What makes a “Perfect” Game?

Perfection is something for which everyone strives. But, for the gaming industry, perfection is an adjective that is painfully elusive. For every game that emerges from the shadows—shocking the gaming world with its surprising level of quality—there seem to be three more games that submerge to Duke Nukem: Forever- esque depths of disappointment.

Before asking the question that will be discussed in the following article, it is necessary to examine some games that have been described as “Perfect”.

Gamespot—having one of the toughest rating systems in all of gaming—described only seven games are described as perfect:

  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
  • Grand Theft Auto IV
  • Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3
  • Chrono Cross
  • Soulcalibur
  • Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2

Likewise, there are a total of 15 games to receive the distinction of “perfect” from Famitsu—a very widely read gaming publication in Japan. These games are:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • Soulcalibur
  • Vagrant Story
  • The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker
  • Nintendogs
  • Final Fantasy XII
  • Super Smash Brothers Braw
  • Metal Gear Solid: 4: Guns of the Patriots
  • 428: In the Blocked City, Shibuya—a game for the Playstation 3 that never hit North American shelves
  • Dragonquest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
  • Monster Hunter 3
  • Bayonetta
  • New Super Mario Bros. Wii
  • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
  • Pokemon Black and White

Moreover, IGN has given a perfect score to the following games:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • Pokemon Red and Blue
  • Checkered Flag
  • Joust
  • Shanghai
  • Super Mario Bros. Deluxe
  • The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening
  • Soulcalibur
  • Mario Golf, Pokemon Yellow
  • Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure
  • SNK vs Capcom: The Match of the Millennium
  • Magical Tetris Challenge
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Pokemon Gold and Silver
  • Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages
  • Dragon Warrior 3
  • Tornado Mania!
  • Grand Theft Auto IV
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2
  • Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
  • Pac-Man Championship Edition
  • Chrono Trigger
  • Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
  • Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
  • Infinity Blade II
  • The Last of Us

Game Informer–the popular gaming magazine—has praised the following gmaes as perfect:

  • Super Mario World
  • Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
  • Metroid Fusion
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
  • Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal
  • Halo 2
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  • Resident Evil 4
  • God of War
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
  • BioShock
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
  • Grand Theft Auto IV
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
  • Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
  • God of War III
  • StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
  • Batman: Arkham City
  • The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword
  • Mass Effect 3
  • BioShock Infinite

With IGN most liberally praising games for their alleged perfection and Gamespot being the stingiest, all of the previously listed games invokes the following question: what makes a perfect game?

As provided by the above lists, the answer to this question is rather difficult to answer.

There is only one game that pervades all four of the previously stated lists, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. However, there is a serial trend in each of the lists; The Legend of Zelda series—particularly Ocarina of Time, The Grand Theft Auto series—the fourth installment appearing in all but the Famitsu list, and Soulcalibur—appearing in all but one list. In addition, a Super Mario game has also been labeled as perfect by all of the above reviewers.

Metal Gear Solid 4 had astounding graphics, engaging characters, a cinematic feel that was unprecedented, and an in-depth weapons system. But, the aforementioned characteristics could be applied to several games. The first Halo game, which was revolutionary, had all of the previously described traits but did not receive a perfect rating on any of the above lists.

The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario series are two of the gaming industry’s most iconic, with the Super Mario franchise being the top selling of all time. Finally, Soulcalibur—with its graphics, original characters, and weapon system—redefined the fighting game genre in a way that was unseen since the Street Fighter series. Lastly, the Grand Theft Auto series—starting with GTA III—changed the industry with its “sandbox” world format.

All of the aforementioned considered, the answer of what makes a perfect game is still difficult to answer. With so many “flawed” games having the same characteristics as “perfect” games, it is clear that—to invoke a cliché—perfection is something that merely happens as a result of an ideal blend of every desirable characteristic found in video games.

So, the question must be left to viewers; what do you think the perfect game is? And what characteristics does a game possess that makes it as such?

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