I got tagged in a note on Facebook entitled “15 Games in 15 Minutes” by my videogame boss. Â It was really interesting to read his choices, and I knew immediately that I wanted to list mine. Â 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. Â Basically, it’s a list of 15 games that will stick with you and why. Â 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. Â From my point of view, I was playing Pac-Man. Â At home! Â Well, not my home specifically, but at someone else’s home. Â At my age, that was just about the coolest thing in the world.
- Karate Champ (Arcade) – The original fighting game, y’all. Â It had two joysticks: one for movement, one for moves. Â 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. Â You could fight against the computer or against another player. Â 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). Â 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. Â The 3D, the exploration, the thrills — I still remember that T-Rex scaring the fire out of me the first time it showed up! Â I have played every major release in the Tomb Raider series, and it’s still my favorite series of all time. Â 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. Â Yes, I did a lot of useful things with it, but I also played a ton of games on it. Â I never did finish this game because it was way too hard. Â 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. Â When the pastor’s family got an Intellivision, we used that time to play it. Â 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. Â 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?” Â 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. Â 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. Â 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. Â I eventually got so good at the game that I could beat it on one quarter without dying once. Â A while back I bought the game on Xbox Live. Â 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. Â 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. Â This game had 12 levels and you were given an hour to get through all of them. Â 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. Â Once we learned how to beat it in under an hour, the challenge became who could beat it the fastest. Â I know for a fact I had it under 45 minutes at one point, but I don’t remember specific times. Â 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. Â 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. Â 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. Â The combat, gadgets, riddles, and Detective Mode gave me the experience of being Batman without the years of training or absence of parents. Â 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. Â 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. Â To this day I’m not entirely sure why, but I gravitated towards Sega thereafter. Â I find the Mario games to be kind of boring and I don’t care for the character. Â I had a Genesis, a Nomad, a 32X, a Sega CD, a Saturn, and a Dreamcast and loved every one of them. Â 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. Â 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. Â 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. Â Than I’d create a Sim-house version of where I was currently living. Â Then I’d use the money cheat and fill that house full of stuff I couldn’t afford in real life. Â 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. Â Make your list, post it on your blog, and leave a comment telling us where to find it.