The Top Console Games Of All Time
Trying to identify the “best video games” of all time is essentially impossible. You can go by aggregate ratings from critics, or sales, but at the end of the day it’s still a haphazard exercise complicated by the fact that there are various completely different mediums in the industry. However, it’s still a fun exercise, and particularly if you narrow things down to one category of video games, you can at least come up with a respectable (if subjective) list.
With that in mind we’re taking a stab at identifying some of the very best console-based video games of all time. The list isn’t in order, nor is it meant to be all-inclusive – but it’s certainly a start for a very interesting debate.
Super Mario 64
Any number of Super Mario games could have been included here, and there are certainly some retro gaming fans who will look back on older games for the NES and SNES even more fondly than this one. Super Mario World certainly stands out; Super Mario RPG is a worthy dark horse; and spinoffs like Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. would also be excellent choices. But the mix of charm, nostalgia, inventiveness, and gameplay make Super Mario 64 a true classic.
The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time
IGN did a fascinating, exhaustive list of the top 100 video games of all time across various categories and mediums, and ranked this Zelda favorite second (behind Super Mario World, incidentally). It was the first 3D game in a series that was already beloved, and successfully took said series to new heights. Few if any games have matched its universal acclaim to this day.
Lengthy articles could be written (and no doubt have been) debating modern shooters in general. Even if you narrow things down to realistic ones (which is to say Call Of Duty before Fortnite or Doom), the debate would be lively. But for our money, the DICE instant classic Battlefield 1 is very tough to beat. Gorgeous, terrifying, multi-faceted, and even educational in its deep dives into World War 1, it’s the most complete modern shooter in existence.
Football gaming has evolved a great deal over the years. From old arcade games and goofy experiences like NFL Blitz, through Madden and its more realistic approach, to today’s apps and mini-games, it’s taken just about every form. One could even argue that the desire to gamify NFL fanhood was the driving force between the rise of fantasy and daily fantasy sports. Today, Fanduel’s betting platforms allow people to compete with pro rosters and place bets on games on a weekly basis, which is almost a video game unto itself. Smack in the middle of all of this development though – from early-‘90s arcades through daily fantasy – Madden 2004 was an absolute gem. It deepened the series’ tie to the NFL, set a new bar for offensive creativity, and ensured that Madden would become the dominant force it is today.
The whole paragraph above concerning the development of football gaming and the significance of Madden could be repeated here. The sport of soccer has seen innumerable video games over the years, and the genre is arguably more spread out than ever today. There are some brilliant mobile soccer games, and for that matter the same game-like fantasy and betting activities mentioned regarding football have also become popular among soccer gamers. The FIFA series has become the consistent gold standard in this genre, however, and FIFA 12 is viewed by many as the best of them all, in much the same way Madden 2004 stands out. Every installment in this series is wonderful, but it’s this one that really took it to the level it remains at today.
Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto III might have made this list once upon a time. It was the game that really established Rockstar’s mega-franchise in the console medium, and as such it set the stage for everything to come (including Red Dead Redemption). But now it’s safe to say that Grand Theft Auto V is simply better. Bigger, more beautiful, more inventive, and packed with fun DLC (which basically wasn’t a thing in the GTA III days), it’s a new flagship for the series, and one of the best games of all time.
Far Cry 4
Rankings of Far Cry games seem to list Far Cry 3 in the top spot almost universally. But we’re taking the follow-up. Both are tremendous games, and since they’re functionally identical in terms of gameplay and types of missions, we’ll take Far Cry 4 for its superior world. A hidden kingdom in the Himalayas made for a gorgeous and surprisingly cohesive game map, whereas Far Cry 3’s war-torn island paradise – while pretty – was a bit more monotone, and less navigable.
Final Fantasy VI
Final Fantasy is interesting in that it’s unquestionably one of the best series in gaming history, but no one game stands out the way, say, Grand Theft Auto V does. In recognition of the franchise in its totality though, it only feels right to include its best game – which we, and many others, believe to be Final Fantasy VI. Later games were much bigger and decidedly more modern in terms of visual quality. But where uniqueness and gameplay are concerned, it’s very hard to beat this steampunk-infused epic.
Developed by Blizzard (one of the top developers per a previous article here), Diablo III essentially set a new standard in dungeon-crawler and hack-and-slash gaming. Building on beloved games past (Diablo II actually scored better with some critics) but implementing improved looting and player advancement systems, it simply made for one of the best experiences the genre has ever offered. And given that it was also armed with more modern graphics, it becomes an instant favorite with a lot of fans.
Not much needs to be said about GoldenEye 007, which is certainly one of the most universally beloved games in history. It wasn’t the first of the first-person shooters (as some mistakenly claim), but it was the game that set the tone for the genre we know today. And even now, if you get your hands on a copy and a Nintendo 64 (or a good emulator), it’s surprisingly fun to play despite blocky, severely outdated graphics.
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