Ah, videogames. You know, I love videogames. I love all about them and how they are taking over movies step by step like a small army takes over a sleeping enemy. Movies got worse with the pass of years as videogames improved, taking into account how technology was not so limiting them anymore, but giving them the opportunity to grow, to become something more than just the entertainment of nerds. But you know what? They still are the major entertainment of nerds, so don’t expect to see any casual shit on my list. I am a hardcore gamer, and this is the list of a hardcore gamer. So here we go, onto my own very personal list of the top 15 videogames of the Decade.
15. - Advance Wars: Dual Strike
There’s a genre that I love, and those are Strategy games. The only problem is, though, that the genre doesn’t love me. The last good Real Time Strategy game I ever played was “Starcraft
2” on PC, when Windows 98 was still the best operative system in the world. I got disconnected from this awesome genre ever since, but then in 2006, with my Nintendo DS still fresh, I noticed this game called “Advanced Wars: Dual Strike”, and boy it is fantastic. It took the concept of turn based strategy games that worked so well in other game series like “Civilization”, wrapped it up in kid friendly-cartoony tones, and gave it a “Cold War” background. The result blew my mind, as in how a concept so deep and complex could develop so quickly and easily before the eyes of the gamer. This game is probably the best of the series, and though I heard “Advance Wars: Days of Ruin” is much more adult and better, this one remains as the true origins of when the series started getting good.
14. - Shadow of the Colossus
I will be plain honest with you right here, right now: This is the only game of this list I have never played. So, why putting it here? Well, for the simple reason that this videogame is fantastic. The story of “hero wants to get his princess back, goes to kill monsters” with a twist of insane gameplay. You have a huge, apparently free-roam, middle-earth like environment where you ride your loyal horse in order to defeat those giant enemies that, apparently, took away your princess. The game is brilliant and innovating in its repetitive mechanic of going to kill monster, kill monster, rest, and repeat, so blatant yet incredibly simple and yet it’s one of those rarities where the gameplay is immediately related to the story (you can’t keep it up if you haven’t killed the monsters, and you can’t kill the monsters if you don’t go look for them). For it’s fantastic atmosphere, immersion and gameplay, “Shadow of the Colossus” proudly enters into my Top 15 best games of the Decade.
13. - The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Now here’s the obligatory Zelda game, but one that many (if not everybody) forget about. When they mention Zelda in the last decade, they all go for games like Wind Waker or Twilight Princess, but they all forget the sequel we got in the year 2000 that is, by far, the most original concept for a Zelda game since we had the “Dark World/Light World” in “A Link to the Past”. With a time limit the gameplay of Zelda improves so much you can’t even tell. It makes you think faster strategies, more effective ways to kill bosses and solve puzzles, and it sets you on a schedule practically make you feel like you are in a real world. This time is not only getting dark at night and sunny at day. Hours and days pass, as the fate comes over the region you are supposed to protect. That feel of dread, that sensation that something’s about to crush your tiny bones to the ground, is something not even Ganon gave to us in his entire existence. All you needed was three days, a magic flute and a crazy faced evil Moon.
12. - Ikaruga
This game is hard. Not only hard, but it’s really hard. It hates you. This game looks at you and you can tell it wants to murder you, your family, and everybody else. This game wants to take you on a leash and make you its bitch. Then why the FUCK ARE YOU STILL PLAYING IT!? Because it’s so good you love it when it hurts you back. This is definition of pure challenge. If you are not good at this game that’s because you suck at videogames, and I don’t meant you get killed in level 3 by a bullet you didn’t see, no. This game is challenging but it’s accessible. You can change the color of your ship to absorb different projectiles. White ship absorbs white bullets, black ship absorbs black bullets, opposite colored bullets kill you. This game is the “Asteroids” of the current generation, a quarter eating monster that will never leave you and that will always live in your soul, whether for the outstanding epic music or for that level you repeated five hundred times before throwing the controller out the window.
