ATB’s Best Games Ever: Final Thoughts

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Time to say goodbye.

We did it. We made it all the way through our top 25 games of all-time. Now it’s time to pretend that we’re Jerry Springer and give our final thoughts.

Chris: We set out to make a list of the best 25 video games we’ve ever played, and I think the top 25 is pretty damn solid. We ended up listing all the way through 100 games or so, but that part of the list has some strange outliers that make it tough to take the entire list seriously top to bottom. But the top 25, the original goal? No such problems.

Originally, the plan was just for the three of us from the show (Shaun, Dave and I) to put together our lists, but I think it benefited from adding on the other folks on the panel. Sure, some weird choices ended up in a list of what should be the creme de la creme (COUGH BEETLE ADVENTURE RACING COUGH), but in a way, the lower part of the list just shows the different favorites we had growing up.

As far as #1-25 goes, I don’t really have a problem with a single title that appeared in it. I wouldn’t have minded seeing a different number one, but Ocarina of Time is frequently called the best for a reason. I’m a little disappointed that only two of the seven panel members voted for Chrono Trigger anywhere on their list — and I especially blame Shaun for that, but when you look at the guy, a few things become understandable.

Final Fantasy VI should have been higher, and that’s partially my own fault (I put it fourth on my list and it should have been second). I tried to use part of my list to give some more points to games that I knew would not be represented on other people’s rankings. Link to the Past? I’m not surprised that I was the lone supporter. But Majora’s Mask? Now people should just feel bad.

Don't be sad, Mario -- at least you were in the top 10!
Don’t be sad, Mario — at least you were in the top 10!

Shaun: HEY EVERYONE. I’m actually really happy with our results. Things looked iffy there for a while on some questionable choices — I won’t throw anyone under the bus, but…yes I will, actually. NBA Street Volume 2? In a top 25 list of BEST games of all time? I don’t know if it could make it on Top 25 basketball games of all time. If Anna Kendrick came to my house with a hot pizza and wanted to practice making out with me while I played this game, I still wouldn’t put it near the top. Perhaps that’s my own messed up priorities. And why I’m single.

But I digress. I actually have absolutely nothing to complain about, because my overall number one vote, Ocarina of Time, was the number one vote overall, and the final list actually reflects a lot of the choices I have. It’s not fair to accuse me of just being happy because I got my way, but if you did, you’d be right.

If I had to change one thing, I’d probably put Final Fantasy VI a little higher. The seminal Final Fantasy game is simply masterful, demonstrating what can be done in an RPG when you disregard the tethers of tropes and tradition. That’s not to say there aren’t cliches or already-tread ground in the title, but for every one thing VI rehashes, it introduces two to three that broke new ground in gaming storytelling. Featuring a villain who’s more than a caricatured archetype. Splitting up the party into different groups, then following each. Not featuring one true main character. Fighting the final boss without reassembling your full party. Destroying the world. And a lot of others I’m forgetting. We had it at 8 — probably should have been higher, above RE 4 and KOTOR, games which were stellar at the time but haven’t aged quite as well.

Overall, I think it was a great experience, and while you can certainly find fault in our list, I’m happier with the results than a lot of professional lists I’ve seen. We omitted travesties like Gears of War, Grand Theft Auto is nowhere in the top 25, and we don’t give more points to quirky games (I’m looking at your, Portal) than they deserve. As always, let us know what you think, and feel free to praise/rip apart my personal list. It’s here for you to feast on.

Don't be sad, Sonic -- at least you were...mentioned?
Don’t be sad, Sonic — at least you were…mentioned?

Dave: For the most part I feel really good about our lists. I feel that we captured a lot of different genres and time.  I feel extra good about the fact that we included a bunch of Zelda games and Mario games, as we pay a huge tribute to Shigeru Miyamoto as the greatest video game artist of all time.  If I had any complaints about our list, it would be that we didn’t have anyone older than 30 vote on our list, and in that case we may have missed some of those late 80’s games that didn’t really last as long as a title such as Mario 3, but were still excellent. I definitely had a lot of fun with this list and I feel like I’ve got a lot of video game playing to do now. There’s just too much awesome on this list!

Don't be sad, John Marston -- your son's a great character!
Don’t be sad, John Marston — your son’s a great character!

