There's nothing like a nostalgic game that brings us back to our childhood. Whether you're a fan action adventure games like The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, timeless first person shooters like GoldenEye 007, or fighting games like Soulcalibur, there are plenty of retro games to go back and re-play.
My childhood gaming memories including staying up late and passing out to Final Fantasy 7 only to wake up the next day to see where I left off or playing Resident Evil for the first time. How about the time I played Mortal Kombat with all my neighborhood friends and the looser past the controller and I was so proud that I never lost or had to give up the controller.
Let’s take a look at the highest rated games from every year for the past 22 years. I’ll use www.gamerrankings.com as my reference point for game scores. What was the highest rated game the year you were born? Better yet what was your favorite game that year? Let’s begin with 1996.
1996 - Super Mario 64
Mario 64 made by Nintendo came out on Nintendo 64 and had an average review score of 96.41%. It may not have been the first 3rd person open world adventure game but it sure set a standard for how all future games would play.
1997 - GoldenEye 007
GoldenEye 007 made by Rare/Nintendo came out on Nintendo 64 and had an average review score of 94.70%. Many can remember that awesome four player split screen action.
1998 - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Ocarina of Time made by Nintendo came out on Nintendo 64 with a review score average of 97.54% and is also the second highest ranked game of all time on gamerankings.com. By this point Nintendo was becoming a Dynasty with their year after year hits.
1999 - Soulcalibur
Soulcalibur made by Namco came out on Sega Dreamcast with a review score of 96.56%. Nintendo’s reign had come to an end by the hands of Namco and Sega Dreamcast. Great graphics, weapons and intense fighting who didn’t love Soulcalibur?
2000 - Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2
THPS2 made by Neversoft Entertainment came out on PlayStation with a review score of 94.75%. Realistic 3rd person views with amazing tricks and loaded with real performance skaters.
2001 - Halo: Combat Evolved
Halo released on Xbox. Created by Bungie, Halo captivated the world with an average review score of 95.54%. First person shooters have never been the same since Master Chief.
2002 - Metroid Prime
Metroid Prime released on Nintendo’s GameCube with a review score of 96.33%. Prime was the first in series to offer open world and first person perspective in the Metroid series.
2003 - Grand Theft Auto Double Pack
Released on Xbox by RockStar Games. Average review score of 94.60%. Double Pack came with two GTA games ported from PS2 that were visually updated for Xbox.
2004 - Half-Life 2
Made by Valve Software with an review score of 95.48%. Pc gods can rejoice for their expensive pc towers finally having a use besides one handed internet surfing. Thank you Gordon.
2005 - Resident Evil 4
Capcom’s fourth installment of Resident Evil. RE4 came with some vast changes in the series from no longer having fixed camera angles to letting the virus spread beyond mindless zombies to controllable living people. Lastly, slight improvement to the tank controls the series was known for. Many fans became devided by these changes but all agree that RE4 might be best in series. For me personally RE Remake on PS4 holds that title. RE4 had an average review score of 95.85%.
2006 - The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
With an average review score of 94.58% it’s hard to think that Nintendo simply can’t make a great game. Does Nintendo take risks? Nope they keep a similar formula that has held the test of time and in this case it’s by either always rescuing Zelda in the series or assisting her to defeat the stories main villain. For me Twillight Princess was like a great sports car in the late 1970’s. It might have been a great car but cars in that period tended to suck due to emission law changes.
2007 - Super Mario Galaxy
With an average review of 97.4% SMG showed that Nintendo knew how to find new ways to have fun in open world platform play. For many of us the Wii was a dark time for Nintendo but at least we had SMG to get us through that underwhelming console.
2008 - Grand Theft Auto IV
Niko Bellic showed us you can find love and get even with your enemies all in one. GTA IV scored 97.04%.
2009 - Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Scoring a respectable 96.43% UC2 to many might have been best in series. Great locations, villains and great pacing set this action adventure game apart from the others and set the standard for like kind games.
2010 - Super Mario Galaxy 2
With a review score of 97.35% Nintendo proved they could make platformimg great again with SMG2. The evolution from SMG1 made way for new power ups and story progressions.
2011 - Batman: Arkham City
Like Uncharted 2 BAC was definitely best in series with an average review score of 95.54%. The Arkham series was a sleeper hit no one saw coming as no developer previously had really done a super hero game from the comics any proper justice. Get it, justice? Arkham series combat system was so good that it has been interpreted in many other games from Shadow of Mordor to the up and coming Marvel’s Spider-Man.
2012 - Persona 4 Golden
Made by Atlus with an average score of 94.16% Atlus showed us that even a hand held mobile game can be the best we ever played.
2013 - Grand Theft Auto V
Rockstar games with back to back series masterpieces scored 97.01% with GTAV. Now players could choose between three characters for story progression, a first in the series. Later installments allowed for first person perspective.
2014 - Grand Theft Auto V
Scoring 96.33% RockStar Games showed us that even ports and with enhancements can still win over gamers.
2015 - Grand Theft Auto V
Scoring 96.07% see comments for 2014. This was the first and probably the last time a game will ever be number one for three years in a roll. Hat trick.
2016 - INSIDE
With an average score of 92.81% INSIDE showed that puzzle games can be fun.
2017 - Super Mario Odyssey
Where art thou Mario? Seams like every time a Mario game is released it becomes the best of the year minus that of Mario Sunshine. SMO scored 97.42%.
2018 - currently - God of War
Scoring 94.10% at this time of writing God of War holds the candle for highest scoring game for 2018.