Updated: Mar 17
Welcome to my Top 100 Games! As we make our way through the list, you may wonder, "Hey, where is X game?" If you find yourself thinking that, check out my Prelude post from yesterday. It might be there.
Another question you might be thinking already at this point is, "Isn't 100 games a lot? How can anyone really make a list that big?" On its face, I agree with you. I could have crafted a top 10 or even top 20 no problem, but 100 is...daunting. So what I did was follow the recommendation of our own Iamnobody: I utilized pairwise voting.
I started by taking my game catalog and whittling it down to an unordered list of 150. Then I input each game into a website called AllOurIdeas (http://allourideas.org/). It took that data and spat out a "this or that" question for every single game on the list, multiple times. If I had to rank Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour and Mole Mania in a giant list of 100, I don't know where I'd even begin. But if you put Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour and Mole Mania side by side and ask me to click which one I think I like more? That much I can handle.
After an evening of Doctor Who and absentminded pairwise voting, I had a list. I did do a little refining and reordering if I felt it was necessary, but for the most part--especially from like numbers 95 to 15--this list is thanks to AllOurIdeas. If you'd like to craft a list like this, that's a really easy way to start!
Oh, by the way, the cover image? Ring Fit Adventure? Number 101. Not on the list. The Honorablest of Mentions.
Let's get into it, y'all.
100. Goof Troop (SNES, 1993)
There is a really lazy way to start this writeup, and it goes a little something like, "Remember when licensed games were good?!??" That's so unfair, though--licensed games have always been hit-or-miss in a big way. The ratio of good licensed games to bad licensed games is probably the same now as it was in 1993. The difference is that most of the bad licensed games get lost to time, but the good ones get remembered. The record will show that for every DuckTales, there was a Cool Spot. For every SNES Aladdin, there was a Genesis Aladdin.
Stepping down from my soapboax, though, it is still worth noting when a licensed game reaches the heights of Goof Troop for the SNES. You may have never heard of this game or considered this game, but y'all, it rules. I have full confidence in saying that this is one of the best 2-player co-op experiences you can find. It's a top-down puzzler with great design and a soundtrack that will make you feel a wave of nostalgia even if you've never once played the game.
Special shoutout to Micah, thinking back to playing this game at your grandparents' house in Frankenmuth. Did we ever finish it? I think we might have, but even if we didn't, it left an impression. Let's bust this out and full clear it the next time you're in town.
99. Mass Effect 3
The Mass Effect trilogy will always take me back to the summer of 2012, when my parents left on a two-week trip and left me home to work my summer job and experience life as an individual for basically the first time. When I got home from my landscaping job, I would throw a Tombstone pizza in the oven, take a quick shower, and sit down to play Mass Effect for the entire night. It was glorious. I don't think any time in my life can quite compare to the pure "Eat, Sleep, Game" mentality I embodied that summer. (And I made good money, too.)
ME3 got so much flak for its ending, and even though the ending wasn't perfect by any means, I hate that the public outcry has left a lasting stigma on an otherwise incredible game. Its gameplay is so crisp and refined, especially if you experience the games in rapidfire succession like I did the first time. The series' strength was always its characters, and ME3 has so much to offer in that realm. Even with its stumbles in the story department, this game was such a satisfying conclusion to the series that was essentially my first true introduction to the world beyond Nintendo games.
98. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening 2019
There are different philosophies when it comes to remaking a game. Some are "reboots," some are "reimaginings," some are "remasters." Link's Awakening 2019 is basically the purest example of just a straight "remake." It really is the exact same game as the Game Boy version but with a shiny, diorama-like veneer. You might count that as a negative, and I wouldn't blame you. The game is hyper-faithful to the original, perhaps to a fault. I loved it, though. While I wouldn't have begrudged some updates or changes, my nostalgia for Link's Awakening is so intense that this gave me just what I wanted at the time.
I got to experience this game with my daughter as her first Zelda game, and she watched me play it three times, each time to her delight. We would finish it, and she would just say "Again!" like we were reading Goodnight Moon or something. How could I say no? We eventually did play other Zelda games together (OoT, WW, and MC), but this will always be the first.
97. Yoku's Island Express
Some brave soul walked into a conference room one day, grabbed a dry erase marker, and scribbled the words "Pinball Metroidvania" on the board. There was a beat of silence, but then the entire table burst into cheers and applause. They hoisted that individual on their shoulders, threw a pizza party, and thus Yoku's Island Express was born.
