The Best Animal Crossing Games, Ranked

The Animal Crossing games have always had a dedicated fanbase. It wasn’t until Animal Crossing: New Horizons arrived on the Nintendo Switch, however, that the series exploded in popularity. This cute life-simulation series speaks to the more laid-back crowd, somewhere between a game like the Sims and a Harvest Moon-style game. While each game does mix things up, adding new mechanics and ways to express yourself and explore, the core concept has always been about taking your time, making friends, and living out a peaceful life in these bright and colorful worlds. Oh, and paying off the massive debt you always seem to get dumped on you by Tom Nook, of course.

Animal Crossing began on the N64 in Japan, but the first time we got to experience this lovely series was on the GameCube in 2001. Including the debut entry, only eight titles in the series have been made across various systems. While this is a small number compared to some other Nintendo franchises, such as Zelda or Mario, each game can be played almost endlessly. The number of things to do, make, decorate, and more makes it hard not to get hooked on these games. Whether you’re a seasoned villager or looking for a new game to relax with, we’ve taken all of the Animal Crossing games and ranked them from best to worst.

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1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Now that the honeymoon period is over and we can look back at the entire series with as objective an eye as we can, we still have to give the top spot to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Based on the sales numbers, this is probably not too controversial an opinion, but that doesn’t mean it was far and away the best. What pushes Animal Crossing: New Horizons to the top of the series is a bunch of quality-of-life improvements, new mechanics, and new ways to customize your village (or island in this case), all while keeping that magical charm the series captures so well. While not everything worked as smoothly, or was even included, when the game came out, playing it now feels almost like an entire second game was added.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons shakes things up by making you the owner of your own island. There’s a huge cast of new villagers that can join you, rotating bugs and fish to collect, new items to craft, fruit to harvest, and so much more. The game is expertly designed to always give you something to strive toward, as well as smaller tasks to keep you wanting to come back every day. Visiting new islands for materials you can’t find on your own island, or taking a trip over to a friend’s island to see how they’ve decorated their world, are all fantastic ways to make this game feel like the most social version of this series yet. If you enjoy customizing every aspect of your world, Animal Crossing: New Horizons will keep you engaged for months on end.

2. Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Cyrus greeting pink and blue llama villagers.

Before the Switch was even a far-off dream, Animal Crossing: New Leaf fulfilled our desires for an Animal Crossing experience on the go. Released for the 3DS, this was just the fourth game Nintendo put out in the series, and their first one on a handheld, yet it nailed everything fans wanted from this experience. The weaker power of the 3DS made no difference here. The art style translated perfectly, and because there’s no action or reflex-intensive moments, performance was not a problem at all. Coming off of one of the less impressive games in the series, Animal Crossing: New Leaf brought in a host of mechanics that set the foundation for Animal Crossing: New Horizons to build upon.

Unlike earlier entries, Animal Crossing: New Leaf actually places you in the role of the mayor of your village rather than just a resident. This makes much more sense considering how much power you always had, but they also used that to introduce a whole host of new mechanics. You can now pass laws and do public work projects to build new shops and infrastructure, all toward improving your town status. It isn’t all just paperwork, though. This is where new activities like swimming and visiting other islands, again something Animal Crossing: New Horizons would take notes from, were first introduced. It even has some light multiplayer modes where you can play others in some minigames to unlock unique items for your town.

3. Animal Crossing

Tom Nook telling the player to take a look inside houses.

The first and original Animal Crossing knew exactly what it wanted to be right from the start. The art style was perfect for the system and even today looks great. Most of all, though, people loved it for just how different it was from anything else on the market. Unlike a Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing didn’t pin you down to be a farmer. Instead, you were basically free to dabble in as many different activities as you wanted. While it wasn’t the cultural phenomenon that Animal Crossing: New Horizons would be, this game did really start the trend of Nintendo games appealing to a wider audience who didn’t typically play many games.

Sure, Animal Crossing is light on features compared with the later games. Still, what’s there is what the series would make its name on. There are plenty of villagers you can speak to, make friends with, and interact with in ways that many games today still don’t match. It also felt incredibly advanced and almost unreal at the time by using the internal clock of the GameCube to track the time of day, but also trigger different seasonal events. Coming into your town to find it covered in snow, or set up for a Cherry Blossom Festival, without any warning made Animal Crossing feel like it was a truly real and living place. They even had a bunch of old NES games you could unlock and play within the game.

4. Animal Crossing: Wild World

A girl holding a watering can near a red tree.

The first sequel to the original Animal Crossing does take a step back from the original, but it has the portability factor going for it. Released for the original DS, Animal Crossing: Wild World just wasn’t able to cram as much content onto the handheld as many would have liked compared to what we had experienced on the GameCube. Still, this entry made it clear that taking your village with you was how this series was meant to be played. The smaller scale perhaps even made the idea of checking in on your village on to the go more manageable, even if more hardcore players felt a little light on things to do.

Animal Crossing: Wild World took advantage of another aspect of the DS and experimented with online play. The original game only let you visit other people’s villages if you physically brought over your memory cards, but now the DS allowed you to check out your friend’s town remotely. This game did feel like a trimmed-down version of the first game, only portable and with some new ways to interact and socialize with your NPC villagers. The touch screen was also a much cleaner way to manage your inventory, as well as a fun way to design your own cosmetics.

5. Animal Crossing: City Folk

A boy holding a shovel facing the horizon.

Animal Crossing: City Folk was an odd entry. It hit the Wii in 2008, just three years after Animal Crossing: Wild World. Because the series was back on a main home console, fans were ready for the next major leap in the series. If Animal Crossing: City Folk was going to ditch the portability, it should at least be a bigger game than the first, right? Well, in some ways it was, but not in the way fans really wanted. Aside from some technical additions, nothing about this game made it feel like a necessary entry in the series. It looked fine enough on the Wii, but not all that distinguishable from the original, and the Wii controls weren’t utilized for anything interesting. For some reason, the maximum number of villagers was also less than the original at a maximum of 10 compared to 15.

You already know the basics of what you can do in Animal Crossing: City Folk. There’s fishing, bug collecting, gardening, and fossil hunting. The one really new thing this entry brings to the table is the city area, as the title implies. However, your village is completely separate from this City Plaza area. To reach it you need to take a bus, thus go through a loading screen, where you can visit some different shops, including an online Auction House, and see a few unique NPCs. Since you also have Tom Nook and the Able Sisters’ stores within your village, you quickly run out of reasons to endure the long load to go to the city at all, which again was this game’s primary new feature. Unless you haven’t played another Animal Crossing game before it, there’s little reason to give Animal Crossing: City Folk your time, especially with the online service shut down.

6. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer

A pink-haired girl setting up a bathroom.

One of the main allures of the Animal Crossing games is that they don’t try and pin you down to just one thing. They’re wide open, lite life simulators. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer breaks that appeal by taking away most of that freedom and giving you the job of designer. Sure, designing your home was plenty of people’s favorite parts of the other games, but that wasn’t the only thing you could do. While it is technically a spin-off game, you wouldn’t be able to tell based on the title. When you factor in how many people who don’t follow games all that closely play this series, plenty of people came into this game expecting a full Animal Crossing experience only to be let down.

Rather than having your own home to customize, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer gives you the responsibility of being the architect of an entire village. That means every building, including other villagers’ houses, office buildings, schools, and more, are yours to plan and design, both inside and out. That might sound like a nice addition to the formula if it were in fact an addition rather than the entire experience. You have an incredibly robust toolset for designing and decorating all these buildings, but … that’s all you can really do. There’s basically no more life sim elements, or even anything to push you to keep playing. Your objectives are just … designing houses. Sometimes villagers will have requests you need to meet, like including a color or specific piece of furniture, but that’s about it. Unless you only play Animal Crossing for the home design aspect, this is an easy one to skip.

7. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Happy villagers standing around a pool.

As great as Animal Crossing proved to be on handheld devices, the iOS and Android attempt wasn’t quite the best move. Instead of bringing a classic Animal Crossing experience to the phone, it adopted the lesser qualities of phone games and applied them to an Animal Crossing game. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp was never expected to be a fully featured entry, or be the next big hit, but it fell below even those low expectations when it came out. Sure, it’s free, but with so little to do, and so much pressure to spend money on it, it kind of went against the entire premise the series had set since the beginning.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is not a joyful, relaxing time for most players. The idea is that you are in charge of running and building a campsite, which makes sense for a smaller-scale game. However, your options for activities are about as limited as one could expect. Aside from basic gathering and bug hunting, there’s little to actually do here. You can hang out with some villagers, but interactions are limited and will get old fast. The worst part, as alluded to earlier, is the microtransactions. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp really shoves its monetization in your face. You won’t be able to go more than a few minutes without feeling the pressure to buy a lootbox or subscribe to the different paid services to access items and even events.

8. Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival

A racoon landing on a 36 fruit space.

There’s no other option to put at the bottom of an Animal Crossing games list than Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival. Not only is this an Animal Crossing game in name only, but it’s just a bad game overall. The only minor saving grace, if you want to call it that, is that this game was released exclusively on the WiiU, meaning that very few Animal Crossing fans know it exists or had to suffer through playing it. Before even touching on why the actual game itself is so disappointing, we have to address the fact that this game required the use of Amiibo, or Amiibo cards, to even play. You technically just need one Animal Crossing-specific Amiibo to play, but any other character has to be unlocked with either an expensive and often hard-to-find Amiibo or extra Amiibo card. And this game isn’t even free like Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, either. You already paid full price for this.

Make no mistake, Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival is not an Animal Crossing game. Despite having the name and characters, this is a Mario Party ripoff, and it doesn’t even do that well. We already hit on how you can only play with new characters by purchasing Amiibo, but even if you somehow ignored all that, the game itself is just so dull. The boards are generic and slow, the mini-games are tedious at best, and worst of all is the Happy Points system. Instead of earning money, Bells, to purchase something like Stars in Mario Party, you’re all trying to earn the most Happy Points. These are given away by landing on certain spaces, as are Bells, which at the end of the game are just converted into Happy Points anyway, making them kind of useless. There are other game modes and things to unlock, but the grind required to do so is unreasonable for a game that feels more like a chore anyway.

Editors’ Choice

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The Best Mario Party Games, Ranked from Best to Worst

Mario has always been a lovable, carefree character who never holds a grudge against even his greatest adversaries. He’s always willing to go for a round of golf, play some tennis, race around the track, and party with friends and foes alike. The Mario Party series is what kicked off this trend of the cast of Mario getting together to compete in a board game-style competition. While it seemed like a strange departure when the first game came out for a series so focused on running and jumping to spin off into a turn-based game with dice rolling, it turned out to be one of the most successful diversions the Italian plumber ever made.

Dating back to the debut on the N64, Mario Party games have appeared on just about every Nintendo console released since. Some sequels are more similar to the original formula of traversing a map via dice rolls, collecting coins and items, playing mini-games, and purchasing stars to determine the winner, while others only vaguely resemble that well-loved structure. In the over two decades since we were first invited to this crazy party with Mario and friends, there have been nearly 20 different Mario Party games released. While some are held in extremely high regard, there are more than a few that are seen as downright atrocious. Here’s how we broke down ranking all the best Mario Party games from best to worst.

Further reading

1. Mario Party Superstars

The only game that could top even the most nostalgia-blind Mario Party fans who adore the N64 classics above all others is the one that combines the best of all of them into one new and modern package. After Super Mario Party came close to recapturing the feel of the traditional board game style that made the older games the hits they were, and Mario Party: The Top 100 bringing back the best mini-games but without that element whatsoever, this title finally brings together the best ideas of those two games into one dream package.

This game should’ve happened years ago, but better late than never. Mario Party Superstars does what fans have been asking for for years and ditches all the weird board gimmicks, different dice types, and stinker mini-games and looks back at all the great ones they’ve done and brings them forward onto the Switch. Boards from the original trilogy and games from the entire series are all brought back here, from across the entire franchise, but now with the benefit of much-improved controls, online play, and a great roster of Mario characters to play as. Whether you’re an old-school fan or new to the series, there’s no better way to experience the best Mario Party has to offer.

