This list was a long time in the making, and finally, it’s here.
Throughout the summer, I’m going to be running down my top 100 games of all time. This isn’t designed to be a definitive ‘greatest’ or ‘most important’ games list, this is going to be personal to me. The only thing that determines what position each game gets on a list is how much I enjoyed playing it. It’s that straightforward.
Some quick background on my gaming history, I’ve only ever owned the following platforms: PC, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, Xbox 360 & Nintendo Switch. So, if a game didn’t come out on any of those platforms, I didn’t play it. I recently picked up a PS4, but I haven’t had a chance to play much yet, so don’t expect to see those games on this list.
My usual restrictions on ‘no early access’ doesn’t stand for this one, they’re totally free to go in regardless. The only restriction I’m putting on it is games that I played for the first time in 2020 will not be on this list. My opinion on how much I enjoyed a game tends to shift as I get some distance from it, so I will be covering those in my usual end-of-year lists, instead of including them here.
Finally, before we start. Although this first list is coming out in the usual Saturday time slot, I’m going to be releasing the rest on Wednesday every week, so I can still cover all the other stuff I like to cover on this blog. This also has the happy (and entirely planned) coincidence of meaning the final instalment will release on my birthday.
That’s all the explanation, now onto the games!
100 – GeoGuessr
Release Date: 9th May 2013
Developers: Anton Wallén, Daniel Antell, Erland Ranvinge
Platforms: Web Browser
It’s a game where you work out where you are.
A lot of casual games, such as Candy Crush and Angry Birds, sell themselves on being ‘accessible by anyone’, but I’m not entirely sure that statement is quite true. I think some people wouldn’t quite understand why they’re doing the things they’re doing in games like that, and the attitudes presented in those games can be quite a lousy representation for someone new to the medium.
GeoGuessr is what I would describe as the best possible introduction to video games. The concept is so simple, you’re in a place on the Earth, you have to wander around it and work out where you are. Not only is that easy for anyone to understand, but it brings to the table the core of what video games are supposed to be about, problem-solving. It’s an interesting little toy to use on your own, but where it really shines is when you get a bunch of people involved to start discussing and debating it with you.
GeoGuessr is a game where absolutely everyone can get enjoyment out of it. I’ve played it with my younger siblings, my older relatives and friends similar ages to me and all of them had a fun time playing it. It’s a concept that’s so immediately graspable by just about anyone, and it allows you to put to use the general knowledge that we all gain about the world during our lifetimes.
99 – Toybox Turbos
Release Date: 12th November 2014
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Windows
Metacritic Average: 78%
It’s a game about toy cars trying to murder other toy cars.
Toybox Turbos took did something quite rare to see in the modern gaming climate, even on the indie scene, which is that they took a form of gameplay that hadn’t been used for almost a decade, breathed new life into it, and managed to create a game better than the original.
Trying to top Micro Machines was going to be quite the task, but the developers of Toybox Turbos managed to replicate the gameplay feel almost perfectly. Then they piled tonnes of charm in the visual design onto it, and you’ve got yourself a winner. It creates the beautiful style of couch co-op that I absolutely love where the learning curve isn’t very steep at all. There’s also a pretty low skill ceiling, which means anyone new picking up shouldn’t have much trouble defeating more experienced players.
Toybox Turbos is one of those rare gems that take an old formula and polishes it up to work in a modern setting. It keeps the sense of fun the original formula had while throwing in a new visual style that ramps the charm through the roof.
98 – Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Release Date: 21st August 2012
Developer: Hidden Path Entertainment, Valve Corporation
Publisher: Valve Corporation
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 83%
It’s a game where you shoot some dudes.
I’m not the biggest fan of dude-shooting games. They tend to get a bit repetitive for me, and they’ll often drive me away. However, I can’t deny that I occasionally get that itch to play a game where I’ve just got to do some simple dude-shooting and not worry about much else. When that time comes, CS:GO is the game I get to scratch that itch.
The shooting is nice and tight, the guns are surprisingly precise, and there’s a good variety on offer. There’s more skill to it than many other shooters I’ve played, but when I’m playing it casually, I don’t feel constantly pressured to be hyper-aware or always being competitive. Honestly, I have just as much fun wandering around aimlessly shooting at bots as I do playing real matches.
I wouldn’t regard CS:GO as anything special, but I can’t deny that I do have fun whenever I decide to boot it up once a month or so.
97 – Tetris
Release Date: 6th June 1984
Designer: Alexey Pajitnov
Platforms: If it exists, you can play Tetris on it
I don’t care what anyone says, Tetris is brilliant. It’s wonderfully compelling and a little bit addictive. There’s nothing revolutionary or particularly unique about Tetris, and if I’m honest, I can’t really describe why I like it so much, I just do.
I don’t really think there’s much more I can say about it, Tetris is brilliant because it’s Tetris, and that’s all there is to it.
96 – Liero
Release Date: 1st January 1998
Developer: Erik Lindroos
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
It’s Worms but in real-time.
A pretty straightforward, but surprisingly engaging windows game here, as Liero was a game that fully embraced the chaos of what the Worms games could be.
For one thing, there was a wide variety of weapons that could make any game quite tense. The AI wasn’t the smartest, but it was still good for a game, although playing against another person was always much more fun. The mechanic of having to manually dig through the terrain to get to each other is genius, as it means that you’re almost entirely in control of the map. Given that almost every weapon affects the terrain, you’re continually having to think of the consequences of every move, giving the game a surprising amount of strategy.
What really makes this game stand out, though, is the levels of customisation you can give to each time. You can change the amount of blood produced (all the way up to 500%, which is insane) and you can customise your health to insanely high degrees. Easily the best setting is the one that lets you change the reload speed, as you can change it all the way down to zero, meaning there are no reloading times. At this point, every weapon in the game become a ludicrously powerful tool of mass destruction that could obliterate the whole map in seconds.
