The Best Video Games From The 2000s That Have Aged Well

The period from 2000 to 2009 is often referred to as the Golden Age of Gaming, bringing us the birth of new franchises and the reinvention of others such as Super Mario. While there have been dozens of top-notch titles to enjoy, only a select few have survived and are still interesting today.

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Not only did these 2000 games raise the bar by which all of their contemporaries were judged, but they continue to deliver great experiences well beyond their release date. Whether it’s deep storytelling, clear shooting, or an unusual take on its genre, these games offer more than just nostalgic trips.



10 Super Mario Sunshine

Super Mario Sunshine Gooper Blooper, partially defeated by Mario.

Super Mario Sunshine is one of the most charming entries in the entire series and might even deserve the title of “Most Enjoyable Mario Game”. The story follows a similar problem and solution: Peach is in danger and Mario must defeat Bowser and save the princess.

However, Isle Delfino isn’t your typical Mario map, as this tropical paradise offers a sunny backdrop to soak in while you battle baddies. Classic enemies return along with new enemies like Shadow Mario who wants to pollute this beautiful island.

Your faithful water backpack companion, the FLUDD, revolutionizes movement for Mario by offering multiple nozzles that can help Mario get to unexpected places.

9 Fairy tale 1 and 2

Gunslinger squats on the cover of Fable 2.

The Fable series offers a great RPG experience for a “mature” audience, although the raunchy humor is often filled with jokes you might have heard in high school. While the story is largely serious, Fable strikes a balance between brutality and levity that draws you in without depressing you.

Unfortunately, Fable 3 was released in 2010, but the previous two entries are still incredibly fun. Perhaps the biggest criticism that could be leveled at these first titles is that they just weren’t deep enough to dive into as much as you might have wanted.

If you’re worried that Fable 3 will overwhelm you, then you couldn’t ask for a better introduction to the series than to simply start with the originals.

8 Kingdom Hearts

Key image from Kingdom Hearts, showing Sora and Riku holding keyblades against a heart-shaped moon background

Kingdom Hearts is a sprawling series with an almost endless list of entries, including titles that read like a series of unfinished drafts on the developers’ PCs. Although the graphics are way behind, the original Kingdom Hearts tells probably the most moving story and is a great gateway to getting to know the main characters.

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All of the JRPG mechanics are fairly responsive and include a variety of skills and abilities that give the combat system enough depth to make it worth mastering. The music is sublime and not to be underestimated, especially during the emotional scenes – you’ll know them when you play.

7 Hello 3

Master Chief looks off into the distance on the cover of Halo 3.

While shooters continue to evolve, few will ever capture the magic that Halo 3 had when you first played it. This title really set the table for future shooters in terms of environmental storytelling, shooting, and much more. While Halo and Halo 2 paved the way for Halo 3, they haven’t aged so gracefully.

Visually, Halo 3 is still great and could be described as a modern game, despite its release date of 2007. The Halo games following this one have never been the same, though this is largely due to the change in developers. Regardless, with the release of the Master Chief Collection, it’s easier than ever to enjoy this classic.

6 Shadow of the Colossus

Wander confronts the Knight Colossus as it starts swinging its rock

2005’s Shadow of the Colossus broke ground (and hearts) with its vibrant storytelling, emotive music, and awesome bosses. In fact, the game remained so popular that it was still being played until the remastered version was released in 2018.

There’s something so indescribably epic about climbing over these massive enemies and holding on for dear life as you fight to defeat them. The stories appear very sporadically, but they carry weight, especially when you get to the end.

Although it has been vastly upgraded, the original is well worth a look.

5 The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

link and the red lion king in The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker

Few series have stood the test of time as well as The Legend of Zelda, and with so many releases in the 2000s, it’s hard to pick one that has aged well. However, despite the majesty of Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess, it’s the distinct visual style and wonderful cast of characters that sets The Wind Waker apart.

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This title has aged particularly well precisely because of these unique qualities. It’s impossible to deny the importance attached to the Zelda style of play.

At its core, the Zelda formula is pretty much the same, but the stunning art style, endearing characters, and beautiful environments set Wind Waker apart from its peers.

4 Fallout: New Vegas

Ranger with a gun on the cover of Fallout New Vegas.

Fallout: New Vegas has aged remarkably well, especially considering that there is much debate about the quality of its successors, Fallout 4 and Fallout 76. New Vegas is often cited as the pinnacle of the series, and for good reason.

While the environments and colors can get repetitive, the shooting, different factions, and premium DLC keep Fallout: New Vegas immersive and addictive. Its DLCs in particular have been extremely strong, with four full-fledged releases: Dead Money, Honest Hearts, Old World Blues and Lonesome Road.

If you go back, be sure to download all the DLCs from the beginning so you can weave their stories into the vibrant world around you.

3 Mass effect

Cover of Mass Effect Legendary Edition

Mass Effect is often heralded for its strong story and strong writing, both of which stand out among RPGs. Regardless of how you felt about the gut-wrenching third entry, the original Mass Effect stands the test of time with its immersive quest design, superb environments, and satisfying story beats.

The experience of the first one was almost perfect (except for the terrible accuracy of the weapons) and it remains among the best RPGs even in 2010. With the release of the Legendary Edition in 2021, you can now experience this masterpiece with updated graphics and improved mechanics.

Whether in refurbished or original condition, few RPGs can hold down Commander Shepard and his crew.

2 Dragon Age: Origins

The High Dragon from Dragon Age: Origins

Who better for BioWare’s Mass Effect series than another BioWare title in Dragon Age: Origins? While your enjoyment of Dragon Age and Mass Effect will largely depend on whether you prefer space operas or medieval adventures, Dragon Age: Origins aged like fine wine.

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Most of the bugs that exist in the game are actually useful if you choose to use them, but otherwise the experience is surprisingly smooth for such a large game. Some of the cracks start to show if you look closely at the visuals, but the variety of abilities and different story paths make this a must-play journey.

1 Super Mario Galaxy

Mario flying through space on the cover of Super Mario Galaxy

Super Mario Galaxy paved the way for a new generation of mainstream Mario games, exploiting their massive 3D worlds in previously undiscovered ways. There would be no Galaxy 2 or Odyssey without this title, and it’s almost impossible to believe that it hit the shelves in 2007 before a sequel arrived in 2010.

At first glance, you might not believe that this game is over 15 years old or that several new titles have been released since its release. Gravity-defying puzzles and incredible flights through the night sky evoke an unparalleled sense of wonder.

If you’re looking for a fantastic platformer to return to (or enter for the first time), give Galaxy a try to see how well it does.

NEXT: The best Star Wars games on Nintendo Switch, ranked

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