Good Old Games

The 'bucket list' of video games.

I’ve been feeling nostalgic of late. Perhaps it was discovering my Megadrive (the first console I ever owned) in a cupboard and running through Green Hill Zone once again. Whatever brought it on it’s no doubt been exacerbated by my Christmas present: 1001 Games to Play Before You Die. I admit, there seems to have been a tome of this type forced out in the last few years for every hobby known to man, from classic albums to knitting designs. This particular template seemed to fit video games better than most though, probably because so few comprehensive lists exist unlike in the worlds of film and music. Also with Edge editor-in-chief Tony Mott’s name attached to the enterprise it was clear it was going to be an interesting selection.

Sensibly listed in chronological order, rather than in some half-baked and largely impossible attempt to create a qualitative hierarchy, each game is given a page, featuring a large screen shot and an insightful, if a little short, write up about why it was selected by one of the numerous contributors. Although such small vignettes are never going to quite beat an in depth analysis, it’s brilliant to flick through this book and see such a varied snapshot overview of the art form we all love in development from The Oregon Trail back in 1971 (soon to be reissued on Facebook) right up to Heavy Rain in 2010.

One thing that’s clear from flipping through the book is how important the year 1997 was. Indeed if there can be said to be a golden age of video games, then this is it. The sheer number of landmark franchises that got off the ground in that year was staggering: Age of Empires, Fallout, Diablo, Gran Turismo, Grand Theft Auto, and Final Fantasy VII (not the first in the series I admit, but definitely the first to make such an impact in the West). Add to that such groundbreaking titles as Final Fantasy Tactics, Goldeneye 007, Dungeon Keeper, Blade Runner, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and you already have an impressive list. But if you flick back a year to 1996 you can add to it the birth of the Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, Harvest Moon, Quake series, as well as titles such as Broken Sword, Mario Kart 64 and Wipeout 2097. A year later in 1998 Solid Snake and Abe join the party along with the likes of Grim Fandango and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I have never seen such a list of genre defining classics in one place, all separated by a mere three years! If I had a DeLorean I would be setting my flux capacitor for 1st January 1996 right now so I could live through it all over again. Were we even aware of the golden harvest we were gorging ourselves on at the time? Of course not. That, after all, is the nature of time.

The shallow, sexist, talentless New Orleans bookshop owner prepares to make a play for his assistant. At last a hero for the everyman!

Finally, having gotten you all excited and nostalgic (I hope), I’d like to draw your attention to the site that gives this blog its title. Good Old Games or, as it abbreviates, hosts a fine selection of some of the greatest games to emerge throughout the 80s and 90s, and they are all available legally for an incredibly low price and, unlike Steam, are completely DRM free! The site has a special emphasis on strategy titles (Total Annihilation, Jagged Alliance), RPGs (Baldurs Gate, Fallout)  and my favourite genre, the Point and Click Adventure (Simon the Sorcerer, Syberia, Broken Sword), on which I will be writing a feature very soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that. I’ve been playing through the pioneering Gabriel Knight series, which to my knowledge is completely unavailable elsewhere. So do yourself a favour, whatever that game is from the past that you can’t get out of your head, check out the site and see if they have it. You might just fall in love again.






4 responses to “Good Old Games”

  1. Mark P avatar

    That is my kind of website! I can see myself throwing my next payday away already.

  2. TheEnigmaticT avatar

    Hey, thanks for the shoutout! Hope you enjoy reliving your gaming past, and be sure to hang out on our forums where you’ll find tons of like-minded folks.

  3. Philly avatar

    While the book does contain a selection of legendary games that are well worth playing by gamers old and new I can’t help feel that to live up the number on the front cover it throws in a lot of filler.

    Example, Army Of Two : The 40th Day. Really? It doesn’t end there either as the book heavily features games from the past few years, a shame really as it’s supposed to be the best of the best “games you NEEEEEED to play before you DIE” not “games that you might find mildly entertaining with some corkers thrown in for some value as not to make you feel like you completely wasted your time reading this”.

    Personally I think this book could have been limited to 101 and with such a number a better value could have been achieved. Or whatever.

  4. Dean avatar

    Yeah, the books not a masterpiece, but then my blog wasn’t really a review either. You’re right though, the last chapter was a bit weak. I really only think a game can become considered a classic if it earns that position, so you wouldn’t fairly be able to tell until after a good five years or more, when its influence or status can be better evaluated.

    EnigmaticT, thanks for that. Glad to give Good Old Games some publicity. Its a superb resource, i’ll have to check out the forums.

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