November 23, 2009

The 50 Games that Defined the Decade

Low Score spent the past two episodes running down our list of what we believe are the games that defined the decade. These choices were based on a number of factors. Popularity, influence, success, and quality contributed with different weight in our decisions.

Is there something we missed? Include it in the comments with an explantation of not only why you think it belongs on the list, but also which game you would get rid of to make room for it.

Think we're totally off base with a choice? Make sure to listen to the podcast to hear our explanation, then argue it in the comments. Remember, just because you love it or it's a great game doesn't mean it belongs on the list. We had to leave off numerous personal favorites like Shadow of the Colossus, Final Fantasy XII, Burnout 3, Fallout 3, and GTA: Vice City. So it goes when you make a list.

Counter-Strike (official retail version)
Deus Ex
Diablo II
The Sims
Dance Dance Revolution

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
Devil May Cry
Final Fantasy X
Gran Turismo 3
Grand Theft Auto III
Halo: Combat Evolved
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Super Mario Advance (Super Mario Bros. 2)
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3

Metroid Prime
Ratchet and Clank
Battlefield 1942

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
WarioWare Inc.: Mega MicroGame$

Far Cry
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Half-Life 2
Halo 2
Katamari Damacy
World of Warcraft

God of War
Guitar Hero
Resident Evil 4
Mario Kart DS

Gears of War
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Wii Sports
Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day!

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Rock Band

Mega Man 9
Little Big Planet
Wii Fit

Street Fighter IV


epicpoet said...

If I had to wangle one missing game in there, it would be Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. It was one of my absolute favorite gaming experiences of the decade, and I'd probably shove aside one of the shooters if I were king of the world. But I'm not.

High Off Pixels said...

I would probably place Ico and take out Super Mario Advance to make room, personally.

ajnrules said...

I agree with what epicpoet and HOP says. Far Cry doesn't seem to be quite as defining as some of the other PC FPS, while it's hard to ignore the major critical response to Sands of Time. And even if Super Mario Advance was a launch title for the GBA, it really doesn't seem to me to be that defining since it didn't do much beyond launching the GBA and being a remake of Super Mario Bros. 2. However, rather than Ico, I'd replace it with Shadows of the Colossus, Grand Theft Auto Vice City or Twilight Princess. No game had heaped up or was wrecked by hype.

And for a comment that may actually change something...Wii Sports was released in 2006 rather than 2007. The Wii launched in 2006. I should remember, I waited in like with Amanda and Vick for 18 hours for that thing. XD

Bobby said...


We had not considered Prince of Persia. It was a fun game and a good reboot for an aged series, but not sure beyond that.


As much as I appreciate what Ico was going for, I never enjoyed playing it, it wasn't a financial success, I can't quite identify what if influenced, and most people don't know about it. It could earn a spot for heart, but even then Shadow of the Colossus has just as much heart and is better executed. Ico could go on a list of inspiring games and Shadow on great games, but I'm not sure if either of them are as defining.


Far Cry was for a long time the technical benchmark, which is why we chose to include it. It did a lot with graphics, physics, and AI. Super Mario Bros 2 was a difficult choice for us, but there's something to be said about Nintendo's reliance on their history and nostalgia. It forecasted not only the Classic NES series which would be later released on the GBA, but the Virtual Console as well. Nintendo knew it could count on repackaging old hits and selling them as new.

As much as I love Vice City, it really doesn't do anything for the GTA series. Is it better than GTA III? Yes. Is it better than San Andreas? Debatable in terms of presentation, but not even close in terms of mechanics. And, forgive me for saying, but Twilight Princess is little more than a graphically polished Ocarina. It's good because Zelda games in general are good, but it does little to advance the series.

Oh yeah, thank you for correcting the Wii Sports bit. Brain fart.

J said...

I was going to post responses but I have nothing to add beyond what Bobby's already said! I agree!

epicpoet said...


I really, really don't think you can justify some of the choices on the list over a blockbuster series-reviving milestone like Prince of Persia, especially when you have multiple games from some series like Halo and GTA. Here are three games I felt should have been included, but you didn't even mention as personal favorites that were left off.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was both critically and publicly acclaimed, represented a complete revival of a series 13 years old, and smoothly combined platforming, full-room puzzles, and stylish combat with a drop-dead gorgeous atmosphere. IGN rated it as 2003's Game of the Year and it has spawned three sequels and a major film release with a budget of $200 million according to Wikipedia. You tell me that this game is less significant than Super Mario Advance 2, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, or Castlevania: Circle of the Moon?

I could make a similar argument to the 2004 Ninja Gaiden, since it was a similarly well-received and successful remake of a storied series, but overall I felt it had less impact than the Prince of Persia revival. Perhaps more importantly, Ninja Gaiden was another one of those games that was a successor to the beat-em-up genre (a concept you mentioned that I support) that preserved the oldschool tradition of brutal difficulty. Ninja Gaiden is hard. Probably harder than Mega Man 9, especially the updated Black version of the game. For being a super-stylish revival and unapologetically difficult, Ninja Gaiden is another game that defined the decade.

My last suggestion is a game that has more impact than you would believe, but is not a game I recommend playing, let alone purchasing. Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G (known as Monster Hunter Freedom Unite in the United States) is one of, if not the most shocking success story of the decade. Monster Hunter is barely five years old, but is already the fourth-most successful franchise in Capcom's storied history, behind Street Fighter, Resident Evil, and Mega Man. With most of its sales on its PSP games, Monster Hunter has become a Japanese phenomenon, with the aforementioned Unite, an expansion to a PSP port, selling over 2.5 million copies in one year and over 3 million to date in Japan alone. Monster Hunter 3, a Wii exclusive, has only been out for about three months in Japan but it's already the top-selling third-party Wii game of all time. I won't break down the pros and cons (mostly cons) of the gameplay of Monster Hunter, but the fact that it's being heralded as the great Japanese breakthrough series of the 2000s should make MHP2G one of the games that defined our decade. But don't play it. You'll hate the series almost as much as I hate it, and it's consumed at least 100 hours of my life.