It's not easy picking a favorite
Favorite game? Of all time? That's a toughie.
Our staff varies in age, but every one of us hails from an age where playing video games was just a part of growing up. As you'd expect from a group of automotive enthusiasts, there are a couple of racing games represented, one of them comparatively old school and one of them nearly new. But a bunch of these titles have nothing to do with cars or racing. They are also spread across a variety of consoles and systems, from the early days when modems meant you couldn't talk on the phone and play games at the same time to the rich multiplayer ecosystems of the present.
Without further ado, click on the image above to see which video games were chosen by our staff as the greatest of all time.
4D Sports Driving
Am I dating myself for choosing 4D Sports Driving as the game I nominate to this list? Probably. Introduced way back in 1990, this is the game that prompted me to learned DOS commands and to create boot disks to free up memory — gotta get to 640K! Once launched, my friends and family spent countless hours playing with virtual cars, building tracks, setting records, comparing notes and chatting through hilariously slow internet connections, all due to a shared love of this video game.
We always referred to the game as Stunts, since that's what pops up on the title screen. With a few different kinds of loops and jumps, the name seemed to fit. I'm not really sure what fourth dimension the game's designers were gunning for in its official name, but it hardly matters. 4D Sports Driving is the game that most directly shaped my childhood, and it's one reason why I had such an interest in cars growing up. — Consumer Editor Jeremy Korzeniewski
I grew up reflexively despising the myths that the 1950s told about itself, particularly through the myopic lens of saccharine-sweet retrospect. The naive optimism, the crappy sitcoms, the simmering but unseen social turmoil and exploitative policies. The profoundly dark and ironic vision of that the Fallout universe creates out of this flotsam is the perfect antidote. It's a fantasy universe created out of a spotless science-fiction future corroded by an unthinkable apocalypse. It's also thankfully not nearly as dark as a real post-nuclear world, which would be more like the unrelenting brutality and hopelessness of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" than a shooter informed by Vault Boy's cheery face. It's also one of the better open-world games, which gives the player the freedom to (mostly) do whatever they want over a huge landscape.
I don't love all the choices that Bethesda Game Studios made with the plot, or the game mechanics, but I'll say that The Commonwealth was a place I didn't tire of exploring. Nor did I tire of the thrill of jumping into a suit of Power Armor, the mech-like suits that provide a huge survivability buffer, and lobbing tactical mini-nukes at, well, whatever the hell I wanted to. It could have been macabre, but Fallout manages to mostly be a fantasy game that lovingly mocks that gee-whiz retrofuturism. And it's my favorite game of all time, by a long shot. — Senior Editor Alex Kierstein
Mario Kart 64
Mario Kart 8 has the more modern gameplay experience, which includes more characters, better graphics (they are absolutely stunning), and more courses to race on, but there’s no replacement for the nostalgia-soaked fun of the original 3D kart racer. This game had serious staying power. From hours spent in battle mode during childhood sleepovers to Beer-io Kart in college (please drink and game responsibly) I am still not sick of this game.
I should point out that my pick is as much about the console as it is the game. The N64 is, in my opinion, the quintessential console for arcade-style multiplayer gaming — Wayne Gretzky 3D hockey needs to be mentioned at this point as the first-ever four-player game for the N64.
I give Mario Kart 64 top marks in fun factor, graphics, controls, accessibility, and sound. Grand Prix mode is good, and much better than the Super Nintendo original, but where this game really shines is multiplayer mode. I think it’s still one of the best examples out there. In my house it was a multi-generational hit. The same cannot be said for games like Super Smash Bros., any Madden game, or even Mario Kart 8, all of which come with steeper learning curves. Mario Kart 64 (and to a larger extend the N64 itself) is the epitome of in-home arcade-style gaming.
Also important to note, Diddy Kong Racing, which game along in 1997, is also on my must-buy list, but my Karting fix had been met by the time it hit shelves and there was no displacing Mario from the top spot in my heart. Plus, I was on to playing Goldeneye by then. — Video Production Manager Eddie Sabatini
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
I feel like the "favorite [blank] of all time" question is almost always impossible to answer. I don't necessarily have a "favorite," but instead more of a pantheon of legendary games that have all had huge effects on me throughout my life. Ocarina of Time, Super Mario Sunshine, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and even more recent games like Hollow Knight have all either gotten me through a tough time, taught me something valuable, or simply just brought me absurd amounts of joy.
That said, a game I'd like to talk about that is exceptionally high in my own personal gaming Mount Rushmore has to be Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Often, when talking about the "best" Mario Kart, purists will jump to the original SNES version or Mario Kart 64, both fantastic games, but for me Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the definitive version of Mario Kart. The series has continued to build upon itself with remarkably few missteps to create, in my estimation, the perfect kart racer. If you're terrible at games, it's still accessible in its 50cc mode, and if you're looking for a challenge then 200cc is brutal enough to get that gamer rage bubbling straight to the surface. And if you think 200cc is tough, just wait until you play online. I consider myself good at this game, but if that's true then the wider world is filled with Mario Kart players of truly Herculean skill.
