Super Metroid

The Best Video Games in the History of Humanity

Over the years, many gaming magazines and websites have churned out a ton of ranked lists as part of an ongoing attempt to comprehensively document the top 10 (or top 100, or 200, or whatever) video games of all time. This page aims to offer a summary of some of the leading Top 10s, as excerpted from various Top 100 (and up) lists.

I have tried to be as diverse and inclusive as possible in my selection of lists, and have used only the basic criteria that the lists must:

Some lists will inevitably appear more credible than others, but my intent was quantity more than quality. By assembling a collection of lists that was as vast as possible, I was hoping to see if there appears to be any consensus as to what games truly are history's best. My findings come at the end.

PLATFORMS:
Pers. Computer (PC) Arcade NES
Super Nintendo PlayStation Nintendo 64
Genesis Dreamcast Sega Saturn
GameCube PlayStation 2 Xbox / Xbox 360
Nintendo Wii Game Boy / Advance Sega Master Sys.
PlayStation 3 Nintendo DS Multiple

(Grey games appeared on multiple platforms)

Note: As the years progress, games tend to appear on more and more systems. For example, today you can play Super Mario Bros. on Game Boy Advance, and Ocarina of Time on the Wii. In the interest of preserving each game's original "flavor," whenever possible I have identified games on the basis of which platform they were primarily designed for. Games that were actively intended to be on multiple platforms at the time of their original debut are the ones that get the "multiple" status. I use English names for games, but usually Japanese release dates.

Online games like Texas Hold'em, Omaha, and Hi-Lo poker are all popular versions of the most popular online card game, and they are all available to play at Lock Poker.

A brief warning about controversies ahead!

Obviously, what makes these lists fun is their inherently controversial nature. Every list will contain some outrageous  inclusions and exclusions, and almost all will provoke argument. However, some lists below are very clearly biased, and have generated controversy of a different sort.

In an ongoing outrage to many, I have chosen to include the occasional list that only includes games published on Nintendo-brand hardware platforms, and the occasional list that only includes games playable on the PC. I have not, however, included Sega, Microsoft, or Sony lists of a similar limitation.

My logic was thus: Nintendo systems and the personal computer are the two longest-reigning gaming platforms in existence, having occupied a dominant chunk of the marketplace since at least the mid-1980s. While such lists will doubtlessly be biased and exclusionary, I'm not convinced that that the bias of their exclusion is so extreme as to cancel out the historical opportunity presented by their inclusion. In other words, I believe this page is better able to recognize great games from the 1980s through early 1990s by including these lists, and an ample historic record of greatness is one of the main goals of this site.

THE LISTS

Always updating lists:

Unikgamer (as of February 2012)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
2 Mass Effect 2 BioWare 2010
3 Half-Life 2 Valve 2004
4 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997
5 Fallout 3 Bethesda 2008
6 Mass Effect BioWare 2007
7 Metal Gear Solid Konami 1998
8 Portal Valve 2007
9 Chrono Trigger Squaresoft 1995
10 Uncharted 2: Among Theives Naughty Dog 2009

GameRankings.com (as of February 2012)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
2 Super Mario Galaxy Nintendo 2007
3 Super Mario Galaxy 2 Nintendo 2010
4 Grand Theft Auto IV Rockstar Games 2008
5 SoulCalibur Namco 1998
6 Uncharted 2: Among Theives Naughty Dog 2009
7 Metroid Prime Nintendo 2002
8 Tekken 3 Namco 1998
9 Batman: Arkham City Rocksteady Studios 2011
10 Resident Evil 4 Capcom 2005

Note: "The Orange Box," which was ranked in 9th and 11th place was not counted, as it is actually three distinct games, packaged together, nor was Grand Theft Auto IV (X360) in 10th place, since the PS3 version is already in 4th place.

