My increasingly adequate website

The best lists of the best games

This page collects what I esteem to be the best attempts at choosing a handful of games, out of the thousands released, that best represent what the medium is capable of. I will update it as I find more such lists.

Next Generation's "The Top 100 Videogames of All Time"

Next Generation was a video game magazine ahead of its time. It offered reasonably well-written reviews and previews of a wide range of games, but its feature stories, interviews, and news reporting were where it really shined. Then the internet came and drove all but the biggest games magazines to extinction, even though it was the big magazines like Gamepro that were virtually indistinguishable from all the sites publishing 'cheat codes' and press releases masquerading as previews. Only in the last few years have the mainstream print gaming publications (your Gamepros) bothered to try to do something different from the thousands of gaming websites they're competing with.

This list has always been my ideal best of list of any kind. It's comprehensive, it's thoughtful, and it seems to be genuine. Though the magazine cover hinted that the list was "extremely controversial," none of the picks stands out as unjustified. Strange? Sure. I don't know what else to call the inclusion of Gameday '95. But one can easily overlook these lapses in judgment since virtually every classic of the medium is afforded the recognition it deserves.

On to the boring details. This list is taken from "The Top 100 Videogames of All Time," which appeared on pages 36 through 71 in the September 1996 issue of Next Generation. As you can see, it was compiled before Wikipedia put all the world's trivial information at our fingertips. Accordingly, there are errors and inconsistencies in this list. Except for fixing misspelled titles, I've left the list as it appeared in 1996; some dates were grossly wrong, other games and series were (or weren't) given ranges of dates in ways that make little sense, while some games appeared on more platforms than the authors mentioned.

  1. Trinity, 1986. (PC.)
  2. NBA Jam series, 1993-1996. (Arcade, Multiple.)
  3. R-Type, 1987. (TurboGrafx-16.)
  4. Space Invaders, 1978. (Arcade.)
  5. Galaga, 1981. (Arcade.)
  6. Strike series, 1992-1996. (Genesis, SNES, Playstation.)
  7. Rave Racer, 1995. (Arcade.)
  8. Burning Force, 1991. (Genesis.)
  9. Hard Hat Mac, 1982. (PC.)
  10. Resident Evil, 1986. (Playstation.)
  11. Xevious, 1982. (Arcade.)
  12. Summer Games, Winter Games, 1983. (Multiple.)
  13. Knight Lore, 1982. (Sinclair Spectrum.)
  14. Discs of Tron, 1983. (Arcade.)
  15. Jumping Flash, 1995. (Playstation.)
  16. Leisure Suit Larry series, 1987-1996. (PCs.)
  17. Centipede, 1981. (Arcade.)
  18. Joust, 1982. (Arcade, Playstation)
  19. Virtua Cop series, 1994-1996. (Arcade, Saturn.)
  20. River Raid, 1982. (Atari 2600.)
  21. Falcon Gold, 1994. (PC.)
  22. King's Quest series, 1984-1994. (PC.)
  23. Track and Field series, 1981-1996. (Arcade, Playstation.)