Jason: 1) OoT = I can’t say I’m unhappy with OoT winning number one. It was the first Zelda game I ever played and after playing it again recently on the 3DS I was reminded of everything about it that I loved. It’s the very definition of what a modern, 3D adventure game should feel like, and I can’t really think of any serious faults.

12) Like Chris mentioned, I put P4G as my number one game of all time. It’s FANTASTIC. The characters, the setting, the gameplay… all of those were solid the first time they made the game and Golden only serves to make things better. Hell, I bought a Vita just to play it. Mind you it was a used one… but still. It’s THAT GOOD. If you’re looking for a prime example of what a good JRPG looks like, then look no further than P4G. The fact that Final Fantasy VI outranked P4G in the top 25 just makes me sad. If you wanted a prime example of nostalgia talking, I’d probably point to that right there…

29) Left 4 Dead = Personally I’d hoped that Left 4 Dead had made it a bit higher than 29. It’s such a well rounded game from almost every angle that it’s really hard to fault it. I mean, it set out to be a fantastic co-op zombie shooter and it’s pretty much defined the genre. Mix that in with the fantastic sound design and the almost revolutionary use of voice work… and you honestly have one of the best games ever!

42) Alice: Madness Returns = I’d post about how fantastic I think the game is, but I already have a whole post about it. So I’ll just leave it at that.

52) Freelancer = Despite what Shaun might believe, Freelancer was one of those games that really tried to push the envelop of what was capable in a space simulator at the time. It pushed things so far, in fact, that the publisher wasn’t able to actually deliver on about half the content they wanted to put into the game. Yet the half that did get put into it is nothing short of fantastic. Real-time twitch based space combat, space-lane trading, the ability to participate in piracy as well as actually explore the uncharted areas of space known only to those with the balls to go looking for it… Freelancer had it all; and it even supported multiplayer servers so you could hop online and do all of that with your friends.

61) Unreal Tournament 2004 = I did not, in fact, reach second base until much later in life. Sadly. But my time with UT 2004 was nonetheless well spent. This is a game that took many of the ideas that had been lurking around in the FPS genre for a while (vehicle combat, capture the flag, “football”, etc.) and pushed them to near perfection. There is a reason it has a 93 on metacritic; and that isn’t just my nostalgia speaking.

90) Beetle Adventure Racing = This game is, admittedly, something of a joke. The kind of joke you just want to play over and over and over again. The premise is pretty basic, it’s a racing game that features VW bugs and only bugs. But where the game fails to deliver a hardcore racing game a la Forza, it succeeds hands down in making a full-throttle world filled with hidden paths, Easter eggs, and more secrets than you can shake a stick at. Ever wanted to race in a level that had you driving through Jurassic Park before plunging into the interior of an erupting volcano? Well, than have I got the game for you…

Don't be sad, Taco Bell -- wait, what the **** is this doing in my "sad video game" image search, Google?
Don’t be sad, Taco Bell — wait, what the **** is this doing in my “sad video game” image search, Google?

Michaela: Originally, I was a little wary of contributing my list of games to the overall list, because the thought of organizing one seemed like a daunting task, and I wasn’t even sure if I had played 25 games, but now I’m happy I did. It was cool to see some of the games I chose get pretty good spots on the top 25 (such as Phoenix Wright and Kingdom Hearts II), and the positive feedback everything was getting was nice too. The list has also helped me to realize how many great-sounding games I haven’t played, including Final Fantasy VI, IX, and Super Mario 64. I’m glad I got to be part of the experience!

We also have a reader’s take from yesterday’s post:

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THE FINAL LIST

(1) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

(2) Resident Evil 4

(3) Chrono Trigger

(4) Mass Effect 2

(5) Knights of the Old Republic

(6) Pokemon Red/Blue

(7) Portal

(8) Final Fantasy VI

(9) The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

(10) Super Mario 64

(11) Kingdom Hearts II

(12) Persona 4 Golden

(13) Super Mario Bros. 3

(14) Halo

(15) The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

(16) Super Smash Bros. Melee

(17) Super Mario Galaxy 2

(18) Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

(19) Final Fantasy IX

(20) Star Fox 64

(21) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

(22) The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

(23) Fallout 3

(24) StarCraft

(25) Bioshock

Best Games Ever: #50-26

Best Games Ever: #75-51

Best Games Ever: #100-76

Honorable Mentions

Introduction

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And finally, I leave you with a picture of my favorite cat, and his thoughts on Beetle Adventure Racing being on the list:

catgif

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