clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The 500 best games of all time: 200-101

We continue to rank the very best of the game industry

Kathrine Anderson

This week, we’re running a big list of what we — and a group of trusted friends — recently voted as the 500 best video games of all time. For the backstory, criteria, explanation of why Breath of the Wild isn’t on the list, etc., head to the beginning here: The 500 best games of all time.

For numbers 200-101, scroll down.

500-401400-301300-201 • 200-101 • 100-1

200. 30 Flights of Loving

(2012, Mac, PC)

Sometimes the most striking parts of a story only exist in the viewer's mind. 30 Flights of Loving leaves it up to the player to imagine the events of a heist gone wrong, subverting the video game trope of over-explaining everything to the player through hours of exposition, and telling a short, out-of-order story.

199. Halo 3

(2007, Xbox 360, others)

When you buy a new Halo game, you can generally expect it to be more of the same, but bigger. And Halo 3 was pretty much that. That's not to undersell some of its key features, though. Its Forge map editor allowed players to create and play their own multiplayer maps — an awesome addition to one of the series' hallmark modes.


198. Overwatch

(2016, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Overwatch left a crater in its wake when it landed in the gaming scene. Full of heart, full of character and one of the best-playing first-person shooters in recent years thanks to a bevy of vastly different, finely-adjusted characters, Overwatch wasted no time changing the game industry at large.

197. Mario Kart 64

(1997, Nintendo 64, others)

This is where all business is settled. One of the industry's best examples of local multiplayer, Mario Kart 64 brought the series into 3D for the first time and it is still a staple of get togethers for those who remember fondly playing it as kids.

196. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

(2012, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, others)

A remake of the original X-COM, Enemy Unknown reinvents the wheel. Retooling and modernizing the series' trademark turn-based strategy, Enemy Unknown quickly earned praise as an "instant classic" and a "singular achievement that every gamer deserves to experience."

195. Final Fantasy 9

(2007, PlayStation, others)

Thanks to a combination of old and new elements, Final Fantasy 9 resonated immensely with fans and critics. Today, it still retains the series' highest Metacritic score.

Dragon’s Dogma

194. Dragon's Dogma

(2012, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, others)

Dragon's Dogma struck a beautiful balance between deep role-playing mechanics and fast, fluid combat. The way Dragon's Dogma combines these two disparate parts makes for one of the most interesting role-playing experiences in recent years.

193. Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter

(1997, PC)

Completely lacking a storyline, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter allowed players to jump right into the action and play against others or practice on their own. While this approach has been controversial for many other games, here it paid off with strong enough mechanics to make a fulfilling product.

192. Pokemon Gold and Silver

(2000, Game Boy Color)

Pokemon Gold and Silver marked the transformation of the Pokemon brand from a major success to a multi-billion series. While this wasn't the most innovative pair of releases, it was responsible for pushing the franchise over the edge to becoming the juggernaut it is today.

191. Sonic The Hedgehog

(1991, Genesis, others)

Sonic wasn't always a punchline. When the original Sonic The Hedgehog hit the market, it was like nothing players had seen before. It was fast. It was cool. It had attitude. Sega's answer to Mario quickly became a massive brand.

190. Command and Conquer

(1995, Mac, PC, others)

Inspired by real-world events like the Gulf War, Command Conquer was partly responsible for the popularization of the strategy game genre. Taking a more realistic approach than most other strategy games, Command and Conquer focused primarily on action, making it more exciting than many of its competitors.

189. Myst

(1993, Mac, others)

Myst trimmed the fat from the adventure game template. Abandoning the obtuse puzzle designs and seemingly random punishments many were accustomed to, it appealed to enough players to spawn several sequels and spinoffs. Ultimately, it was so popular that it's sometimes credited for killing the traditional adventure game.

188. P.T.

(2014, PlayStation 4)

These days, P.T. is a window into an alternate universe — one where Hideo Kojima, Guillermo Del Toro and Junji Ito could have made the scariest game of all time. Released as a "playable teaser" for Silent Hills, a now-cancelled Silent Hill game, P.T. created something of a water cooler moment where players gathered in droves to compare and contrast their individual experiences and try and figure out what it all meant.

187. Left 4 Dead

(2008, PC, Xbox 360, others)

Released during the rise of competitive online console shooters, Left 4 Dead brought back co-op. The ever-changing gameplay — dictated on the fly by the game's A.I. "Director" — kept each playthrough interesting for groups of players, and led IGN to call it "quite possibly the perfect co-op shooter."

