The Digital Game Canon - 10 Games You Must Play

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Bill Loguidice
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As these lists go, it's not so bad, as I agree with many of the selections: http://www.gamespy.com/articles/771/771860p1.html

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Matt Barton
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My Top Ten List

Thanks for the detailed response, Bill. I've been thinking it over, and have come up with my own Top Ten List of Important Videogames, or Ten Videogames Everyone Must Play, and that kind of thing. These aren't in order of priority, though. What I've tried to do is represent each of the important genres, with an eye towards games with appeal that goes far beyond the typical adolescent/teenage male.

1. Ms. Pac-Man. Rationale: Probably the world's most recognizable arcade game. Best version of the popular maze game; people are still paying to play it!

2. Baldur's Gate II. Rationale: Best CRPG, ever. Somewhat complicated, but intuitive. Fun alone or multi-player via LAN.

3. Katamari Damacy. One of the most original games I've ever seen; universal appeal. Freaky vibe.

4. DDR. You can't help but enjoy yourself playing it; fun for entire family. Plus, there are obvious health benefits!

5. Day of the Tentacle. Lucas Art's masterpiece. Hilarious, stylish, and infinitely memorable.

6. Sim City. For all the obvious reasons--great strategy game; open-ended gameplay...It's Sim City...

7. Worms. Takes a simple concept and expands it into a multiplayer/party game extravaganza. Exploding sheep.

8. Bubble Bobble. Infinitely replayable multi-player platform game. Innovative. Poppin'.

9. Stunt Car Racer. Can you have more fun with a racing game?

10. Super Mario Cart. Perhaps.

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Bill Loguidice
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Well, my theory is that they

Well, my theory is that they picked games that had certain minimum levels of sophistication within a certain genre. Spacewar! was amazingly sophisticated, particularly given the fact it was among the first games created. That complexity as well as key elements (space, dueling, gravity, inertia, etc.) seems to have it make sense to me. Super Mario Bros. 3 featured branching and additional "advancements" over Super Mario Bros., however one could also make a good case for Pitfall! or Pitfall 2 over even Mario (I know, blasphemy!). Still, a curious choice.

Why Sim City AND Civilization? Sim City was a construction set and simulation, while Civilization was not a construction set, though that was one of its many elements. In fact, Civilization can theoretically cover just about every genre, save for anything action-based.

Warcraft is a tough one. Many have argued for Dune 2 or Herzog Zwei/Military Madness. I suppose it was the first breakout RTS and had all the necessary elements (and I think that person chose the series, which is kind of a cop out, as any of the series choices were on the list - you either go for series or you pick ONE game). Still, Dune 2 was doing most of the what the first Warcraft was doing rather earlier.

The soccer game, besides the fact that it was a European guy who picked it, was probably because that particular game combined a comprehensive set of arcade, simulation and management elements. Still, that's another tough one.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
(A PC Magazine Top 100 Website)
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Matt Barton
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Top Ten Lists

I agree, Bill--there just isn't room in a top ten list for this sort of thing. But even given your theory of their selection, some things don't add up. Why privilege Spacewar! one minute and Super Mario Bros. 3 the next? I assume the justification for Spacewar! was its novelty and innovation, yet there seems to be different criteria in place for SMB3. I also don't see enough difference between Sim City and Civilization I to warrant their both being on the list, but Zork allegedly covers all adventure and CRPGs. Right. And why Warcraft? Wouldn't Starcraft be better there?

It'd seem to make more sense to talk about the top ten genres of videogames, and have more balanced criteria, such as "Top Ten Most Important Innovative," or "Top Ten Most Influential," and so on.

I assume the soccer game is there because they felt they had to have a sports game on the list. I'd have leaned more towards one of the Madden games for that.

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Bill Loguidice
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Controversy/Coverage and the Complete List

It's amazing how much controversy this list has garnered and how much mainstream coverage it has gotten. On the "swcollect" group e-mails have been flying furiously about it. I've come to the conclusion that this list is not necessarily about "firsts" or who did it best, but which games were the first to get all the necessary elements right in the opinion of the esteemed voters. Probably the most controversial items on the list are the soccer game, which obviously had little impact in North America, and Star Raiders. As for RPG's and adventure games, it can be argued that "Zork" is enough representation for both categories. It's a stretch, but it's an idea that makes the most sense to me.

