Friday, May 20, 2011

Chris Dixon's Favorite Video Games of ALL TIME

So here it is Tuesday, and I still haven't finished the countdown. I thought I'd do an "honorable mentions" before I post the number one game. So without further adieu:

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood - Xbox 360
Burnout 3 - PS2
WCW/NWO Revenge - N64
Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past - SNES
Shadowgate - NES
Mortal Kombat  -Multiple from SNES to Xbox 360
Spiderman Web of Shadows - Xbox 360
Starcraft - PC
Final Fantasy 7 - PS1

I could simply do another countdown with all of these!

Number 1 to come!


I actually thought I'd get all of this in one day. I was sadly mistaken.

The one thing I like to think about when I get into a discussion about favorite video games is lasting appeal. What games have stuck with me over time. While to many this may seem a juvenile discussion to many, given that the discussion IS about games, I don't see it that way at all, and actually think that anyone who feels a game is juvenile these days is certainly someone who isn't very open minded. In many ways, video games are the books of years gone by. There are game stores, just like book stores. There is now mainstream appeal for games, moreso now than ever before, and even in some cases, moreso than books.

Now before you think I'm randomly gonig off and forgetting my original point about lasting appeal, I'll bring this to a point with my number 2 selection on the countdown. This series of games that has spanned multiple systems has to go in as one game because it is simply about one game. Hockey.

At number 2 on the countdown, we have:

EA Sports NHL Hockey, from 1992 - present.

No spoilers here, just check out Wikipedia's coverage of this enduring game series.

Now this series has had it's ups and downs, but it has always drawn me back. As many of my regular readers know, I am an Islanders fan, through and through. This game has given me the joy that my sad sack team has never been able to, a championship team. In the digital world, the Islanders have  won every Stanley Cup (or championship in 1993) since 1992. Through the lean years when the team's stripped barron roster statistically couldn't possibly keep up, someone a magical hand of fate carrying a video game controller has lifted them from the perils of mediocrity to the heights of immortality.

Every year I've played this series of games. Every year since 1992. This is why this game is number two, as it has "lasting appeal". It doesn't make number one, but that is simply because number 1 is a game that I will remember forever. This one I'll just play forever. :P


When I was living with my brother downtown St. John's a few years back,he owned the fabled little purple brick of a system, The Nintendo Gamecube.Given it's power, it was surprising that outside of Nintendo brand product, there were so few triple-A system exclusive titles available for it. One of the few, which comes in at number 3 on the countdown, was my second "I got lost in it" titles.

At number 3, we have:

Resident Evil 4 - 2005 - Nintendo Gamecube

In the end, the game was released for most every other system, plus some next gen systems (there is a planned release for the title later this year on XBOX Live Arcade and PSN) but the original masterpiece came on Gamecube. It was easily the BEST title of it's generation, especially technically and visually. The game is still comparable to many titles today, even putting some to shame! It was the tale of Leon S. Kennedy, the once rookie cop trapped in the Raccoon City incident (Resident Evil's 2 and 3) and is now a special liason/ agent for the President of the United States. His job: to save the president's daughter from a terrorist group in a rural part of Europe.

Quoted from Wikipedia: (again with minor spoilers)

In 2004, the Umbrella Corporation's secret activities within Raccoon City have become a public affair. Following an investigation conducted by the U.S. government, several Umbrella officials are implicated and prosecuted. The government indefinitely suspends Umbrella's business, bankrupting the company.
Leon S. Kennedy was recruited by the U.S. Secret Service after they learned of his actions in Raccoon City. Leon is sent on a mission to rescue Ashley Graham, the President's daughter, who has been kidnapped by a mysterious cult. Leon travels to a rural village in Europe, where he encounters a horde of violent villagers who pledge their lives to Los Illuminados ("The Enlightened Ones" in Spanish), the cult that has kidnapped Ashley.
While in the village, Leon is captured by its chief, Bitores Mendez, and injected with a mind-controlling parasite known as Las Plagas. He finds himself held captive and tied up back to back with Luis Sera, a former Los Illuminados researcher. The two work together to escape, but then quickly go separate ways. Leon discovers that Ashley is being held in a chapel, and rescues her; despite the attempts of Osmund Saddler, the leader of Los Illuminados, to stop the two, they escape.

This,  along with Snatcher, are the only two games I've ever had 10+ consecutive gaming hours sank into. This game had it all, thrills, suspense, and action. There are literally dozens of edge of your seat moments. This is a game for the adult gamer only, with many graphically violent sequences, all handled directly on camera. (the chainsaw through the torso death sequence is quite memorable) This game is easily one of the greatest games ever made, not only for it's technical achievements, but for how it took a lagging franchise in Resident Evil, and re-invigorating it to a point of where it was on everyone's lips again.


