Top 100 Games of All Time, According to GameFAQs: #60 to #51

What are the top games of all time? Different projects have taken different routes to try to answer this simple question. Some compare critics’ review scores, leading to GameRankings.com’s conclusion that Super Mario Galaxy deserves the title of top game of all time. Others look at sales figures, suggesting that perhaps Tetris should wear the crown. Still others discern an answer through contests and competitions; GameFAQs’ Best. Game. Ever. contests in 2004 and 2009, for instance, gave the prize to Final Fantasy VII and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, respectively.

Each of these methodologies has its flaws, of course. After all, there is no objective way to measure greatness; greatness is in the eye of the beholder. Therefore, perhaps the best way to get a gauge for the greatest games is to ask the beholders themselves. Why not run a poll among a large body of people asking a simple question: what are, in your opinion, the top games of all time?

This list project asked the users of GameFAQs across dozens of boards to answer that simple question. Name your top five games of all time. No guidance was given as to the definition of ‘top’ in this context; its meaning is different to every user, and the objective of this series is to capture that diversity of meaning. Then, the results of this poll were compiled and tallied to provide a list of the Top 100 Games of All Time, According to GameFAQs.

I’ve grouped the Top 100 games into a series of ten Top 10 lists to count down the results. Each week, we’ll count down ten more, inching closer and closer to the top ten. Along the way, I’ll attempt to liven up the results with some interesting charts and fact. Interested in knowing more? Over on the Top 10 List board, I’ll be responding to questions for each list and dropping additional interesting little tidbits. I’ll also be posting the raw voting results at the conclusion of this series for others to analyze and parse at will.

This week, we’ll be looking at games #60 through #51.

#10: T-57th: Fallout: New Vegas (PS3, X360, PC) (41 votes)

Obsidian Entertainment is an interesting company. In their history, they have developed six games that are sequels to other companies’ properties, including four sequels to BioWare games. Its most successful sequel, however, is easily Fallout: New Vegas, the 2010 sequel to Bethesda’s hit Fallout 3. Built on the same engine as its predecessor. Fallout: New Vegas still employs a variety of new features and improvements, at times calling back further into the franchise’s history. Although the initial release was a little rocky, the game went on to be a hit both with reviewers and with players. Six DLC packs followed, and, combined with the PC modding community, have helped keep the game relevant three years after its initial release.

Fallout: New Vegas was one of the most popular games for the Xbox 360 board, drawing six votes representing 13% of that board’s voting population. That total tied it for third place on the Xbox 360 board, although that tie is shared with five other games, all of which are higher on the overall top 100. It also drew significant attention from its other major console board, the PC board, although the four votes it received there were more insignificant compared to the total votes cast by the PC board. Beyond those consoles, it was appreciated most significantly by the United Kingdom and Current Events boards, with four votes each, followed by the That’s What She Said and GameFAQs Contests boards, with three votes each. Its remaining seventeen votes came from sixteen different boards, but interestingly none from the PlayStation 3 board, the game’s other console.

#9: T-57th: EarthBound (SNES) (41 votes)

Released in the United States in 1995, Earthbound is another game with a relatively interesting development history. The game is the sequel to the 1989 game Mother, which itself has never been released outside Japan. Released in Japan as Mother 2, the game made its way to the United States a year later, but only after a somewhat exhaustive localization process. While some localization involves simply translating a game, Earthbound’s process was more complex: the game takes place in the United States, but as seen through the eyes of Japanese developers. Translating the humor, tone, and setting of the game for an American audience involved more than just translating the script: jokes had to be rewritten, references removed or revised, and characters changed. The game was merely a modest success upon release, but its popularity has grown substantially over time, helped in part by the appearance of the franchise’s characters and locations in the Super Smash Bros. franchise.

