Link glaring

Sometimes it’s fairly easy to categorize the best games on a specific console, like the Nintendo Switch, or even the best games of a specific year. However, after opening up the boundaries and considering every video game made ever, things get a little more complicated. It’s difficult to encompass decades of game development in one place – even if it is a lengthy one – but here, we’ve done our best to do just that. Every gamer has their own personal view of what constitutes a good game, but it’s undeniable that the games presented here are each iconic in their own right.

These games vary wildly in age, genre, and replayability, but they have all helped shape the gaming landscape in some way. Whether they left their mark by establishing a new genre of game or reinventing an old one — or are just plain too much fun — each of these 98 games holds historical and pop cultural significance. Here are our top picks for the best video games of all time.

98. Ms. Pac-Man

Ms. Pac-Man eating ghosts

Of course, some version of "Pac-Man" needs to be on this list. Alongside the likes of "Space Invaders" and "Galaga," it’s one of the most famous arcade games of all time, and it’s become a permanent pop culture staple over the years. While the original "Pac-Man" deserves all the credit for establishing the franchise back in 1980, its sequel made enough small improvements to become the definitive version of the game.

"Ms. Pac-Man" differs from its predecessor in seemingly minor ways, but they add up. There are four different maze variations, rather than just one, and some of them include more warp tunnels, which subsequently allow for more dynamic play. The ghosts are also upgraded, with more random behavior programmed into their movement to keep players on their toes. Lastly, the bonus fruit that appeared in the middle of the maze in "Pac-Man" stays mobile in "Ms. Pac-Man," increasing the risk of pursuing those delicious extra points. Taken as a whole, these changes make for a much deeper and more rewarding game (per GamesRadar+). "Ms. Pac-Man" remains a staple of bars and arcades even today, and for good reason — it’s just that fun.

  • Release Date: January 13, 1982

  • Genre: Maze

  • Game modes: Single-player

97. RollerCoaster Tycoon

Dynamite Blaster in RollerCoaster Tycoon

If you grew up playing PC games in the early 2000s, you’re probably already quite familiar with "RollerCoaster Tycoon." Developed almost entirely by Scottish designer Chris Sawyer, the original game took the simulation genre on an amusement park adventure. Across a range of scenarios, each with their own distinct win conditions, players would build sprawling entertainment empires out of Ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds, log flumes, go-karts, snack stands, and of course, every kind of roller coaster you could possibly imagine.

The first "RollerCoaster Tycoon" became a sweeping success, spawning numerous sequels in a franchise that’s still active today (per The Ringer). And while some of those successive titles certainly added meaningful augmentations to the core gameplay systems, nothing quite beats the original. If you just want to play the easier parks and build quirky rides, there’s plenty of content for you in scenarios like Dynamite Dunes and Bumbly Beach. But for those who really love diving deep into the mechanics of sim games, "RollerCoaster Tycoon" has plenty of additional depth. It’s incredible how much Sawyer got right on the first try back in 1999.

  • Release Date: March 22, 1999

  • Genre: Simulation

Galaga level with ships in formation
999 characters looking shocked
Stone mausoleum forest
map hand and compass
Neku in the air
sam and max white house
Hajime yelling Counter
Sly cooper on tightrope
Characters gliding
Delta Squad in Gears 3
Zagreus fighting monsters
Joe in battle position
Nero shooting at demons
dragon quest viii hero dhoulmagus
The Heavy minigun
dodging bug sword swipe
Handsome Jack extending hand
eagle grabbing branch where conway sits
Doki Doki Literature Club characters in dark mode
okami amaterasu sitting
batman arkham city harley quinn joker
horizon zero dawn thunderjaw aloy
psychonauts razputin grind
riebeck playing guitar
Dead Cells Giant
Saint Seiros in Fire Emblem
Kiryu giving thumbs up
phoenix wright pointing
The Prince rolling up objects
alan wake shining flashlight into field
Undertale save point
Midnight Channel party
Nathan Drake tired in the desert
kiryu dancing
Farmer watering crops
Courier shooting Nightkin
Olimar and pikmin running from a bulborb
Jin fighting Hwoarang
Massive battle between two alien forces
Big Daddy drilling
Niko shooting at a helicopter
Characters looking up at stars
god of war kratos atreus jormungandr
Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid
Hunters fighting Ludwig
system shock 2 robot
Nes standing in front of his house
Geralt looking right
Characters putting out fire
League of Legends hero with blond hair and blue fist
Sorceress battling demons
godrick the grafted
Joker attacking in Persona
Spiderman throwing Wolverine
blasting demon with shotgun
Mario exiting green pipe to face Goombas
Vault Dweller shooting mutant
Leon Ashley escape
Mario riding on yoshi with luma
Soldiers in Call of Duty 4
Trevor, Michael, and Franklin geared up
Pikachu shocking Donkey Kong
the boss talking to big boss
james shining light on pyramid head
Samus in space
Player crossing rope bridge
Master Chief with the Arbiter
Link Deku tree
Player sky beam
Knight fighting Artorias
Alucard surrounded by attacking skeletons
Ryu attacking Ken with Hadouken
red dead redemption 2 arthur morgan shootout gunfight
Minecraft characters cliff
Pokemon Fire Red Leaf Green protagonist in Pallet Town
Taban and Chrono
Sephiroth surrounded by fire
Sonic in Chemical Plant Zone
ridley holding metroid in tank
Two robots looking nervous
ellie looking at joel
Link standing on cliff
Mario flying