Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Games that deserve 10/10
Readers reveal the games they think are worth a full 10/10 score, from The Last Of Us Part 2 to Zelda: A Link To The Past.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader notoriouschucky but works with the assumption that 10/10 does not mean a game is literally perfect, just the best of the best.
This ended up being one of the most popular Hot Topics of recent months, with everyone seemingly have their own secret list of games they feel are worthy of the ultimate accolade.
Two games deserve a 10 for me. You gave both of them a 9 but I’ll forgive you. Bloodborne and Astro Bot: Rescue Mission. Both are a masterclass in video games. One makes you scream in rage but yet is unrivalled when it comes to mastering your technique. It also contains the most incredible art direction and level design I’ve seen in decades. The other is probably the most endlessly entertaining, visually gob smacking game I’ve played in well… probably ever.
As close as any other company has ever gotten to the masters of the genre. I’m avoiding using Nintendo here as their best output generally gets a deserved 10 anyway, so these are my two. One I’d argue is the greatest game ever made and the other is, much like Mario Galaxy, the purest expression of ‘being entertained’ that the video game industry can offer.
9 means not 10 but 10 isn’t perfect either so they get 10 for being 10 worthy and not 9 worthy. Hopefully that clears it up.
Guilty as charged
For my 10/10 game I’m going to nominate one of the few games that I feel GameCentral have underscored: Outer Wilds.
I loved pretty much everything about the game; the visual design, the music, the subtly evolving story, the gameplay physics, and the ingenious environmental puzzles that you were expected to solve with minimal handholding.
Most of all though, I loved the way that the game made me feel like I was truly exploring the unknown. By the time I had completed the game (and I can’t provide details without massive spoilers) it had instilled in me a sense of awe and wonderment such as no other media has done in my adult life… and I’m in my forties!
Yes, at times there was some repetition or waiting for time specific events to unfold, and I had to look up one of the puzzle solutions (which I obviously regretted in hindsight). But these small flaws never felt burdensome and didn’t detract from the game’s principal achievement of fusing gameplay, environment and story to create a totally unique and inspiring interactive experience.
It’s my favourite game of the last 10 years (if not of all time) and is thoroughly deserving of a top score. Here’s hoping the upcoming DLC can reach the same lofty heights!
List of truths
Possibly the nerdiest, most pointless thing I’ve ever done in my life is to keep a list in my phone’s notes of my favourite games of all time. It’s in no particular order, just as they came to mind, and chronologically speaking it goes from Qix to the Demon’s Souls remake.
There’s nothing really ‘out there’ on the list, though I suppose not everyone will love Might & Magic: Clash Of Heroes on the DS as much as I do (but strangely it’s literally the only game my wife loves too, and it nearly ruined a holiday once…).
I digress though. The Hot Topic is to name a game worthy of a (practically) Perfect 10, and whilst there’s probably a few on my list that qualify (Super Metroid and Super Mario World, you were both Super close) I’m going to shout out Bubble Bobble.
It was the first game I booted up on my brand new PlayStation 5 a month ago, and whilst I intended giving it a quick go before playing something ‘proper’, I was still there an hour later. This is a game that’s 35 years old but is still as playable and addictive as ever.
If there’s a more charming game, I haven’t played it. If someone told me there was a more versatile weapon than a bubble you can encase baddies in and use as a trampoline, I’d shriek at them open mouthed just like Donald Sutherland at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. 10 out of 10 still? You betcha!
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Fun with perfection
I can’t think of many games I’d award a 10 out 10, as even most of my all-time favourites have at least one issue that, for me at least, prevents it them being awarded a maximum score. Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, for example, offers an open world like no other, but I found the Divine Beasts incredibly dull and repetitive. Then you have Dark Souls, which almost invented a new genre, but the original version on the Xbox 360 was affected by significant technical issues (most notably the frame rate in Blight Town).
In the end I think I’d have to opt for Portal as an example of a game I’d award 10 out of 10, as it achieves exactly what it sets out to do and I can’t think of a single thing I’d change about it. It’s full of original ideas, the progression of the puzzles is nigh on perfect and it’s also one of the funniest games I’ve ever played. The sequel is great as well!
Video game websites (proper ones at least, not the guff that constantly appears at the top of Metacritic) are normally super frugal with 10/10 scores. It’s not that 10/10 is indication of a perfect game, but for me it signifies a remarkable game of significantly higher quality than its peers and that has very few minor flaws.
With that in mind though, I would assign a 10/10 to so many games it would make IGN blush, so I’ll keep my list to games I’ve finished in the last two years (and it also happens it’s only in the last two years that I’ve kept a comprehensive list of completed games, that helps jog the old memory).
