The first season of That Ultimate Video Game List Show was an exciting learning experience and I can’t wait to incorporate what I’ve learned in Season Two (reminder if you are interested in being a part of the panel for season two, you can fill out this quick and easy google form: thatnerdysite.com/vglistguest). I loved bringing this concept that had been percolating in my head for half the year to life but even when we recorded the first episode, I wasn’t quite sure how the second half of the show was going to shape up. The game selection process had more or less taken up the majority of my bandwidth so when it came time to rank the games, I didn’t quite have a plan. We decided to tackle them five at a time for the final four weeks, so I encouraged everyone to make their own personal rankings as a jumping off point. Here is how I ranked the Top 20 Games from Season One.
20. James Bond 007: Nightfire (Nintendo Gamecube)
The only game on our list I had never heard of. I appreciated Logan’s love of it but I can’t fathom any other person having submitted this game with so many better Gamecube games and the obviously more iconic Goldeneye.
19. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Sega Genesis)
I played a lot of Sonic 2 back in the day as my family was fortunate enough to have a Nintendo and Genesis but as the years have passed, I’ve realized I’m just not a fan of the platforming style.
18. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 (Sega Dreamcast)
The only other game on the list I haven’t played (after Nightfire). As such, I just couldn’t put it higher on my personal list. It outranks Sonic 2 though.
17. Pokemon Soul Silver (Nintendo DS)
We touched on this a bit during the rankings but I just have mostly outgrown the Pokemon formula here. Gold and Silver live in the shadow of the originals and I didn’t overly care about the DS remakes.
16. Mega Man 2 (Nintendo Entertainment System)
The Mega Man Legacy Collection was one of the first games I reviewed when I launched Trevor Trove and, looking at Mega Man with fresh eyes, I just don’t think the games are well-designed and get way too much of a pass based on the rose-tinted nostalgia glasses people my age often wear. But I can still respect its historical significance.
15. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PlayStation)
I only first played this game in 2015 and was actually quite surprised by how well it held up, especially compared to some of its contemporaries. A master-class in level design that helped define an entire sub-genre of action-adventure games.
14. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox)
Far and away my favorite title from the original Xbox, a great Star Wars story, and a wonderful precursor to the Bioware character work and storytelling we would later see in Mass Effect and Dragon Age.
13. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Nintendo Wii)
Not even in my top five Mario games but still a solid Mario platformer.
12. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (Nintendo Wii U)
I stand by loving the art style. Cameron has bad taste.
11. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Nintendo Switch)
Good use of the “submit for any system it released on” rule here since none of us were really dying to submit a Switch game. Powerful story and some of the best use of audio design I’ve ever experienced.
10. Tetris Effect (PlayStation VR)
Beautiful dynamic sountrack mixed with the classic and iconic Tetris gameplay.
9. Bioshock (Xbox 360)
One of the most iconic narrative beats in gaming and solid-enough gameplay, but I was a lot cooler on this game than the rest of the panel.
8. Earthbound (Super Nintendo)
An iconic RPG from an era of iconic RPGs that has left fans clamoring for a stateside release of its follow-up Mother 3 for more than a decade.
7. Mass Effect 2 (Xbox One)
Another clever use of the “release loophole” since the largely PlayStation-centric panel wasn’t too eager to submit Xbox games. Fantastic characters. Great standalone adventure within the larger trilogy structure. Peak Bioware storytelling.
6. Portal 2 (PC)
One of the finest puzzle games ever made with incredible writing and humor to set it apart and make it an entertaining adventure even if you hated the first-person puzzle platforming.
5. Grand Theft Auto Vice City (PlayStation 2)
Grand Theft Auto III changed video games and Vice City changed Grand Theft Auto. The vibrant setting and characters took the ideas explored in GTA3 and turned them up to 11, setting the stage for the series satirical approach to storytelling in the years to come. And it probably has the best video game soundtrack of all time.
4. Persona 4 Golden (PlayStation Vita)
Incredible JRPG for the modern era. Incredible JRPG for a handheld. Heartfelt relationships and characters with wonderful performances behind them.
3. The Last of Us (PlayStation 3)
Brilliant storytelling from Naughty Dog. Visceral combat. Beautiful relationship between Joel and Ellie. Absolutely brutal in the best ways.
2. Final Fantasy VI (Game Boy Advance)
The original North American release as Final Fantasy III cemented my love for the series after Final Fantasy II (IV) and I’ve stuck with it ever since, even though I don’t tend to enjoy the modern entries. This game showed me the kinds of grandiose stories gaming could tell and the kind of characters it could create. It’s design and orchestrations transcend its era and it stood as my favorite game for nearly 25 years.
1. God of War (PlayStation 4)
A truly phenomenal blend of storytelling, characters, gameplay, combat, world design, and direction. Everything in the 2018 God of War sequel/soft franchise reboot works together in concert to create one of the finest artistic experiences in any medium. It is a near perfect expression of the kinds of stories gaming can, and will continue to, tell now that those who grew up with the art are getting to create and shape it.