Read our full Mario Party Superstars review

2. Mario Party 2

Mario Party 2 boxart.

Nintendo is a company that doesn’t like to do the same thing twice. This is a methodology that can result in some of the best games the company has produced, as well as some of the worst. In the case of Mario Party 2, they changed only the essentials from the rough draft that was the first game and created an all-time masterpiece. Despite less than a year of development time, this sequel somehow knew what problems the first game had, where it could expand, and what new features would be the most fun. Basically everything fans love about the series was introduced in this game.

Prior to Mario Party 2, there were no items, no duel or battle minigames, and less varied and dynamic boards. Plus, in a touch that is criminally locked to this one game, every character has a unique outfit to fit the theme of the board being played. Want to see cowboy Donkey Kong, or pirate Yoshi? This is the only game to do it. Items added a bit of skill and planning to the game otherwise mostly being dictated by the roll of the die, and the minigame selection was not only large, but extremely creative. This is where many of the most iconic games came from, and there’s hardly a bad one in the batch.

3. Mario Party 3

Mario, Yoshi, Wario, and DK playing bumper balls.

Some consider Mario Party 3 the actual peak of the classic games, and there’s an argument to be made there for sure. It is another iteration of the formula, but more in terms of refinement than actual innovation. Basically, it’s Mario Party 2, but more. Sure, there are new minigames, as there will be in every game, new boards, more items, and ever so slightly improved graphics. Oh, and it also is the debut of Waluigi in the cast, so that alone may make it the top game for you.

What new features it does add are mostly secondary to what we all want from a Mario Party game. A single-player story mode is a nice feature, but who really wants to play this game alone against A.I.? The Duel Mode is better, giving a more tailored experience for when you only have one other friend to play with. The standout items here are the Lucky Lamp, which randomly moves the star’s location on the board, and the Reverse Mushroom, allowing you to backtrack. These do increase the strategy without getting too complex or removing the chaos factor we all love (hate) about the series.

4. Mario Party 4

Mario and gang looking shocked.

Our last chronological entry is the first Mario Party released for the next generation of Nintendo consoles, the GameCube. The visuals in Mario Party 4 alone set the standard for what the series would look like, more or less, for years to come. However, looks are only a minor feature in most Nintendo games, especially Mario Party. This entry still doesn’t rock the boat too much, but for better and for worse. The new minigames are certainly fun, still finding new ways to compete that people look back fondly on, but nothing groundbreaking. This is the most smooth and refined one from a gameplay perspective for sure, arguably controlling the best of any game yet.

Where Mario Party 4 falters is in some of the new mechanics it introduces, as well as its board design and selection. The major new mechanics are the mini and mega mushrooms. One shrinks your character, as well as limits the dice numbers to only 1 to 5, and lets you go through very situational mini pathways on the map. Mega mushrooms do about the opposite, where you get big and roll two dice blocks. If you pass other players while big, you steal 10 coins, but you cannot interact with any board events, including stars. The board designs themselves are pretty bland and don’t have much uniqueness among them, and are actually pretty small.

5. Super Mario Party

Mario and friends racing tricycles.

Jumping (see what we did there?) way into the future, we hit Super Mario Party for the Nintendo Switch. This felt like the perfect opportunity for Mario Party to make a comeback after a string of absolutely abysmal entries leading up to it. The Switch felt like it was made for Mario Party, if only Nintendo would go back to what made the series so popular in the first place. In the end, we kind of got the game we were hoping for, but in reality, it felt like a half-measure. After 10 years since the series looked anything like the classic games, most were accepting of this attempt at a return to form.

Super Mario Party strips most of the gimmicks that fans hated over the past few entries and does a decent job of giving us what we wanted. At the same time, despite being the newest game in the franchise, it feels almost like the first in a lot of ways. There’s a criminally small number of boards, all of which are quite small, and only years later was online play added in an update. Most hoped more boards would be added later on, but that never came to pass. The balance is also not particularly good, with star prices slashed and each character having its own dice block, plus the ability to get companions that can really tilt the scale in one player’s favor. It’s a fun enough time, but doesn’t have the lasting power we want out of a game like this.

Read our full Super Mario Party review

6. Mario Party 8

Mario and friends walking on tightropes.

Perhaps even more than the Switch, the Nintendo Wii seemed like a slam dunk for a Mario Party title. The motion controls opened up an entirely new design space for creative and fun minigames. Unlike other games using the Wii’s motion controls, it actually served the minigame format perfectly since no game went on long enough for players to get bored or frustrated with the controls. Plus, they still had the option to use more traditional controls to add even more variety. Unfortunately, not all of these minigame ideas turned out to be as fun as they were intended to be.

The boards were also a mixed bag. On one hand, we got really fun and different board types like Koopa’s Tycoon Town, where you invest your coins into hotels to earn stars, but if another player invests more than you, the stars belong to them. This twist was probably the best idea Mario Party 8 had, giving way more control to players to actually plan and gamble when the best time to invest or not would be. On the other hand, you get Goomba’s Booty Boardwalk, which is a literal straight line of a board. It’s a decent entry, but with some pitfalls that hold it back from reaching the potential a Wii Mario Party game should’ve hit.

7. Mario Party 6

Mario and friends in a picturebook.

Somehow the GameCube got a total of four Mario Party games, with the second-to-last one being Mario Party 6. This is where gimmicks start to influence the core of the games going forward, but they aren’t overly intrusive just yet. The system this game introduces is a universal day and night cycle to all the boards. This was something seen before but was board-specific. Depending on the time of day, boards would have different events, paths, and spaces to keep players on their toes. Depending on how this gels with you, it could raise or lower it on your personal ranking, because the rest of the game is a solid entry.

While it does allow for use of the GameCube’s microphone, we never knew anyone who had one to use, and the minigames themselves don’t require it. The selection here is solid, too. Nothing that would go on to be fondly remembered, but nothing that people loathe. One interesting mechanical twist was related to items now being orbs that players could throw to lay traps on the board. That spiced things up in a way that perfectly fit the series and would be a welcome feature to have as a standard. Boards remained solid, and the day and night cycle did give them some extra room to make them more layered, but aren’t quite special enough to stick out in our memories.

8. Mario Party 7

Mario running on the globe followed by everyone else.

The final Mario Party for the GameCube is also the unfortunate weakest of the four titles. It again dabbled with the microphone, but again to no real consequence. If it does one thing well, it gives you a ton of content. Seriously, this game is absolutely packed with things to do, and if that’s all you’re looking for, then this game isn’t a bad choice. On the other hand, there really isn’t much to say about this game. It just doesn’t do anything particularly noteworthy. Sure, two of the boards were kind of cool in how they changed, but as a package, it’s kind of like a bag of chips. It’s fine, but not a satisfying meal you’d remember fondly.

Aside from a huge list of minigames, Mario Party 7 did try a small innovation with an eight-player mode, but in probably the worst way possible. Because Nintendo does things its own way, it decided to make this eight-player mode have two players share a single controller. The single-player offering is also insultingly slow and boring. There’s plenty of content to unlock playing it via a shop that allowed you to unlock figurines, but the act of doing it just isn’t fun. Speaking of not fun, the gimmick here during Party Cruise mode is Bowser Time, which triggers every five turns. When it does, Bowser appears and does some random act to screw over one or all the players. Bowser is a fun wrench when he’s a single space on the board, but way too frustrating when he appears every five turns.

9. Mario Party 5

Bowser watching the players trapped in cages.

We’re about at the halfway point in the list, which is a fitting spot for Mario Party 5. This game is just kind of there. It doesn’t do anything spectacularly bad, but it doesn’t do anything better than average either. It’s just more Mario Party, which is fine, but if you’ve played even the last entry then this one will feel very shallow. The only thing it experimented with was a side mode called Super Duel Mode. In this mode, two players battle against each other by building customizable vehicles called Machines by purchasing parts with points earned through minigames. It’s fun for a round or two but lacks any real depth.

The boards this time around are uninspired and unappealing to look at, the roster is almost identical to Mario Party 4, and most minigames are recycled from the previous game too. All this makes a game that just feels like a drag to play. When you get down to it, there’s no reason to play this game over the previous game, or the next installment. There’s no such thing as a lazy game, but this entry just feels like they were told to make a new Mario Party and didn’t have any spark or ideas that made them actually want to.

10. Mario Party

Toad asking who wants to be the superstar.

Finally, we come to the original. The first game in the series does have to be acknowledged for kicking off this ridiculous concept in such a way that it managed to thrive long enough to reach the heights we’ve already covered, but at the same time there’s no denying how hard it is to go back to this rickety old game. For a first outing, Mario Party set the standard for the basic formula the best games would improve upon. We got the board-based gameplay, dice rolling, some items, minigames, and many of the iconic spaces. However, playing it can sometimes be painful (literally). There’s hardly any sense of balance here, which is always a delicate tightrope the series has to walk, but the fact that you can lose coins during minigames alone was a terrible choice.

Then there are the minigames. Some went on to be some all-time favorites, such as Bumper Balls and Mushroom Mix-Up, but others ended up requiring Nintendo to ship out special gloves to keep players from tearing the skin on their palms. There was a single-player mode, but it boiled down to simply going through each minigame against A.I. on a set number of lives. There’s also no variety in minigames — they’re all four-player free-for-all style — and the eight boards, while creative, are uninteresting to actually move through. There’s just no reason to go back to this one.

11. Mario Party DS

Mario and crew locked up by Bowser.

This is where we really tip the scales into the bad side of the Mario Party games. The formula isn’t completely broken here, but this game clearly had its focus in the wrong areas. Mario Party DS was the only iteration for the console, and perhaps had even more potential than the Wii. For one, the DS had plenty of ways to interact that could make for completely unique minigames using the touch screen, dual screen, and built-in microphone. The real opportunity here, though, was for online play. The DS, as a handheld, obviously couldn’t support local multiplayer like the console games could, but the idea of going online to play a round of Mario Party seemed like a perfect fit.

Technically, Mario Party DS did do most of those things. It did create a bunch of new minigames, actually having a substantial 73 in total, that used the console’s unique features, and was playable wirelessly with up to four friends, even if only one owned the game itself. However, the game had a disappointing number of boards and was geared more toward the single-player offering, with achievements to go after for unlocks. Perhaps that was to make up for the fact that it was just way more difficult to get a game going when each player had to own their own console. For a handheld attempt, though, it at least got the core mostly right.

12. Mario Party 10

Luigi about to roll the dice in the car.

For all the problems there were with the WiiU, and boy were there a ton of problems, the one problem it shouldn’t have had was a bad Mario Party game. Just like the Wii and DS before it, the WiiU’s touchpad opened up nearly endless possibilities for minigames that never could’ve been done before, and yet Nintendo squandered even that. Before even getting into that, the main issue with Mario Party 10 is a holdover from the also maligned Mario Party 9, the car system. We’ll cover that more in the next entry, but just know it’s as frustrating and counterintuitive as ever.

The one thing Mario Party 10 has above is the Bowser Party Mode. This is the only mode that actually utilizes the gamepad to any real extent and is … just all right. It turns the game into a 1v4-style game, with the four normal players still all being stuck together in a stupid car, while the other player is Bowser chasing them. Instead of it being a game about collecting stars, the goal of the regular players is to simply survive until the end of the map, while Bowser tries to deplete their collective hearts before they do. Technically, this does fit the car system better than a normal party mode, and if it were the only place the car system was implemented, would actually be a fine side mode. Instead, they kept the car as the primary mode of play and drove this game off a cliff.

13. Mario Party 9

Mario pumping his fist.

This is it. This is the game to blame for the mind-bogglingly daft decision to take essentially half of what made Mario Party fun and interesting — moving around the boards — and gutted it. Perhaps this was due to Mario Party 9 being the first game developed by NDcube while every other game before was made by Hudson Soft, but either way, Nintendo never should have let this game go past the concept stage with a pitch like the car system. Obviously, such a drastic change in the formula would mean Mario Party 9 couldn’t function like the previous, actually good, games did.