That's what I imagine happened, anyway. That's what should have happened, if it didn't. The concept is a solid one on paper, and I'm happy to say that the execution on the concept was spot-on. Humor, music, design, and gameplay harmonize into just a simply delightful experience. Never before has playing as a dung beetle felt so rewarding.
96. Slay the Spire
Oh, Slay the Spire...sometimes I think I hate you, but in the end, I know I really do love you. I hope you know that, too. I'm sorry for all the things I've said about you in the heat of the moment.
95. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
My Twitter bio reads, "Zelda II is a good video game," and I don't intend on changing it. The world needs to see that The Adventure of Link is more than just a black sheep sequel! Is it hard? Yes. Is it unfair? Overall, I truly don't think it is. It has a high skill ceiling, but I maintain that this game is attainable to those who are willing to put in some work.
Please give Zelda II a second chance. Play it with a guide, use a map with dungeon locations and hidden item tiles, do what you can to get past the "Nintendo Hard" design ideas of the late 80's if they don't appeal to you. Just don't give up on it, because few games are more rewarding.
94. Mega Man 11
I loved Mega Man 9. The return to classic graphics was awesome at the time. The design, music, and bosses were all absolutely on point. It was a return to form for Mega Man Classic, which hadn't seen an entry in the series in 12 years. It was an exciting page to turn.
But when Mega Man 10 came out, it did...just...kind of the same thing. And it was really, really good! It was! But it was almost more of a MM9 ROMhack than anything. In the 80's and 90's, iterative sequels were a lot more appreciated and accepted. In 2010, innovation was king, and MM10 fell flat in that department, leaving the MM Classic series in the dust for almost another decade.
Along comes MM11 and breathes the same breath of life into the series that MM9 did--but by pushing the series forward rather than hearkening to the past. And it works. It works really well. The levels are challenging but well-designed, and the bosses are clever and enjoyable. I think the Double Gear system was an awesome addition and they implemented it well. The Blue Bomber is here to stay, and I'm so happy he is.
93. Baba is You
I never beat Baba is You, and I am absolutely OK with that. I don't feel the need to. I spent significant time with the game, I broke through barriers, I had some awesome triumphs and some embarrassing guide-look-ups. Forcing myself to beat the game would probably sour the experience I had with it. As it stands, I love it for what it is and what I played of it. The game stretches the imagination in ways I've never seen, pushing the limits of what a video game can even do. I don't know how anyone was ever clever enough to put this game together, but I'm so glad they did.
92. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
The legacy of Twilight Princess is a weird one. At first it was the savior of the franchise, bringing back Celda from the brink of "kiddiness" and bringing it back to SpaceWorld 2001, baby. Then, over time, as Wind Waker salvaged its reputation and began to be recognized for the masterpiece that it is, TP ended up being unfairly maligned in the other direction. "It's so gritty and brown!", cried the mob that at one point demanded that Zelda be nothing but gritty and brown.
It's time we step back and just look at Twilight Princess for what it is: a dang good game. There are some flaws in its pacing and in its scope (to be further exascerbated in Skyward Sword), but when this game is good, it is absolutely top-shelf good. Even if the game was trying to be a more realistically brown, it's got a heart of gold.
91. Tetris & Dr. Mario
I love Tetris. I love Dr. Mario. I love Tetris & Dr. Mario!
These two puzzle franchises have stuck with me for a long time, and each of them will have iterations that will appear further up the list. That is all thanks to this combo cartridge we had for SNES. It introduced me to both puzzle series at once, and it had a great multiplayer mode through which I competed against not only my video game-loving brother, but also both of my video game-dabbling sisters. This was a family staple that runs deep for us--so deep, in fact, that even my Mom got into Dr. Mario for a while. Some of you may have gamer moms; I do not. That was wild. Thanks, Tetris & Dr. Mario. For my family, it all started with you!
100. Goof Troop (SNES, 1993)
99. Mass Effect 3 (XBox 360, 2012)
98. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Switch, 2019)
97. Yoku's Island Express (Switch, 2018)
96. Slay the Spire (Switch, 2017)
95. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES, 1987)
94. Mega Man 11 (Switch, 2018)
93. Baba is You (Switch, 2019)
92. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii, 2006)
91. Tetris & Dr. Mario (SNES, 1994)