80. Pokémon GO – Niantic (iOS, 2016)
I’ve said it before in my Top 10 Games of 2016, but Pokémon GO is a crappy game. The battles are tedious, catching Pokémon is unresponsive and frustrating and frequent crashes should’ve driven people to quit. But it didn’t. In fact it became the most popular game ever made, and this feverish excitement around this subpar mobile game is what makes it so memorable. This game came into my life at the perfect time in the early Summer of 2016 while I was working in Kitchener. I had a 20-minute walk to and from where I parked my car through Victoria Park, the busiest park in the city. I would play every morning and every afternoon, strolling through the packed park with people of all ages on their phones catching Pokémon. I’d meet new people every day and we’d talk about anything and everything, Pokémon related or not. I’d talk with people online, with co-workers and everyone in between. It was this experience that made Pokémon GO such an unforgettable game.
79. Thomas Was Alone – Mike Bithell (PS Vita, 2012)
This game sticks out to me because it tells an emotional story that I really cared about with characters who were just shapes. A square, a rectangle, a longer rectangle, these were the most basic visual representations of what became deep, compelling characters over the course of the game. Not to mention it’s a really fun puzzle game, making clever use of the characters themselves as pieces of the puzzle. I played through Thomas Was Alone twice and loved every second, and I think you would too.
78. Monument Valley – Ustwo Games (iOS, 2014)
Without a doubt, Monument Valley is the best mobile game I’ve ever played. Every level feels like it should be framed and hung up in a museum, and that’s by design. The incredibly passionate and talented duo at Ustwo Games poured their hearts into this game and it shows. The mind-fucking perspective puzzles made every scene an awesome “no way!” moment. Monument Valley is absolutely one of those games I would show to someone who’s never played a game before, as it’s such a fine example of what the medium is capable of at its best.
77. Spec Ops: The Line – Yager Development (Xbox 360, 2012)
There’s not a whole lot of nuance or interesting stories in first-person shooters. In fact, I’d have to say they the majority of FPS games I’ve ever played are entirely forgettable, with a few glaring exceptions. One of these exceptions is Spec Ops: The Line, whose story had me convinced I was playing another generic war game until about midway through, where an amazing twist had me on the edge of my seat until the incredible closing scene. It’s also a fairly competent FPS mechanically but, goddamn that ending…
76. ABZÛ – Giant Squid (PS4, 2016)
Could you imagine trying to make another game after the unbelievable success of 2012’s Journey? That game shook the industry, garnering attention from all corners of the community and mainstream media alike. This was the situation Matt Nava was in, creative director on Journey and then ABZÛ. But Nava managed to take the winning formula he found with Journey and translate it from the sparse, desert setting to a dense, underwater wonderland. It was one of my favourite games of 2016 and from my review it should be pretty clear why.
75. Psychonauts – Double Fine (PC, 2005)
One of the first games I ever played was Psychonauts on my Aunt’s computer. My aunt is one of the biggest reasons I’m into video games. She brought games into our house when she lived with us, and one of those games was Tim Schafer’s beautifully weird Psychonauts. Starring a happy-go-lucky kid named Raz accompanied by a cast of zany, lovable folks I think Psychonauts was the first time I ever knew games were my favourite mediums for telling a story. This game also cemented my love of 3rd person action-platforming that would shape my future obsessions like Mario and Uncharted. I adore Psychonauts and think it’s one of my most nostalgic games.
74. Tearaway – Media Molecule (PS Vita, 2014)
I got LittleBigPlanet with my PS3 when I was a child and had a real good time. But I was never quite satisfied with the fixed perspective, three lane side scrolling gameplay. I wished I could explore the cutesy world in a more free and engaging way. That’s exactly what Tearaway did. It took Media Molecule’s incredible style and made the platforming tighter, more responsive. And it presented this awesome experience in a papercraft world that’s still unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The world fluttered and felt alive.
73. Pokémon X – Nintendo (3DS, 2013)
I’m a fake Pokémon fan. I can barely name like 50 Pokémon, I never beat the games and I’ve definitely never caught them all. But Pokémon X is the first time I got to the credits on a Pokémon game, and it’s absolutely my favourite Pokémon game. I really connected with the story for the first time in a Pokémon game. The old man’s story of loss and redemption really got to me. And it’s Pokémon! What a fun first 20 hours…
72. Tetris – Alexey Pajitnov (Arcade, 1984)
While I didn’t play Tetris in the arcades when it released, the first time I played it was in an arcade cabinet in a hotel lobby. With a joystick and two buttons I instantly got into the rhythm of lining up pieces, dropping, storing and planning the next three pieces I could see coming up. It’s an experience of pure flow. There’s nothing quite like playing through marathon mode and getting all the way to the last level, barely any time to move your piece before it drops but you still nail the landing. And that’s a feeling that still gets me on every version of Tetris to date. Nintendo DS, PS4, Facebook, and arcade, it doesn’t matter where I play Tetris I still love it and always will.
71. Super Mario Galaxy 2 – Nintendo (Wii, 2010)
While it was impossible to recapture the mind blowing awesomeness of playing the original Super Mario Galaxy for the first time I was nevertheless wowed by the sequel. Adding Yoshi felt like the awesome jump in platforming magic I got from playing Super Mario World after Super Mario Brothers as a child. There’s a whole lot of polish, wonder and amazingness to discover in Super Mario Galaxy 2 and it’s absolutely a must play for anyone with a Wii.