With the car, no player moved independently on the board. Everyone moved together, removing all sense of strategy and positioning. That meant that the way stars were collected had to change too, and was replaced with things called mini stars and mini ztars. Basically, these were what coins were in past games, with ztars taking away mini stars from your total. Whoever had the most mini stars by the time the car reached the end of the board won. But, because other players moved you around the board, and vice versa, there was no way to plan or strategize anything. Things just happened to you in this game, and it never felt like winning or losing was earned.

14. Mario Party: The Top 100

Shyguy holding up a red flag on a boat.

As a concept, Mario Party: The Top 100 sounds like an easy slam dunk. Take the 3DS and pack in the all-time best 100 minigames from the series, making it have the highest number of minigames any game in the series ever had. How do you screw that up? Well, they certainly found a way. The game features three main modes: 100 Minigames, Minigame Island, and Minigame Match, and only one of them utilizes a board game structure. 100 Minigames is basically just a menu where you play the featured minigames one at a time. There’s no progression, no stars, just the game in isolation. Minigame Island sounds more promising but is only single player. Here you play with an A.I. against another pair of A.I. in 2v2 games.

That leaves Minigame Match, which is the only mode in which you’ll catch a glimpse of a traditional board. But these boards are small, and we mean small. Also, if you thought you would at least be playing in the traditional board game style, guess again. Instead of winning games, earning coins, and buying stars from a select point on the board, you need to pop Star Balloons to collect stars. These are placed around the map, and render the admittedly great minigames useless to the overall game itself. Minigames alone can’t make a great Mario Party, and Mario Party: The Top 100 is proof of that.

15. Mario Party: Island Tour

Bowser looking at a floating kingdom.

It took six years for Nintendo to give Mario Party another try on handheld after Mario Party DS, and the only lesson Mario Party: Island Tour took from that first attempt was only requiring one person to own the game for a group to play. Thankfully it does return to the board-based structure, but basically all the boards had some gimmick to them that made luck corrupt any sense of fun. One board made the last player to reach the end the winner, which isn’t exactly an element under your control. Likewise, most of the minigames also fell into the trap of just rewarding blind luck.

Also being a handheld game, Mario Party: Island Tour is designed to be a much shorter game. Winning minigames doesn’t really make much of a difference in most boards, and while they do try and use the 3DS’s unique control options, actually controlling a lot of the minigames just doesn’t feel good or responsive. Tack on the always persistent problem of needing four consoles to get a full group to play, and Mario Party: Island Tour is no day at the beach.

16. Mario Party Advance

Mario deciding to stop at Goomba House.

At this point, there’s not much point in spending a lot of time on these almost objectively poor games. Mario Party Advance was the first-ever handheld Mario Party experiment and probably should’ve been the last. The main mode here is called Shroom City, which has you move around a map to complete objectives and collect the minigames and things called Gaddgets in other modes. There is a mostly traditional party mode, with boards, dice, minigames, and everything, but with a major fault: Finding three other friends with GBAs, Mario Party Advance, and link cables. That meant the game was yet another to fall into the trap of being too focused on single-player content. With minigames needing to be so basic on this device, there’s not much to celebrate.

17. Mario Party: Star Rush

Four toads running around a board.

The final 3DS entry for the series on our list is Mario Party: Star Rush. If you guessed that this game would break the cardinal rule of ditching the board game setup, you deserve a star yourself. This main mode on offer here is called Toad Scramble, where there are no turns. Players all move at once, leading to a complete mess of an experience. To earn stars, you would need to win boss minigames by landing on the spaces in front of them on the board, with up to five being present at any one time. Again, if this were a side mode, that’d be fine, or a nice distraction even. Instead, we have that, plus half a dozen other bare-bones modes that all feel half-baked. Speaking of bare bones, this game has a paltry 53 minigames, which is only three more than the original Mario Party.

18. Mario Party-e

Yoshi beside a ring of shyguys and coins.

There’s an age-old question: Is a Mario Party game really bad if almost no one is around to play it? The answer is yes. Mario Party-e is probably a game most people never have, and never would without this list, hear about. We’re back on the GBA, so another handheld situation, but with the additional wrinkle of being exclusive to the e-reader attachment. This game — and it almost is more of a traditional game than a videogame — comes with a deck of 64 cards and a play mat. Your goal is to collect three superstar clothes accessories and then the superstar. Really, this boiled down to you playing a card game in real life, and occasionally picking up your GBA to play a minigame using a card. At this point, they might as well have just made an actual board game.

Editors’ Choice

Repost: Original Source and Author Link


All Grand Theft Auto Games, Ranked

Few video game series are as legendary as Grand Theft Auto, which made a name for itself thanks to developer Rockstar Games. It’s been around since 1997, spanning across numerous console generations, and taking place from versions of the 1960s to the 2020s. It’s a controversial series that has been featured in the news for its violence and adult themes, but this has led to even more sales, increasing the allure and popularity.

Beyond its controversies, the Grand Theft Auto series is comprised of fantastic games — some of which have completely revolutionized the medium as a whole. Many modern hits owe a lot to the Grand Theft Auto series, proving just how important these games are, even 20 years later. To celebrate the series, Rockstar is releasing an enhanced trilogy collection for modern platforms in November, preserving the legacy of many of the best games in the franchise.

In the meantime, you might want to revisit the Grand Theft Auto games — or maybe you simply want something to hold you over until GTA 6. Either way, below is our definitive ranking of the mainline entries in the series, from the original game to the behemoth GTA V.

Recommended reading:

Grand Theft Auto (PlayStation, PC)

When it comes to the older GTA games — the ones that are presented from a top-down perspective — it’s hard to compare them to the massive 3D open-world entries. Nonetheless, the original Grand Theft Auto was ahead of its time in some ways, paving the way for what would become one of the most successful series of all time. In the original, many of the mechanics from modern installments were featured, such as the open-world, the wanted level system, and the ability to complete missions. It also featured three of the most famous locales in the series, including Liberty City, San Andreas, and Vice City. At the time, Grand Theft Auto felt more like an arcade game than anything, with an emphasis on points and a “lives” system in place. Still, this game is important and although it doesn’t hold up as well today, it led to some of the best games of all time.

Grand Theft Auto 2 (PlayStation, Dreamcast, PC)

Title screen for Grand Theft Auto 2.

In many ways, Grand Theft Auto 2 is an enhanced version of its predecessor, offering more of the same. Because of this, it doesn’t stand out amongst the best in the series, but it’s still a fun experience, albeit an outdated one. It still featured the arcade-like approach, wherein players had to earn points to reach the next mission. However, the highlight of GTA 2 was its near-future setting, which was comprised of multiple districts. It also had more a more immersive world with pedestrians that would behave differently depending on the situation. Aside from a few improvements here and there, GTA 2 is a relic of the past that is hard to go back to 20 years later.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (PS2, PSP)

Woman from Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories.

The Stories games are a bit underappreciated, each serving as prequels that expand the backstory and gameplay of other entries in the series. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories is a prequel to Grand Theft Auto III, featuring many familiar characters and locales. In fact, Liberty City is mostly the same in this game as it is in GTA III, though it does feature a few differences, such as the implementation of Little Italy, which would later become a construction site in 2001. Liberty City Stories is definitely a game you’ll appreciate more if you’ve played GTA III but is still enjoyable on its own. This was the first game in the series to launch for the PSP in 2005 before coming to the PS2 the following year.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (PS2, PSP)

Man from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories.

The cool thing about Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories is that it takes place two years before the events of Vice City but actually borrows several ideas from San Andreas. In it, you can build your empire by employing gang members and expanding it as you play. This, along with a brand new hand-to-hand grappling system gave it more depth, despite being a prequel. Again, Vice City Stories has references to Vice City, with various familiar characters, locations, and missions. At the time, this game was mechanically one of the best in the series, and if you were fond of Vice City, then you’d probably love Vice City Stories.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (PSP, Nintendo DS, Android, iOS)

Woman from Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is unique in that it reverts back to the top-down formula, launching after the series had established itself in the 3D open-world category. That bold move allowed Rockstar to implement some of the ideas of recent entries into this game while keeping things fresh and nostalgic. Chinatown Wars sends players back to Liberty City, this time focusing on the Triad gang, which you might remember from GTA III. Most unique to this game are its touchscreen controls, allowing the player to navigate menus and weapon wheels without pressing a button — at least on the Nintendo DS and mobile versions. It’s a highly underrated gem that gets overshadowed by its 3D counterparts, but that doesn’t make it any less desirable. Chinatown Wars still has the humor, action, and polish of the best GTA games, only on a smaller screen.

Grand Theft Auto III (PS2, PS4, Xbox, PC, Android, iOS)

Art work of supporting characters in Grand Theft Auto III.

Arguably the most important game in the series, Grand Theft Auto III revolutionized the 3D open-world formula, giving players a gigantic, living, breathing sandbox to play around in. It certainly wasn’t the first to ever feature an open world, but in 2001, GTA III popularized this style of game. Even to this day, there are so many things that make GTA III a legendary experience, from its wonderfully-written characters and its satisfying missions to the sheer number of things to do in Liberty City. Granted, a lot of this game feels outdated by today’s standards, such as its lack of right-stick camera controls and its visuals. But still, we owe a lot to GTA III, not just for its influence on the series, but for how it impacted video games as a whole.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2, PS4, Xbox, PC, Android, iOS)

Person with weapon in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Just one year after the launch of GTA III, Rockstar published Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, a game set in a fictional version of 1980s Miami. Although it isn’t a numbered installment, this game was tremendous when it launched, doubling down on many of the features from its predecessor. It had a bigger, more colorful world, a larger selection of weapons, and a better protagonist who actually talks (sorry Claude). That’s right, the lead role of Tommy Vercetti was met with praise at the time, had much more personality, and was frankly easier to relate to. The music in Vice City was phenomenal, as were the characters, mission variety, and sheer spectacle of the world itself.

Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)

Niko Bellic from Grand Theft Auto IV.

Grand Theft Auto IV is one of the more interesting entries in the long-running series. Launching for the PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2008, this game had an immense amount of hype surrounding its release, and it mostly lived up to the expectations. This game had it all: Improved combat, which included a cover-based system similar to Gears of War; incredible visuals (for the time); a city that absolutely felt lived-in; and modern touches such as the implementation of a cell phone that could be used to set up sessions with in-game friends. Speaking of which, the friend system was novel, allowing you to partake in activities with the characters from the story.

The main character, Niko Bellic, is arguably one of the most interesting of the entire series, with a deep backstory that made him feel more fleshed out. Beyond the base game is the robust online mode that allows players to explore the city freely and partake in competitive battles such as races, deathmatches, and other modes. At the time, this was absolutely groundbreaking, as it was the most impressive online mode in the series. Despite this, GTA IV is often forgotten about, and in some cases, it feels like the black sheep of the series. This is despite its phenomenal review scores. Nonetheless, GTA IV is one of the best in the series and is still worth playing in 2021.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2, PS4, Xbox, PC, Android, iOS)

Woman from promotional art for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

The final game of the PS2 trilogy is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, an entry that is still beloved to this day. In fact, it’s among the best in the series, due in part to its fantastic RPG mechanics, gang warfare, writing, music, and depictions of San Francisco and Los Angeles. Most famously, San Andreas has many references to the 1991 film Boyz n the Hood, as the two share characters and story elements. Ultimately, this game is the culmination of the fantastic elements introduced in the previous two entries. In it, you could control how fit your character is by working out or eating, you could get whatever kind of haircut you’d like, and with an impressive variety of clothing options, customization was always at the forefront. The deep mechanics and cinematic approach to gameplay make this one of the best games in the series, even 16 years later.

Grand Theft Auto V (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC)

Woman from Grand Theft Auto V.

Without a doubt, Grand Theft Auto V is the most robust and successful game in the series. As many Grand Theft Auto games broke new ground, the fifth numbered installment is iconic, eventually becoming one of the bestselling games of all time (at around 150 million units sold). There’s a lot that makes this game so special, such as its absolutely massive open world, its refined gameplay, and its characters. Speaking of characters, this was the first game that featured three playable protagonists, Franklin, Michael, and Trevor — each with their own personalities and motivations. This gave the series a fresh take while implementing smart story segments that tied to the gameplay as well. The standout portion of the main campaign is the heist system, which allows you to team up with your allies to rob a bank.

However, the lasting effect of GTA V has to do with its multiplayer mode, Grand Theft Auto Online. Most of the game’s continued success can be attributed to the online mode, giving players nearly an infinite number of things to do with (or against friends). It truly gives players a massive sandbox full of events, money to earn, and an evolving city that motivates you to keep checking in. GTA Online lets you live your best life, with the ability to buy properties, cars, jets, vehicles, and pretty much anything else. The heists are also available in this mode, expanding upon the basic foundation from the main campaign but allowing multiple players to enjoy them at once. The online mode will likely shape the way the series is handled going forward, shifting away from the single-player approach, with a greater emphasis on multiplayer.

Editors’ Choice

Repost: Original Source and Author Link


The Best Kirby Games, Ranked from Best to Worst

Is it possible for anyone to not love Kirby? This little ball of joy has been with us since the NES, charming us with his cute design, lighthearted stories, and stress-free gameplay. Over the years Kirby has become one of Nintendo’s most beloved characters, nearly as recognizable as Mario or Link. He’s quietly amassed a dedicated audience of fans through the decades and is one of the few franchises to go on for so long with such a strong track record of games. Sure, some modern gamers may look at his titles and think they’re just for kids, but the joy of a Kirby game is one that people of all ages can enjoy.

Whether he’s in his natural form or made of yarn, 2D or 3D, Kirby has established a formula and tone for his games that make them reliably great. There are some more experimental titles in his mainline games, for better and for worse, but on the whole, there’s hardly any Kirby game you can pick up and not smile your way through from beginning to end. Looking at Kirby’s entire catalog of games is a little overwhelming, even when you cut out his spinoff titles, and deciding which are the best is even more difficult. Here’s our best attempt to go through all the best Kirby games and rank them from best to worst.

No offense to games like Kirby Air Ride or Kirby’s Dream Course, which are two fantastic games, but we’ve already got over a dozen games in the mainline series to rank, and we’d be here all day if we included spinoffs, so we’ll leave those for another day. We’ll also only count one version for each game if it was updated with a remake.

Further reading

1. Kirby Super Star Ultra

It was way harder than we anticipated to pick a best Kirby game, but in the end, we had to land on Kirby Super Star Ultra. This game is just too packed with awesome content to ignore, plus it’s arguably the best Kirby has ever looked in sprite form. This SNES classic came packed with nine games, which might raise some red flags when you think of other “compilation” type games, but every single game in Kirby Super Star feels like a fully realized game. Then, years later on the DS, Kirby Super Star Ultra came out and nearly doubled the number of games to 16 and somehow maintained that same level of quality of the original nine.

Just putting this game on a handheld would’ve probably been enough to justify a second purchase, but all that extra content just pushes Kirby Super Star Ultra into a league of its own. This game has all the classics, like the Great Cave Offensive, Helper to Hero, and the more traditional adventure of Spring Breeze that acts as a kind of remake of Kirby’s Dreamland. This collection proves that Kirby’s ability to adapt goes beyond just his signature move of absorbing powers from enemies. There’s just nothing to complain about regarding this collection. It is everything we love about Kirby in one massive package.

2. Kirby: Planet Robobot

Kirby fighting a giant robot on a bridge.

While this may seem like an odd pick to have so high up on the ranking, the gimmick of Kirby piloting a mech turned out to be a fantastic idea. Kirby: Planet Robobot was a 3DS title that is a spiritual successor to Kirby: Tripple Deluxe (more on that game later), as well as to the 3D nature of the handheld incorporating movement between the foreground and background. What saves this game from straying too far from what makes Kirby, well, Kirby is the fact that his new robot armor doesn’t replace or remove his ability to copy abilities. Instead, it builds upon them by adding new functions to the robot.

Of all the Kirby games, few make you feel as unstoppable as you do in Kirby: Planet Robobot. The mech is borderline overpowered most of the time, which may be a negative to some, but that doesn’t diminish the creative and delightful levels you will explore or the surprisingly epic adventure Kirby is on. He’s on a mission to stop an evil corporation from draining a planet of its resources and transforming all native life into robots at once. This leads to some awesomely scaled and designed boss encounters that occasionally put a twist on some established formulas from the past. The game doesn’t overstay its welcome, and never lets up on giving you new things to do.

3. Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland

Kirby about to etner a star door.

Another updated re-release, this time of Kirby’s debut on home consoles in Kirby’s Adventure. This NES classic was the first time we saw the pink puff ball on home consoles and learned that he was, in fact, pink. Building off the basic platforming adventure he began with on the original GameBoy, Kirby’s Adventure was the first time Kirby was shown off with his iconic ability to inhale and copy the powers of his enemies. Prior to this, he was only able to inhale and spit out his foes as projectiles, which was unique enough at the time, but this game was where Kirby really became who he is today.

Years later, the team once again saw a chance to update Kirby’s console adventure, only now bringing it full circle and back to handheld on the GBA. Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland remains one of the tightest, most pure platforming games on the market. For Kirby fans, all the best ideas are here, from iconic stages, enemies, and bosses that would become staples for decades. Plus, this updated release did more than just port the original and give it a bit of a graphical boost. It also added a co-op mode and alternate color options for your happy little hero. If you want the most pure, unfiltered Kirby experience, Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland is it, full stop.

4. Kirby Star Allies

Kirby weilding a sword with his team following.

Kirby’s main console games had all taken some interesting twists in their design up until the Switch came out. Here, the team decided to go back to the winning formula and give us Kirby Star Allies. This game puts Kirby back in his classic art style, foregoes any gimmicks, and just tries to be a new version of Kirby’s most traditional adventures. And you know what? That turned out to be exactly what fans wanted. As it turned out, giving us a Kirby game with the best visuals we’d seen yet, a wide range of powers to copy and obliterate enemies, and even some parts of the environment with new co-op systems is all they needed to do.

Sure, some purists who play every Kirby game might find it a little too formulaic and easy, but Kirby Star Allies is undeniably a solid experience. There’s no way to argue that the majority of the game isn’t on the easy side, but there’s plenty of post-game content that does bump up the challenge and add a bunch of extra content to go through. The new ability to turn enemies into friends is a great way to keep more powers available to you as you play or bring in some real friends for multiplayer fun. All in all, Kirby Star Allies is a mostly relaxed game that, if you get into the groove with, is another joyful time with your smiling pink friend.

5. Kirby’s Epic Yarn

Kirby transformed into a yarn mech.

What if Kirby — but yarn? Whoever thought up that concept deserves some kind of award, because transforming Kirby, and the entire world around him, into yarn was a stroke of genius rivaling that of the steam engine. Now, let’s get one thing clear here. Kirby is cute. He’s, as we’ve called him many times already, just a puff ball of boy. Now, Kirby made of yarn is almost too adorable. Kirby’s Epic Yarn was the first of this hand-crafted art style that Nintendo would use a few more times, but they nailed it right from the start with this game. Never before has a game just oozed with such happiness and feelings of childlike wonder.

Kirby also uses this new yarn aesthetic in his gameplay. Instead of wearing new costumes to denote his new powers, Kirby’s body simply reshapes into new things like rocket ships and cars. He could also now manipulate the world just like a decorated set, scrunching up parts of the level for platforming and puzzle-solving. From the outside, Kirby always was a game for kids, and Kirby’s Epic Yarn was by no means going to change anyone’s mind about that — but that’s just not true. Yes, kids will love it, but anyone with a heart will be smitten by this game’s charm. Again, a challenge isn’t the draw here; it’s more about the adventure and the vibes.

6. Kirby’s Return to Dream Land

Kirby and his friends fighting the tree boss.

Also released on the Wii, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land is intentionally meant to be reminiscent of, well, the Dream Land sub-series of Kirby games. This was kind of the equivalent of the New Super Mario Bros. titles for Mario, only for Kirby. By that, we mean it gave Kirby a decent graphical upgrade, at least as far as the Wii could push things, and added in up to four-player co-op, but was otherwise meant to be an iteration of Kirby’s original gameplay rather than a reinvention. Again, Kirby’s solid systems show that as long as the levels are appealing, the powers you can suck up are fun and different, and controls are polished, you’ll be in for a great time.

However, at this point in 2011, it was starting to become clear that Kirby wouldn’t be drawing in a ton of new fans just by sticking to his basics, as solid as those were. Fans would be glad to have another entry of Kirby doing what he does best, plus some co-op to extend the life of the game, but anyone on the outside probably just saw this as “another Kirby game” and brushed it off. But, just like Kirby himself, looks can be deceiving. There’s a lot of game here, plenty of creativity on display, and lots of throwbacks to the Dream Land games that fans will love discovering. Plus, being the first console Kirby game in over a decade, we were hungry for a big-scale adventure.

7. Kirby and the Amazing Mirror

Four kirbys looking at a falling star.

We all know Kirby is able to stretch his wings into new territory with his games and, so long as the core remains in tact, still hit the target for a great time. Kirby and the Amazing Mirror is an early example of just that for the GBA. While his adventures up to this point had been strictly linear adventures, Kirby and the Amazing Mirror decided to take a chance on becoming a light Metroidvania-style game in which you explore a single, massive world that is completely connected. You will even find points where you will want to go back to explored areas later on. The main flaw, though, is that unlike the best Metroidvania games, the map system here isn’t quite up to the task of making navigating easy.

As you explore, find new abilities, and unlock new sections of the map in Kirby’s quest to collect the broken pieces of a magical mirror, you will also get new content like mini-games and bonuses for your trouble. This game also encouraged co-op play but didn’t require it by any means. Again taking a cue from another Nintendo property, Kirby and the Amazing Mirror is somewhat like the co-op Zelda titles where four different colored Links can play together. This time, you have four Kirbys you can either team up with, or if you’re playing alone, simply swap between. Each Kirby has their own ability you’ll need, feeding into the Metroidvania style of game it’s going for.

8. Kirby: Canvas Curse

Kirby ramping off a rainbow ramp.

The DS won’t be the last time we see a Kirby game held back by a controller gimmick, but it also isn’t the worst. Kirby: Canvas Curse is all about using the stylus to draw pathways for a legless Kirby to roll along to reach the end of each stage. This idea could’ve so easily turned out to be a disaster, or even just a disappointingly shallow experience, but thanks to an abundance of ways you can use the rainbow paths you draw, it still manages to be a fun game. While it is somewhat frustrating that you can’t actually control Kirby directly, you aren’t so limited, and the challenge is never too taxing that it actually gets annoying.

Your rainbow ramps could do more than just provide Kirby a slope to roll down, but also go up, loop, and even protect him from enemies. Unfortunately, while this game was novel when it came out since both the DS and touchscreen controls, in general, were relatively new, it doesn’t hold up so well in modern times. Even the art style isn’t all that special, going for something that is between Kirby’s traditional look and a water-colored aesthetic that, while by no means bad, just isn’t all that unique.

9. Kirby: Triple Deluxe

Kirby attacking a Waddle Dee with beatle horns.

Moving up to the 3DS, the new gimmick that needed showing off was the 3D aspect of the system. So, what did Nintendo do? They called in Kirby to show off this new layer of depth in Kirby: Triple Deluxe. The majority of the game was as you’d hope, with Kirby doing his usual platforming, collectible hunting, ability copying, and boss fighting, only with the inclusion of a new ability to jump between the foreground and background. The main issues with this game stem from that new power. It’s just too strong in a game that’s already easier than most Kirby games. Knowing how easy the franchise is in general, getting more ways to dispatch enemies without tuning the game for it is just too much.

