Chrono Trigger managed to walk a tightrope between being simple yet experimental, and many critics consider it the best role-playing game of all time.

61. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

(2004, PlayStation 2, others)

The series' first reach beyond the confines of one city, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' fictional state of San Andreas featured numerous terrains and multiple cities — a move Rockstar would repeat a few games later. Telling a surprisingly emotional story about gang life and the difficulties of escaping it, San Andreas was a watershed moment in one of gaming's best series.

60. GoldenEye 007

(1997, Nintendo 64)

GoldenEye revolutionized first-person shooters by taking them off the internet and putting them on consoles. The smooth gameplay — and great local multiplayer — established a new home for shooters.

59. Super Mario Galaxy 2

(2010, Wii, others)

Super Mario Galaxy 2 didn't change much from the original Galaxy; it just perfected everything that worked in its predecessor. The game continuing the series' tradition of pushing boundaries and expectations.

58. NHL '94

(1993, Genesis, Super Nintendo, others)

NHL '94 was an early example of a game displaying a realistic recreation of the sports world. For hockey fans, it still stands out as one of the best representations of the sport in games — with a nice bonus of having accurate team-specific organ songs.

57. Elite Beat Agents

(2006, Nintendo DS)

In Elite Beat Agents, you're out to help those in need — through the power of dance. One of Nintendo's bizarre rhythm games, Elite Beat Agents charming sense of humor, surprisingly awesome soundtrack and addictive gameplay made gave it a true sense of character.

56. Civilization 5

(2010, PC, others)

Keeping a lot of what made people fall in love with the series in the first place, while opening things up for those who'd never tried the game before, Civilization 5 dominated the real-time strategy genre.

55. SimCity 2000

(1993, Mac, others)

SimCity 2000 let players build better cities. It expanded on the city building genre by adding more meaningful institutions, like libraries, schools, museums and even prisons.

54. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

(2015, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Massive in every conceivable way — from the world to the script, lore, items, weapons and side quests — The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt distanced itself from other open-world games with its extreme attention to detail.

53. Dance Dance Revolution

(1999, Arcade, others)

Dance Dance Revolution is a workout. Used in schools, for exercise and anywhere someone wants to make video game players look dumb, DDR's revolutionary active playstyle has helped the series stand the test of time.

52. Half-Life

(1998, PC, others)

Half-Life was a bleak story about science gone wrong. Unlike a lot of games at the time of its release, Half-Life told its story completely in-game, free of cutscenes. This, mixed with the great world design, and the fact Freeman was voiceless, allowed players to slip into Half-Life's world, personally engaging with the story more than in other games.

51. Football Manager

(1982, Video Genie, others)

Focusing less on the actual playing of the sport, Football Manager put players in charge of a soccer club, giving them control of all the crucial choices a team faces over a season. Football Manager innovated the amount of depth a game can have, allowing true soccer fans to experience what it's like to work behind the scenes for their favorite club.

50. Mass Effect 2

(2010, PC, Xbox 360, others)

Mass Effect 2 marked the pinnacle of the series' agency and consequences. Essentially putting you on a suicide mission, the series built upon its deep relationships by placing your favorite characters' lives in your hands. This gave decisions true weight.

49. Dota

(2003, Mac, PC)

Dota established the MOBA, with games like Paragon, Heroes of the Storm and Battleborn all cashing in on its success. Though not as popular as its sequel, the Valve-developed Dota 2, Dota quickly became a multimillion-dollar asset to the esports industry.

48. Shadow of the Colossus

(2005, PlayStation 2, others)

Shadow of the Colossus was more about the journey than the destination. Players spent a lot of time on horseback searching for 16 colossi — and sometimes even longer trying to defeat them. A game as much about subtlety as it was grand scale, Shadow of the Colossus is an example of games as high art.

47. Quest for Glory: So You Want to Be a Hero

(1989, PC, others)

Quest for Glory: So You Want to Be a Hero asked that question literally. Striving for a level of realism still pretty rare in games, the game combined classic adventure mechanics with an approach that would later be known as a survival sim.

46. Mother 3

(2006, Game Boy Advance)

Mother 3 took a lot of what made its predecessors so special and threw it out the window. Emphasizing familial pressures, Mother 3 had a level of seriousness other games of its time didn't, quickly making it one of the most beloved games of all time, even though it was never released officially in North America.