186. Fallout 3

(2008, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)

Fallout 3 set a precedent for the Bethesda Game Studios' future games. Incredibly ambitious, the sheer amount of content and meticulous world design made for a game still considered one of the best in the genre — even compared to more recent contemporaries.

185. City of Heroes

(2004, Mac, PC)

When it released, City of Heroes felt like a breath of fresh air. Colorful, goofy and, most of all, fun, it was a far cry from the overly serious style of most MMORPGs. Allowing characters to build their own superheroes and power sets — and later missions — City of Heroes let players become who they wanted.

Rez Infinite
Enhance Games

184. Rez/Rez Infinite

(2002, PlayStation 2, others)

Rez is a game you can feel — sometimes literally. Not so much a simple rhythm game as it is a journey through sound, the melodies players create happen in the background of a lock-on shooter. Rez's abstract, art house-like subversion of the rhythm genre is something you need to see to fully appreciate — and it's even better in VR.

183. StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty

(2010, Mac, PC)

StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty's multiplayer alone is enough to secure a spot on this list. Satisfying, challenging and full of content, Wing's of Liberty's multiplayer made for one the most successful games in esports competitions — especially in South Korea. Since release, the game's consistently been a star attraction for tournaments paying out well over $100,000.

182. Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos

(2002, Mac, PC)

Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos is a game that just won't quit. Still supported and updated by Blizzard 15 years later, Reign of Chaos is still loved not for reinventing the real-time strategy genre, but for nearly perfecting it — all the while fleshing out the Warcraft storyline and introducing two new races to the series.

181. Vagrant Story

(2000, PlayStation)

Vagrant Story stripped away many of the typical Japanese action role-playing conventions. Featuring no shops or even interactions with other players, the game instead tasked players with creating and upgrading their weapons as they journeyed alone through catacombs. And the game's deep story and trope-breaking found success around the world.

180. Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss

(1992, PC, others)

The Stygian Abyss made it possible for series like The Elder Scrolls to exist. The first role-playing game to be set in first-person in a 3D environment, as well as the first to let players look up and down, The Stygian Abyss was massively innovative, changing the way role-playing games were played and how games in general approached navigation.

179. Star Wars: TIE Fighter

(1994, Mac, PC)

Called "the best space combat game ever made" by GameSpot upon its release, Star Wars: TIE Fighter refined the feel and combat of games like X-Wing. But its visuals made the biggest waves. Making use of Gouraud shading, Tie Fighter was more realistic looking than most games at the time.

178. The Secret of Monkey Island

(1990, PC, others)

The Secret of Monkey Island played with the idea that point-and-click adventure games didn't have to harshly punish mistakes. Also, that they could make you laugh. Full of inventive, weird puzzles and a genuinely funny script about the misadventures of pirates, Monkey Island helped cement Lucasfilm Games as the premier adventure game developer.

177. The Last of Us

(2013, PlayStation 3, others)

The Last of Us is about being alive — even when it seems impossible. Telling a brutal, yet intimate post-apocalyptic story with some of the finest examples of character development in games, The Last of Us' tale of love, lies and the human condition set a new bar for storytelling in games — one that'll be hard to top.

176. System Shock 2

(1999, PC, others)

System Shock 2's thinking-man's approach to the first-person genre became a blueprint for the genre going forward. Terrifying, tense and open-ended, System Shock 2 earns special praise for its story of AI sentience.

175. Superhot VR

(2016, PC, others)

Superhot VR lets you watch death come for you in slow motion. Maintaining the gameplay of Superhot time only moves when you do — in VR, an already tough game becomes a ballet of sorts as you physically avoid slow-moving, then fast-moving bullets while strategically placing your own shots.

174. Streets of Rage 2

(1992, Genesis, others)

Streets of Rage 2 is one of the best side-scrolling beat-'em-ups of all time, and a hell of a time if played with another person. The game's expanded roster, unique special moves and, of course, the combat make for something special. And the music's pretty good too.

173. Star Wars: The Arcade Game

(1983, Arcade, others)

Star Wars: The Arcade Game faithfully recreated one of Star Wars' best moments: the destruction of the Death Star. Playing as Luke Skywalker, players flew through 3D vector dogfights before ultimately destroying the superweapon. This was one of the best licensed games of its time due to its ability to make you feel like you were in the action.

