20 Best Years in Video Game History, Ranked

55 15/06/2022

It’s oddly appropriate that we’re kicking off this list by talking about 1985. After all, that was the year that really kicked off the modern video game industry following the great video game crash of 1983.

By successfully launching the Nintendo Entertainment System in the U.S., Nintendo was able to restore faith in the entire concept of at-home console gaming. Aided by the revolutionary (and still remarkably fun) Super Mario Bros., Nintendo was starting to make it clear that console gaming now had an identity that was so much more than “lesser versions of arcade games you can play at home.” It would take them a little while to really get where they were going (more on that in a bit), but the NES’ debut remains nothing less than a minor gaming miracle.

20 Best Years in Video Game History, Ranked

At the arcades, titles like Space Harrier and Hang-On were furthering the golden age of Sega arcade classics, while Gauntlet introduced many to the joys of multiplayer dungeon crawling. Elsewhere, Ultima 4 was defying role-playing expectations that the Ultima series helped create, while the visual version of The Oregon Trail would soon give children everywhere an excuse to play games at school.

While not the heaviest hitter ever from a sheer software perspective, it could easily be argued that 1985 helped pave the way for the rest of the years we’ll soon be discussing.

19. 2009

Notable Game Releases: Left 4 Dead 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Uncharted 2, Demon’s Souls, Dragon Age Origins

There were quite a few years fighting for the bottom few spots on this list. Nearly all of them were years either defined by a few major titles or the release of a series of somewhat underrated games. Choosing between them wasn’t easy, but the more I looked at 2009, the more I realized that it was a really good year that happened to be surrounded by slightly better ones.

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