People love putting things in lists - it's human nature. Since the dawn of the internet however, such lists have taken on a life of their own; starved of time, short on attention and faced with a seemingly unlimited amount of free content, the average web user wants information delivered in the shortest time possible and a "Best games ever" list is a handy way to do just that - as well as engender some heated debate.
The team at Hardcore Gaming 101 are fully aware of this, and in creating The 200 Best Video Games of All Time, they have shamelessly selected titles they personally deem to be important, rather than polling thousands of readers to reach a more democratic - but predictable - conclusion. Many lists on the web are insular and fail to take account of the wider view of gaming - here at Nintendo Life we have to admit we're guilty of that, but being a site with a single focus, we can surely be forgiven. While the 200 games assembled in this book have a very Japanese bias - not all that surprising when you consider that Hardcore Gaming 101 as a website began by celebrating the delights of the Far East - there has been notable effort made to include releases from all over the globe, and on multiple formats.
That means you have intense PC strategy titles from the early '90s rubbing shoulders with obscure Famicom games, and early 3D first-person shooters ranked alongside arcade releases which have never been ported to domestic systems. The result is quite an eclectic mix of names, many of which will be unfamiliar to casual players who didn't live through the so-called "golden age" of the '80s and '90s. However, that's not to say that the book is totally obsessed with vintage offerings - more recent games such as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Hotline Miami and Bayonetta 2 are also included.
Each title gets a page made up of words, artwork and screens, as well as a "see also" section at the bottom which cites a similar release which is also worth a look. You could therefore say that the actual list stands at 400 - and that doesn't include the 55 runners-up which are included at the close of the book, with each getting a short description and screenshot. All of this results in a frankly incredible resource for anyone interested in the history of gaming - all major genres are touched upon, and while you could argue that some are featured more heavily than others (sports and racing games have little coverage, while RPGs - western and Japanese - are in abundance), it does an excellent job of presenting a more rounded picture of gaming's greatest achievements.
As you'd expect from such a bold project, some of the choices are likely to cause some consternation among fans - Mario Kart 8 is relegated to a "see also" entry, with Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed deemed to be a more worthy release. While Sumo Digital's release is certainly excellent, we imagine that many will see it as second-best to Nintendo's own effort - but this is the nature of lists. You simply cannot please everyone, and the discussion and debate which follows should be seen as a positive thing; it gets people talking about games and assessing their impact more seriously.
Despite the wide-ranging remit of The 200 Best Video Games of All Time, Nintendo features heavily - a testament to the importance of the company not only as a creator of games, but as a supplier of gaming hardware on which many third parties have created amazing experiences. Super Mario Bros. 3, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, Super Metroid, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Link's Awakening, Smash Bros. Melee, F-Zero X, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Advance Wars: Days of Ruin are just a handful of the Nintendo-published titles contained within the publication, showing just how well-respected and influential the Kyoto company is. That doesn't include the many games which are on Nintendo hardware but produced by other firms, including Ninja Gaiden, Chrono Trigger, The World Ends With You, Resident Evil 4 and Elite Beat Agents.
As with Hardcore Gaming 101's other publications, this book boasts gorgeous cover artwork - supplied in this case by Thor Thorvaldson - and every page is printed in full-colour. Digital versions are available, but we'd recommend going for the physical edition, because this is the ultimate coffee-table book - a title which is sure to gain plenty of attention from any gamer guests you have visiting your home.
You can order a copy of The Best 200 Video Games of All Time here.