Saturday, 17 November 2012
Everybody Loves Lists: 28 Years, 28 Games - Part One
The last list I did, which you can read here, was lauded as the finest list known to man and ended all debate on the subject of intro movies. So I am making another foray into the world of listmaking, hoping once more to bring harmony where there is discord.
Today is my birthday. 28 years ago I entered this world, looked around, and did the only sensible thing, which was to burst into tears. Today's list, therefore, is a list of the years I've been alive for, and the most significant game (to me) that was released each year. Part one, below the jump, are the games that had the biggest impression on me for the first 12 years of my life.
1984: Boulder Dash
Naturally I didn't pick this one up at the time of release, as I was busy trying to be born, and recognise faces. But once I was old enough to perform complex tasks like working a computer and feeding myself, I fell in love with this dig-em-up that was tense and fun, and can count such masterpieces as Spelunky amongst its descendants.
Honourable mentions of 1984: Marble Madness, Jet Set Willy, Spy Vs. Spy
The sinister Soviet mind control experiment known as Tetris spent a great deal of time in the heads of the people of the west, and had the Soviet Union not collapsed, the first wave of the Communist invasion would have certainly been preceded by an aerial bombardment of tetrominoes.
Honourable mentions of 1985: Ghosts & Goblins, Super Mario Bros, Gradius
1986: Alex Kidd in Miracle World
My mum's favourite game for a long time, and certainly the best game featuring a boss with a fist for a head, this platformer (and occasional Rock Paper Scissors simulator, seriously) was built into the Sega Master System II and thus found its way into many european houses, including mine. My dad nearly got to the final boss, and his failure to do so introduced me to the exciting world of swearing.
Honourable mentions of 1986: Bubble Bobble, Outrun, Space Harrier
1987: Maniac Mansion
Ron Gilbert's first point-and-click adventure for Lucasarts heralded what would be a startling run of creativity, and the roots for the sublime Monkey Island series. Plus, it let you microwave a hamster. If you wanted to. You monster.
Honourable mentions of 1987: California Games, Double Dragon, Shinobi
1988: Altered Beast
I didn't like this game. At all. My friends raved about it, it is still listed as a seminal title, it is still talked about fondly by some. I thought it was rubbish. It was difficult not by design but through poor collision detection and a PAL verison that ran 16.7% slower than it should have. And that's why it's on this list - it was one of the first games to get me thinking about why I disliked it, and therefore think critically about videogames. Without shite like Altered Beast, this blog would not be here.
Honourable mentions of 1988: New Zealand Story, Ghosts & Goblins, Super Mario Bros 3
1989: Golden Axe
Sega's fantasy chop-em-up had a difficulty curve that was more of a massive cliff. When you fought the final boss, you were relieved - and then horrified to find out that it wasn't actually the last boss, and there was another fucking level of skeletons and bald gits to grind through.Those little blue bastards that carried magic pots were the worst, though, and they didn't even attack you. They just annoyed you.
Honourable mentions of 1989: SimCity, Final Fight, Populous, Prince of Persia
1990: Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe
The best sports game ever made, bar none. I had this on the Mega Drive. The Mega Drive controller had 3 buttons. In Speedball 2, all of these buttons performed the same action - "hit". I don't think you need more explanation as to why this is a masterpiece.
Honourable mentions of 1990: The Secret of Monkey Island, Snake Rattle & Roll, Bonanza Brothers
1991: Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
The apex of Lucasart's majestic run of SCUMM-engine games, Monkey Island 2 doubled down on the complexity of puzzles, memorable characters and nutball humour of the first game. I'm intending to write a detailed post on the Monkey Island games, so I won't spend to long on this. Expect a much longer post soon, which unless I can restrain myself will just a be long list of quotes and laughter.
Honourable mentions of 1991: Super Mario World, Civilisation, Lemmings, Sonic The Hedgehog
1992: Sonic the Hedgehog 2
You know that piece of art that you know like the back of your hand? The book or film that you use like a comfort blanket, that you turn to whenever you have a terrible day and you need to lose yourself in something that you love? Sonic 2 is it for me. By the time I get to Casino Night Zone, all my troubles are long gone.
Honourable mentions of 1992: Streets of Rage 2, Contra 3, Street Fighter 2: Turbo Edition
I've already written about how Doom brought me and my father together in gore-soaked harmony, so I'll use this slot to tell you to read Masters of Doom by David Kushner, the story behind this masterpiece and the geniuses of id Software. Read it. Then play Doom. Then play Doom on a harder difficulty setting, you wuss.
Honourable mentions of 1993: NBA Jam, Day of the Tentacle, Sam & Max Hit The Road
1994: Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
I never played this Puyo-Puyo clone at the time of release. At Univeristy, however, I picked up the Sonic Mega Collection for the GameCube, primarily because I was homesick and wanted to soothe myself with Sonic 2. Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, however, was the one that seduced me, and several others in my halls, into all night marathons. Some of us never recovered.
Honourable mentions of 1994: Mega Bomberman, Point Blank, Theme Park, Puzzle Bobble
Team 17's team-based tactical turn-based murder-em-up was bettered by its prettier sequels, particularly the mighty Worms: Armageddon. But I spent so many hours playing the original with my friend Paul that it had to be included. Also, being able to name your squad of Worms installed in me a love of giving videogame characters stupid names that persists to this day.
Honourable mentions of 1995: Full Throttle, Destruction Derby, Mortal Kombat 3
1996: Mario Kart 64
This is where it starts to get tough to pick just one game per year. The launch of the Nintendo 64 brought with it some of the most important games ever made, games that helped forged the modern landscape of gaming. But I picked this one because it was great, and had Wario in it. Also, the fact that Mario Kart Wii has some of the tracks from this one in it means that when my younger sister plays it I can reliably thrash her on Bowser's Castle.
Honourable mentions of 1996: Duke Nukem 3D, Super Mario 64, Strife
Tomorrow, more list! Huzzah!