Updated: Jul 8, 2021
Can't wait to get the Cease and Desist order for this bad boy.
80. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
January 25, 2014, VGF user Panfan responds to my comment that Castlevania III was my first Castlevania game. He responds,
"FIRST CASTLEVANIA ARE YOU KIDDING ME DUDE
(do you want to borrow Dawn of Sorrow from me i will take your silence as a yes)"
Well, I suppose that means I have him to thank for my 80th favorite game. I've been into Metroidvanias for a long time, but it wasn't until I played Dawn of Sorrow that I started to understand where the -vania part of that genre name comes from. As good as the base game is (and it is VERY good), my favorite part of Dawn of Sorrow is the Julius Mode, where you play through the game not as Soma Cruz, but as Julius Belmont, Yoko Belnades, and Alucard. That's right...Dawn of Sorrow's Julius Mode is a direct homage to Castlevania III! Which just so happened to be my first Castlevania game, and the game I had played immediately before playing Dawn of Sorrow!
My introduction to the Castlevania series went about as well as it could have gone.
79. AM2R: Another Metroid 2 Remake
2016 saw two remakes of Metroid II (which, by the way, is a great game in its own right). One of the remakes was official, and one of the remakes was not. While the official remake, Samus Returns, was a faithful remake and an enjoyable game, it was unfortunately outclassed by the now-shut down fan project, Another Metroid 2 Remake. This fan game was so good, in fact, that it's one of only 3 Metroid games on this list of 100, despite the fact that Metroid is one of my favorite series. Fusion and Zero Mission are great games (both barely missing the cut), but AM2R is the 2D Metroid that Nintendo just hasn't been able to make since Super. The movement is crisp, the map design is pristine, the power curve is satisfying. On top of all that, it's superimposed onto Metroid II, which is a game that absolutely deserved this love. It was awesome to see the advanced Metroids fully rendered in beautiful pixel art. I just wish that instead of doing the usual Nintendo thing, this fan team could have been hired to make the next official 2D Metroid game, a la Sonic Mania. That won't happen. That sucks. AM2R is incredible.
78. SteamWorld Dig
I have a weird, very specific memory tied to SteamWorld Dig. When we moved into our first apartment in Milwaukee, we had to utilize a community laundry room for the first time. There were signs that said "Please attend your laundry." So, at first, we did. I faithfully sat in the laundry room for every load, doing my duty to make sure nothing got stolen. While I sat and waited, I brought my 3DS to kill the time. The first game I booted up was a little game I got from a Humble Nintendo Bundle, SteamWorld Dig. I wasn't sure what to expect from the game, but I needed something to play while waiting for the laundry, right? What I ended up getting was a delightful little Metroidvania-cross-Spelunky that ended up number 78 on my list of favorite games.
After the first month or so, I realized that no one else was staying to accompany their laundry. You could just set an alarm and come back when it finished. That little bit of first-time renter naïvety was a little embarrassing, but it did leave me with a great game.
77. WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$
How is it possible that the first GBA WarioWare is ahead of WarioWare Gold, the Greatest Hits album of WarioWare? There are two reasons.
1. I suppose it could be the same way that I'd rather listen to Who's Next rather than listen to The Who's Greatest Hits and More. Not all the songs on Who's Next are hits, but its the intentional design of the album as a whole that makes it great. Greatest Hits is great, but it's not a unified piece of art. Wario Ware Gold is awesome, but there is something about the magic of Mega Microgame$ that can't be matched.
76. Rayman Legends
Have you gone back and played the original Rayman lately? It's clunky as all getout. I don't consider that a bad thing, necessarily--after all, I have an NES Castlevania game on this list. The clunkiness is part of the design. The movement doesn't feel great, but it works because the entire game is designed around it. That design is what makes the game great, even if the movement is meh. The design carries the day.
OK, now flash forward to Rayman Legends, which has the same high-quality, game-defining design, but now is built around one of the best-feeling platformers ever made.
75. Mega Man X2
Honestly, there isn't much more I can say about Mega Man X2 than I already said about X3. Both are built on the near-perfect foundation of MMX. Neither is quite as good. X2 edges out X3 by having better levels, better bosses, and a Shoryuken. It also has probably the best music of all three games, even if I have the deeper nostalgic connection to the original X's soundtrack. Honestly, if you love any one of these three games, there's no reason not to play the other two.
74. Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow
I've always loved Pokemon. I've played at least one mainline game in every generation, I've bred and raised competitive teams, I've competed in online tournaments, I've shiny hunted. My deep love of this series all stems back to Pokemon Yellow, which was my introduction to the series and the first game I ever bought with my own allowance money (coupled with the special edition Pokemon Game Boy Color, which had Togepi on the screen even though Togepi wasn't even in the games yet).
