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SmashPad’s Physical Games of the Generation

As this generation winds down with the upcoming launch of the PS4 and Xbox One, the staff here at SmashPad took a long look at this past generation to figure out what our favorite games of the generation were as we made some tough decisions to come up with this list.

This generation has lasted for about nine years now as the Nintendo DS kicked off this whole thing with its release on November 21, 2004 here in North America. The PSP followed it with a North American release on March 2005 and the Xbox 360 kicked off the console side of the generation November 2005. The next year saw the last two pieces of the current-gen picture with the Wii and PlayStation 3 releasing on November 2006 to complete the suite of platforms for this generation. This very well may be the most successful generation with close to 500 million units sold between all five systems and there’s a good chance that the PS3 and Xbox 360 keep selling well enough for the next few years to push that over 500 million.

Back to the games, this has also been another excellent generation of games that have really shown what can be done with the added power on the Xbox 360, PS3, and PSP along with the new ways to play that the Wii and DS brought to the picture. First-person shooters finally got to be on par with their PC counterparts and third-person shooters finally broke through with the debut of Gears of War and Uncharted to set high bars for the rest of the industry. Adventure games got a bit of a revamp in style and focus this generation thanks to Quantic Dream and Telltale Games showing that they don’t have to just emulate the classics to produce great results. The Wii showed that motion controls worked really well for certain types of games, but not everything worked well with the Wii Remote. The DS did an excellent job of bringing touch controls to the masses that set-up the table for mobile gaming to take off with the iPhone.

Bringing things back to the big picture, we here at SmashPad took a look back at every game we enjoyed this past generation to figure out the ten games that each staffer enjoyed the most amongst the physical releases this generation. This was obviously a very hard challenge since there have been so many good releases that cutting it down to ten was a heart-breaking process as I personally had an initially big list of over 20 games that I chipped away at until I had my final list. Looking at the final results, we had over 50 games nominated for the final list by our staff with seven of those getting multiple votes to make this quite a varied list showcasing the unique tastes that our staff has. Amongst the final list of our 30 most favorite games of the generation, the PS3 has the most exclusives at nine and the DS ,Xbox 360, Wii, and PSP tied for second at two exclusives each. Counting publishers, Electronic Arts, Nintendo, and and Sony lead with four games each on the list.

Without further ado, here is SmashPad’s 30 Games of the Generation, ordered by release date:

PWAA

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Nintendo DS

“Point-and-click titles really helped make the Nintendo DS a welcome system for casual gamers, but the Ace Attorney series with its witty dialog is in a class of its own with plenty of fans worldwide.” – Danreb Victorio

COD2

Call of Duty 2 – Xbox 360

“Call of Duty 2 was a perfect launch game for the Xbox 360 and really started pushing the Call of Duty series into a new stratosphere. It was a game change for its own series and started to set a quality bar for other shooters moving forward.” – Alex Quevedo

rr2

Ridge Racer 2 – PSP

“Only importers need apply, but the easily-accessible English language version of Ridge Racer 2 available in Europe will provide you with the most extensive and definitive Ridge Racer (and pure arcade racing) experience ever put together. Picking up a copy might be a nice way to celebrate the series’ 20th anniversary this year, if you should feel so inclined.” – Patrick Mifflin

EBA

Elite Beat Agents – Nintendo DS

“Touchscreen technology on a handheld was new, and never was it anymore fun than it was playing Elite Beat Agents. Based on the Ouendan series in Japan, Elite Beat Agents was a music rhythm game that featured intense gameplay. Who knew poking on your handheld could be so much fun?” – Danreb

BS

BioShock – PS3, Xbox 360

“Irrational Games provided an amazingly cinematic experience with BioShock that explored many political, psychological and philosophical themes. With its engrossing story and wonderful villians, if I hadn’t played this game, I would have enjoyed just watching it be played.” – Alex