45. Super Mario Kart

(1992, Super Nintendo, others)

Super Mario Kart is a great racing game. But it's a Nintendo racing game, and that distinction matters. A mix of Nintendo's trademark zaniness and a highly-competitive racer, Super Mario Kart became a staple of couch co-op games, proving who was the best behind the wheel with a well-placed banana peel.

44. Guitar Hero

(2005, PlayStation 2)

Every wannabe rockstar finally had an audience in Guitar Hero. As one of the most popular rhythm games, Guitar Hero launched a renaissance of music-based games. Though the genre fell off over time, the first Guitar Hero was a phenomenon.

The Sims
Electronic Arts

43. The Sims

(2000, PC, others)

The Sims took decades of simulation game history and applied it to something everyone could understand: the human life. Free of all the complicated, obtuse angles of other simulators, The Sims' accessibility, diverse character creation and variety of daily activities made it one of the most successful games in the genre.

42. Halo: Combat Evolved

(2001, Xbox, others)

Halo made Xbox. Without it, it's hard to say what Microsoft's game division would look like today. And that's thanks to the game's mix of scale, story and competition. The controls worked amazingly well on a console pad, too.

41. Wii Sports

(2006, Wii)

Wii Sports was the rare game that found its way in the hands players who normally wouldn't think of touching a game. Fusing easy-to-understand, easy-to-play sports minigames with Wii's accessible hardware and user interface, Wii Sports made many in the industry rethink what games needed to be.

40. Dark Souls

(2011, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, others)

Evolving the design set forth by Demon's Souls, Dark Souls continued the series' legacy of sadistic gameplay and accomplishment of learning. Dark Souls was a game always pushing back. You played by its rules, yet those rules were always fair.

39. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

(1998, Nintendo 64, others)

Ocarina of Time made the transition from 2D to 3D look like the easiest thing in the world. Everything you'd come to expect from a Zelda game was there, yet a host of new mechanics elevated the gameplay. Featuring the groundbreaking target-lock system and songs needing to be learned, Ocarina of Time stood out.

38. Diablo 2

(2000, Mac, PC)

Diablo 2 was one of the fastest-selling PC games — which makes sense. Following the immensely popular Diablo, this sequel didn't change too much. With more addictive hacking and slashing, and more loot and cows, Diablo 2 became one of Blizzard's highest achievements by being the only thing it needed to be: more.

37. Grand Theft Auto 5

(2013, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, others)

Grand Theft Auto 5 is the game that just keeps on giving. Providing players an entire state to play in, the game's open world was light years beyond anything seen before in terms of world detail, depth and sheer number of things to do.

36. Resident Evil 4

(2005, GameCube, others)

Resident Evil 4 was a new perspective on an old genre. A change-up on the Resident Evil formula, RE4 introduced more action to the long-running survival horror series, and placed the camera over protagonist Leon Kennedy's shoulder — which fixed the series' legacy control issues.

35. Donkey Kong

(1981, Arcade, others)

Nintendo's first major success in North America and the first game designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, Donkey Kong broke ground as one of the earliest examples of what a platformer could be — and it introduced Mario.

34. Super Mario World

(1991, Super Nintendo, others)

World let Mario find new items, it changed how he jumped and traversed levels and it introduced Yoshi. Utilizing the expanded size of the Super Nintendo, World was a much bigger game than earlier Marios, shipping with 96 total worlds.

33. Persona 4/Golden

(2008, PlayStation 2, others)

Persona 4's greatest achievement may just have been getting people to pay attention. When released, Persona 4 found large fanfare in the west — and its deep story, meaningful social links and addictive procedural dungeon crawling established the series as one of the best in games.

32. Zork

(1977, PDP-10, others)

One of the first interactive fiction games, Zork changed gaming when the game actually spoke back to the player in an intelligent way. Utilising a "text parser," Zork was able to understand complex commands, recognizing some conjunctions and prepositions, which added a layer of depth and complexity to the world.

31. Gone Home

(2013, PC, others)

Gone Home scoffed at what a game "is." Free of conflict and combat, relying solely on environmental storytelling and exploration, necessitating players explore every inch of the game to piece together the entire picture, Gone Home told one of the more personal stories in games.

