30 Best Video Games Over the Last 30 Years

30 Best Video Games Over the Last 30 Years Featured Image

Happy 30th to me! In honor of the big day, I figured I’d drop a list of some of my favorite video games of all time. As usual, don’t expect any sort of objectivity. This is my list after all.

Table of Contents

“Rules” of Ranking

As usual, before I get to the list, let me first list off some of the rules and criteria for games to make the list.

First off, if a game is part of a franchise, I’m not going to list each individual game. For example, I played a lot of Halo as a kid, so it’s surely going to make the list. However, I’m not going to differentiate between the different games in the series, even though some are better than others. Though, I may call out my favorites next to the franchise. This is not a perfect ranking of games anyway. It’s my birthday. I get to rank these games and franchises solely on vibes.

Second, ranking a collection of anything is hard because there are genres I prefer over others. The way this has come up in the past is in my anime ranking article. Specifically, I’m not a huge fan of comedy anime, like Kaguya-sama and Konosuba. I enjoyed watching both of these shows quite a bit, but I have a hard time putting them next to a show like Your Lie in April because the latter just resonated with me more emotionally (and it’s something I’ve remembered a lot more than comedy shows). As a result, this means that some genres are not going to be ranked as highly for me regardless of how critically acclaimed they are.

Third, if you want to know my rating of a game basically as soon as I finished it, go to my World Domination Checklist. I regularly update the lists there with my ratings of games I’ve recently played. These ratings aren’t really in relation to each other because the ratings are added over time, so don’t read too far into them. That said, chances are that anything ranked highly is still a good game by my standards.

Fourth, sometimes a game is ranked highly because of the community I enjoyed it with and/or the nostalgia that’s attached to it. For example, I played a ton of Heroes of the Storm at one point with some friends of mine. I don’t think the game is very good, but I enjoyed it a lot because of who I was playing it with. Another example that comes to mind is the original Phantasy Star Online. I went back to play that game, and it’s violently mid. That said, it was like the first MMO I ever played, and I used to play it with my dad.

With all that said, let’s get into the list!

30 Games in 30 Years

Taking some notes from last year, I’m going to use this space to dump the full list of games. Then, I’ll comment on some of my favorites in the next section. As usual, these are in no particular order.

CountFranchiseFavorite Game(s)Platform(s)
1Halo2 & 3Xbox 360
2Gears of WarAnyXbox 360
3Final Fantasy7, 8, 9, 10, and 13PlayStation, Xbox 360, & Nintendo Switch
4Baldur’s Gate2, 3GameCube, PC
5Cyberpunk 2077N/APC
7Heroes of the StormN/APC
8World of WarcraftWrath of the Lich KingPC
10The Super Smash BrosMelee and BrawlGameCube, Wii
11Bravely DefaultBravely Default & Bravely SecondNintendo 3DS
12Beat SaberN/AQuest 2
13Call of DutyWorld at War, Black Ops (1 & 2)Xbox 360
14Halo Wars1Xbox 360
15Phantasy StarPSO, PSU, & PSO2Xbox. Xbox 360, & PC
16Elder ScrollsMorrowind, Oblivion, & SkyrimXbox & Xbox 360
17MarioSuper Mario 64 & Super Mario SunshineNintendo DS & GameCube
18Fable1, 2, & 3Xbox & Xbox 360
19Guitar Hero3Xbox 360
20Mass Effect1, 2, & 3Xbox 360
21SonicAdventure 2 BattleGameCube
25Pikmin1, 3, 4GameCube & Nintendo Switch
26ZeldaWindwake, BotW, & TotKGameCube & Nintendo Switch
27PokémonRuby & SaphireGameBoy Advance SP
29KirbyAir RideGameCube
30Genshin ImpactN/APC

I’ve Played a Lot of Games

Before I get to talking about my favorite games, I wanted to take a moment to share some of the honorable mentions. After all, if you’ve seen my World Domination Checklist, you’ve probably seen a bit more than 30 games there. Unfortunately, that list probably doesn’t even scratch the surface. I have been gaming since I was very, very young. As a result, there are a ton of games I haven’t played since I was a little kid that I probably don’t even remember playing now. In fact, at one point, I had like every console you could think of, including:

  • Nintendo GameCube
  • Nintendo Wii
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Nintendo GameBoy Color
  • Nintendo GameBoy Advance
  • Nintendo GameBoy Advance SP
  • Nintendo DS
  • Nintendo GameBoy Micro
  • Nintendo 3DS
  • Xbox
  • Xbox 360
  • Xbox One
  • PlayStation
  • PlayStation 2
  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation Portable
  • Sega Game Gear

Naturally, there are a lot of handheld games left off the list above. I really only remember the Pokémon games, but I’ve definitely played others. That said, I was able to dig up my Xbox achievements list, so here are some wild games that didn’t make the cut:

  • Goat Simulator
  • Mirror’s Edge
  • CastleStorm
  • The Assassin’s Creed Franchise
  • The Destiny Franchise
  • The Battlefield Franchise
  • The Crackdown Franchise
  • Bulletstorm
  • The Borderlands Franchise
  • The Left 4 Dead Franchise
  • Nascar 08
  • Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
  • Splinter Cell Conviction
  • Quake 4
  • Armored Core 4
  • LEGO Indiana Jones
  • Dynasty Warriors 5
  • Dead Rising
  • Undertow
  • Saints Row
  • Ninja Gaiden 2
  • Lost Planet
  • Chromehounds
  • Sonic Unleashed
  • Small Arms
  • Fracture
  • Splinter Cell Double Agent
  • Dark Sector
  • Too Human
  • Soulcalibur IV
  • Enchanted Arms
  • Dead or Alive 4
  • Gun
  • Bionacle Heroes
  • LEGO Star Wars II
  • Ninety-Nine Nights
  • Fallout 3
  • Fallout New Vegas
  • Fallout 4

It wasn’t until I was in high school that I started PC gaming with World of Warcraft. Then, I moved over to Heroes of the Storm and StarCraft. Eventually, Overwatch opened the flood gates for me, and I started playing other, mostly indie, games like the following:

  • 20 Minutes Till Dawn
  • Among Us
  • Backpack Battles
  • Gang Beasts
  • Halls of Torment
  • Lethal Company
  • The Planet Crafter
  • Risk of Rain 2
  • Rogue Tower
  • Super Auto Pets

As of now, my entire game collection is digital, and the only consoles I own are the Nintendo Switch and the Meta Quest 2. That said, if I can dig up any images of my old games or consoles, I’ll drop them here.

Discussing Favorites

One of the fun things about putting together a list like this is rediscovering your old favorites. For instance, every few years I rediscover Kirby Air Ride. I don’t even know where you’d go to play it, but it’s definitely an all time classic for me now. Looking back, it’s sort of a silly game. There’s literally one map. But, I need more games like it.

More recently, I’ve really enjoyed modded Beat Saber. Since the pandemic, I haven’t really touched my trombone. In fact, it’s the longest I’ve gone without playing it since picking the horn up in 2005. As a result, it’s been really nice to get back into music—or at least rhythm games like Beat Saber. One of these days, I’d like to get a kit and pick up drums. Until then, Beat Saber will have to do.

Looking over the list, I also just have to point to Cyberpunk 2077. I first picked the game up after watching the anime, and I’m glad I did. The game is phenomenal. The world is pretty. The story line is enjoyable. The characters are fun and interesting. The gameplay is diverse. And, the music is excellent. Overall, it’s probably my favorite game of the last 5 years or so.

Of course, it would be tragic for me not to admit my addiction to shooters. Most recently, I’ve played a lot of Overwatch and dabbled in Valorant and Fortnite. That said, I used to be a console only gamer. Back in high school, I pretty much exclusively played games like Halo, Call of Duty, and Gears of War. I can’t tell you how much fun it was to be one of the best gamers in my small town—ask some of my friends about it. Unfortunately, these days I’m trash.

One last game I’ll mention before I move on to what I play currently is Phantasy Star. Of all the games on the list, Phantasy Star is probably my favorite franchise of all time. I played PSO back when it was an MMO on the Xbox. I played PSU when it came out on Xbox 360. And, I even waited the 12 years to get a US copy of PSO 2 before the tragedy that is New Genesis. The whole franchise is violently underrated, and I wish more games were like it. It’s cozy. It’s casual. It’s fun to grind. I love it.

These days, I think it’s tough to pin down what I’m playing. Most weekends I play a mix of Lethal Company and Risk of Rain 2. That said, anything that is a good group party game is my go-to as of late. For instance, we used to play a bit of Fall Guys and Bloons TD6. Who knows what we’ll get into next!

With that said, let’s call it here. I’m finally 30, and we’re just about a month out from my wife’s due date. I should probably help around the house. Thanks for all your help and support, y’all!

Happy Birthday to Me (8 Articles)—Series Navigation

Every year I like to write a list post to celebrate my birthday. I’ve been doing this since my 23rd birthday in 2017, and I plan to keep that trend indefinitely. Of course, I’ll need to come up with cool ideas every year, so don’t hesitate to share some of your own.

Jeremy Grifski

Jeremy grew up in a small town where he enjoyed playing soccer and video games, practicing taekwondo, and trading Pokémon cards. Once out of the nest, he pursued a Bachelors in Computer Engineering with a minor in Game Design. After college, he spent about two years writing software for a major engineering company. Then, he earned a master's in Computer Science and Engineering. Today, he pursues a PhD in Engineering Education in order to ultimately land a teaching gig. In his spare time, Jeremy enjoys spending time with his wife, playing Overwatch and Phantasy Star Online 2, practicing trombone, watching Penguins hockey, and traveling the world.

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