Two of the voters from the SNES board voted for EarthBound, a modest sum given thirteen total voters on the board. Instead, the game drew the normal support from the results’ busiest boards, six and five votes from GameFAQs Contests and Faceball respectively. The Warflame board contributed three votes, but with 35 total voters, that also represented a minor percentage. EarthBound’s appearance here is thus owed largely to its broad popularity, like most other classic games we have seen. Single votes came from a variety of smaller boards, as well as a couple each from busier boards like the Top 10 Lists board and Poll of the Day. The original Mother received no votes, but Mother 3 narrowly missed the top 100, receiving 23 votes (mostly from Faceball) to tie for 102nd place with five other titles.

#8: T-57th: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PS2, XBOX) (41 votes)

The first Metal Gear game we encounter in the GameFAQs Top 100 is the second in the Metal Gear Solid franchise and the fourth overall release in the Metal Gear series. Released in 2001, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was the follow-up to the breakout hit Metal Gear Solid, and improved on it in many ways. Starring a new protagonist, Raiden, Metal Gear Solid 2 chronicles the events of several years after the original game, tackling a dangerous new foe and wrestling with the fate of protagonist Solid Snake. Critics pointed to the game’s complex narrative as a flaw, but as time would go on, this would become one of the series’ most distinguishing features as creator Hideo Kojima developed a reputation as one of the industry’s most unique minds. Originally released as PlayStation 2 exclusive, a re-release for the Xbox followed less than a year later, along with inclusions in later compilations for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PlayStation Vita.

Faceball provided Metal Gear Solid 2 with most of its votes with five, but the game’s home console followed behind with four. Those four votes represented roughly 10% of the users that voted from the PlayStation 2 board, and an additional vote followed from the console’s social board. Beyond that, the majority of the game’s votes came from the most active boards in the polling, with five from Faceball, four from GameFAQs Contests, and three each from Poll of the Day, That’s What She Said, and the United Kingdom board. The remaining nineteen votes came from seventeen different boards.

#7: T-57th: Planescape: Torment (PC) (41 votes)

Black Isle Studios, the publishers of BioWare’s Baldur’s Gate II, makes their own appearance on this list as the developer of 1999’s PC game Planescape: Torment. Derived from the Dungeons & Dragons source material like Baldur’s Gate II, Planescape: Torment was one of the PC’s most critically acclaimed games. The game only made a modest profit, though, and has been somewhat overshadowed historically by the Baldur’s Gate franchise. Upon release, however, it was one of the most decorated PC games ever, winning numerous awards for its genre and year. The game has since been featured highly on lists of the greatest games ever developed, and demand for the game has only risen over time. A “spiritual” successor was recently successfully crowd-funded on Kickstarter as well, with a release date of 2015.

Planescape: Torment gives somewhat more interesting voting patterns than some of the other recent games. Eight of the game’s votes come from the PC board; that number represents 20% of the game’s votes, four times the percentage of votes registered by the PC board as a whole. That only represents 5% of users voting from the PC board, however, putting the game far back on the board’s tally. However, it might be surprising that the votes for the game are not as PC-centric as one might expect; with eight votes from the PC board, that means 33 of the game’s votes come from elsewhere. Faceball leads the charge with six, and no other board registers more than three. Life, the Universe, and Everything, which chose the game as #1 for their own Top 10 list back in 2010, registered only two votes for the game.

#6: 56th: Pokemon X & Y (3DS) (42 votes)

The third game (following The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Grand Theft Auto V) in the GameFAQs Top 100 to come out in the most recent full year is Pokemon X & Y. Released around the world for the Nintendo 3DS in October, it is the second-most recent game on the list. Following years of hype, Pokemon X & Y was the biggest update in the franchise’s history. For the first time, everything in the game was rendered in stunning 3D, with every Pokemon beautifully and dynamically animated. Plenty of fan service accompanied the game, as the developers went out of their way to include old fan favorites like the original starters, Pikachu, Eevee, and the franchise’s original legendary monsters. The result is the franchise’s best release in at least ten years, and easily one of the 3DS’s best games.

