I got tagged in a note on Facebook entitled “15 Games in 15 Minutes” by my videogame boss. It was really interesting to read his choices, and I knew immediately that I wanted to list mine. Since I’m hoping my blog will be around longer than Facebook, though, I decided to do my list here.
The rules for this list aren’t nearly as interesting as the way my boss did his, so I’m going to follow his lead. Basically, it’s a list of 15 games that will stick with you and why. These won’t be in any particular order.
- Pac-Man (Atari 2600) – Most people talk about how awful this was, how bad a conversion from an arcade game to a home game, and how it missed the point on what Pac-Man should be. From my point of view, I was playing Pac-Man. At home! Well, not my home specifically, but at someone else’s home. At my age, that was just about the coolest thing in the world.
- Karate Champ (Arcade) – The original fighting game, y’all. It had two joysticks: one for movement, one for moves. Players combined different directions on both sticks to do the moves, hits were rated 1 or 1/2 points, and the first person to 2 points won the round. You could fight against the computer or against another player. Every third round there was a “Test your skill” minigame that had you breaking boards or knocking out a rampaging bull (which I never was able to do). To this day, if I ever find an arcade cabinet of this game and have the money, I will do everything I can to buy it.
- Tomb Raider (Sega Saturn) – The first Tomb Raider game blew my mind. The 3D, the exploration, the thrills — I still remember that T-Rex scaring the fire out of me the first time it showed up! I have played every major release in the Tomb Raider series, and it’s still my favorite series of all time. I ended up buying a PlayStation because Tomb Raider II wasn’t released on the Saturn.
- Mortal Kombat (Sega Genesis) – The Sega Genesis was the first gaming console I ever owned, and it was given to me with this game. It was so much better than the SNES version (read: “more violent”), and I spent hours trying to fight Reptile.
- The Last Ninja (Commodore 64) – My first computer was a C64. Yes, I did a lot of useful things with it, but I also played a ton of games on it. I never did finish this game because it was way too hard. I particularly remember that there were a lot of very specific jumps you needed to make, but it was next to impossible because of the isometric view the game used.
- Donkey Kong (Intellivision) – After school there was a gap from being dropped off at the church to when Mom would pick my brother and I up. When the pastor’s family got an Intellivision, we used that time to play it. Boxing, Baseball, Kool-Aid Man, Pitfall, and Donkey Kong are the games I remember playing the most. Donkey Kong was pretty much just like the arcade version, so it was super-rad. The pastor’s mom would visit them from time to time, and I remember her asking me many times in her Southern drawl, “Do you want to play some Donkey Kong?” I don’t remember if she was any good, but I do remember thinking that any grandma that would play videogames was pretty cool.
- Shinobi (Arcade) – For a while the Shopko in the town where I went to school had a Shinobi arcade unit. After school while my brother participated in some sport or another or worked out, I would walk the 10 blocks or so, sometimes with a friend, sometimes alone, and play Shinobi. It was the kind of game that you could beat if you memorized the patterns, and I got farther and farther in the game as I learned it more and more. I eventually got so good at the game that I could beat it on one quarter without dying once. A while back I bought the game on Xbox Live. It’s still fun and familiar, but the 20 intervening years have ruined my recollections and I haven’t made it past the spinning Buddha boss.
- Prince of Persia (PC) – I feel a little guilty about this one, because the version I played was a pirated one people kept handing around at school. I’ve more than made up for it on purchases of follow-up titles, and I bought the revamped original on XBox Live recently, but I still feel a twinge of guilt. This game had 12 levels and you were given an hour to get through all of them. I remember hours of fun with friends as we’d play it together, all of us working together to figure out the quickest routes and the puzzles. Once we learned how to beat it in under an hour, the challenge became who could beat it the fastest. I know for a fact I had it under 45 minutes at one point, but I don’t remember specific times. And, of course, I still can’t beat the Xbox Live version
- PaRappa the Rapper (PlayStation) – The first rhythm/music game I played. The music was so much fun that I still occasionally listen to the CD I have of it, and I still remember large portions of the lyrics.
- Guitar Hero (PlayStation 2) – I saw a worker playing Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” at a local game store, and it wasn’t more than a month later that I bought a PS2 and this game. From there I have played every major GH game (except the Metallica one) and moved on to the (in my opinion) superior Rock Band titles. I have often joked about how much “More Than a Feeling” has cost me over the years.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360) – Not only the best Batman videogame ever made (so far), but also one of the best games I’ve ever played. The combat, gadgets, riddles, and Detective Mode gave me the experience of being Batman without the years of training or absence of parents. It’s on the very short list of games that I’ve played through more than once.
- Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega Genesis) – This game is on this list mostly as a symbol. While most everyone I knew had an NES and loved Mario, one friend had a Sega Master System and I fell in love with it. To this day I’m not entirely sure why, but I gravitated towards Sega thereafter. I find the Mario games to be kind of boring and I don’t care for the character. I had a Genesis, a Nomad, a 32X, a Sega CD, a Saturn, and a Dreamcast and loved every one of them. I still own 3 Saturns and 2 Dreamcasts (one is blue!), and a Master System, and the day I sold my Genesis for store credit is burned into my memory as one of my saddest days ever.
- World of Warcraft (PC) – I spent so many hours wandering around Azeroth, drawn by the scenery, the leveling, and the time spent with friends. I have great memories of gathering with friends in-game on New Year’s Eve watching the fireworks in the skies over the major cities. I haven’t had the time to play in a couple of years, but it took me more than a year to cancel (and stop paying for) my account.
- The Sims Series (PC) – The first thing I’d do was create a Sim-me. Than I’d create a Sim-house version of where I was currently living. Then I’d use the money cheat and fill that house full of stuff I couldn’t afford in real life. I will never understand why it was so compelling to do Sim-chores when real-life chores were so loathsome.
- Tetris (Anything and everything) – Somewhere I still have the original GameBoy with a Tetris cartridge, but I don’t need it: I still occasionally see falling blocks when I close my eyes.
Your turn. Make your list, post it on your blog, and leave a comment telling us where to find it.