I have decided to do a list of my favorite all-time top ten video games. This list is not meant to be definitive. (IE my favorite games may not be the same as yours, but I would be glad to hear about yours if you feel like sharing) The list spans time, and platform.
Games have come a long way, and while I haven’t been the most consistent or addicted gamer, I have gone through my phases. You will also notice that one game in particular is missing from this list. That game is James Bond Goldeneye from the N64. Everyone and their mother played that game like lunatics for weeks/months, maybe even years on end. I am not that guy. It is a great game that I enjoyed a lot, but for whatever reason my group of friends and I did not play that game as religiously as the rest of the world. Therefore, it does not make my top ten. I am sure it makes most other top ten lists
Also, I will be giving honorable mentions, which might be similar games that could have made the list or games on the same platform that competed for my attention in the same time period.
Without further ado.
10. Centipede – Apple IIe Home Computer
- Centipede was one of the first games that I ever played in my lifetime. We had it on a real 5 and 1/4 floppy disk for the Apple IIe. I remember playing this game, the first home game of my lifetime, until my fingers hurt from pressing the buttons. The only thing that sucked was having to take turns with my brother and sister. Also, it led to an inadvertent childhood punishment. I remember playing it one afternoon and I wasn’t able to finish off a level and I said something about how they “didn’t hit my ship!” because I thought I had been unfairly killed by the game. My mom comes running in from the kitchen and sends me to my room for swearing. To this day, I swear to you that I said the word “ship” and my mom was wrong. Plus, it would be like the back judge in the NFL calling holding at the line of scrimmage. If you are too far away to see the play then you are too far away to throw the flag. Anyway, Centipede was a great game.
Honorable mention – Galaxian, Dig Dug
9. Super Mario Kart – Super Nintendo
- One year, we got the Super Nintendo for Christmas and that was when my brother and I realized that this whole gaming thing could have some legs. Seeing the upgraded graphics of F-Zero and other games on the Super Nintendo just fascinated us. But, it wasn’t until we got Super Mario Kart that we were totally addicted. Super Mario Kart had ever element that a game needed. It was part racing. It was part death match. It was part Saturday morning cartoons. There were secret paths that you needed to execute to get a leg up on the competition. You could also set time records against the computer. Just one of the most perfect games of all time, especially for me, being competitive and having a brother to play against.
Honorable mention – R.C. Pro Am, Super Mario 3, Dr. Mario
(note on Dr. Mario: This was a special game for my family and me. It was the first and only time that video games turned into a family event. I used to play this puzzle game with my dad, and mom as well as my brother and sister. A surprisingly fun game.)
8. Doom II – PC
- Doom was the start of a whole new generation of games based on running around, shooting things and having them explode in gory 3d glory. I played Doom 1, but II didn’t catch on to the whole 3d blaster until ID Software released the second game in the series. Doom 2 had the coolest levels, the coolest weapons (BFG), and the coolest graphics that the world had ever seen. On top of that, it really introduced gamers to the Deathmatch, which has been an integral part of gaming ever since. At the time when this came out, the world still wasn’t totally connected to the internet. My friends and I were into the Bulletin Board technology which allowed you to dial into local networks using a modem. We used this kind of technology to blast each other in Doom 2 for countless hours and countless frags (kills.)
Honorable mention – Wolfenstein, Duke Nukem 3d
7. Warcraft II – PC
- Warcraft II was the first of the war combat planning and strategy genre for me. The original Warcraft was a great start, but Blizzard Software really pulled it together for the sequel. Much better graphics, better control, and awesome multi-player, really made this game as addictive as it was. You start off building peons, to get your buildings together, in order to build the most diverse and powerful army possible. You could be either Orcs or Humans and build alliances, or go it alone. The bottom line is that this game usurped a whole bunch of hours from my life as I sat in front of a computer screen playing General God to all my pixilated minions.