11. - No more heroes
Suda 51. We can start talking about the guy and we will never end. It’s the same for his videogames, where he throws as many cultural references as we can think them while having a chat with our nerd friends. He might be as pretentious as Hideo Kojima, and surely not as nice and easy going as the daddy of Metal Gear, but he created two masterpieces of artsy videogame. One of them is the “impossible to classify” “Killer
7”, a blend between rail-shooter, puzzle game and action adventure designed like a Japanese manga. The other game is “No More Heroes”, a game which gameplay is also impossible to classify. I can say how it’s a mixture between a free-roam game plus beat ‘em up and action adventure, but instead of deciding the genre I will just say the plot and leave it there: An Otaku jerk called Travis Touchdown buys a Lightsabre-katana from an internet online bid website and decides to run for Best Assassin in the USA. In his way he finds Samurai Girls, Nerds armed with Virtual Boy controlled robots, a Granny with a massive cannon, a Movie Star with Machinegun nipples and Gun-Leg from “Planet Terror” amongst others. With such a colorful, memorable cast of good and bad guys (oh wait, just bad guys) there’s no doubt that this game renders as one of the best of this decade.
10. - Super Smash Bros Brawl
Hype is usually the worst thing in the World, especially of videogames, movies and entertainment in general. The King of hype is Peter Molineux, no doubt one of the most annoying guys in the world who uses hype to promote his games the wrong way, blatantly, lying about them. A company that does know how to use hype is, undoubtedly, Nintendo, and “Super Smash Bros BRAWL” is their most hyped game. Is it worth to be one of the best videogames of the decade? Well, I personally think it does. Is not only a great fighting game that everybody and everyone can pick up and play for hours of fun, but it’s also the best example to use against fans who say Nintendo doesn’t care for them anymore. “Brawl” (as we fans lovingly call it) is pure love, pure fan service, this is what Miyamoto feels like in the morning. Anytime we play Brawl we experience how Miyamoto feels when he wakes up in the morning: Happy. We feel happy. We are entertained, we are having fun, something many game developers forget games are about. If fighting doesn’t happen to be your genre but you are still a Nintendo fan, you can’t pass on this game either. You won’t find any other place to see Link, Mario, Yoshi, Kirby and Pit from “Kid Icarus” joining forces, or Pikachu and Samus Aran from “Metroid” joining forces to kill the Space Pirate leader Ridley. Even to this day I check the trailer, I shake my head, and I say: “This can’t happen, it’s too good”. Then I go downstairs, I see my games, and I see it there, realizing that it has already happened.
9. - Dead Rising
I will have to pull the honesty card once more here guys, but there’s no other way to put it. At the beginning, I hated, hated, screamingly hated “Dead Rising”. The game save spots, the shooting mechanics, the hammy and over the top villains, the driving, the weapons use…But after I finished my playthrough of the game I kept going back to it in my mind, remembering every single moment of that game, and then I realized about the relevance of “Dead Rising” to this decade. This is the first game where zombies were not only presented the way they should, but the game was given to you the way it should: Free-Roam level with plenty of space to explore, and the biggest variety of weapons to use in order to kill them or just take a piss on them. The freedom this game brings you makes up for every single flaw, since our protagonist Frank West is almost able to do anything. He makes the protagonists of every other Resident Evil game look useless in comparison, and this guy is just a photographer (well, a War photographer, you know?). “Dead Rising” is a game with infinite replay value that proves to be worth to be remembered as one of the best games of the Decade.
8. - Perfect Dark
I had a hard time deciding which FPS to put in this list. I had no idea if going with “Modern Warfare”, “Half Life
2” or any installment in the Halo franchise (which got scrapped immediately after I realized that the “Red VS Blue” videos can’t count). So, which game to pick? Let’s go back to the year 2000 to pick another Nintendo 64 greatness in “Perfect Dark”, the most perfect (no pun intended, seriously) FPS game ever made. It gives you a story that starts and ends in place; it gives you an addictive four player multiplayer mode with more customizable options than a Lego set, a fantastic plot about alien abductions, graphics that made the Playstation envy and a futuristic soundtrack that walks between Blade Runner and Star Wars. I should have put around 200 hours to this game and still to this day I would play with it before playing with my “Halo 3” or “Modern Warfare 2”. Sure it doesn’t have the same realistic graphics and the N64 controller is not the best in the world, but it doesn’t have 9 year old retards screaming in your ear all the time, and it is way funnier than just blowing up the same noobs over and over again.
