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40 Years, 40 Games: 2007-2016

40 Years, 40 Games: 2007-2016 - Article

by Evan Norris , posted on 24 December 2016 / 10,401 Views

Welcome to Part IV of '40 Years, 40 Games'. This is the final entry in a four-part series detailing what I consider to be the very best game of every year between 1977 and 2016. Check out Part III, 1997-2006, here.


BioShock (X360, PC)

A spiritual successor to the System Shock games, BioShock honors its predecessors by cleverly merging multiple genres into an amazing game experience. While it's predominantly a first-person shooter, BioShock features elements of adventure games, role-playing games, and even horror games. It's a masterpiece of game design, and it plays very differently depending on the path the player chooses. 


Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)

SSB Brawl

Boasting a staggering amount of content, from its online and offline multiplayer modes, to its "vault", to its surprisingly deep single player campaign, Brawl is one of those rare games that can be played ad infinitum. The stage design in Brawl is inspired; its score, a greatest hits collection of thirty years of Nintendo music, is unmatched; and its fighting mechanics accessible enough for novices yet deep enough for veterans. Most importantly, the game is a joy to play, alone or with a group of friends.


Demon's Souls (PS3)

Demon's Souls

Set in a medieval kingdom ravaged by demons, Demon's Souls tasks players with exploring several diverse game environments, slaying terrible monsters, and collecting weapons, armor, items, and souls, the currency of the game. Employing a unique permadeath mechanic, whereby demon slayers who fall in battle are reduced to a weakened "soul form," and an asymmetrical online multiplayer mode, whereby other players can leave behind hints or invade others' worlds, Demon's Souls brings extraordinary features to a fairly common genre. 


Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Three years after Nintendo EAD caught lightning in a bottle with the original Super Mario Galaxy, the studio returned with a sequel that managed to match, even surpass, the brilliance of the original. The sheer imagination on display in Super Mario Galaxy 2 is mind-boggling. It packs more ideas and mechanics into individual levels than some games do in their entirety. Super Mario Galaxy 2 might not be as revolutionary is its predecessor, but it's every bit as beautiful, creative, and fun.


Portal 2 (X360, PC, PS3)

Portal 2

A significant upgrade from the first Portal game, Portal 2 is packed with more puzzles, more interesting and varied level design, and some of the funniest writing and voice acting of any video game, ever. Players will hop, skip, and jump through dozens of puzzling levels, using portals, blocks, and gels to move past seemingly impossible obstacles. Level and puzzle design is deliriously clever; single-player and co-op modes are addictive and fun; and the dialogue, humorously delivered by Ellen McLain, Stephen Merchant, and J.K. Simmons, is uproarious.


Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)

Xenoblade Chronicles

With its challenging and deep battle system, its focus on exploration and character building, and its beautifully-realized game world, Xenoblade Chronicles is a RPG for the ages. When players aren't fighting off monsters and mechanical warriors with a combination of skills, arts, and ether attacks, they can take on hundreds of side quests, manage "affinity" levels among their party members and the general populations, and craft gems for weapons and armor. The huge amount of things to do, see, and discover in the world in Xenoblade is astonishing.


The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)


Despite sharing an overworld with its predecessor A Link to the Past, A Link Between Worlds represents a completely original Zelda experience. In the game, the hero Link boasts a new ability to transform into a two-dimensional painting to access hidden rooms, treasure, and a dark "mirror" version of Hyrule. Backed with fresh ideas, brilliant dungeons, and plenty of secrets, A Link Between Worlds is the best Zelda game in years.


Mario Kart 8 (WiiU)

Mario Kart 8

Where recent installments of the Mario Kart series felt, at times, like variations of a theme, Mario Kart 8 feels like a brand new game experience, built from the ground up. Sure, the battle mode is an afterthought, but it's small potatoes considering everything that's right with Mario Kart 8, including opulent visuals, an orchestral soundtrack (a first for Mario Kart), silky smooth online play, and imaginative tracks that rank among the best in the series.


Rocket League (PS4, PC)

Rocket League

Rocket League might just be the surprise hit of the century. Since its release in 2015, the game has earned developer Psyonix north of $110 million, with over five million units sold across three platforms. That's darn impressive for a game where folks play soccer with rocket-powered cars. Rocket League deserves its success, though, mostly because of everything it does right: easy-to-understand controls, mechanical and strategic depth, online and offline multiplayer modes, and lots of replay value.


The Last Guardian (PS4) 

The Last Guardian

Director Fumito Ueda, who brought the world Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, adds a third masterpiece to his resume with The Last Guardian, an action-adventure game heavy on puzzle-solving and platforming. Set amid crumbling ruins, the game stars a young boy and a watchful griffin-like guardian, Trico. By issuing orders to Trico and solving environmental puzzles, the boy attempts to find his way home. Ueda and company took the symbiotic gameplay of Ico to new heights in this mesmerizing and moving adventure.


Thanks for reading!

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Ganoncrotch (on 24 December 2016)

While I've not played some of these I can happily agree with 7 of the 10 of this list and I'm fine with not every other human not having my exact tastes in gaming. Lads if everyone thought the same as you in terms of which games are best it would be a pretty boring world for us to walk around, all nodding in agreement at the same things.

  • +2
Keybladewielder (on 24 December 2016)

Xenoblade is such a masterpiece, it deserves all the recognizance it can get. Same with A Link Between Worlds. In the end this is the author's opinion and as far as I know, all the games listed there are considered good games.

  • +2
SnowPrince (on 24 December 2016)

I think the writer is a huge Zelda fan, i'm not saying it in a bad way. But I thought they would include the most remarkable game of the year. Zelda ALBW was awesome, but The Last of Us deserves it waaaay better as a new franchise. Even GTA V or Rayman Legends would have been a better choice.

  • +2
Nuvendil SnowPrince (on 31 December 2016)

I actually would say Bioshock Infinite and Last of US are the the only real contenders if you are going to be all analytical critical and stuff (seriously, GTA V is not very remarkable when you get down to it. Just like every GTA). But at the very start, the guy defined the parameters of the list as that of personal significance and enjoyment, not an analytical critical perspective.

  • 0
dark_gh0st_b0y (on 26 December 2016)

great choices, a list of masterpieces to reflect gaming greatness!

I would definitely include Skyrim

  • +1
GuyDuke (on 24 December 2016)

Ok, now that's a very peculiar list, but I like to be surprised so I congratulate the writer. If we were to play safe, maybe this list would have looked like: 2007: Super Mario Galaxy (Wii) 2008: Grand Theft Auto IV (X360, PS3) Nothing came close to this in 2008, even if V is better 2009: Minecraft (PC) which I believe did more to the industry than Uncharted 2 2010: Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii) 2011: Portal 2 (X360, PC, PS3) I want to put Skyrim but... I believe this is the superior game 2012: Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii) 2013: The Last of Us (PS3) Sorry GTAV, tLoU was a game changer (no pun intended) 2014: Mario Kart 8 (WiiU) Damn that one was hard. But with its DLC, it is the one that pushed the most the franchise since Mario Kart 64 and DS 2015: Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain (PS4, XOne, PC) Last one of Kojima's, brilliant farewell 2016: Overwatch (PC) for breathing life back into eSports, and extensive online community of over 25 million players Damn, finally that was harder than I expected. Lots of great games in that decade, but I'd argue that at times there isn't a single one you think ''It definitely trumps all the others''.

  • +1
kljesta64 (on 24 December 2016)

super mario galaxy 1 is missing

  • +1
etking (on 02 January 2017)

Xenoblade Chronicles is the best game I played since Shenmue 2 and the best JRPG since Chrono Cross. Highly underrated game.

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Roronaa_chan (on 30 December 2016)

Different opinions and I can "understand" most of them but 2013? srly?
At least 2016 makes up for it :3

  • 0
Yunta (on 29 December 2016)

Wow I was really surprised by your selection here, all of them great games nonetheless (with the exception of rocket league in my opinion).

  • 0
m0ney (on 28 December 2016)

Correction - Portal 2 is packed with some of the funniest writing and voice acting of any video game, ever, if you're 10 year old.

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Azhraell (on 25 December 2016)

Pretty much a Nintendo list, opinions I guess

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GuyDuke Azhraell (on 29 December 2016)

A Nintendo list with 5 non-Nintendo games.

  • 0
Azhraell Azhraell (on 29 December 2016)

I'm not talking about this part only, it still seems like a list a nintendo gamer only would choose

  • +2
GuyDuke Azhraell (on 29 December 2016)

And you're going to explain me how you came up with that conclusion? Because it seems to me your post is full of prejudices.

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Azhraell Azhraell (on 29 December 2016)

Yes, it is my opinion, not saying it as a fact. Why do you care so much?

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GuyDuke Azhraell (on 30 December 2016)

Because I think your opinion is not very valid. And it wasn't stated as a opinion in the first place, more like a fact, due to your formulation not being in first person. Be careful next time.

  • 0
Azhraell Azhraell (on 31 December 2016)

Hmmm... that's what you wanted to interpret, you don't really need to always give your opinions in first person. And I don't always need to specify that what I'm saying is indeed my opinion, that's implicit on every comment you read from me or anyone else.

What I said is actually pretty valid considering other people in the comments thought similar, just because you disagree doesn't make it wrong.