Static lists:

53. PC Gamer (2012)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Portal Valve 2007
2 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Bethesda 2011
3 Team Fortress 2 Valve 2010
4 Fallout 3 Bethesda 2008
5 Dragon Age: Orgins BioWare 2009
6 World of Warcraft Blizzard 2004
7 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Bethesda 2006
8 ArmA II Bohemia 2009
9 Civilization IV Firaxis Games 2005
10 StarCraft II Blizzard 2010

52. Games Radar (2011)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Portal Valve 2007
2 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
3 Chrono Trigger Squaresoft 1995
4 Grand Theft Auto IV Rockstar Games 2008
5 Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Nintendo 2003
6 Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo 1990
7 Shadow of the Colossus Bluepoint 2005
8 Half-Life 2 Valve 2004
9 Super Metroid Nintendo 1994
10 Mass Effect 2 BioWare 2010

51. Slogan Yams (2011)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
2 Super Mario World Nintendo 1991
3 Super Mario Galaxy 2 Nintendo 2010
4 Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo 1990
5 Chrono Trigger Squaresoft 1995
6 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997
7 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
8 Super Mario Galaxy Nintendo 2007
9 Super Smash Bros. Brawl Nintendo 2008
10 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992

50. The Best 100 Lists (2011)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
2 Halo: Combat Evolved Bungie Studios 2001
3 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Activision 2007
4 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
5 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997
6 Super Mario Bros. Nintendo 1985
7 Halo 3 Bungie Studios 2007
8 Grand Theft Auto IV Rockstar Games 2008
9 BioShock 2K Games 2007
10 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997

49. Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition (2009)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Super Mario Kart Nintendo 1992
2 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
3 Grand Theft Auto Rockstar Games 1997
4 Super Mario World Nintendo 1991
5 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
6 Halo: Combat Evolved Bungie Studios 2001
7 Resident Evil 4 Capcom 2005
8 Final Fantasy XII Squaresoft 2006
9 Street Fighter II Capcom 1991
10 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997

48. FHM (2009)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
2 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Activision 2007
3 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
4 Fallout 3 Bethesda 2008
5 Super Mario Kart Nintendo 1992
6 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997
7 Super Mario Galaxy Nintendo 2007
8 Star Wars: TIE Fighter LucasArts 1995
9 Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Ubisoft 2005
10 The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening Nintendo 1993

47. Action Button (2009)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Out of This World Interplay 1991
2 Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo 1990
3 Half-Life 2 Valve 2004
4 Mother 3 Nintendo 2005
5 Pac-Man: Championship Edition Namco 2007
6 Gears of War Epic 2006
7 Street Fighter III: Third Strike Capcom 1999
8 Cave Story Pixel Studios 2004
9 Chrono Trigger Squaresoft 1995
10 Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Nintendo 2004

46. Game Informer magazine (2009)
issue 200

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda Nintendo 1986
2 Super Mario Bros. Nintendo 1985
3 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
4 Grand Theft Auto III Rockstar Games 2001
5 Half-Life 2 Valve 2004
6 DOOM id / GT Interactive 1993
7 Metroid Nintendo 1986
8 Final Fantasy III (IV) Squaresoft 1994
9 Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo 1990
10 Ms. Pac-Man Namco 1981

Note: This is Game Informer's second list, they also made one in 2001 (included below).

45. Empire Magazine (2009)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Super Mario World Nintendo 1991
2 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997
3 World of Warcraft Blizzard 2004
4 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Activision 2007
5 Sid Meier's Civilization Microprose 1991
6 Street Fighter II Capcom 1991
7 DOOM id / GT Interactive 1993
8 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
9 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
10 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997

44. Edge Magazine (2009)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
2 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
3 Half-Life 2 Valve 2004
4 Resident Evil 4 Capcom 2005
5 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992
6 Super Mario World Nintendo 1991
7 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
8 Super Mario Galaxy Nintendo 2007
9 Halo 3 Bungie Studios 2007
10 Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island Nintendo 1995

43. Official Nintendo Magazine [UK] (2009)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Super Mario Bros. Nintendo 1985
2 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
3 Super Mario Galaxy Nintendo 2007
4 Mario Kart Wii Nintendo 2007
5 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
6 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
7 Super Mario World Nintendo 1991
8 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992
9 Resident Evil 4 Capcom 2005
10 Street Fighter II Capcom 1991

42. VGChartz (2009)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
2 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997
3 Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo 1990
4 Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Konami 2008
5 Super Mario Galaxy Nintendo 2007
6 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
7 Resident Evil 4 Capcom 2005
8 Final Fantasy III (IV) Squaresoft 1994
9 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992
10 Super Mario World Nintendo 1991