172. Spacewar!

(1962, PDP-1)

First developed in 1962, Spacewar! simply tasked two players with destroying each other while flying around and dodging incoming attacks. Its early innovations helped influence the creation of groundbreaking games like Asteroids.

171. Red Faction: Guerilla

(2009, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)

Though the game's plot and gameplay were weak points, the degree to which the game's buildings and structures could be torn apart changed how scenarios could be approached and found critical praise. Guerilla's approach to destruction forced players to be more active and experimental.

170. Planescape Torment

(1999, PC, others)

Planescape Torment was a small fish in a big pond — at least commercially. A cult classic, Torment's rich story gets points for being smarter than its peers, casting players as a selfish protagonist with surprising depth.

169. Phantasy Star 4: The End of the Millennium

(1995, Genesis)

The End of the Millennium has aged great. Considered years behind in presentation upon release, retrospective reviews have since praised the game for its striking visuals, great gameplay and wonderful soundtrack. Perhaps ahead of its time, Phantasy Star 4's ambition made it a role-playing game still worth going back to almost 15 years later.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

168. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

(2015, Nintendo 3DS)

Everything done right in Monster Hunter 4 is done better in Monster Hunter Ultimate 4 an expanded version of the former. Ultimate 4 offers more player movements and actions, giving the game added depth. If you want to play Monster Hunter 4 now, get this version.

167. Homeworld 2

(2003, PC, others)

Homeworld 2 opened up the playing field for the real-time strategy genre — literally. Allowing complete three-dimensional movement for players, Homeworld 2 abandoned the archaic point-and-click design of previous similar games, making battles more dynamic and interesting.

166. Giants: Citizen Kabuto

(2000, PC, others)

Giants: Citizen Kabuto's greatest strength was being two games at once. One part real-time strategy game, one part third-person shooter, Citizen Kabuto seamlessly melded the two into a game that's as action-packed as it is strategic. Praised for its revolutionary graphics and funny story, the game maintains a cult status to this day.

165. Galaga

(1981, Arcade, others)

Galaga was the apex of vertical shooters. Expanding on games like Galaxian and Space Invaders by adding more than one gun, challenge levels and the danger of being captured, Galaga was one of the most popular games from the early arcade era.

164. FS1 Flight Simulator

(1979, Apple II)

One of the early examples of a simulation game, FS1 Flight Simulator was one of the most technically impressive games when it released in 1979. Paving the way for both other flight sims like Microsoft Flight Simulator and the simulation genre in general, FS1 and its early approach set a new standard for the way games presented real-life activities.

163. Dragon Quest 8: Journey of the Cursed King

(2005, PlayStation 2, others)

Dragon Quest 8: Journey of the Cursed King brought the series into 3D, allowing for a more fully realized Dragon Quest world for players to explore, as well as making battles more visually impressive. These changes were popular enough that many fans cite the game as the best in the series.

162. Defender

(1981, Arcade, others)

Considered one of Eugene Jarvis' best games, and his most difficult, Defender was one of the all-time greats from the heyday of arcade gaming. Defender helped create the horizontal shoot-'em-up genre, as well as establishing games as challenges to overcome through skill and reflex.


(2007, Mac, PC, others)

DEFCON pioneered the idea that just because a game was cheap, that didn't mean it was bad. In fact, most critics were surprised that such a low budget game shipped with the quality it did. DEFCON was an early example of a game challenging the conventional models of the industry.

160. Crusader Kings 2

(2012, Mac, PC, others)

Tasking players with running a successful dynasty and appointing an heir, Crusader Kings 2 stood out in a genre largely populated by simulations of mundane tasks. It gave players power while expecting them to work with the rules of the simulation.

159. Civilization 4

(2005, PC, others)

The best game in the turn-based strategy series, Civilization 4 introduced refined AI systems, presenting harder challenges for players. It was also just a better package. With completely new visuals and enhancements to single-player and multiplayer, Civilization 4 further cemented Civilization as the premier series of its kind. Its title song was also the first game track to win a Grammy, so that's cool.

158. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

(2003, Game Boy Advance, others)

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow was one of the only Game Boy Advance Castlevanias that felt just right. Widely compared to that of Symphony of the Night, Aria of Sorrow's gameplay was simple enough to jump into but deep enough to stand among its console brethren.

157. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

(2013, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, others)

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons conveyed its message through gameplay. Telling the story of two brothers, each controlled with one of the two thumbsticks, the game's unique set-up tested the bonds of family. Lauded for its emotional story driven by this mechanic, A Tale of Two Sons was about learning to work together, all the while growing closer.

156. 80 Days

(2014, Android, iOS, PC)

By 2014, branching narratives were old hat. But the masterfulness in which 80 Days told its story of world travel, and the nuances and complexities in which the story is dissected by player choice, was one of the finer examples storytelling in video games.

155. Assassin's Creed 2

(2009, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, others)

An impressive follow-up to the well-received but disappointing first Assassin's Creed game, Assassin's Creed 2 improved upon nearly everything the first game did wrong. Mixing intuitive stealth gameplay with a lighthearted, emotional tale of revenge, Assassin's Creed 2 was a great example of how a sequel can be made.

154. Pac-Man: Championship Edition DX

(2010, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, others)

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX made for a masterclass in how to modernize a classic game. Taking the traditional gameplay of Pac-Man, but adding new mechanics like increased speed, score boosts and new ghost types, Championship Edition became one of the most addictive games ever released, even rivaling, you guessed it, Pac-Man.

Geometry Wars
Bizarre Creations

153. Geometry Wars

(2005, Xbox 360, others)

Like Pac-Man: Championship Edition DX, Geometry Wars was a masterful retake on an old genre. Disguised as a simple twin-stick shooter, Geometry Wars felt overwhelming due to waves of enemies that exploded into bright, colorful particles. Geometry Wars added a modern sheen to a classic genre.

152. The Walking Dead Season 1

(2012, Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, others)

The Walking Dead changed everything we knew about game writing. Focusing on the impact of every decision, it presented numerous heart-stopping experiences. The Walking Dead asked a near-impossible question: How far will you go to save someone's life?

151. Metroid Prime

(2002, GameCube, others)

The first Metroid game to be in first-person, Metroid Prime still retained everything that makes the series great. Prime's perspective made it one of the more engulfing games in the series, incentivizing further exploration and leading players around every corner.

150. Soulcalibur 2

(2002, Arcade, others)

Soulcalibur 2's character roster stands out even today. Settling arguments some might have about who would win in a fight, it let players pit Spawn against Astaroth, or Link against Taki. Though not the first game to feature crossover characters, its use of big names stood out from the pack.

149. Animal Crossing: New Leaf

(2013, Nintendo 3DS)

Expanding on Animal Crossing's accessible life-sim gameplay, New Leaf gave players a host of new customization options and ways to interact with the world. With the series already easy to get lost in, these improvements and the game's handheld nature made it one of the most addictive Animal Crossings.

Super Mario 3D World

148. Super Mario 3D World

(2013, Wii U)

Super Mario 3D World was a shapeshifter. Best played with four players, it constantly bounced between genres but never suffered an identity crisis because of it. As Polygon's Justin McElroy put it, "Even at its most unrecognizable, it's one of the most joyous multiplayer experiences we've ever been a part of."

147. Wolfenstein 3D

(1992, PC, others)

Wolfenstein 3D started it all. Id's groundbreaking first-person shooter often hides behind the shadow of Doom, but without Wolfenstein 3D there would have been no Doom. Without Doom, well, you know the rest. Every virtual trigger pulled and every bullet shot in games owes a great deal to Wolfenstein's revolutionary take on the first-person genre.

146. Mortal Kombat 2

(1993, Arcade, others)

After Mortal Kombat shocked half the world with its gratuitous displays of violence, Mortal Kombat 2 embraced the controversy like a badge of pride. Continuing the tradition of bloody arcade fighting and pissing people off, Mortal Kombat 2 added more of pretty much everything.

145. Team Fortress 2

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

Team Fortress 2 featured a cast of unique, funny characters, a different approach at a moment in time when many games featured voiceless killing apparatuses. Team Fortress 2's lighthearted approach helped pave the way for an influx of hero shooters.

144. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

(1993, Game Boy, others)

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening felt too big to be a Game Boy game. Its full Zelda adventure, depth and made for an incredible feat when the game launched in 1993. Though now the series is well-established on handhelds, Link's Awakening was the first to make us feel those feelings on the go.

