A quick aside:
As I've said before, I missed most of the NES and SNES eras as a child, and while I've gone back and played many of them, their conspicuous absence on this list is most likely due to that. However, I do believe I am able to look at that era without the weight of blind nostalgia, which I think in a way helps. I personally believe that gaming peaked in the Sixth Generation, and while I love Super Mario Bros. 3 as much as the rest of the world, I would argue the Mario I tout on this list was more of a game-changer.
On to the list proper...