Best Games By Year

In which I lose myself down a Wikipedia rabbit hole and attempt to list my favourite games from each year that I've been alive.

I saw a thing on Twitter. I thought 'Neat! Maybe I should do that?'

This is never a good start to things...

Herzog Zwei - a good reason to still own a Megadrive
As I understand it, you have to pick your single favourite game from each year you've been on this planet so far. I guess originally, it was supposed to be video game-based but, since the 70's were pretty sparse in that area, I had to include board games. Or leave blank spots.

It all started fairly easily. There were only a handful of games each year, so picking the best one became a case of 'which one did you actually play?' more than anything else. Boggle, for example - haven't played it that much but I didn't play anything else that was released in 1972, so there you go.

But then it started getting trickier. By the time home consoles and 8-bit machines come into the picture, you've got a combination of board games, arcade games and video games. Picking one single best title out of those gets really super tough.

So I started noting down a winner for all three categories where appropriate.

That helped get me through the 80's.

The 90's got interesting - I had to make a rule that said I wasn't allowed to pick games I'd worked on. TBH, the only tricky year there was 1993. Syndicate was my favourite game, but it's okay because Doom came out then too and that makes a fine replacement.

Remember when games came with maps?
By then the arcade scene had kinda died out - or, at least, there were fewer stand-out titles. Still made it tricky to pick one game that covers all of the consoles, PC and board games though.

In the mid-90's, when I realised that I'd have to put Settlers Of Catan up against Front Mission, I decided that I'd not include board games after all. Perhaps they'll get their own chart at some point, but it meant that the chart doesn't really start until 1976 instead of 1972.

In fact, it's about here that I decided that I should maybe go back to my old Top Ten article and ensure that each one of those represented the relevant year. That meant that 1996 turned into an absolute bloodbath with no less than 3 of my all-time favourite games coming out then. I could only pick one of them...

By now I realised that I'd spent far too long on this damn thing. I also began to see how my gaming habit has changed over the years - that is, just how few of the more modern games I've actually played.

It's also increasingly rare for me to pick up sequels to things - even if I really enjoyed the original thing. Take Bioshock for instance - loved it. It's still responsible for one of my absolute stand out moments in gaming* and yet I never actually tried the sequel. I wonder if I thought I might somehow sully the experience?

Which is absolutely what I did with Dark Souls II. Thankfully, Dark Souls III gets the series right back on track, although I do wish they'd do away with instant fast-travel until later in the game.

And so the list is done. I can't promise that I won't go back and alter it at some point in the future as a direct response to people commenting "What about such-and-such?" or "I can't believe you left out blah". Note that I didn't necessarily play each of these games in the year they came out and I've also have tried to list the format that was most relevant to me - either I first experienced them on this or it's what I played it on the most. Also, if the dates are out, blame Wikipedia, not me.

Anyway, without further ado, I present to you:

The List

My favourite arcade game. Not on this list.
  • 1976 - Breakout (Arcade)
  • 1977 - Combat (Atari VCS)
  • 1978 - Space Invaders (Arcade)
  • 1979 - Lunar Lander (Arcade)
  • 1980 - Moon Cresta (Arcade)
  • 1981 - Bosconian (PS)**
  • 1982 - Mr Do! (Arcade)
  • 1983 - Archon (Spectrum)
  • 1984 - Elite (Spectrum)***
  • 1985 - Bard's Tale (Spectrum)
  • 1986 - Cholo (BBC Micro)
  • 1987 - Dungeon Master (Atari ST)
  • 1988 - Power Drift (Arcade)
  • 1989 - Herzog Zwei (Megadrive)
  • 1990 - Super Mario World (SNES)
  • 1991 - Super Cars II (Amiga)
  • 1992 - Dune II (PC)
  • 1993 - Doom (PC)
  • 1994 - Tie Fighter (PC)
  • 1995 - Front Mission (SNES)
  • 1996 - Super Mario 64 (N64)
  • 1997 - Total Annihilation (PC)
  • 1998 - Radiant Silvergun (Saturn)
  • 1999 - Everquest (PC)
  • 2000 - Deus Ex (PC)
  • 2001 - Halo (XBox)
  • 2002 - Steel Battalion (XBox)
  • 2003 - Freelancer (PC)
  • 2004 - Half Life 2 (PC)
  • 2005 - Guitar Hero (XBox 360)
  • 2006 - Oblivion (XBox 360)
  • 2007 - Bioshock (XBox 360)
  • 2008 - Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 (XBox 360)
  • 2009 - Colin McRae: Dirt 2 (XBox 360)
  • 2010 - Rock Band 3 (XBox 360)
  • 2011 - Minecraft (PC)
  • 2012 - Dark Souls (XBox 360)
  • 2013 - Banner Saga (iPad)
  • 2014 - Elite: Dangerous (PC)
  • 2015 - Mad Max (PS4)
  • 2016 - Darkest Dungeon (PC)
* You already know what that is. No spoilers now.
** Such a hard year for classic arcade games. Gorf, Galaga, Frogger, Donkey Kong or Time Pilot could each have taken it.
*** And again. Elite goes up against 1942 - possibly my all-time favourite arcade cab. It's also worth noting that this is the year that Supremacy - one of my all-time favourite board games came out.

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