Unreal Tournament

143. Unreal Tournament

(1999, PC, others)

Quickly cementing itself as one of the best online first-person shooters, Unreal Tournament featured some of the best gameplay, visuals and level design seen at the time. Online only, Unreal Tournament was awash with thousands of players trying to prove their skills.

142. The Operative: No One Lives Forever

(2000, PC, others)

A mix between a first-person shooter and a stealth game, No One Lives Forever was more stylish than almost any game released before or after. The game's '60s chic, hilarious script and gadgets would make a Bond blush.

141. Super Smash Bros.

(1999, Nintendo 64)

Super Smash Bros. felt like playing with action figures. Starring a who's-who of classic Nintendo characters, the game distilled down to knocking each other off each map. Super Smash Bros. was the beginning of a titan that went on to shape the competitive gaming scene.

140. EverQuest

(1999, Mac, PC)

EverQuest "obliterated" the bar for online gaming when it released in 1999, according to GamePro. Credited as the second successful MMORPG ever released, EverQuest gave players three continents to explore, and 14 classes/12 races to choose from when creating a character. Unprecedented its size, the game set forth conventions and designs that'd define the genre going forward.

139. The Oregon Trail

(1971, Apple II, others)

One of the most widespread games of all time, The Oregon Trail gamified learning. It taught kids about American history while being immensely fun and engaging to interact with over the course of its long journey.

138. Resident Evil

(1996, PlayStation, others)

It wasn't even close to being the first survival horror game, but Resident Evil defined the genre after its 1996 release. Utilizing fixed cameras to give the game a cinematic look, while under-distributing ammo and save spots, Resident Evil created a sense of tension unseen before players walked through its numerous winding halls and traps.

137. Phantasy Star Online

(2001, Dreamcast, others)

Phantasy Star Online didn't bring the MMORPG to consoles; it was a tailor-made experience for the desires and demands of console players — with hack-and-slash gameplay and beautiful visuals. Coming before the success of titans like World of Warcraft, Phantasy Star Online evolved online gaming in its own small way.

136. Kirby's Adventure

(1993, Nintendo Entertainment System, others)

One of the NES' best looking games, Kirby's Adventure let you experiment in your approach, changing your play style to make each attempt a little bit different than the last.

135. Hearthstone

(2014, Android, iOS, Mac, PC)

Hearthstone single-handedly made the digital card genre what it is today. Taking cues from Magic: The Gathering but making something approachable and flashy, Blizzard was able to bring in hoards of fans across the world who otherwise would have never touched a collectible card game.

134. Street Fighter 3: Third Strike

(2000, Dreamcast, others)

The third iteration of the third Street Fighter, Third Strike bolstered the game's lineup of fighters, adding Chun-Li, Q and others. From a competitive perspective, it's the version of SF3 that's stood the test of time, often still appearing in tournaments. And it features some of the smoothest animation ever seen in a fighter.

Kirby: Canvas Curse

133. Kirby: Canvas Curse

(2005, Nintendo DS, others)

In a series known for iterating on the traditional platforming of Nintendo games, Kirby: Canvas Curse iterated on the traditional platforming of Kirby games. Played exclusively with a stylus to draw traversal options for Kirby, this new take made Canvas Curse a fan favorite and a welcome change of pace from other 2D platformers.

132. Vampire the Masquerade - Redemption

(2000, Mac, PC)

One of the best parts of Vampire the Masquerade - Redemption was its multiplayer "Storyteller" mechanic. Allowing one player to take on a role similar to a Dungeons & Dragons dungeon master, it enabled players to set up scenarios for others to play through, modifying them with monsters, items and characters. This mechanic opened possibilities for Redemption's replayability, and changed the dynamics of the multiplayer game.

131. Her Story

(2015, iOS, PC, others)

Her Story is, as Polygon's Phil Kollar put it, "as much a game as Google." Centered around investigating computer files in an effort to find information, Her Story tells its story by dragging players down a rabbit hole of mystery in the pursuit of truth. Wholly unique, Her Story's format was one that could only exist as a game, and it was better for it.

130. Undertale

(2015, Mac, PC, others)

Undertale was never afraid to jerk the wheel, shifting genres and subverting gameplay tropes. One part emotional story, one part role-playing game, one part bullet-hell game and one part pacifism simulator, Undertale earned immense praise for its gameplay and approach to combat, which allowed players to opt out by simply talking to enemies.