By the way, here's the full list:

Spacewar!
Warcraft (series)
Zork
Civilization I
Super Mario Bros. 3
DOOM
SimCity
Sensible World of Soccer
Star Raiders
Tetris

By the way, I don't think MULE was kept off for political reasons. I've never seen anything political around MULE in regards to the author's lifestyle. Dani Bunten has been honored time and again, just as Jay Fenton has. It can be argued that despite the multiplayer aspects, MULE's class of game is amply represented by Civilization and SimCity. Still, it's one of a litany of games that could have been included. I think if the list was even 25 names long, there'd be much less disagreement.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
(A PC Magazine Top 100 Website)
======================================

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adamantyr
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10 games

I'm a little disgusted that M.U.L.E. didn't make the list... an incredibly fun game, and is designed for both solo and multi-play. I wonder if the potential controversy over Dani Bunten may have rendered it's omission as a political move.

Seems like nowadays, games are either multi-player, or solo, developers want to deliver maximum value in one or the other. I was playing Jade Empire SE on the PC, and I was thinking, it's not bad... but I can't share this with my brother or anyone else. (And that's in addition to it's dull linearity.) And when they do have a multi-player option, it's usually "thrown-in", no consideration made to making it fun. The decline of cooperative play games is really quite sad.

Seb
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Ultima III vs Ultima IV

I'm surprised to see Ultima III rating higher than Ultima IV... i thought the fourth installement was a much better game. It was really innovative at the time, with spiritual development as one of the main goal (mastering the 8 virtues). You really felt you played something special... it was more than just killing bad guys.

Matt Barton
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Bard's Tale

Ultima III is widely regarded as the first modern CRPG, and it's definitely the model used for most console CRPGs. I haven't personally played it very much. I didn't have it growing up, and it's clear that nostalgia can warp your perspective on what games are truly important. Nevertheless, Ultima III broke a lot of ground and is definitely the best of the first wave of Ultima games (with the Black Gate being the best of the latter half).

As I noted in my history of CRPGs Part II (you guys did read that, right?), the Bard's Tale series isn't so much famed for innovation as it is for its mainstream appeal and coherence. There are countless CRPG fans who started with that series, published as it was by Electronic Arts (who weren't so villainous back in those days). Plus, it was the first time Interplay really broke onto the scene. Those guys would go on to do so many more famous CRPGs, such as Wasteland, Fallout, and Planescape: Torment. Besides that, how lame would it be to call yourself a CRPG fan and not know the game? Love it or hate it, it's an important part of CRPG history.

I do agree about the need for full reviews of the pre-AD&D SSI games. They had a bunch, and I had never played any of them before doing my article. A review from a long-term fan of the series would provide a lot of insight.

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Bill Loguidice
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I disagree about Ultima III.

I disagree about Ultima III. In fact, it's hard to argue against the greatness of Ultima's II - VII (and even to a degree VIII). Obviously the console iterations are shadows of their Apple II (or in the case of the latter games, PC) originals.

I agree with you about The Bard's Tale. Classic games, but by no means "top" games in my opinion. It really is just an enhanced Wizardry. In fact, the Might and Magic series you mentioned probably did more and is more deserving of mention. Still, with games like "The Magic Candle" and so many other deserving titles out there, it's a very tough list to pare down and not leave out deserving games...

One day I need to do full reviews of the more obscure, but still exceptional RPG's, like the Phantasie series, Wizard's Crown and others of the mostly SSI-based classic CRPG games. They all did things that really are notable in their own way and are wonderful experiences...

======================================
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
(A PC Magazine Top 100 Website)
======================================

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Mat Tschirgi (not verified)
I don't think Ultima III is

I don't think Ultima III is that great from what I've played of it, but it does set a lot of firsts in the Ultima series and did a lot for its time-- the turn based combat, the multiple character parties, etc.

Fallout is still amazing-- just the unique atmosphere is great, but coupled with a good plot and lots of sidequests (especially the sequel).

Neverwinter Nights is more notable for its level editor than the single player game itself.

While I like Bard's Tale, I've been thinking about it lately and still wonder what makes it so important-- is it just because it's like Wizardry or Might and Magic on a smaller town-- you're exploring a town with a dungeon instead of a world with many dungeons or the world as a dungeon? Does having the main setting of Bard's Tale be the town help the narrative and feel of the game stand apart?

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=- Mat Tschirgi =- Armchair Arcade Editor

yakumo9275
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Yeah saw this yesterday. I

Yeah saw this yesterday. I was surprised to see them pick the warcraft series over dune2 which kinda voids their own criteria, I'm not sure how warcarft had more 'backstory' than dune2 but whatever, lets pick it because WoW is popular right now. Zork is understandable since Meretzky is on the board =)

Id vote for Ultima III as well.

Everyone knows the most important shmup is R-Type or Xenon2 :) but I'm sure nintendo fans will pick Gradius.

my fav shmup list in no specific order

r-type
IO (c64)
raiden 1
xenon 2

(I have deliberatly left off the plethora of awesome Treasure / Psyko / Cave shooters, thats a list for another day. )

-- Stu --

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