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53 comments

  • CitizenWolfie - March 17, 2011 10:20 a.m.

    Any chance of a HD remake of Grim Fandango? Pleeeease? Given the time this first come out, it's interesting to see how these stories concluded. God of War 3 was excellent, as was Metal Gear Solid 4. I think today Red Dead Redemption would have to be up there with Marston as one of the best characters ever made.
  • Gene - March 17, 2011 10:09 a.m.

    @ KidKatana My pleasure. That was only a cut-down version of a much longer essay I wrote one day when I just desperately wanted to get my feelings about the game down on paper. If you haven't already, I can't recommend The Message of Majora's Mask (http://www.zeldauniverse.net/articles/the-message-of-majoras-mask/) enough. That goes for Gamesradar, as well.
  • KidKatana - March 17, 2011 9:41 a.m.

    @ Gene It was lengthy, but you just nailed everything I love about Majora's Mask - you actually care about the individual stories of the townsfolk because their personal problems are juxtaposed so starkly with the impending apocalypse. Also, the Deku mask's story is so subtly yet brilliantly told, bookending the entire game... More recently, I'd say Red Dead - people have said here that it's not especially original, but to me it demonstrates why games have the edge over films. All the characters you meet are so memorable because you're allowed to spend so much time with them, and in turn grow to care about them. I was blinking back tears at the end, and not many games have done that to me. Plus, can we start a campaign for HD remakes of Grim Fandango and The Longest Journey? I really need to play those games...
  • m1bayluv41510 - March 17, 2011 8:29 a.m.

    ya know what..STILL haven't played portal yet, everytime i get a copy of the orange box(three times now) its been stolen, damaged or just plain disappears. WTF!!?? yup indeed. good list, still looking for a zombie themed game to make this list (good show for not just throwing any ole game on this list btw) until then im gonna continue to demand attention to game stories and accept it when the games mechanics trumps the storyline..
  • Gene - March 17, 2011 8:25 a.m.

    Chrono Trigger should have been in there originally. Also, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. It's not about plot: the plot of most of these games is quite basic. When we think about 'story', we're thinking about the experiences of the player in interacting with the world. I think Majora's Mask does it better than any other game in existence. The secret, which to my knowledge remains unique, that allows Majora's Mask to reach its heights of storytelling is the feature most often criticised by those who don't understand it: the three-day time limit. I don't know of any other game which has had pulled off such a level of ambition so brilliantly, so brilliantly indeed that I often wonder if the designers even realised it at the time. Some view the time limit as a restraint, or a burden. It is not. It's brilliance can be summed up by one simple phrase: In Majora's Mask, you can't stand still. In almost any action-adventure-exploration (a poor title, but usable for now) game you choose to name, you can stand still, and do nothing. It doesn't matter about the urgency of the plot. It doesn't matter what you've been told, or what you could achieve by moving forward. If the player chooses, he could simply stand, motionless, and, rather than allow events to take their course, no events would take place. One truth of videogames as we know them is that they require the player to cause events to happen, either obviously (like stepping over an invisible tripwire), or less so (like making a decision in Mass Effect which affected the sequel). But in Majora's Mask, the player can look at the sky and see the moon drawing ever closer, its never-ending hatred bearing down both figuratively and literally. If you are to stand still, and allow things to happen, all is destroyed. Your responsibility as a player is not to keep pushing forwards in order for events to occur. It is to keep pushing forwards to ensure that they don't. How many other games have done this? How many other games have thought it through to this extent? And so you're forced to keep running, never stopping, always reminded of just how mortal the world in which you live is. Even rewinding time back to the dawn of the First Day makes precious little difference, merely delaying the inevitable, and you are very well aware. The reason for this is that repetition is built into the very core of the game's story. Because the game only lasts 72 in-game hours (or 72 real-world minutes), Nintendo could choose where and when precisely all the characters of note would be at any given hour. This means that you can choose to meet Anju, the owner of the inn, at 11pm in the kitchen, when if you didn't talk to her wearing the mask identifying you as searching for her betrothed, she would have merely retreated to bed. In the same way, you know what time to rescue the Mayor from his meeting which has descended into a row, or when Gorman the depressed ringmaster will be drowning his sorrows in the bar. This lends the world a plausibility and the characters a patina of realism which no other game has ever managed: as you observe them over the course of three days, you learn that they have lives of their own, separate from yours, and if you choose to help them it will be for their benefit, and not just to flesh out your collection of items. You actually care. And this doesn't even count the most incredible play of cards there is: the world of Majora's Mask is one which you can't save. Ever. You can complete the game, but then what happens? You go back to the Dawn of the First Day, and everything happens all over again. It never, ever stops. This is the kind of terrifying immensity which no other game has managed. I doubt even the makers of the game realised what they were doing when they incorporated this, but it worked, it really did. No two three-day storylines of Majora's Mask will be the same, because you can't do everything. You can't help two characters who need help at the same time, and they will change the world in which you exist. And you can't do anything about it. You can never create the perfect world. You can never make everyone happy. tl;dr: Seriously, Majora's Mask has depth beyond any other game. Anyone (such as Yahtzee) who contends that all Zelda games are identical simply hasn't thought it through. Therefore, I recommend The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask for this hallowed list of best videogame stories ever.
  • jmcgrotty - March 17, 2011 7:28 a.m.

