Breaking Down Polygon’s Top 500 Video Games of All-Time

So the VOX Media gaming site Polygon just released its Top 500 Games of All-Time. I’ll save you the scrolling, but I guarantee you’ll be disappointed with No. 1. You’ve been warned. With so many classics making the list though you’re sure to have some serious nostalgia dopamine dumps here. So take a look at the list highlights and then dive into what I think are some of the most glaring omissions from the Top 100. Throwing a pity ranking in the 200’s doesn’t count. If these games aren’t in the Top 100 then someone is asleep at the wheel.

  • No. 70 – Final Fantasy 7 – Never played it myself, but considered by many to be the best game ever.
  • No. 66 -Madden NFL 2005 – EA changed the game forever with the introduction of the Hit Stick. No more needs to be said.
  • No 60 – Goldeneye 007 – The first first-person-shooter that everyone got together and played for hours on end.
  • No. 50 – Mass Effect 2 – One of my personal favorites. Mass Effect was one of the first games to master the concept of making choices and having those choices affect the game’s story and eventual ending.
  • No. 43 – The Sims – Everyone built a pool without a ladder so your character would drown. Man, kids are sick.
  • No. 42 – Halo: Combat Evolved – If you were like me and didn’t have an Xbox when Halo dropped, you soon became best friends with a kid who had an Xbox.
  • No. 39 – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Epona is my spirit animal.
  • No. 26 – NBA Jam – Still play this game to this day when back home for the holidays with my brother. Nothing like a Best of 7 series over an 18 pack of Rolling Rocks.
  • No. 25 – Metal Gear Solid – Incredible franchise with the best storytelling of any game ever made.
  • No. 21 – Super Mario Brothers – Its what got us all into video games. Should probably be No. 1 itself.
  • No. 16 – Super Mario 64 – This is when I realized I wouldn’t just be playing video games as a kid. This is when I first understood that video games could be something special.
  • No. 12 – Grand Theft Auto 3 – And this is when I understood how games would keep me entertained at any age; open worlds where you could do whatever you wanted, incredible story telling, and a great way to blow off steam by racking up a 5-star rating.
  • No. 7 – World of Warcraft – Not for me, but hey you gotta respect the legends.
  • No. 6 – Ms. Pacman – Get the FUCK out of here with this. The 6th greatest game of all-time is Pacman’s wife?
  • No. 5 – Pokemon Red/Blue – The first game I played non-stop. I still have my cinder block game boy with scotch tape and cardboard on the back to keep the batteries from falling out. Realistically I must have logged 80 hours in this game over the years. I even have Pokemon Red stashed away in my drawer so no one accidentally deletes my file because I have all 151. Thats right, I got that sonofabitch Mew at a South Shore Plaza giveaway when I was like 11.
  • No. 2 – Super Mario Brothers 3 – Mario dominating this list for good reason.
  • No. 1 – Tetris – Really? Reeeallly?

Not surprisingly a lot of Mario in the Top 100, the most popular gaming franchise of all-time. But you got duds like Ms. Pacman and Tetris dominating the Top 10? Wrong.

Omissions from the Top 100:

        • Mario Kart 64 (#197) – In fairness, the SNES version of Mario Kart made the Top 100, but the N64 version is the GOAT. Probably the only old game I still routinely play with friends. Its evolved over the years to a pre-game staple while drinking with buddies before going out. Not many games can say that after 25 years.
        • Sonic the Hedgehog (#191) – One of my favorites growing up, Sonic is what kept SEGA in business. The fast as lightning blue hedgehog is one of the most iconic characters in gaming history. Its the reason the opening is forever etched into my brain….”SEEEGAAAA”
        • Mortal Kombat 2 (#146) – How Mortal Kombat didn’t make this list is outrageous. The single greatest fighting game of all-time. Terrible oversight here.
        • Fallout 4 (#430) – As you get into your twenties and start having to work a real, adult job for 40+ hours a week, you naturally have less time to devote to massive open world games. Which is why Fallout 4 was such a pleasant surprise for me. It was my first entry into the series, but the trailer sold me. Some 40 hours later I had traveled across the post apocalyptic world, made alliances, friends, and enemies all while building up my arsenal to go from just some guy who woke up from a cryogenic freeze like Austin Powers to becoming the most powerful being in the world. Pretty cool trip. Not to mention reviving that absolute banger “The Wanderer” after all these years.
        • Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (#331) – Zelda had 3 other entries make the Top 100 so its hard to be too upset, but Majora’s Mask is what made that franchise legendary in my opinion. One of the few games to adopt the concept of time travel effectively without just confusing everyone.
        • GTA Vice City (#105) – Incredibly this franchise had 4 entries in the Top 100, but I routinely go back and forth which is the best GTA of all time. Is it 3 or is it Vice City? Can’t go wrong with either, but both are better than San Andreas. Vice City is only one of a handful of video games that I actually bought the soundtrack too.
        • Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (#102) – Revolutionary game that the industry has been unable to replicate to this day. It made skateboarding and big air for everyone, not just the kids ripping cigs outside your high school. Another game with an all-time classic soundtrack that whenever I hear any of the songs from it like “The Impression That I Get” by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, it instantly transports me back to my parents basement and that old Playstation.
        • Star Fox 64 (#484) – Used to play this game so much growing up that it got to the point that I would wake up, blow through it, and smoke Andross from the back entrance all before leaving for school. Way too low on this list.
    • Sonic Adventure (unranked) – Another game that gets virtually no love because it was on the Dreamcast, which was a very underrated system. It was the first to incorporate interactive memory cards. For whatever reason (probably the immense competition with Playstation, SEGA, and Nintendo) it never took off. Which is a shame because Sonic Adventure is one of the best Sonic games of all times. It was the first one to really tell a coherent story and you got to play multiple characters across a huge world.
  • Shenmue (unranked) – This is one of those games that most of my friends never actually played. In fact I accidentally stumbled into it as a byproduct of Dreamcast never really having a huge library of games, but it was one of the first open world games with incredible, cinematic storytelling. In fact the game was so beloved, that the originally cancelled third and final game in the series is set to be released in 2018 after being entirely crowdfunded by fans on Kickstarter. Polygon dropped the ball on this one for sure.

Obviously everybody will have their own personal favorites based on what they grew up playing so what do you think? What games did they miss? What should have been ranked higher?

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