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Golden Joysticks Awards' ultimate list of ultimate winners: 1983 - 2016

1992 - Street Fighter 2

Street Fighter 2 launched the fighting explosion of the early nineties with a raft of innovative arcade features that made it the ultimate fighting champion. Six buttons, competitive two player versus mode, special moves and a roster of eclectic, beautifully balanced characters, Street Fighter 2 became the template for the genre we still know and love it today.

1996 - Super Mario 64

Spearheading the launch of the Nintendo 64 was its figurehead Italian plumber, but Mario was entirely reborn for the 64-bit era, with 3D graphics and a deliriously playful open-world to explore while still delivering the unique charm of his 2D adventures. One of the most groundbreaking games of all time.

2002 - Grand Theft Auto III

The move to PlayStation 2 proved a pivotal moment in Rockstar's criminal odyssey, letting players experience the sights and sounds of Liberty City in full 3D. With its groundbreaking and immersive driving, shooting and exploring, this landmark sandbox world became one of gaming's finest ever criminal endeavours.

2003 - Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Beating off stiff competition from the likes of Zelda and KOTOR, Rockstar followed up GTA 3 with Vice City, which many gamers still rate as the finest of all GTAs. Tommy Vercetti's rise from low level hood to Vice City crime lord echoed classic movies like Scarface and Carlito's Way, and was accompanied by one of the best ever licensed gaming soundtracks.

2004 - Doom 3

One marine and his outrageous assortment of heavy weaponry, versus a legion of demonic hellspawn - powered by John Carmack's legendary ID Tech 4 engine - was tantamount to FPS nirvana. Add in compelling multiplayer, and you had pretty much the definitive package for shooter fans.

2005 - Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

As the noughties reached their mid-point, Rockstar was back with another incarnation of its all conquering franchise. Moving the action to the west coast, mixing its fictional tale with real-life LA politics and events, and introducing innovative new RPG elements proved a monster smash, as Carl 'CJ' Johnson returned to avenge the murder of his mother.

2006 - The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion

Bethesda's vast, sprawling and epic - in every sense of the word - RPG really upped the ante. A huge game world, deep character customisation, Radiant-driven NPC behaviour and some of the most challenging dungeons and epic quests set a new gold standard for the genre.

2007 - Gears of War

The Xbox 360 needed some really big hitters to loosen PlayStation's grip on gamers' hearts and minds at the start of the last generation, and Epic's muscle-bound cover shooter was just the ticket to showcase the system's strengths. Superb cover shooting mechanics, active reloads, chainsaw bayonets and brutal execution moves made GoW a real show-stopper.

2008 - Left 4 Dead

A replay-focused co-op shooter built specifically for four players may initially have sounded like a tough sell before Left 4 Dead popularised such things, but Valve and Turtle Rock's zombie slaying marathon showed just how much fun you could have battling the AI, rather than each other. Great looks, frenetic action, zombie specialists and a game director that knew just when to press all the right buttons made this a co-op classic.

2009 - Fallout 3

Bethesda showed it was equally at home in an open-world sci-fi setting as in the Elder Scrolls' fantasy landscapes. Set in the ruins of Washington, you were forced to leave the safety of your underground bunker to search for your missing father, an adventure that took in a fully populated wasteland brimming with mutants, monsters, intriguing characters and, of course, the irrepressible Dogmeat.