Saturday, 26 February 2011

5 Alive

Recently, we've managed to set up a GainBoy Forum. Cool, right! On there, basically we discuss everything game related, as you'd expect, and have a jolly time. Local fighting game tournaments, tech help from experts and general nonsense chatter all go on in there, and it's growing. We're loving it, and it's where I got the idea for my latest post you're hopefully about to read.

The bodacious Hopkin Green Frog started THIS THREAD, in which numerous folk have been talking about their favourite games of all time. Naturally, this kind of thread is awesome, and so it's flourishing. I posted a list, and was told that I should of written some kind of story. Always up for a self-indulgent ramble, I thought I'd post mine...

Super Mario Bros 3 (NES)

This, right here, is the greatest game of all time. I don't think some people will agree, but most admit that it's up there in the list for everyone, and for gaming. It is completely perfect, in every sense. It invented the idea of the overworld system in gaming, perfecting the jumping mechanic Mario set up, and all kinds of shit we see in pretty much every game you've ever played.

Plus, it's just fucking brilliant. It's so vibrant, and genuinely thrilling. I remember that beautiful yellow box glistening in the Toys R Us plastic cases in Warrington, the first time I saw it. I remember playing it with my dad, and I remember him leaving it on overnight, because he worked nights and you could only save the world, and not completing specific levels. I remember seeing the little red light of the NES glistening as I was about to set off for school, and the entire school day I spent thinking about it.

Mario 3 is perfect, and it is the greatest game ever made.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (PS1/Dreamcast)

I never owned a PS1. But when this game came out, my cousin did, and I was in love. This is another game which is near perfect, expanding and crafting an experience set out by a predecessor into something that is magnificent. Everything about the game works. The physics are spot on. The level design is so good, that the replay factor of the levels is almost infinite. In a game where the 'line' the skater takes is vitally important, every single point and piece of terrain has been designed with inch-perfect precision. The game flows like no game before or since.

The amount of time I've spent on this is scandalous. I remember being round my cousin's house, playing Ventura skatepark and losing entire afternoon's on one level. Also, the soundtrack is the greatest gaming soundtrack of all time. Hip-Hop and Punk, done to a turn.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2/Xbox)

When I was at a school friends house at the tender age of 14 or 15, I first saw Grand Theft Auto 3. I'd played the first one, but it was nothing of note, apart from running over monks, which at about 11 was HILARIOUS. But when 3 came out, I couldn't mentally grasp what was in front of me. Where do I go? What level is this? How do I get game over? All these questions had instantly become irrelevant, leaving me with one: What do you want to do next?

But yet again, it's the process of the sequel taking what the designers have learnt, and going that extra mile. I think it's the process of developing the idea, mechanics and general basics to get the game off the ground that eats up the original game's budget. A sequel allows them to take all this good stuff for granted, and concentrate on making the game good. And the usually have more money to do it.

Vice City was astonishing. I remember getting in a lowrider, and driving into the Haitian district, and thinking this was one of the greatest atmosphere in any game I've encountered. The soundtrack, the neon lighting, and the hazy filters applied. It was a bold move for Rockstar to do something like this, and it paid off dividends. Who remembers that ridiculous 12-cd soundtrack box set? LOVE FIST.

Bioshock (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

I don't really have to say anything here. This game is a triumph. On every single, Art Deco level. I think this is one the first games I played that I felt was truly for adults. It's not about the guns or violence in a game, but the themes. This game doesn't treat you like a child, and well and truly fucks with you.

All the postmodern commentary about gaming decision and falsity of choice are absolutely superb, and are still kicking off whilst the discussion of the ideas of communism, and dictatorship versus state control. AND ANOTHER LAYER, where the debate rages throughout on the corruptibility of man and how much power is too much. This game is so densely layered, and so full of story and narrative, it breathes. It is alive in every sense.

You don't have to talk about the fantastic set design or gunplay, because everyone knows about it. Such a complex, beautifully constructed game, and one I feel really signifies the places videogames can go.

Fallout 3 (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

Very similar to Bioshock, in that this is an adult game that I've played in the 'adult' section of my gaming life. As I've grown up, I'm part of a generation that has always had video games. Some of us are a bit more obsessed than others, but adults are now a major buying force for these 'toys', these pieces of entertainment once designed solely for children. And Fallout 3 knows this. And it knows exactly what it can get away with because of this.

Full of twisted, darker-than-dark humour, this game is a masterpiece in Black Comedy. When you pickpocket a person in the Washington Wastelands, the suggestion is placed that you can put things back in their pockets. Live grenades is the example it gives. You can choose an in-game bonus that makes everything twice as bloody, with limbs falling off at 'an increased rate'. You're asked to blow up entire towns, help a talking tree commit euthanasia, and everything inbetween. A game that should take itself seriously, but revels in it's cheek.

I've never played a game I've felt so involved in the world with. Oblivion came close, but I felt IN Fallout. From feeling weary and anxious in the confusing subways, to the feeling of safety and comfort from reaching a settlement, this game feels like nothing I've ever played before.

For some reason I decided to do a top 5. I imagine if I did 10, I would spend the rest of the night arguing with myself over which would go in. Honourable mentions do go to the following though:

Jet Set Radio (Dreamcast)
Mario Kart: Double Dash (Gamecube)
Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
Gitaroo Man (PS2)
Pro Evolution Soccer (PS2)
Tetris (Gameboy)
Assassin's Creed 2 (Xbox 360)

And loads more, but these are those 'special' games that would definitely be fighting for a top 10 spot.

If you wanna join in the debate, and what you think the greatest games ever are, then come and join the forum, and get talking!

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