The 20 Most Beloved Video Games of All Time

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There are a lot of great video games out there but some just rise up to become wildly beloved and successful. These games are wildly popular, critically adored and just overall a solid experience. If you’re involved at all in gaming, you’ve probably heard of them. What makes a video game successful and good? Anyone who looks down this list might find the secret.

Are there any games you feel should be more popular and beloved? Say so in the comments!

  1. Mario (Super Mario Bros, Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy) by Nintendo

    The Mario franchise has gone in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling game franchise of all time. Even someone who knows absolutely nothing about video games will recognize that Italian plumber. The games were groundbreaking in both 2D and 3D game design and were a staple of many childhoods. Of particular note in the franchise is the original Super Mario Bros (which started it all and is credited with basically saving the gaming market in the 1980s), Super Mario 64 (which greatly influenced 3D game design in general with its diverse missions and dynamic camera systems) and Super Mario Galaxy (noted for its jaw-dropping graphics, fun gravity mechanics and diverse and interesting settings).

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  2. Tetris by Alexey Pajitnov

    On the basis of sales alone,Tetris is the most successful video game of all time. It owes its popularity to its simplicity and accessibility. It’s simply a puzzle game focused on fitting shapes together, the kind of thing you can play while playing in the dentist's office, yet oddly addictive. Even the most casual gamer can get it. Tetris tapped into the magic formula way back in 1984 and had been going strong ever since.

  3. Halo: Combat Evolved by Bungie

    Depicting a war between human supersoldiers and aliens, the Halo series is considered to be among the best in first-person shooters. It’s so respected and iconic that it’s called the X-Box’s “killer app”, meaning the game is so desirable people will get the X-Box just to play it. It even has terms named after it- “Halo clone” for one of the many ripoffs of the game or “Halo killer” for the rare FPS that’s considered to surpass Halo.

  4. Metroid Prime by Retro Studios

    Metroid Prime has the player battle space pirates as bounty hunter Samus Aran.  The game was beloved for its immersive atmosphere and exploration-based gameplay. The orchestral soundtrack, the sweeping visuals and the detailed level design enamored players.

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  5. Portal 2 by Valve Corporation

    The first Portal game was popular for its dark humor, challenging puzzle mechanics and generally solid writing. The sequel game just takes all that and makes it bigger and better. We follow Chell as she once against tries to escape a prison-like facility full of antagonistic AIs armed only with  portal gun. It also included a co-op mode that was a truly fun, collaborative experience. This game gives us an exciting and fraught journey, digs into the backstory of the detailed setting and expands the character relationships wonderfully. GLADoS is one of the most interesting video game antagonists of all time and this game cements it.

  6. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time by Nintendo

    The Legend of Zelda franchise is one of the most famed and beloved out there, and Ocarina of Time in particular is often the chart-topper of the franchise when people talk about their favorite games. The game follows Link as he tries to stop the evil Ganondorf from obtaining the sacred relic, the Triforce. The game was wildly influential, introducing elements like target-lock systems and buttons that change function depending on what’s going on in the game, which are now common staples of adventure games. . The graphics and variety of quests are also heavily praised. It won the Guinness World Record for best reviewed game for a couple of years. 

  7. Bioshock by 2K Games

    Bioshock is a game set in the 1960s that follows the protagonist Jack as he fights to escape a dystopian city. The game is lauded for its artistry, unsettling questions and tough moral choices, killer soundtrack and engaging environment. It’s also a game with real political dimension, containing references to Ayn Rand and her objectivism. When gamers are arguing that video games can be art, they’ll often cite Bioshock.

  8. Half-Life 2 by Valve Corporation

    Half-Life 2 is widely considered one of the best first-person shooters ever made. It puts you in the shows of scientist Gordon Freeman as he tries to save an alien-infested world. The game is noted for its incredibly realistic graphics, detailed, reactive environment and intense narrative. It won the Guinness World Record for highest rated FPS in a PC Magazine.

  9. Grand Theft Auto IV by Rockstar Games

    Though like any Grand Theft Auto game it’s got its controversial and crass elements, Grand Theft Auto IV is widely praised for its groundbreaking and vast open world design. The city the game in set in is loved like it’s a character itself, which critics praising the visuals, detailed AI and believable environment. The game's storyline is also praised for being a little deeper than other entries in the franchise.

