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My Top 18 games released in the years 2001-2005.

18. Pro Evolution Soccer 5 (PS2/PC-2005)

17. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (GC-2003)

16. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (GBA-2003)

15. WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! (GBA-2003)

14. The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap (GBA-2005)

13. God of War (PS2-2005;PS3-2009)

12. Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (GC-2002)

11. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GC-2004;Wii-2009)

10. Pro Evolution Soccer 4 (PS2/PC-2004)

9. Burnout Revenge (PS2-2005)

8. Civilization III (PC-2001)

7. Pikmin 2 (GC-2004;Wii-2009)

6. Civilization VI (PC-2005)

5. Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II (GC-2001)

4. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GC-2004)

3. Metroid Prime (GC-2002;Wii-2009)

2. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GC-2003;WiiU-2013)

1. Resident Evil 4 (GC/PS2-2005;Wii-2007;PS3-2011)

Top 17 games released in the years 1991-2000 that I've played.

17. Prince of Persia (SNES-1992;GBC-1999)

16. Donkey Kong 64 (N64-1999)

15 Donkey Kong Country (SNES-1994)

14. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES-1995;GBA-2002)

13. Circle of Blood (PC-1996)

12. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES-1992;GBA-2002)

11. Pokemon Gold/Silver (GBA-2000)

10. Wario Land 3 (GBC-2000)

9. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (SNES-1995;GBA-2004)

8. International Superstar Soccer '98 (N64-1998)

7. Banjo-Tooie (N64-2000)

6. GoldenEye 007 (N64-1997)

5. Banjo-Kazooie (N64-1998)

4. Super Mario 64 (N64-1996)

3. Super Mario All-Stars (SNES-1993)

2. Super Mario World (SNES-1991;GBA-2002)

1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64-1998)

How much story matters in a game?

How much the story matters in a game depends on the type of game it is. Racing games, sports games, fighting games, platformers, strategy and other action-focused games don't really need a story if they have compelling and fresh gameplay, but if it's simple and effective enough it can only help to elevate the overall experience. But in Role-Playing and Adventure focused games, for example, the story can be as important to the experience as the gameplay.

In my humble opinion, if the gameplay is compelling...

Games with a really great and meaningful story > Games with a simple but effective story > Games with no story > Games with a weak or badly paced story

Storytelling in gaming has vastly improved in the last few years, with much better voice acting, body and facial animations of the characters, sound effects, camera work, visual effects, orchestrated music and so on... but games with a really great and meaningful story are still a rare occurrence (to me at least), much more so than in movies, books or TV shows, and most of the best action and adventure games have a simple/very simple/very very simple but effective story (or at least give you the option the skip long narrative scenes), that gives enough purpose to what you're doing in the game without ruining the immersion and the pace of the experience.