41. Gamer.Blorge (2008)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Konami 2008
2 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
3 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997
4 Halo 3 Bungie Studios 2007
5 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Activision 2007
6 Grand Theft Auto IV Rockstar Games 2008
7 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997
8 Metal Gear Solid Konami 1998
9 Gears of War Epic 2006
10 Final Fantasy X Squaresoft 2001

40. IGN Readers' Poll (2008)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
2 Chrono Trigger Squaresoft 1995
3 SoulCalibur Namco 1998
4 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992
5 Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Nintendo 2004
6 Super Metroid Nintendo 1994
7 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997
8 Metal Gear Solid Konami 1998
9 Resident Evil 4 Capcom 2005
10 Shenmue II Sega 2001

39. GAME.co.uk poll (2008)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Activision 2007
2 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
3 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997
4 Grand Theft Auto IV Rockstar Games 2008
5 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
6 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997
7 Halo 3 Bungie Studios 2007
8 Metal Gear Solid Konami 1998
9 Half-Life 2 Valve 2004
10 Gears of War Epic 2006

38. Stuff magazine (2008)
October issue

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Half-Life 2 Valve 2004
2 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
3 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997
4 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997
5 Super Mario World Nintendo 1991
6 Elite Acornsoft 1984
7 Sonic the Hedgehog Sega 1991
8 DOOM id / GT Interactive 1993
9 Grand Theft Auto III Rockstar Games 2001
10 Turrican 2 Amiga 1991

37. Entertainment Weekly magazine (2008)
Issue 1,000

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
2 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
3 DOOM id / GT Interactive 1993
4 Super Mario World Nintendo 1991
5 Guitar Hero Harmonix 2005
6 Street Fighter II Capcom 1991
7 Super Mario Kart Nintendo 1992
8 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997
9 Grand Theft Auto IV Rockstar Games 2008
10 Metal Gear Solid Konami 1998

36. Retro Remakes (2007)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Elite Acornsoft 1984
2 DOOM id / GT Interactive 1993
3 Half-Life Valve / Sierra 1998
4 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
5 Cave Story Pixel Studios 2004
6 R-Type Activision 1989
7 Super Mario World Nintendo 1991
8 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997
9 Half-Life 2 Valve 2004
10 StarCraft Blizzard 1998

Note: Reader's poll

35. Edge Magazine (2007)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
2 Resident Evil 4 Capcom 2005
3 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
4 Half-Life 2 Valve 2004
5 Super Mario World Nintendo 1991
6 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992
7 Halo: Combat Evolved Bungie Studios 2001
8 Final Fantasy XII Squaresoft 2006
9 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
10 Super Metroid Nintendo 1994

Note: List was printed in special issue entitled "Edge presents The 100 Best Videogames," and included Edge's 2000 list (see below).

34. IGN.com (2007)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Super Mario Bros. Nintendo 1985
2 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
3 Civilization II Microprose 1996
4 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
5 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
6 Half-Life 2 Valve 2004
7 Super Metroid Nintendo 1994
8 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992
9 Final Fantasy III (IV) Squaresoft 1994
10 Resident Evil 4 Capcom 2005

33. Computer and Video Games (2007)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Deus Ex Ion Storm 2000
2 Half-Life 2 Valve 2004
3 Civilization IV Firaxis Games 2005
4 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Bethesda Softworks 2002
5 Half-Life Valve / Sierra 1998
6 Rome: Total War Activision 2004
7 System Shock 2 Irrational Games 1999
8 DOOM id / GT Interactive 1993
9 Battlefield 2 Electronic Arts 2005
10 The Secret of Monkey Island LucasArts 1990

Note: List limited to "best PC games."

32. GameTrailers.com (2006)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
2 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
3 Street Fighter II Capcom 1991
4 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
Super Mario World Nintendo 1991
5 Tecmo Bowl Nintendo 1987
6 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997
7 Grand Theft Auto III Rockstar Games 2001
8 Metal Gear Solid Konami 1998
9 Halo: Combat Evolved Bungie Studios 2001
10 Resident Evil 4 Capcom 2005

Note: GameTrailers picked two Mario games tied for fourth place.