The character and track designs are beautiful, the musical score is exciting and inspiring, and perhaps most importantly it just feels good to play. I feel like the item drops are fair (some will disagree but look, if you get blue-shelled and it drops you back to last place then you weren't far enough ahead to begin with, okay?) and the addition of a second item slot as a throwback to the Gamecube edition of the game, Mario Kart Double Dash, changes the entire strategy of the races for the better. Sonic the Hedgehog and friends starred in a competing kart racer recently that wasn't received all that well, and Crash Bandicoot and his crew followed suit with a remake of Crash Team Racing, a much better showing than the former and a genuinely fun game in its own right, but to me it's absolutely no question that our main man Mario continues to be King of the Kart. Until they decide to modernize Diddy Kong Racing that is. Do it, Rare. Do it ... — Video Community Manager Erik Maier
Argued by some to be the best video game of all time, Rare’s first-person shooter GoldenEye 007 remains my favorite video game, despite being over 22 years old. I’m not alone in this sentiment; aggregator Metacritic has GoldenEye listed with a score of 96/100 and rated second for the N64 after The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (which incidentally is my second favorite video game of all time).
Based on the 1995 James Bond movie of the same name that introduced us to Pierce Brosnan as the title character, the game not only introduced the world of first-person shooter games to me, but at the same time introduced James Bond. Throughout the early 2000s my brother and I obsessively watched every Bond movie we could get our hands on, and the films (and more specifically a few of the car chase scenes) ultimately led me to go to school for film production, driving me to the job I have today.
It is also because of this game that other first-person shooters, like Halo and Call of Duty, followed. While the one player mode was my favorite, this was the first game I had that allowed for four players to play at the same time on the same 480p tube television. How my brother, our friends and I managed to play a game with only 240p resolution, I will never understand (I use a 4K television today).
Between the story and the multiplayer, plus the impact it had on future games as well as my life, there is no competition. After GoldenEye I bought and played almost every Bond game release: The World is Not Enough (N64), Agent Under Fire (GameCube), Nightfire (GameCube), Everything or Nothing (GameCube), GoldenEye: Rogue Agent (GameCube), From Russia with Love (GameCube) and GoldenEye 007 (Wii), but nothing eclipsed the feeling I had when playing GoldenEye on N64.
Sadly, my N64 bit the dust long ago, so my GoldenEye playing is nonexistent. Maybe one of these days I’ll pull the trigger on one of the retro N64s I see on Craigslist. — Senior Producer Chris McGraw
Forza Horizon 4
I was going to give a shoutout to Sonic, but my love for the little mutated blue hedgehog has been replaced by Forza Horizon 4. It's such a wonderful game in an open world where you not only communicate with other players but are able to create your own race track for other players to test out. The number of cars in the game is breathtaking, plus you have the ability to customize basically everything. Like taking a 1958 BMW Isetta with its top speed of 45 mph and completely giving it a makeover with a ridiculous top speed of 170 mph and a 0-60 time of 2 seconds ... yeah, insane. If you’re new to the whole racing game scene, then I highly recommend you get a copy. You will not be disappointed. — Producer Amr Sayour
I’ve been playing video games for as long as I can remember. Since it came out in 1995, my favorite game has remained the classic Japanese RPG Chrono Trigger. Even writing this out makes me want to fire up the game and lose a weekend in the world. Crono, the spikey-haired silent protagonist, is a sword-wielding time traveler who partners with a band of misfits including an anthropomorphic frog and a robot that went to sleep after an apocalyptic event in the far-off year of 1999. It was developed by some of the greatest video game and manga artists of all time, including Akira Toriyama of Dragon Ball fame.
It packs in everything I love about games. The story is fantastic and genuinely epic, the gameplay is fun without being challenging, multiple endings encourage repeat playthroughs, and the soundtrack is one of the best of the era. There’s even an awesome flying time machine named Epoch that Crono and the team use to travel throughout history. The 16-bit graphics still look sharp in a retro sort of way, and the gameplay is as good as any modern single-player RPG.
I love video games for the same reasons I love watching TV or a movie. I want to see how artists can use the medium to tell a story. Chrono Trigger delivers in full. — Road Test Editor Reese Counts
My least-favorite questions are ones that ask what my favorite something is. Not just my favorites but favorite singular. This applies to cars, as well as our current topic, video games, and it's because there are so many of each that I love dearly, but for very different reasons that aren't directly comparable.
I was having a heck of a time deciding between a racing game or some other game. But after serious consideration, I'm going with Uncharted 2 for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. I love the entire Uncharted series, but the second iteration had the perfect combination of humor, intrigue, spectacular locations, and varied gameplay.
You get to jump, run and climb about dense jungles, frozen mountainsides and charming villages. You encounter one of the most despicable and cartoonishly evil villains of the series, a perfect fit for its pulpy Indiana Jones feel. And every minute of it is perfectly paced between gunplay, puzzle solving and traversal mechanics. It blew me away when it came out, and it holds up as one of the most fun virtual adventures you can set off on. — Associate Editor Joel Stocksdale
Metroid, which launched for the NES when I was in elementary school, is a true classic. I still fire it up regularly, both in cartridge form on the original console, and on the NES Classic Edition, and I usually have my "Official Nintendo Player's Guide" handy when I do. I always let it sit on the title screen for a bit and enjoy what is some of the best Nintendo music of all time while I get the rest of my supplies situated for the long haul. Exploring this map while searching for all the important power ups I need to better kill aliens still feels like an immersive sci-fi adventure, even if it is only in 8 bits.
Super Metroid for SNES (and the subsequent titles for consoles that followed) is arguably a better game, and I still play it, too. I'll always come right back to where it all started, though, usually bringing an uninitiated friend along for the ride. They're never disappointed. — Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder