This is part 2 of a 3 part list – The first covering Nintendo, and the last will cover Windows PC, Mobile, and Sega. I’d recommend starting there for the first 55 games, and For now though, lets enjoy the wonders of what Sony and Microsoft have offered over the years with the next 45 games I’d recommend you take into a bunker with you to endure the fallout of our inevitable Trumpacylpse. If you read the first post, the following is largely unchanged if you want to skip to the good stuff and scroll down to the list.

Lists are hard. You try your damnedest to round out to whatever number sounds good to you but something always seems off. Raise the number to include more then it feels like filler. Rattle off what’s already been established and what’s the point? Sure I could just print a list of the best video games ever. How different would that list really be though? As time goes forward we seem to further homogenize our views of what’s worth playing and what’s not into a cycling list of the same few games, just in a new order. Still I read them all and scrutinize despite knowing the strings involved behind the curtain. I can’t deny that I love making lists though so I decided to give myself a challenge. It started as listing a few scribbles on paper and grew into this semi-complete list of 140 games that sit before you now. Criteria and rules?

  • 5 games per system/designation. IE; Gameboy Color = Gameboy, and PC is broken down by decades starting in the 80’s.
  • Unless there’s a paradigm shift in how the game is played, one entry per series across all platforms
  • The list should compose of games that highlight the variety of the system, not necessarily “the best”.
    • Subnote – if I didn’t create this rule, virtually every choice of mine would have been RPGs
  • The games must be approachable in their current state today in 2017, not as they were at release.
    • Some games don’t age well and because of this will not be included.
    • This also means games that were amazing with a multiplayer focus may have been lobbed off
  • I’m going off of NA releases, and heavily bent towards games I have either first or second hand experience with. Sorry, no “but this limited print of an import JRPGs that influenced everything ever and OMG HOW DID YOU NOT INCLUDE THIS ON YOUR LIST”. Tangible, real, accessible games only.

By all means, feel free to state your arguments as to what should/shouldn’t make the cut. Just remember this isn’t a “best games for the platform” as much as it is a “this is why this platform was great”. The five games are unranked and represent a set to be plopped down in front of a group of players that’ve never experienced it in hopes of highlighting the range offered by that platform. That being said, these lists are meant to compliment one another and if you isolate them it might be confusing to why these games were chosen. A good example of this is you won’t find Super Mario 64 (OMG WHY?!) – Because I felt Super Mario Galaxy better represented the Wii yet the two games are similar enough to not need both games muddling up the lists.

Without further ramblings – Let’s get to the meat and potatoes of it all now. The lists of games and a bit about them… For part two we’ll be looking at Sony and Microsoft’s catalog of platforms.

Sony Platforms

  • PlayStation
    • Resident Evil 2
      • One of the most recognizable brands in gaming, Resi was in a constant flux between being a top class horror experience to a completely rote time sink. Resi 2 for me is where the classic formula (and series) peaked. Jump scares, obscure puzzles, criss-crossing story segments, multiple characters to play as, and the thrill of an indomitable Tyrant ever lurking towards you until the closing scenes of the game.
    • Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
      • Arcade skater classic Tony Hawk was at it’s best before it started being designed specifically for fans of the last game. The challenges are plentiful, free roam was added, tight level design, but it never got egregiously difficult like later installments. Plus you can’t deny placement for a game that includes Public Enemy’s Bring the Noise.
    • Metal Gear Solid
      • Sneaky Snake makes his debut into the heart of millions with some of the coolest fourth wall breaking bits and cinema styled cutscenes. Enjoying Azure Dreams, are you?! No one forgets their first Metal Gear Solid it seems. Thanks to Kojima’s penchant for the weird MGS remains every bit as enjoyable as it originally was.
    • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
      • A gothic tale of redemption you play as the cursed son of Dracula in an attempt to destroy your father while rummaging through his castle of monsters and haunts. Building off the exploration action platforming of Metroid, SotN takes it to a new level (literally) by adding in RPG elements like new weapons, accessories, leveling up, and even a creepy shop owner. Complete it all and oh yeah, there’s an entire second half of the game where now the castle has inverted, causing each room to be traversed an in entirely new way.
    • Final Fantasy 9
      • My personal pick of the litter of the Final Fantasy series would be Cloud’s adventures in FF7, but I can’t deny the drawing power of this choice. The visuals have aged much better with character styles, the skill system is a great throwback to Espers in FF6, all the characters are delightful, and there’s levity to the story that had been absent from the prior two entries. Laughter, tears, tension, wonder. All of these feelings are lovingly supported by one of the best gaming soundtracks out there. It’s hard to not recommend this game to anyone and everyone that enjoys RPGs even slightly.
  • PlayStation 2
    • God of War
      • Dude becomes enraged, angsty, and ruthless. Bald head, tribal tattoos, wildly swinging chain weapons mixed with strings of indulgent attack combos make for one hell of a god-slaying good time. Sure the darker tone is part of what edged the industry towards despicable anti-heroes, but I’ll be damned if Kratos’ first outing isn’t a good time still.
    • Shadow of the Colossus
      • The other side of the rage-filled coin is the cold hatred that stirs within Wander. How else can you explain running around murdering slumbering beasts in what can only be compared to invading a hen house to fry the chickens to satiate your hunger? Sure it’s to bring back some random woman veiled behind a distinct lack of exposition, but dude… There’s more fish in the sea. Story aside the puzzling mechanics of learning to defeat the true to scale and rightly named Colossus of the valley will get your adrenaline running on high until that final coup de grace of each boss.
    • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
      • Continuing with the PS2’s murder streak, GTA San Andreas puts you back into gang filled 90’s Los Angeles trying to fix the messed up state of things. Pushing the boundaries of gaming at the time it had a complete package of storytelling, action, simulated weigh gain, tons of side quests including getting hot coffee with a friend, a jetpack, turf wars, dozens of vehicles, memorable characters, and of course the wonderful feeling of running against the law via bank heists or aiding criminals that always conclude with you trying to escape the police. Good times, Cj.
    • Kingdom Hearts
      • Running around with Goofy & Donald through all your favorite Disney movies while chasing down your friends along with King Mickey is just swell. An action RPG that you’ve already connected with in your childhood in a wholesome tale of friendship conquering any adversity.I’d recommend this for the feel good nature of it all on top of an accessible setting.
    • Katamari Damacy
      • Roll a ball around to suck things up and make the ball bigger. Now your bigger ball can roll up bigger items. Throw in some unconventional control schemes and suddenly you have a sleeper hit. There’s something instinctually pleasing about both destruction and creation, and Katamari lets you satisfy both at the same time to some jazzy recordings! What’s not to love?
  • PlayStation 3
    • Uncharted 2
      • If there ever was a love child of film and video games it would be the Uncharted series. Fueled by witty banter seemingly pulled out of a Joss Whedon flick you’ll fall in love with the characters by the end of UC2. Plenty of collectibles to keep you scouring the beautiful set pieces while Action-Jackson’ing all over against evil mercenaries gives a great balance of gameplay vs cinematics that remains enjoyable every time you go back.
    • Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction
      • After platformers nearly died in the previous generation, Ratchet & Clank make their heroic return. Blowing everyone and everything up with all the gadgets & guns you can muster with this charming duo is like playing a Saturday morning cartoon of Buck Rogers.
    • Demon’s Souls
      • Prepare to die? Sure the challenge aspect is something that draws people in with this tough as nails action RPG, but what’s really alluring about it is exploring the grotesquely beautiful decayed world they set you in. Every step feels earned, every view is your reward. Don’t be discouraged. Keep playing and you will be victorious over those skeletons keeping you from even more death ahead. If you’re lucky you’ll release a lever to open up new paths. Nothing feels better than the safety of being able to return to your checkpoint… then the thirst hits you to go back for more as it emboldens you just a little bit more knowing now you have a way to return back quickly.
    • Valkyria Chronicles
      • Style, girth of content, unique approach to a war that’s normally relegated to the FPS genre – A strat RPG that offers an experience unlike any others out there. Your team becomes your family as you strategically maneuver the levels off-grid during World War 2. It’s refreshing to see a new pallet applied to the second war to end all wars
    • Journey
      • Visually stunning. Concise campaign. Allusions of a narrative. Journey is an open experience that feeds you just enough to forge your own ideas about what is going on while treating you to some of the most gorgeously directed scenes in gaming.
  • PlayStation 4
    • Until Dawn
      • Finally! Instead of yelling at the TV to the idiots in a slasher flick, you get to actually direct them. Surely your instincts are better than… oh, they’re all dead? Well then. Plenty of replay value and a hoot with friends matched by how accessible it is makes this hard to overlook.
    • Rocket League
      • Not a fan of soccer? Don’t need to be! This absurd rocket car sportsgame is a blast to goof around with as you and a few others race around a field smashing into an enormous ball hoping to direct it into a net. The free form physics of the ball being thwomped by several rocket strapped backflipping cars all at once it’s always a challenge regardless of experience, creating a very friendly atmosphere.
    • Nier: Automata
      • OH MY GOD PLEASE PLAY THIS. The combat is delicious, the narrative is deeply human, and none of the events that occur make any actual sense. It’s one of those games that only comes around once in a lifetime that manages to change how you think about the world around you.
    • Dragon Age Inquisition
      • Deep character stories, a structurally complex and fully realized world, and plenty of enchanting settings to visit – What makes this game special is how much your run of the game is tailored to your choosing. No two playthroughs will be the same, so far as to offer entirely divergent paths for missions and villains that you face that are all enjoyable. So regardless if you’re anti-magic or pro-elf, the story will play to you in a way that brings about what you want it to be while remaining completely cohesive.
    • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
      • A proper mix of stealth and combat, Shadow offers possibly the best Assassin’s Creed experience out there despite not being one. Teleporting stealth kills feel powerful but not cheap. Your magical abilities make sure you know you’re special while still leaving you vulnerable if you get careless. Then you have the nemesis system that allows your most challenging enemies to rally a new gang to oppose you every time they remind you of the frailty of mortality.
  • PlayStation Portable
    • Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7
      • The story made me cry despite knowing exactly how it ends from a decade of thinking I got who Zack Fair was. I was wrong. Plus it’s cool to see the fall of Sephiroth from hero to villain first hand in the typical “what the hell are you talking about, Square-Enix?!” sense. Aside from fanboying for FF7, there’s a lot of content offered here alongside the weirdly intriguing story and visuals of this itty bitty portable RPG.
    • Lumines
      • What if Tetris was a melody that sung directly to your heart? That’s Lumines. Changing themes while arranging squares into bigger squares isn’t as easy as you’d think it to be, but it is every bit as magical as you’d hope for.
    • LocoRoco
      • Childlike wonder runs wild with this colorful tilt ‘n tumble game. Simple controls let you puzzle your way through each level collecting dozens of little blobbies that all sing or scream as you squish them together or grind them apart into little jellies again. You’d be hard-pressed to find a reason not to smile after spending an hour here.
    • Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
      • Adjacent to Final Fantasy Tactics you have the narratively complex Tactics Ogre series. Medieval knights and sorcery themed antics have you assembling a party of highly customizable troops as you strategically dispatching foes in 15-30 minute battles. Depending on your choices the story can branch into several paths and various end conclusions. With a nifty “wheel of time” addition to this PSP version, it lets you jump around to your branches to play out all your fantasies of well what if I…
    • Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection
      • It’s virtual pinball done extremely well, recreating some classic tables that you’ve probably played at your local pizza joint by now. Progression in tables via challenges and time spent helps you unlock new tables and gives you direction to keep going. Fun fact: I never realized that pinball games had campaigns prior to this. This is a great way to learn about that without losing quarter after quarter to weak bumpers or janky flippers.
  • PlayStation Vita
    • Persona 4 Golden
      • Stories about individuality and the mental insecurities we all live with silently. Once again the redeeming power of friendship to allow you to conquer any adversity, especially ones you create for yourself. A slow burn, but the best burn. Great because of the relationship building system they designed combined with limited actions guided by time passing that you can’t get back. There’s no time to waste so it puts weight into every choice you make. Spend a night eating a beef bowl, or maybe go spend some time with Rise Kujikawa in hopes of her opening up about her dreams to you?
    • Gravity Rush
      • A comic book origin store complete with awesome gravity defying super powers. Fly here, there, or anywhere! Flip the world upside down or sideways so you can run up buildings or on the underside of a bridge! Now use all that momentum and oomph to dropkick some baddies in their stupid faces. All of this is thanks to your magical void cat to make it just that much better!
    • Virtue’s Last Reward
      • Stuck in a room with people you don’t know but are forced to ally with? Do you trust them or betray them? What if they’re thinking of betraying you? A time paradox sets the backdrop for this escape room logic puzzler leaving you scratching your head, yet ultimately rewards you for not giving in and loading up GameFAQs for the answer.
    • Rogue Legacy
      • Endless adventures into an ever changing castle as your next of kin with all their strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes you’ll have the ability to fly, other times you’ll be doomed with bad luck or flatulence. Each time you go in to gather your fortune and conquer the curse of the castle those riches pass onto your next character as well to create an addictive loop of “well just one more run and I can afford my next upgrade…” 
    • Killzone Mercenary
      • Really taxing the Vita with it’s technical abilities, Killzone manages to make an uninhibited first person shooter on a portable device. On top of that, it’s pretty damn fun with the options they give you. As a mercenary you can purchase all sorts of cool gadgets and weapons to really craft an experience you want. Rather be sneaky? There’s silencers and stealth suits. Be lazy and buy some sentry turrets to do your killing for you. Blow shit up with the biggest rockets or grenades you can find.

Microsoft Platforms

  • Xbox
    • Halo: Combat Evolved
      • Cortana and Chief take you around the newly discovered religious ring while fighting through an alliance of alien zealots. Tons of guns, warthogs are awesome to drive, and there’s one helluva bang to close it all out with in possibly one of the coolest end sequences to play in gaming.
    • Burnout 3: Takedown
      • Speaking of awesome driving, why not some high octane thrillrides where crashing is as much fun as racing itself? It’s a rock solid racer with the added benefit of slow-motion crashes where you can steer your totaled car into the path of others to trash them as well.
    • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
      • Before Star Wars became good again with The Force Awakens, this was the greatest Star Wars story to be told since 1983. Complete with smugglers, droids, and Jedi – Bioware brought you into a wretched hive of scum and villainy with their much beloved focus on player choices directing the story alongside realized character companions.
    • Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
      • Stealth gameplay with all of the coolest gadgets. A co-op storyline that fills in the gaps of the single player run. The hum of firing up your nighttime goggles as those three green dots light up. Good times all around.
    • Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2
      • Pretty much the peak of couch co-op gaming. Dungeon crawl through a ton of fantasy worlds with one of five characters, build up your stats, find new gear, get rich and powerful enough to destroy the big bad at the end. Gameplay popularized by Diablo, but refined and made delectable with a friend right next to you.
  • Xbox 360
    • Portal 2
      • Echoing what made Splinter Cell Chaos Theory so great is right back here on Xbox 360. Portal 2’s campaign is a bit longer than the original, exploring a lot more in puzzle mechanics and delving back into the story of Aperture Science’s origin. Cave Johnson alone is worth the price of admission. Then you have Wheatley. And PotatOS. The writing is just the best here with never a dull moment. What really shines though is the co-op campaign that’s completely separate from the single player and is beyond joyous with how they pulled it off. Atlas and Peabody are simply the best.
    • Gears of War 2
      • Cover based co-op shooting with a buddy on the couch. The debut of horde mode. A much improved story over the original. Distinct feeling weaponry. There’s a weightiness to your characters that just doesn’t exist in most games that shouldn’t be missed. Stupid as it sounds, I can’t help but smile every time Marcus & Co marvel at their own kills with a “…NICE” to compliment a headshot.
    • Mass Effect 2
      • Our last Bioware entry, honest. It’s hard to ignore this grand space RPG in a world where sci-fi entertainment hardly gets its due when it’s not named Star Wars or Star Trek. Heavily refined combat after it’s first outing, ME2 brings about the perfect marriage of character based storytelling, engaging combat, difficult choices, and that unique aspect of sci-fi where the alien nature of what’s transpiring masks the parallels to contemporary social issues. The stakes are high once again this is YOUR adventure, crafted to fit the player with tons of choices that tailor the game to you.
    • Fable 2
      • Fable is something that kind of gets overlooked the further we get away from it sadly. Here you had robust gameplay mechanics from buying homes, finding a spouse, adventuring in dungeons, farting on villagers, and kicking chickens into demon doors in order to reap the treasures within. There’s humor and humanity among the balverines and terrible black spire looming over. There’s a lot to do and every bit of it is fun, including adopting a pup to keep at your side the entire game. Doggos are the best.
    • Dead Space 2
      • A welcome blend of action exploration in a fully realized/terrifying space station filled with zombie alien hybrids. Borrowing from RPGs some smart designs like leveling up your armor, weapons, and managing currency it helps build that sweet tension that has the hair standing up on your neck as you slowly creep into a new area and the lights dim out. “oh. shit…”
  • Xbox One
    • Rise of the Tomb Raider
      • A feather in the hat of Xbox with it’s year exclusive, RotR is irreversibly linked to the X1 in my mind. I kind of forget it released on PS4 in the midst of the holiday blitz of 2016. Lara returns with the most lush environments they could find a reason to bring her there for. Pratchett returns to write another humanizing tale as we see Lara become who we know her to be, while also upping the ante on the titular tombs that need raiding but were strangely absent from the first game. Lots to collect, tons of people to shoot with arrows, sharp writing, great panoramas, and just the constant thrill of being an adventurer. What more could one ask for?
    • Ori and the Blind Forest
      • How about getting lost in wonder while traversing a neon forest on an unexpectedly emotional journey of Ori? Back again to the expanding powers to unlock new sections to venture in deeper ala Metroid and Castlevania, the gameplay is rewarding and enticing the whole time through. It feels great to overcome a challenge, and even better to discover a new world. Ori gives you both at a steady clip that makes it hard to put down.
    • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
      • You knew it had to be somewhere in these lists. Witcher 3 is a gem of a game after a decade of brand building and refining what we expect from Geralt for his final outing. There are literal hundreds of hours of content to run through with all sorts of sidequests, monster hunts, romances to have, or losing a night to a constant stream of challengers in Witcher’s internal card game, Gwent.
    • Sunset Overdrive
      • Traversal and attitude make this a fairly unique game in it’s own right, let alone of this generation. The tongue in cheek action game is hard to place… Equal parts Tony Hawk Pro Skater, Crackdown, and Gears of War – The whole idea is keep moving and keep comboing your kills. Punk meets guns and grind rails versus a city of zombies.
    • Halo 5: Guardians
      • You didn’t think we could go through a Microsoft platform without an FPS, did you? Sillyheads. Halo 5 brought the charm of Chief back with a somewhat flawed angle of making him a questionable hero. Always out for his girl, Cortana, Chief has gone rogue in his latest outing as USMC soldiers try to hunt him down. It takes the trappings we’re familiar with in a new angle to try and spice things up to mixed results. What it does well though is provide a liquid smooth visual treat with stunning set pieces with the highest technical detail available. Halo has always delivered a superior engine when it comes to riding around in vehicles and charging in guns-a-blazing against memorable aliens.

 

Anyway you want to cut it, that’s a lot of varied game experiences to take in there to highlight the range of their respected platforms and gaming in general. So where does that put us after knocking out the big 3 of Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft? 100 games to bunker down with as a happy testament to where games can take you across 20 platforms so far. We’re not quite done yet as we have 40 left to go, looking at PC gaming by the decades from the 80s onward, mobile, and the once serious contender Sega. Look forward to sharing those doozies with you.

 

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