Hollow Knight (GameCentral score: 8/10)
This takes all the elements of the last 20 years of Metroidvania games, wraps them all together and presents them in a beautifully haunting, huge game world ready for you to explore. For me this is the benchmark for all future Metroidvanias (and lord knows we get a lot of them). I will admit to some frustrations with the map but given I’ve 100% completed it twice I’m not taking a mark off for that, it’s a 10!
Subnautica (GameCentral score: 8/10)
Full of mystery, exploration, tension, and with some surprisingly scary moments exploring the depths, I loved this so much. It was my favourite game of 2020. At release it had a significant number of bugs and really struggled on my Xbox One… if I was a real video game journalist giving this a 10/10 would stretch my credibility. But I’m not, and I have no credibility anyway, so it gets a 10 from me because I loved it that much.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (GameCentral score: 9/10)
A game so good it inspired my first ever Reader’s Feature after years of just reading them. I haven’t played a game before, or since, which pulled me in to its world and mechanics so remarkably while playing. Playing this game was mindfulness itself. Some people might use Headspace and meditation for washing the day’s troubles away but Sekiro made me forget anything other than the controller and screen existed for a few hours at a time. It was a literally exhilarating experience, and for me one of the very, very best games I’ve ever played.
The Last Of Us Part 2 (GameCentral score: 9/10)
This is my definition of a 10/10. A remarkable achievement in video games and of significantly higher quality than its peers. Not in gameplay terms, which although enjoyable is not genre-leading. But the quality of the story, characters and acting, married with the gameplay, is so far above its peers. Like Hollow Knight, I think this game is the benchmark for all other story driven action games to aim for.
The game transcends the usual discourse of ‘the shooting feels great’ or the ‘platforming is really fun’ and pushes the conversation on video games forward into where gameplay and narrative are married and have something interesting to say. People can have meaningfully differing opinions on how the story played out and what happened to the characters. A truly great gaming experience. Even if the shooting is just fine, it’s a 10!
Four games in two years might not seem like that many 10/10s but given I’ve only finished 42 games in that time, almost 10% of games I play I’d give full marks. At least part of that is due to GameCentral, which allows me to only buy games I think I’ll enjoy. Thanks for your reviews, we generally align and I appreciate that the site uses the full spectrum of scores in particular. Most sites seems to think 7 is a bad score and so everything just coagulates around the 8s and 9s mark and it’s hard to distinguish between 6/7/8 games. Unless you read GameCentral that is.
Do a barrel roll
Personally, I would say Zelda: Ocarina Of Time and the original Super Mario Galaxy but there’s not much more I can say about those two games that hasn’t been said already.
So I’m going to say Star Fox (or Starwing as it was called on these shores) on the SNES. From the moment you fire the game up you are immediately flung into the middle of a galactic conflict. The big booms of the drum start kicking in over the snare and you already know you’re going to be called up for duty.
Yeah, the gameplay was simplistic. Shoot anything that moves apart from your teammates, pick up as many power-ups as you can and keep an eye on your health bar. Yet that lends itself to so many of today’s games, albeit maybe not so much on-the-rails anymore. In that respect the gameplay couldn’t have been that off the mark on what people like to play in general.
The frame rate might be an issue against today’s games but there are certainly parts where the Arwing is running silky smooth. Which a game as low tech as this had absolutely no right to be doing. Those moments are still jaw dropping today, putting your thrusts on and barrel rolling just as the end of level boss is coming into shot being one example.
I admit I’m probably going for style over substance here but that was the first time I had played a game and actually felt like I was part of a big cinematic gaming masterpiece.
When I got my Classic Mini SNES it was still the game I played the most and it was still as much fun as I remember it being.
With its 30th anniversary about 18 months away, I for one would very much welcome a remake of this classic. With the option of voice acting and a remaster of the old soundtrack.
Although when you look at Nintendo’s past history for rereleasing old games on new formats they tend not to mess about with the original too much and instead they usually just fix pacing issues that gamers wouldn’t really want to put up with today.
In that respect the pacing in Star Fox was perfect so I won’t be holding my breath anytime soon.
It’s still got it
I’ve played hundreds of games over the years, starting with ZX Spectrum, Master System, and Amiga 500 to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch.
For me, Nintendo pull it out of the bag every time with innovation, design, interaction, and emotion. The legendary game I speak of is The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, which to me is still the best Zelda of all time.
Even today the structure of the game still beats even the new titles, with the hero’s journey which influenced George Lucas, Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, and many others.
Shigeru Miyamoto and his team created the greatest adventure possible for the technology they had at the time, with 3D graphics, analogue control, force feedback, and sound design.