In retrospect, Generation 1 of Pokemon is deeply flawed. It's mechanically broken, the designs of the original 151 are hit-or-miss, the Kanto region isn't all that exciting or diverse. But you know what? Who cares. Gen 1 is just so charming. These games will always take me back to the days of riding in the back seat of a car and only being able to play the game for a split second every few yards as we passed streetlight to streetlight. And while they are fundamentally broken in a myriad of ways, I also know how they're broken and I've learned how to exploit them. All because I love them so much and just want to play them again and again.
I played Pokemon Sword with my 4-year-old last year. This year I introduced her to Pokemon Cards. Her favorites are Sableye and Milotic. I really look forward to sharing this series with her.
73. F-Zero GX
I just recently learned that the series is called "F-Zero" because it's a play on "F-1." I never understood that joke because I was introduced to F-Zero significantly sooner than I ever knew what F-1 was.
I cannot think of a better-looking GameCube game than F-Zero GX. It is utterly baffling that they were able to make this game look and feel like it did on that hardware, and I truly do not understand how they did it. Maybe everything is just moving so fast that you don't stop to think what it looks like? Who knows, man, but whatever they did, it's incredible. F-Zero and F-Zero X are fun and all, but GX takes the series to a different plane of existence. Which is good, because now F-Zero is on a plane of non-existance, and has been ever since this game's release. I often wonder why Nintendo doesn't give us a new F-Zero, and I honestly think the reason is that they don't know how they could possibly top GX. It's just that good.
Also, it has a massive soundtrack, and almost 50% of it is just comprised of character themes that you hear absolutely nowhere but in the gallery mode.
72. Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour
Despite taking a golf class for my PE credits in college, I've only golfed once in my entire life, and that was just a few weeks ago. I'm not a golf guy. I am, however, a video game golf guy. I love me a meter that requires a button press to determine power and then a second button press to determine accuracy. I love factoring in the wind, the club choice, the terrain. I love when my favorite Nintendo characters say "Nice Shot!" when I hit a Nice Shot. Mario Golf on the N64 was a lot of fun, but Toadstool Tour took literally everything from that game and just simplymade it better, to the point where it almost makes the 64 version obsolete. As I'm writing this, Mario Golf: Super Rush was just announced for Switch about a week ago, and I cannot wait to get back on the links with my plumber pals again.
71. Donkey Kong Country 3
I'm not sure why DKC3 gets overlooked so much. Yes, the prior entry in the series is an utter masterpiece. Yes, the Brothers Bear are lame and dumb. Yes, Kiddie Kong is...well, he's Kiddie Kong. But DKC3 has so much to offer that I think people just ignore before they really give the game a chance. The overworld map itself is interactive, dynamic, and full of secrets, which is something that had never really been done before--and has only rarely been done since. Kiddie and Dixie may not be everyone's favorite Kongs (though I will accept NO Dixie slander 'round these parts), but no one can deny that they are mechanically interesting and help serve the ever-crisp gameplay.
The best part about DKC3 is that every single level has a unique identity. Each new level brings some new gameplay mechanic to the table, and when that level is done, that mechanic disappears forever and gives way to a new one. While that sounds like it might get confusing or tiresome, all of the mechanics fit well within the physics and logic of the game, so it never feels overwhelming and nothing really overstays its welcome.
If it weren't for my nostalgia for the original DKC, I would probably consider DKC3 to be my second-favorite of the SNES trilogy. Don't sleep on it!
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)
89. Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (NES, 1989)
88. Mega Man 3 (NES, 1990)
87. Mighty Switch Force (3DS, 2011)
86. Ori and the Blind Forest (PC, 2015)
85. WarioWare Gold (3DS, 2018)
84. Mega Man X3 (SNES, 1995)
83. The Legend of Zelda: Oracles of Ages and Seasons (GBC, 2001)
82. Gris (Switch, 2018)
81. Sonic Mania (Switch, 2017)
79. AM2R: Another Metroid 2 Remake (PC, 2016)
78. SteamWorld: Dig (3DS, 2013)
77. WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ (GBA, 2003)
76. Rayman Legends (Wii U, 2013)
75. Mega Man X2 (SNES, 1994)
74. Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow (Game Boy, 1998)
73. F-Zero GX (GameCube, 2003)
72. Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour (GameCube, 2003)
71. Donkey Kong Country 3 (SNES, 1996)