My homies over at Call of Podcast have put together their lists of the top 5 games of the aughts, which has inspired me to make a “top [arbitrary number of] games of the aughts” list of my own! So, here goes!
Honorable Mention: Earthbound: Although this game came out in 1995, I only finally got around to playing it a few years ago, and holy cow is it profound. Where, oh where, is the Virtual Console version, Nintendo??
20: Ninja Gaiden: Be precise, or be dead.
19: The Suffering: An excellent game built entirely from elements that sound terrible on their own.
18: Game Center CX / Retro Game Challenge: The best NES games that never were.
17: Psychonauts: I suspect that someone mis-typed “beacon” in the design doc, and they just decided to roll with it.
16: Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2: Ollie the bum.
15: Dark Cloud 2: The perfect game for the Diablo-fan / weapon-crafter / robot-builder / photographer / inventor / spell-caster / monster-catcher / coin-collector / fisher / fish-breeder / fish-racer / golfer / city-builder / time-traveller / train-engineer / realtor in your family!
14: Civilization Revolution: Communist America is the most productive country in the world.
13: Ico: Kufo! Kufo!
12: Professor Layton and the Curious Village: Over 100 of the sort of logic and picture puzzles I was obsessed with in elementary school + Miyazaki-style idealized interbellum Europe = deeeeelightful
11: Braid: A visual, auditory, technical, and level-design masterpiece. Just ignore the unrelated text about the developer mooning over his ex-girlfriend.
10: Rhythm Tengoku: NOT the DS one, this is the first game which was only released in Japan-land for the GBA, has all-different levels, and uses the GBA’s buttons rather than the DS game’s weird “flicking” mechanic which I felt was way too imprecise for a rhythm game. It saddens me that, now that Nintendo has completely abandoned the GBA, this will never see a US release. “Yo, wakarimasuka!”
9: The Orange Box: Half Life 2 convinced me that first-person-shooters have narrative potential. TF2 convinced me that multiplayer can be fun. Portal just plain convinced me. Listing The Orange Box lets me cheat and cram HL2, Portal, and TF2 all into one spot.
8: Shadow of the Colossus: Or “Shizzle of the Colizzle” as we call it in the hood.
7: Astro Boy: Omega Factor: Treasure’s best game of the aughts (which is saying a lot) and an excellent tribute to Osamu Tezuka’s HUGE body of work (which is also saying a lot).
6: Disgaea: The new benchmark for tactics games.
5: We ♥ Katamari: Save the pandas!
4: Rez: My drug of choice.
3: Fallout 3: All that “decisions you make have a lasting effect” bullshit that games have been claiming for years, except this one actually delivers.
2: Bioshock: Randian Objectivists are a whole lot scarier than run-of-the-mill zombies. Also, best video game setting and ambiance EVAR.
1: Bully: Proof positive that the GTA model works even better if nobody dies.
There ya go. Note that this list only includes games I’ve played; there are several games released over the last 10 years that I suspect would make it into the list if I’d played them, but I haven’t gotten around to them yet. I’m also sure that there are a few games that I’m totally forgetting about, and when I remember them I’ll say “oh crap! That game totally belongs at number 5!” so, this list is subject to a little bit of fluctuation. For the most part, though, them’s my favorite games of the last 10 years.