If you missed a previous edition of our countdown, look no further than these links:
Games of All Time (100-91)
Games of All Time (90-81)
Games of All Time (80-71)
Games of All Time (70-61)
Games of All Time (60-51)
Games of All Time (50-41)
Games of All Time (40-31)
Let's return to the countdown!
30) God of War II (PS2)
God of War was featured last week on SPC's list of 100 games. This week we have its sequel, which took the combo-based combat, spectacular set pieces and brutal ultraviolence to new heights to create a bigger, better and bolder game. Betrayed by Zeus, stripped of his title as the God of War and ruthlessly murdered, Kratos seeked the Sisters of Fate to go back in time and thwart his betrayal. God of War II showcased the power of the PlayStation 2 and just how tough that little black box was. The game contained more challenging puzzles, as well as a healthy helping of bosses-- easily multiple times more bosses than the original game. All of this was coated in a fantastic fighting system that towed the line between casual and hardcore players beautifully. Case in point, God of War II is one of finest action games ever devised, and it's without a doubt one of the best offerings in the PlayStation 2's robust library of intriguing games.
29) Star Ocean: The Second Story (PS1)
While this is a game that probably wouldn't make it on most lists this far into a top 100 list, Star Ocean: The Second Story is a title that gives us great flashbacks of our days with the old PlayStation. However, it's not just nostalgia, as we recently played the PSP port Star Ocean: Second Evolution, and the combat was just as refined and hectic, the presentation (especially that music by Motoi Sakuraba) was brilliant and beautiful, and the dozens upon dozens of hours that could be lost to this game, regardless of which version, made for many sleepless nights. The Second Story already provided excellent replay value, but when you consider there's two main characters that can be chosen, as well as a wide cast of party members that can be recruited, you have a game that is one of the highest RPGs listed on our top 100 countdown.
28) Mega Man X4 (PS1, SAT)
The second Mega Man game to be released on a PlayStation platform, and the first Mega Man X game to enter the 32-bit era, Mega Man X4 took the series to new heights with two protagonists, each with their own characteristics, stories and cutscenes. X specialized in long range attacks and was the easier of the two playable characters to complete, while Zero focused on short range assaults with his sword. Though many classic series that moved into the PlayStation era jumped into 3D or used some kind of 3D visuals, Mega Man X4 stayed tried and true to its roots, and it looked absolutely glorious in 3D. The game contained flashy visuals, had plenty of replay value thanks to the aforementioned two heroes, and it was a game that was challenging for all the right reasons. Mega Man X4 is a shining example of a terrific 2D platformer in the 32-bit era.
27) Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (PS2)
The first Ratchet & Clank was a fun, albeit forgetful and flawed game. However, Insomniac Games' second try with the franchise blew minds, including our own. Right away through viewing the game, you could see how incredibly improved the visuals of Going Commando were to its predecessor. Not only that, but the gameplay was much more refined, and the developers even included some role-playing elements in the mix. This came in the form of weapons that could be upgraded through repeated use. A small cluster bomb could turn into one that sent out dozens of bombs once the initial one exploded. By far the most fascinating aspect of Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando was its terrific level design. Each planet generally had two ways to go, each leading to a different destination, adding to the longevity of the game. Also adding to that was the challenge mode after completing the game. This mode delivered more bolts (the currency of the series) to players. Without a doubt our favorite in the Ratchet & Clank series, Going Commando still hasn't been beaten by any other PlayStation platformer yet.
26) Mario Kart DS (DS)
This might be a controversial choice for this list because of a little thing called snaking. However, if you found a like-minded friends who promised not to snake, you'd find much enjoyment in the online. Sure, the emblem creator made it so you could see the glorious, glorious drawings of crudely done wangs, but you could always stand to appreciate art as you see it. Regardless, Mario Kart DS was one of Nintendo's first attempts at an online game, and while the online part isn't even why we considered the game to be on our list, it was a nice feature to have. Mario Kart DS' most exciting part was its offline play, featuring something that needs to return desperately to the series, a mission mode. The game also featured some stunning and well designed tracks, including Airship Fortress, Luigi's Mansion and Delfino Square. Mario Kart DS really felt like the most complete Mario Kart that had been released as of yet, and in many regards it still does.
25) Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii, 3DS)
Recently released on the Nintendo 3DS with eight new levels and the removal of waggle to perform actions, Donkey Kong Country Returns saw the revival of Rare's classic Super Nintendo series. This time the game was developed by a different Western developer, Austin, Texas' Retro Studios. Despite the long hiatus between games, Donkey Kong Country Returns really felt like the series had just picked up where it left off. Levels constantly introduced new concepts and gimmicks to make it so you never knew what was coming next. Puzzle pieces and bonus areas were hidden well to make players explore every crack and crevasse of a given level. Then you had the Kongs' interactions with each level. Sometimes being shot from the foreground to the background and vice versa. (This looked particularly impressive on the Nintendo 3DS.) It is for these reasons that we cannot wait to see what Retro Studios delivers next with Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze on Wii U this holiday season.
24) Mega Man X2 (SNES)
The second Mega Man X game to hit our list in the same week (and the second Mega Man X game overall) is Mega Man X2. The game introduced a trio of baddies known as the X-Hunters, looking to take down the reploid that brought down the leader of the Mavericks, Sigma. Each member of the X-Hunters had a piece of Zero that players could go after optionally to rebuild the pony-tailed Maverick Hunter and get the good ending of the game. Mega Man X2 had all of the features of its predecessor, such as eight initial levels to complete, Mavericks to defeat, special weapons to obtain, capsules to find, Energy and Heart Tanks to uncover, and all the shooting, wall climbing and dashing fans of the original Mega Man grew to love. Mega Man X2 might not have reinvented the wheel, but it didn't have to. It simply took what made Mega Man X great and attempted to improve upon it. Depending who you are, it might have been the better game.
23) Super Metroid (SNES)
The best in 2D Metroid-vania games, Super Metroid brought with it some of the greatest atmosphere in a 16-bit title. The game followed bounty hunter Samus Aran as she followed her nemesis Ridley to a new planet, after Ridley had murdered the scientists studying the Metroid infant Samus uncovered at the end of Metroid II: Return of Samus. The game was structured in a way that had Samus venturing around the many areas of the planet, uncovering new abilities from Chozo statues and left behind from bosses to reach new, previously inaccessible portions of the game world. At the start of the game, Samus' repertoire of moves wasn't that stellar. By the end of the game, however, Samus had the ability to freeze foes, spin attack right through them and unleash holy heck on any enemy that got in her way. The final battle with Mother Brain still stands as one of the most defining boss battles in Metroid history, as Super Metroid itself is one of the most defining, if not THE most defining, game in Metroid history.
22) Mega Man 3 (NES)
It's bizarre that we find Mega Man 3 to be the best game in the classic Mega Man series. We say so because series creator Keiji Inafune believed the development of the game was one of the most stressful times in his career. All artists much suffer, we guess, and Mr. Inafune's suffering gave gamers this delightful title. We find Mega Man 3 better than its much loved (we love it too) predecessor for several reasons. We enjoyed the levels, challenge, storytelling, and length better than Mega Man 2. There was also no Crash Bomb boss, which meant if you ran out of Crash Bombs during that boss, you had to commit robo-cide and refill your weapon energy in a boring grind-like fashion. The additions of Rush, Proto Man and Mega Man's sliding ability added even more charm to the series. Despite Capcom's best efforts to make Keiji Inafune's creation down and out, we'll always love you, Mega Man.
21) Super Mario 64 (N64)
One of the most influential and groundbreaking video games of all time, Super Mario 64 wasn't the first fully 3D game, but it was the first to show how a proper 3D game with proper 3D models should be done. Worlds were open-ended, offering immense amounts of exploration-- just mind-blowing at the time. Super Mario 64 shifted gameplay focus from completing linear platforming levels to completing multiple unique missions within each world of the game. In doing so, the developers still had mechanics from past Mario games so Super Mario 64 had a bit of familiarity in its brand-new bold package. The game worlds were fun to explore. Heck, even messing around in Peach's castle, the hub world of the game, was an absolute blast. Revolutionary is a not word to be used lightly, but Super Mario 64 represents that word sensationally well. Other 3D Mario titles would be evolutionary, including several that are higher on this list.
There are only two weeks left for our Top 100 Games of All Time countdown. The next games are even better than the ones listed here! Is that even possible? Find out next Wednesday!