Top 10 Video Games of the 00 Decade, Part Deux

As I continue my rundown of what I consider the best games of the last decade, I’ve noticed how predictable my gaming tastes are. Maybe I should broaden my horizons?

5. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was one of the most controversial games of the last decade. Not because it is immoral or violent, but because Nintendo decided to drastically overhaul the art style from the series’ previous 3D incarnations; a move which put gamers in a frenzy about Link’s new “kiddy” look. But the cartoonish, cel-shaded visuals actually masked the very serious nature of Wind Waker’s plot. Though the game is relatively short and easy, and traversing its vast ocean became tiresome, the minimalist story about the fall of the land of Hyrule kept me on the edge of my seat. Finally, the series showed its maturity thanks to the sympathetic portrayal of Ganondorf, the series’ main antagonist, and the discovery of the source of his lust for power. I must also give it credit for breaking what has become known as the “The Zelda Formula” which its successor, Twilight Princess, failed to do.
4. Metroid Prime

Metroid Prime was one-half of Nintendo’s successful relaunch of the Metroid series. Many gamers, including myself, were worried about the series’ first foray into the third dimension when Nintendo announced Metroid Prime would play from a first-person perspective as that led us to believe it would turn into a space shooter more akin to the Dooms, Unreals, and Halos of the world rather than the atmospheric, exploratory nature of its predecessor, Super Metroid. However, Retro Studios delivered as Metroid Prime surpassed our best expectations with its fantastic setting, ambient soundtrack, and subtly told story on top of being one of the best shooter experiences found anywhere. But calling Metroid Prime a shooter is to sadly misclassify it. Most of the game is spent solving environmental puzzles, and finding out which way to go next. After all, “Evil must be eliminated, but first it must be found.”
3. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King

Square Enix’s flagship Dragon Quest series is an odd cultural phenomenon. It’s hard to ascribe what exactly makes this series so great. For example, Dragon Quest VIII’s, plot and gameplay are more similar to a game one would play in the early 90s. While other RPG series were moving away from the tried and true turn-based battle systems, Dragon Quest VIII embraced it. Those gamers with an epic mindset (the main story takes around 70 hours to complete with easily 100 more hours for completionists) played it, and loved it anyway. Though it played like a Super Nintendo RPG, it stood out thanks to its extremely high productions values. Most noticeable are the visuals. The world is gigantic and beautiful with its vivid color palette, soaring vistas, and fantastic map design. This coupled with a fully symphonic soundtrack and the best voice-acting on the PS2 made the Dragon Quest series a hit outside of its native Japan for the first time. Being the hero never looked or sounded so good.
2. Shadow of the Colossus
Shadow of the Colossus is one of the most interesting specimens developed in the 2000s. Calling it a game hardly does it justice because it is so different than what one would expect from video games. There’s the player and their horse, the vast world, and a grand total of sixteen huge Colossi to defeat. There isn’t much else to the game aside from a few small lizards and some fruit of an indeterminate type. Yet the game is completely engaging despite its sparsity thanks, similarly to Dragon Quest VIII, to its amazing map design that offers the player with a living world full of forests, canyons, and lakes to traverse in order to find and destroy the elusive Colossi. All of this to return life to the protagonist’s deceased lover. The story may sound cliche, but Shadow of the Colossus is beautiful and the emptiness of the landscape only adds to its emotional impact right up to the unexpected denouement. No other game makes a better argument about the artistry of video games than Shadow of the Colossus.
So what is my favorite game of the last ten years? I bet the world wants to know (yea right!), but the suspenseful conclusion of my list must wait! Not because I want to create tension, but because I’m tired and I’m going to bed.
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