The gameplay was revolutionary with combat, exploration (of which Epona was exemplary), and hidden secrets and collectables. The Water Temple still gets me now, and then there are the boss battles which made you feel like a true hero after defeating them.
Also, the quirky humour Shigeru was known for in the game, like the runner who never stops.
The story mythology of the Triforce is still the best, even though it’s not necessarily a big element of the game. The time travel element was genius given how old this game is now, showing an alternative future.
Sound is very important to the best games, because it connects that area and emotion to the player at that time. The opening score, the Temple of Time, Song of Storms, the Great Fairy Fountain, Gerudo Valley, and the ocarina itself connected you even more to the game.
When put together all these elements create an emotional roller-coaster of a game That many have tried to copy over the years and few have succeeded. Even non-gamers tried this at the time and were amazed by how good it was.
All in all, this game’s DNA can still be found in many adventure games today, which is why this is still a 10/10 today and may we hope the next Legend Of Zelda will try to achieve the same greatness.
OZ ILLUMINATI (gamertag)/genghis1492 (PSN ID)/Odin seein (NN ID)
There are a few games I think should get 10/10 but one stands above them all. Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare on the Xbox 360.
An amazing campaign with some fantastic missions, coupled with a first rate and bloody addictive multiplayer.
Quite simply, gaming does not get any better than this. For me groundbreaking at the time it was released.
Manic miner 100 (gamertag)
Best vs. favourite
Based on the consoles I have owned and the games I completed, I would give 10/10 to the following games: Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Sonic The Hedgehog 3, Micro Machines 2 Turbo, Street Fighter 2, Streets Of Rage 2, Tekken 3, Metal Gear Solid, Shenmue 2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, TimeSplitters 2, Pro Evolution Soccer 5, God Of War 2, Shadow Of The Colossus, God Hand, Resident Evil 4, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Valkyria Chronicles, The Puppeteer, Metal Gear Solid 4 and Metal Gear Online 2, The Last Of Us, God of War 2018, The Last Of Us Part 2, and Returnal.
What makes these games 10/10 for me is that they are a variety of games that tell a great story, have inventive gameplay, lots of content, are emotive and influential, with lots of replayability – all tying into memorable gaming moments. I wouldn’t necessarily consider all these my favourite games, as I actually prefer Mortal Kombat over Street Fighter, but number 2 was a big moment for fighting games.
Consoles I did not own are the Master System, GameCube, SNES, Mega CD, Saturn, N64, Wii, Wii U, Switch, all Xboxes, and PC but I am aware of the highly praised games on those formats such as The Legend Of Zelda series. Portable console games have never quite reached a 10 for me but the Syphon Filter PSP games, God Of War: Ghost Of Sparta, Tearaway, and Danganronpa 1 have come close.
Time will tell
A 10/10 for me either has to be world leading in at least one key element that has a big impact on gameplay, or it has to push the boundaries of gaming in a significant way that makes me reassess the future of the medium.
Even if a game does everything as well as can be expected it can only be a 9 at most for me, unless these criteria are met.
Achieving all of the above probably makes a game a masterpiece but unfortunately it’s often only time that can help distinguish between something being really great and really, really special, so it’s always going to be difficult for professional reviewers.
After the honeymoon period is behind us I think a couple of classics have reputations that have only improved beyond their original reviews. Games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne, which were clearly very well received on release but, in hindsight, maybe felt more tainted by accessibility concerns or difficulty spikes than they actually were in the long term.
Any issues that still remained once all those communities built up around them were probably outshone by their qualities and the extent of their impact. Even after finishing both multiple times I can see myself constantly returning to them with the most basic of excuses, like a frame rate patch or a simple remaster.
I also remember GoldenEye 007 only seeming to get its reputation as arguably the best game of its generation once it was in the hands of regular players, with initial reviews being ‘merely’ very positive. Although the years have been less kind to that game and I don’t think I’d continue to give an old game a 10 if it’s substantially less enjoyable to play in a modern context.
Others that were regarded as masterpieces from the off still deserve that reputation, though. I think at least two Legend Of Zelda games, A Link to the Past and Breath Of The Wild, arguably achieved even more than is often acknowledged to this day, despite the heaps of praise they’ve already had. I’ve seen this insistence over the years that the latter isn’t all it was first cracked up to be but when people try and explain their reasoning they always seem to reduce some massively complex design achievements down to being comparable with your average map-icon-padded open world game.
I’m tempted to put Ocarina Of Time up there as well, purely based on its impact and legacy, but part of me feels the 3DS remake was really necessary to stop it succumbing to GoldenEye syndrome, at least a bit. Maybe the same will happen to Breath Of The Wild but it certainly hasn’t for A Link To The Past.
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The small print
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