That’s kind of Kirby: Triple Deluxe summed up. It’s too easy, to the point of being boring. Nothing pushes back on you, not even if you’re hunting down all the collectibles. Switching between layers just wipes out almost any enemy unlucky enough to be on screen, and the levels themselves aren’t anything new or even creative takes on things we’ve seen before. It just kind of happens and then it’s over. Unless it’s your first Kirby game, Kirby: Triple Deluxe just won’t draw you to play more Kirby. It isn’t bad, but compared to the rest of his games, an average Kirby game feels like a disappointment.

10. Kirby’s Dreamland

Kirby running through a field with something in his mouth.

Going all the way back to our little pink pal’s first adventure, we have this Game Boy classic to thank for bringing this ball of joy to the world. Kirby’s Dreamland set the tone for all Kirby games to follow, as well as many locals, characters, and mechanics that are still used today. This is where we first set foot in Green Greens and heard that amazing tune that has become synonymous with the series, and where we first fought a giant tree with a face called Whispy Woods. But, like every first iteration on a new character, this is Kirby at his most basic.

For an original Game Boy title, Kirby’s Dreamland had to be a pretty simple adventure. Perhaps that’s to thank for Kirby games adopting a more casual playstyle, but here he wasn’t even able to utilize his ability to copy enemy abilities just yet. Still, for a handheld game, the simple designs looked amazing for the time, though color is really the major component missing. You can blow through the game’s five stages in an afternoon if you know what you’re doing, though the hard mode is a welcome reason to play again. In the end, there’s not much reason to return to Dreamland (get it?) if you don’t have any nostalgia for it. Kirby has only evolved from this humble handheld origin game.

11. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards

The box art for Kirby 64.

Can you guess which console Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards came out on? Yes, this was Kirby’s only entry on the N64 but was the first time we saw him in full 3D glory outside of Smash Bros. Still, the team didn’t try and completely reinvent Kirby just because they had the new hardware to do it, as Nintendo did with Mario 64. Instead, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards utilized full 3D models but kept the gameplay running on a 2D plane, though with far more dynamic paths and camera angles. The levels on display covered a full solar system of variety, with brand new music tracks and a story to create a fresh experience.

What Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards did to really incentivize gamers to play and replay this title was to double down, literally, on Kirby’s copy ability. In this game, you could not only copy any enemy’s power but also combine them with either the same or any other power for new effects. You could, for example, combine the Cutter and Burner abilities to make Sword of Fire, or combine Spark and Needle for Lighting Rod. The number of options felt endless and made experimentation so satisfying. It’s just a shame the levels themselves didn’t really require much thought, and there wasn’t really much more calling you back to play through the adventure more than once.

12. Kirby’s Dream Land 3

Rick jumping at a Waddle Dee.

This game is one of those odd cases of a new game coming out for a system after the next generation of consoles has already released. In this case, Kirby’s Dream Land 3 was put out on the SNES when the N64 was already out and showing off all those sharp (literally) 3D models. That probably led to many people never playing this third adventure through Dream Land, which is somewhat of a shame, but also not the biggest loss. On one hand, it is a beautiful game, and arguably the best Kirby has ever looked in a pixel art style. On the other, it is almost too faithful to the Kirby formula that was established.

The new features are very minimal here. There’s a two-player mode featuring Gooey back from Kirby’s Dream Land 2, as well as around twice as many animal companions as that last game. Of course, there are always going to be a few new abilities Kirby can copy, but in terms of mechanics, this is pure Kirby. And yeah, that’s about the harshest criticism anyone can give this game. It is by no means bad, in fact even this far down the list it’s still really good, and yet when pitted against his other, more ambitious entries, Kirby’s Dream Land 3 just doesn’t stick out for much more than being a beautiful, solid Kirby game.

13. Kirby’s Dream Land 2

Kirby fighting a dizzy tree.

Poor old Kirby’s Dream Land 2 deserved better. Similar to Kirby’s Dream Land 3, this game came out very late in the Game Boy’s life, which on one hand is a benefit since they were able to squeeze just about as much out of the machine as possible, but more detrimental considering how little power there is in the first place. Plus, we already saw Kirby on a full-scale home console game, so jumping back to an underpowered handheld title felt like a big downgrade for our pink pal. If it had come out right after Kirby’s Dream Land, or if you were just comparing the two in a vacuum, Kirby’s Dream Land 2 is a clear winner. In context, however, it just can’t shake off the limitations of the hardware.

Aside from incorporating everything the NES game gave him, Kirby’s Dream Land 2 also introduced the concept of animal friends who could also use Kirby’s powers in different ways as well. You got Rick the hamster to ride, Coo the owl to introduce new flying levels, and even Kine the fish for underwater stages. The level design is another high mark for this game. It was the first game to introduce multiple exits for more replay value. We just wish this had been given more power than the Game Boy, but considering it’s one of the bestselling games for the system, maybe we’re being too harsh.

14. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

Kirby riding the rainbow path to a treasure.

Following up on Kirby: Canvas Curse, the WiiU was poised to improve upon that gameplay formula with Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. It didn’t. Instead, this new gimmicky style Kirby game just doubled down on what was the least special about Kirby: Canvas Curse but added in the awkward utilization of playing on the touchpad and the TV simultaneously. What’s possibly worse, though, is that unlike in Canvas Curse, Kirby can’t even copy abilities in Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. That extra step removed from actually having some type of control or mode of interaction aside from just drawing lines really hurt this title.

On the positive side, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse does look really nice. The game takes a different approach to the style Nintendo had been experimenting with ever since Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Yoshi’s Woolie World, but this time trying out a more clay model art style. The result is, as expected, an instantly pleasing and inviting game to look at. Had this style been used for another game that played like a traditional Kirby, we’d be all for it. As it is, though, this console title feels way too much like a handheld experience. This game just doesn’t give us what we want from a Kirby game.

15. Kirby Mass Attack

A gang of Kirbys stampeeding.

On paper, more Kirbys would just equal more fun, right? Well, unfortunately, Kirby Mass Attack proved that idea wrong when it divided our lovable hero up into 10 pieces. You will be charged with somehow managing to control this near dozen pack of pink platformers with the DS’ stylus and controls all at once. The result is another game, somewhat like Kirby: Canvas Curse and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, where you’re not as much in control of Kirby as you are trying to herd this mass of chaos in the right direction. What’s worse, is that if you happen to lose track of too many Kirbys before the end of the stage, which is easier than you think, you will have to go back and collect them before you can actually move forward.

Combat here can be interesting but again feels more like a different game like one of the Pikmin titles. Using the stylus, you fling Kirbys towards enemies to attack rather than taking direct control. This sometimes works well, but is too easily imprecise and becomes a chore to corral your Kirbys where you want them and when. It also makes much of the platforming a drag and doesn’t lead to enough creative uses that make you think or strategize all that much. Another interesting, and on paper potentially charming, idea for Kirby, but one we’re glad wasn’t revisited.

16. Kirby Squeak Squad

Kirby running in the grass with a sword.

Finally, we come to our pick for the weakest of the mainline Kirby games. Kirby Squeak Squad is yet another outing on the DS for Kirby, and this time developed by Capcom, Natsume, and Flagship. Along with the primary series developer, HAL, this many cooks probably spoiled the broth on this adventure. Kirby Squeak Squad has probably the most disappointing amount of abilities to copy, which made the added feature of being able to store copied abilities for later, something that we’d love to see in more feature-rich titles, underwhelming. The levels were linear and posed almost no pushback on the player.

We’ve called plenty of Kirby games up to this point “more of the same” in terms of just being solid titles, but Kirby Squeak Squad is almost a step backward. It would fall into that camp of being a middling Kirby game, but the lack of powers, variety, or challenge in levels, and just general lack of imagination, makes it a disappointment. It might seem like we’re being hypocritical because of how low we ranked the Kirby games that used gimmicks, but this DS entry didn’t even take advantage of the second screen for anything interesting. Kirby Squeak Squad is probably the most forgettable entry in the series, and with nothing in it worth revisiting it for, we’re fine with it fading away.

Editors’ Choice

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All Of Jackbox Party Pack 8’s New Games Ranked By Fun Factor

October 14 saw the release of The Jackbox Party Pack 8the latest in the long-running party game franchise. Jackbox is best described as a more adult Mario Party. The compilations contain trivia and word-based games that are designed for several players who write, draw, or make guesses based on other players’ entries and the game’s ridiculous situations. The series is unique in that players don’t need to use controllers to participate:W hile Jackbox‘s main action takes place on the big screen, players send in their decisions and answers through their phones. Observers who aren’t actively participating can join the “audience” and influence the outcome of the games.

Jackbox was one of the game series that got my friends and I through the pandemic. While it doesn’t have true online play or any sort of matchmaking, we got around that by having one person stream the main game through Discord and partying up in voice chat. I spent my birthday last year quarantined in my bedroom, drinking beer, and playing The Jackbox Party Pack 7 virtually with a big group of friends, and it brought a lot of levity to what was otherwise a rough situation. When Party Pack 8 released last week, it was an instant buy for me. After playing through each of its party games with different friends, here’s how each new game stacks up in terms of fun factor.

Note: I’ve found that Jackbox games generally work best with at least five main participants. Your experience may differ if you have less than that.

5. Weapons Drawn

Weapons Drawn is probably the weakest of Party Pack 8‘s games. The premise is that each player is a masquerade guest who is also a murderer. Players must illustrate their murder weapon, each of which contains a letter from their chosen player name. They must then choose another player’s party guest to murder in secret, after which comes a meeting where players communally choose which murders to pursue, review the murder weapons, and guess who did it. The game also involves persuading other players not to pursue your murder, guessing which guest came with which player, and cracking unsolved cases within a certain period of time.

Confused? I was, too. While Weapons Drawn has an interesting premise and trying to conceal letters in my drawings was a lot of fun, there’s just too many layers to the whole thing. It wants to be like the board game Secret Hitler, where players yell at each other and accuse one another of ill deeds and double-crossings, but in practice, my friends and I were so busy trying to figure out the rules and procedures that we ended up staying mostly silent (which is too bad, because I love games that let me yell at my friends). If we played several more rounds, we probably could’ve gotten the hang of it, but it was so convoluted that we just went back to some of Party Pack 8‘s other games.

4. Drawful Animate

Drawful Animate is a new spin on Drawful, an existing Pictionary-style Jackbox party game where players must guess what a drawing is. In addition to simply guessing the phrase that inspired the drawing, though, players must also create fake phrases to mislead other players into choosing the wrong phrase. After everyone has seen the drawing, players vote on which one they think is the real descriptor. Drawful Animate follows those exact lines, but allows players to “animate” their art by drawing two images that the game then alternates between. Drawful is a pretty beloved Jackbox game, and Drawful Animate is the “next generation.”

Players choose the correct phrase in a round of Drawful Animate.

It’s fun, but it’s something we’ve seen before. Jackbox Games has been known to include new versions of its most popular party games, like Quiplash, alongside new games in Party Packs, and they’re almost always crowd-pleasers. Drawful Animate includes some good quality-of-life options, like being able to choose between a few colors and slowing down or speeding up your animation, but other than that, you’re really just making two drawings instead of one. A couple of times, my friends and I didn’t really know what to make for the second drawing, so we just redrew the first frame but made it slightly different. Drawful Animate is good, but not an instant classic.

3. Poll Mine

If you’ve got a huge group of participants and audience members, Poll Mine is a game you’ll definitely want to check out. At the beginning, players are divided into two teams. The game then presents silly and absurd polls to each player, making them rank things like the most desirable roles in the middle school play about the methane cycle. After each person votes, teams must work together to choose the average rank of each item from the poll. For example, if everyone said that a pile of cow poop was the No. 1 most desirable role in the play, the team that guesses its rank correctly gets a point. Teams must do this for every item on the poll. It’s better witnessed than explained — try watching a YouTube video of a group playing it.

Players choose teams in Poll Mine.

While it was a lot of fun and the polls were appropriately dumb, you really need a big group to enjoy it. We played with five people, which wasn’t enough to truly mix up the rankings. We’re all good friends and we had a good idea of what each person would pick, which made the game easier than it should have been. If I were to play with seven or eight people, particularly people I don’t know as well, it would be a lot more challenging. Even if your team is doing poorly, though, you can still win at the end, which makes it hard for one team to get a no-contest victory. I want to give Poll Mine another shot with more people, because it’s definitely a great idea.