129. Rock Band

(2007, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, others)

Rock Band took what made Guitar Hero excellent and gave it a backing group. With guitar, bass, drums and vocals all accounted for, Rock Band was equally a karaoke machine and a rhythm game. Though the peripheral-based music genre waned significantly as the years went on, Rock Band still stands out for how it brought four players together for something more than competition.

128. Dune 2: The Building of a Dynasty

(1992, PC, others)

Dune 2: The Building of a Dynasty's name is fitting. Establishing the skeleton from which all future real-time strategy games would come from, Dune 2 established resource management, base construction and three factions for players to choose from.

127. Cart Life

(2011, PC)

In Cart Life, you manage the stresses of a running food cart, you make what little money you can and you try your best to care for yourself and your family. The push and pull of the job and the personal life made Cart Life an emotional experience, one emphasizing empathy over economic growth.

126. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

(2009, PlayStation 3, others)

Few games match the pacing of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Seemingly down to the second, Uncharted 2 knew exactly when to put players through amazing set pieces, when to introduce puzzles and when to pull back for quieter, more intimate moments.

125. Mike Tyson's Punch Out!!

(1987, Nintendo Entertainment System, others)

If you could take down Mike Tyson in Mike Tyson's Punch Out!!, you were the undisputed king. The notoriously hard titular final boss offered a true test of skill, making this a game players constantly came back to, thinking, "I've got it this time."

124. Rock Band 2

(2008, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, others)

Rock Band 2 wasn't an Earth-shattering reinvention of the first game. Rather, its small tweaks and quality of life updates served to make an already great experience even better, allowing for "No Fail" modes for people who just wanted to play around with friends. Rock Band 2 turned the Rock Band experience into a more streamlined, accessible party treat.

123. Diablo

(1996, PC, others)

Diablo was Blizzard's first foray into the action role-playing genre and was quite the premier. Also marking the launch of, Diablo's dark world and addictive loot-based gameplay received critical and fan praise, establishing Blizzard as one of the top role-playing game developers. Focused on rewards, Diablo's feedback loop of fight-then-receive-loot influenced countless other games to implement similar structures.

122. Quake

(1996, PC, others)

Quake took the fast-paced gameplay of Doom and made it work in an advanced 3D engine. Its massively-popular online multiplayer made such a thing a staple of the video game industry.

121. Frog Fractions

(2012, Browser)

Disguising itself as a math game, Frog Fractions constantly changes forms as you play. It's undeniably weird. Frog Fractions shattered any preconceived notions of what to expect from a game, proving games can be whatever you want them to be.

Device 6

120. Device 6

(2013, iOS)

Device 6 managed to evolve the text-adventure format. Whereas usual text-adventures would roll out their stories in long paragraphs, Device 6 presented words as malleable narrative devices — with some that bent around corners as they described the game doing the same. Device 6 was an amazing breakthrough in storytelling and a surprising reinvention of one of the oldest genres.

119. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

(2003, GameCube, others)

Wind Waker took Zelda's mechanics to a new level. It was deeper, more complex and let players move the camera and counter attack to open up the game's action, making for a richer game. Though its cartoony visuals were divisive at the time of release, Wind Waker's aesthetic made for a more expressive game that has gained fans over time.

118. Mario Kart 8

(2014, Wii U, others)

Introducing new, game changing mechanics such as anti-gravity movement, Mario Kart 8 changed up the game's old — but classic — formula. More impressive looking than other games in the series, too, Mario Kart 8's changes and refinements made it a standout in a series of amazing arcade racers.

117. Gunstar Heroes

(1993, Genesis, others)

Controlling like a dream, full of insane boss fights and featuring some of the best graphics of its time, Gunstar was a relentless game full of inventive mechanics, culminating in one of the finest Sega Genesis games ever released.

116. Call of Duty 2

(2005, PC, Xbox 360, others)

Call of Duty 2 built upon its predecessor's level of bombast and personal stories of wartime soldiers with a with a new level of realism and action never seen before in games. Considered a pinnacle of video game visuals, storytelling and action in 2005, Call of Duty 2 also continued the series' influence on other first-person shooters.

115. BioShock

(2007, PC, Xbox 360, others)

BioShock is still, 10 years later, like nothing seen elsewhere. Its art deco underwater metropolis-gone-wrong instantly invited players in, enticing them to search every corner to learn what went wrong with Andrew Ryan's utopia. Telling a complex story about the nature of man, BioShock offered one of the most unforgettable experiences in games.

