've seen a butt-load of lists touting the "Top Video Games of All Time!", or the "Most Influential Games Ever Made!", or the "Best Totally Awesome Extreme Video Games!". Don't waste your time reading lists written by a bunch of no-talent ass-clowns, read this instead. These are the games that were the most influential to ME, and therefore, are in fact the greatest video games ever made. My list will run in chronological order (for you nit-picking geeks, that's the order in which I played them, not necessarily the order in which they were released), listed with the system I played the game on, and (sometimes) the year the game was released for that system.
The first video game I remember playing is Space Invaders
(arcade). I was aware of the earlier games like Pong and Breakout, but they were boring and the graphics sucked, they didn't capture my attention. All they had to offer was a white blip bouncing around the screen. On the other hand, Space Invaders offered the chance to shoot down invading aliens with a cannon. Now THAT'S a great game! The genius to Space Invaders is the way the aliens would speed up as you shot more and more of them, so that by the time there was only one left, it was flying across the screen. It's a brilliant game design where the action becomes more hectic the further you advance.
The next game that ruled the world was Battlezone
(arcade). Remember what it was like to step up to the turret and start blasting wire-framed, vector-graphic tanks? It's the original first-person-shooter, sans strafing.
(arcade): no plot nor story, no guns, no naked chicks ... that about sums it up. Okay, I wasn't the biggest Pac-Man fan around, but this game is the reason so many other games were created in the early 80's. Every company wanted their own Pac-Man sized success. Pac-Man was the first game that became more than just a game. The Pac-Man character became the first gaming icon: plastered on beach towels and lunch boxes, animated television shows, songs named after him, it was an explosion. Pac-Man is part of my arcade memories, but not from playing the game. It was from the sounds of the game. After waiting all week to go to the arcade, I'd walk in and all I could hear was the Pac-Man siren and famous wakka-wakka chomping sounds filling the room. That was a special time, being 11 years old and dropping quarters into arcade machines when they were brand new and magical. Fantastic.
(arcade) is one of my favorites of the "classic" arcade games. Designed by now-legend Shigeru Miyamoto (who became the Walt Disney of the video game industry), it's the introduction of the legendary Mario character (who became the Mickey Mouse). The first time I saw it at an arcade I thought, what the hell is a donkey kong? Well, it's a giant ape who steals your woman and throws things at you. Duh.
Enter the home gaming console: the Atari VCS/2600. Pitfall
(Atari 2600, 1982) was the game to play. Jumping on crocodile heads, swinging on vines ... you know, cool Indiana Jones style adventure stuff. The only gripe about this game is that it needed more carnage. Like, maybe if the crocodile bit you, your head would fly off spurting blood everywhere, that would have been keen.
(Atari 2600, 1980) was a kick-ass game back in the day too. The original Legend of Zelda, it had dragons to fight, easter eggs to find (well, one easter egg, anyway), dungeons and castles to explore. It's incredible how many of these 20 year old games laid the groundwork for today's games.
The first game I became truly addicted to was Defender
(ColecoVision). I was obsessed with getting the highest possible score and keeping humanity safe from the invading aliens! Because of this addiction, Defender is also the first game that I mastered completely (despite the whacked-out ColecoVision controller). But don't worry, I would master many more games in the future, I just kick too much ass at video games.
Chuck E. Cheese
. It's not a game, it's a representation of all games. I feel compelled to include it on this list, because for a period of time, all I wanted was for my dad to take me to Chuck E. Cheese seven days a week. It didn't matter what games I had at home, the draw of pizza, soda, and a room full of the latest games was too strong (creepy animatronic singing creatures, be damned!). To this day, I associate pizza with video games, and vice versa. (on a side note, I have a friend who used to wear the Chuck E. Cheese costume while working there. That, and two bucks, will buy him a mug of coffee.)
Then one summer, my friend's father bought a Commodore 64 and that was the end of doing anything other than playing video games. Playing outside? Not a chance. Doing anything at all, other than staring at a monitor and eating chips? Not bloody likely. We played a lot of Archon
(Commodore 64, 1983), which is a super-sweet strategy/action game. Elements of chess are involved, but you also have to be able to hold your own in magical battles against your opponent. But since YOU can't hold your own in a battle for the last waffle ("leggo my eggo!"), I suggest you skip this game.