2. The Wheel of Enormous Proportions

Trivia is a classic party game, and Jackbox Games knows this. Most of the Party Packs contain some sort of trivia-inspired party game and The Wheel of Enormous Proportions is Party Pack 8‘s requisite trivia adventure. Guided by a silly, fast-talking wheel, each player must answer trivia questions to obtain wheel slices. After three questions, players place their slices on the wheel and take turns spinning it. If the spinner lands on a place where someone placed their slice, they get points. There are a variety of slices with other effects, like ones that take points from one player and redistribute them to others. Once any player reaches 20,000 points, they can spin the Winner Wheel, which grants them victory if they land on the correct slice. If they don’t, the game continues until someone lands on the right spot.

Players spin the Wheel of Enormous Proportions.

I’ll admit it: I love trivia. I watch Jeopardy and do New York Times crossword puzzles for fun. My brain is full of random knowledge that probably won’t ever be useful. As such, my friends usually hate playing trivia games with me, but they still really enjoyed The Wheel of Enormous Proportions (as did I!). That’s because you don’t have to be a trivia buff to win. Answering questions correctly grants additional slices to be placed on the wheel, but who actually gets points — and wins — is based more on the random wheel spin than any one person’s knowledge. It’s a great way to alleviate the powerlessness that some people feel when playing trivia, and it does make the game feel more fair, if a little frustratingly random at times.

1. Job Job

Before I wrote this article, I asked my friends which game they liked best. Job Job was everyone’s favorite, hands down. Under the guise of a job interview, players must type in their answers to a series of questions, like in Quiplash. However, once everyone has submitted their answer, the words from each answer are scrambled and presented to a different player, who must then use only words from other people’s answers to answer a new question. Though my English major brain was slightly miffed at the random capital letters and not-so-grammatical sentence structures of everyone’s answers, the sheer fun and absurdity of the game more than made up for it.

Players choose words in Job Job.

The key is to have each person answer the first few questions as absurdly as possible to give future rounds a variety of words to work from. The answers don’t always make perfect sense, but when someone somehow got enough words to string a coherent sentence together, my friends and I literally rolled on the floor laughing. Players don’t get to see the initial questions until the end of the game, which keeps everyone guessing as to how someone could possibly use “toothbrush,” “wallpaper,” and “poop” in the same sentence. It’s a ton of fun with any number of players and is absolutely worth playing — we kept wanting to go back to it instead of trying other games.

The Jackbox Party Pack 8 is available now on all major consoles and several online storefronts and will be coming to Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV soon.

Editors’ Choice

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First Halo Infinite ranked and competitive multiplayer details revealed

It’s a big day for FPS fans. Not only did we get our first details about Battlefield 2042‘s Hazard Zone mode earlier today, but now the folks at 343 Industries have shared the first details about ranked and competitive multiplayer in Halo Infinite. So far, players have mostly been exposed to the more casual side of Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer, but today we’re learning of some key decisions 343 has made for Halo Infinite‘s more competitive game modes.

If you’re planning to climb the ranked ladder in Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer, this is probably information you’ll want to read through. These new details were shared in a lengthy Halo Waypoint blog post that featured interviews with several key people working on Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer: lead multiplayer designer Andrew Witts, Sandbox design lead Quinn DelHoyo, Sandbox equipment designer Elan Gleiber, and the competitive insights team’s Austin “Mikwen” McCleary and Greg “Gregor” Haas.

Perhaps the biggest reveal of this interview comes right at the start, where it’s confirmed that the BR75 will be the sole starting weapon for ranked and competitive modes. Perhaps that’s not a huge surprise considering that the battle rifle has been the starting weapon in several Halo games, but no sidearm is a rather significant departure. Witts says that during 343’s competitive testing, players felt effective at spawn with just the battle rifle while still feeling the need to find additional weapons on the map.

In addition, 343 Industries announced today that the motion tracker will be disabled in ranked and competitive games, along with the grenade hitmarkers that made their debut in Halo 5. With those two turned off, it should be a lot more challenging to find enemy players on the map, as grenade hitmarkers, in particular, were a very big indicator of where wounded players were hiding.

In ranked and competitive play, friendly fire will be turned on, so players must always be aware of their teammate’s positioning, while the modes available in ranked play include Slayer, Capture the Flag, Strongholds, and Oddball. Unfortunately, if you were hoping for some kind of ranked or competitive SWAT mode like the author of this article may have been, it looks like you’ll have to keep on hoping and waiting because it won’t be there in Halo Infinite.

Finally, 343 says that weapons, equipment, and grenades that spawn on the map will always appear in the same location and will respawn at the same intervals. So, if you’re playing on a certain map in Slayer, you’ll be able to memorize where those item spawns are and even the time in between spawns. You can learn more about competitive and ranked play in Halo Infinite by watching the video embedded above, but also be sure to read the full interview over on Halo Waypoint for more specifics about these decisions.

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The Most Important PCs in History, Ranked

Forty years ago this week, the iconic IBM PC made its debut, cementing the personal computer as a mainstream product category to be reckoned with. Within a few years, America — and the world — went computer wild, with home computers suddenly the province of ordinary people.

But which desktop computers go down as the most influential of all time? Here are 10 that changed the game.

#10. Microsoft Surface Studio

The Surface Studio is likely to be the most controversial pick on this list. It’s also by far the newest computer, debuting in late 2016, with a successor, the Surface Studio 2, coming along two years later. Like Apple’s iMac, the Surface Studio is a sleekly minimalist all-in-one. Unlike the Mac, it didn’t become a massive hit whose continued existence is all but assured. So why does it make the list? Simply put: Because personal computers are changing.

The line which delineated personal computers from surrounding product categories has always been slightly blurred, but never more so than they are in 2021. Today, most PC enthusiasts build their own computers, making chipsets far more important than individual PC model numbers. Furthermore, the tasks once carried out on personal computers can now be done on touch-based devices like tablets and smartphones.

The Surface Studio is an attempt to reconcile the new role of the PC: A blend of touchscreen interface, gorgeous quality monitors, and traditional PC functionality. Nothing about the progression of personal computers feels inevitable. But the Surface Studio is as good a glimpse as you could hope for of the future.

#9. Apple Lisa

The Lisa is one of those strange computers on this list: A major flop at the time, which nonetheless paved the way for the undisputed future of computing. Thanks to a deal between Apple and Xerox PARC, the Lisa came with Apple’s version of the WIMP (windows, icons, mouse pointer) interface. Apple had honed this technology, however, and was the first to introduce it to the masses.

At a launch cost of $9,995 in January 1983 (that’s $27,000 today), those masses weren’t exactly, well, masses. But the Lisa paved the way for the Macintosh one year later. And it came advertised with a great TV spot featuring a very young Kevin Costner.

#8. iMac G3

The 1998-era translucent, colorful iMac G3 was one of the most memorable designs of its day. “It looks like it’s from another planet,” said Steve Jobs, the Apple CEO who had just returned to the company he co-founded after more than a decade in the wilderness. “A good planet. A planet with better designers.” That designer was Jony Ive, the man who would go on to design the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and countless other Apple products over the following two decades.

As far as innovations go, the iMac G3 eliminated the floppy disk drive and leaned into the kind of simple, out-of-the-box usability that Apple remains known for. This was the machine that announced to the world that, after a painful few years of decline, Apple was once again a force to be reckoned with.

#7. The beige box

Yes, this one is a cheat, but how can you not acknowledge it? By the 1990s, the era of the beige box computer was underway. Aside from Apple, few other companies made their own distinctive machines but rather used off-the-shelf, generic components to assemble affordable personal computers for an ever-growing market.

Were these machines boring, though? Far from it. They may often have looked bog-standard, but they nonetheless laid the groundwork for the way PCs have developed: Modular machines that can be assembled to fit the whims and requirements of their owners. Missing the beige box off a list like this is like missing The Beatles’ White Album off a list of great albums because it doesn’t have eye-catching cover art.

#6. Xerox Star


Not every computer on this list set the world on fire in terms of sales. Some of the greatness of these machines is more about retrospect than their reception at the time. None more so than the Xerox Star: A personal computer that, 40 years ago, in 1981, brought the world a bitmapped display, graphical user interface, two-button mouse, Ethernet networking, email, and a plethora of other innovations.

Unfortunately, an eye-watering price of $16,500 with software (the equivalent of $48,000 today) was one contributing factor for its dismal marketplace performance. Nonetheless, without the pioneering work of Xerox PARC, which the Star owes its existence to, computers today would look very different.

#5. MITS Altair 8800

MITS Altair 8800 microcomputer, the first such system to sell in large numbers (5000 in the first year).
Michael Hicks

Pinpointing exactly when the personal computer revolution started is difficult. But for those trend-spotters who got in on personal computers before most of the world had even heard of them, the MITS Altair may be ground zero. Kickstarting a revolution, the MITS Altair 8800 (to use its full name) appeared on the front cover of Popular Electronics magazine in 1976.

Compared to the room-filling or, at least, fridge-sized computers found in corporations and large universities at the time, the kit-based Altair was small enough to fit on a desk. It was far less powerful than the big commercial computers of the time, of course, but it was also a huge step up from what most hobbyists had access to. It was powered by Intel’s then-new 8080 microprocessor.

A couple of unknown student-entrepreneurs named Bill Gates and Paul Allen (wonder what happened to them!) used the Altair to create a version of BASIC. It became the first product Microsoft ever launched.

#4. Apple II

Apple II Computer
Rama/Creative Commons

The clue that this wasn’t Apple’s first computer was in the name, but make no mistake about it: The Apple II was the computer that launched Apple to the world. Unlike other personal computers of its year, the 1977-era Apple II was capable of displaying color. It was designed by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, with its iconic industrial design by Jerry Manock looking more like a household appliance than a geeky piece of hobbyist tech.

Apple continued producing Apple II models of some stripe all the way into the 1990s, showing incredible longevity. In all, the Apple II laid the foundations for not just Apple, but the mass-market personal computer industry as a whole.

#3. Commodore 64

Commodore64 con monitor 1701.
Francesca Ussani (WMIT)

If commercial performance was the only metric that mattered, Eagles: Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) would be the best album ever produced, Avatar would be cinema’s greatest movie, McDonald’s would be the pulling in Michelin stars like there’s no tomorrow — and the Commodore 64 would be the easy winner on this list.

Released in January 1982, the Commodore 64 was a veritable sales juggernaut, selling an estimated 17 million units. It boasted some great graphics for its time, a programmable sound chip, and a dazzling 1MHz CPU, and 64 KB of RAM. Helping the Commodore 64’s success was the fact that, like a games console, it could be easily plugged into a TV. It also sold far more widely, in non-specialist stores, compared to many computers of its day. The Commodore 64 wasn’t quite as revolutionary as some of the entries on this list, but its incredible claims to fame can’t be ignored.

#2. Macintosh 128K

The first generation Macintosh, launched in 1984 with a spectacular Super Bowl commercial directed by Ridley Scott, was massively underpowered. It also failed to sell in quite the numbers that Apple hoped it would. Nonetheless, it was an utterly revolutionary machine that remains an iconic piece of computing history and design approaching 40 years later. It took Apple a few more iterations to get a Mac that lived up to the promise the original hinted at (it had more or less figured it out by the late 1980s), but this remains one of history’s most important personal computers.

#1. IBM PC

IBM PC XT with green monochrome phosphor screen and 10MB full height 5,25" hard disk drive.
Ruben de Rijcke

Ask your average person on the street to name a computer company in 1981 and, virtually without exception, they’ll name IBM. But IBM’s computers were almost exclusively large room-filling behemoths owned by giant corporations. That changed in 1981 when IBM introduced the IBM Model 5150, better known as the IBM PC. Based on the Intel 8088 microprocessor and utilizing Microsoft’s MS-DOS operating system, the IBM PC made personal computers a mainstream commodity in both homes and businesses.

