If you grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, there’s a good chance you grew up playing video games. From Atari to Nintendo to Sega Genesis, playing video games became a rite of passage for millennial kids. There was nothing better than hanging out with friends on a Friday night, eating pizza, and joining forces to beat level after level on the way to gaming glory. With all the love for gaming, how do we decide on the best video games of all time?
We know, video games get a bad rap from parents these days. But, contrary to popular belief, video games offer some incredible benefits for both kids and adults. According to a recent study, playing video games is linked to a higher IQ in children. You read that right, playing video games can actually help make your kids smarter. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam found that kids who spent extra time playing video games also demonstrated higher-than-average increases in intelligence.
This makes sense given the problem-solving and logical thinking required to play most video games, especially modern games. Another study conducted by neuropsychologists at Ruhr-Universitat in Bochum, Germany found that gamers outperformed non-gamers in tasks associated with learning. The study also found that gamers tend to be faster learners than their non-gaming counterparts.
There’s no doubt that gaming helps exercise your brain and build your problem-solving skills. However, gaming can actually build more than basic life skills and problem-solving abilities. According to another recent study by the University of Vermont, playing video games can actually help boost brain power. The study found that kids who report playing video games for three or more hours per day were quicker and more accurate at memorizing information and controlling their impulses. That certainly makes the case for buying your kids the hottest gaming titles.
But, that’s enough of the stats and studies. You came here looking for the best video games of all time and that’s exactly what we have for you. StudyFinds did the work, consulting 10 expert gaming and entertainment review websites in an effort to bring you the best video games of all time. As always, feel free to drop your recommendations for the best video games of all time in the comments section below!
The List: Best Video Games of All Time, According to Gamer Reviews
1. “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” (2017)
The one title that appeared in the top spot across gaming lists is “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” Next to Mario, Zelda is perhaps the most well-known video game character of all time. “Breath of the Wild” was released to the masses in 2017, which helped revitalize this classic series. This recent installment of the Zelda franchise is one of the best video games of all time for a plethora of reasons.
“The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s sheer freedom and sense of adventure is a remarkable achievement. Right from the start, the vast landscape of Hyrule is thrown completely open to you, and it constantly finds ways to pique your curiosity with mysterious landmarks, complex hidden puzzles, and enemy camps to raid for treasure and weapons,” explains IGN.
Having the freedom to explore the fantastical world in “Zelda: Breath of the Wild” is one of the main reasons why this game is absolutely beloved by the gaming community. “Hyrule is now an open world to explore and it’s loaded with hidden puzzles, mysterious landmarks, and enemy camps that can be raided for weapons and treasures. Not much direction is given, so exploration is vital,” explains Giant Freakin Robot.
Not only can gamers enjoy exploration, but it’s an essential aspect of the storyline. Gamers love this title as one of the best video games of all time due to the many creative ways you can go about beating the game.
“While the game does swerve away from typical ‘Zelda’ format, ‘Breath of the Wild’ is bursting with all of the puzzles and tools the series is known for. Even better, ‘Breath of the Wild’ includes a series of supernatural abilities, both in the form of slate powers and abilities gifted by legendary champions. This makes Link’s arsenal bigger than ever, and fans have enjoyed piecing together different abilities to beat the game in bizarre ways,” adds SVG.
2. “Tetris” (1984)
The next game on the list of best video games of all time takes us from the complex and immersive open world of Zelda to one of the simplest yet most challenging puzzle games of all time – “Tetris”. “Tetris” is a quintessential problem-solving game, and if you’ve ever played this classic title, you know it’s not as easy as it looks.
Likewise, anyone who has mastered this classic video game knows exactly what it’s like to feel mentally superior. “Quickly, throw a stick somewhere in your room. Good money says you just hit a copy of Tetris. According to The Tetris Company, somewhere in the area of 520 million copies of Tetris have been sold, making it the highest-selling video game in history. It might also be the single best video game in history,” writes Destructoid.
Even for the most seasoned gamers, it can be hard to explain why “Tetris” is one of the best video games of all time, it just is. “Tetris is one of those concepts that just works. Trying to fit things together in a tight space is satisfying on a primal level, and Tetris is a masterful piece of design work. It’s almost silly to praise Tetris. Because everyone already knows it’s great. Because everyone has already bought it,” adds Destructoid.
There’s also a lot of history behind this all-time great video game, too. In fact, “Tetris” was developed by Russian game engineers. “Perhaps with the exception of Pong and Pac-Man, few video games hold the same notoriety as Tetris. Originally conceived, designed and developed by Soviet software engineer Alexey Pajitnov for the Electronika 60 computer, the puzzle game was thrust into the mainstream by Nintendo in 1989,” explains Games Radar.
True, Nintendo is primarily responsible for bringing “Tetris” and many other popular gaming titles to the televisions of America. Regardless, this video game hasn’t changed much, and really, it doesn’t need to, many experts believe it’s perfect in a basic yet challenging way.
“Tetris is a game of pure abstraction, its mastery of the simplest possible visual units as ideal and impersonal as the Helvetica font,” jokes Slant Magazine.
Playing “Tetris” also has proven health benefits, and not many video game titles can make that claim. “It’s been available on nearly every platform since, a testament to our never-ending zeal for stacking blocks. However addictive, Tetris also appears to have modest health benefits, like cravings control and PTSD prevention. Devotees would probably nod and note how much a high-scoring, in-the-zone session can feel like meditation.,” adds Time Magazine.