As with the other three 3DS games in the top 100, Pokemon X & Y draws a massive portion of its support from its console’s home board. Fifteen of its votes come from the 3DS board, for 36% of its total votes (the 3DS board, by comparison, cast only 2% of the votes in the results as a whole). 27% of the voters from the board chose Pokemon X & Y as one of their games, making Pokemon X & Y the board’s third-favorite game. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was more popular on the 3DS board itself with the 20 votes it received, but Pokemon X & Y wins rather handily overall by drawing several more votes from elsewhere as well, including six from the Warflame board (17% of its voters, tying it for the the board’s third-favorite game).

#5: T-54th: Halo: Combat Evolved (XBOX) (43 votes)

Released in 2001, the original Halo was one of the most-loved games for the original Xbox, and is credited by many for helping Microsoft successfully enter the console war against Sony and Nintendo. Its direct sequel, Halo 2, was already discussed at #80 in the top 100, but the original Halo still stands as arguably the series’ best game. Picking up the genre that GoldenEye 007 popularized and Half-Life perfected, Halo helped first-person shooters fork into the modern distinction between sci-fi shooters and historical shooters. The game’s multiplayer was heavily praised, but the game’s single player was notable as well. The characters Master Chief and Cortana have become one of gaming’s most significant partnership, and the latter will lend her identity to Microsoft’s upcoming Siri competitor in the Windows Phone. The game also received an HD rerelease ten years later in 2011.

The board for the original Xbox drew only ten votes, and not one of them was for Halo. Rather, the game draws much of its support from the Current Events board, which contributed eight votes for the game (19% of its total from a board that cast 5% of all votes). 8% of all Current Events voters voted for Halo. Despite the topicality requirement, Halo’s next biggest supporter was the Xbox One board, from which it received five votes, representing 22% of the board’s users. The game received below-average percentages from Faceball, GameFAQs Contests, and most other active voting boards. The other games in the Halo franchise received a combined 27 votes, led by eighteen for Halo 3 (Halo 4 and Halo: Reach also received votes).

#4: T-54th: Super Mario Galaxy (WII) (43 votes)

Every Nintendo console has had a blockbuster Mario title as its primary system-seller, and for the Wii, that game was Super Mario Galaxy. A critical and commercial hit and likely the console’s best game (in close competition with its own direct sequel, Super Mario Galaxy 2), Super Mario Galaxy marked Mario’s triumphant return to 3D platforming dominance after a somewhat lackluster (by his standards) showing in Super Mario Sunshine. On game score aggregator GameRankings, the game holds the highest score of all time, and is tied for the second-highest score on MetaCritic. The game’s most notable contribution was a fascinating new gravity mechanic, in my opinion one of gaming’s most revolutionary new mechanics in the seventh console generation. In the Wii library, it was only outsold by Mario Kart Wii and New Super Mario Bros. Wii, two of the franchise’s other titles.

Super Mario Galaxy drew significant attention from some of the busiest boards, including six votes each from Faceball and Nonstop Gaming General (14% of the game’s total votes each, and each total above those game’s overall vote proportions). It also drew more widespread attention as well, as its remaining 31 votes came from 23 different boards. The game’s console’s board, the Wii board, provided only one vote for the game (although the Wii board itself cast only 21 total votes), but the game made up for it with attention from several social and independent boards. Ignoring the topicality restriction, a couple other console boards also voted for the game: both the Nintendo 3DS board and the PC board registered a vote for Super Mario Galaxy, the fourth Mario game we’ve seen so far.

