10 Best Video Games Turning 20 In 2022

2002 was a busy year for the video game industry. The Nintendo Gamecube, Nintendo Game Boy Advance, and Microsoft Xbox had been on the market for over a year, while the Sony PlayStation 2 had been out for two. This was plenty of time for developers to know the hardware inside and out.

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Many landmark games were released in 2002, some of them being follow-ups in long-running franchises, while others were brand new and heralded the birth of new series. Even 20 years later, some of these games are beloved and nostalgic for many gamers.

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (PC, Xbox)

A Character In A Town From Elder Scrolls III Morrowind, released in 2002

This follow-up to 1996’s The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall returned players to the beloved fantasy world of Tamriel, and this time specifically to the island of Vvardenfell. It was developed by Bethesda Game Studios and released for PC and Xbox. The primary story involved players in a significant conflict with various great houses.


Morrowwind was a massive departure from its predecessors because of the relatively tinier world to explore and altered combat system, but it was still critically acclaimed. It was also the first in the series to be released on a home console, which paved the way for the later two The Elder Scrolls games, oblivion and Skyrimto do the same and reach an even wider audience.

Warcraft III: Reign Of Chaos (PC)

Blizzard Entertainment saw great success with 1995’s Warcraft II: Tides of Darknessbut a sequel did not follow right away because of 1998’s Starcraft. It was not until July 3, 2002, when Blizzard returned to the world of Azeroth with Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Players are once again in control of the armies of Humans and Orcs, along with newcomer factions, Night Elves and Undead.

To say Reign of Chaos was influential is an understatement. The game and its expansion, The Frozen Throne, served as the basis for the famous Defense of the Ancients (DotA) multiplayer game and the highly successful World of Warcraft online RPG. While previous Warcraft games were received well, Reign of Chaos opened the floodgates for the franchise.

Mega Man Zero (Game Boy Advance)

Split Image Of The Mega Man Zero Logo And Zero From The Game

While Capcom was finding success with Mega Man: Battle Network, they did not forget the franchise’s roots as a platformer. Set a century after the Mega Man X series, Mega Man Zero saw the return of the titular character awoken from stasis into a world where androids were being wiped out. Furthermore, the one in charge of this directive was X himself.

Zero kicked off what was to be a new subset of Mega Man games, with three sequels that built upon the last. Tea Zero series is a trifecta of extreme difficulty, dark storytelling, and well-written characters. Thanks to compilations such as the Zero/ZX Legacy Collection, Zero and its games will never be forgotten and is a great start for Mega Man beginners.

Kingdom Hearts (PlayStation 2)

Square-Enix, still just SquareSoft back then, was riding high on the success of 2001’s Final Fantasy X. The following year saw the release of a brand new game made in collaboration with Disney Interactive Studios: Kingdom Hearts. Players controlled Sora, the chosen widther of the Keyblade, and traveled with Donald Duck and Goofy to various disney worlds defeating the evil Heartless.

By its 20th anniversary, Kingdom Hearts has become a juggernaut and one of Square-Enix’s signature franchises. Multiple entries across many gaming platforms followed, and the inclusion of Sora as a fighter in Super Smash Bros Ultimate solidify Kingdom Hearts as a video game icon. With a new game on the horizon, the sky is the limit for Sora and his friends.

Super Mario Sunshine (Gamecube)

One of the Gamecube launch titles was Luigi’s Mansion, focused on the younger brother of Mario. It was not until a year later when Mario took to the stage again with Super Mario Sunshinea spiritual successor to Super Mario 64. When Mario visited the tropical Isle Delfino, he was arrested for vandalism and was ordered to clean up everything using the robotic FLUDD.

sunshine made a lasting impact on the mario franchise. Several aspects, such as the native Piantas and Shine Sprites, were brought into future mario games. Other spinoffs, such as super smash bros, implemented the FLUDD as one of Mario’s signature items. Most significantly, sunshine introduced Bowser Jr., one of Mario’s most famous villains who quickly became one of the best mario characters for many.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PlayStation 2)

Split Image of Grand Theft Auto Vice City Logo And Tommy Vercetti From The Game

2001’s Grand Theft Auto III was a triumph for Rockstar Games, and then the following year, its successor surpassed it. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was a 1980s prequel inspired by works like miami vice and scarface. After a botched mob deal, Tommy Vercetti was ordered by his boss to get back all he lost but was allowed to seize power for himself.

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While III is an influential title, Vice City’s improvements with the series made one thing clear: III walked so Vice City could run. Vice City was also the first game to emphasize story and fleshing out characters and world. In addition, what Vice City started, future Grand Theft Auto games continued until it became a franchise.

Ratchet & Clank (PlayStation 2)

Split Image of Logo of Ratchet & Clank and Ratchet & Clank From The Game

After the Spyro The Dragon trilogy on PlayStation, Insomniac Games worked closely with Sony on what became one of the many new properties on the PlayStation 2. Ratchet & Clank was a 3D platformer where players explored, fought enemies, and solved puzzles. It starred an anthropomorphic feline named Ratchet and his robot buddy Clank trying to stop an evil business from destroying planets.

Within years of its debut, Ratchet & Clank became a successful franchise and appeared on every PlayStation system to date. 2021’s Rift Apart for the PlayStation 5, in particular, received praise for its gameplay and story. Ratchet & Clank even had the honor of being adapted into a film, and the duo made further appearances in properties like PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale and Fall Guys.

Metroid Prime (Gamecube)

Eight years after the release of Super Metroid, the franchise returned in two significant ways. While Metroid Fusion on the Game Boy Advance continued the 2D side-scrolling gameplay, Metroid Prime broke new ground by being a 3D, first-person adventure. Players once again controlled the bounty hunter Samus Aran as she battled space pirates on the planet Tallon IV.

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Thanks to Metroid Prime, the series remained relevant throughout the 2000s. Prime also started a sub-series within the Metroid saga that remains beloved today. Given how Metroid Prime 4 continues facing development issues as of 2022, it is clear that Nintendo also sees the value in the series and the legacy started by the original Metroid Prime.

Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire (Game Boy Advance)

By 2002, the initial popularity of Pokemon was waning after the many triumphs on the original Game Boy. Nevertheless, the franchise found its next big breakthrough with Ruby and Sapphire on the Game Boy Advance. They were very similar to previous games, with the primary differences being a new setting, the Hoenn region, and a new set of unique and powerful Pokémon.

Ruby and Sapphire kicked off the four-year run of Generation III, which was followed by the remakes FireRed and LeafGreen and enhanced re-release, Emerald. Ruby and Sapphire also introduced Abilities, Contests, and Double Battles, staples of all future Pokemon games. Thanks to the 3DS remakes Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphirethe games’ legacy was secured.

The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker (Gamecube)

After The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask on the Nintendo 64, the series returned to its overheard roots with Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages on the Game Boy Color. The following year, The Wind Waker returned to the 3D format. Set in a world of islands, players controlled Link as they traveled across the vast ocean to save Link’s sister with the help of the pirate Tetra.

The Wind Waker is a textbook case of not judging a book by its cover. The game’s reputation and legacy are well-earned, not despite the designs, but because of it. Not only did The Wind Waker start the “Toon” designs seen in later games such as Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracksbut it was also heavily influential on later games such as Breath of the Wild.

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