  24. Shining Force series, 1993. (Genesis, Sega CD.)
  25. NBA Live '96, 1995. (Genesis.)
  26. Balance of Power, 1985. (PCs.)
  27. Tempest, 1981. (Arcade.)
  28. AH64-D Longbow, 1996. (PC.)
  29. Phantasy Star series, 1988-1996. (Master System, Genesis.)
  30. FIFA Soccer, 1994. (Genesis, 3DO.)
  31. Metroid series, 1989. (NES, SNES.)
  32. Links, 1991. (PC.)
  33. Pong, 1972. (Multiple.)
  34. F/A-18 Hornet 2.0, 1995. (Mac.)
  35. A Mind Forever Voyaging, 1985. (PC.)
  36. Bump 'n' Jump, 1983. (Arcade.)
  37. Zelda series, 1987-1994. (NES, SNES.)
  38. Robotron, 1982. (Playstation.)
  39. Bard's Tale series, 1983-1988. (PCs.)
  40. Ikari Warriors, 1986. (Arcade.)
  41. Wizardry series, 1981-1996. (PC.)
  42. Super Sprint, 1986. (Arcade.)
  43. Star Wars Arcade, 1983. (Arcade.)
  44. Sega Rally, 1995. (Arcade, Saturn.)
  45. Dragon Warrior series, 1987-1995. (NES, SNES.)
  46. Ultima series, 1980-1996. (PC.)
  47. Mechwarrior 2, 1995. (PC, Mac.)
  48. Sentinel, 1988. (PCs.)
  49. Spaceward Ho!, 1986. (PC, Mac.)
  50. Panzer General, 1994. (PC, Playstation, 3DO.)
  51. Donkey Kong, 1981. (Arcade, Coleco ADAM, Atari 7800.)
  52. Command and Conquer, 1995. (PC.)
  53. World Series Baseball, 1995. (Saturn.)
  54. Worldwide Soccer 2, 1996. (Saturn.)
  55. Formula One Grand Prix 2, 1996. (PC.)
  56. Outrun, 1986. (Arcade.)
  57. Spectre VR, 1993. (Mac.)
  58. Rolling Thunder, 1987. (Arcade.)
  59. EF2000, 1995. (PC.)
  60. "Snake Game", unknown. (Multiple.)
  61. NHL Powerplay, 1996. (Playstation, Saturn.)
  62. Asteroids, 1979. (Arcade.)
  63. Zork series, 1980-1989. (PC.)
  64. Super Mario Kart, 1992. (SNES.)
  65. Rescue Raiders (aka Armor Alley), 1984. (Apple II, Mac.)
  66. Duke Nukem 3D, 1996. (PC.)
  67. Nobunaga's Ambition series, 1988. (PC, NES, SNES.)
  68. Sim City 2000, 1989-1995. (PC, Mac.)
  69. Wipeout XL, 1996. (Playstation.)
  70. Herzog Zwei, 1991. (Genesis.)
  71. Madden Football series, 1991-1996. (Genesis.)
  72. Syndicate, 1993. (PC, Genesis.)
  73. NFL Gameday, 1995. (Playstation.)
  74. Sam and Max Hit the Road, 1993. (PC, Mac.)
  75. X-COM: UFO Defense, 1994. (PC.)
  76. Nights, 1996. (Saturn.)
  77. Lurking Horror, 1987. (PC.)
  78. X-Wing/TIE Fighter, 1994. (PC, Mac.)
  79. Tekken II, 1996. (Playstation.)
  80. Daytona USA, 1994. (Arcade.)
  81. Sonic series, 1991-1995. (Genesis.)
  82. Doom series, 1993. (Multiple.)
  83. Micro Machines, 1991. (Multiple.)
  84. Final Fantasy series, 1987-1995. (NES, SNES.)
  85. Populous series, 1987-1992. (PCs, Genesis.)
  86. Marble Madness, 1984. (Arcade.)
  87. Elite, 1872. (BBC Micro, Commodore 64.)
  88. Defender, 1981. (Arcade.)
  89. Ms. Pac-Man, 1981. (Arcade.)
  90. Virtua Racing, 1992. (Arcade, 32X, Saturn.)
  91. Warcraft II, 1995. (PC.)
  92. Quake, 1996. (PC.)
  93. Street Fighter II series, 1991. (Multiple.)
  94. Lemmings, 1992. (Multiple.)
  95. Virtua Fighter 2, 1994. (Saturn, Arcade.)
  96. Mario series, 1985-1991. (NES, SNES.)
  97. Civilization series, 1994-1996. (PC.)
  98. Super Bomberman 2, 1994. (SNES.)
  99. Tetris, 1987. (Multiple.)
  100. Mario 64, 1996. (Nintendo 64.)

Computer Gaming World's "150 Best Games of All Time"

Though I'm only familiar with the publication's last few declining years, I feel confident in saying that Computer Gaming World stands alongside Next Generation as one of the classiest American gaming publications. As such, anything it publishes has to be taken seriously, and lists are no exception.

In fact, this particular list is especially important since it belongs to a time when the gaming press had long memories and dared to have eclectic tastes. It's hard to imagine any list today, even one compiled by PC gamers, including eight SSI games or any PC game from the 1980s for that matter.

This list is shamelessly copied from a list on the website of a retailer called CD Access, who in turn shamelessly copied it from the November 1996 issue of Computer Gaming World. See that page for blurbs about selected games.

  1. StarFleet I, 1985.
  2. Courtside College Basketball, 1984.
  3. Tigers on the Prowl, 1994.
  4. Sword of Fargoal, 1992.
  5. Shanghai, 1986.
  6. Kasparov's Gambit, 1993.
  7. Ultima III, 1983.
  8. Typhoon of Steel, 1987.
  9. Blue Max, 1983.
  10. Master of Magic, 1994.
  11. Crystal Caliburn, 1993.
  12. Mean Streats, 1989.
  13. Arctic Fox, 1986.
  14. Magic Carpet, 1994.
  15. Dark Castle, 1986.
  16. NukeWar, 1983.
  17. I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, 1995.
  18. Heroes of Might and Magic, 1995.
  19. Lexi-Cross, 1991.
  20. President Elect, 1981.
  21. Ogre, 1986.
  22. MiG Alley Ace, 1984.
  23. Tony LaRussa 3, 1995.
  24. Star Control, 1992.
  25. War in Russia, 1994.
  26. Warcraft, 1994.
  27. Deathtrack, 1989.
  28. Descent II, 1996.
  29. Indianapolis 500, 1989.
  30. Virtua Fighter PC, 1996.
  31. Trinity, 1986.
  32. Pinball Dreams, 1990.
  33. Fighter Duel Pro 2, 1993.
  34. Beach Head, 1983.
  35. Castle Wolfenstein, 1981.
  36. BattleGround: Waterloo, 1996.
  37. Jagged Alliance, 1995.
  38. Monopoly, 1995.
  39. TV Sports: Football, 1987.
  40. Wayne Gretzky Hockey, 1989.
  41. Operation Crusader, 1994.
  42. Pacific War, 1992.
  43. Neuromancer, 1988.
  44. Perfect General, 1989.
  45. Battle Chess, 1988.
  46. Crusaders of the Dark Savant, 1987.
  47. Deadline, 1982.
  48. Eric the Unready, 1992.
  49. Gunship, 1989.
  50. Kampfgruppe, 1985.
  51. AH-64D Longbow, 1996.
  52. Under a Killing Moon, 1993.
  53. System Shock, 1994.
  54. Wolfenstein 3D, 1992.
  55. Star Trek: Judgement Rites, 1994.
  56. Sam and Max Hit the Road, 1993.
  57. King's Quest V, 1990.
  58. Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, 1993.
  59. Defender of the Crown, 1986.
  60. Battles of Napoleon, 1985.
  61. Carriers at War, 1992.
  62. Bard's Tale, 1985.
  63. Alone in the Dark, 1992.
  64. F/A-18 Interceptor, 1987.
  65. Silent Service, 1985.
  66. Robot War, 1981.
  67. Prince of Persia, 1990.
  68. Rise of the Dragon, 1990.
  69. Rescue at Fractalus, 1987.
  70. Loom, 1992.
  71. Lode Runner, 1983.
  72. Flight Simulator II, 1984.
  73. Balance of Power, 1983.
  74. Warlords II, 1993.
  75. Shadow of the Beast, 1989.
  76. You Don't Know Jack, 1995.
  77. Secret of Monkey Island II, 1990.
  78. Quest for Glory, 1987.
  79. Solitaire's Journey, 1992.
  80. Aces of the Deep, 1994.
  81. Dune 2, 1992.
  82. Leisure Suit Larry, 1988.
  83. Ultima Underworld, 1992.
  84. Syndicate, 1993.
  85. World Circuit, 1992.
  86. Wings, 1991.
  87. Marathon, 1994.
  88. Faery Tale Adventure, 19xx.
  89. Incredible Machine, 1993.
  90. Seven Cities of Gold, 1983.
  91. EF2000, 1995.
  92. Gettysburg, 1986.
  93. Suspended, 1983.
  94. NBA Live, 1994.
  95. TIE Fighter, 1994.
  96. Starflight, 1986.
  97. Wing Commander III, 1994.
  98. Steep Panthers, 1995.
  99. F-19 Stealth Fighter, 1988.
  100. Reach for the Stars, 1984.
  101. Pinball Construction Set, 1983.
  102. Dungeon Master, 1987.
  103. Command and Conquer, 1995.
  104. Aces of the Pacific, 1992.
  105. Chessmaster, 1986.
  106. Rocket Ranger, 1988.
  107. Ultima VI, 1990.
  108. Betrayal at Krondor, 1993.
  109. Hitchhiker's Guide, 1985.
  110. Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon, 1990.
  111. Harpoon, 1989.
  112. Red Storm Rising, 1989.
  113. Crusader: No Remorse, 1995.
  114. Duke Nukem 3D, 1995.
  115. Quake, 1996.
  116. Chuck Yeager's Air Combat, 1989.
  117. Day of the Tentacle, 1993.
  118. Master of Orion, 1993.
  119. M-1 Tank Platoon, 1989.
  120. NASCAR Racing, 1994.
  121. Populous, 1988.
  122. Star Control 2, 1994.
  123. Warcraft II, 1995.
  124. MechWarrior 2, 1995.
  125. Links 386, 1992.
  126. Earl Weaver Baseball, 1986.
  127. Raid on Bungeling Bay, 1984.
  128. Might and Magic, 1987.
  129. X-COM, 1994.
  130. Their Finest Hour, 1984.
  131. Archon, 1984.
  132. Secret of Monkey Island, 1989.
  133. Sid Meier's Pirates!, 1987.
  134. Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within, 1996.
  135. Wizardry, 1981.
  136. Panzer General, 1994.
  137. Tetris, 1988.
  138. Zork, 1981.
  139. Lemmings, 1991.
  140. FPS Football 1995, 1994.
  141. Falcon 3.0, 1991.
  142. Wasteland, 1987.
  143. Empire, 1978.
  144. Wing Commander, 1990.
  145. Sim City, 1987.
  146. Doom, 1993.
  147. Red Baron, 1990.
  148. Mule, 1983.
  149. Ultima IV, 1984.
  150. Civilization, 1993.

