5. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
When Prince of Persia, an iconic video game franchise, was announced for a reboot, tenured gamers showed some concern. This was a classic after all, and sometimes it's best to let sleeping dogs lie. Ubisoft, however, delivered tenfold with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, transforming the old name into a new classic. Sands of Time focused on agility and acrobatics, feats not normally seen in these types of action games.
This Prince could walk across walls and jump leaps and bounds across the terrain. Best of all, if you fell into a pit, you could use the Sands of Time to reverse your actions and try again, a beautiful addition for many a slow-fingered player. Sands of Time brought the Prince into the present, exposing this timeless franchise to a new generation.
4. Super Smash Bros. Melee
Take all its world-renowned characters, throw them into painstakingly crafted arenas, and have them fight until only one is left standing. Mario versus Link versus Samus versus Bowser, all inside a perfect recreation of Super Mario Bros.' first level. It's a death-match made in heaven. The gameplay has that beautiful "easy to learn, hard to master" quality, meaning a five-year-old can jump right in while experienced scrappers can go on to find limitless incentives to keep playing.
A challenging adventure mode takes all the same moves and brilliant animations from the fighting game and puts them into a side-scrolling romp that still plays better than most games made since. With unlockables galore, this is one giant celebration of everything Nintendo. Melee was the best-selling GameCube title and won tons of praise from critics and the public. Despite the Wii sequel Brawl expanding on it in so many ways, many fans still prefer this one.
3. Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 4 keeps the action and the scares coming at a rapid pace, mixing brutal firefights, buckets of gore, and interactive cutscenes with the best visuals the last generation of consoles had to offer. Unlike previous Evils, this one loads you up with enough guns and ammo to stop an army of rhinos, but you'll need every last bullet to punch your way through the hordes of maniacs standing between you and the President's daughter.
RE4 is tough, make no mistake, but its moody atmosphere and deep, cinematic action will keep you riveted even after the demoralizing gut-punch of watching hero Leon's head sheared off by a chainsaw-wielding freak. If you don't believe us, try playing it for 15 minutes. If you can walk away from the game after the adrenaline-surging sequence in which you barricade yourself into a house as an angry mob swarms outside, then you've got more willpower than we ever will.
2. Metroid Prime
Despite the insane odds stacked against Samus and her first 3D adventure, all we needed was five minutes to realize why this was an amazing product. How? First off, Samus' new planet looked like a real place, with uneven caves and rough patches of vegetation strewn all over the map. And developer Retro Studios revolutionized an ailing franchise in the most startling way possible; by presenting a thought-heavy puzzler in the same manner as a first-person shooter.
The viewpoint didn't once feel tacked-on or unnecessary, instead drawing you in even more. Rain splatters on the visor and steam effects creep up and obscure your view, creating an ever-increasing sense of claustrophobia that stays with you from one save point to the next. In short, it's everything a franchise reborn wants to be.
1. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Anyone who complains that the Zelda games don't take enough chances must have missed Wind Waker (though the Wii U HD remake has hopefully remedied that), as it risked everything by transforming the whole world and turning it inside out. The clean, colourful Disney style will never be dated, it's vibrant and beautiful forever. Likewise, switching the setting from endless green forest to endless blue ocean, and your means of transportation from horse to boat, proved that the Zelda formula really is immortal.
Finally, and most controversially, Link is recast as a bite-sized tyke. But the brave spirit of the character is intact, and his wide-eyed childlike expressions make him more sympathetic than ever before. If you can get through the scene where he says goodbye to his grandmother without getting a little emotional, then you're made of tougher stuff than us.
Ready to take things even more old school? Check out our list of the best SNES games of the 16-bit era