  10. SoulCalibur by Bandai Namco Entertainment

    Soulcalibur is a weapons-based fighting game that was incredibly innovative and thus highly influential to the fighting games that followed it. It introduced a freedom of movement that hadn’t been seen before in other games, introducing an “eight way run”. The graphics are also highly lauded.

  11. Mass Effect 2 by Bioware

    Mass Effect 2 takes place in a world that is being threatened by insect-like aliens and it’s up to Commander Shepard to gather a crew to take them out in a suicide mission. Considered the best of the Mass Effect series, this game is widely praised for its complex storyline and web of character relationships. Notably, many players felt like their decisions actually mattered in the game. The experience blends great action gameplay and epic sci-fi storytelling effortlessly.

  12. Batman: Arkham City by Rocksteady Studios

    Batman: Arkham City has Batman trapped in a high-tech superprison and the player must uncover the sinister scheme underlying it all. Being Batman is awesome and this game lets you know it. You have access to amazing combat abilities and a huge arsenal of gadgets. The intricate environment is offers a huge variety of missions and quests and verges on open-world. You can even replay the game with harder enemies. Many consider it to be the best licensed game ever made. 

  13. Final Fantasy VII by Square Enix

    Final Fantasy VII is the game that singlehandedly boosted PlayStation sales and popularized RPGs outide of Japan. The game follows a mercenary named Cloud who’s trying to stop a massive organization from draining the life of the planet. The game took PlayStation graphics to a new level and was one of the first games that really sold the idea of an “interactive movie”- a complex storyline that the gamer could be a part of, rather than a more straightforward mission-oriented game.The story just gets more intense as it goes along and many adore the soundtrack.

  14. DOOM by id Software

    Doom is one of the great pioneers of gaming. 3D graphics, multiplayer gaming and mod support all owe a lot to this title. The game follows a marine posted on Mars who must face a hoarde of demons and stop Earth from being invaded. It was considered “revolutionary” for both action gaming and PC gaming. The games horror sensibility and satanic industry also made a big impact and sparked controversy.

  15. Pokemon by Game Freak and Nintendo

    Gotta catch ‘em all! This is a franchise that won’t quit and it’s easy to see why. The diverse array of cute critters, the simple gameplay, the cozy family-friendly world and the action packed storyline draw people of every type in. The interactivity of the games has led lots of people to make lifelong friends, too. Pokemon is the second-most successful gaming franchise in the world, only outdone by Mario.

  16. Earthbound by Ape Inc and HAL Laboratory

    Known as Mother 2 in Japan, the game follows a young boy and his friends as they try to stop an alien force. The game is considered a timeless classic for its clever and self-aware story, sharp humor and boundary-pushing nature. It was incredibly influential, cited as an inspiration for many popular game, like Undertale and Lisa.

  17. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim by Bethesda Game Studios

    When you think open-world RPGs, Skyrim is one of the first that comes to mind.The game allows the player to go on quests in a complex, magical world. It is inifiitely customizable, features a vast world with a ridiculous amount of characters and has so many options. Definitely one of the most ambitious games out there. Also it has produced amazingly ridiculous stories like this one.

  18. Resident Evil 4 by Capcom

    Resident Evil 4 is credited with being heavily influential to the evolution of survival horror gaming. The game follows a former police officer on a mission to rescue a girl kidnapped by cult, only to encounter a mind-sucking parasite and much more. The slick action and the innovations in the use of weapons and inventory made sure this game made its mark.

  19. Pac-Man by Namco

    Pac-Man is simply the most famous arcade game and one of the most iconic and influential games out there.The player controls a yellow circle as it avoids enemy ghosts. The simplicity of it drew in many and that was the birth of the maze chase game. Pac-Man was the first game mascot. Not to mention, it was the first licensing success for gaming and the first game to feature power-ups. It definitely earned its place in history.

  20. Chrono Trigger by Square Enix

    Chrono Trigger is a time travel story where a bunch of characters from different eras have to save history. The game was very innovative for its time with multiple endings that gave it high replay value, sidequests that allowed the characters to be developed, and a unique battle system. The game's humor and sountrack also received high praise.