31. Yahoo! UK & Ireland Games (2006)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
2 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
3 Pokémon Nintendo 1995
4 Pro Evolution Soccer 4 Konami 2004
5 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
6 Monkey Island 2 LucasArts 1990
7 Super Mario Kart Nintendo 1992
8 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997
9 Street Fighter II Capcom 1991
10 Elite Acornsoft 1984

30. Famitsu readers' poll (2006)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Final Fantasy X Squaresoft 2001
2 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997
3 Dragon Warrior III Enix 1988
4 Dragon Warrior VIII Enix 2004
5 Machi Chunsoft 1998
8 Final Fantasy II (IV) Squaresoft 1991
7 Tactics Ogre Quest 1997
6 Final Fantasy III (Japan) Nintendo 1990
9 Dragon Warrior VII Enix 2000
10 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998

Note: Famitsu is a Japanese magazine.

29. IGN Readers' Poll (2006)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
2 Chrono Trigger Squaresoft 1995
3 Resident Evil 4 Capcom 2005
4 Super Metroid Nintendo 1994
5 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992
6 SoulCalibur Namco 1998
7 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997
8 Final Fantasy III (IV) Squaresoft 1994
9 Metal Gear Solid Konami 1998
10 Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Konami 2004

Note: This is IGN's third reader's poll. They also did a poll in 2008 (included above) and 2005 (included below), as well as editor's choice lists in 2007, (see above) 2005 and 2003 (also listed below).

28. Nintendo Power (2006)
issue 200

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
2 Resident Evil 4 Capcom 2005
3 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992
4 Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Nintendo 2003
5 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
6 Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo 1990
7 Legend of Zelda Nintendo 1986
8 Super Mario World Nintendo 1991
9 Super Mario Bros. Nintendo 1985
10 Metroid Prime Nintendo 2002

Note: This is Nintendo Power's second list. They also made a list in 1997 (included below).

27. Electronic Gaming Monthly (2005)
issue 200

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Super Mario Bros. Nintendo 1985
2 Pac-Man Namco 1980
3 Street Fighter II Capcom 1991
4 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
5 Legend of Zelda Nintendo 1986
6 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
7 Space Invaders Taito 1978
8 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
9 Grand Theft Auto III Rockstar Games 2001
10 Pong Atari 1972

Note: This is EGM's third list. They also made a list in 2002 and 1997 (included below). This list included the caveat "of their time."

26. GamePro magazine (2005)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Resident Evil 4 Capcom 2005
2 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997
3 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997
4 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
5 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
6 Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo 1990
7 Street Fighter II Capcom 1991
8 Metal Gear Solid Konami 1998
9 Halo 2 Bundie Studios 2004
10 Super Smash Bros. Melee Nintendo 2001

25. The Jaded Gamer (2005)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Super Metroid Nintendo 1994
2 Mega Man 2 Capcom 1989
3 Katamari Damacy Namco 2004
4 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992
5 Final Fantasy III (IV) Squaresoft 1994
6 Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo 1990
7 Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Konami 1997
8 Pirates! Microprose
1987
9 Civilization II Microprose 1996
10 Baldur's Gate Interplay 1998

24. GameFAQs reader's poll (2005)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997
2 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
3 Chrono Trigger Squaresoft 1995
4 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992
5 Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo 1990
6 Super Smash Bros. Melee Nintendo 2001
7 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997
8 Metal Gear Solid Konami 1998
9 Halo 2 Bundie Studios 2004
10 Final Fantasy III (IV) Squaresoft 1994

23. IGN.com (2005)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Super Mario Bros. Nintendo 1985
2 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
3 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
4 Civilization II Microprose 1996
5 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
6 Pirates! Microprose
1987
7 StarCraft Blizzard 1998
8 Street Fighter II Capcom 1991
9 Star Wars: TIE Fighter LucasArts 1995
10 Super Metroid Nintendo 1994

Note: This is IGN's second list. They also made a list in 2003 (included below).

22. IGN readers' poll (2005)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Resident Evil 4 Capcom 2005
2 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
3 Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Ubisoft 2005
4 Chrono Trigger Squaresoft 1995
5 Half-Life 2 Valve 2004
6 God of War Sony 2005
7 Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Konami 2004
8 SoulCalibur Namco 1998
9 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Rockstar Games 2004
10 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992

21. PALGN (2005)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
2 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997
3 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997
4 Resident Evil 4 Capcom 2005
5 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
6 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Rockstar Games 2004
7 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
8 Metal Gear Solid Konami 1998
9 Half-Life 2 Valve 2004
10 Burnout 3: Takedown Electronic Arts 2004

20. The Age newspaper / LiveWire (2005)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 The Sims 2 Maxis 2005
2 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
3 Half-Life 2 Valve 2004
4 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
5 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Rockstar Games 2004
6 Halo 2 Bundie Studios 2004
7 Gran Turismo 4 Polyphony Digital 2005
8 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997
9 Ico Sony 2001
10 Metal Gear Solid Konami 1998

19. Retro Gamer magazine (2004)*
issue 9

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Elite Acornsoft 1984
2 Super Mario World Nintendo 1991
3 Manic Miner Bug-Byte 1983
4 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997
5 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
6 Space Invaders Taito 1978
7 Jet Set Willy Software 1984
8 Sensible Software Soccer Sensible Software 1992
9 DOOM id / GT Interactive 1993
10 Pac-Man Namco 1980

* Retro Gamer Issue 1 also featured a "Top 100" list, though this one was actually 10 distinct "Top 10" lists segregated by platform.

18. IGN.com (2003)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Super Mario Bros. Nintendo 1985
2 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
3 Super Metroid Nintendo 1994
4 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
5 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
6 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992
7 StarCraft Blizzard 1998
8 X-COM: UFO Defense Mythos Games 1994
9 Final Fantasy II (IV) Squaresoft 1991
10 Street Fighter II Capcom 1991

17. Entertainment Weekly / GF (2003)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992
2 DOOM id / GT Interactive 1993
3 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
4 Grand Theft Auto III Rockstar Games 2001
5 Madden NFL 2003 Electronic Arts 2002
6 Half-Life Valve / Sierra 1998
7 The Sims Maxis 2000
8 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
9 StarCraft Blizzard 1998
10 Street Fighter II Capcom 1991

Note: Number 9 on this list was actually "Warcraft / StarCraft" which is kind of cheating since they are two different games.

16. The DORK Club (2003)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Super Metroid Nintendo 1994
2 Chrono Trigger Squaresoft 1995
3 Metal Gear Solid Konami 1998
4 Final Fantasy III (IV) Squaresoft 1994
5 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997
6 Half-Life Valve / Sierra 1998
7 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
8 Super Smash Bros. Melee Nintendo 2001
9 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
10 EarthBound Nintendo 1995

15. Electronic Gaming Monthly (2002)
issue 150

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Super Metroid Nintendo 1994
2 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
3 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992
4 Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Konami 1997
5 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
6 SoulCalibur Namco 1998
7 Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask Nintendo 2000
8 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
9 Final Fantasy III (IV) Squaresoft 1994
10 Super Mario World Nintendo 1991

Note: This is EGM's second list. They also made a list in 1997 (included below).

14. GameSpy.com (2001)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 DOOM id / GT Interactive 1993
2 Half-Life Valve / Sierra 1998
3 Warcraft II Blizzard 1995
4 Sid Meier's Civilization Microprose 1991
5 Quake id / GT Interactive 1996
6 Diablo Blizzard 1996
7 Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar Origin 1985
8 Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss Origin / Blue Sky 1992
9 StarCraft Blizzard 1998
10 Legend of Zelda Nintendo 1986

13. Game Informer magazine (2001)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda Nintendo 1986
2 Super Mario Bros. Nintendo 1985
3 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
4 Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 Activision 2000
5 DOOM id / GT Interactive 1993
6 Metroid Nintendo 1986
7 Final Fantasy III (IV) Squaresoft 1994
8 Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo 1990
9 Ms. Pac-Man Namco 1981
10 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997

12. GameSpot (2001)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997
2 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
3 Resident Evil Capcom 1996
4 Virtua Racing Sega 1992
5 Street Fighter II Capcom 1991
6 Dragon Warrior Enix 1986
7 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
8 Legend of Zelda Nintendo 1986
9 Double Dragon Taito 1987
10 Commando Capcom 1985

Note: List was formally "most influential" games of all time.

11.GameSpot (2000)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Quake id / GT Interactive 1996
2 DOOM id / GT Interactive 1993
3 Myst Broderbund 1996
4 King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella Sierra 1988
5 Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty Virgin 1992
6 Diablo Blizzard 1996
7 Sid Meier's Civilization MicroPose 1991
8 Half-Life Valve / Sierra 1998
9 Sim City Maxis 1987
10 Falcon 3.0 Spectrum 1991

Note: List was formally "most influential" games of all time.