RB

Rock Band – PS3, Xbox 360, Wii

“Guitar Hero was fantastic for letting gamers shred like wannabes, but Rock Band was arguably the ultimate party game. It boasted a fantastic set list, great instrumental play and was just pure fun to get people jamming with their friends.” – Alex

BP

Burnout Paradise – PS3, Xbox 360

“Criterion made the ultimate Burnout game that took the crazy action that the series was known for and unleashed it upon a huge sanbox in Paradise City with tons of things to do around the city. It would be a shame if this were the last big Burnout game.” – Chris Selogy

SSBB

Super Smash Bros. Brawl – Wii

“Easily one of the best games on the Wii. Easy to pick up and play, but it hides a lot of depth under its light-hearted surface.” – Filippo Dinolfo

MGS4

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – PS3

“Trying to wrap up all of the crazy plot lines in the Metal Gear Solid series in the fourth game was no easy task, but Hideo Kojima managed to at least create some incredible moments along the way that plays off your nostalgia and creates some sense of conclusion to this part of the storyline. The game part of the equation does a great job of offering a better shooter experience so that your failed attempts to be sneaky aren’t awkward experiences.” – Chris

945430-946759_20090414_008NHL 09 – PS3, Xbox 360

“This wasn’t just the generation that saw EA Sports’ NHL franchise return to form, it saw EA humiliate their competitors over at 2K Sports so badly that the NHL 2K series was scrapped entirely. The return to realism as the #1 priority was a major contributing factor to this, but no addition lent itself so well to the series as the Be A Pro mode introduced in NHL 09, which combined the player-character concept from other sports games perfectly with the atmosphere of going out and playing Hockey with a whole roster of teammates. It has only gotten even better since.” – Patrick

F3

Fallout 3 – PS3, Xbox 360

“Bethesda’s beauty set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland brought endless hours of combat and customization. Bethesda’s pedigree as the open-world RPG masters was executed to near perfection in possibly the best entry to the series to date.” – Josh Schwartzman

VC

Valkyria Chronicles – PS3

“The best strategy RPG of this generation came from Sega as they brought innovation to the genre with its controls injecting some shooter elements into the game to make it a more fun way to play this style of game. It’s a shame that Sega moved the series permanently to the PSP and seem reluctant to bring the third game over to North America at all.” – Chris

SFIV

Street Fighter IV – PS3, Xbox 360

“This game marked the revival of a much loved franchise. It didn’t hurt that it played brilliantly too.” – Filippo

U2AT

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – PS3

“Nathan Drake returned in his best adventure yet, as Naughty Dog continued to deliver epic gunfights amidst amazing backdrops in this Indiana Jones- Tomb Raider hybrid. The Uncharted trilogy blew onto the scene this gen and gave the PS3 a stellar group of genre-defining adventure games.” – Josh

DAO

Dragon Age: Origins – PS3, Xbox 360

“This is still one of the best examples of a modern RPG. A great story and memorable, believable characters.” – Filippo

AC2

Assassin’s Creed II – PS3, Xbox 360

“For a series that birthed during this gen and spawned numerous sequels, it is hard to pick just one title, but Assassin’s Creed 2 was the pinnacle gem of the series. A new location and protagonist helped make this entry one of the highlights of Ubisoft’s portfolio.” – Josh

HR

Heavy Rain – PS3

“The story definitely has some issues brought about by some major cuts to lessen the paranormal aspects of the game, but hard-hitting moments and the unique ways that the story can play out due to your choices makes it one of the most memorable experiences that I had this generation that I can truly call my own.” – Chris

Y3

Yakuza 3 – PS3

“Shenmue fans wondering what might have been need look no further than the Yakuza franchise. Sega’s long-running action adventure found new life on the PS3, and Sega proved their awareness of that fact by bringing new players up to speed with recap content included on the Yakuza 3 disc. There was some controversy regarding some edits made to the North American release, but it was still enough of a success to keep the localizations coming.” – Patrick

