While its star may be a sexy-dancing witch with an outfit made of hair that disappears during her - oh boy - special climax moves, don't let the look of Bayonetta fool you. Under all that cheesecake is a meaty gaming center. Actually, that sounds gross. Bayonetta's way better than meaty cheesecake.
Springing from the minds that brought us Devil May Cry, Bayonetta's gameplay is composed of big, loud, and explosively fun battles that make you feel like a badass every time you pick up the controller. The glorious excess of fights only adds to the fun, and our leading lady's sexiness doesn't take away from the fact that she can kill you with one deftly-wielded shoe. Mix that all up with a well-designed combat system that keeps battles well within your control, and this is a delicious, endlessly satisfying dessert you'll want to indulge in again and again and again.
29. Deus Ex
People throw the word 'cyberpunk' around so much these days that it pretty much just means 'in the future with lots of computers but no aliens'. Deus Ex takes the label seriously. Worldwide surveillance conspiracies; cybernetic implants; a disillusioned G-Man protagonist with murky morals; the frickin' Illuminati. Deus Ex is cyber-goddamn-punk.
Built on that pitch-perfect atmosphere is a liberating game that changes the way you approach first-person problem solving. You can kit out JC Denton to be a door-crashing super soldier if you prefer the direct approach, or maybe boost his Cloak augmentation and sneak in unnoticed. Then again, why not hack into the security grid and let the enemy's automated turrets do the heavy lifting? If you can think it, there's a good chance Deus Ex will let you do it.
28. Super Metroid
People praise Super Metroid for refusing to tell you where to go next, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Everything about each environment is structured to quietly lead you to new discoveries and hidden power-ups. Whether it's a door just past a tiny crevice that Samus can't quite fit through yet, or a precipice that's a bit too tall for her to leap over, Super Metroid is speaking to you constantly. It's just not talking through dense objective text or giant arrows.
That might get a bit dull if the world wasn't worthy of your constant attention. But Zebes is such an awe-inspiring collection of ecosystems and creatures that there's always a new detail to appreciate, even 20 years later. And that two-screen-tall Kraid fight still gives us shivers.
Representing: The 2D Metroid games
27. Ultra Street Fighter 4
Fighting games are never truly finished. They're constantly evolving, whether it's because a developer releases a new patch or a fan discovers some fresh techniques. Street Fighter 4 will soon top off seven strong years of growth in the hands of the public. Its masterful execution of fighting game fundamentals has earned it a worldwide, competitive, collegial fanbase that's still going strong to this day.
The lessons Street Fighter IV can teach you are timeless. Learning its complexities will arm you with the skills necessary to excel at nearly any other fighter. And with the release of Ultra Street Fighter 4, the series finds its largest roster yet, topping out at 44 characters with wildly distinct fighting styles. For those with the fighting spirit, Street Fighter 4 endures as the competitive fighter to play today.
26. Final Fantasy 6
All the things you love about Final Fantasy 7? FF6 did them first, and it does them better. Epic story? This is a game that uses the end of the world as its interval. Fantastic cast? All but one of the fourteen party members have fully-fleshed out personalities, back-stories, and well-hidden, intricately meshed secrets. Powerful soundtrack? Oh come on now.
And crucially, much more so than later games in the series, Final Fantasy 6 is damn funny. It's a game that understands that the most heavy, complex, emotionally resonant scenes (and it has some of the series best) are for naught if they exist in an implausibly histrionic, one-note world, so good Lord, does it make its journey one hell of a warm, human adventure. In fact adventure' doesn't cover it. Final Fantasy 6 is a game you'll live in.
Representing: The 2D Final Fantasy games
If you haven't heard of this blocky build-em-up by now, you must be living under an unpunched tree. What started out as an adventure with some twee retro-styled cubes has morphed into a cultural phenomenon that's taken over the planet. Now you can't move two feet without Creepers hissing menacingly in your ears.
All that prestige is totally merited; while it might look simple, Minecraft's simplicity is a huge part of its success. Being plonked in a randomly generated world, it's up to you to make your own fun, be that by building suspiciously phallic towers or recreating all of the cities from Game of Thrones. The scope is there to do anything your heart desires.
24. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
This is the shooter that kicked off the modern combat trend that FPS games have been stuck in for over half a decade. But that's ok, because Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is just that freaking awesome. It stole the FPS throne with a single-player campaign that's still the most thrilling, shocking rollercoaster ride in the series, and a multiplayer component that changed FPS multiplayer forever. And the best thing about it is that it's all just as glorious today.
As far as multiplayer is concerned, going back to the Modern Warfare's basic gunplay, customization options, and killstreak bonuses is still the best way to go. It's the purest form of Call of Duty multiplayer, without the bloat of extras and add-ons from the iterations that followed. Modern Warfare has been often imitated but never duplicated. So why mess with anything else when the king still sits on his throne?
There will never come a time in your life when Tetris isn't fun. Think about it: you've no doubt played it on and off since you were a little kid, always coming back to its simple yet ridiculously deep design. And even in a time when video games are approaching photorealism and VR is all the rage, those chunky, four-block tetriminos still evoke excitement in us, and the dire need to chase after a new high score or best our buddies.
Tetris comes in many forms, with all manner of bells and whistles, but the core has always been the same: lining up blocks in a way that tests your twitch reflexes and your ability to plan ahead at the same time. That kind of stimulating contrast is at the heart of so many beloved games - Tetris just presents it in the plainest, most timeless way possible. It's instantly accessible, endlessly playable, and iconic enough to invade your dreams even after you've put it down.
22. Final Fantasy X
Soaring music? Check. Beautiful locations filled with beautiful people? Of course. A twisting tale of adventure and young love? Yup, that too - it's the Final Fantasy trifecta. Throw in a giant dream whale with a penchant for slaughter, some daddy issues, and an addictive football-meets-water-polo mini-game, and you've got the best modern title in this legendary JRPG series.
Sure, FF's 7, 8, 9, and 12 are also classically excellent, but Final Fantasy 10's emotionally involving story, stellar cast, and truly phenomenal Thai-inspired world is the franchise formula at its refined best - especially now that you can play it in extra fancy HD-o-vision on PS3 and Vita. Drifting ashore on the sun-drenched Isle of Besaid for the first time is a truly unforgettable experience.
Representing: The 3D Final Fantasy games
21. Silent Hill 2
The second entry in the other long-running Japanese survival horror series does something that very few games attempt, let alone achieve. It tells its story, the deeply dark and unnerving descent of James Sunderland, with an untouchable brand of subtlety. As James, you must delve into the titular town after receiving a letter from your most definitely dead wife asking you to meet her there. What follows is a spiraling miasma of intensely personal horror.
While the likes of Pyramid Head or the faceless, flailing nurse monsters that jerkily spasm through the darkness will go down in gaming history as some of the most terrifying baddies ever designed, it's what they stand for in the grand scheme of things that truly horrifies. Do yourself a favor: don't wiki it or ask someone else what it's all about. Just dive in and prepare yourself for a narrative so laden with layered twists and turns, it'd have Tyler Durden soiling his slacks.