10. Computer and Video Games magazine (2001)
(I've had to piece this list together through second-hand sources. Please help me fill in the blanks)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
2 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
3 ?    
4 ?    
5 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997
6 Super Mario Kart Nintendo 1992
7 Super Mario World Nintendo 1991
8 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992
9 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
10 ?    

9. Edge magazine (2000)
issue 80

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
2 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
3 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997
4 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
5 Gran Turismo 2 Polyphony Digital 1999
6 Quake II id
1997
7 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992
8 Street Fighter II (Turbo) Capcom 1991
9 Half-Life Valve / Sierra 1998
10 Super Mario World Nintendo 1991

Note: List was later reprinted in 2007 Top Ten special issue.

8. GamesRadar (2000)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Super Mario Bros. Nintendo 1985
2 Metal Gear Solid Konami 1998
3 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
4 DOOM id / GT Interactive 1993
5 Civilization II Microprose 1996
6 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
7 StarCraft Blizzard 1998
8 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997
9 Resident Evil: Code Veronica Capcom 2000
10 Street Fighter II (Turbo) Capcom 1991

Note: With the exception of SMB, GamesRadar recognized entire "franchises" in their list. The specific games mentioned are the ones the authors note as the "bests" of the series.

7. Nintendorks (2000)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992
2 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
3 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997
4 Final Fantasy III (IV) Squaresoft 1994
5 Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo 1990
6 Legend of Zelda Nintendo 1986
7 Super Mario Kart Nintendo 1992
8 Super Mario Bros. Nintendo 1985
9 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
10 Punch-Out!! Nintendo 1987

Note: List was limited to games appearing on Nintendo platforms.

6. Computer and Video Games Magazine (2000)
issue 218

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997
2 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
3 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997
4 Metal Gear Solid Konami 1998
5 Sonic the Hedgehog Sega 1991
6 Resident Evil 2 Capcom 2000
7 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
8 Grand Turismo Polyphony Digital 1998
9 Tekken 3 Namco 1998
10 Grand Theft Auto DMA Design 1998

Note: reader's poll. Sonic, in number 5, was recognized as the "Sonic series."

5. Next Generation magazine (1999)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 1998
2 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
3 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
4 Civilization II Microprose 1996
5 Quake II id 1996
6 Super Metroid Nintendo 1994
7 Super Mario Kart Nintendo 1992
8 Virtua Fighter 2 Sega 1995
9 Street Fighter II Capcom 1991
10 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997

Note: In this list Next Gen has made my life difficult by identifying four "series" in their top 10 (#1 is the "Zelda series," #3 is the "Mario series," #4 is the "Civilization series," and #6 is the "Metroid series"). To keep this list in the style of all the others, I have thus tampered with it, and inserted games from each series which I think they would be statistically most likely to have chosen as the "best" game of each franchise.

Note 2: This is Next Generation's second list. They also made a list in 1996 (included below).

4. Electronic Gaming Monthly (1997)
issue 100

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
2 Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo 1990
3 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992
4 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
5 Street Fighter II (Turbo) Capcom 1991
6 Super Metroid Nintendo 1994
7 Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island Nintendo 1995
8 Contra III: The Alien Wars Konami 1992
9 Final Fantasy III (IV) Squaresoft 1994
10 Saturn Bomberman Hudson Soft 1997

3. Nintendo Power magazine (1997)
issue 100

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
2 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo 1992
3 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
4 Mario Kart 64 Nintendo 1997
5 Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo 1990
6 Super Metroid Nintendo 1994
7 GoldenEye 007 Rare 1997
8 Final Fantasy II (IV) Squaresoft 1991
9 Final Fantasy III (IV) Squaresoft 1994
10 Street Fighter II (Turbo) Capcom 1991

Note: List was limited to games appearing on Nintendo platforms.

2. Computer Gaming World (1996)
November issue

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Sid Meier's Civilization MicroPose 1993
2 Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar Origin 1985
3 M.U.L.E. Electronic Arts 1983
4 Red Baron Sierra 1990
5 DOOM id / GT Interactive 1993
6 Sim City Maxis 1987
7 Wing Commander ORGIN 1990
8 Empire Interstel 1978
9 Wasteland Interplay 1987
10 Falcon 3.0 Spectrum 1991

1. Next Generation magazine (1996)

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
2 Tetris Alexey Pajitnov 1987
3 Super Bomberman 2 Hudson Soft 1994
4 Sid Meier's Civilization Microprose 1991
5

Super Mario Bros.

Nintendo 1985
6 Virtua Fighter 2 Sega 1995
7 Street Fighter II Capcom 1991
8 Lemmings Psygnosis 1990
9 Quake id / GT Interactive 1996
10 Warcraft II Blizzard 1995

Note: Number 5 on this list was actually the "Mario series," which was an odd choice, since presumably Super Mario 64 is part of the "Mario series" as well.


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Summary and Overall Rankings

These lists predictably represent a whole host of different agendas, outlooks, and opinions on what constitutes a "great" video game. Some placed a large emphasis on recognizing games that were historically "relevant" or "innovative" while others simply celebrated games that were fun to play.

Assuming these lists represent voices of authority in the gaming community, we can easily make a cumulative list averaging out the most universally popular games. I'm not smart enough to do mathematical averages of rank, but based on sheer popularity, the top 10 games of all time seem to be:

1 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (37 out of 54)
2 Super Mario 64 (30 out of 54)
Tetris (30 out of 54)
4 GoldenEye 007 (22 out of 54)
5 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (20 out of 54)
6 Final Fantasy VII (19 out of 54)
Street Fighter II (19 out of 54)
7 Super Mario World (16 out of 54)
8 Half-Life 2 (14 out of 54)
Metal Gear Solid (14 out of 54)
Resident Evil 4 (14 out of 54)
Super Metroid (14 out of 54)

As you can see, there is not a very strong consensus here. Even many of the supposed "most popular" games only have a success rate of 40% or below, which is in part due to the marked shift in tastes that has occured in recent years, and the fact that list-makers' biases tend to be towards newer games over older ones.

UPDATE MARCH 2012: Alert reader Brian Fair (1982- ) has come up with a more sophisticated system of weighted rankings, with a score drawn from the "average rank" of games that appear on multiple lists. His top ten is:

PlaceNameAuthorYearTotal ScoreAverage RankPercent Score
1Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of TimeNintendo19983082.79.93%
2Super Mario 64Nintendo19962014.36.48%
3TetrisAlexey Pajitnov19871984.26.38%
4Final Fantasy VIISquaresoft19971353.94.35%
5Legend of Zelda: A Link to the PastNintendo19921135.43.64%
6GoldenEye 007Rare19971036.33.32%
7Super Mario Bros.Nintendo1985943.23.03%
8Half-Life 2Valve2004845.02.71%
9DOOMid / GT Interactive1993814.82.61%
10Super Mario WorldNintendo1991775.92.48%

Other thoughts:

- Action games tend to be the most popular genre. Sports games are decidedly not.

- Sonic the Hedgehog is not popular. In fact, Sega in general has not left much of a legacy, with barely any Genesis games making anyone's lists.

- Tetris is the only puzzle game anyone seems to care about.

- The most popular video game character of all time is clearly Link, closely followed by Mario.

- Despite being the famed "first video game ever" Pong has not aged well, and today no one seems to consider it relevant. Pac-Man and Space Invaders are also surprisingly unpopular.

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Comments? Know a list I missed? Please Email me- jjmccullough@gmail.com or tweet me at @JJ_McCullough

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Oh yeah. I've had some requests to include my own personal top ten, so here goes. I'm not really that knowledgeable about video games... there are a lot of classics I've never played. But I know what I like. These are the ten games I consider to be the most brilliant:

Rank Title Publisher Year
1 Super Mario Bros. Nintendo 1985
2 Super Mario 64 Nintendo 1996
3 Donkey Kong Country 3 Rare 1996
4 Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft 1997
5 Super Mario World 2 Nintendo 1996
6 Banjo-Tooie Rare 1998
7 Pac-Man Namco 1980
8 EarthBound Nintendo 1995
9 Monkey Island 2 LucasArts 1990
10 Mega Man 3 Capcom 1990

Brilliant is the key word. These are all games that I look at with a sense of admiration for what went into them. They are just so well put together and... ingenious. Someday I'll write a more in-depth explanation of why each one has won my heart in its own unique way.