We also played a lot of Summer Games
(Commodore 64). It was the first game I remember playing that was made by Epyx. For a period of time, Epyx ruled the gaming world. Any game that Epyx made was pretty much a must-have. I even owned game controllers manufactured by Epyx.
"I live, I hunger. Rowwwwaarrrr!". If you know what that's all about, then you know what Sinistar
(arcade, 1983) is all about. Freaky little game wasn't it? When Sinistar would come roaring onto the screen I'd break out in a sweat. This is still the only game I can remember that would taunt you, like it knew you couldn't defeat it. Sinistar had bad-ass attitude, and I loved it.
(Commodore 64) was another Epyx game that was tons'o'fun. You felt like a real spy infiltrating buildings to download secret computer information! But I've never been in an office building designed so strangely, with huge gaps in the middle of the floor. They must have known that my ninja-spy skills would be too much for them.
My all-time favorite arcade game, and the greatest boxing game, is Punch-Out
(arcade). Not the later released Mike Tyson's Punch-Out on NES with that pussy midget fighter, but the original stand-up arcade version with the see-through green mesh fighter is the one I'm talking about. Glass Joe, Piston Hurricane, Bald Bull, Kid Quick (who gave me the most trouble, and kind of looks like Chris Rock), Pizza Pasta, and Mr. Sandman. "Right hook! Uppercut! Left. Left. Body blow! Body blow!" Hell yeah, bitch! I fucking love that game!
(Commodore 64) had been around for a couple years before I really started playing it. The first time I saw it I didn't get it, it looked boring. Turned out to be the most memorable, unique, and time-eating game for the Commodore.
At a time when two dimensional blocks passed for human bodies, Dragon's Lair
(arcade) hit, and started gobbling up quarters faster than your mother on a street corner. This game called your name when you walked past (if your name happened to be Dirk the Daring) and you were forced to play this interactive cartoon until your dad dragged you home, where you would subsequently dream about how to escape the black knight's electric checkerboard floor. Besides the animation and the gameplay, the thing that was so attractive about playing this game was the randomization of the game levels. Every time you played, it would present the challenges in a different order, so even if you were terrible at playing it, you could at least experience different rooms every time. And for the record: Space Ace
Don't like the way your life turned out? Start over by playing Alter Ego
(Commodore 64). Alter Ego is a life simulation that takes you from infancy to death. You're given choices to make every step of the way, and each choice affects your attributes as a person. This game isn't kidding around either, make the wrong choice and you could be doomed. At 6 years old, thinking of opening that jar in the pantry to taste what's inside? If you do, you're dead. Game over. As a teenager, always wanted to ask out the popular girl in school, but didn't have the sack to do it? Now you can, and increase your confidence attribute at the same time, which in turn will help you land that good job later in life. This game seemed deep, and very re-playable.
The first, last, and only pong-style game I ever liked was Arkanoid
(arcade). Basically, it was Breakout with power-ups and special bricks. It was much cooler than Breakout, with lasers that could shoot the bricks, a sticky paddle that would catch the ball, and a half-dozen other powers that made the game cool. Plus, the graphics are way better than Pong.
(arcade) is the best side-scrolling, story-based, pummel-your-oppenent game ever created. There have been lots of fighting games, but few fighting games executed like this one. The fighting was fun, the opponents individualized, and the time-limit weapons system great. Tired of that chick in spandex whipping you? Punch her in the gut and take her whip. And of course, who could forget the built-in double-cross at the end where you're forced to fight your brother to win the girlfriend? (well, YOU probably forgot, because you weren't good enough to get to the end of the game, bitch!)
All car racing simulations are just pale clones of Test Drive
(Commodore 64). Jump into a Porsche or Corvette and start racing around mountainsides, avoiding the cops. Watching cops eat my dust has never been more fun (excluding last Thursday).
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