In the months that followed its release, an ecosystem of software and peripherals sprang up around the IBM PC, while other manufacturers rushed to release their own clone versions. Unlike a company such as Apple, IBM’s reign as a top personal computer hardware maker didn’t last too long. However, the impact of the IBM PC cannot be understated. The combination of long-term impact and immediate commercial success give it the number one spot on this list.

Editors’ Choice

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The Best Metroid Games, Ranked

With the news that Metroid Dread is coming to Nintendo Switch on October 8, players have been revisiting the series and/or trying it for the first time. It’s one of Nintendo’s oldest franchises, with the original Metroid debuting in 1986 (in Japan). Since then, numerous Metroid games have been released across various Nintendo consoles and handhelds, along with spinoffs and remakes.

Metroid has a reputation for being atmospheric, with satisfying gameplay that encourages exploration. Though the franchise has primarily been presented from a 2D perspective, the Prime subseries consists of first-person shooters, which was a major departure at the time. Either way, it’s one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises, with most games garnering positive reviews from critics and fans.

But which Metroid games are the best? Here’s our definitive ranking of the Metroid series in order.

Recommended reading:

12. Metroid Prime: Federation Force

Predictably, Metroid Prime: Federation Force is our pick for the worst Metroid game. Truth be told, it isn’t terrible, but it prioritizes online co-op on the 3DS — a system that is not known for being a multiplayer device. This game left a bad taste in the mouths of many because — at the time — it had been six years since Metroid: Other M, the last game in the series. Other M was regarded as one of the worst in the series, so Federation Force was more of a disappointment than anything. If you can get past the fact that it doesn’t star Samus, but rather unnamed Galactic Federation Marines, you might have a good time with this one, but otherwise, you can definitely skip it.

11. Metroid Prime: Hunters

Samus on the cover of Metroid Prime: Hunters.

In keeping the theme of all the “bad” games in the series, Metroid Prime: Hunters was disliked because it didn’t feel like Metroid. Instead, it’s a first-person shooter, but far more watered down than the Prime series. Impressively, the game looks and runs well enough on the Nintendo DS, but the foundation of what’s there feels so different from what Metroid fans fell in love with. Hunters also leans into PvP online play, likely attempting to capitalize on the trends popularized by the likes of Call of Duty. It isn’t bad, it’s just nothing like the original games.

10. Metroid: Other M

Cover of Metroid: Other M.

It’s interesting because the reviews for Metroid: Other M don’t seem to line up with the way fans feel about it. Critically, Other M was a “good” yet flawed game, but it’s often regarded as one of the most terrible things to have ever been released. While we don’t think it’s as bad as its reputation makes it seem, Other M certainly isn’t great. Its biggest issue is how linear it is, which is a far cry from what made the original installments so much fun. The sense of exploration was practically removed in Other M, in favor of a more constricted experience. It also prioritized narrative way more than other entries. To some, this might be appealing, but longtime Metroid fans were left disappointed with Other M. To make matters worse, the game required you to hold the Wii Remote horizontally to control Samus instead of having a more traditional control scheme.

9. Metroid II: Return of Samus

Samus next to statue in Metroid II: Return of Samus.

Metroid II: Return of Samus launched for the Game Boy in 1991, and it’s very much a product of its time. In 1991, it was positively received, but time hasn’t been as kind to it as you might hope. Bogged down by the limitations of the hardware, the levels tend to blend together in Return of Samus, and everything looks the same. By today’s standards, it feels stiff and clunky to play, despite improving upon the original in some ways. It’s an important game in the Metroid series due to its narrative, but thankfully, you can skip playing this one in favor of the 3DS remake (which we’ll cover below).

8. Metroid

Samus on the cover of Metroid.

It’s hard not to have a soft spot for the original Metroid for NES. It’s arguably one of the most important games of all time, with timeless visuals that still look great today. Better yet is the way it encourages exploration by rewarding players with items and power-ups that allow new areas to be discovered. Though, 35 years later, it simply doesn’t hold up as well. It’s obtuse at times, sluggish, and finnicky, making it hard to recommend in 2021. Without a map, the original Metroid feels almost impossible to get through. But it gets points for being so influential, and for being one of the first major examples of a strong woman protagonist in video games.

7. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

Cover of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes.

Moving on to the Prime trilogy, our next pick is Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. This is the GameCube follow-up to the fantastic Metroid Prime, showcasing the Dark Samus doppelganger, and serving as the first game in the series to feature multiplayer. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is more narrative-driven than the first Prime game, while still retaining an emphasis on top-notch gameplay. Like the first Prime game, it’s presented from a first-person perspective and features puzzles, platforming, exploration, and shooting. We’d rank this one higher, but its unrelenting difficulty spikes make it less enjoyable than we’d like.

6. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

Samus posing for cover of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is the conclusion of the Prime trilogy, which launched for the Wii in 2007. While there’s often debate on whether this one ranks higher than its predecessor, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has some of the best shooting in the series, while wrapping up the story nicely (despite Metroid Prime 4 coming at some point in the future). Visually, it was impressive at the time, and still looks decent today, though a little dated. Ultimately, Corruption is a marriage of the series’ best features up until that point, refining the first-person shooting, puzzle-solving, and exploration aspects. The only thing that bogs this game down is its controls, which require the use of the Wii Remote.

5. Metroid Fusion

Cover of Metroid: Fusion.

Metroid Fusion is the successor to Super Metroid, and while those are mighty big shoes to fill, it does a great job of continuing the beloved formula while adding new ideas. Fusion still features a large open-ended map to explore, with power-ups and items littered throughout. This game leans more into combat and narrative than Super Metroid did, with a larger focus on linearity that limits exploration. Depending on your tastes, this may or may not be a positive thing. One thing this game does excellently is that it sprinkles bits of narrative throughout, rather than a large exposition dump at the beginning. We won’t spoil it here, but it’s got its fair share of twists and turns that work in tandem with the superb gameplay.

4. Metroid: Zero Mission

Samus on the cover of Metroid: Zero Mission.

We’re thrilled Metroid: Zero Mission exists because it allows players to experience Metroid in a modern way. Zero Mission is a full remake of the original Metroid, released for the GBA in 2004. After playing the remake, it’s amazing how many little improvements were made upon the original. The controls in Zero Mission feel tighter, the character movement is faster, the jumps feel less floaty — it’s all in all an improvement in nearly every regard. Visually, it’s still stunning, even 17 years later, and will likely still hold up in another 17 years. We only wish this game (and many others on this list) were easier to get ahold of, because as it stands, it’s stranded on GBA and the Wii U Virtual Console.

3. Metroid: Samus Returns

Samus on the cover of Metroid: Samus Returns.

The most modern 2D Metroid release in the series is Metroid: Samus Returns. This 3DS remake of Metroid II launched in 2017 and was a remarkable take on the series. Most importantly, it allowed a modern generation of players to experience the story of the second game without all the baggage of the Game Boy’s limited specs. But aside from that, Samus Returns implemented new ideas such as the 2.5D camera perspective shifts, along with a slew of improvements to controls and mechanics. Based on what we’ve seen from Dread, it appears it will borrow many of the ideas introduced in Samus Returns, such as the stylish melee counter and even some of the perspective shifts. If you’re wanting to get caught up on the series before Dread, Samus Returns is not one to skip.

2. Metroid Prime

Samus on the cover of Metroid Prime.

A first-person 3D take on Metroid? Surely that couldn’t work, right? Well, not only did it work in Metroid Prime, but in many ways, it felt like a natural evolution from 2D to 3D in the most elegant way. Transitioning from 2D to 3D could have been disastrous, but Prime integrates all of the mechanics that give Metroid its identity, while mixing in new features thanks to the perspective shift. In many ways, Prime is much more immersive because it’s presented from Samus’ eyes. This degree of immersion raises the stakes of the entire adventure, and we cannot praise it enough for that. This could have easily turned into a mindless first-person shooter, but instead, it feels more like Metroid than anyone would have expected.

1. Super Metroid

Samus fighting Ridley on the cover of Super Metroid.

Unsurprisingly, our pick for the best game in the series is Super Metroid, which first launched for the SNES in 1994. The fact that it’s our top pick despite being 27 years old is a testament to how well this game is designed. The original games certainly had their fair share of smart mechanics, but Super Metroid refined them to the point of standing the test of time. Aside from the mechanics and level structure, Super Metroid holds up aesthetically, as well. It sits right in that sweet spot of having beautiful 2D sprites that look way better than most 3D games from the 1990s. While Super Metroid isn’t perfect and has a few outdated aspects, it’s incredible just how well it plays all these years later. Best of all, it’s easy to get ahold of, thanks to being available on Nintendo Switch Online.

Editors’ Choice

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The Best Batman Games of All Time, Ranked

Arguably the most beloved superhero of all time is Batman, leading to a litany of comics, movies, shows, and video games based on the character. Although the caped crusader has always been a fan-favorite, his track record in the video game space didn’t pick up until the last decade or so. Since the ’90s, we’ve gotten Batman movie tie-in games, stand-alone stories, and games of all genres, including action, 2D platformers, and narrative adventures.

Thankfully, there have been a lot of high-quality Batman games released for various systems over the years. Whether you’re a veteran Batman fan or just getting into the hero for the first time, there’s likely a game out there for you. These are the 10 best Batman games, ranked.

Recommended reading:

10. Batman Begins

This is probably a game that many haven’t thought about (or even heard of) in years. The Batman Begins movie tie-in was a good attempt at mixing fun stealth gameplay with wild Batmobile sections and even includes many of the film’s cast reprising their roles in the game. Aside from stealth sections and vehicular mayhem, there’s also basic hand-to-hand combat, wherein Batman utilizes his gadgets to defeat enemies. It’s not the greatest game ever, but it did lay the groundwork for what would come from Batman games later on, and we recommend giving this one a try.

9. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate

Batman defeating enemies in Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate.

Another game in the Dark Knight’s catalog you might not remember is Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate. No, not Batman: Arkham Origins (more on that one below), but rather, a 2.5 Metroidvania game set in the same universe. This game launched alongside Arkham Origins but was initially designed for handheld systems like the PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS. Blackgate takes place after the events of Origins and does a fair job of translating the beloved combat from the Arkham games into a 2.5D presentation. Again, this game isn’t amazing, but it’s a worthwhile entry in the Batman series, especially to fans of Metroid and Castlevania.

8. Batman: The Telltale Series

Batman and Catwoman in Batman: The Telltale Series.

Telltale Games was one of the masters of storytelling in video games. One of the shining examples of this is Batman: The Telltale Series, a game released episodically towards the end of 2016. Its strength is in presenting familiar characters in an unfamiliar way, featuring slightly different backstories than you might be used to. It offered a thoughtful, choice-driven narrative that never lets up throughout its five-episode saga. A followup season, Batman: The Enemy Within, was released throughout 2017 and 2018 and is well worth checking out, too.

7. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes

Batman and Superman in Lego Batman: DC Superheroes.

Many of the Batman games on this list are for more mature audiences, typically falling into the T ESRB rating. While those games are great, it’s nice to have something the whole family can play, which is what you get with Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. This game ups the ante from the first installment, featuring not only characters from the Batman series but other DC Comics heroes as well. Lego Batman 2 is notable for being the first Lego game to include a fully voiced cast with dialogue rather than the gibberish presented in older entries. It’s got an open world and two-player co-op, making it a great fit for the family.

6. Batman (NES)

Batman in Batman for NES.

Serving as the oldest game on this list, the movie tie-in for 1989’s Batman is a blast from the past. Sure, it might not hold up as well today, but Batman for the NES is widely regarded as one of the best superhero games of that era. It’s a sidescrolling action game that’s loosely based on the Tim Burton film but also features various classic enemies like Deadshot, Killer Moth, and Joker. In it, Batman has access to an arsenal of gadgets and can even wall-jump. This game is worth checking out if you’re into retro 2D games — or if you just simply can’t get enough Batman in your life.

