Smithsonian selects top 80 games from past 40 years

Uncharted 2, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Mass Effect 2 part of top American museum's Art of Video Games exhibit next year.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has since February been soliciting gamers' opinions on the most creative and influential games of all time for an upcoming exhibit devoted to the interactive medium. Today, the US-funded institution announced the results of that polling process, selecting 80 games from five different eras spanning the past 40 years to be a part of the Art of Video Games exhibit.

Starting from the earliest era, the Smithsonian exhibit will feature the likes of Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, and Utopia. Games from this era were pulled from the Atari 2600, Colecovision, and Intellivision. The second era spotlights the NES, Sega Master System, and Commodore 64, with representative games including Sid Meier's Pirates, Super Mario Bros., and Marble Madness.

Marble Madness will be one of more than 80 games to be part of the Smithsonian's exhibit.

The third era concerns itself with Nintendo's and Sega's feuding SNES and Genesis systems. From the former were drawn Nintendo staples such as Super Mario World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, while the latter included Phantasy Star IV. Sony enters the picture with the PlayStation in era four, while Sega bows out with the Dreamcast.

The fifth era concerns itself with the two most recent generations in gaming, encompassing Nintendo's GameCube and Wii, Microsoft's Xbox and Xbox 360, and Sony's PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3. The era also includes a variety of popular PC games, such as Portal and Minecraft.

The Art of Video Games exhibit will open in Washington, DC, on March 16, 2012, and will run through September 30, 2012.

Era 1: Start!
Atari VCS
Pac-Man
Pitfall
Space Invaders
Combat
Colecovision
Donkey Kong
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns
Zaxxon
Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator
Mattel Intellivision
Tron: Maze-Atron
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
Star Strike
Utopia

Era 2: 8-Bit
Commodore 64
Jumpman
The Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate
Attack of the Mutant Camels
Sid Meier's Pirates!
Nintendo Entertainment System
Super Mario Bros.
The Legend of Zelda
1943: The Battle of Midway
Desert Commander
Sega Master System
Marble Madness
Phantasy Star
After Burner
Spy vs. Spy

Era 3: Bitwars!
Sega Genesis
Earthworm Jim
Phantasy Star IV
Gunstar Heroes
Dune II: Battle for Arrakis
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Super Mario World
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Star Fox
SimCity

Era 4: Transition
DOS/Windows
Doom II
Fallout
Diablo II
StarCraft
Nintendo 64
Super Mario 64
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Goldeneye 007
Worms Armageddon
Sega Dreamcast
Sonic Adventure
Shenmue
Rez
Chu Chu Rocket!
Sega Saturn
Tomb Raider
Panzer Dragoon Saga
Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei
Sim City 2000
Sony PlayStation
Metal Gear Solid
Final Fantasy VII
Einhander
Final Fantasy Tactics

Era 5: Next Generation
Microsoft Xbox
Halo 2
Fable
Panzer Dragoon Orta
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell
Microsoft Xbox 360
BioShock
Mass Effect 2
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved
Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II
Modern Windows
Portal
Fallout 3
flOw
Minecraft
Nintendo GameCube
Metroid Prime 2: Echos
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Star Fox: Assault
Pikmin 2
Nintendo Wii
Super Mario Galaxy 2
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Boom Blox
Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Sony PlayStation 2
Shadow of the Colossus
Okami
Gradius V
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Sony PlayStation 3
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Heavy Rain
Flower
Brutal Legend

Additional Games (available for short play in exhibit, not included in vote)
Pac-Man (Arcade)
Super Mario Bros.
The Secret of Monkey Island
Myst
World of Warcraft

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Discussion

274 comments
Crush_Project
Crush_Project

i actually kinda like this list.  Sure there are some holes, but you can only have so many games, and i think i had played 80% of all of those games till you start getting into the modern era stuff.

RAVERSTAR
RAVERSTAR

Is this a sick joke? is Smithsonian a creationism museum? politely forgetting the shocking miriad of mistakes in game selection for ALL platforms, lets focus on Playstation.... no Wipeout? you know, the gamer-demographic-changing game that single-handedly converted the image of gaming from nerdy to cool? Smithsonian did'nt notice that? What about Tony hawk's skateboarding, silent hill, Resi!!!! The list of shocking omissions for this platform alone, are endless! Final fantasy tactics!?! Perhaps elsewhere in the Smithsonian there is an exhibit claiming that homosapians are descended from cheeseplants. No wonder Americans have not the slightest notion of historical fact.