JC2

Just Cause 2 – PS3, Xbox 360

“The best sandbox game of this generation made it a blast to explore the huge, beautiful island of Panau with your grapping hook and parachute as you search for collectibles and cause chaos in its many villages to free this island nation from its corrupt leader.” – Chris

RDR

Red Dead Redemption – PS3, Xbox 360

“The Old West feels like a setting that tends to be romanticized but what Rockstar did was show how gritty and intense it could be. In a beautiful landscape, it took you on a journey with a character you could care about.” – Alex

SMG2

Super Mario Galaxy 2 – Wii

“While Mario is milked as much as he’s always been, nobody with a heart can deny the greatness of the Galaxy series. After a rough vacation in Super Mario Sunshine, Mario took his platforming expertise to new heights in outer space, while Nintendo’s development teams really maximized the capabilities of what their little white (or black) box could do.” – Danreb

NBA2K11

NBA 2K11 – PS3, PSP, Xbox 360, Wii

“Very rarely will you see an organized team sports game end up on a “best of” list, but NBA 2K11 is well deserving. While paying homage to basketball’s past, 2K also set the standard for with its authentic broadcast presentation.” – Danreb

GT5

Gran Turismo 5 – PS3

“It took a long time to go from the GT HD Concept to the retail game, but the end result was worth it. It has some questionable UI decisions, but it’s still one of the best driving games of this generation.” – Filippo

TLOHTITS

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky – PSP

“In a generation that saw the RPG genre suffer for an excess of failed attempts to break the mold, Trails in the Sky did the opposite, achieving instant classic status by holding fast to what made the genre great and refining it to near perfection. Good news: a sequel will pick up from its cliffhanger ending next year on PSP and PC.” – Patrick

 

P2

Portal 2 – PS3, Xbox 360

“Making a sequel to the secret best game in The Orange Box was no simple task, but the team at Valve managed to exceed expectations with a great, funny story that took us to places that we didn’t expect to go. The new mechanics introduced here really add a lot to the puzzles that will stump you until the light in your head turns on as the solution just pops into your head.” – Chris

FM4

Forza Motorsport 4 – Xbox 360

“How do you top one of the most complete racing simulations of all time? You get scholarly, like Turn 10 Studios did with Forza Motorsport 4. Their obsession with physics and tire data will likely lead to Forza 4 going down as the most realistic racing sim to come along this generation, unless the upcoming Gran Turismo 6 is something truly special.” – Patrick

BAC

Batman: Arkham City – PS3, Xbox 360

“Batman games had always struggled to be anything of real quality until Batman Arkham Asylum came along with a bang. But Arkham City broaden the Dark Knight’s horizons and provided a great mix of action, stealth and detective work in a wonderfully realized Gotham City.” – Alex

 

NNK

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch – PS3

“Sony loyalists would be quick to point out that the downfall of the PS3 was its excessive attentiveness to the U.S. market and lack of attention to the Japanese market, attempting to recoup sales in competition with the Xbox 360. Ni no Kuni could’ve been a game that would’ve been fine on the PS2, but the PS3 really gave this Studio Ghibli-crafted title some masterpiece treatment.” – Danreb

DC

Dragon’s Crown – PS3

“Who knew that putting the beat-em-up genre back in the hands of the team behind Capcom’s classic Dungeons & Dragons titles and having them add even more role-playing conventions would make for one of the most addictive games of the generation? Dragon’s Crown may be a relative newcomer, but there’s more than enough reason to believe we’ll be playing it for years to come.” – Patrick

TLOU

The Last of Us – PS3

“The Last of Us takes everything you thought you knew about survival games and throws it out the window, while also having one of the deepest plotlines this generation. The game is just a work of art.” – Danreb

Thanks to everybody that reaches this point of this article. Check back tomorrow to see what our favorite digital game of this generation are as we celebrate the end of the current generation.

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