7. - Super Mario Galaxy
I could say this is also the obligatory Mario game, but really, we don’t precisely think Sonic the Hedgehog when it comes to platforming. There’s not been a good Mario game ever since Super Mario 64, and the only way we could take away the thought of those fantastic 20 hours of infinite replay levels and star grabbing is with this game. “Super Mario Galaxy” is, once more, pure love for the fans from the biggest videogame fan in the world. You can feel it in every pixel how Miyamoto has impregnated this game with his brain cells and his imagination. Not only does it bring new concepts like exploring real 3D environments with different gravities but it also makes the Wii look better than a 360, with an explosion of colors and textures that reminds you of a very important thing in current videogames: There are more colors than grey and brown! “Super Mario Galaxy” is the best Wii game to this day, and the best Mario game since Mario 64, so I wonder why fanboys are not creaming their pants knowing that we will have a sequel at the very start of this new decade. “Super Mario Galaxy
2” here I go...Yeah, I am imitating Luigi’s voice.
6. - Braid
I could define “Braid” with a hyphenated word: Gut-wrenching. That is exactly how you will feel with this videogame, torn apart, destroyed, crawling on the floor looking for an exit, an absolution, a forgiveness…but you will find nothing, only emptiness. The narrative style of this game might be dodgy, resolving the story with large text books, but it’s the gameplay mechanics that make it a compulsory play for every gamer that’s worth of calling himself one. Controlling the time, rewinding, going back, seeing the effects you create from your acts and then returning to try fix those errors are just mechanics to emphasize how our hero (of name Tim = Time) is feeling inside, which is the same way we all feel: I should go back then and try to solve this, I wish I could go back and undo what I did. That thought always passes through our heads, but we never realize something. It doesn’t matter how we try to solve things. They will always have the same ending. That’s what “Braid” is all about. The Princess is a lie.
5. - Lost Odyssey (J-RPG)
Something that usually happens in videogames, more often than movies, is the level of engagement we establish with the characters. We feel for them, we worry for them, we are pending on their future and on what’s going to happen to them. It usually happens with characters in RPG’s, because we see how they develop, how they change and how they…well, characterize them. It is a hard decision which Japanese RPG type game to pick, since this decade has been full of them, but many are out of the selection for two reasons: Either I haven’t played the game (like Final Fantasy X, X-2, XII) or I found the characters not engaging enough (Kingdom Hearts, Pokémon). So the only real good, engaging and interesting Japanese RPG I could think of picking for best of the decade is none other but “Lost Odyssey”, the saddest and most teary videogame of all time. This videogame is like a concentrated mix of Don Bluth with a huge scoop of James Cameron mixed into it. It’s not only a really good RPG in terms of battle system and design, but its production values are high in every point: Epic music, stunning graphics, flawless character design, perfectly complex yet simple story development and beautiful narrative style. To those who think the J RPG genre is dead, here is the best title we have had ever since “Final Fantasy VI”, you know, before it all turned into an Anime convention full of cosplayers with “Final Fantasy VII”. I also want this game as a candidate for most underrated game ever.
4. - Portal (Puzzle)
An element that is loosely absent in quite many videogames is not just the pure originality of a concept or an idea, but humor. Puzzle games have always characterized for being accessible and fun, but not necessarily humorous or well written. “Tetris” is still a game about throwing blocks into a screen, there’s not much humor on that except for the noises the machine makes. “Portal” in the other hand is one of the best written videogames of all time. The concept of the game is simple: You have a gun that creates two portals that you can use in order to move objects or access inaccessible areas. This simple idea opens for a world of possibilities in your odyssey to survive a probing ground and defeat the Master Computer that runs the whole Portal experiment GlaDOS. You can finish the game in about 3 hours, but that only makes it more memorable, as you will face this Super Ego Computer that sounds like Shodan from “System Shock
2” after watching the entire series of Conan O’Brian. This is the kind of game that builds a fantastic experience out of a very simple and innovative idea, and puzzle games have been very lucky lately on that area. “Braid” introduced the concept of playing with time, after “Portal” introduced the concept of playing with space. Unless we invent a new dimension, I don’t see what the next puzzle game will be about.
3. - Fallout 3 (Western RPG) / Mass Effect (Western RPG)
This was so tough it took me a while to decide which game I liked most, so instead of leaving one out, they are both in. Another thing I must add, I am not a PC gamer so these both games I played them on my Xbox 360, meaning my opinion is entirely based on those versions.
