Top Ten Games of the Decade: Number One

December 15, 2009

It can only be one!

Wait, no.  That’s stupid.  What self-respecting publication would do that.

#1. Super Mario Galaxy

Perhaps you’re stunned in to silence by the incredible predictability of this choice.  Yeah, choosing a Mario game, particularly a well-liked one, as a #1 choice on any list isn’t very daring.

When I was a kid in 1996, I read a Next-Generation article that proudly claimed that Super Mario 64 was the best game ever made.  Their reasoning wasn’t that technology would never improve, or even that there wouldn’t be better Mario games, but gaming was never going to break ground in quite the same dramatic way.

It was not just about the way Mario 64 revolutionized 3D space in gaming, but the way it managed to do so while marrying it to tight adventure design.  The example given in the article was a random spot on a mountain with a monkey that had no real business being there.  Interacting with it caused it to steal your hat.  As you chase it down, trying to get it back, chances are you go over the edge of the platform and slide down, seeing the Pink Bomber happily dancing on a nearby ledge.  You may be hatless, but you’re no worse for wear, and have knowledge about where something is that you might otherwise not know.

I’m not going to argue Galaxy breaks the same ground as Mario 64, but it was aware of how to once again bring that back to good game design.  Super Mario Galaxy gets praised, perhaps too often, for doing interesting tricks with gravity, but that is not really the main focus of the game.  The gravity aids in level design, an underlying concept that forces you to except the rules of the world at a glance rather than constantly explain it to you.

I could go on and on about why I enjoyed Mario Galaxy more than any other game this generation, but people have seen it in numerous reviews and impressions.  The game constantly delights and surprises, which it does consistently.

It’s not the best game ever, it’s not the most revolutionary game ever, but I liked it better than any game released over the last ten years.  In our young industry, that’s saying a lot.


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