Sunday, July 22, 2007

My Top Video Games

I recently created a video that attempted to sort through my thoughts on my favorite video game titles. It turned into more then I bargained for and admittedly, it is a mess. Definitely an undertaking that I am not ready for. However, I did include a number of games that I considered 'great'. Most of them getting short shrift so I'll wanted to talk more about it here. I'll also include a real top games list of my own and compare it to some other notable lists out there. Like I said in the short, it's all predicated on what I actually enjoy and not what I'm suppose to enjoy. For example; I'm probably suppose to include a game like Mario Cart 64 on my list but it won't be on there... I have played the game but I have never been a Nintendo person, meaning: I never personally owned a Nintendo console. That doesn't rule out all Nintendo games, it just means my experience with games has been with other systems.

That said, listing my list of owned consoles is a good place to start. This lets you know where my heart is.

1. Atari 2600
2. Apple II
3. Sega Master System
4. Atari Lynx
5. Sega Genesis
6. Sega Saturn
7. Sega Dreamcast
8. Xbox
9. Sony PSP
10. Xbox 360

Now, I'll go ahead an list the gaming devices that I didn't own but played the living daylights out of:

1. Atari 7800
2. C64
3. Amiga
4. Playstation

After writing that I feel as if that takes out some of the mystery of where I'm coming from and de-values my list. But I think in the climate we currently have in and around video games; honesty is key. Out of the big boys on the web I believe IGN and Gamespot are poor resources for games. EGM is a step up. GameSpy and 1UP, believe it or not, are good even though there is a lot of cross pollenization in resources (both intellectual and human) between the larger game sites on the web. There are, however, good places to get info and reviews on games. Gamerankings is great, a rottentomatoes for games. You can find a lot of reasonable people at the Adult Gamer site (no, not that kind of adult). TVG and NZGamer are alright as well. For a good read on games that go way back search out The Video Game Critic.

With that, let's get into what some choice sites consider to be the best of the best all time. To keep it a bit different then other locales on the web I'll try and include well written and informed lists. No reader polls.

We'll start with the big boys:

The Editors created this list created 2005.

10. Super Metroid (SNES)
9. Star Wars: TIE Fighter Collector's CD-ROM (PC)
8. Street Fighter II (Arcade)
7. StarCraft (PC)
6. Sid Meier's Pirates!
5. Super Mario 64 (N64)
4. Sid Meier's Civilization II
3. Tetris
2. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
1. Super Mario Bros. (NES)

I like this list. It is sort of like a Hall of Fame. They don't count down but rather induct them. So what I'll do is put the 10 first games they put on the list back in 2003.

10. Twisted Metal 2 (PS)
9. Super Mario World (SNES)
8. Pac-Man (Arcade)
7. Tetris (Nearly Everything)
6. Star Control II (PC)
5. Street Fighter II (Arcade)
4. Starcraft: Brood War (PC)
3. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
2. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS)
1. Lode Runer (Atari)

Electronic Gaming Monthly
An old list from 2001. But these games on here are not going anywhere or being bumped off their list anytime soon.

10. Super Mario World (SNES)
9. Final Fantasy III (SNES)
8. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
7. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64)
6. Soul Calibur (Dreamcast)
5. Super Mario 64 (N64)
4. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS)
3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)
2. Tetris
1. Super Metroid (SNES)

An all-star team of industry folks got together a great list of "The Essential" most important games ever made list. It is not a top list of all time, but it is a great, informed, we'll argued feature. Below is not a countdown, it is more or less chronological. Look up this feature if you get a chance.

10. Pac-Man (Arcade 1980)
9. Star Wars (Arcade 1983)
8. Game and Watch (1980)
7. Zork (DEC PDP-10 1977)
6. Pitfall! (Atari 2600)
5. Battlezone (Arcade 1980)
4. Adventure (Atari 2600)
3. Space Invaders (Arcade 1978)
2. Pong (Arcade 1972)
1. Spacewar (PDP-1 1962)


A 2005 List. It's included because it is a straight up list without pretension. They keep it console.

10. Super Smash Brothers: Melee (SNES)
9. Halo 2 (Xbox 360)
8. Metal Gear Solid (PS)
7. Street Fighter II (Arcade)
6. Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
5. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
4. Super Mario 64 (N64)
3. Final Fantasy VII (PS)
2. Goldeneye 007 (N64)
1. Resident Evil 4 (PS2)

So there you go. What of my list you say? Here goes:

10. Rambo First Blood Part II (Sega Master System)
Anyone growing up in the 80's can attest to the power of John Rambo. This game captured none of the movies look or feel but we bought it on the title and title alone. Turns out that this game introduced me to how fun playing games with a friend, instead of against them, can be more fun. Never too intense and sometimes frustrating, this game gave you a great experience. To this day, i fire it up. On a development level, like a lot of games around this time, it's cohesive. It never strays from what it is. Move up the screen, work with your brother, uh, Zane and complete the level.

