Going Gold

Going Gold: Going Gold's Purely Arbitrary Games of the Decade

Christian Ward | 30 Dec 2009 17:00
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To be honest, I thought making this list would surprise me more, forcing me to drag what I might consider to be "ancient" games kicking and screaming into the second decade of the new millennium. But what surprises me most about some of these choices is how little things have changed (and no games from the last two years either!). Here then, in no particular order, are my games of the decade, in roughly chronological order.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask - 2000

In an age of cookie-cutter sequels, Majora's Mask is a masterclass in just how far you can reuse assets with a ingenious core idea. Majora's Mask's central time-bending conceit is impressive enough. When you consider the team put the whole thing together in just a year, that's when jaws start dropping.

With that time schedule, the logical course - which 99% of developers would have taken - would be to add a few more weapons, dust off a few leftover dungeon ideas, and try to hammer them into something salvageable. Thank God for that 1%.

Majora's Mask's 3-day structure may have confused as many as it charmed, but those that "got it" have never forgotten it. At times it is pure Zelda with that winning combination of action and puzzles, but at others it ventures into strange new territory - psychedilc and dark, with a real sense of danger. Er, and it had Tingle too. Well, they didn't have that much time, I guess.

Superior to both Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, both flawed masterpieces, Majora's Mask remains the best Zelda of the past decade - and therefore, one of the very best games too.

Shenmue 2 - 2001

Shenmue 2 is probably the game on this list that the fewest amount of people have played. I am unashamedly one of those gamers in love with the original Shenmue, but the sequel is superior in every way. The scale of the game dwarfs not only the original, but also most games made in the decade since.

Moving from a poky Japanese suburb to the vast sprawl of Hong Kong showed us a world where action awaits around every corner. The plot of Shenmue 2 moves at a breathtaking pace - comparatively speaking at least. Gone are many of Shenmue's worst flaws including, at least in the precious European-only Dreamcast version, the dreadful English voice acting.

What Shenmue achieved, what its sequel brilliantly expands on, was not just to create a world that feels alive, but to create a living world that is fun. Both games still look and sound amazing even today - which is just as well, seeing as they're all we have in the absence of Shenmue 3.

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