The mech genre is an often forgotten one, but the top ten best mech games will most likely register a few hits in your mind without you even realizing it. Even if you aren't a fan of the genre, which generally involves gigantic mechanical suits battling it out over cityscapes for fun, profit, or world saving, you have probably still heard of or even played a few of these games. As one of the most popular genres of anime and one of the most popular genres of games in Japan, many great games have been released that involve some mech suit destruction.
- Cybernator (SNES,1992). Cybernator isn't an obvious choice for a top 10 best mech games list, but it is a SNES title that people should certainly give a shot. With colorful graphics, an exciting run and gun platforming style, and an actually engaging and mature storyline, it is a relatively forgotten gem.
- Zone of the Enders: 2nd Runner (PS2, 2003). Zone of the Enders is a third person action game with a pretty huge amount of depth and a deep plot, something important to an anime-like mech video game. The graphics were absolutely stunning for this mech game, especially for 2003. It is a bit short, however, and very linear.
- Front Mission 5 (PS2, 2005). The Front Mission series is one of the most well regarded mech series out there, so it was difficult to pick a game for this list. Front Mission 5 was the most ambitious game in the series from a storytelling standpoint, and also among the deepest strategy RPGs to be released on the PS2.
- GunGriffon (Saturn, 1996). Notice please that this is the Saturn version of the game, and not the absolutely awful Xbox version. GunGriffon is more of a mech sim, in that you are the pilot of your mechsuit and the entire game is played through a first person perspective—a popular gameplay choice in the mech genre. GunGriffon also has the same type of plot as Cybernator, as the world is out of resources and the only logical thing to do is use gigantic robots to fight over them.
- Metal Storm (NES, 1992). Metal Storm was a side scrolling platformer in the vein of Mega Man that had some impressive characteristics. Despite the NES not supporting Parallax scrolling, the designers still made the backgrounds scroll at a different rate by redrawing the tiles constantly. This made the game very graphically impressive for 1992. It also had some unique gameplay mechanics, such as being able to reverse your gravity in order to get by obstacles.
- MechWarrior 4 (PC, 2000). When it comes to the MechWarrior series, you can pretty much throw any game in the series on this list somewhere and it would be appropriate. MechWarrior 4 had the most ambitious plot of the series, and some of the most fun gameplay. It was also one of the most "accurate" mech sims out there, and still is to this day. It also gets the nod for Microsoft deciding to allow it to be released for free, since that is pretty awesome.
- Virtual On (Arcade, 1995). This might be a nostalgia pick, as it was difficult to enter a good arcade in the mid 90s and not see a Virtual On cabinet somewhere. It might not have gotten as much use as the Street Fighters and Mortal Kombats of the world, but Virtual On was an awesome action game with lots of weapons and explosions. The Saturn port wasn't that great, but any game that lets you control a mechsuit like a destruction hungry bulldozer is a plus.
- Heavy Gear II (PC, 1999). Heavy Gear II is another mech sim and one of the best. With impressive graphics, great gameplay, and the strength of the Dream Pod 9 Heavy Gear Universe as its story, Heavy Gear II sort of surprised everybody when it came out in 1999. It was released shortly after MechWarrior 3 and ignored, briefly, until it was universally realized that this is one of the most realistic mech sims out there.
- Steel Battalion (Xbox, 2002). The game with the largest, most intricate controller ever made, Steel Battalion was so good that people were dropping $200 on it and its peripheral back before doing that was a regular occurrence ala Guitar Hero. This game simply locks you into the cockpit and makes you a qualified mech pilot. This is the Microsoft Flight Sim of the mech game genre, but even that didn't come with a working cockpit controller the size of a coffee table.
- Armored Core (PS, 1997). A series that needs no introduction, Armored Core has had dozens of iterations. The first is still the best, as it was one of the first attempts to truly blend the mech sim and the third person action genres into a cohesive and entertaining game. Armored Core also did some things completely off the beaten path, even rewarding players who go out and lose many missions and go into debt with a "Human Plus" option that offers extended abilities. Armored Core is the litmus test for all gigantic robot games and still the best mech game 13 years after its release. That is certainly saying something.
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