10 – Sim City
In 1989 a PC game was released that started a franchise that would be the most successful series of PC games of all time. Sim City is a superb strategy title with depth and a pretty good sense of humor. A few years later the game was re-released on the Super Nintendo and included an attack on your city from Bowser. It was fun, smart and addictive.
09 – Illusion of Gaia
My favorite RPG of all time. Why? I honestly don't know! I just love this game. The storytelling using these lowly 16-bit sprites astounded me. At times the interactive cinematics seemed almost movie-like and included characters you cared about. The real-time gameplay was exciting, and included few bosses, but boy were they a challenge. They weren't throw away fights, they required practice and quick thinking. There was also the levels inspired by real-world locations like the Great Wall of China, Angkor Wat and Inca. I just adore this game.
08 – Contra 3: The Alien Wars
Contra 3 took everything that was great about the first game, threw it in the mix, then injected about 6000mg of anabolic steroids. The levels weren't three minute runs through recycled enemies. They were are series of exciting events bookended by hectic mini-boss battles. The game kept you on your toes from beginning to end and the energetic soundtrack added to the tension.
07 – Super Mario Bros. 3
“Get the STAR Jimmy! THE STAAAAAAR!!!” Super Mario Bros. 3 is the first true sequel to Super Mario Bros. that American audiences got and it was a doozie. The overworld map guided us through secrets and engaging worlds. The airships were intimidating and challenging and the Koopa kids became video game icons. This one is a stunner and the art style, resembling set pieces from a play is truly inventive and just fun to look at.
06 – Mega Man X
X is a great hero. Mega Man X is a great spin off. Taking the Mega Man formula to the next level, ratcheting up the challenge and pace, Mega Man X is a sublime sequel. The game was tense, fun and had a gorgeous look. Not to mention the music was stupendous.
05 – Tetris
The block puzzle game was born and its dawn was marked by the release of Tetris, a skill-based game that forced you to think two moves ahead. The game was challenging, addictive, and iconic. Tetris is still, to this day, one of the most recognizable titles in gaming history and even people that don't play games can find enjoyment in it. It had the perfect blend of pace, challenge, and fun.
04 – Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Zelda went 3D and boy was the result outstanding. The huge open world, epic bosses, mind-bending dungeons and eventful set pieces all made Ocarina of Time a classic. The game is the ultimate release on the Nintendo 64, and pushed the adventure genre forward. If it weren't for this game, the state of exploration in adventure titles could be very, very different. This is the greatest 3D game of all time. Period.
03 – Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
One Zelda title follows another. A Link to the Past was an engrossing, addictive, and quite long title that introduced us to the new face of the Zelda series that would become the formula for the franchise through the decade. The promotion of exploration, the moments of humor, the intimidating Dark World and the exciting dungeons all elevated this one beyond “great game” to “gaming masterpiece”.
02 – Super Mario World
After Super Mario Bros. 3 defined the format of Mario games to come, Super Mario World took it to the next level. Including huge, multi-tiered levels filled with secrets and surprises, fun boss battles, smart level design and the inclusion of our new friend Yoshi, Super Mario World was a true “blast from the past”. Another thing that this game did well was creating a new staple for platforming, introducing clever new conventions that would be used time and again by many games for years to come.
01 – Super Metroid
Alas. Numero uno! Ichiban! Super Metroid. The ultimate adventure shooter. This game is perfect. A great world, menacing bosses, lots of secrets and the best level design in any game, ever. Super Metroid promoted attempting to beat the game's “path” by trying to utilize minor abilities like the wall jump to get around. This game did everything right, and no game has been able to out do what Nintendo did with this game all those years ago.