The year is almost over, so once again we thought it was time to make a list of the best games of all time. That’s no easy task, because so many great games have come out in the past thirty-five years. Nevertheless, we at the editorial team put our heads together, called each other rotten fish and cut the most emotionally charged knots. The result is this comprehensive list and a very grim atmosphere on the editorial staff.
It may sound somewhat crazy, but to make a list like this as fair as possible, you actually have to be flexible. For example, with sports games you often choose the best from the franchise, because they are usually released every year and sometimes differ little from each other. That while from franchises like those of Zelda or Mario you’re going to encounter multiple games in the list, though we tried to keep that to a minimum as well.
In addition, different aspects come into play when it comes to choosing a game. Thus, games are not all looked at in the same way, because some games have to make it mainly on the impact it had when it was released, while others have to make it on its playability or nostalgia. It is impossible to compare the first Mario game with, say, Red Dead Redemption 2, but you still have to make choices in such a list.
Fat chance you don’t agree with the list, we already couldn’t agree with each other on our small editorial team, let alone with the rest of the Benelux. Still, we would love to read your reaction to the list, stating that we are incredible sadists because we didn’t put your favorite game in the list. But even more fun, you probably have all kinds of memories of the games in the list and please don’t hide that, we enjoy reading them!
The 100 best games of all time (2023)! (100-96)
95. Pong (1972)
Pong is one of the first games ever and looks tremendously primitive today, but make no mistake about the power of this game! Many people were immediately attracted to the idea of playing tennis against each other on a TV. Play tennis? Yes, those two bars on the side were supposed to represent two tennis players and the square the ball! The rest of the magic happened in your head, where, with much imagination, you imagined yourself in a real tennis match. Of course, this is hardly imaginable anymore with all those photorealistic games of today, but “back in the day” you were much more forced to use your imagination. Of course, this statement comes from our oldest editor, who can now be considered a grandfather when it comes to games.
‘Let those young dudes talk nonsense, without Pong we wouldn’t be on a console right now,’ our grandpa also adds, but that doesn’t have to be true at all. What is certainly true is the fact that it was the first ever commercially successful arcade game. But the same year that Pong came out in the arcade, Magnavox released the Odyssey, the first console ever. In fact, it took another three years for Pong to be playable from the living room, which was a huge success. Atari released the game in the arcade and on console, but countless “clones” appeared on the market. It was special though, because we are talking about one game, albeit in different variants, that may have caused hundreds of consoles to ‘spawn’. Whereas nowadays you actually play hundreds of games on one console.
Although Pong is very well known among the grandpas of gaming, few youngsters know what brought this game about. What is particularly striking about all versions of Pong is the total variety of included controllers, some crazier than others. Turntables, phone buttons, strange clubs…the manufacturers all had no idea what a good controller should entail, but they were all eager to get a piece of the game’s success. Still, among them were companies that later remained successful in the gaming industry for a long time, including Konami and Nintendo. By releasing these clones, these companies were able to survive a financially difficult time, so things could have turned out differently for Nintendo! Was our grandfather right after all!
Moment of the game:
TV was something magical for many people anyway, but making something move on it was completely witchcraft! Not everyone was immediately interested in this technology, but you can imagine the children at that time. They usually had to make do with a spinning top or a piece of finished wood (if they were lucky), so they were immediately hooked on gaming.
94. Super Meat Boy (2010)
It’s an idea as funny as it is gross; a platformer starring a piece of meat, Meat Boy. Who has to rescue his girlfriend (Bandage Girl) from the hands of Dr. Fetus, it’s all pretty goofy. However, he did that before in a flash game called Meat Boy, but due to its popularity, the creators made it a full game. Super Meat Boy’s strength lies in the game’s controls and the hundreds of brilliant levels. Super Meat Boy often dies and every time it is your fault, because you didn’t jump long enough or you overlooked a circular saw for a moment.
Now the controls can be so good, if you die often it can cause enormous frustration, but not in Super Meat Boy. The creators have been smart enough to let you restart quickly after you die, so you never have to wait long to try again. At that point, if you have to stare at a loading screen or cut scene first, the fun is quickly gone. Now the game challenges you to keep on trying and that’s why you get a little further each time. Once you have completed the many levels, there is also a dark version of each level, which increases the difficulty even more.
It’s a terrible shame we never got a real sequel, though, although we did get to frolic with an endless runner (Super Meat Boy Forever), but that didn’t have the same “polish” as Super Meat Boy. Every now and then we pick up the game again and immediately get hooked again by the perfect controls and challenging levels. We would like more Meat Boy!
Moment of the game:
Now we could write a piece here about the swear words that fly by while playing the game, or the dogged faces we put on during the more difficult levels, but we know that by now. It might be nice to reflect on the many parodies found in Super Meat Boy, such as that opening scene from Street Fighter 2 and the arrival at the castle in Castlevania.
93. Sim City 2000 (1993)
People often complain about everything loose, including a city’s policies. SimCity 2000 gave all these people a chance to show that they could run a city just fine, but in practice it turned out to be a lot harder than expected. I myself let many a city wither away while doing everything in my power to please everyone. Despite my incompetence as virtual mayor, SimCity 2000 still let me spend hundreds of hours fiddling with the game. It was addictive enough to keep many people building through the night, while not requiring you to be a hardcore gamer.
