In a few weeks, it will officially be the end of the first decade of the 21st century. The last time any of us can wear those obnoxious New Year’s Eve glasses where the eye holes are two zeros right next to each other. The end of the “Aughts” and the beginning of the unbelievably-awkward-to-say “Tens.” Okay, not to get sidetracked, but, seriously, what are we supposed to say for the next ten years? “Tens” sounds ridiculous!
To celebrate this momentous occasion, we here at Destructoid decided to put together a list of the 50 best videogames released in the ’00s. It goes without saying that it was one of the hardest things we have ever done. We went through every single one of the thousands of titles (yes, thousands!) and did our best to narrow it down to the very best the decade had to offer.
And what a decade it was! It was a fascinating ten years in the world of videogames. Not only did the last decade see videogames surpassing movies and music in sales, but with the advanced technology of the new millennium, videogame interaction -- both physical and emotional -- reached a whole new level. Designers were no longer stuck creating games to fit the limited technology of the hardware. Because of this, games with wonderfully varied visual styles and wildly different types of gameplay were born -- a true boom in creative videogame expression.
So which fifty games are the best representatives of this landmark decade? The only rule we applied to this list --- other than the obvious one of making sure each game was released between 2000 and today -- is that only one game from each series could make the final cut. True, each individual game is its own creation and should be judged as such, but the similarities in some series would have easily plagued this list with too much repetitiveness. So, in the cases when one series had many similar games that could easily make the Top 50 (e.g., Zelda), we chose the best iteration and used it as the series’ representative.
Make sense? Okay, good. Hands together ... and ... BREAK! Hit the jump for Part One (#50-41) of our week-long, five-part series: The Top 50 Videogames of the Decade!
All of the Metal Slug games are fantastic in their own special ways, but Metal Slug 3 takes everything to a new level. Like the first two games, Metal Slug 3 contains some of the most addictive run-and-gun 2D gameplay, gigantic bosses, awesome music, and gorgeous sprite art ever seen in a videogame. But then it adds zombies. And aliens. You can even ride an elephant strapped with a cannon, for crying out loud!
While the series eventually went back to its more “traditional” roots, the ridiculousness of Metal Slug 3 is what makes it the best in the series.
BioWare is arguably one of the most influential videogame developers of the last decade, producing a string of incredibly epic role-playing games largely focusing on player choice and character interaction. In a strange and compelling twist, the Baldur’s Gate creators decided to apply this winning formula to a Star Wars-themed role-playing game.
Instead of firing the guy who would ever dare pitch such a crazy idea, BioWare ended up creating one of the most well-received movie licensed videogames ever created. The developer’s later RPGs were also great (Jade Empire, Mass Effect), but Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic will always be their best.
With its unbelievably memorable characters and oddly addictive adventure/courtroom gameplay, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is easily one of the most unique and surprising games of the last decade. The fact that Capcom was able to produce something so fantastic from such an absurd concept is reason enough for its inclusion on this list.
While the third game in the series, Trials and Tribulations, offers the most robust and satisfying story in the series, its reliance on past references and plot twists makes it almost too self-referential (which is not necessarily a bad thing!). The original game’s freshness combined with its solid, challenging cases makes it the best of the bunch.
OBJECTION (to anyone that doesn’t like this game)!
Coming from Square, most gamers expected Vagrant Story to be another traditional role-playing game. While that would have most likely been fine, Square surprised everyone with a strange little RPG that is anything but traditional. Vagrant Story has no towns, no shops, focuses most of its gameplay on strategy and weapon customization, and possesses a visual style that looks like it was pulled straight out of a comic book. And, for these reasons, it is awesome.
Although it sold well, the unique and refreshing Vagrant Story has kind of fallen off people’s radars over the years. Which is a shame, since a sequel to this highly original and remarkably well-made RPG would be very welcome -- especially amongst the diehard fans of the cult classic. If you are reading this, Square, I will say it one more time: Can we please have a sequel? Pretty please?
It’s a strange thing. Even though Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii has more characters, more stages, an online mode, and a huge single-player adventure, fans still seem to prefer the balanced perfection that is Melee on the GameCube. I guess too many cooks spoil the broth ... or, in this case, too many characters from past Nintendo classics competing in a deep and complex fighting game spoil the deceptive simplicity of a game still worshiped by a large group of hardcore fans that continually like to play it at parties, including ones that I still go to, in which I like to choose Peach or Mr. Game & Watch and spam everyone by standing in the corner and throwing sausages.
Am I right?
Also, the GameCube controller is totally the way to go.
How many of you were worried that Team Fortress 2 was just going to feel like an afterthought when it was announced the game would be attached to the almost-too-good-to-be-true Orange Box compilation that included all the episodes of Half-Life 2 and brand new, revolutionary puzzle game Portal? Okay, fine, maybe it was just me. What can I say? Online multiplayer games used to scare me!
But the point is: Team Fortress 2 turned out to not be just an afterthought. In fact, it turned out to be one of the deepest and most addictive multiplayer shooters in recent memory. Not only does the game sport a great visual style, each of the completely varied, instantly recognizable classes is perfectly balanced. If you are not a big fan of online multiplayer games like I once was, Team Fortress 2 will make you a convert.
Eff the Wii! Wario Ware: Twisted! is the perfect example of what motion controls can do to elevate a videogame experience. Well, no, don’t really eff the Wii -- it’s a great system! -- but years before motion control became the new hot thing, WarioWare: Twisted! utilized a plug-in motion sensor for the Game Boy Advance that picked up on a player’s rotating movements ... and it was (and still is!) one of the coolest things ever. You really need to feel it in action to appreciate its brilliance.
WarioWare: Twisted!, with its endless barrage of infinitely creative five-second “microgames” that make full, hilarious use of the rotation tracker, is the best game in the series and one of the best games ever released on the Game Boy Advance.
Okay, let’s be honest: there is almost too much stuff to do in Banjo-Tooie. There are so many items to collect and charming characters to meet in the game’s enormous 3D worlds that it can be a little overwhelming at times. Banjo-Tooie balances the fine line between ambitious and overstuffed, but the sequel to the beloved Banjo-Kazooie is still a modern day classic and one of the last great 3D platformers to come out on the Nintendo 64.
Even better, anyone that missed Banjo-Tooie the first time around (for shame!) can download it on Xbox Live Arcade and experience the game with slightly improved visuals that still look good all these years later.
You say the name Tim Schafer in a room full of videogame nuts and it usually results in a stampede of excitement and oh-my-gosh-is-he-here fervor. So when it was announced that the writer of The Secret of Monkey Island and creator of Full Throttle was moving from his comfortable adventure gaming roots and creating a platformer/adventure game for multiple consoles, I ... er ... I mean, gamers everywhere rejoiced!
Lucky for everyone, the game delivered, as Psychonauts is one of the most revered videogames of the last ten years. The game -- which follows a psychic named Raz in his quest to become a “Psychonaut” at a twisted summer camp -- features solid gameplay, but its real strength lies in the world Schafer creates, filled with inspired locations, clever dialogue, and quite possibly the greatest cast of characters ever to grace a videogame.
When Braid was released for Xbox Live Arcade, there had already been a few downloadable titles that proved these kinds of games could be financially successful (Pac-Man: Championship Edition and UNO are good examples of that). But Braid was the first game to prove downloads could also be taken just as seriously as their bigger retail brothers.
Winning accolades for its mind-bending time-based puzzle/platformer gameplay and gorgeous graphics, Braid is considered by many to be the first true masterpiece on XBLA. Playing through the game is both challenging and surprisingly moving, thanks to a beautifully told story and one of the most talked about videogame endings of all time.
What do you think? Are we off to a good start? Hit the comments below to weigh in with your opinions and let us know what some of your favorite games of the last ten years are.
And make sure to check back tomorrow for Part Two (#40-31) of our countdown of the Top 50 Videogames of the Decade!
Part One - #50-41
50. Metal Slug 3
49. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
48. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
47. Vagrant Story
46. Super Smash Bros. Melee
45. Team Fortress 2
44. WarioWare: Twisted!