• 5

    Final Fantasy III

    Squaresoft

    Let's get this point out of the way: nearly every game in this list is a perfect game. While some may rank above others in terms of their sales, or how they impacted the game world, that doesn't change the fact that these games are pretty much flawless. Case in point: Final Fantasy III (or Final Fantasy VI, in Japan), is an RPG so highly detailed, so painstakingly-crafted, and so much fun that you could spend decades scouring it and never find every secret to be unlocked. The story starts off about a simple war, but ends up becoming an epic tale of loss, friendship, and willpower. *Spoilers* The game features a wide cast of characters, each with distinct personalities and their own character arcs to overcome, as well as a fantastic villain and unique story. Kefka, a man who begins the game as a joke and ends it as a literal god, is one of gaming's best villains, and the fact that you begin the game on a relatively straightforward narrative, suffer through the end of the world, and then have to re-gather your allies in an open, post-apocalyptic world is truly a sight to behold.

  • 4

    Chrono Trigger

    Squaresoft

    If you could visit any point in history as easily as riding the bus, what would you do? Where would you go? If your name is Crono, you're probably going to band together with a group of multi-temporal friends and stop the end of the world. It's hard to find praise for Chrono Trigger that hasn't already been said. Strong cast of characters. Emotional story. Fun and lightning fast gameplay. And the music! Chrono Trigger probably has the greatest soundtrack of any video game. Every single track is an absolute masterpiece. Just check Youtube for Chrono Trigger remixes, and be prepared for the never-ending onslaught of re-imagined tunes from this classic game.

  • 3

    Super Mario World

    Nintendo

    Imagine this: you're a kid, playing through Super Mario World for the umpteenth time. Something about the bright graphics and tightly-paced gameplay keep drawing you back like a fly to a bug zapper. Suddenly, you find a secret you'd never discovered before, which leads you to Star Road. What's this? An inter-dimensional hub? And there are other levels there, but I can't access them without finding their entrances in the top world? So you search, and scour, and eventually, after much hard work, you have access to all of Star Road. And while playing, you manage to find the secrets buried within those secret levels, which leads to more secret levels, and eventually you've unlocked a topsy-turvy version of the game. Koopas don't wear turtle shells anymore, they wear giant Mario masks, and the entire world's color scheme warps to a different palette. That, my friend, is a taste of what Super Mario World is about.

  • 2

    The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

    Nintendo

    Like most of the games on this list, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is an epic quest overflowing with puzzles and secrets. In addition to helping hone the Zelda formula to a razor's edge, Link to the Past was also the first game to utilize Nintendo's favorite trick amidst its bag: the Dark World. Discovering the Dark World halfway through the game is a mind-blowing event for the player. Here, they'd assumed that the map represented everything to be found in the game when, in fact, there was twice as much land to explore. Few games reward smart thinking and fast-moving fingers as much as the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Except, maybe, for ...

  • 1

    Super Metroid

    Nintendo

    While the previous Metroid games were fantastic in their own right, it's Super Metroid that rocketed the series from "fantastic" to "legendary". In what's now known as a "Metroidvania" style of gameplay, you play as bounty hunter Samus Aran, traversing the depths of planet Zebes. Where you go, and how you get there, is up to you, but you'll collect power-ups and equipment as you go, which, in turn, unlocks new areas to explore. Super Metroid really brought out what it is that makes the Metroid games truly great: a lonely sense of exploration. Samus is on another planet, alone, with only her wits to guide her. The dark aesthetic and ghostly tunes bring to mind the Alien film series, only the player can rest assured that, should a xenomorph burst out to attack Samus, that'll be the last thing it ever does.