100proofsoco
100proofsoco

How can they put Halo 2 on there, when obviously Halo CE should be the one on the list. There are a couple more mistakes but this one stands out the most!

superGas
superGas

WTF??? They completely forgot about Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Alone in the dark. They those were the fathers of survival horrors, especially Alone in the dark and yet they didn't appear. This list is completely wrong

Carlos161
Carlos161

Where is Gears of War 2, Batman Arkham Asylum, Infamous, Assassin's Creed II? you have been living on a cave or what?

kex72
kex72

No this is wrong.

justinvz
justinvz

There are just to many games out there to remember all of them. But I agree with most gamers your list is crap!!!

bramterris
bramterris

whoever made this doesn't know much about video games. All i gotta say is why Brutal legend for ps3. Seriously. Everything else could have been perfect, but just that one thing failed the entire exhibition.

robertt
robertt

What about Silent Hunter? What about all the Bioware games? Gee wiz they didn't include a one!!! I don't know where the Smithsonian is, but it's not here, as far as I'm concerned.

robertt
robertt

Man this list is not right at all. They haven't included anything from when games first came out on the PC or the first consoles, and they're including a bunch of garbage that only a few cared about. Where in the hill is Asteroids, Missile Command, Pong, Battlezone, Defender, USS Fast Attack, ZWar, Star Trek (the first one), Zork, Adventure, Starflight, Empire, Gunship, The Ultimas, Wolfentstein 3D, Doom, etc. etc. etc.? Shall I go on? They left out all the stuff that was at the beginning, and they call this a history? Where was this stupid vote anyway? Who voted? This stupid list is not accurate at all. They should be ashamed of themselves for not including the games that STARTED IT ALL. The games that were THERE FIRST.

fumpert22
fumpert22

I am truly surprised at the inclusion of EINHANDER and Gradius V! Way to go for obscure games smithsonian!

soccerj75
soccerj75

Just glad Half-Life 2 isn't on this list; Overrated game is Overrated!!

MaddogQ80
MaddogQ80

theres a ton missing .... and a ton that shouldnt be here

Granpire
Granpire

While a lot of the newer games are completely off (Fallout 3? If anything, TES: Oblivion was more groundbreaking a game than Fallout 3), many of the older ones are very good choices. The first version of Sid Meier's Pirates! was absolutely groundbreaking for it's time, and the gameplay still holds up today in terms of freedom and openness. I spent many days simply lost in the vast oceans of this game, hunting down pirates and selling goods, I even found a treasure cache once. So many fine moments in Pirates! :D

freestyler_85
freestyler_85

um hello ... where is Super Metroid , Final Fantasy III ? and HALF - LIFE 1 & 2 ? joke list

holtrocks
holtrocks

BF2 should be on this list it made huge leaps in multiplayer

ABC2K
ABC2K

Really I want to shoot the person who made this list. I'm going to go to there house and shoot them in their sleep. If I remember correctly the 90s was all about Mario vs Sonic. Was it really just me imagining sonic and he didn't really exist, was it really mario vs some character from Dune II battle for arkansis?

ABC2K
ABC2K

Lol I just realised there is no half life either. Ok it is official now this list cannot be taken seriously.

ABC2K
ABC2K

Where are the original sonics and metal gear solid 4? This list is pretty stupid if you ask me. They have even included the 3D dreamcast version of sonic which is where most people say that the series started to fail but didn't included the originals which where generation defining at the time.

dakedoom
dakedoom

pretty disappointing list, referring to PC only. deeply influential and creative names got dropped for games that had better sales numbers. my versions: Era 4: Quake, Civilization, Baldur's Gate, The Sims Era 5: Half-Life 2, Neverwinter Nights, Deus Ex, Minecraft

TheWarpLynx
TheWarpLynx

Hey, where is "God of War?" Too much gore for a museum? Well, at least "Heavy Rain" and "Metal Gear Solid" are there. Still, I'd like to see "Assassin's Creed" there too. I think I want to see this exhibition.

crimsonMAV3RICK
crimsonMAV3RICK

they couldnt think of ANYTHING other than brutal legend for ps3? lol try killzone2, infamous DEMON"S SOULS?!?!

bourne2live
bourne2live

@ Smuggler2 It's in Era 4, Nintendo 64 :)

bourne2live
bourne2live

Lol Brutal Legend ?! How about, let's see, LittleBigPlanet or Assassin's Creed II :/

Smuggler2
Smuggler2

And for the love of all that is HOLY, where the HELL is Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time?!!!!

Smuggler2
Smuggler2

GTA III and Assassin's Creed? Dear Smithsonian American Art Museum, Do not use the opinions of normal people. Normal people don't know what they want. Furthermore, their ability to differentiate a quality video game from a horrible one is synonymous with the ability of a walrus teaching a pencil how to play Bach. Go with a more professional opinion (ie: people who play through the bad games, thus gaining an unbreakable appreciation for the good games). Love, Disgruntled, rambling video gamer #7459

jubdeidamasta
jubdeidamasta

"omg there list is different from mine!" I better complain and flame about it.