Will Wright is one of the creators of SimCity 2000, and after that game he started making another popular game series, The Sims. SimCity itself has had several more sequels with the low point being SimCity (2013), while SimCity 2000 has been ported to other consoles and handhelds several more times. For us, SimCity 2000 was the absolute highlight of the series, although many gamers will have nostalgic feelings with the first Simcity on PC and Super Nintendo.
Also, is Sim City 2000 really the best Sim City? It could be argued that Sim City 4 does everything Sim City 2000 already did, but better elaborated. Then you’re not even wrong, but here we also count the impact it had when it came out. Sim City 4 at release was seen more as an evolution than a revolution, whereas Sim City 2000 was an absolute revolution. The rotating camera angle, deep gameplay and detailed buildings all made for an unforgettable experience/
Moment of the game:
We have enjoyed many hours of Sim City 2000, but fair is fair, we have also been annoyed at times by all sorts of factors. For example, we find the citizens in a beautiful city to be huge whiners! “We want to be safe and be able to go to school!”, that kind of whining! But it all pales into insignificance compared to the innate need of these citizens to have water in their homes! The hours we spent endlessly laying underground water pipes are still as labor and Maxis has never paid us for it!
92. Olympics/ Track and Field Games
Yes here we might cheat a bit, but here you can enter multiple games; These are games in which you can play multiple sports, often based on the Olympics. None of these games are individually strong enough to make it into a list like this, but what fun we have had with many of them. Of course, these games work best when you are with a group of friends or family and you are provided with all kinds of refreshments. Besides, we all have an injury somewhere that comes right back up when you start playing a game like this. That’s because often in these kinds of games you have to hit the buttons like an idiot and as fast as possible. Or even worse, turning the stick on the controller as fast as possible, and often for as long as possible, resulting in lifelong hand injuries.
Games that excel in this genre are Track and Field 2, Winter/Summer Games and our favorite, Beijing 2008. It’s not that these games are better because they have better controls than other games in the genre, because in the end they all have lousy controls. But if you think about it for a moment, the games would be far too easy if they had good controls. Whoever somehow gets the hang of the part and can withstand tremendous pain has a chance to win! Yet you always have that one friend in your group of friends who thinks the same way, and before you know it, you are in pain for hours only to end up achieving nothing at all in your life! Delicious!
Certain components always remain fun to revisit every now and then, including skating, long jump, shooting and everyone’s favorite: the 100m sprint! The games also always feature parts that absolutely no one understands, often performed in a virtual gymnasium, but even those are hilarious to play against your friends. It may just be that not Beijing 2008 but another game from the genre will make your nostalgia clock spin, but if you’ve played one, you’ve played them all. You could also add with a little imagination the Mario Party games, which do pretty much the same thing.
Moment of the game:
As mentioned, Beijing 2008 Olympic Games is our favorite in this genre and it was packed with sports and disciplines. Whenever we played a game on the couch or online, there was always a friend present who chose the “play all” option, leaving us stuck for many hours on the most terrible parts. Many laughs, curses and broken hands later, we still had a great night!
91. Burnout 3: Takedown (2004)
Arcade racers were once hugely popular and there was even a time when they displayed those latest and greatest graphics, whereas nowadays they are often made by smaller studios. Burnout is one of the better arcade racers, although this game did not have its origins in the arcades themselves. It did otherwise have all the facets that make an arcade racer so much fun; beautiful graphics, fast gameplay and cutting crashes! The way you literally drove opponents off the road was unprecedented and the crashes were provided with a delicious slow mo, accompanied by opera music. There was also the necessary variation in missions and tracks, while the different cars also brought their challenges.
The soundtrack was already very good, but it was best to play the game on the first Xbox. Not only because the game looked the best there, but because it used the music on your hard disc. Yes, nowadays you can turn on Spotify in the background, but that doesn’t compare to the option some games had on Microsoft’s first console. The music was incorporated into the game, but also into the menus, and that was a big deal to us gamers at the time.
Burnout 3: Takedown is the absolute highlight of the series, although Burnout: Revenge and Burnout: Paradise came fairly close, but these single-handedly killed off the ‘crash mode’ by making the gameplay stupid and boring. The ‘crash mode’ was so much fun precisely because in the third volume it was a delightful puzzle to create the biggest accident ever. In other parts, you could explode unlimitedly and even the puzzling disappeared. The mode was even released as a standalone, but it was so bad that we haven’t heard from the Burnout franchise since.
Moment of the game:
The unprecedented speed of Burnout 3: Takedown had you playing mostly with adrenaline and the impact of crashes have never been matched again, for 20 years! The detail of pieces flying around in slow motion, paired with the fuzzy opera music is a fine piece of art in a video game. The crazy thing is that at the time we expected every other racer to want to imitate this and so we got to see a battle over who could make the most beautiful crashes, but that was completely absent. Even in later Burnout parts, the impact of a crash was many times less impressive, and secretly that was precisely the game’s strength.