114. Herzog Zwei

(1990, Genesis)

Herzog Zwei was one of the first real-time strategy games. Allowing players to pilot a flying mech while simultaneously buying and deploying combat units on the battlefield, Herzog Zwei paved the way for other strategy games like Dune 2 — even though it itself wasn't very successful.

113. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

(2003, GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, others)

It's hard to imagine a world where Braid and Arkham Asylum had the impact they did without Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time not coming first. Allowing players to bend time backward and forward while fighting enemies with a fluid combat system, Sands of Time's pacing made it a standout.

112. Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon

(1990, PC, others)

Railroad Tycoon is just one of dozens of groundbreaking games bearing Meier's name. Allowing players to plan and manage their own railroad company — making them responsible for laying train tracks, building train stations and actually scheduling trains — Railroad Tycoon received numerous perfect scores and spots on greatest games of all time lists in the early '90s.

111. Hitman: Blood Money

(2006, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360)

Hitman: Blood Money feels like a simulation rather than just a stealth game. Holding players accountable for performing clean jobs, Blood Money ratcheted up the difficulty of the series by penalizing players for being too violent, loud or otherwise out of character for a professional assassin.

110. Counter-Strike

(2000, PC, others)

Counter-Strike threw out what players expected from first-person shooters; a guns-blazing approach would only result in death. The game focused on teamwork, guns had accurate recoil and shooting someone in the arm did less damage than, say, shooting them in the head. Because of this realistic approach, Counter-Strike and its sequels have become staples of the esports industry.

109. Kentucky Route Zero

(2013, PC, others)

Kentucky Route Zero is one of those games people tell you to go into blind. Somber and contemplative, Kentucky Route Zero explores the life of rural America, both in its simplicity and its bizarreness. Though all its episodes aren't out yet, Kentucky Route Zero has become a highly talked-about game, as players wonder what secrets still hide on the backroads of Kentucky.

108. Super Mario Maker

(2015, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS)

After decades of Nintendo inventing and reinventing the wheel, Super Mario Maker gave players the chance to make their own 2D Mario levels. Super Mario Maker pushed the boundaries of creativity, allowing fans the chance to reimagine some of the most influential levels in games — and make new ones.

107. Papers, Please

(2013, PC, others)

As the fictional country of Arstotzka collapses, Papers, Please puts players in the role of an immigration inspector, allowing or detaining would-be immigrants at a border checkpoint. The game puts the lives of others in your hands — possibly at the cost of your family's safety. Upon its release, Papers, Please was lauded for its intense moral dilemmas.

106. Final Fantasy Tactics

(1998, PlayStation, others)

A different kind of Final Fantasy game, Tactics abandoned the series' traditional role-playing approach, replacing it with an isometric tactical game. This new direction, and the masterful depth with which it was pulled off, gained the game universal acclaim, with many praising its challenging gameplay.

105. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

(2002, PlayStation 2, others)

Vice City took the drab, gray buildings from Grand Theft Auto 3 and replaced them with sun-soaked beaches and flashy muscle cars. Its wide cast of wild characters, exciting open world and amazing soundtrack made Vice City one of the best entries in a series full of some of the best game of all time.

Burnout Paradise

104. Burnout Paradise

(2008, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)

Burnout Paradise introduced the series to open-world gameplay. Players were free to progress in the game as they chose, meaning if they wanted to just drive around and engage in the game's ever-absurd crash physics without racing, they could.

103. Elite

(1984, BBC Micro, others)

Elite more or less created the modern space flight simulator genre. Paving the way for persistent world games like Second Life and World of Warcraft, Elite's establishment of space-trading also greatly influenced games like No Man's Sky and Eve Online.

102. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

(2000, PlayStation, others)

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 marked an apex for both the series and action sports games. Building on a proven formula, the game sold better than nearly any other action sports game at the time. While not the most revolutionary in the series, Pro Skater 2 was the product of intense dedication and iteration from developer Neversoft.

101. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

(2001, PlayStation 2, others)

Sons of Liberty was masterclass in how to write a plot twist, smashing player expectations by introducing series newcomer Raiden as the protagonist after the game's prologue. And that was one of just many surprising elements of the story, which dealt with topics like incest and existentialism.

[Check back Friday for entries 100-1.]

Story text: Blake Hester

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon