1) Yoshi’s Island
We all know the story by now — Yoshi’s Island was created when Nintendo higher ups wanted Shigeru Miyamoto to make a Mario game using then-trendy pre-rendered Donkey Kong Country style visuals. He rebelled, instead creating a game that looked like it had leapt from the pages of a children’s coloring book.
Yoshi’s Island was one of the first really overtly stylized video games ever made, and that style still holds up brilliantly. Even today, Yoshi’s Island still seems to pop right off the screen, beckoning you into its immensely charming world.
Why is Yoshi’s Island #1 on our list? Because it represents the ideal all video games should pursue when it comes to visuals — create a unique style all your own, then back it up with the best technology available (Yoshi’s Island was secretly the most technically advanced game on the SNES). That’s what making great-looking games is all about.
So there you have it, the full 50 in all their gorgeous glory. As always, it’s been fun hashing this thing out with you guys, so don’t hold back — hit the comments and let us know where we got it right, and where we got it rage-inducingly wrong.