It’s stupid, ridiculous and insane amounts of fun.
95 – Democracy 3
Release Date: 14th October 2013
Developer: Positech Games, Red Marble Games
Publisher: Positech Games, Tri Synergy
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Metacritic Average: 70%
It’s a game about being the government.
Democracy teaches you a lesson, a lesson in why the people in power do the things that they do. When you see a politician do something that seems to be totally against what they preach, Democracy shows you why the people in power do things like that by forcing you to become that person. You can absolutely play Democracy by just changing everything to be exactly how you personally want the world to work, but it won’t go well. You’ll end up driving the GDP through the floor, spiking crime to an all-time high or just upsetting enough people so that you lose you next election in a landslide, or worse get assassinated.
When playing Democracy, I found myself making decisions that go against some of my fundamental beliefs solely to keep the country afloat. Be it because putting a substantial tax on something because it makes up the extra money we need in our budget or because banning something I think is fine will make the majority of people very happy. CGP Grey’s ‘Rules for Rulers‘ video touches on a lot of these points, but Democracy is a game that shows it to you in action.
Not only is Democracy quite a fun game if you have the patience to bury yourself in it, but it will also help teach you things about how the government works, and what exactly is going on in the minds of those in power.
94 – Mini Metro
Release Date: 6th November 2015
Developer: Dinosaur Polo Club
Publisher: Dinosaur Polo Club
Platforms: Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, Web Browser, Windows, Mac, Linux, Andriod, iOS
Metacritic Average: 89%
It’s a game about designing underground train networks.
Mini Metro is a constant balancing act, one that will inevitably spiral out of control, and it’s your job to prevent that spiral for as long as possible. Everything about Mini Metro draws me into it. I’m not one of those Brits who’s in love with the London Underground, but the aesthetic design of the game is an endearing one. It had all the charm in the world, and it’s also an excellent way to display all of the information the game needs to display.
It creates a slightly strange style of puzzle, where you’re not presented with the whole puzzle right at the start, but rather the puzzle slowly forms throughout the game. This kind of puzzle design forces the player to form solutions that aren’t necessarily efficient in the long-run but work for the moment they are presented to you. In that sense, it’s almost like a game that teaches you how to be good at ‘bodge-fixing’ things. Sure, that line you’ve just made will be overcrowded in a couple weeks, but it’s working right now and ‘right now’ is all you’re concerned about.
It means that every puzzle is different every time you play it, and gives the game replayability value that puzzle games don’t often have. Games very rarely use the player’s own inefficiency against them, but Mini Metro creates a scenario that tricks you into making long-term mistakes, without it feeling like the game is deliberately screwing you over.
93 – Organ Trail: Director’s Cut
Release Date: 9th August 2012
Developer: The Men Who Wear Many Hats
Publisher: The Men Who Wear Many Hats
Platforms: Playstation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, Web Browser, Windows, Mac, Linux, Andriod, iOS, Ouya
Metacritic Average: 86%
It’s a game where everyone dies of dysentery while you shoot zombies.
Plenty of classic games have been remade and had various adaptations made over the years. Games like Tetris, Pacman and Pong have had too many clones or ‘new takes’ on them to count, but Oregon Trail has never really had that. I don’t know if because it was an educational game, or it just wasn’t popular enough to warrant it, but I don’t think I’d ever seen an attempt at adapting Oregon Trail until this came along.
At face value, Organ Trail takes the gameplay or Oregan Trail, makes a few modernisations and sets it in a zombie apocalypse, except it goes deeper than that. Not only does Organ Trail update the nuances of the gameplay, but it also looks to expand upon it and gives much more replayability value with a massive variety of events and missions you can partake in. Not to mention keeping your crew alive.
All the while, it keeps that feeling of going on a journey and caring about the characters that you created by giving stupid names because you thought it would be funny. It taps into what was compelling about the original Oregon Trail and expands upon it, which is perfect for a homage game like this one.
92 – Westerado: Double Barrelled
Release Date: 16th April 2015
Developer: Ostrich Banditos
Publisher: Adult Swim, Cartoon Interactive Group Inc
Platforms: Xbox One, Windows, Mac
Metacritic Average: 80%
It’s an old western murder mystery.
That sentence alone should be enough explanation as to why it’s on this list, but here are the details.
Westerado gives you a very simple premise that slowly expands over the course of the game. You get taught how to shoot, and then your family gets murdered and you have to find out whodunit. The murderer could be pretty much any random guy wandering about the world, but how you figure it out is the key.
You go around the world doing favours for people in exchange for information. You get told little details about the man bit by bit. These could be what shape his hat is, or what colour his bandana is. Then once you’ve got your full description, you find his location and hunt him down. The game presents itself, both in its narrative and gameplay, like it’s an old western, to create something genuinely unique.
91 – Bejeweled 3
Release Date: 7th December 2010
Developer: PopCap Games
Publisher: PopCap Games
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Windows, Mac, Nintendo DS, iOS, Android
Metacritic Average: 82%
It’s a game where you make the colours line up.
Once again, I don’t really think this one needs much explaining, it’s the game that you play when you don’t want to play anything. Sure, it has various modes of gameplay that change up the formula in exciting ways, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s the game where you swap the colours to make the colours match, and that is in some way useful.
Also, while it didn’t invent the formula, it certainly popularized it to the point where King could take that exact same formula and make one of the most popular mobile games of all time, so it’s got to be doing something right.
And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Please, let me know what you think of these games, either in the comments below, or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure you come back here on Wednesday for the next entry in this series!