30. Spelunky

(2012, Xbox 360, others)

Spelunky is a 2D platformer you'll probably never master — or even beat. Its procedural nature ensures no two playthroughs are the same, and it's so masterfully designed, so full of mysteries and so addicting, that many players find themselves constantly playing through each new iteration as if it was a new game.

29. EarthBound

(1995, Super Nintendo, others)

Given a more realistic setting than most games in the genre, EarthBound was developed to be enjoyed by people who don't play JRPGs — or even games in general. Its goofy tone, cultural satire and genuine heart made it a standout.

28. The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind

(2002, PC, Xbox)

The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind took the series' history of open-ended gameplay and expanded upon it greatly. Putting less emphasis on plot, Morrowind made its titular world the star. And Morrowind's world was a treat to get lost in — especially without waypoints constantly looming overhead.

27. Journey

(2012, PlayStation 3, others)

Journey was a game about companionship and the freedom of death. Players weren't told who they were playing with, and only had the option to help each other, forcing players to trust one another. This competition-free approach to multiplayer combined with the game's beautiful allegory for life made Journey an instant classic.

26. NBA Jam

(1993, Arcade, others)

NBA Jam made more than $1 billion in quarters. With its over-the-top sometimes-on-fire gameplay, it ushered in new wave of arcade sports games emphasizing craziness over realism. But Jam's precise gameplay made it a standout over imitators.

25. Metal Gear Solid

(1998, PlayStation, others)

Metal Gear Solid gets credit for popularizing the stealth genre. Bringing the Metal Gear series into 3D, the game let players sneak around real environments, hiding from guards and hiding bodies. Using elaborate cutscenes and voice acting, Metal Gear Solid's cinematic presentation made its deep story of top-secret infiltration rival Hollywood blockbusters.

24. Dwarf Fortress

(2006, PC, others)

Revolving around the construction and management of a Dwarf colony, Dwarf Fortress is a game you can't win — you simply play until you're done or defeated. The open-ended gameplay and unique use of text-based visuals made the game an early example of an indie game becoming successful solely based on its unique gameplay and style.

23. Rogue

(1980, Unix, others)

Rogue created an entirely new genre. Elements of this 1980 dungeon-crawler, like randomly generated dungeons, permadeath and collectible weapons and items, gave birth to a wave of games called "roguelikes." Despite the punishment of having to start over each time, Rogue's dynamic gameplay made for an addicting trip through ever-changing corridors that kept players trying over and over.

22. FIFA 12

(2011, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, others)

FIFA 12 took the long-running sports series and turned it into something beautiful. The host of new features made it a faithful recreation of soccer, allowing players to not only play the sport, but manage their teams down to the sheer minutiae.

21. Super Mario Bros.

(1985, Nintendo Entertainment System, others)

To this day, Super Mario Bros. still plays like a world-class 2D platformer. Its success isn't limited to just genre, though. The game also helped pull the video game industry out of the calamitous 1980s crash.

20. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

(1992, Super Nintendo, others)

A return to the series' original top-down perspective, A Link to the Past's Hyrule was massive — especially for the time — featuring numerous dungeons and two overworlds. It was "the purest representation of the time-honored Zelda formula," according to GameSpot.

19. Civilization 2

(1996, PC, others)

Giving players control over nearly endless mechanics and outcomes, Civilization 2 played a part in making its games among some of the finest-crafted experiences the industry ever had the fortune to play.

18. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

(1997, PlayStation, others)

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night carried the legacy of 2D games like Super Metroid into the 32-bit era — when sprites had fallen out of fashion. And it also happened to have one of the most polished, explorable worlds ever seen in a game.

17. Portal

(2007, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, others)

What Portal lacked in length it more than made up for in unique, experimental gameplay based. Portal's puzzles allowed players to experiment with the best — and coolest — ways to progress with their Companion Cubes.

16. Super Mario 64

(1996, Nintendo 64, others)

Reinventing how running, jumping and action worked in three dimensions, Mario 64 was one of the first games to explore how 3D spaces could replicate what players loved in 2D. It also experimented with freedom of movement and open levels that later became staples of the genre.

15. SimCity

(1989, Mac, others)

Inspired by creator Will Wright's interest in urban planning, SimCity established the city-building genre. Giving players the option to mark areas as commercial or residential, build transportation systems, adjust tax rates and more, SimCity revolutionized the simulation genre with its amount of content and depth.

