The sixth installment of The Legend of Zelda series and the second using 3D graphics, the only thing this game suffers from is not being Ocarina of Time. Oh, and requiring an Expansion Pak. That was pretty annoying.
There were multiplayer games before Goldeneye. There were multiplayer FPS's before Goldeneye, if you knew how to work the Internet. Goldeneye was what made console multiplayer FPS's mainstream. Goldeneye invented sitting in a room with your friends and shooting them. It invented calling three friends up to waste six-straight hours in front of the TV. It invented punching Jimmy Zubulake in the arm because he was being cheap with the rocket launcher. It's hard to imagine, but there was a time when casual, living-room death matches didn't exist. If not for Goldeneye, we might not have Halo or Call of Duty. Goldeneye is as good a game as it is important to the history of gaming. The single player was solid, too.
For many, playing Mario 64 for the first time was synonymous with playing 3D VIDEOGAMES FOR THE FIRST TIME; a pretty impressive feat for a launch title. Most gamers at that time had used a joystick before, but never in such a revolutionary way. I'll never forget the first time I laid eyes upon the strange grey trident Nintendo claimed was a controller, and how quickly all my skepticism faded as soon as I began piloting a wing-hatted Mario around an endless cloudy sky. Super Mario 64 helped redefine the platforming genre and revitalize the Mario franchise, and included a pretty cool title screen mini-game where you could stretch Mario's face using the joystick, something subsequent Mario games have been disappointingly lacking in.
When I was in 3rd grade, my friends and I would sit around at lunch and talk about how awesome a Mortal Kombat-style Mario game would be. We dreamed of what it would be like for Mario to fight Sonic. Six years later, Nintendo realized what every kid wanted and made it a reality. Of course, Link punching Luigi would get old fast if the gameplay wasn't good. Luckily, Smash Bros gameplay is great. It's somewhere between deep and chaotic, depending who you ask. It can be enjoyed as a button masher or with great care given to skill and strategy, like a sport. In fact, for many college kids, it may be the closest thing they do to playing sports.
Let's be honest. The second you clicked the link to this list YOU KNEW what game would be number one. But as Zelda has so often taught us, it's the journey, not the destination that makes an experience worthwhile. And Ocarina of Time is a journey like no other. No matter how many games you play, you'll never forget the first time you played "Saria's Song" on your ocarina or the last time you broke a controller in frustration in the water temple. Not only did this game revolutionize the action-adventure genre with innovations like z-targeting and context-sensitive buttons, it set new heights for storytelling and emotional depth in videogames. Sure, Navi might have been an annoying at times, but if you didn't cry when she abandoned you in the temple of time at the end of your adventure, then you have zero heart containers.