3. “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” (1998)
We promise not all of these are Zelda, but if one thing is true, gamers love Zelda. Simply put, “Breath of the Wild” and “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” littered the tops of gamers’ lists for the best video games of all time, and for great reason. Zelda is an icon, and the Zelda franchise develops immersive, challenging, open-world fantasy games that are so much fun to play. This 1998 version of the classic video game series was truly ahead of its time.
“Its approach to letting players explore a 3D world was so consummate and sublime, that it felt less like Nintendo shoehorning eureka concepts into a new paradigm, than the paradigm bending to Nintendo whims. Its clockwork puzzles, artful area and dungeon levels, and breakthrough interface—we can thank Nintendo for intuitive lock-on targeting that preserves our freedom to execute other actions—were so groundbreaking, they’re reverently hat-tipped by just about every designer,” explains Time Magazine.
Today’s gamers would balk at the graphics of this now classic Zelda title, but it was truly groundbreaking in its day. “Number one on our mathematically derived best video games of all time list, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has received high marks from all. Originally released in 1998, Ocarina is widely popular and also received a remastering and 2011 re-release on the Nintendo 3DS platform,” writes Giant Freakin Robot.
One of the reasons this Zelda title is one of the best video games of all time is it harnesses the power of storytelling in a video game. At the time, this was revolutionary, and it helped set the standard for video game storylines moving forward.
“There aren’t enough superlatives, in any language, to describe how important Ocarina of Time is, not only to the medium of video games, but to the act of telling and being enveloped by stories. You start the game as a child and finish it as an adult. Along the way, you will have traveled countless miles, met all sorts of creatures, and been tested both in battle and by a slew of imaginative puzzles,” explains Slant Magazine.
C-Button Items from The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time!
Only thing I didn’t include was the Broken Goron’s Sword since it becomes the Biggoron’s Sword anyway 🗡️#Zelda #TheLegendOfZelda #ocarinaoftime #artists pic.twitter.com/gVRdAas7O6
— Spineshark⚡ (@Spineshark99) January 22, 2023
4. “Super Mario 64” (1996)
A list of the best video games of all time isn’t complete without a Mario title. Experts across the board agree that “Super Mario 64”, for the Nintendo 64, is one of the best video games of all time. One of this game’s most historic achievements is it helped bring Mario into the modern gaming world with a 3D experience.
“Mario games are synonymous with fun and innovation, and perhaps Mario 64 is the best example of the latter. It gathered the core elements of Mario’s best 2D, side-scrolling adventures and worked out how to translate them into a groundbreaking 3D world. It was still recognisably Mario – he collected mushrooms and ran and jumped his way to success, but he was forever changed,” writes IGN.
Although the storyline closely resembled the original Mario Brothers game, the gameplay offered a brand new experience for Mario gamers.
“Playing as Mario, players explore Princess Peach’s castle to find her and save her from the clutches of Bowser. There is a lot to explore in the Mario 64 world which also requires players to complete various missions to gain coins, stars, and power-ups. Mario is a video game icon and Super Mario 64 is one of his most iconic games,” raves Giant Freakin Robot.
Did we mention Super Mario 64 helped lay the groundwork for an entire generation of video game developers? “At more than 11 million copies sold, it was one of the bestselling games for the Nintendo 64, but its real impact was arguably off-platform, where it tectonically shifted the design imperatives of an entire industry. As Rockstar co-founder and Grand Theft Auto V cowriter Dan Houser put it: ‘Anyone who makes 3-D games who says they’ve not borrowed something from Mario or Zelda [on Nintendo 64] is lying,’” adds Time Magazine.
Every Personalized Copy of Super Mario 64 Strikes Back to you! pic.twitter.com/MJxhlFLVDS
— SeltonXD120st (@SeltonXD120) January 26, 2023
5. “Red Dead Redemption 2” (2018)
The final entry on the list of best video games of all time brings us to modern times with “Red Dead Redemption 2”. The original “Red Dead Redemption” and “Red Dead Redemption 2” both get a lot of love from the gaming community as it relates to the best video games of all time. Regardless of which one you prefer, both of these games are iconic open-world role-playing games (RPGs).
Anyone who grew up playing cowboys or watching old spaghetti westerns on black and white TVs immediately understands the appeal of this iconic video game franchise.
“According to Take-Two Interactive’s August 2022 financial report, Red Dead Redemption 2 has sold over 45 million units (not counting individual copies of Red Dead Online). That makes it the 10th highest-selling game of all time, but it’s number two in the quality rankings,” explains Destructoid.
This game also features an open world laid out as the western frontier as well as the ability to ride horses and engage in shootouts – what’s not to love?
“A sprawling Western that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Grand Theft Auto V as one of gaming’s greatest open-world achievements, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game of rare scope and even rarer quality,” raves IGN.
“A beautiful ode to an ugly era, RDR2 combines Rockstar’s most authentic and lived-in open world ever with its most earnest storytelling to date, filling in the gaps with an astonishing array of deep systems and nearly endless emergent gameplay opportunities. Its slower pace allows us to binge on the world like a virtual museum but, when the lead starts flying, it puts the wild back in the west (and then some),” adds IGN.
Red Dead Redemption 2 doesn’t confine players to the storyline, either. Gamers can relax, take their time, and truly experience the old west like never before. And the graphics are so realistic that, at times, it’s like watching a movie.
“If players get tired of the main story, they can play some cards, engage in the pelt trade, or wrangle up some bounties. Moreover, each game feature is tied together with the others in an almost unprecedented level of detail that elevates the adventure past its contemporaries. Rockstar’s graphics wizards didn’t need to program light to shine through ear cartilage realistically, but they did anyway,” raves SVG.
- Games Radar
- Popular Mechanics
- Giant Freakin Robot
- Slant Magazine
- Time Magazine
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