SloganYams
SloganYams

Why is Earthworm Jim in over Sonic the Hedgehog 2? Also, Yoshi's Island? Mario RPG? C'mon, those are two of the plumber's finest!

GameBeaten
GameBeaten

@psycho_chaos True, but I was basically just saying GTA3 really kicked it off in popularity.

psycho_chaos
psycho_chaos

@GameBeaten "If any GTA game is to be included it should be Grand Theft Auto III for revolutionizing games with it's sandbox gameplay everyone decided to do after it was released." Actually sandbox gameplay pre-dates GTA III by about 10 - 20 years. Off the top of my head, some of the games you should of heard of include Elder Scrolls 1, 2 & 3, Sid Meier's Pirates(the original), Fallout, Driver, Elite (which is still probably the biggest game world to date) and GTA & GTA II. Also, there was the original Mafia, that was about announced & shown off a year before GTA III but came out 9 months after. So there is at least 1 game that did the same thing at the same time. Again, GTA III was brilliant, did so many things really well, set new standards, but it wasn't revolutionary, it was just really well made.

Rennar
Rennar

Where's the Demon's Souls!?

angelbless
angelbless

Brutal Legend in place of MGS4 or GOW3? :?

nbales07
nbales07

Wow...worst list ever. Where is Crazy Taxi, KotR, Oblivion or Morrowind, Half-Life, Team Fortress, Mario Kart??? I could probably name 80 games that should've been on this list.

moh_sakhaii
moh_sakhaii

The most crappy list of all time, I played most of the Sega genesis and best of its games are not in the list, let's not get started with ZX Spectrum not being there or even the crappy games they chose for the current generation. By the way a list without these games are worth nothing 1- KOTOR. 2- Max Payne. 3- Mafia. 4- Morrowind. 5- Baldur's gate.

nicstringer
nicstringer

I thought Super Metroid might make the SNES era games. I think its the best looking game and the best game overall from that era imo.

jemoedr
jemoedr

WoW? Ah come on.... And no Assassins Creed? It is only one of the best selling franchises out there. I mean, it is certainly better as monkey island or LOTR: TBME... I loved the movies but there's nothing special about the games.

ZombiePhoenix72
ZombiePhoenix72

WTF! There's no Half Life or Half Life 2:shock: The game changed the shooter genre.

ar2_arr
ar2_arr

this list is weird, many things dont fit, ill just name 2. they place super mario bros. but not super mario bros. 3, which to me is better, but its arguable because smb came first and was revolutionary and all that, but then there is metroid prime 2?? when metroid prime not only came first, its much better. Any way just my opinion. Also, PS3 list is also very strange

EPaul
EPaul

Very Weird list

Revoth
Revoth

Since this list is about how artsy a game was for it's time period, I can't believe the voters forgot about Sonic 2 and Sonic 3/Sonic & Knuckles. Those were easily some of the best looking games on the Sega Genesis. Oh well, at least none of the Call of Duty games made the list.

aSchizophrenic
aSchizophrenic

PS3's list was a joke. You forgot about God of War 3, Killzone, LBP and MGS:4... Any of those are easily better than Heavy Rain, Brutal Legend and Flower.. At least you didn't forget to mention Uncharted 2.

Wings_008
Wings_008

im very surprised they include Sonic in their list, it is an era defining game, and a major evolution to the simple platformer games

jetstopia
jetstopia

No racing games? where's Mario Kart, Grand Turismo or need for speeed? What about fighting games. Mortal Kombat and Street fighter What about Command and Conquer for PC it was massive in its own rite? some good games on here but a lot of notable ommisions. What about the N64 selection; Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Goldeneye007 and than Worms. Im not saying worms is a bad game but its grouped in with some fundamentaly revolutionary games. I guess with a list of 80 games there is going to be gaps, and variety is good

Rennar
Rennar

awesomesauce @ Pikmin 2 and Shadow of the Colossus

jetstopia
jetstopia

Boom Blox was a good game a suprise inclusion

Link3301
Link3301

On gamecube I would not have chosen star fox assault. Don't get me wrong, it was a fun game. I just don't think its great enough to be one of the 80 greatest games of all time. I also don't understand why they chose zack and wiki and boom blox over super smash bros brawl and metroid prime 3.

pedrotaquelim
pedrotaquelim

@moh_sakhaii I was going to say the same. Where is Sinclair ZX Spectrum games on that list? One of the most influential machine in the history of games. They forgot?