I’ve never gone back and put together a list of my favorite games from 2000-2009. Until now. Here are my retrospective favorite games from 2000.
Games I Played
Escape from Monkey Island
Final Fantasy IX
Hitman: Codename 47
Jet Set Radio
Mario Party 2
Pokemon Gold and Silver
Spyro: Year of the Dragon
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
10. Mario Tennis
Mario sports games have been around just about as long as the dark haired plumber has, and their quality varies greatly. Thankfully, Mario Tennis for the N64 is one of the good ones. The graphical design was definitely minimal, but it allowed the character models to look great. Although I do have to admit, listening to those characters speaking gibberish over and over gets pretty grating pretty quickly. While the tennis mechanics have been better perfected in more recent Mario Tennis games, the N64 version serves as a great example of Mario making the transition to other game genres.
9. Pokemon Stadium
I imagine there’s a good deal of rose tinted glasses going on here, but Pokemon Stadium still serves as the best 3D Pokemon game, in my opinion. Pretty much everything was striped out of the handheld RPGs and the game pretty much just became a turn-based combat game. From there, the game functioned as you’d expect, with different elemental types and attacks. It was definitely a simple game, but it was a fun way to take the handheld Pokemon combat and put it on your television. I still can’t believe we haven’t gotten a home console Pokemon RPG.
8. Jet Set Radio
Pretty much no one had a Sega Dreamcast, and I was no exception. However, a friend of mine was lucky enough to have one (or unlucky enough, depending on your perspective), so I got to check out this really unique, stylish game. Released as Jet Grind Radio in North America, this game had you grinding rad rails to sick beats. It had a fun, colorful art style that was popular at the time, and it served the high score gameplay well. A port of the game was made available on Xbox Live and Playstation Network a few years ago, so you should check it out if you haven’t.
7. Banjo Tooie
Banjo Kazooie was one of the best games released on the N64 by Rare — one of the best game developers at the time. It sold incredibly well, and a sequel was a no-brainer. Although it didn’t hit as high a note as the original, Banjo Tooie was definitely a worthy successor. It had the same awesome music, but took place in a much larger world. At times, that huge world led to a feeling of not being sure what to do or where to go next, but overall, the experience was a fun one. It’s crazy to think that we still haven’t had a proper sequel to this game. Don’t even bring up Nuts and Bolts — while there were some interesting ideas in that one, it had almost nothing to do with what made the first two games great.
6. Chrono Cross
I don’t think many people would argue that Chrono Cross is better than the original Chrono Trigger, and I won’t either. Still, Chrono Cross is a great game in its own right, with a classic story and turn based combat that stands the test of time. Fans of the more popular Final Fantasy series were probably fans of this game, too. It had beautiful music and lovable characters. They don’t really make RPGs like this anymore, and I kind of miss it. Then again, 12-year-old Shea had a lot more time and patience for incredibly deep and complex RPGs. Modern Shea doesn’t want to spend that much time in menus or on wiki pages.
5. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Majora’s Mask is kind of the red-headed stepchild of the Zelda series. It was the follow up to the immensely popular Ocarina of Time, considered by many (including myself) to be one of the best games ever made. There were plenty of cool elements in Majora’s Mask, like the ability to don the titular masks to perform unique abilities. It had a darker tone than previous games — which proved to be a bit divisive, though I personally liked the change. I didn’t love the time-based story-telling, however, and Ocarina is just kind of a tough act to follow across the board.
4. Hitman: Codename 47
Though the first Hitman game probably isn’t the “best” in the series, it’s also probably my personal favorite. While future installments added large areas and more complex objectives, there was something pure about Codename 47’s gameplay. Being able to don other people’s uniforms to sneak past guards was such a cool mechanic, and it was always satisfying when a series of events went exactly to plan. Stealth is a very hard thing to get right in video games, and Hitman: Codename 47 did it exceedingly well. Though to be fair, enemy AI was far from intelligent.
3. Spyro: Year of the Dragon
Year of the Dragon is widely considered to be the best Spyro game, and for good reason. While the first game introduced us to a great character and fun platforming, and the second refined some of the game’s mechanics, the third game in the series controlled the best, looked the best, and had the most variety. It had larger areas to explore, better boss battles, and added the awesome hover ability, which made getting around much easier and more fun. This was a very late PS1 game before Insomniac moved onto Ratchet and Clank on the PS2, and the series would never be the same. Now that Spyro is the central figure of the Skylanders series, I don’t expect to ever see another “real” Spyro game. That makes me very sad.
2. Final Fantasy IX
I didn’t play Final Fantasy IX until several years after it came out, but that’s the beauty of the retrospective game of the year list. While it doesn’t top my number one game, it still serves as one of the better — and more underrated — games in the Final Fantasy series. The cast is great, and while the story still ends up being about saving the world, it felt fresh at the time. Combat employed the popular Active Time Battle system seen in most turn-based FF games, and re-introduced the specific class system. Zidane is arguably the last great main character in a Final Fantasy game, which is pretty disappointing when you think about it.
1. Pokemon Gold/Silver
There’s a decent argument to be made that Pokemon Gold and Silver are even better than the original Red and Blue versions. I’m not sure that I’m totally on board with that, but it was definitely cool to get a completely new story, and be able to revisit Kanto and take on all of the old gym leaders. At the time it felt like you were getting two games for the price of one. There were plenty of cool new Pokemon introduced, as well. Some of my personal favorites would have to be Umbreon, Cyndaquil, Sudowoodo, and Skarmory. The legendary pokemon were all pretty awesome, too. There were definitely some duds in there, but overall Gold and Silver added some new diversity to the roster and combat while still staying true to what made the original games so great and addictive.
And there you have it, my favorite games released in 2000! Be sure to leave your top game in the comments, and check out my other video game rankings!