The “what are your top ten video games of all time” question has been making the rounds among my Facebook friends. I’ve posted it here instead because it would be a long scroll on anyone’s wall. The list is mostly in order and out of necessity this one goes to eleven.
Final Fantasy III (SNES, 1994)
At 5:30 that one morning I finished the floating island, dropping the controller into my lap in disbelief at what I was seeing play out. Five minutes later I was face down in my mattress crying like a girl. Awesome.
No More Heroes (Wii, 2007)
After having watched punk take a giant shit and then die in the early 1990s (really, I was at the first Lollapalooza so I even bought tickets for the honour) I finally rediscovered that free-thinking irreverence that had been lost once “alternative” wasn’t when I went to save and Travis Touchdown dropped trou. I swear, SUDA, I’ll find a meaningful interest in The Smiths but back in the day I cast my lot with The The.
Killer Instinct (arcade, 1994)
Some critics have called it embarrassingly overblown in retrospect but when Killer Instinct came out it generated excitement like nothing I had seen since Pac-Man, and I think it holds up as a solid fighter.
Still Life (PC, 2005)
Not only am I incapable of not loving the ventilated corpses of prostitutes drawn by French Canadians, it’s the only adventure game I’ve ever played to spring a plot twist on me which left me gripping my keyboard and screaming at the monitor.
The Sims (PC/Mac, 2000)
You can put this on my headstone: The Sims is the perfect game no-one should want to play. As soon as I heard of it, I wanted it. As soon as I unwrapped it, I was out on the Web downloading skins and objects to add to a system I didn’t even understand. As soon as the sun came up that morning, I poured myself a bowl of Froot Loops and went to bed after finishing them.
Baldur’s Gate (PC/Mac, 1998-1999)
The Infinity Engine was a revelation and to this day has still taken up a significant portion of my life. Although the story was not as accomplished than Baldur’s Gate II, I didn’t engage with the second one in the same way.
Funhouse (arcade, 1990)
I consider myself fortunate to have spent the early nineties with pinball playfield designer Pat Lawlor’s best work. Not as ambitious as The Twilight Zone, but Rudy had the most personality of the Lawlor “talking head” pinball machines.
Virtua Fighter (arcade, 1993)
2D fighters never really grabbed me until Killer Instinct, but the technology of Virtua Fighter did. Pai Chan’s Technique of Laughing Crane, where she’d rise up in the air and on coming back down ever-so-gently tap her opponent with the toe of her delicate Chinese slipper, thereby depriving said opponent of one-third of a full health bar, was worth every quarter I shoved into the machine.
Tekken 2 (arcade, 1995)
Or “why my wrists crack to this very day.” Thank you, Nina Williams.
Portal (PC, 2007)
A masterpiece built around one rock-solid mechanic and eschewed self-important presentation in favour of good old fashioned gameplay. The pacing falls apart somewhat in the final battle, but at that point Valve could have slapped me with a twenty minute cinematic and I wouldn’t have cared.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (3DS/Wii U, 2013)
Easily the best example of a style of gameplay that seemed all but extinct in the current market, Capcom’s sadly niche in the west bosses-only slaughterfest is tactical, tyrannical, and utterly addictive. If Capcom could bottle that feeling where you and your mates lose a fight, take a few minutes to rethink strategies and preparation to come back for a victory they could easily get themselves out of their current financial trouble.