I’ve been wracking my brain for the last few months, attempting to compile a list of my 100 favorite games of all time. I’ve played a lot of video games, having been at this since the NES released in 1985, so coming up with 100 that I can confidently say I enjoyed more than all of the others wasn’t easy — neither was organizing them. But I can’t take it anymore, so I pried myself away from this cursed Word document and decided to just go with what I have. Bottoms up!
Over the next few weeks, I’ll break them down into groups of 10 from #100 all the way to #1. The articles probably won’t be consistent with their timing, but I’ll make it a point to link to the previous lists for the sake of organization.
It’s worth mentioning that this isn’t a list of the “best” games of all time, just my personal favorites. I’m only human, so there are (of course) countless games I’ve never played — even those that are widely treasured by the gaming community. So if one of your all-time favorites isn’t on the list, that’s probably why. Recommendations in the comment section are always welcome, though. I just ask that you not be a dick about any of my choices. That’s not the point of this.
Let’s dive in!
#90: Power Stone
When it comes to fighting games, the barrier of entry is often harsh to newcomers. Taking advantage of the Dreamcast’s four built-in controller ports, Power Stone is a light fighting game where up to four people chase each other around multi-tiered stages and beat the crap out of each other with standard beat-em-up controls. It was super easy to pick up and play and, as a result, became a constant attraction during friendly get-togethers. I was one of two people in my circle of friends who owned a Dreamcast, so the game offering simple pick up and play controls was most welcome.
Its sequel was definitely superior in every regard, but my friends and I never came close to playing it more than the original. It’s a game I hold in high regard and a series I wish Capcom would revisit now during the internet age. Power Stone on Switch when?
#89: Dark Souls
Dark Souls, along with the entirety of the Soulsborne universe, are all great games that I really enjoy, but I’m incredibly bad at them. I’m the type of person who researches the cheapest, most over-powered build (hello, Pyromancer), and feels no shame in taking the easy way out. However, it’s become a series that I enjoy watching others play more than I do actually playing it myself. Watching someone adapt to the game’s punishing learning curve and how they approach all of the different bosses is always exciting. I’m also one of the few people who prefer playing the game offline — I really hate getting invaded and my anxiety is bad enough as it is without PVP griefing. I’m already not very good and don’t do too well under pressure, and Dark Souls is already an intense game for a multitude of reasons.
The atmosphere, music, and sense of hopeless provided by Dark Souls are among the best in the industry. 10 years ago this probably would have cracked my top 10 (and it’s the Souls game I’ve played the most, with 150 hours in the PS3 version), but as I get older and struggle with mental health issues, I find myself coming to video games as a form of escapism — often stress-free escapism.
#88: Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
Dracula’s Curse is often considered the best of the NES Castlevania trilogy, and I’d certainly agree with that statement. But “best” doesn’t always mean “favorite.”
This felt like the perfect evolution of the original game, reverting back to linear stages instead of Simon’s Quest’s open world while also offering multiple level routes. Depending on which stage you picked, you could potentially run into new allies and recruit them as playable characters, like Alucard (pictured above). Dracula’s Curse is definitely the most challenging Castlevania on the NES, but it’s also the most visually impressive and has a fantastic soundtrack.
#87: Pro Wrestling
I loved wrestling growing up (and still do, really), but all of the WWF games were terrible until the N64 era. Pro Wrestling is a simple take on the sports entertainment industry, with limited movesets and an equally limited roster, but all of the characters were rad and had their own unique finishing moves. I played a ton of this growing up, with Starman and King Slender as my go-to fighters, and I remember how cool it was to see the game feature wrestling staples, like a ref, an announce team, and a camera person outside of the ring.
While wrestling games have certainly evolved over the years, they’ve gotten considerably worse as they’ve become annualized cash-grabs. I’d happily go back and play Pro Wrestling over the current year’s WWE 2K game any day of the week.
#86: Gears of War 3
I’m one of the few people on this planet who play shooters for their campaigns, and I have no shame in admitting it. Granted, I did play quite a bit of multiplayer in Gears of War 2, but I had fallen off the social gaming spectrum by the time the third entry rolled out.
I’ve always enjoyed the cinematic feel of Gears’ presentation, the weightiness of the movement, and the cover-based shooting, but I also really liked the story Gears of War tried to tell, despite it being ineffective and macho at times. Whether it’s finding the husk of a loved one in Gears of War 2 or the more gutwrenching death of a friend in 3, there was always something interesting going on in the narrative.
Although I’d wager I spent way more time with its predecessor, it goes without saying that my favorite aspect of the games are their campaigns and Gears of War 3 had the best of them.