Adventure Gamers's "The Top 100 All-Time Adventure Games"

This handy list of the best adventure games -- a genre I am increasingly fond of -- has lots of insightful commentary. It comes from the excellent AdventureGamers.com site. Unlike the other lists on this page, this list is here not so much because I agree with it but because it's handy as a guide to the genre for newcomers (like me).

  1. Titanic: Adventure Out of Time, 1996.
  2. Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor, 2004.
  3. The Space Bar, 1997.
  4. Runaway: A Twist of Fate, 2009.
  5. Gold Rush!, 1988.
  6. Ripley's Believe it or Not!: The Riddle of Master Lu, 1995.
  7. Faust: The Seven Games of the Soul, 2000.
  8. Toonstruck, 1996.
  9. The Dig, 1995.
  10. The Feeble Files, 1997.
  11. Spycraft: The Great Game, 1996.
  12. The Journeyman Project 2: Buried in Time, 1995.
  13. Simon the Sorcerer II: The Lion, the Wizard and the Wardrobe, 1995.
  14. Penumbra: Black Plague, 2008.
  15. Dark Fall, 2002.
  16. The Dark Eye, 1995.
  17. Colonel's Bequest: A Laura Bow Mystery, 1989.
  18. The Black Mirror, 2003.
  19. The 7th Guest, 1993.
  20. Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire, 1990.
  21. Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened, 2006.
  22. Gemini Rue, 2011.
  23. Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist, 1993.
  24. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, 2009.
  25. Drawn: The Painted Tower, 2009.
  26. King's Quest: Quest for the Crown, 1983.
  27. Shadow of the Comet, 1993.
  28. Discworld II, 1996.
  29. Maniac Mansion, 1987.
  30. Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail!, 1997.
  31. Amber: Journey's Beyond, 1996.
  32. I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, 1995.
  33. Shadow of Destiny, 2001.
  34. Pepper's Adventures in Time, 1993.
  35. Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, 1997.
  36. Hotel Dusk: Room 215, 2007.
  37. The Book of Unwritten Tales, 2011.
  38. Black Dahlia, 1998.
  39. Obsidian, 1997.
  40. Loom, 1990.
  41. Another Code, 2005.
  42. Myst III: Exile, 2001.
  43. Star Trek: Judgment Rites, 1993.
  44. Fahrenheit, 2005.
  45. In Memoriam, 2003.
  46. Syberia II, 2004.
  47. Samorost 2, 2004.
  48. Return to Mysterious Island, 2004.
  49. Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, 2006.
  50. Zork Nemesis, 1996.
  51. Infocom text adventures, 1980s.
  52. Sam and Max: Beyond Time and Space, 2007-2008.
  53. Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers, 1991.
  54. Professor Layton and the Curious Village, 2008.
  55. The Journeyman Project 3: Legacy of Time, 1998.
  56. The Curse of Monkey Island, 1997.
  57. Simon the Sorcerer, 1993.
  58. John Saul's Blackstone Chronicles, 1998.
  59. Conquests of the Longbow: The Legend of Robin Hood, 1991.
  60. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, 2011.
  61. Myst IV: Revelation, 2004.
  62. Last Window: The Secret of Cape West, 2010.
  63. Full Throttle, 1995.
  64. Stacking, 2011.
  65. Sanitarium, 1998.
  66. The Neverhood, 1996.
  67. Amnesia: The Dark Descent, 2010.
  68. L.A. Noire, 2011.
  69. Gabriel Knight: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned, 1999.
  70. Portal, 2007.
  71. Bad Mojo, 1995.
  72. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, 2001.
  73. Sam and Max Hit the Road, 1993.
  74. Discworld Noir, 1999.
  75. Heavy Rain, 2009.
  76. Tex Murphy: Under a Killing Moon, 1994.
  77. Police Quest 2: The Vengeance, 1988.
  78. Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness, 1993.
  79. The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Serrated Scalpel, 1992.
  80. Blade Runner, 1997.
  81. Still Life, 2005.
  82. Beneath a Steel Sky, 1994.
  83. Myst, 1993.
  84. Machinarium, 2009.
  85. Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, 1993.
  86. Syberia, 2002.
  87. The Secret of Monkey Island, 1990.
  88. King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, 1992.
  89. Zork: Grand Inquisitor, 1997.
  90. Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, 1992.
  91. Portal 2, 2011.
  92. Tex Murphy: The Pandora Directive, 1996.
  93. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, 1991.
  94. The Last Express, 1997.
  95. Day of the Tentacle, 1993.
  96. Riven, 1997.
  97. Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars, 1996.
  98. Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within, 1995.
  99. The Longest Journey, 1999.
  100. Grim Fandango, 1998.