Inspired by the call from Retro Gamer magazine for their readership to send in their Top 20 ‘Greatest Games’, the Retrolike team butted their heads together, argued, and ‘disagreed to agree’ like the fanboy man-children we are.* We eventually managed to come up with our Top 20 list. So here we go!
*highly exaggerated for dramatic effect
20. Power Stone – Dreamcast
Dan: Power Stone pairs Capcom’s fighting game pedigree with the distinctive 3D aesthetics of the NAOMI arcade board, and subsequently the Dreamcast. It’s tactical, colorful, and loads of fun! When booting up the Dreamcast, Power Stone is always one of the go-tos.
19. Monkey Island 3 – PC
Rob: Monkey Island 3 had a hard job surpassing its brilliant predecessors. But boy, did the game know how to deliver! With an absolutely gorgeous cartoonish art style, brilliant but fair puzzles, and a superb voice cast, Monkey Island 3 is a must-play for everyone who holds adventure games dear to their heart.
18. Skies of Arcadia – Dreamcast
Rob: At the time, Skies of Arcadia was the most critically acclaimed Dreamcast RPG out there. The game’s charming low-poly 3D look paired with an enormous world to discover still makes “Skies” one of the most recognizable JRPGs out there.
17. Donkey Kong – Arcade
Dan: Reignited by the cult hit documentary “The King of Kong,” the game never really dropped off my playlist. Its random barrel and flame patterns make automation and learning paths extremely challenging. Once I start it at least takes an hour before I can stop again. Donkey Kong is the ultimate ‘one more run’ game.
16. Civilization 2 – PC
Dan: If a game is responsible for my occasional failings in college, it must be Civilization 2. The -iteral- turn-based game loop of moving and commanding units and city management mixed extremely well with the long-run cultural development and diplomacy side of the game. Later sequels went a lot deeper, but “Civ 2” just hits the sweet spot.
15. Gunsmoke – Arcade
Eddie: As a teenager, of all the arcade games in our local arcade, Gunsmoke impressed me the most. The then-underused “run-and-gun” gameplay concept fits so well with the setting of the Wild West. Along with “Commando,” it really set the standard for this subgenre, but I give Gunsmoke the edge with its faster gameplay and unique setting.
14. Pitfall – 2600
Dan: Pitfall was one of the earliest games to visually represent a story and setting so well. The moment you boot the game, you know you’re in for an Indiana Jones-esque adventure filled with snakes, scorpions, crocodiles, and quicksand. And it is still highly playable.
13. Alundra – PS1
Seb: Alundra takes the Zelda formula and coats it in mature themes, sending players on an emotional rollercoaster. This is backed by great gameplay with tough bosses and even tougher puzzles. It’s 2D visuals and great musical score made this into one of the better aged PS1 classics, easily enjoyable today.
12. Myst – PC
Eddie: Myst must be the most enigmatic game on our list. Even though the typical late ’90s FMV visuals may not completely stand the test of time, it is still as intriguing and fantastical as ever. With newer remakes on the market, the game remains one of the most captivating and recognizable puzzle adventures ever.
11. Warcraft 2 – PC
Rob: A LAN party ain’t a LAN party without Warcraft 2. The best RTS ever made (probably). along with its space counterpart Starcraft, it is still played competitively today, for a reason, Although overshadowed by the gigantic success of its spin-off World of Warcraft, we still recognize the impact on pop culture WC2 had.
10. Outrun 2006 Coast 2 Coast – Xbox
Dan: British Studio Sumo Digital took Sega AM2’s brilliant OutRun 2 from the arcade, filled the PS2 and Xbox disc full of additional features and modes, essentially making it the greatest arcade racer ever made.
9. Mega Man 2 – NES
Jimmy: When it comes to embodying the essence of ‘run-and-gun’ platform genre, Mega Man 2 is the first game that comes up. The ability to tackle levels in any order, coupled with the strategic element of exploiting elemental weaknesses and resistances of bosses, introduced a level of tactical depth previously unseen. It’s the kind of game you dust off from the shelf at least once a year for a nostalgic playthrough.
8. Half Life – PC
Dan: Half Life not only set the standard for story driven first person shooters but gave a glimpse of how AAA-video games have evolved in a relatively short time. The production values matched those of holywood productions and would spawn “mods” that became huge franchises or themselves like “Portal” and “Counter-strike”.
7. Halo 2 – Xbox
Dan: Bungy elevated the groundbreaking “console first” FPS to the standard for online multiplayer “arena shooters”, catapulting the Xbox platform into the de facto multiplayer platform for that and the next generation. And we haven’t even mentioned the epic single and co-op player campaign.
6. GTA Vice City – PS2
Rob: Of the back of the great success of GTA 3, Vice City was the first mainline followup, and it didn’t disappoint. Because of its pleasant Floridian setting I prefer Vice City over GTA 3 just a little bit. But like the other main line games in the series, GTA provides a world fundated on a great story with nearly unlimited amount of freedom.
5. Streets of Rage 2 – Mega Drive
Dan: It took me years to completely dissect the intricacies of the moves and throws Streets of Rage 2 offers. Add in the most colorful and vibrant color palette on the Mega Drive and a sound track so catchy that catapulted its creator into (video game) stardom.
4. Metal Gear Solid – PS1
Jimmy: Hideo Kojima might come off as a bit wacky, but let’s face it, he’s a genius. Metal Gear Solid hooks you right from the start with its intense ‘Tom Clancy’-esque vibe, packed with quirky easter eggs and top-notch production quality. Together with the PlayStation, it marks a pivotal moment in the transition of video games into a more mature and sophisticated form of entertainment.
3. Zelda Link to The Past – SNES
Rob: Zelda a link to the past took the foundation of it’s first installment to a next level. With absolutely astonishing pixel art, great story and brilliant gameplay. Were even later installments couldn’t live up to. And even today it is an adventure not to be missed!
2. Tetris – GB
Dan: It feels like the learning curve of Tetris is the result of som high level scientific research. As if the increasing difficulty is based of data of millions gamers worldwide, young and old, of which machine learning has created the perfect game progression. But no, it is just a simple, but very well made pack-in game on a 35 year-old 8-bit handheld.
1. Castlevania Symphony of the Night -PS1
Dan: If there’s a game that epitomizes why Retrolike.net exists, it’s Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. While previous Castlevania titles were fantastic in their own right, integrating the Metroid-style exploration and progression and weave it into its theme and story makes this the ultimate 2D platforming experience. Alongside Metroid itself, it truly represents the essence of a beloved corner of the video game spectrum. With its tried-and-tested Castlevania narrative and stunning pixel art, SotN holds the top spot as the greatest game ever released in our humble opinion.