#85: ChuChu Rocket
There was no shortage of strange and unusual games on the Sega Dreamcast. Among them was Sonic Team’s puzzler ChuChu Rocket, which tasked players with placing directional tiles on a grid in order to guide constantly moving mice onto a rocket ship. It sounds simple, and the concept certainly was, but ChuChu Rocket proved to be a challenging game that kept me awake until the sun came up the day after it launched in March of 2000.
Interestingly enough, it was the first Dreamcast title to make use of console’s online multiplayer capability, but I never got around to checking that out. The console’s modem needed to be hardwired into my landline, which was nowhere close to my television, and there wasn’t an Amazon yet to quickly order one the length of a football field that would conveniently arrive in two or three days. Times have definitely changed!
#84: Halo: The Master Chief Collection
I was strongly against adding compilations to this list when I began this project, especially when the one in question had been plagued with issues since its launch in 2014. However, the Halo series is what sold me on the original Xbox and cemented friendships along the way. The Master Chief Collection let me relive the glory days of the original game alongside my girlfriend, who never had access to an Xbox until we got together. Then we experienced the phenomenal Anniversary remaster of Halo 2 together before playing through the 3rd and 4th games alongside our mutual best friends, thanks to the introduction of four-player co-op. We even revisited the Collection when Halo 3: ODST was added the following year and had an absolute blast.
In addition to reliving the series and introducing it to my girlfriend, I also took part in a 24-hour charity stream to benefit autism research (filling one of four chairs in Halo 3, ODST, and 4). So not only does the Halo series hold a special place in my gaming heart for nostalgic purposes, but also in bringing my girlfriend and our mutuals closer together. I’ll never forget the countless weekends I spent co-opping the original game’s campaign on Legendary back in 2001, but I now have a whole new batch of memories with The Master Chief Collection — despite some issues that still appear to be a nuisance nearly four years later.
#83: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
I’ve often touted Tropical Freeze as the best modern 2D platformer I’ve ever played since its release on Wii U, but that crown was eventually stolen by Celeste earlier this year. However, second place is nothing to scoff at. It’s challenging, yet fair, and equally beautiful to look at. The music alone is worth the price of admission, but hopefully you’ll stick around for the game’s stellar boss encounters after soaking in the wonderful level designs.
Donkey Kong Country blew me away on the SNES, but I didn’t truly appreciate the series until Tropical Freeze kept me glued to my Wii U for an entire week. I cracked as many smiles as I uttered curse words. The game has since released on the (far more popular) Nintendo Switch and I’d love to revisit it at some point.
#82: Parasite Eve
Horror-themed RPGs are a rarity and Parasite Eve is the first that I remember playing back on the original PlayStation (until Koudelka released the following year in 1999). I recall the story being a little hard to follow, but it remained interesting throughout as detective Aya Brea attempted to stop the monstrous Eve from eradicating the entire population. It introduced an interesting take on Square’s familiar ATB system, which allowed Aya to attack and use spells whenever her action gauge filled up while also granting her the freedom to roam the battlefield to avoid enemy damage — similar to the combat mechanic later used in another Square JRPG, Vagrant Story.
While the game’s immediate sequel was also pretty good, the original felt a bit more like a horror RPG than a horror shooter. During the survival horror boom of the late 90s, which introduced Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and other similar titles, the former style of game was just far more appealing.
#81: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
Although I’ve played my fair share of games on PC (with World of Warcraft being my all-time most-played game ever by a significant margin) I’ve always considered myself a console heathen. Growing up, my PC was never good enough to play anything interesting and, as a result, I missed out on a TON of classics.
Morrowind on the original Xbox was my introduction to the Elder Scrolls series. It was far more complex than the JRPGs I was accustomed to back on the SNES and PS1, and it took me quite a while to get the hang of things. I wasn’t used to choosing between unique races and exploring an open world with deep lore dives tucked away in books and letters, nor was I used to dealing with the consequences of my actions. Morrowind provided a massive world to explore and, with a little help from an online FAQ, a leveling, storage, and spell system that was hilariously broken.
After sinking nearly 200 hours into my copy of Morrowind, my Xbox console took a dump and I lost everything. Prior to that, I remember thinking how cool it was to no longer have to rely on memory cards to save data! Then tragedy struck. I never could bring myself to revisit the game and see it through. It’s hard to imagine a game I’ve spent such a significant amount of time on going unfinished, but that’s… a tough pill to swallow. I did enjoy revisiting Morrowind in The Elder Scrolls Online, though!
Thanks for reading! My Top 100 Favorite Games of ALL TIME series will continue soon with #80-#71.
Current lists available: