The 100 Greatest Games Ever – Part 1 (100-76)

Video games are awesome. At their very best they can become modern marvels from an artistic standpoint, combining compelling visuals, evocative music and deep narratives into a cohesive package. They are also exceptional from a technical standpoint, being a culmination of thousands of man-hours, compiling abstract code into an cohesive experience that is designed purely to entertain you.

Here at Power Up Gaming, we’re passionate about our chosen hobby. That’s why we felt it was about time to assemble a list of our 100 greatest games as a representation of our favourite experiences in the medium. To do this, we polled all of our staff members, collated the results into a list, and asked our writers to write up the games they were most passionate about. We’ll be breaking our list down into four articles of 25 games, so check back every day this week as more of our list will be revealed. Without further ado, here’s our picks for 100-75.

100. Total War: Shogun 2

That’s not a flagpole, THIS is a flagpole!

Total War: Shogun 2 is an exercise in refinement. Following on from the overambitious Empire: Total War, the series was in dire need of stripping away the junk and returning to its strengths. Enter Shogun 2; a game that feels refreshingly simple yet complex at the same time.

Unit types in Shogun 2 are a purist’s dream. Each unit belongs to one type (sword, spear, bow, musket or a cavalry version of each of these), and that type has inherent strengths and weaknesses against the others. However, special abilities and differences in individual units keep this from being a pure Rock, Paper, Scissors affair. Yari Samurai can rapidly advance to chase down fleeing enemies, or reach the front lines before arrow fire whittles them down too fast. Bow Warrior Monks can fire whistling arrows that terrify all units they fly over, even your own, and so have to be deployed carefully. Shogun 2 also finally made agents an integral part of every strategy, rather than just an amusing diversion. The tools are all there at your disposal, and it’s up to you to decide how best to use them.

While the Total War series has continued to succeed with Rome II and Attila, Shogun 2 stands as the turning point for the series, and the most complete game out of the box. This game is proof of a developer that actually listens to feedback and learns from mistakes, rather than pumping out the same flawed game over and over.

– Owen Atkinson

99. This War Of Mine

This is MY war, not yours! MINE!

Countless games have featured war, but few have really stopped to look at the human side (and cost) of such conflicts. This War of Mine puts you in the shoes of a few untrained civilians, struggling to survive in a bombed-out city while the war rages on. This experience is affecting in a way that makes you unlearn your natural selfish gaming behaviours, because it doesn’t quite feel like a game. But once you’ve found your humanity, you’re often forced to push it aside in the name of survival.

Everything in This War of Mine is a balancing act. Feeding your survivors only every couple of days will make your food last longer, but usually leads to health problems. Robbing and even killing your neighbours might yield valuable supplies, but your people might not be able to live with the guilt. This is a bleak world with few correct answers, and yet this only serves to make it more engaging. No matter how well you think you’re doing, This War of Mine always has ways of cutting you down to size.

For a game with an almost monochrome palette, This War of Mine manages to be strikingly beautiful. The grainy oscillating art style makes the war feel as though it isn’t quite real. Even in the midst of a decaying ruin, this sort of thing just doesn’t happen to people like you. The gentle ambient music adds to this, lulling you into a false sense of security that is frequently punctured by distant shelling.

– Owen Atkinson

98. Tetris DS

Everybody now! Doo doo-doo-doo doo-doo-doo…

Tetris for the original Game Boy is one of the best selling games of all time. Considering the fact that it’s one of the most widely recognized games of all time, it’s no surprise the title has sold so well. So, how do you build on that success? Nintendo easily answered that question in one sentence: “Let’s just make it Nintendo-themed!”

And Nintendo-themed it was. From Mario crawling across the Nintendo DS’s bottom screen, to the iconic Tetris theme being replaced by the Mario theme song, Tetris was thematically altered. Not only that, but the new title provided a few new options. Players were given the option to hold pieces, battle against opponents online and fight up to seven other real-world players (all with only one cartridge thanks to the system’s download play feature). While holding pieces might not have been new to this iteration of Tetris, it was one of the first handheld titles to give this option, and the first handheld to give online capabilities to players.

Not only this but a few more game options with different Nintendo themes were also made available that challenged long-time Tetris players to think in radically different ways. All of this came with the convenience of handheld gaming and still offered players the tight controls, extreme challenge and addictively-quick speed of prior installments.

– Austin Flynn

97. Creatures

That’s right, follow the creepy, disembodied hand.

In the pre-Tamagotchi world of 1996, computer scientist Steve Grand created an artificial life simulator known as Creatures. While the virtual pet craze would experience a dramatic rise and fall over the subsequent years, nothing came close to the comprehensive simulation shown off by the Creatures games.

In the virtual world of Albia, players did not have full control over their Norns (the creatures that you were tasked with looking after). Instead, you had to teach them to behave in the way that you’d like through positive and negative reinforcement. If a Norn displayed positive behaviour or followed an instruction, you could tickle them on the nose. Conversely, if a Norn does something wrong, a swift slap to the buttocks would often deter them. What makes Norns so unique is that they could remember these positive and negative emotions and learn from their experiences. The simulation was rather comprehensive for the time, and each Norn had their own personality, biochemistry, needs and desires. Norns could learn language from each other, from you, or from a teaching computer in the game. It’s the closest we’ve ever come to sentient life in a video game, which is quite worrying considering that this game was released almost 20 years ago.

While the series has since come to a halt, Creatures was popular enough to spawn a handful of sequels and even an online component for sharing Norns with other players. However, none of the sequels really pushed the technology they established in the first game, and that’s why the original Creatures makes our list. Plus, Norns are just adorable.

-Adam Lloyd

96. Resident Evil (2002 Remake)

The remake before the most recent remake. A premake.
The remake before the most recent remake. A premake.

When Capcom released the 2002 remake to the original zombie classic, yes, we were revisiting the same mansion with the same characters and the same enemies as the 1996 entry, but what was unexpected was the overhaul that was delivered. Everyone knows REmake for its graphics, which still generally hold up to this day, but there were several notable gameplay changes. The map layout was adjusted, many puzzles were reworked, and it even included some story details that were not in the original game. 

While those improvements are all well and good, if you ever played the original then subsequently the REmake, there is one thing that will forever stand out in your mind: Crimson Heads. They were faster, scarier, and far more deadly than the original, sluggish undead. They were intimidating enough to make players second guess themselves and even take far longer routes to avoid confrontation. I can remember my first time witnessing the reanimation just before having Jill run into another room where I could slow my heartbeat and change my pants. Crimson Heads were a perfect way to completely change the game by ramping up the horror while preserving the atmosphere from the original. 

This is where REmake shines. It takes the tried and true formula from the original and turns it on its head by delicately subverting player expectation. This was not only the way in which the game remained relevant, but also how it reestablished itself as a horror game within a mutating genre; one that continually leaned into over-the-top action with subsequent games in the series.

– Justin Otto

95.Rocket League

He drove that ball past keeper, quite literally.

If Lionel Messi had a test tube baby with Jeremy Clarkson, the resultant offspring would probably be a Rocket League driver. Starting out as free title on PlayStation Plus, Rocket League has gone from strength to strength, becoming something of a phenomenon since it released in summer 2015.

Rocket League has proven to be such a resounding success due to its simplicity. All you have to do is drive the ball into the opponent’s goal. However, the way in which you do this holds the enjoyment factor. Your car can double jump, flip, boost into the air and ram opponents in order to gain control of the ball, opening the game up for some crazy stunts and spectacular feats. It also rewards teamwork, giving individuals points for centering the ball, assisting a goal, or making a last-minute save as well as scoring goals. Your overall play might add up to make you the Most Valuable Player without ever scoring a goal.

In that very same fashion, it is the small moments of joy that make Rocket League a thoroughly enjoyable experience. With its recent release on Xbox One, you really have no excuse not to play it.

-Adam Lloyd

94.South Park: The Stick Of Truth

Leaving your maturity at the door is essential when playing The Stick of Truth.
Leaving your maturity at the door is essential when playing The Stick of Truth.

South Park: The Stick of Truth was arguably the surprise hit of 2014. The game was brimming with so many recognisable characters, quotes and inside jokes that it felt like an extended episode from the TV series. In true South Park fashion, where else would be able to choose Jew as your starting class?

While the voice-acting and graphical similarities were spot-on, the turn-based combat was great too. You always have to be on your guard as small flashes appear before you need to attack – to deal maximum damage – or defend – to block the most damage. Such variety in both your and your opponents’ attack animations keeps everything interactive as well as being more than a passive experience. As the Jew class, I found my special attacks of Jew-Jitsu and Circum-scythe quite useful for stunning targets and whittling down their armour. The strategy of the combat really comes into its own when experimenting with the roster of Buddies in the game, including Butters and Cartman, as well as your raft of special abilities which use ‘Mana’.

Aside from being one of the funniest games ever created, South Park’s successful transition from television show to video game was extremely impressive.

– Hayden Waugh

93. Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver

Claws for hands are cool, but impractical at the dinner table.

“Become my Soul Reaver; my angel of death”

No, that isn’t the opening of a piece of teenage fanfiction; these are the words said by The Elder God as he resurrects Raziel (the player character) to enact his revenge. Thus begins a crazed story of horrific Gods, deranged vampires, spectral realms and time travel. While the Legacy Of Kain timeline is almost as indecipherable as a Kojima fever dream, it serves for a grand opera that sets up Soul Reaver perfectly.

Soul Reaver appeared on the original PlayStation back in 1999 and proved that the 3D Action-Adventure genre didn’t solely belong to Tomb Raider. It featured grand-scale platforming and puzzles that were very ambitious for the time, and involved commendable production values in terms of its graphics and voice acting. However, one of Soul Reaver’s main mechanics – shifting to the spectral plane which allowed you to phase through particular walls – looked incredibly impressive at the time and was a requirement for figuring out some of the well designed puzzles.

Despite the overtly gothic, self-serious plot, the atmosphere of Soul Reaver is captivating. Nosgoth is a world plagued by death, allowing the developers to go wild with their ideas and interesting boss designs. As Raziel rages a path of destruction, killing his brothers who have all evolved into hideous aberrations, you can’t help but root for the callous, soulless killer that you’re controlling. Revenge is always sweet.

-Adam Lloyd

92. Harvest Moon: Back To Nature

6AM? That’s time to go to bed, surely.

Oh, the hours of my life that I will never get back due to Harvest Moon: Back to Nature. Taking everything that the SNES and Game Boy Harvest Moon titles established, Back to Nature brought them all together in an addictive and endlessly entertaining game.

Years before Farmville would take the world by storm, Harvest Moon was delivering quality farming and social sims to players worldwide. Back to Nature, like most of the Harvest Moon games, sees you taking over your grandfather’s farm in an attempt to restore it to its former glory. Do this, and you will be welcomed into town as a fully-fledged resident. Through backbreaking labour, intense resource and time management, and giving a boatload of random gifts to the girls around town, you can become the greatest farmer of all time, marry the woman of your dreams, and even have a gender-neutral child together.

Back to Nature ushered in the golden age of the Harvest Moon franchise. It, along with Friend of Mineral Town, remain the brightest spots of the series.

– JD Schmidt

91.The Legend Of Dragoon

Dragons and human/dragon hybrids. What else do you need?

In response to the massive success of Final Fantasy VII, Sony put their heads together and created The Legend of Dragoon for the PlayStation. Commonly mistaken for a cheap FFVII knockoff, Dragoon was drowned in the sea of great RPGs like Chrono Cross, Xenogears, and Legend of Legaia, that flooded the PS1. But to ignore this game would be a tragedy. While many complain about the slow and monotonous turn-based combat of other RPGs, Dragoon flipped the combat style on its head to deliver a fast paced and skill based fighting system.

Instead of simply choosing a battle command, players must use pin-point accuracy, timing, and a great degree of strategy to see this game through to its epic conclusion. It had graphical and translation flubs, to be certain, but even to this day, the story and combat of Dragoon stands out as one of the best on any Sony console.

– JD Schmidt

90. Punch Out!! (Wii)

Who wears short shorts? No one in the boxing circuit, that’s for sure.

Though lacking the presence of the nigh-impossible Mike Tyson, Punchout!! brought Mac and his combatants back in beautiful 3D and with a lot of loving touches.  Quite a few blasts from the pasts return, fully voice acted and as loveable as ever. Each fight not only feels like you are right there in all of the cartoon action, but it gives that same sense of triumph and wonder as you climb the rungs to eventually take on the champ once again.

Punchout!! rewards strategy and memorization, much like the older games of the Punchout series. However, there is a noticeable shake-up in how players can fight their opponents and even multiple ways to win, as well as challenges within each fight. The entire game clearly had a lot of love poured into it, not just for old fans but for newcomers as well.

– Amber Colyer

89. Dragon’s Dogma

Fighting off huge monsters - like a Boss!
Fighting off huge monsters – like a Boss!

Out of nowhere, from the people at Capcom, came Dragon’s Dogma – a role-playing adventure game with surprising depth. Dragon’s Dogma looks stunning, at times, with a great accompanying soundtrack and has all bases covered when it comes to gameplay and content variety. It also contains one of the coolest video game introductions I’ve EVER seen.

Early on, players are introduced to a new concept called ‘pawns’ – a special race of humans who exist solely to fight beside you and defeat your main adversary. From four party members, players have one Main Pawn whose stats, class and personality are determined by an in-game quiz. Not only is this an extremely unique take on the AI-companion model, but players have the ability to scale huge monsters – à la Shadow of the Colossus – and the freedom to delve into five vocations within your chosen class. Couple this with hostile midnight encounters, challenging story missions and epic boss battles, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a game.

– Hayden Waugh

88. Sonic 3 & Knuckles

Hiding behind a tree will not save you. Tails will always find you.

When it was initially released in 1993, Sonic 3 was only half a game. In 1994, Sega released Sonic & Knuckles, a lock-on cartridge that extended Sonic 3 past its initial 6 levels, added Knuckles as a playable character, and restored the game to the state which the developers originally intended. As a result, a masterful platforming experience was created that is still just as much fun to blast through now as it ever was.

Sonic 3 & Knuckles was a graphical marvel at the time that generally ran smoothly despite the amount of detail whizzing by. Plus, as always with Sonic games, the soundtrack was fantastic, while rumours spread that Micheal Jackson may have secretly had a gloved hand on it. The basic gameplay remained largely unchanged from the previous game, other than slight tweaks such as the different elemental shields, a new 3D bonus stage, and of course, Knuckles.

For those who were engaged in the Sega vs Nintendo debate at the time, Sonic games were always a bragging point for the Sega camp, and those braggers had a lot to be excited about with this release. While time has shown that perhaps Sega and Nintendo’s mascots weren’t directly comparable, the fact remains that Sonic 3 & Knuckles is still a great game in it’s own right.

-Adam Lloyd

87. Spec Ops: The Line

 Spec Ops: The Line is the only military-based shooter  that tugs at the emotions of both the player and characters.
Spec Ops: The Line is the only military-based shooter that tugs at the emotions of both players and the game’s characters.

Where most military shooters devise campaigns that are all style and no substance, 2012’s Spec Ops: The Line bucked that trend. Despite being powered by the elderly Unreal Engine 3 with an immediately familiar gameplay formula, you’d be forgiven for thinking this venture was nothing but a Battlefield wannabe. But Spec Ops: The Line is far from that.

Captain Martin Walker and his Delta Force squad enter a battered, post-catastrophe Dubai buried in sand. Initially sent on a mere recon mission, they soon learn of atrocities done to civilians by decorated Army veteran, John Konrad. In the first act of defiance, Walker chooses to enter Dubai and find out what happened.

Considering the narrative within this title and Walker’s inquisitive nature, the game is a roller coaster of mind games and moral dissent from the company of Delta Force. The graphics may be quite dated, but Spec Ops: The Line’s campaign excels at revealing the horrors of war and questions the issue of bloody conflict as entertainment.

– Hayden Waugh

86. Grand Theft Auto V

What’s in the bag? What’s in the baaaaaag?!

The game which broke all records. Grand Theft Auto V was the fastest selling entertainment product (not just fastest selling video game) in history, earning in excess of $800 million in its first day and $1 billion in its first three days. Since then, the game has launched on next gen consoles and PC, shipping over 60 million copies to date.

However, the drive behind GTAV was not all hype. For many, this was the most fully-formed GTA game that had ever existed, featuring a gigantic map that not only contains a sprawling metropolis in Los Santos, but then an entire state in the form of San Andreas. The environments are amazingly detailed for a map of its size, and is the closest we’ve seen to a living, breathing city in a video game.

Not only that, but GTAV is impressively populated with interesting things to do. The game features three main protagonists that you can switch between on the fly, each with their own storylines and side missions. The map is full of interesting diversions and activities, and barely an inch of it feels wasted. Heists are main part of the story, with each allowing you to plan your method of approach, execution and escape. Will you go in guns blazing, or will you infiltrate the bank and slip out quietly? Considering the permutations and the ways in which you can slip up and have to shoot your way out if things go badly, this is almost an entire game unto itself.

If that wasn’t enough, GTAV also features a wildly successful online mode in which you can get together in groups and enjoy some fun mini games, or some drive bys on innocent bystanders. Don’t let this one pass you by.

-Adam Lloyd

85. Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition

Phwoar, check out that back!

Guacamelee! is one of finest and most enjoyable beat ’em up brawlers out there. While fans of the genre will still likely flock back to the retro titles that made brawlers popular, you can’t deny the greatness that is Guacamelee!

The story, though it plays second fiddle to the combat, is interesting; the art design is gorgeous; and the fighting mechanics are wonderful. Using special cabra moves, grabs, throws, and any other means available, Juan must defeat the evil Calaca and his hordes of evil dead creatures in order to save El Presidente’s daughter, el amor de su vida! Fighting enemy after enemy never gets boring, and Guacamelee! has a great difficulty curve that keeps you challenged and entertained from start to finish.

-JD Schmidt

84. Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows Of Amn

Go for the balls, Boo! …I meant the eyeballs!

While Bioware may be known nowadays for their own unique fantasy epics such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age, the studio were once synonymous with the Dungeons & Dragons property. After the success of Baldur’s Gate, the sequel was widely anticipated and, in many areas, did not disappoint.

Baldur’s Gate II’s addictive gameplay is generally the same as the original Baldur’s Gate, but the combat has many more strategic options. When starting out, you have to get into the habit of pausing the game to consider your combat options, otherwise the enemy swarm will steamroll you before you’ve even let off a magic missile. While the opening sections can be annoying while you get to grips with this system, the game opens up considerably after the first dungeon and becomes much more fun as a result. Combining this with high production values for the time, especially in the graphical and voice work departments, and you have one of the most compelling RPGs ever created.

Besides, how could we miss out a game where one of the characters has a pet “miniature giant space hamster” named Boo?

-Adam Lloyd

83. Killer 7

Out of all the personalities, Dan really stands out. Just who else can look that cool holding a gun?
Out of all the personalities, Dan really stands out. Just who else can look that cool holding a gun?

From the mind of Suda51, Killer 7 was the first of the auteur’s titles to make it out of Japan. It stirs together the action-adventure, first person shooter, and on-rail genres, resulting in a brilliant, beautiful, and unique concoction.

The story revolves around a man named Harman Smith, and is mind-bendingly confusing. Basically, Smith can manifest 7 unique personalities and use them to fight a terrorist group known as the Heaven Smile. As the plot progresses, you’ll find yourself feeling utterly lost, but reveling in the mystery. You’ll want to understand more of this bizarre world, which contains activities such as organ selling alongside transgender power rangers.

It’s all painted in cel-shaded graphics that shouldn’t fit with the gruesome themes, but the two match up perfectly and the sporadic but stunning animated cutscenes add a new perspective on surroundings and characters. The gameplay itself is full of puzzles, with foes having weaknesses to be exposed, and environments having plenty to uncover. The controls resulting from the genre-mixing are completely unorthodox, tough to get used to, but add to the title’s charm.

Killer 7 divided critics, but has a definite cult following. Whichever side you fall on, the one thing that we can all agree on is that nothing else comes close to what you’ll experience here.

-David Tierney

82. Enslaved: Odyssey To The West

Here comes the winner of the last ever Crufts, even if he did win by default.
Here comes the winner of the last ever Crufts, even if he did win by default.

A re-imagining of the 16th Century Chinese novel, Journey to the West (a novel which also serves as source material for Dragon Ball and, to a different extent, Monkey Magic), Enslaved tells the tale of Monkey and Trip navigating a post-apocalyptic world where killer machines roam the ruins of civilization. With Monkey as an unwilling companion (Trip places a slave headband on him, meaning that he will die if he doesn’t follow orders), the pair set off to return Trip to her home village; a 300 mile journey.

Through the motion capture and voice work of Andy Serkis and Lindsey Shaw, Monkey and Trip begin to grow on each other as time goes on. Their relationship remains an interesting focus throughout the game and there is an intriguing dynamic between the two that evolves as the game progresses. This was amplified by a vivid art direction that gave Enslaved a fantastic sense of location and grounded the characters in the world. The story remains intriguing in spite of several gameplay missteps (the nimbus cloud sections), meaning that the plot and characterization aspects are the main reasons why this game deserves a place on the list. Few games have managed to capture these elements quite as well as Enslaved.

– Adam Lloyd

81. Vanquish

Someone needs to end this cycle of mech-on-mech violence.

Ever played a game that was so bad from one perspective that it was actually really good? That’s Vanquish; where every military stereotype imaginable plays a part, with cringe-worthy voice acting among its potential drawbacks. Developed by Platinum Games, the same group behind the Bayonetta franchise, the game’s glossed-over narrative involving a Russian leader possessing a destructive weapon and holding the United States hostage, almost immediately takes a back seat.

With Vanquish, character names aren’t important, as it’s all about speed, agility and shedloads of explosions. This is all thanks to the awesome ARS suit players will use to zip around battlefields whilst also taking advantage of a slow-motion AR Mode. Your weaponry, containing rifles, a potent shotgun and a big-ass rocket launcher, also shifts and morphs from your hands like a miniature Transformer, only adding the game’s impressive visuals.

There’s so many adrenaline-fuelled moments in Vanquish and, despite a disappointing campaign length, it really begs the question as to why Sega haven’t announced a sequel.

– Hayden Waugh

80. Worms Armageddon


Back in the 90’s, Worms were more prevalent in video games than in my dog’s intestinal tract. After the original Worms release in 1995, the franchise culminated in Worms Armageddon in 1999 which took the cartoonish visuals and irreverent humour further than before. Featuring such weapons as the Holy Hand Grenade, poisonous skunk bombs and exploding sheep, Worms Armageddon is widely considered the best game of the series.

Featuring the same tried and tested gameplay as its predecessors, Worms Armageddon wasn’t a revolution for the series. The game was still a 2D strategy game where teams of worms took turns to blow each other up. It was, however, the definitive version of the game. The comedy was spot on, the arsenal was plentiful, while the formula that the series was known for remained addictive.

Armageddon also represents the point before the decline as the series attempted the leap into 3D in future installments. Since those shaky attempts, Team 17 have re-released this version of the game so many times that it’s virtually impossible not to play it. There really is no excuse.

– Adam Lloyd

79. Dark Souls III

Tree testicles! Now I understand why God told Adam never to eat the forbidden fruit.

Dark Souls III might not have had the impact of the first game in the series, or even Demon’s Souls, but it represents a culmination of everything that is great about the Souls series. Taking the general style and combat of Dark Souls, sprinkle in a little of the pace from Bloodborne, and a nexus-style hub of Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls III is a refinement, and an utter triumph.

The difficulty remains intact, but the game is easier to understand this time around, meaning that new players can get on board easier. New weapon arts and a Focus Point system (essentially mana) streamline some of the more obscure elements of combat, whilst proving useful additions to your repertoire and opening the door to hybrid character builds.

Ultimately, the Souls games have always featured amazingly realised environments, enemies and bosses, and Dark Souls III doesn’t disappoint in that regard either. The scale of some of the encounters and landscapes are astounding. This game would be utterly beautiful if it wasn’t actively trying to destroy you. Therein lies the charm of Dark Souls; bleak yet beautiful in ways that few games ever manage, and Dark Souls III has it in spades.

-Adam Lloyd

78. Gears Of War 2


Cole calls all the Locust “bitches” over a tannoy. That’s really all you need to know about Gears Of War 2, especially since the game serves as the epitome of the “bro shooter”, so you’ll no doubt have an opinion on it before even picking up a controller. As such, Marcus Fenix and company are in action once again, committing genocide without even blinking an eyelid.

This time however, Gears Of War 2 attempts to tell a touching tale regarding Dom and his wife. Despite the contrast between these scenes and shots of protein-filled meat-heads chainsawing their way out of a giant worm’s stomach, the campaign works rather well, providing glorious peaks and heart-rending troughs.

While Gears Of War 2 is a technical improvement over the first game, it would be difficult to differentiate it without the addition of Horde mode. Horde was a massive success, making for great local and online co-op experiences as you desperately fight off swarms of incoming, increasingly difficult enemies. This gameplay mode set the template for other wave-based survival modes that have made their way into other games since, and remains a large part of Gears 2’s lasting legacy.

– Adam Lloyd

77. Kingdom Hearts

That’s the power of the Keyblade!

When the bright, nostalgia-filled kiddie world of Disney combines with the often times dark, teenage angst-ridden universe of Final Fantasy, something is bound to go either horribly awry or delightfully well. Luckily for everyone, Kingdom Hearts took the latter path. Sure, it might be a goofy story of a kid carrying around a giant key sword and visiting recognizable Disney realms, but it has all the heart and soul that anybody might expect from either franchise.

However, unlike what Square Enix is mostly famous for in FF, Kingdom Hearts uses a real-time battle system. This choice not only made the title unique for Square Enix, but it fostered a more fast-paced feel that had players fighting with their reflexes rather than well-planned strategy. This made the most sense to me considering the game’s protagonist, Sora, was only 14 when his journey first started. I’d be swinging that thing like a madman too if I was in his (oversized) shoes.

Gameplay aside, Kingdom Hearts is a game that knows how to pull at the heart strings, and although many consider Kingdom Hearts II to be the superior title, we ultimately chose Kingdom Hearts to be on this list for the childlike simplicity and sense of wonder that the original created. It doesn’t get much more cookie cutter than your friends getting lost and the protagonist having to find and save them. But the fact that Square Enix was able to pull off that simple plot and make it feel fresh with delightfully original characters mixed into a sea of familiar faces from our childhood is something that deserves recognition.

-Austin Flynn

76. Soul Calibur II

Don’t you know it’s impolite to cut a lady in two?

Soul Calibur II makes our list as the quintessential game in this venerated fighting series. While the first Soul Calibur proved to be a hit on the Dreamcast, Soul Calibur II saw the game transition to the PS2, Xbox and GameCube, with all the graphical upgrades that you would expect.

To celebrate this cross-platform release, Namco included a novelty character exclusive to each version. PS2 owners got to play as the godfather of Tekken, Heihachi Mishima, while Link was available in the GameCube version and Spawn on the Xbox. Novelty characters aside however, the main roster was full of interesting characters from previous installments (Voldo is the craziest character design to ever grace a fighting game), along with a few interesting additions. Talim, for instance, joins the fight simply because she feels a change on the wind.

Regardless as to whether you enjoy the bizarre Japanese characters or not, you can’t deny how responsive the game feels. Soul Calibur II focuses on weapon-based combat with a huge amount of variety. From Siegfried and his giant sword (or Nightmare with the Soul Edge), to Maxi’s nunchucks or Seong Mi-Na’s polearm, there are many different styles of play available, all with their inherent strengths and weaknesses. As a character-based fighter, it remains one of the best examples of the genre.

-Adam Lloyd

That’s all for today. How is our list shaping up so far? Do you agree with the games listed here? Are there any games that you were surprised to see? Let us know in the comments below.

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