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Top 50 video games

Work in progress.

List items

  • Platinum Games' flagship title, and game director Hideki Kamiya's return to straight 3D action.

    Although the game feels somewhat similar to the Devil May Cry series (also born from Kamiya), Bayonetta easily stands head-and-shoulders above any of them. Its immediate strength is its escalation over DMC - Bayonetta herself is an incredibly powerful, mobile character with a massive (and massively flashy) toolset, her freely cancellable abilities satisfying to use (and master - the "dodge offset" ability that lets you merge evasion and offense once mastered is brilliance) and immediately intuitive. And naturally, you enemies are very powerful, fast, and aggressive too - no mere combo fodder here outside the lowest ranks of foes, and the enemy variety is fantastic. It's difficult to deny the strengths of the game's gorgeous and indulgent aesthetics, too.

  • Probably the most brutal game in the 3D action genre. Preserves its predecessor's great-feeling, weighty character movement and highly technical, nuanced moveset, then builds on it with a massive arsenal of unique weapons (perhaps the coolest in the genre?) and the satisfying obliteration technique that speeds the game's pace up considerably (justified given the massive crowds of enemies you'll have to cut through in this game; gone are the smaller, more intimate enemy encounters of Ninja Gaiden Black and introduces interesting risk-reward elements. (Not to mention some of the best hit feedback in any game.)

    The game isn't without its issues, though; the internal Tecmo politics that led to its rushed release can be clearly felt in its buggy nature, general lack of polish (although Ryu at least handles immaculately), and often poor boss fights. Unfortunate, but that Ninja Gaiden II is still one of the strongest action games despite its blemishes is a testament to its best qualities.

  • The title that paved the way for technical, flashy 3D action games, DMC1 remains one of the subgenre's strongest even today.

    Basically everything that makes 3D action games great crystallized in this game - Dante is a joy to play as due to his strikingly cool design and wide array of stylish and powerful abilities, your opponents are powerful and dangerous, their abilities satisfying to work out and ultimately overcome (especially the bosses - they're among the best in any action game despite how many successors DMC has had), and the pacing and overall flow of the game are rock-solid - you're constantly being put up against new enemy types, there's a healthy bit of enjoyable exploration mixed in between combat, and the game mostly does a great job of putting you in unique combat situations without letting things get too gimmicky.

  • An incredibly dense shooter - moment-to-moment play in this game is easily beyond even Resident Evil 4's. The game is fast as hell, and defense is primarily carried out through your dodge maneuver rather than cover, keeping the game from feeling too much like a turtle-fest. The weapon lineup is diverse, yet the game is versatile enough that you can make it through almost any situation with any set of weapons, and enemies are really satisfying to tear apart due to their cool, varied attacks and varied weaknesses that are fun to exploit.

    It's hard to overstate just how fantastic the final boss is, too - one of the best in any game, perhaps - and the Tactical Challenges are amazing, featuring incredible and intense enemy encounters that outstrip anything in the main game.

  • The coolest third-person shooter out there. Its brilliant combination of gunplay and melee, its arsenal of great-feeling firearms, and its variety of interesting enemies to fight against make the game shine in moment-to-moment play - but what really elevates RE4 is its fantastic scenario design. Despite the game's considerable length, it never lets up in throwing new types of well-built and exciting encounters (even including fun escort missions!) at you all the way through the end of the game. That RE4 never manages to feel bloated is a real feat.

    Also, The Mercenaries is the best.

  • The craziest platformer. Its level design is extremely strong - each stage is a rapid onslaught of exciting, challenging setpieces that expertly blend platforming challenges and combat - none of which wear out their welcome - and the constant stream of random popcorn enemies who attack from all directions ensure you never get a chance to rest easy.

  • (aka Denjin Makai II)

    Probably the best brawler of all time. Features eight (!) diverse playable characters, all with surprisingly huge movelists and tons of unique movement options - an insane achievement given that most brawlers can only support three or four diverse and balanced characters.

    Combine this with a flexible game engine that allows you to execute lots of satisfying and flashy combos (which even drive the game's otherwise-moderate difficulty up; a great bonus for expert players), solid stage design with well-paced enemy waves, and multiple selectable stages that allow for lots of variety between playthroughs (especially given how many fun characters there are) and it's clear that this stands head and shoulders above basically everything else in the genre.

  • An intensely manic shooter. Its captivating, blazing-fast speed makes Feveron an absolute rush to play no matter how many credits you've put in (especially if you're playing into its highly-addictive scoring system - weaving through bullet waves to grab the cyborgs enemies drop before they fall off the screen and break your chain is insane!). On top of that, stage design (particularly the placement and variety of enemy waves) and boss design are both fantastic (as usual for Cave), and the high degree of customization you're given with your ship at the start of the game makes for a variety of fun options (especially the incredibly satisfying-to-use Roll shot).

  • It more or less goes without saying that Doom (both the original and its sequel) are among the most tightly-designed, mechanically sound first-person shooters, with their great weapon balance, incredibly fun speedy-yet-responsive player movement that makes weaving through hails of enemy fire feel awesome, and their fantastic and varied lineup of enemies whose abilities complement each other well, allowing for a nearly infinite amount of harrowing combat situations.

    So why is Final Doom here instead of its predecessors? Simple - The Plutonia Experiment is the best official Doom campaign, featuring largely excellent stage design (its stages are very compact and measured) that really gets a ton of mileage out of Doom II's weapon and monster lineup (unlike Doom 2 itself, with its sometimes inconsistent and unfocused stages). I can't say I care that much for the TNT: Evilution campaign, but Plutonia is enough to secure this game's spot here anyway.

  • The Contra series' first real step into greatness, and a real roller coaster ride of a game. The razor-sharp controls and non-stop action of the NES games return, backed up by even more varied and excellent stage design that blends intense platforming and shooting, cool-looking setpieces (like the missile-riding finale of stage 4) that are exciting without being pace-destroying, and - most importantly - more involved, challenging miniboss and boss fights (in greater quantity than before).

    The weapon balance is solid (Crush is clearly the best weapon, but almost all of them have their uses for players of varying skill levels) and the double-weapon system adds a nice element of risk-and-reward, complicating things nicely compared to the previous games. Even the top-down levels are enjoyably fast, although they are a little awkward to control at first.