5. Batman: Arkham VR

Batman in Batman: Arkham VR.

Out of all the games on this list, Batman: Arkham VR is the one that truly makes you feel like the Dark Knight himself. Taking place in the Arkham universe from developer Rocksteady Studios, Arkham VR is a short experience that sends you on a mission to investigate the disappearance of Nightwing and Robin. It doesn’t directly include combat but rather focuses more on storytelling and puzzle-solving while immersing you in its world. Arkham VR is one of the standout PSVR experiences, thanks to the way it’s presented while making you feel like Batman.

4. Batman: Arkham Origins

Batman on rooftop in Batman: Arkham Origins.

Arguably the most overlooked entry in the series is Batman: Arkham Origins, a game that tells the story of a younger Bruce Wayne. While this game takes place before the events of Arkham Asylum, it wasn’t developed by Rocksteady Studios, which led to disappointment among fans. Instead, it was created by WB Games Montréal, and considering it was the team’s first major game developed, it’s remarkable how well it turned it. Since it’s a prequel, it makes a lot of references to the rest of the Arkham series, offering more context and backstory for many of its characters. And out of the rest of the games in the series, this one has some of the most memorable bosses, including fights against Black Mask, Deadshot, and Firefly.

3. Batman: Arkham Knight

Batman on rooftop in Batman: Arkham Knight.

Out of the three mainline Rocksteady-developed Batman games, Arkham Knight is typically the least favorite, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. In fact, it does a lot of things better than the previous entries, such as featuring some of the best narrative moments in the entire series. It ropes in many characters from the Bat-family, including Robin, Nightwing, Barbara Gordon, and Alfred, while telling a story with high stakes. We particularly appreciated just how many costumes there are to choose from in this game, sprinkling some variety throughout the main story or the challenge missions. Aside from the out-of-place Bat-tank battles, this game does a lot of things right and is essential to the overall narrative.

2. Batman: Arkham City

Side view of Batman in Batman: Arkham City.

There’s often debate about which Batman game is the best — with it usually coming down to Arkham Asylum versus Arkham City. And it’s a tough choice because both are so good. Batman: Arkham City is our second option between the two, but it’s still a game that deserves its praises. It features a large open world, allowing you to freely explore it to tackle side quests, find collectibles, and take in the interesting sights and sounds of Gotham. Arkham City expanded upon many of the mechanics from the first installment while paying homage to the character’s rich history throughout the years. It’s easy to see why so many adore Batman: Arkham City, and while it isn’t our top choice, it’s an incredible experience from start to finish.

1. Batman: Arkham Asylum

Closeup of Batman in Batman: Arkham Asylum.

That leaves us with Batman: Arkham Asylum, a game that broke new ground for the way it handled Batman as a character. It introduced the satisfying free-flow combat that many other games drew inspiration from afterward. But outside of the memorable combat, it leaned into Batman’s detective skills, with sections that required you to gather clues to solve mysteries. The reason this game works so well is due in part to its level design. It’s a tight, confined world that never feels too big or overwhelming. It also doubles down on the Metroidvania elements, allowing you to visit new areas once you’ve unlocked certain items. Its stealth mechanics, storytelling, presentation, and pacing are all brilliantly put together, making it the best Batman game of all time.

Editors’ Choice

Repost: Original Source and Author Link


The Resident Evil Games, Ranked From Best to Worst

Many people credit the Resident Evil games with the birth of the survival-horror genre in video games. From spinoffs to sequels, sifting through all the Resident Evil games can be a challenge. If you’ve never played one before, you want to make sure you start with the right game. 

Everyone might have their own ideas about the “best” or “worst” Resident Evil games, but we’ve done our best to rank the games in the series for you. Keep in mind that we’ll only consider games with “Resident Evil” in the title, so we won’t include spinoff titles like Operation Raccoon City or Umbrella Chronicles.

Further reading:

1. Resident Evil 4

Original release date: January 11, 2005

Platforms: GameCube, PS2, Windows, Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

It’s tough to articulate how much of an impact Resident Evil 4 has had on gaming. Originally released on the GameCube in 2005, Resident Evil 4 has since been ported to countless other platforms. No matter what console or a tricked-out gaming PC you have, there’s a way to play Resident Evil 4.

And for good reason. Although Resident Evil 3 showed a massive leap forward in terms of graphics, it pushed the limits of the original PlayStation in 1999. With more powerful hardware in tow, Resident Evil 4 switched the fixed camera angle of the first three games to an over-the-shoulder perspective.

The tighter focus on action worked wonders back in 2005, though Capcom took it a little too far, as demonstrated by Resident Evil 5 and 6. Resident Evil 4 is a game teetering on the edge, perfecting the formula Capcom had been crafting for nearly a decade when the original game was released.

2. Resident Evil 2 Remake

Resident Evil 2 Remake

Original release date: January 25, 2019

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Windows

The Resident Evil 2 remake follows the same narrative as the 1998 release, but that’s about the only similarity between the two. Built from the ground up as a re-imagining of the original game, the Resident Evil 2 remake perfectly combines the cramped atmosphere of the 1998 release with modern sensibilities.

It’s an over-the-shoulder game in the vein of Resident Evil 4, though with less of a focus on action than that game and the titles that follow. The change in perspective brings with it an entirely new feel, restricting the player’s vision in ways the original title doesn’t.

That’s not to mention the graphical improvements. Of course, 20 years of graphics iterations will lead to a better-looking game. However, Resident Evil 2’s use of the RE engine brings with it advancements in smoke simulation and lighting, even furthering the creepiness of the original release. Tyrant’s character model is pure nightmare fuel, too.

Read our full Resident Evil 2 review

3. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Resident Evil 7

Original release date: January 24, 2017

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Windows, Nintendo Switch (cloud)

Resident Evil 7 isn’t really a Resident Evil game, switching the perspective to first-person and focusing on a much smaller story. Regardless, it’s a hell of a horror game. Returning to the horror roots of the original series after the sixth entry, Resident Evil 7 is dripping with terrifying ambiance.

Instead of controlling a STARS agent like in other titles, you play as Ethan Winters, who receives a letter from his wife who went missing prior to the events of the game. He follows her trail to an abandoned plantation in Louisiana, where he uncovers multiple horrifying revelations concerning his wife and himself.

Resident Evil 7 is a departure for the series in terms of narrative and design. Its focus on a story within the larger Resident Evil story is a welcome change, and the difference in gameplay fits that change perfectly.

Read our full Resident Evil 7 review

4. Resident Evil Village

Resident Evil Village

Original release date: May 7, 2021

Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Stadia

If Resident Evil 7 was what one of the original three Resident Evil games might look like if shifted into a first-person perspective, Resident Evil Village is that same concept applied to Resident Evil 4. That alone makes it either a perfect fit for RE fans or more of a miss depending on how much you value horror elements compared to action. Ethan Winters also makes a return and is markedly the blandest character in the game. Thankfully, Lady D, as well as the other lords you encounter, provide more than enough interesting personalities to carry you along.

This is a somewhat shorter experience, even by Resident Evil standards, but proves that the shift to first-person can work for even a more action-focused entry in the series. Depending on how much you value actual horror (and that nervousness that comes with entering a room with just a few bullets left and no healing items) versus satisfying gunplay, exploration, and upgrades, you might swap this game’s placement with 7. For our money, though, it is just a slightly weaker entry than what its predecessor offered.

Read our full Resident Evil Village review

5. Resident Evil 2

Resident Evil 2

Original release date: January 21, 1998

Platforms: PlayStation, Windows, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, GameCube

For many, ourselves included, Resident Evil 2 is the best of the first three games. Caught between the large-scale action of Nemesis and the claustrophobic corridors of the original game, Resident Evil 2 balances a larger story with the same isolation as the 1996 release.

It’s Resident Evil, just a little better. Rather than changing up the formula entirely, Capcom built upon the precedents Resident Evil established with a unique narrative and fleshed-out atmosphere. Furthermore, Resident Evil 2 introduces Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield, with Kennedy following the series until the sixth entry.

6. Resident Evil

Resident Evil

Original release date: March 22, 1996

Platforms: PlayStation, Windows, Sega Saturn, Nintendo DS

The game that started it all, 1996’s Resident Evil, showed what it means to be a survival horror game. Now, however, more than 20 years later, it’s not as impressive as it was in days past. The atmosphere and story are solid, but the gameplay mechanics don’t feel as evolved as they do in the games that follow.

For fans of the series, Resident Evil is a great time, fit with the fixed camera, scarce resources, and isolated atmosphere seen in other titles. That said, it’s not the best Resident Evil game to start with. The second entry improves upon the first in almost every way, and the fourth comes with a complete overhaul to the gameplay.

7. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis

Resident Evil 3

Original release date: September 22, 1999

Platforms: PlayStation, Windows, Dreamcast, GameCube

Resident Evil 3 takes place at the same time as the second entry in the series, following Jill Valentine as she tries to escape Raccoon City. The story starts a day before the events of Resident Evil 2. On her way to the police department, which has its own horrors going on inside, Jill encounters a genetically modified beast created to hunt surviving STARS members: Nemesis.

As on-the-nose as the name is, even by 1999 standards, Nemesis is a terrifying force in the game, eventually pursuing the player until the end credits roll, much like Resident Evil 2’s Tyrant. Like Resident Evil 7, Nemesis features a unique spin on a familiar story, building out the already terrifying story surrounding Raccoon City.

8. Resident Evil — Code: Veronica

Resident Evil Code Veronica

Original release date: February 3, 2000

Platforms: Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, GameCube, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Resident Evil — Code: Veronica is the first “must play” in the series. Originally released on the Dreamcast in 2000, the game follows Claire Redfield after the events of Resident Evil 2 and Nemesis. It’s the first title in the series to feature real-time 3D environments, allowing the camera to move in ways it wasn’t able to before.

The Dreamcast’s poor sales fell back on Code: Veronica when it was released, however. Although the game was eventually ported to PS2 and GameCube, the Dreamcast graphics felt outdated by the time it arrived. Today, however, Code: Veronica is still an excellent Resident Evil game and an absolute must-own for Dreamcast fans.

9. Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5

Original release date: March 5, 2009

Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Android, Nvidia Shield TV

Like Resident Evil 6, Resident Evil 5 is too heavily focused on action. Upon release, however, it didn’t feel as dated as its eventual sequel. Instead of returning to slow survival horror, Capcom laid into the formula that made Resident Evil 4 so successful, ditching the scares in favor of fast-paced action.

Although ammunition and item management are still an aspect of Resident Evil 5, combat is the clear focus. For that, Resident Evil 5 is a decent game. It has a few issues when it comes to the cover system and teammate artificial intelligence (A.I.), but overall, the shooting is fun, the graphics are gorgeous, and the story is compelling.

10. Resident Evil Zero

Resident Evil Zero

Original release date: November 12, 2002

Platforms: GameCube, Wii, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Resident Evil Zero isn’t a bad game, just not a particularly good one. Although released as the fifth mainline title, Resident Evil Zero is a prequel to the original game. The game’s narrative, visuals, and sound design are compelling, especially for Resident Evil fans. However, it makes several changes to the Resident Evil formula.

Zero features a dual character system, and even though multiple perspectives have long been a hallmark of the Resident Evil franchise, the execution leaves something to be desired. Zero also doesn’t feature Resident Evil’s classic item boxes, making gamers have to set aside unnecessary items and go back and find them again if needed. 

11. Resident Evil 6

Resident Evil 6

Original release date: October 2, 2012

Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, Windows

Loyal fans ride hard for Resident Evil 6, but when it was first released, critics complained that it diverged too far from the classic survival horror genre and played more like an action game. It also doubles the number of campaigns from two to four, and some argue this spreads it too thin. 

The gaming company sold Resident Evil 6 on its diversity of play, but ultimately, the split campaigns didn’t deliver. The action leaves unresolved questions and lacks a common thread, which makes the playing experience feel cheaper. But while it has its issues, Resident Evil 6 still has incredible graphics and good plotting as an action game.

Editors’ Choice

Repost: Original Source and Author Link