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The Best Video Games… of the DECADE

Kevin and I wrote this end-of-decade wrap-up last Christmas, and even as we neared the piece’s natural end, we couldn’t stop adding to our joint Google Doc. Maybe our selections are obvious and not inventive, and probably we are blowhards who like the sound of our own writing, but here is the whole unwieldy mess, not even in its entirety, as it has appeared in my draft box since 01/01/2010. Blah, blah, blah. —ed.

When Jenn asked me if I’d assist in compiling this list, I was pretty excited! Ten years of games! I thought. Why, I have quite a few favorites in that lengthy time period I could mention.

Of course, narrowing it down is no easy feat. In terms of gameplay, video games haven’t exactly taken the huge technological leap the way they have in decades past, and graphically, the only real change is in visual detail. Nonetheless, this decade heralded the advent of downloading games and the return of in-console saving. Some games introduced these fresh innovative ideas; other games didn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table, but did what they did extremely well.

I’m not saying I played all the AAA titles and underground hits—I have eclectic gaming tastes, a low budget, and a proclivity for gaming mostly with other friends—but that has not stopped me from proselytizing the multiplayer goodness of Powerstone 2 or wild system-pushing 2600 homebrews like Adventure II to anyone unfortunate enough to get me started on the subject.

So here are some top picks from the gaming experiences of both Jenn and myself from the past 10 years, and hey, maybe you’ll find something interesting to check out! Kevin B.

I don’t know! I’d like to tell you that making a list like this is not totally overwhelming. But that is a lie.

See, I’d really enjoyed the end-of-year/decade wrap-ups from Gamasutra and AV Club and Destructoid and everyone else I guess—they all made it seem so easy!—and so I said, “Kevin! Let’s do our own wrap-up! We’ll type it up really fast!”

And it hasn’t been fast, and we have day jobs, and I feel sort of terrible for asking Kevin to drop everything and throw this list together with me. It has been a painstakingly sloppy, brain-wracking collaboration. Have I really played every video game of note in the last ten years? Probably not! I don’t know anything! I admit it!

But still: we are so seldom afforded the opportunity to regale others with our generally ill-informed opinions, so, hey, we gleefully ran with it.

What follows are my, and contributor Kevin Bunch’s, top picks for the best video games… of the DECAAAADE! Jenn F.

Zombie Game… of the DECADE

First Prize: Resident Evil 4 · 2005 · GameCube · PlayStation 2 · Wii

Jenn sez: I have complained endlessly about RE4. “It isn’t even a survival horror game!” I’ve moaned. “And there are all these tedious timed events and escort missions!” I’ve lamented. A casual listener might think I think RE4 is the worst zombie game ever.

And while ushering the President’s slack-jawed daughter to safety is still not my idea of a good time, RE4 perseveres: it is, as the old adage goes, greater than the sum of its parts. In particular, there’s a tinge of stranger-in-a-strange-land understated xenophobia about the game that I maybe uncomfortably like, in the same way Chainsaw Massacre and Wicker Man sort of work cinematically.

And the game is gruesome! It’s exciting! It’s all—in a very physical way—all pacing, all running and stopping and standing still, a lot of running and then waiting with your gun poised, kind of like FPS multiplayer at its very best, but more alienating and solitary and lonely, the way survival horror games really ought to feel.

Depressingly, the release of the original RE4 was timed to coincide with the pre-fated end of the Nintendo GameCube’s life-cycle—the launch was, seriously, scheduled for We Don’t Care O’Clock—and indeed, this game really flexed the formidable graphical could-do of the boringest, most underachieving game console ever.

But then RE4 was ported over to the Wii and, pretty impossibly, it proved for the first time that the Wii remote could be a perfectly viable light gun—and more importantly, that a rerelease can be even better than the original.

Runner-up: Siren (NA); Forbidden Siren (EU) · 2004 · PS2

Jenn sez: With its near-weaponless gameplay and revolutionary, uncannily dead character facemapping, Siren—the most viscerally grating, tedious zombie game around—is basically too horrific to play.

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7 responses to “The Best Video Games… of the DECADE” »

  1. Chris A says:

    Great lists, but I’ve gotta contest the 2600 choice… have you guys played Medieval Mayhem? Good lord that game is fantastic.


    • Jenn Frank says:

      Ugh I hate Warlords. Hate hate hate. I’ll get a friend to try this with me, though.

    • Kevin says:

      Much as I enjoy Warlords, Thrust and Lead are both just fantastic games that otherwise did not appear on the 2600. It wasn’t the easiest choice, since other homebrews like Vault Assault, Gunfight, Star Fire, or Oystron were all fun games, but those two just set a bar that they don’t top in my view.

      Also, I really need to clean my paddle controllers, because they are all WAY too jittery to play much with them effectively.

  2. Dave D says:

    Is there a version or clone of Thrust on the DS or Wii?

  3. ctuck says:

    Great read, I love how it just ends, makes it feel like a real “piece” of writing, rather than a churned out year ender.

    Though I must say the exclusion of Ogre Battle 64 wounds me! Good day!! HMPH!

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