#3: T-52nd: Super Smash Bros. Brawl (WII) (44 votes)

The Nintendo Wii didn’t score all that many titles in the top 100 (check out the chart at the end of this list for more information on that), but three of its five occur right here in close succession. The second of these sticks with Mario, but brings some of his friends: Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The third game in the wildly successful Super Smash Bros. franchise, the game was universally acclaimed and decorated upon release. It would go on to be the Wii’s fourth-best selling game, largely on the strength of the franchise’s strong multiplayer mode. The game also had a compelling single-player mode, however, which came as a pleasant surprise to many players and reviewers. Perhaps most fascinating to me, the game is one of the clearest examples of using the Smash bros. series to drum up hype for other Nintendo franchises, featuring Lucario from the new Pokemon generation, Captain Olimar from Pikmin, and Pit from Kid Icarus. It was also the first Smash Bros. game to feature characters from outside Nintendo’s stable, Snake and Sonic.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s biggest supporter was the independent Warflame board, which gave the game eight of its votes representing 23% of the board’s 35 voters. Faceball also placed eight votes for it, but that represented a much smaller percentage (4%) of the board’s voters (217). The GameFAQs Contests board was also a big supporter with seven votes, as were several boards affiliated with Nintendo (the Wii U, Super Smash Bros. Brawl Social board, Nintendo 3DS, and Nintendo Wii boards combined for eight votes). Super Smash Bros. Brawl drew its support from a relatively small number of total boards: only fourteen boards placed a vote for the game.

#2: T-52nd: Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles (GEN) (44 votes)

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were originally planned to be one combined title, but were split up for budget constraints. Later, the latter was released as an add-on cartridge that allowed the two games to be combined into the original planned release. Together, the two form arguably the most popular and renowned title in the Sonic franchise. Knuckles has become one of the franchise’s iconic figures, and the game as a whole is the most critically acclaimed of the original three. The game has gone on to be packaged and rereleased in several compilations for several consoles, including the Saturn, the PC, the GameCube, the PlayStation 2, the Xbox, the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3, and the Nintendo DS.

Given that Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were originally designed and are popularly considered to be one game, votes for the two independently were combined. In raw numbers, seven votes were specifically for Sonic 3, three votes were for Sonic & Knuckles, and the remaining 34 were explicitly for both together. Most of these votes again came from the results’ busiest boards: Faceball accounted for seven of the votes and GameFAQs Contests accounted for five. The game’s console’s board, the Genesis board, cast three votes for the game, representing 30% of the board’s ten voters. The game was the second-most popular game for the Genesis board after Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Total, 21 different boards cast at least one vote for Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles, with over half those boards casting one vote each.

#1: 51st: Xenoblade Chronicles (WII) (47 votes)

The last of the three 2012 games on this list, Xenoblade Chronicles comes from the Monolith Soft team, most famous for the Xenosaga and Baten Kaitos franchises as well as for collaborating on several first-party Nintendo releases. The game is the spiritual successor to those Xenosaga games as well as Xenogears, which we’ll talk about next week. Originally released in Japan in 2010 and in Europe in 2011, the game took two years to receive localization to the United States, during which a significant fan effort rose to persuade Nintendo to bring it to America. Ultimately, the movement was successful, and Nintendo brought Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower all to the North American market. The game was ultimately widely acclaimed, winning high reviews and widespread consideration as the top Japanese RPG in the seventh generation.

Given how recently the game came out, one might expect that the majority of Xenoblade Chronicles’ support would come from the Wii board. That’s not the case: only a single vote came from the console’s board. Instead, Xenoblade Chronicles draws an enormous amount of its support from the two busiest boards in the voting, GameFAQs Contests and Faceball. That isn’t just proportional to their overall vote totals, however; GameFAQs Contests cast thirteen votes for the game and Faceball cast ten, tripling and doubling (respectively) their overall vote proportions. Xenoblade Chronicles was one of Faceball’s twenty most popular games (and every single higher game is higher in the top 100), and one of the top fifteen games for GameFAQs Contests. The next twenty games after Xenoblade on the GameFAQs Contests board’s rankings are all ranked higher in the overall top 100. Outside these two boards, however, the game drew 24 votes from nineteen different boards.

