HG101 Presents: The 200 Best Video Games of All Time

Cover artwork by Thor Thorvaldson

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Every website or magazine has their own “Best Video Games of All Times” list – here is ours! From early arcade classics to 3D action games, from text adventures to interactive cinema, this book includes 200 of the best video games ever released, covering over three decades of gaming history, created by developers all over the world. Each entry highlights why our picks are the best examples of their genre, and includes additional recommendations for similar games. Both rookie and veteran gamers will definitely discover some new and interesting games to check out after finishing this book.

Nowadays “top X” articles on the internet tend to be seen as clickbait, hastily assembled list determined by some quick democratic polling of staff. Plus, the lists tend to be rather insular, usually based on whatever publication or forum assembled them. Rock Paper Shotgun, for example, has top 25/50 lists for many genres, but focuses only on games released on the PC. So reading about “best horror” games seems really strange when you’re omitting huge swathes of them, especially Japanese developed games. Similarly, computer RPGs and Japanese RPGs have such different fanbases that they’re almost entirely different genres, so there’s rarely any crossover on “best RPG” lists. IGN and other mainstream sites tend to focus on newer releases at the expense of gaming’s history. The goal with our book is to give a broad overview of many different types of games across the medium’s history. So even if you may not specifically be into, for example, 4X strategy games, you might be interested in reading about a few of them, and maybe giving them a shot.

From a writing standpoint, we wanted to features pieces that would be longer than a hastily written blurb like many other lists. So, each piece for each game is about 450 words. (It also helped enforce the quality of our choices – if we couldn’t devote 450 words of praise to it, then it probably wasn’t worth including.) These are not comprehensive reviews, so they’re written differently than the style you’d normally see on HG101, focusing primarily on what it does and why it excels. There are 216 pages altogether.

Additionally, since we wanted to include a broad selection of titles, we didn’t want to list too many similar games. So, to accompany each selection, there’s a “see also” sidebar of another game that’s related in some way – either being part of the same series, from the same developer, or sharing some thematic link – that’s also worth checking out. However, sometimes we still feature multiple games in the same series in the Top 200 list if there’s enough different to talk about them. For example, it seemed redundant to feature both Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, since they’re both fairly similar, but we gave a separate spot to Yoshi’s Island, since there’s enough that stands out to make it worth that distinction. But this “see also” spot is also used to highlight why we picked one entry over another, while still relating that both are excellent.

Building the list was not particularly democratic. Basically, a bunch of us staff members started by listing our own personal favorite games and used that as a starting point. Then, we mapped out which genres we wanted to cover and how many entries to allocate to each. Additionally, each entry was chosen specifically to represent something. For late 90s/early 00s first person shooters, we chose Jedi Knight and No One Lives Forever, since those were the best representative of that era. Other lists select games based on historical importance, or its quality at the time of release, but we wanted this to be a list of games that were still worth playing today. The list we initially assembled had some gaps – for example, none of us had selected any real time strategy games – so we reached out to many of our other contributors to round out the list, as well.

Obviously there’s some level of bias when it came to determining how many slots we gave to each genre – we definitely prefer 2D fighters/platformers over 3D fighters/platformers, for example – but there’s still a wide variety of topics featured. The only type of game that’s not represented at all are multiplayer-only games, like first person shooters, MMORPGs or MOBAs. The main reason is that I personally don’t play any of these games and can’t write about them with any authority, nor do I know enough about them to make educated selections. Plus, it’s hard to write about the multiplayer aspects of older games, especially if they no longer have an active online community.

The list has an emphasis on cult classic versus mainstream hits, and a slight focus more on retro games than modern ones, though it’s not like we intentionally ignored big names, as there are still many picks that show up on many other similar lists. In some ways it does feel like a small waste of space to highlight Super Mario Bros. 3 when everyone on the planet \is in agreement in how excellent it is, but at the same time we hope the written piece is interesting enough that makes reading it worthwhile.

In addition to the main Top 200 list and each “see also” entry, we also added 50 runners-up, each with brief blurbs. These were entries that were originally part of the Top 200 but got knocked off for whatever reason, or titles that the staff enjoyed on a personal level but were difficult to broadly recommend.Altogether that makes over 450 games covered within this book.