Half-Life 2

14. Half-Life 2

(2004, PC, others)

Praised for its revolutionary AI, gameplay and realistic physics, Half-Life 2 is the standard to which many first-person shooters are still compared — though few have managed to make the same impact.

13. StarCraft

(1998, PC, others)

Blizzard's decision to add three races to StarCraft revolutionized strategy games, opening up new tactics and playstyles, and ultimately solving a problem many found with strategy games. StarCraft introduced the idea of diversity to strategy games, paving the way for others to experiment with different playstyles.

12. Grand Theft Auto 3

(2001, PlayStation 2, others)

Grand Theft Auto 3 changed the world. The dawn of the modern Grand Theft Auto game, it showed how open worlds could work, with sandbox gameplay allowing players to do nearly anything they wanted. Its violence, too, intrigued and scared the wider world, bringing levels of media attention unseen before in games.

11. Final Fantasy 6

(1994, Super Nintendo, others)

Darker than earlier Final Fantasy games, FF6 tackled tough issues like infidelity, suicide and genocide. Giving players, for the first time, access to 14 playable characters, each with their own levels of emotional attachment, Final Fantasy 6 was a bleak, memorable, standout in a series known for great experiences.

10. Super Metroid

(1994, Super Nintendo, others)

Arriving decades before the indie explosion, Super Metroid is still a common template for 2D and retro inspired indie releases housed under the "Metroidvania" subgenre. Its package included a beautiful game full of immense detail, massive open-ended levels and a meaningful arsenal of weapons and tools.

9. Street Fighter 2

(1991, Arcade, others)

When you get people to compete, you bring in a lot of quarters. The game that kicked off the fighting game boom, Street Fighter 2 was a massive success at getting people back into arcades. And it went on to define the SNES library as well.

8. Minecraft

(2011, Mac, PC, others)

Minecraft never tells players "no." Deceptively simple looking, Minecraft's building mechanics and open-ended gameplay created one of the biggest fandoms in gaming by simply allowing players to use their imaginations.

7. World of Warcraft

(2004, Mac, PC)

World of Warcraft set one of the highest watermarks in games, and Blizzard has continued to support it for more than 10 years. The game recently crossed the 100 million lifetime accounts line, thanks to constant expansions, updates and iterations. Praised for its massive open world, passionate community and deep quests, World of Warcraft is a masterclass in attention to detail that has kept players coming back.

6. Ms. Pac-Man

(1982, Arcade, others)

Pac-Man normalized video games. Its addictive-yet-rewarding gameplay loop of eating Pac-Dots and running from the ghosts created a bonafide phenomenon, enticing people of all ages to take a stab at the arcade machines.

5. Pokemon Red and Blue

(1998, Game Boy)

Few games changed the course of history the way Pokemon Red and Blue did. The first games in the Pokemon series, Red and Blue turned the franchise into a global phenomenon, even before it transitioned into a multimedia titan with television shows, movies and a massive collectible card game.

4. Doom

(1993, PC, others)

Doom made rockstars out of nerds. Led by video game luminaries John Romero and John Carmack, id's landmark first-person shooter birthed the massive popularity of the genre, spawned countless imitators and made the two Johns millionaires.

3. The Legend of Zelda

(1987, Nintendo Entertainment System, others)

Introducing players to a world and characters they would live with for years to come, The Legend of Zelda was an incredible action role-playing game with tight controls and a great sense of exploration. That it came out so close to the original Super Mario Bros. makes us wonder just what was in the water in Kyoto.

2. Super Mario Bros. 3

(1990, Nintendo Entertainment System, others)

Introducing many features that went on to define the series, Super Mario Bros. 3 debuted flying, level-specific mechanics and different suits for Mario to wear. SMB3 also exhibited a generous respect for its players, rewarding them for taking the time to explore each level for secrets.

1. Tetris

(1984, Electronika 60, others)

Requiring a strong balance of strategy and reflexes, Tetris defined what it meant to be a puzzle game. Rarely has a game so thoroughly dominated its genre. It doesn't matter who you are; you've played Tetris — something not easily said about most games. Tetris was simple in its set up and masterful in its execution.


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