Game Informer’s top 300 games

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Every one-hundred monthly issues, Game Informer magazine compiles a list of the best games of all time. These lists fluctuate with the magazine’s staff and as new games are released and old games are forgotten. Recently, issue #300 revisited this tradition with the staff’s top 300 games. You could call the result arbitrary in the sense that they are highly subjective, but it doesn’t change the fact that, with roughly 300 new games being released on Steam every month, to be counted among the top 300 games of all time is an honor, regardless of who it’s coming from or how the decision came to be.

While some institutions frequently overlook the Apple II’s contributions to gaming, Game Informer has not committed that error, with four games — more than a full percent of the list! — being for the Apple II. Every game on the list got at least a one-sentence summary; most games also had a screenshot; some games further received a full paragraph. All four Apple II games warranted screenshots, and two of them received those lengthier write-ups:

Oregon Trail (#104)

Oregon Trail

Fording a river, contracting snakebites, starving — you and your friends probably died in all these ways and more while playing The Oregon Trail. This wasn’t just an entertaining simulation; MECC’s revolutionary piece of educational software leveraged new technology to engage students’ imaginations beyond textbooks. While the Apple II version of The Oregon Trail wasn’t technically the first, it’s the one most ids played as they crowded into school computer labs.

Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord (#131)

Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord

Sir Tech’s text-heavy dungeon crawl provided the backbone for many of the long-running RPG series that followed.

Zork (#186)


Though this text game is hard to go back to now, Zork is undisputedly the progenitor of any video game that sought to emulate having an adventure.

Lode Runner (#197)

Lode Runner

Lode Runner combined twitch Pac-Man skills with the ability to dig into the level, trap enemies, and collect gold, creating an ever-changing puzzle game with seemingly infinite configurations, including levels of your own design. It also required both quick thinking and the strategic foresight to decipher increasingly complex levels, becoming a must-have for the home computer, and setting itself apart in the arcade-dominated market.

Half of these games were on Game Informer‘s top 200 games list in 2009: Zork (#66) and Lode Runner (#173). Those same games also made the top 100 list in 2001: Lode Runner (#52) and Zork (#70) — the one time Doug E. Smith’s puzzle-platformer outranked Infocom’s text adventure. Wizardry also made Game Informer‘s top 100 RPGs of all time just last year. Of those four Apple II games, readers agreed with only one when they compiled their own top 300 games, voting Zork as #241.

Granted, two of these four games first appeared on other platforms. And Game Informer‘s list includes many other titles that eventually made their way to the Apple II as well: Marble Madness, Missile Command, Pac-Man, Dig-Dug, Gauntlet, and Wolfenstein 3D, to name a few. But Lode Runner and Wizardry, both original Apple II games, have consistently been recognized by Game Informer as contributing to the evolution and experience of computer gaming.

For many of us, these four games were gateways to everything that computers made possible. With the Apple II sometimes feeling like it’s been forgotten by the mainstream press, it’s heartwarming to see it rank as home to some of the best and most important games ever created.