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The 100 Greatest Videogames

Entertainment Weekly -- with help from the all-videogame cable network G4 -- picks the titles that are the most fun to replay, and had the most impact, in the past 30 years

Grand Theft Auto III

We rank the 100 greatest videogames

Our skin is pale. Our thumbs are sore. And when we close our eyes, we hear the theme from Donkey Kong. Yet only through such sacrifice can EW -- with help from the experts at the all-videogame cable network G4 -- bring you this list of high-scoring titles: 100 games that represent both the history and the future of interactive entertainment. Our criteria: replayability, pop-cultural importance, and impact in shaping this 30-year-old medium. (Don't fret, most of the older classics here are available on at least one of the current gaming platforms.) Some of you will bemoan the fact that Pole Position is not in the winner's circle, or complain that we rated Tetris too high. We know -- we've had the same arguments. But at the end of the day (or night) we're all just fans of this gloriously geeky pastime. As noted gamer William Shakespeare once wrote: ''The play's the thing.''

1 THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: A LINK TO THE PAST The history of videogaming can be split into the pre-and post-Zelda eras. Before Zelda, adventure games had rigidly linear story lines interwoven with obstacles that, once overcome, offered little more than a high score to brag about. But Link to the Past, as imagined by legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, gave players a quest in which mindless scoring took a backseat to heroic acts. It was clear that gaming would never be the same -- and continued refinements ensured that subsequent Zelda titles (there are 10) all became best-sellers. Each button-thumping and symbol-filled world elevates the simple journey to save a princess into a successful franchise that continues to advance the notion of interactive entertainment. IT'S A GOOD THING HE WASN'T PLAYING CASTLE WOLFENSTEIN... Robin Williams' daughter is named after Link to the Past's heroine, Princess Zelda. (Super Nintendo Entertainment System, 1991)

2 DOOM Doom did for videogames what Toy Story did for animated films: Both introduced 3-D technology that forever changed their respective media. Along with its predecessor Wolf 3-D, Doom's first-person perspective pushed games a step closer to virtual reality: Players weren't just role-playing; they were the main character. Doom's violent play may have stirred controversy, but it also marked the beginning of a horror-filled -- and lucrative -- genre. CARRY A BIG STICK Legend has it the game takes its name from a scene in Martin Scorsese's The Color of Money, in which Tom Cruise boasts that he has ''doom'' in his cue case. (PC, 1993)

3 TETRIS Ridiculously simple but utterly addictive, this timeless tale of man vs. geometry was invented by Russian computer scientist Alexey Pajitnov and subsequently converted to run on every computing device known to man. Bucking the trend set by every other game on this list, it has no plot or story, is saddled with rudimentary graphics, and spills nary a drop of blood -- unless, of course, you count violence toward rectilinear shapes. TALL TALES In 2000, a group of students at Brown University programmed a computer to control lights on the Sciences Library to play a 10-story-tall game of Tetris on the side of the building. (PC, 1985)

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