Thursday, 24 July 2014

Good Games

I don't think too highly of "best of" polls, but to give credit where credit is due, Good Game's currently ongoing voting for best 100 video games ever did get me thinking. I know very clearly which game is my all time favourite, but what about all the rest? How does one rank them when even the poorest of today's games looks so much better than the very best from a couple of decades back?
In parallel, I got into an email discussion with an old school friend regarding our favourite games from our rather lacklustre choice of an eighties personal computer, a Dragon 32. Say what you say about the Dragon, and I have a lot to say in its praise - it was responsible for teaching me more about computers than anything else before or after - but a good gaming platform it wasn't.
Which is when it occurred to me: any comparison between video games is only worthwhile if it is done in the context of the period the games were released at. So, with all due respect to Good Game (and there is plenty of it), allow me to introduce you to my pick of best video games ever per platform. If anything, this list will demonstrate my personal development in video gaming, which probably mirrors that of a lot of people my age.
Without further ado, let us start on this chronological trip.
  1. Atari 2600: Space Invaders
    OK, Space Invaders was probably not my favourite Atari game. But it was my first Atari game, and for a long while it was my only Atari game other than Combat (which came bundled with the console but which was a 2 player only title). Which meant that I had a lot of love and devotion poured into that game. I challenge anyone to better my personal score record of more than 69,000 points!
    Other notable titles on the Atari include Missile Command and Defender.
  2. Dragon 32: None
    There were plenty of good games to be had that era, but the Dragon 32 had none of them. Commodore 64 owners might have had a computer with very poor programming BASIC on their hands, but they also had all the good games.
  3. IBM XT: The Ancient Art of War
    Barbarians - forward, archers - attack! And always try to give your force the strategic advantage, such as attacking from superior height. Art of War was my first experience at a proper tactical game where your army fights in real time against the computer's. The world would have been a much better place if I could still play Art of War on my iPad.
  4. IBM XT: Gunship
    Hard to believe, but there was a time when being a helicopter gunship pilot was my dream. MicroProse's brought me closest to that dream, and I think I can safely boast being a top pilot - I won all the medals, not to mention World War 3. I recall my friend informing me that it is probably safe to say I was the best Gunship pilot in Israel.
  5. IBM XT: Microsoft Flight Simulator 2
    In this day and age when I don't have time to breathe it is hard to imagine I would once spend hours and hours at the cockpit of a propellor plane, but that is exactly what I did. Armed with paper maps, I would set the scene for bad weather and fly completely blind - instruments only - from New York to Boston.
  6. Arcades: Outrun, Star Wars
    Unlike some of my friends, I was never particularly good with the games that dominated the local arcades; nor did I have the money to become good in them. I did, however, profess to liking them a lot: I would spend lots of hours watching others play. But when I could afford it, I would enjoy my brief stint in one of the compartment size arcades, the ones that have you sit inside. Whether it was driving my red Ferrari in Outrun or blowing a Death Star in a vector graphics rendition of Star Wars, I was left with plenty of fine memories to cherish.
  7. 386 PC: F15 Strike Eagle 3
    As you can see, I am an unfulfilled pilot. This time around I used this MicroProse title to win the Gulf War and even have a go at uniting Korea.
  8. 386 PC: Dune 2
    Probably the first proper real time strategy game. How many hours did I spend trying to conquer Arrakis?
  9. 386 PC: Mortal Kombat
    No, Mortal Kombat was never a true favourite of mine. But it did lead to many catch phrases I still use today (like "Johnny Cage wins!" or "Finish him!" whenever my son messes about with his food).
    More importantly, it was the craziest multiplayer experience available at the time. With both players sharing the same keyboard, and with the keyboard unable to recognise more than 5 simultaneous key strikes, this was a case of who presses first wins (no matter what you pressed). Distilled entertainment.
  10. Pentium PC: FIFA 99
    More than a football game, this title packs a lot of historical importance for me. Starting with the fact I bought myself a PC just so I can play this game.
  11. Sega Dreamcast: NFL 2K
    Between the quality of the graphics and the audio commentary, this game was a technological breakthrough for the time. It even made me enjoy American football.
  12. Xbox: Halo
    There were first person shooters before Halo, but clearly everything coming after Halo was heavily shaped to match Halo. And for very good reasons. Most notably, Halo was so good that my wife & I played it in co-op the whole way through over a couple of intense weeks, an experience we still cherish.
  13. Nintendo Wii: Mario Kart
    There are lots of good games out there, but hardly any can compete with the sheer addictive fun of Mario Kart. Fun that is still ongoing with Mario Kart 8 on the Nintendo Wii U.
  14. Sony PS3: Mass Effect 3
    Clearly my favourite game of all time. Between the multitude of well developed characters, the ability to control my character and destiny (including the ability to play a female), and the greatest story ever told, this one is still dominating my mind and my video gaming more than two years later. The cooperative online multiplayer mode is a winner in that department, too.

24/7/14 update:
For what it's worth, here are the family's votes with Good Game-

  • Yours truly: Space Invaders, Mass Effect 2, Mass Effect 3.
  • The boss: Little Big Planet, Lemmings, Mario Kart 8.
  • Son: Mario Kart 8, Skylanders Swap Force, Wipeout.

Image copyrights: BioWare
The image is of Liara, my favourite character from my favourite video game, comes from a soon to be released character statue. If you wish to buy me a nice present I'm guaranteed to like, look no further than this.

1 comment:

wile.e.coyote said...

Category: Best across all platforms
Game: Bubble Bubble