Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: Games that deserve 10/10

Readers reveal the games they think are worth a full 10/10 score, from Half-Life 2 to Panzer Dragoon Saga.

The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader notoriouschucky but works with the assumption that 10/10 does not mean a game is literally perfect, just the best of the best.

This ended up being one of the most popular Hot Topics of recent months, with everyone seemingly have their own secret list of games they feel are worthy of the ultimate accolade.

Perfect sequels
I would rate both Resident Evil 4 and Uncharted 2 as perfect 10/10 games.

Resident Evil 4 is still for me the most perfectly paced thrill ride ever. It rewrote not just what a Resident Evil game could be but also action games in general. Its rigid control scheme has aged now, compared to modern games, but it still works so, so well.

After enjoying the first Uncharted game I was really looking forward to the sequel. But I wasn’t prepared for how much a step up Uncharted 2 would be. Better blended shooting and climbing, thrilling set pieces, the return of Nate, Elena, and Sully as well as new characters including Chloe – the perfect sequel and for me a perfect game.

Both games are still such a joy to play for me and I revisit them regularly. For me this lasting pleasure is the mark of true classics.

Inside tip
Zelda: Breath Of The Wild’s the most recent 10 I’ve played, but that’s a bit boring. Instead, I’ll nominate Playdead’s Inside, which I played completely blind, in one sitting, on a rainy and dark Sunday afternoon.

I was completely dumbstruck by it and would urge anyone with a strong constitution to try it, as It’s not a big investment of time or money and it will stay with you forever.

Timeless reputation
There’s been quite a few games over the years that I think are deserving of a 10/10: Super Mario Bros. 3, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Indiana Jones And The Fate of Atlantis, Ghost Trick, Grandia, Breath Of Fire 3, and so on… as you say, a 10/10 does not presume perfection but these games all give me a 10/10 for enjoyment, even if they may have individual flaws. Saga is very short for a role-playing games, Breath Of Fire has a few awful vignettes (Desert of Death, making shisu), Grandia is too easy… so I’ll choose a 10/10 game where I also wouldn’t change anything given the opportunity: Super Metroid.

It reviewed very well on release. Sales-wise it did decently if not spectacularly, but I feel like it has, over time, gotten a lot of recognition. It has practically been the key template for a whole genre of indie games, and it seems its reputation has only increased over time, and I don’t see that changing.

What makes it better than any of its sequels may be more that it never really got a direct sequel in the same vein. The ones that went 3D are fairly different, Fusion is far more linear (though still fun) and the others are remakes of earlier games, and still share some of their limitations.

As for similar games, they often miss something in the physics, vibe or how well the level design slowly opens up to you. I love that feeling in Super Metroid that you can either follow the expected path or try to break out of it with advanced techniques like bomb jumping. Iga’s games come close but having role-playing elements comes with its own drawbacks, such as grinding.

As a side note I remember when Total! gave Super Mario 64 100%, there was a great deal of debate at the time if they should have done that and if that meant it was perfect and couldn’t be bettered!
Lord Darkstorm

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Flawless introduction
After being out of gaming for over a decade I took the plunge in lockdown and bought a Switch for the portable play.

As any self-respecting gamer starting over again would do I went through all the GC reviews from the Switch’s launch to see what games I needed to build my collection (I still have my Soul Bubbles from back in the day).

Dead Cells was on the list with an 8/10 and duly purchased.

Not having played any roguelikes before I gave it a go, died a few times and left it for a couple of months whilst I played other games from my collection.

One night, after accepting that dying a lot was going to be the way to progress and ‘git gud’ I started playing properly.

I’ve barely put it down since.

I love the mechanics, the progression, the music, graphics, and the sense of reward when you beat an area and boss and attain new achievements.

I’d give Dead Cells 10/10 for being the game that has given me the most pleasure to play whilst simultaneously reminding me why I love gaming.

As an introduction to roguelikes I found it flawless.

Add in the fact that the devs are still adding updates and I see several more hours play on my horizon.

Keep up the great work GC!
Dusky Azure

Never again
My first ever 10/10 game was Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES. The game was a rule breaker and game changer and I’m not sure that many people would have completed it if it were to be released today. No save game, no continue and it was brutal in places.

My second ever 10/10 was Super Mario World on the SNES. Even more groundbreakingly challenging levels and with the added security of battery backup. They were truly magical times, and I really don’t think that they will ever return.
Stone Cold Steve Austin

The test of time
Thank you notoriouschucky, for this great Hot Topic suggestion.

It is so ineffable what makes a 10/10 game. You can try and quantify it and come up with rules around what a 10/10 game needs to be or have, but then find exceptions to those rules wherever you look.

Did Skyrim’s mass of content and long runtime help it achieve many 10/10 scores? You’d say, yes. Did the fact that The Last Of Us was lean and well-paced help it achieve its own haul of 10/10s? Yes.

Did a lot of reviewers note Grand Theft Auto 4’s rudimentary-at-best gameplay and controls before giving it 10/10 anyway for its world building, attention to detail, amount of content, and narrative, whilst giving 10/10 scores to Bayonetta despite that game having almost the exact opposite set of strengths and weaknesses? Yes.

I wouldn’t vehemently disagree with a 10/10 for any of those games and you could labour the same point all day about there being several ways up the mountain when it comes to how to be worth a perfect score.

The old Edge magazine scoring system where a game had to be ‘revolutionary’ to get a 10/10 was maybe the closest I’ve seen to anyone coming up with a definitive, binary question to determine whether a game deserves a perfect score. The game had to execute everything it set out to do to a high standard, but also do something that had never been done before to get a 10 rather than a 9. Now that advances in technology are less dramatic though I’m not sure that would really work anymore, but I liked the idea.

So for my game most deserving of a 10/10 I will just suggest a game I love which is Pokémon Blue/Red/Yellow. Those games are a blast. The graphics were unremarkable for the time anyway, so they haven’t had a chance to age badly. But the designs of the iconic original 150 pokémon are still as charming as ever. The central gameplay loop is so addictive, the soundtrack is maddeningly catchy and I love the fact a young child could complete the game, but by the same token adults on the internet are still trying to master the combat today.

I was shocked to see it holds an aggregate score of just 88% on GameRankings (couldn’t see it on Metacritic) and received only 29/40 from Famitsu originally. So clearly, these games are better regarded today than when first released. I can sort of understand why, I think people have to come to value how deep and well-balanced Pokémon’s systems are more highly in recent years, whereas their understated-ness maybe went over the heads of some of the late 90s audience – me included probably. But even if it’s for different reasons I loved those games then and I love them now.

Final Fantasy 6, Chrono Trigger, and The Witcher 3 would be others that I would lean towards giving a perfect score.

Personal best
I’m pretty stringent with giving games a 10 out of 10, on a personal level anyway. It’s very rare I’ll think a game is a 10 and that’s even with the mindset that 10 does not mean a game is perfect, rather it is as close to perfect as a game can get.

With that in mind, a game that immediately springs to mind as a game I’d definitely give a 10 out of 10 is Shenmue. Now, this is a very personal score and very subjective.

I was 13 or 14 when the game came out and it was a Christmas present for me. It was a game I had been looking forward to, having followed previews in the Official Dreamcast Magazine and watching the cinematic trailer on the demo disc too many times for my own good.

I remember the rush of excitement on unwrapping the game (and knowing exactly what it was beforehand) and trying to stay patient before my mum eventually let me disappear upstairs on Christmas Day to play the game.

And what was presented was something I had never played or experienced with any game before. I was immediately immersed. This was a game with a fully realised open world (before that term had even been coined), a true day to night cycle, fully voiced with every character having full names, backgrounds and day to day routines in the world, including full weather cycles. You could even play classic Yu Suzuki games in the arcade.

It went further still – it had an epic (for its time) martial arts revenge tale with a cast of colourful characters, gameplay that absolutely didn’t hold your hand, coupled with an excellent Virtua Fighter combat system; the whole thing was just utterly engrossing for me and I found Shenmue was just way ahead of its time.

Anyway, it had started snowing in the UK that Christmas and it was snowing in-game too. My friend got the game and I remember walking to his across the snowy streets, making a connection with the excellent sound effects in the game (who doesn’t love snow in a game with the crunchy sound effects?). I remember spending hours and hours talking to him about the game across the week about little details like that.

Sure, the game has been done better since and the franchise became popular for its high budget and its stilted voice acting (creating many amusing memes) but I absolutely fell in love with this game. And sure, Shenmue 2 was a bigger, better, action packed affair with many great quality of life changes, but it was the sleepy suburban slice of life from the first game that has stayed with me all these years. A game I’ve replayed on countless occasions.

I’ll save my thoughts on Shenmue 3 for another time. But yes, Shenmue is the game that immediately jumps out to me as being a 10 out of 10, and due to my experience that Christmas, it’ll always be that highly rated for me.
Steven Jones

Near perfect
Three games stand out to me as perfect or as near as you’re going to get. Resident Evil 4, Mass Effect 2, and Half-Life 2. There are obviously more but also a lot of these are retro games, which is kind of cheating a bit due to the classic blueprint and being the original standard bearers for the future of games.

The three I chose are from a more modern era and are worthy due to the amount of level design beauty, combat/gameplay and, very importantly, never a dull moment exists in these titles. They are also all part of franchise were they improved or changed the formula of the previous games for the better.

The first Mass Effect was great but needed some more work to it, due to some ideas that did not fully work or a few rough edges or glitches that made some areas a bit unfinished or needed to be patched up. Mass Effect 2 remedied all the above and the story was very exciting.

Resident Evil 4 was like a series makeover! If Resi 3 did not satisfy fans or lost that special Resi 2 magic then the fourth title definitely made up for it. Everything was finetuned to work effectively and you had full control of the character which made the lorry/bus controls of the originals a mere nostalgic memory! Story, locations, and characters just worked perfectly with the aiming at the limbs to effect the takedown of the enemies and, of course feeling, the power you get behind the various weapons.

The original Half-Life was genius and a breakthrough for a first person shooter and something not done or pulled off quite like this before. It was not perfect, and the final level was an anti-climax. But the sequel had the gameplay mechanics tuned in perfectly, with the non-stop relentless journey seamlessly going through location after another location without pausing or talking a break!

A lot of in-house Nintendo games are perfect 10 games and have lead the way for how a perfect game is to be made. Without going into the recent controversy of games being giving more than they possibly should have, it still proves that at least games can still be in contention for a perfect score, even if it just falls short.

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