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#10: Galaga

Company: Namco    System: Arcade

The sequel to Galaxian, Galaga was a mainstay in the arcades during the 1980's. With its' colorful graphics and intense action, it became an instant classic and remains popular to this day, as can be seen on its' inclusion on many modern compliation discs and downloads on services like Xbox Live.

Perhaps Galaga's most enduring contribution is its' inventive power-up system. By allowing your ship to be caputured, you could later rescue it, which game the player double the firepower. It's a system that was never seen before and has been rarely used since.



#9: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Company: Konami    System: Playstation

After several installments on 8 and 16-bit systems, Castlevania took a dramatic turn with Symphony of the Night. Using a bit from one of the previous games, Simon's Quest, and taking a cue from Metroid, SOTN fully turned the series from platforming to a full-fledged adventure.

The game's awful voice acting aside, SOTN delivers to the player an outstanding soundtrack and some of the best 2D graphics ever created. Those who think that "old" games can't look good have obviously never played this.

The character design ranks among the best ever, not just for the series, but for gaming as a whole. The bosses in this game simply have to be seen to be believed.

With a play system with hundreds of unique weapons and items to use, and a plot that cannily doubles the game's length by flipping the castle upside down for its' second half, SOTN still remains one of the deepest adventure games ever created.




#8: Halo 2

Company: Bungie    System: Xbox

I'm sure that all you PC FPS players out there are groaning, but bear with me here.

Until a few years ago, online console gaming was not considered an important market. But now it is one of the most vital parts of the industry, as can be seen with the emphasis of the next generation of consoles on providing an online component to their games.

Most of this can be pinned to the massive online popularity of Halo 2, which continues to this day. It was the first console game that generated sustained online play, unlike previous attempts, which tended to fade from the online arena after a few months.

The childish trash-talking of some of the online participants aside, Halo 2 features one of the most well-rounded and balanced online deathmatch systems out there.

And, for better or worse, Halo 2's expansion pack proved that console gamers were willing to pay for downloadable content, which seems to be the new business model for the next generation of online gaming.

Oh yeah, the single-player mode ain't half-bad either. With a solid story fortified with outstanding voice acting, Halo 2 delivers one of the best sci-fi plots ever presented in a game. Featuring dual-fisted gameplay along with extremely fun vehicular combat sections, it's one of the best treks ever taken through the FPS genre.



#7: The Legend of Zelda

Company: Nintendo    System: NES

There had been other entries in the adventure genre before, but it was The Legend of Zelda which perfected the formula and made it a classic for the ages.

A massive game for its' time, Zelda provided the player with a battery backup system, which allowed the player to save without long passwords. This system would pave the way for later consoles that used memory cards and hard drives.

The technical details of the game aside, Zelda's gameplay instantly hooked in players. Easy at first, the game's gentle difficulty curve eventually brought the player to some of the most treacherous territory ever presented in a game.

But they never felt overwhelmed. With a large collection of weapons, gadgets, and special moves, one always felt like they had the ability to overcome any obstacle placed in their path.




#6: Resident Evil 2

Company: Capcom    System: Playstation

The first Resident Evil game ushered in the "survival horror" genre, and it was its' sequel which created the mold which all other games of this type have tried to follow.

Eschewing the cheeseball nature of the first game, Resident Evil 2 featured a bleak story more than a bit reminiscent of the movie "Day of the Dead", with the player thrown into a city over-run with zombies.

With some of the best graphics of its' generation, Resident Evil 2 brought the story to gloriously bloody life, as can be seen by the gallons of blood that spurt out after the player manages to kill one of the undead.

Since Resident Evil 2 features one of the best weapon selections ever for this type of game, wasting zombies never gets old. Who doesn't like creating gibs via a old-time six-shooter?

Some note must be made of the "Pulp Fiction"-esque storyline, which intertwined the stories of two different characters. Though it is kind of a tired device now, for the time, it was quite ground breaking.

Resident Evil 2 also provided gamers with a ton of replay value. With bonuses for getting through the game quickly enough ranging from new characters to a "mini-game" that is better than many full-fledged releases, Resident Evil 2 was (and still is) a mainstay in the Playstation library.



#5: Smash TV

Company: Williams    System: Aracde

A loose follow-up to the 1980's hit Robotron, Smash TV puts the player on a twisted show from the far-flung "future" of 1999, where annihilating hundreds of droogs earns you fabulous cash and prizes.

Even though it is an extremely violent game -- if the player steps on a landmine, they turn into a geyser of blood -- Smash TV never takes itself too seriously. It has a great sense of humor, brought to life through the quips like "I'd buy that for a dollar!" that the host throws at you.

The aesthetics adise, Smash TV delivers the greatest shooting action ever. With its' dual-joystick system, the control becomes second nature for the player. Even when literally hundreds of enemies or huge bosses are attacking the player, they never feel totally overwhelmed, and there is always the addictive feeling of need to drop in another quarter to find out what lurks on the next level.