9. One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird (Apple II)
What was Dr. J doing facing up against Bird in a video game? I can't say. But it proved to be genius and to this date, the best basketball game I've ever played. It was true, unforgiving one on one b-ball. Electronic Arts has built it's empire off this game. Have they made a game as original as this since? Nope.

8. Super Breakout (Arcade)
Simple, Genius. I know it doesn't make since to not have Pong on this list, yet have Super Breakout. But Pong was before my time. Believe it or not Steve Jobs was assigned to develop prototypes of this sequel to, well... Breakout. Super Breakout had a few features that made it incredibly addictive which is the reason the original Breakout is not on the list. I have some wonderful memories of playing this game in table top form.

7. Ghost Recon Island Thunder (XBOX)
Does GR get any better? The Original Ghost Recon is a masterpiece and Island Thunder may just put the icing on the cake but that's some flippin' good icing. I'll never forget playing this game in the wee hours of the morning arguing with my friend Dave on the best approach to the next enemy encampment. Red Storm brought this title to life. It's theirs. While I've had a great deal of fun with all the GR titles, Island Thunder remains the one that really started it all for me. I can't tell you how many hours I've logged playing GR titles. Bleeno, I want you to know... I'm getting thru this next mission... me and my teammates.

6. Civilization III (PC)
Sid Meier is the greatest 'one more move before I sleep' game developer ever. Is that the sun that's coming up? It's a rare, euphoric moment that happens to game players across the world. Does that make his games the best ever? Does sleep deprivation mean great game? Maybe... or maybe it means your damned to hell, getting no sleep until you get it out of your system. What ever the case, I know the box is always nearby my computer... begging me, whispering my name to put it in.

5. Pitfall! (Atari 2600)
A classic. Put Pitfall in front of anyone... I mean anyone and they will pick it up and play... and get hooked and possibly keep playing thinking that the scenery will change. Gold? Alligators, Scorpions, Tarzan Vines, Ladders, Brick Walls, Holes in the ground? David Crane said it took him 10 minutes to create the concept for the game. I'm not saying that popularity is the reason this game is on the list but It sold 4 million copies. That's about $200,000,000. Do yourself a favor and find this game.

4. Golden Axe (Sege Genesis)
A hack n' slash classic in my book. Sega was on top of it's game here, both in the arcade and at home. Ah, the days of my parents driving me to the arcade in Winchester, VA only to give me quarters to pump in to this cabinet. Ah, the days when you discovered the game in the arcade then purchase it to play at home. The golden age of games... Golden Axe defined this time. Death Adder is mocking you. Grab your brother... choose you character... press start... go.

3. Nights Into Dreams (Sega Saturn)
Mark Ragase. That's why I adore this game. We would race back from our college classes (and skipped a few) to top each others score. I recently purchased another Saturn with the sole purpose of playing this game again (of course, I had to get the game and special controller as well). Sonic Team created this game and, in my opinion, it is a better game. Save yourself 200 bucks in the old piggy bank and then go buy the Saturn and Nights into Dreams. Mark, if your out there... I'm working on taking down your records man!

2. Ultima IV (Apple II, PC)
This game opened my eyes to what a game could be. I look at a game like Fable and think Ultima IV. I was trying to figure out why I still remembering loving this game then I read the following recently "The object of the game is to focus on the main character's development in virtuous life, and become a spiritual leader and an example to the people of the world of Britannia. The game follows the protagonist's struggle to understand and exercise the Eight Virtues. After proving his or her understanding in each of the virtues, locating several artifacts and finally descending into the dungeon called "The Stygian Abyss" to gain access to the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom, the protagonist becomes an Avatar. Though Avatarhood is not exclusive to one chosen person, the hero remains the only known Avatar throughout the later games, and as time passes he is increasingly regarded as a myth." If that gets you excited then well... we are soulmates. This game came out in 1985. It was like a great board game come to life and I can tell you that it holds up to this day.

1. Galaga (Arcade)
'nuff said. Smitty... you remember Safeway in Purcellville.

So there she be. A Sunday afternoon putting down my thoughts on great video games. Yeah, I enjoy them. Yeah, I'm collecting old games and consoles off of ebay. What's it to you?