    Got no suggestions for new ones, but the list given is about 1/4 right. The Longest Journey is amazing, as is Planescape and Gabriel Knight. A few others (most notably Grim Fandango and GTA: San Andreas) really weren't that good.
  • QWERTYCommander - March 17, 2011 5:54 a.m.

    Tony Hawk's Underground should be on here. Greed, fame, corruption, betrayal, shady business, all to make for an awesome ending... if it's the second time you played through.
  • gamedingo - March 17, 2011 5:14 a.m.

    I liked San Andreas more than GTA 4...
  • justinbanda - March 17, 2011 4:43 a.m.

    This is one of your best articles EVER, GR. It's really fascinating. I think Mass Effect 1 & 2 should probably be up there, along with Final Fantasy XIII (say what you want about the gameplay, but the story was worth the price alone). XIII was about a small band of social outcasts having to choose between saving the society that rejected them or bowing to the wishes of the gods that cursed them. Think about it. Maybe it's time to update this list :P @BlueEevee: Um, no. I don't think there's yet been a Pokemon game with a story even worth warranting a second glance. We play Pokemon for the addictiveness of the gameplay, not for the story. I'll give you that B&W had an interesting antagonist with a god complex/daddy issues, but surprise! Pokemon just did what games have been doing for years. Just because they finally got with the program doesn't mean they deserve a medal.
  • CaptainTrips855 - March 17, 2011 4:39 a.m.

    Come on, where's the Pajama Sam 2: Thunder and Lightning Aren't so Frightening love?
  • killorabbit - March 17, 2011 4:19 a.m.

    Brilliant article. Very close to the list of my own favourites. I'm absolutely thrilled that Astro Boy hit the list. Played through that game twice in a row without a single yawn, despite the amount of times I'd played the levels. Not played Beyond Good and Evil but will pick up the HD version. As for Fallout 2, will it run on 64 bit Windows 7? Tempted to pick this one up on steam.
  • AshLynx - March 17, 2011 4:19 a.m.

    Always happy to see Astro Boy: Omega Factor given its due, seeing how it's one of the best games ever made for the GBA platform. And it got me into all things Osamu Tezuka too and now I can't stop, all the delicious cameos! Omega Factor made me must know where it all came from! Bit of trivia for you, an "Omega Factor" was featured in the 1980 Astro Boy series where Atlas, Astro's rival for the entire series with on and off episodes about them, had one that allowed him to be evil towards humans and ignore/injure/kill them. So yeah, the Omega Factor in the 1980 series was a bad thing, its use here is almost ironic.
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - March 17, 2011 4:07 a.m.

    Please keep in mind this posted in 2008, hence the ClassicRadar designation. I'd add Mass Effect and Red Dead Redemption, off the top of my head.
  • Turkeyboy094 - March 17, 2011 4:01 a.m.

    ummmm... where is the original super mario bros? I was deeply moved by that deep story.
  • JSayonara - March 17, 2011 3:50 a.m.

    CJ was a boring character. Whilst I loved the Torrino and the Truth stuff, the actual lead characters main story was thin. I'd take Tommy or Nico's over CJ's anyday. And no Mass Effect? KOTOR was great I'll admit, but I can do without the Star Wars trappings and go for an original universe and storyline over it.
  • Scoob - March 17, 2011 3:37 a.m.

    To those wondering where newer games figure on this list read the whole article, in particular the part that says: Originally posted: Apr 17, 2008 The title "Classic Radar" might clue you in that this is an old story.
  • LSZ - March 17, 2011 3:04 a.m.

    Planescape Torment is one of the few "story-based" games I've had the desire to play through several times. Usually it's once and I'm done. Very rarely a second time because really, I've experienced the story the way I chose to and that's how I want to leave it. Planescape had a unique and varied world and characters. I never thought I'd care about and be so interested in a group that included a walking corpse, a floating skull, a succubus and a demon thief chick with a tail. One of the best video games I have ever played.
  • NG14916 - March 17, 2011 2:55 a.m.

    I'm pretty sure that parts of this article have been taken from somewhere else.
  • BaraChat - March 17, 2011 2:29 a.m.

    @spawny0908 Haven't played Mass Effect, but RDR's story wasn't all that great. It was obviously very well told, but the plot was nothing exceptional. It was a bit predictable. But, as I said, storytelling was top-notch.
  • NightCrawler_358 - March 17, 2011 2:28 a.m.

    I remember reading this a whiles back! awesome entries, one of my personal picks would have been Final Fantasy X, because at one point i actually stood up and cheered. I love stories in games, and I enjoy keeping up with backstories and histories. Games have surpassed movies in storytelling in my opinion!

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