#4: Super Street Fighter II Turbo

Company: Capcom    System: Arcade

Street Fighter II single-handedly created the fighting game craze which last to this day. Capcom has produced many (some would say too many) variants over the years, but Super Street Fighter II Turbo remains the pinnacle for the series.

SSF2 is important in the series for introducing four new characters. Unlike some other series, where new characters are often just clones or slight variations of current ones, the new combantants issued in SSF2 each have their own unique flavor and gave the series even more depth.

The Turbo version went even further enchacing the characters and even brought out a totally new one, Akuma, who has since become one of the most popular in the series.

The game also introduced the "Super" meter -- perhaps in a move against the popular Mortal Kombat franchise, Street Fighter's biggest competitior, which allowed the player to do "fatalities".

The Super meter, when full, grants the player the ability to unleash a vicious combo which takes over the entire screen. Hitting one of these combos against an opponent is still one of the most satisfying moments in all of gaming.

With the death of the arcade scene in America, SSF2T is not quite as popular as it used to be. But fighting game purists still rally around these machines to have tournaments, and consider it the pinnacle of gaming.



#3: Super Metroid

Company: Nintendo    System: SNES

Putting the player in the role of bounty hunter Samus Aran, Super Metroid is an epic game in all senses of the word. It does everything -- from the graphics to the music to the gameplay -- so perfectly, that it hasn't been matched since, even with the advent of two more powerful generations of consoles.

From the slam-bang beginning to the nail-biting finale, Super Metroid never has a dull moment. Unlike many games of its' type which seem to have a lot of filler, each and every piece of this game is intergral, necessary, and (most of all) fun.

Sure, the series might have been tarnished a bit with its' move into the FPS arena via Metroid Prime, but Super Metroid remains one of the pillars of gaming.

If you've never played Super Metroid, don't let the "old school" nature of the game fool you -- this is one of the best experiences you will ever have.




#2: The Revenge of Shinobi

Company: Sega    System: Genesis

The pinnacle of 16-bit gaming, and perhaps the platforming genre as a whole, The Revenge of Shinobi is well-deserving of its' high place on this list.

Yeah, the story is the usual disposable "save the pretty girl" thing most games of the period threw out, but Revenge of Shinobi is all about throwing shurikens, slashing fools with your sword, kicking ass, and looking swank while doing so.

Spanning twenty-four levels, Revenge of Shinobi is one of the largest platforming games ever. Since the game spans everywhere from a bamboo forest to Chinatown to a raging waterfall, it never feels boring -- especially since the player has numermous moves and forms of "ninja magic" to throw at their attackers. The game's graphics (which still hold up well to this day) kept the player enthralled, as they always wanted to see what treats the next level would bring.

Speaking of attackers, Revenge of Shinobi has quite possibly the greatest lineup of villains ever. Like something straight out of a low-budget Hong Kong movie, the game throws such characters like Rambo, Spider-Man, Batman, and even Godzilla at the player. It's something totally ballsy, that would never be attempted nowadays.

Finally, the soundtrack for Revenge of Shinobi is one of the best ever -- it's certainly the best stuff ever made on the Genesis. Created by the genius of Yuzo Koshiro, it was the first soundtrack to be credited to a specific composer and went a long way into making game music the integral part of gaming it is today.





#1: Grand Theft Auto III

Company: Rockstar    System: Playstation 2

Ground-breaking, controverial, innovative, and -- most importantly, just goddamn fun, Grand Theft Auto III is's pick for the greatest game of all time.

A sequel to two minor hits, GTAIII introduced the world to the free-roaming action (aka "sandbox") genre and became a cultural phenomenon in the process. No game before or since has been such a lighting rod for controversy and been so good at making the most out of it.

Putting the player in the role of Claude Speed, a mute criminal on the streets of the NYC-esque Liberty City, GTAIII is a sprawling crime epic that totally immerses gamers due to its' open-ended nature.

The game does have a traditional mission-based structure that eventually opens up the story as well as more areas of Liberty City. But GTAIII's greatest impact is the freedom which it allows players.

Don't feel like working for a boss? Then go ahead and drive a cab to make a few bucks. Don't feel like working? Perhaps a rendezvous with a "working lady" is up your alley. Or maybe just a nice bit of carnage against your fellow citizens.

The openness of GTAIII even allows for the player to go around and do, well, nothing really -- but still remains fun in the process. With graphics that bring the idea of a virtual city to life, one can spend hours just driving around and be perfectly enetertained.

Of course, it helps that GTAIII has an outstanding soundtrack. Based off of radio stations, complete with DJ chatter and commercials, GTAIII raised the bar so high for what a soundtrack could be that very few games since have been able to even come close.

GTAIII changed what the idea of a game is. No longer was it about getting to the next stage or going up to the next level. The player is in command of the game world. That sort of power is absolutely intoxicating, and it is exactly why GTAIII has earned the top spot on this list.