3” I will say that it was difficult to try making a game better than the original PC ones. Bethesda couldn’t have done it better in my opinion, adapting a more real time based combat system and leaving the action points to use their new toy called V.A.T.S. a system that allows you to freeze the action and point to the enemy’s body parts to do more damage. The world map of the Capital Wasteland is huge and incredibly rich in places to visit, people to meet/kill and objects to gather. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but you will struggle to go to bed just because you saw a strange building in the distance and you want to know how it is…then you will want to go inside it…then you will find a bunch of enemies and you will want to kill them…You will hit 100 hours of gameplay like everyone else who has played this amazing game.
For “Mass Effect” I can go the short way and just say that this game is the reason why I bought an Xbox 360. I always wanted to be part of a universe, of a society or a group of individuals that don’t exist, and “Mass Effect” gave me that chance. To put it simple, it drinks from many different sources like Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, Battlestar Galactica (every show with Star in the title) but at the same time it creates something new of its own, building a personality and a future plagued with the problems of our actual days. Many will point to the game saying that is all about a simple space adventure to save the Universe, but what really hides under the surface is the struggle of Humanity to be taken as an equal. This game is about xenophobia, reject, and racism. For the other species of the Galaxy, we are the aliens; we are the immigrants, the parasites. In order to demonstrate them we are not we have to fight for our rights and show them how wrong they are. That’s the real, main task of Commander Sheppard. Except for FOX news of course, for them it’s all about raping everybody (Oh no, I didn’t!)
2. - Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (Survival Horror)
This game is, slowly, rendering as my favorite videogame of all time, even after I have finished it three times with all the possible endings. If you haven’t heard or played this game, don’t be surprised since it’s one of the most obscure Survival Horror games ever developed, if we can call this game that since I am not very sure if you can survive this type of horror. The level of immersion that this game can throw onto the player is so that you will forget you have a controller in your hands most of the times, you will just feel you are trapped inside the game trying to survive until the end of each level. The story of the game presents Alexandra Roivas, whose grandfather got killed inside his house, as she tries to uncover the truth of what happened to him. During her investigation she (you) discovers a book made out of human flesh and blood, known as “The Tomb of Eternal Darkness”. As she reads it you start experiencing the story of the book through history controlling different characters in each chapter. The control system is practically perfect for Scary Games because it’s based on a fixed camera with a very cinematic feel and an implemented targeted combat system that helps you slain the hoards of enemies that come towards you. The number of innovations that this game has per chapter has no rivalry; it is that good (which hurts even more since the makers of this game also did the terrible “Too Human”). So if you appreciate horror games and if you want to experience true horror and be surprised and shocked, look for a copy of this game, buy it and play it. This is The Best Horror Videogame of the Decade.
1. - Metroid Prime (First Person Action-Adventure)
When confronting which videogame to pick for the best of the whole Decade there were two contenders. If it was for me I would have put “Eternal Darkness” and “Metroid Prime” in the first position, but “Metroid Prime” is better not because of the story, because of the presentation or because of other factors like music, sound or development. This game is amazing for its design. Nintendo made it again when it comes to make perfect transitions from 2D to 3D of their most important franchises. Mario worked great as a 3D platformer. Zelda was perfect turned into a 3D 3rd person adventure. What to do with Metroid then? The biggest point of Metroid was its atmosphere and setting. Metroid’s biggest selling point was how easily it could drag you in with just a couple of tunes and some good sound effects (that was in the 16 bit era). Nintendo, thankfully and thoughtfully, skipped Metroid to pass through the N64 era and so it gave the franchise the touch it needed. If you have played “Metroid Prime” you will realize Metroid should have always been played like this: In First Person Perspective. Through the helmet of Samus Aran the unreal universe of Metroid looks so real you will not believe your eyes. The atmosphere, the water, the steam jets, the splatters on your visor, the lightning and explosions, they all just add to drag you inside a world that’s beyond everything you’ve imagined. But if you don’t care for immersion you should care for what Metroid Prime did for the console FPS and that’s fixing it. The lock-on-target combat system was already applied in Ocarina of time, but here is even better. You will jump and dodge while circling around your enemy, dodging projectiles and shooting yours without a single problem. It’s the best definition of smoothness, something only PC FPS games had. You will play other games after this one and yet you will find yourself going back to it over and over again just to see those giant levels, defeat those über bosses, listen to that haunting music and overall getting you head blown up by The Best Videogame of the Decade…and fuck “Final Fantasy X”.