Welcome to the second entry of our series on the best games of all time! Since Loresworn has only been around since 2015, but D.M. and T.J. have been having opinions about games much longer than that, we’re embarking on a journey through every year from 1980 to the present, listing our favorite games that came out each year. Every week we’ll be discussing a specific year, listing what we think are the five best games from that year. At the end of this saga, we will look over all the games from each year to create Top 25 Games of All Time lists for each of us, and a grand Top 100 Games of All Time to stand as Loresworn’s final word on the subject!
Be sure to check the last page for the current rankings in the Best Game-lympics, where we will be scoring the current leaders in the Platform, Developer, and Country of Origin categories based on where each of their games place on each year’s list.
Last Week: Best Games of the 1980s
Next Week: Best Games of 1991
T.J.’s Picks, #5 – #2
5. Mega Man 3
D.M. threw some love in the little blue guy’s direction last week, and I couldn’t rightly make it through the greats of my childhood without doing the same. Mega Man 3 is the old school Mega Man title I remember playing (and cursing the stars for) the most, and was probably my favorite in the series until a very controversial entry in the 3D era blew it out of the water. But we’ll get to that later. As we discussed on our Best of the 80s podcast, the sheer difficulty and complexity (especially of the bosses) was a big part of what made Mega Man cool and memorable. If you could even finish one, you were among the upper echelon of young gamers from our era.
F-Zero was the edgy kids’ Mario Kart. And I was a pretty edgy kid. [Footage not found]. As you may have surmised from my love letter to Contra last week, I was obsessed with all things “awesome” and “badass”. Discarding the colorful, whimsy-strewn Mushroom Kingdom for a high octane, futuristic Grand Prix with hover cars and a guy in a sweet visor named Captain Falcon, F-Zero felt like coolness incarnate. And it was just a damn good racing game, too. The controls were slick and responsive for the era, and it had memorable tracks that defied the laws of physics and built my ability to memorize deadly twists and turns.
3. Super Mario World
Take Super Mario Bros. 3, our unanimous Best Game of the 1980s, evolve it even further, and you get this gem. Mario’s universe had never looked so good. The overworld concept from 3 was expanded to include a contiguous board full of many, varied areas. There were new ways to unlock hidden stages, and regions would change over time as you completed challenges. There were more incentives to go back and revisit levels you’d already completed. Yoshi was in it, and he could eat your enemies, which was fantastic. Add in all the new power ups, hazards, and clever jump challenges, and you have what may be the best 2D Mario game ever.
2. The Secret of Monkey Island
A pirate adventure as clever, witty, and charming as its protagonist – the legendary Guybrush Threepwood – the original Secret of Monkey Island is equivalent in the PC games world to the best Disney and Pixar films of the last couple decades. The humor is fast-paced and subversive. The characters are larger-than-life and memorable. Some of the puzzles were frustratingly hard for a kid living in a time before GameFAQs. As a matter of fact, I never managed to finish it until the recent remaster gave me a reason to go back. And man, am I glad I did.