Feb. 10, 2012 at 5:28 PM ET
Before there was the internet, the Guinness World Book of Records was the only real source to learn about, and celebrate, bizarre human behavior and achievement. But eventually came other outlets, such as YouTube. Video game accomplishments were particularly hit hard, mostly due to how the medium itself changed.
The measuring stick of the person playing a game (and to an extent, the game itself) was the high score, but that was no loner the case once it became less about racking up points and more reaching the end.
In recent years, and in an effort to change with the times, Guinness World Records Limited has sought to catalogue more contemporary game achievements. This includes determining what the best endings are. But instead of making that call themselves, they asked the public.
For the "Guinness World Records 2012 Gamer's Edition," 13,519 fans voted online, and the top fifty were published for both print and online editions. The following is the final ten:
10. Heavy Rain
9. Final Fantasy VII
8. Metal Gear Solid 4
6. Red Dead Redemption
5. God of War
4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
3. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
2. Halo: Reach
1. Call of Duty: Black Ops
The top ten reflects the list as a whole, which in turn is a reflection of the gaming tastes of today.
First, it used to be that Japan used to be the king when it came to video game output, but things have changed considerably. Most titles listed are homegrown products, though Nintendo still has a considerable presence. Otherwise it's just a smattering of titles from Konami, Capcom, and Square Enix, whose offerings used to rule best seller charts not all that long ago.
Almost all the games cited are sequels. "Shadow of the Colossus" and "Heavy Rain" are the only titles to not be a continuation of a previous one, or to spawn a follow-up. Gaming has always been a sequel driven business, and that trend remains true today.
Another bit of consistency is age: almost everything listed is either from this current generation, or the one immediately preceding it. The oldest game on the list is at number 11: the original "Super Mario Bros," and the lone 8-bit entry as well.
Next is "Super Metroid" and the original "Sonic The Hedgehog," at numbers 42 and 28 respectively. That's it for the 16-bit generation. While the old school gaming esthetic has made a comeback in recent years, the endings of classic games have clearly been forgotten.
Among the 50 listed, all but one are for a home system. The lone portable title is "Pokemon Black and White", which is number 11.
Many are sure to find the inclusion of certain titles, and especially their placement, to be either curious or dubious (or flat our irritating). Like the inclusion of "Sonic Adventures 2," the title that is often cited for causing the entire franchise to jump the shark, in large part due to it's completely incomprehensible closer.
Others do make more sense. While "Final Fantasy 7" does have its detractors as well, it's impossible to deny the impact it had among RPGs as a whole, but taking the story-telling elements to a whole new levels, thanks to brand new CD-ROM technology at the time.
And the overall quality, not just the ending, of "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" has been without question. Though it's placement, at number 3, is something to argue about, as well as how deserving the list's number 1 choice, "Call of Duty: Black Ops," truly is.
What do you think of the choices listed above? And what is your favorite ending to a video game of all time? To those who wish to check out the full list, "Guinness World Records 2012 Gamer's Edition" is available right now in both print and eBook editions.
Matthew Hawkins is an NYC-based game journalist who has also written for EGM, GameSetWatch, Gamasutra, Giant Robot, and numerous others. He also self-publishes his own game culture zine, is part of Attract Mode, and co-hosts The Fangamer Podcast. You can keep tabs on him via Twitter, or his personal home-base, FORT90.com.