Honorable mention – Command and Conquer, Starcraft, Age of Empires
6. Unreal Tournament – PC
- This built upon the successes of its predecessors like Doom II, Quake and Duke Nukem. It took it to a whole new level if you ask me. This game kept the arcade appeal of the Id Software titles and mixed in sniping and some of the features from the more technical and simulated shooting games. On top of the fact that they had very good internet multiplayer support, including capture the flag, and other variations on the deathmatch, it was a perfect game. The support around the world from independent developers and casual fans with programming skills also made this game better. There were mods (modifications) and an almost limitless supply of downloadable levels that always kept the action fresh.
Honorable mention – Unreal Tourney 2, Half Life
5. Ms. Pacman – Arcade
- I don’t know exactly why, but Ms. Pacman is far superior to the original Pacman game in my opinion. Maybe it has to do with the fact that my orthodontist had a table top version of this game in his office that I would play while I was waiting. No matter. This game is addictive and fun. I have had a lot of fun throughout my life coming across the occasional Ms. Pacman game and more often than not, setting the highscore before leaving the bar/arcade/mall or whatever.
Honorable mention – Q*Bert
4. Contra – Nintendo
- Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start – This cheat code has been on the lips of video gamers the world over since this game came out. You don’t know? This is the code that gives you and your teammate a bunch of extra lives before you start a game of Contra. You compete against the game. You also try and compete against whoever you are playing with for the rapid fire and spread guns that are on each level. I can’t tell you how many times my brother and I played through this one until the end. Just too much fun.
Honorable mention – Mike Tyson’s Punchout, Tecmo Bowl, Gauntlet
3. John Madden ’94 – Genesis
- It was hard to figure out which John Madden football game to put on the list, but this is the one that sticks out in my mind because it was the unofficial year of the running backs in this version of Madden. Emmitt Smith could cross the width of the field seven times in the backfield before turning up for a big gain. This was probably the best year for the games when they were in the Genesis/Super Nintendo phases. Sure the “maddenisms” got really old and you wanted to curse your brains out when Madden would say “Quarterback can’t hold onto the ball that long” as your QB was being blitzed and ultimately driven into the ground, but overall this made for some exciting, high scoring video game shootouts.
Honorable mention – Other Madden Years, NFL Blitz, NBA Jam, Bill Walsh College Football, Double Dribble, Blades of Steel
2. Quake – PC
- Before Unreal Tournament, Quake really set the world on fire with internet multiplayer. I honestly can’t remember how many people used to play simultaneously in this game, but it was one of the best online deathmatches ever. It was the best real 3d game of its time allowing people to move totally freely from bridges, to floors, to underwater areas where you could be electrocuted by the lightning gun. This game defined the first 6 months of my freshman year of college when we were awkward, lonely and before the girls our age had been properly abused by upper classmen to the point where they would give us the time of day again. (Did I get off on a tangent?) This game is also how I learned about firewalls that existed between Boston University dorm buildings. But, before we developed a social life in college, we had Quake to steal away nights on a campus without cable TV.
Honorable mention – Quake 2, Descent, Call of Duty
1. Diablo 2 – PC
- My number one game of all time has to be Diablo 2. This game was addictive, had great multiplayer, had a great storyline which used cinematic sequences to keep the gamer interested, and had maps and levels that were never the same twice. It epitomizes what gaming is today. It also made good use of the Expansion Pack, which is a lower-priced expansion to an original game that comes out later. The expansion pack become standard video game stuff since Diablo 2. I think this game has given more than just the horribly un-lubricated red-eye effect that it gave me. It gave rise to these Massively Multiplayer Online worlds like Everquest, City of Heroes and Worlds of Warcraft. After my Diablo 2 addiction, I am not willing to even try playing games like those.
Honorable mention – Diablo, Crusader: No remorse, Warcraft III
So there you have it. My top ten video games of all time. I am sure I missed a lot of your favorites. Be sure to leave me your top ten list, or at least a couple of your favorites.
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