Additionally, unlike other lists, the titles in this book are not ranked, outside of the “see also” and “runner up” entries. It just doesn’t make any sense – is Final Fantasy VI better than Half-Life 2? It’s totally arbitrary, and is like comparing apples to baseballs.


Bubble Bobble
Geometry Wars 3
Pac Man Champion Edition DX
Super Mario Bros. 3
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
Donkey Kong Country Returns Tropical Freeze
Sonic CD
Klonoa: Door to Phantomile
Super Meat Boy
Shinobi (ARC)
Strider (ARC)
Ninja Gaiden (NES)
Bionic Commando Rearmed
Castlevania Dracula X (PCE)
Demon’s Crest
Mega Man X
Volgarr the Viking
Shovel Knight
Prince of Persia
Another World
Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap
Super Metroid
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Cave Story
Rogue Legacy
Dust: An Elysian Tail
Legacy of the Wizard
The Guardian Legend
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Seiken Densetsu 3
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Ys: The Oath in Felghana
Mega Man Legends
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
Shadow of the Collosus
Shenmue II
Yakuza 4
Red Dead Redemption
Contra: Shattered Soldier
Turrican II
Gunstar Heroes
Shock Troopers
Metal Slug 3
Hotline Miami
Fantasy Zone IIDX
Gradius Gaiden
Sexy Parodius
R-Type Delta
Battle Garegga
Mushihime-sama Futari
Space Harrier
Sin & Punishment: Star Successor
Vampire Savior
Street Fighter Alpha 3
Street Fighter III: Third Strike
The Last Blade II
Garou: Mark of the Wolves
The King of Fighters 2002 Ultimate Match
Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R
Super Smash Bros. Melee
SoulCalibur II
Virtua Fighter 5
Streets of Rage 2
Violent Storm
Alien vs. Predator (ARC)
Double Dragon Advance
Guardian Heroes
Nights…into Dreams
Crash Bandicoot 3
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Ninja Gaiden Black
Otogi 2: Immortal Warriors
God Hand
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Bayonetta 2
A Mind Forever Voyaging
Monkey Island II: LeChuck’s Revenge
Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle
Grim Fandango
Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers
Quest for Glory IV
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers
Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars
The Last Express
Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
Cosmology of Kyoto
Ghost Trick
Nine Persons Nine Hours Nine Doors
Danganronpa 2
Silent Hill
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Ultima VII: The Black Gate
Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant
Realms of Arkania 2: Star Trail
Diablo II
Fallout 2
Planescape Torment
Baldur’s Gate II
Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic 2
The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
Legend of Grimrock II
Star Control 2
X-COM: UFO Defense
Jagged Alliance 2
Final Fantasy V
Final Fantasy VI
Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride
Chrono Trigger
Suikoden II
Phantasy Star IV: End of the Millenium
Panzer Dragoon Saga
Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne
Persona 4 Golden
Breath of Fire Dragon Quarter
The World Ends With You
Xenoblade Chronicles
Etrian Odyssey III
Barkley Shut Up and Jam Gaiden
Final Fantasy Tactics
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
Advance Wars: Days of Ruin
Front Mission 5
Valkyria Chronicles
Dragon Force
Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2
Total Annihilation
Company of Heroes
Age of Empires II
Total War: Rome
Heroes of Might & Magic III
Crusader Kings 2
Civilization IV
Alpha Centauri
SimCity 4
Star Wars Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight
No One Lives Forever
Perfect Dark
Half-Life 2
System Shock 2
Deus Ex
Thief 2
Metroid Prime
The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind
Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines
STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl
Max Payne 2
Resident Evil 4
Freedom Fighters
The Last of Us
Mirror’s Edge
Portal 2
TIE Fighter
Descent: Freespace 2
Metal Gear Solid 3
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Hitman: Blood Money
Burnout 3: Takedown
OutRun 2006
Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed
F-Zero X
Jet Set Radio
Saturn Bomberman
Worms Armageddon
Puyo Puyo 2
Twinkle Star Sprites
Elite Beat Agents
Space Channel 5 Part 2
Devil’s Crush
Typing of the Dead

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