  • 0
fluky-nintendy (on 25 December 2016)

Demon's Souls
Dark Souls
Dragon's Dogma
Dark Souls 2
Other PS exclusive I can't recall
Dark Souls 3 (my list)

  • 0
Panama (on 25 December 2016)

Goes to show how stacked 2010 was. That year also had Red Dead Redemption and Mass Effect 2.

  • 0
bigtakilla (on 24 December 2016)

2012 and 2015 were epic years for xeno fans

  • 0
jason1637 (on 24 December 2016)

2011 should be Skyrim, 13 GTA V, 15 Witcher 3 of MTGV, and this year Overwatch, UC4 would have been better.

  • 0
jason1637 jason1637 (on 24 December 2016)


  • +2
siavm jason1637 (on 26 December 2016)

These are just opinions. We all have different games that we think are super great. I played most of the games on the list and can agree that they do deserve to be games of that year.

  • 0
thevideogameninja (on 24 December 2016)

Now this list in contrast to the previous entry in the series is highly debatable. Even though I personally don't agree with half of the titles on here, still, kudos for the writer (Evan.) is in order. Having the ability to compile a list and put it out there like this is "ballsy" as I'm sure the skepticism and criticism he will receive will be harsh, lol.


  • 0
BraLoD (on 24 December 2016)

I knew not picking TLOU would be hard on you Vek xP, but TLOU really deserved it. I was also surprised you picked RE4 over SOTC on the last article, knowing you would pick TLG now, don't get me wrong, RE4 is also a masterpiece, but SOTC is even more and I thought you would agree xD, also surprised to see Demon's Souls take 2009 and Rocket League win over Bloodborne 2015 xP
Anyway, your favs are your favs, thanks for the lists ans happy holidays!

  • 0
willians1900 (on 24 December 2016)

In my opinion The last of us was very important for the industry in 2013 for being a masterpiece in several aspects, as well as and the witcher 3 as the highest technician of the generation

  • 0
PAOerfulone (on 24 December 2016)

2007 should've been Super Mario Galaxy
2013 should've been The Last of Us.
Other than that, pretty solid.

  • 0
Cerebralbore101 (on 24 December 2016)

Yikes! Such a good list up until now. 2007: Super Mario Galaxy, 2008: Fallout 3, 2009: Uncharted 2, 2011: SKYRIM! 2013: Fire Emblem Awakening, 2015 Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate 2016: Dark Souls 3

  • 0
GuyDuke Cerebralbore101 (on 24 December 2016)

That is your opinion. I find yours just as clueless as the writer's.

  • -1
Cerebralbore101 Cerebralbore101 (on 24 December 2016)

Well it is all opinion anyway. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to these things.

  • 0
Signalstar (on 24 December 2016)

In 40 years not a single Grand Theft Auto or Naughty Dog game but there is space for 5 Zelda games? 1/8 of the list?

  • 0
Nuvendil Signalstar (on 24 December 2016)

I mean...I wouldn't put a single GTA on there either. Or I would only put one.

But the basence of Naughty Dog is odd. Personally Bioshock Infinite or Last of US make more sense than Link Between Worlds. But then again, these are HIS favorites, not a list of quantifiable best or most influential (cause if it were the latter, there's absolutely no denying Skyrim would be at 2011 and not Portal 2 :P )

  • 0
Azuren Signalstar (on 24 December 2016)

I agree that 1/8 Zelda is a bit much. I could understand two or three, but five?

  • +1
Ka-pi96 (on 24 December 2016)

2014 is the only one I might agree with. Only say might because I can`t even remember what else released that year, so yeah that might have been my best game for the year too.

  • 0
antigin (on 25 December 2016)

I understand for sure that the author is a HUUGE Nintendo fan, JRPG fan and as whole a console and japanese designed games fan. Mario, Zelda, Mario, Mario, JRPG, Mario, Zelda, JRPG, Zelda, JRPG. So limited top.

  • -1
Kivos (on 24 December 2016)

To much Nintendo and Japanese bias in general. Red Dead was the deserving GotY in 2010.

  • -1
Cerebralbore101 Kivos (on 24 December 2016)

TBH it is a close call between Mass Effect 2, and SMG2. Both are insanely good games.

  • +1
eddy7eddy (on 24 December 2016)

Oooh the Xenofeals...

  • -1
Seventizz (on 25 December 2016)

The author's taste is so foreign to most gamers. Should've titled it 'Games I Like' and signed his name.

  • -2
NoirSon Seventizz (on 28 December 2016)

The title is 40 Year, 40 Games, not 40 absolute best games, just 40 years and 40 games. It is no different from any other list highly subjective although it does cover a good amount of time. Could have reflected the trends more but this seems more of a personal project from the jump.

  • -1
Goodnightmoon (on 24 December 2016)

Fantastic list but 2015 should be for Splatoon imo

  • -3
golfgt170 (on 24 December 2016)
  • -5
willians1900 (on 24 December 2016)
  • -11
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