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8 Video Game Franchises That Maintained A Very High Level Of Quality

This is the first year we won’t be getting a new Assassin’s Creed game, and I say good — there are like thirty five of those things, not counting the ones that were rejected, and maybe three of them are actually worth playing. That made me think about other franchises, the ones that maintain an incredibly high level of quality through their lifetime. You’ll find no mocking reviews here, because these games have a long and well-deserved legacy of excellence.

 

The Legend Of Zelda

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Nintendo is VERY protective of its franchises. Apparently learning from the CD-i disasters of the early ’90s, they don’t lend their properties out to other companies. This means the legacy of the Zelda games have never been muddied up. The game’s original creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, continues to oversee the development of each title, and every time a new Legend of Zelda is announced, it creates waves of excitement throughout the video game world. You could make a pretty solid case that Nintendo wouldn’t survive as a console maker if not for Zelda and Mario (more on this later). I owned a Nintendo 64 because I knew I HAD to play Ocarina of Time. I mean it. I would’ve died if I hadn’t.

 

Mario Kart

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If you just briefly watched someone play all of the Mario Kart games, you’d probably think they seemed pretty similar. But the amount of tweaking between games, and the refusal to blow it up and do anything too crazy, is what’s made each entry in the series so essential. Nintendo never went full-on Diddy Kong Racing and made you navigate an annoying overworld — Mario Kart is just about racing, and being a jerk to the people you are racing against. I mean, this is the franchise that made car combat a big deal in video games!

 

Mass Effect

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Mass Effect is the franchise with the smallest number of games, but I feel okay about including it on this list — first, so much time goes into each entry, and with a new Commander Shepard-less entry on the way, it’ll be interesting to see if Mass Effect can maintain its quality level. Second, Mass Effect is the Bioware RPG that hasn’t suffered from Dragon Age’s problems — while Dragon Age remains very popular, gamers have had mixed feelings on its sequels — the combat felt dumber, and it’s annoying not to be able to switch out your party members’ armor. The worst thing that people have said about Mass Effect is that they hated the ending to the third one.

 

Street Fighter

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There was a period in time when Street Fighter II was the most popular game in the world. This is the darkest period for the franchise, where new versions kept coming out, each one only having only the most mild of gameplay tweaks, but they were still tons of fun. But as fighting games, and arcades in general, have fallen in popularity, Capcom has wisely focused on fine tuning Street Fighter’s gameplay, turning it into the pinnacle for competitive fighting games. Even its foray into 3D fighting (the EX series) was really good.

 

Metal Gear

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Sure, gamers hated Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 2, but let’s be real — the Metal Gear games are enormous endeavors from an incredibly ambitious developer, and are all very, very good. Metal Gear Solid EXPLODED onto the Playstation, and revolutionized what we expected form stealth mechanics in video games (sorry Tenchu — you are still very fun, though). Metal Gear’s level of quality has been maintained across five different systems, making it even more impressive. (A lot of franchises have problems adapting to new technology. *cough*Sonic the Hedgehog*cough*)

 

Grand Theft Auto

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Let’s be real — the first two Grand Theft Auto games don’t count. It became so, so much more when it converted itself to an open world game on the Playstation 2. And each Grand Theft Auto game has successfully taken what made the previous ones great and expanded on it. And I;m not just talking about game play changes — Grand Theft Auto IV had a protagonist really wrestling with the moral ramifications of the player’s actions (which was then undone a little by the fact that you could follow one of those existential crisis cut scenes with a civilian murder spree).

 

Civilization

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The greatest PC strategy game ever has never stopped being great. Long live asshole, war mongering Gandhi.

 

Mario

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Mario changed the video game industry, and is its most enduring, iconic symbol. He created the template every other 3D platformer tried and failed to imitate, has starred in RPGs, and is the single greatest reason to buy any Nintendo system. Even the Mario game that was not actually a Mario game (the western Super Mario Brothers 2) is damned incredible. Mario will outlive us all, and continue to be of the highest quality.

 

What series have you marveled at as it continues to pump out great games? Let us know in the comments!

8 Video Game Franchises That Maintained a Very High Level of Quality

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