Conclusion

DDJ’s Brief Analysis: I’ve received some questions about one statistic that I often cite, so I’d like to take this space to clear it up a bit. To take an example, in the write-up for Halo, I write that the Current Events board voted for Halo eight times, contributing 19% of the game’s votes while the board accounted for 5% of total votes. Let me explain why that is significant. If there was no pattern to the voting at all, each individual board’s percentages would roughly match the overall percentages. If Current Events cast 5% of the votes, then Halo would expect 5% of its votes to come from Current Events. When there is a strong deviation from that percentage, it suggests significant favoritism from that board for that game. Faceball, for example, cast five votes for Pokemon X & Y for 11% of its total votes, but Faceball cast 10% of all votes, so that number is not a significant deviation.

Chart of the Week: Top 100 Games by Console.

This week, we’re looking at the consoles that play the games in the Top 100. Note that for the purposes of this analysis, I’m only considering the consoles on which a game was released in its first year of existence. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, for instance, counts only as a Nintendo 64 game, not a 3DS game. When I initially compiled this list, I was surprised to find the PC blew the other consoles out of the water. When I split the data between exclusives and multiplatform releases (multiplats), a different trend emerged. It’s almost as if there’s a certain period of transition in the Top 100. In the early years, most of the best games were exclusives: all the Top 100 games from the NES, Game Boy, SNES, PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and DreamCast were exclusives for their first year of release. The lone Sega console game on the Top 100 was a multiplatform release, but only amongst Sega consoles. However, during the sixth console generation, multiplatform releases started to become more common. The PlayStation 2, the generation’s most successful console, shared two releases with the GameCube, three with the Xbox, and two with the PC. By the seventh generation, multiplatform releases were the new norm: the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 combined for only three exclusives on the Top 100, but shared over a dozen games, either with each other or with the PC. The PC, similarly, has had eight exclusives over the years, but only one of them has come since the start of the sixth console generation. Overall, while the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 hold the most total titles in the Top 100, the award for most exclusives goes to the SNES, the PlayStation, and the PlayStation 2. I won’t be doing a list specific on generations because it is difficult to divide the 8 PC exclusives and the 12 portable games into generations. Between this console listing and last week’s by-years listing, you can infer everything about the individual generations.

Factoid of the Week: Among the twenty busiest boards and excluding system boards, Classic Gaming and the Life, the Universe, and Everything board have the greatest agreement on its favorite game, with 5% of boards’ votes going to their favorite. Warflame is close as well, with its two favorite games each also receiving almost 5% of its votes.

That’s all for this week! Next week’s list will be posted Monday on DDJGames.com, and somewhere around then on GameFAQs as well. See you then!

Methodology: From January 25th to January 26th, voting topics were posted on 237 different boards. The majority of these boards had no topicality; however, some boards corresponded to certain systems, genres, or companies. On these boards, users were asked to only vote for games that fit the board’s topic and were linked to an alternate board to vote for games that did not fit that board’s topic. However, votes on those boards that did not match the board’s topic were not excluded. These topics remained open until February 8th. Each topic asked users to vote for their five top games of all time using a structured form. Voters were only permitted to vote for five games total. Users who attempted to vote for more than five games were PMed three times during the voting period to change their vote to only include votes for five games. Each day throughout the project, votes were compiled, and an update on the progress was posted on DDJGames.com. Vote compilation involved multiple routines, including downloading the latest votes, filtering out users who had voted more than five times, changing the names of games to a single accepted name, and filtering out multiple votes for the same game from the same user. All topics were kept alive for the duration of the two weeks, and topics on busier boards were bumped back to the front page regularly. At the conclusion of the voting period, all votes were compiled one final time, and the games were ranked by the total number of votes received. Ties were broken arbitrarily. For the purpose of console listings, games are listed by any consoles on which they were released within one year of their original North American release date; any subsequent console releases are treated separately.

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