Over my years of playing games, there have been so very few that I have lost myself in. One of the true gradings of games is the level of immersion that one feels when they play the game itself. There have only been two, actually. Both, not so ironically, will show up in today's countdown. When I say "lost", I really mean lost, with each of these two games literally taking me for 10+ hour gaming sessions, the only two games to ever do that. Generally when I play, if it's an "extended" session, I can sit for between 2 and 3 hours, then I put it down. A typical gaming session for me is around 45 minutes to an hour, and if I know I'll be back to the game, I'll leave it paused for upwards of 30 to 45 minutes before rejoining it. These games, I sat and played till my eyes were red and dry, and even after that I didn't want to put it down.

At number 4, we get:

Snatcher - 1994 - Sega CD

If any of you readers have ever played the Phoenix Wright series currently out on Nintendo DS, then you know what this game is like, as they are direct copies of the gaming style that this game provides. You get a screen, often times static, with a series of things listed on the bottom that you can do, such as "look at door", "flirt with girl", etc. It doesn't sound that fun, but the story and the visuals are done so well, the game is easily one of the most engaging gaming experiences I've ever had. The short action sequences would be considered mini games by today's standards, with the shooting sections being compatible with the blue light gun available for the Sega Genesis at the time.

Quoted from wikipedia:

The game is set in a primarily first person perspective and uses a menu-based interface that allows the protagonist (Gillian Seed) to interact with his environment. The player can choose to "Look", "Investigate", "Talk", "Ask" and "Move" (in addition to other options) to acquire key items or receive vital information from other characters. The player can analyze items in Gillian's belongings or show it to other characters. The player uses Metal Gear (Gillian's robotic assistant) to communicate with other characters via a videophone or save their current progress. During key points of the game's story, the player must pass shooting sequences to defend Gillian from assailants. These shooting segments uses a 3x3 grid which the player can target to fire at enemies. A shooting trainer, called "Junker's Eyes", is accessible at Junker HQ that allows the player to measure their accuracy.

 The cyberpunk world that you traverse in is well imagined and realized. Even as simple static images with subtle movements, just enough to catch the eye, they bring you into a futuristic environment filled with eccentric people, killer robots, and flying cars.

The game itself was likely the first game I played that took me more than 8 or so hours to complete. When I first played the game, I was actually playing and a broken disk, with a solid crack on the edge, making parts of the game unplayable. I managed to repair the disk well enough to play through. I used, strangely enough, toothpaste, crazy glue, and a spork. This game was worth the effort, and at about hour 20, I was rewarded with the excellent ending sequence.

If you get the chance to get your hands on this classic, do so. It's worth every moment and made the failed "Sega CD" add on very worthwhile.


Given I've been away from the blog for a few days, I thought I'd come back with a daylong, epic post covering one of my favorite subjects: video games. Throughout the day I shall post my top 5 favorite games of all time. They cover a number of different systems, genres, and time periods.

Starting with number 5, we get:

The World Ends With You - 2008 - Square Enix for Nintendo DS

This action role-player was one of the only games I've ever bought because I liked the cover artwork. I felt like a stylish, Japanese, steampunk skater thing that really worked for me. Luckily for me, it turns out to be one of my favorite games of all time, with not only incredibly strong visual appeal, but an excellent battle system, sneaking in an almost turn based battle system, but not quite. It has excellent touch screen based controls, with various strokes and taps comprising the control for the various spells, or "Psychs" that you use.

Excerpt from Wikipedia: (sadly, major spoilers included)

The game's story follows Neku over the course of the three weeks that he plays the Game, paired with partners Shiki, Joshua, and Beat for each week, respectively. Neku is confused at first, lacking knowledge of how he died or how he arrived at the UG. As he develops friendships with his partners and starts to understand the rules of the Game. After the first week, only Shiki is allowed to return to the living, and she promises to meet Neku at the statue of Hachiko. He also recovers his entry fee, which was his memories, except for the events leading up to his death. However, Shiki has become what Neku values most, and she is used as his new entry fee for the second week. During the second week he recalls small details of his death; eventually, he recognizes that he was shot at by Sho Minamimoto, one of the Reapers he faced during the Game. At the end of the second week, Joshua seemingly sacrifices himself to save Neku from a explosion created by Minamimoto.

Since Joshua was actually alive, the Game is nullified and Neku is forced to replay the game a third time. His entry fee this time is all of the other players, meaning Neku cannot form any pacts and stands no chance against the Noise. However, Beat immediately defects from the Reapers and rejoins Neku. Neku and Beat find that the Reapers and the entire population of Shibuya are wearing special red pins that cause them to think the same harmonious thoughts. Without any missions to complete, the two venture to the fabled "Shibuya River", which Joshua was looking for during the second week. At the river, they find Megumi Kitaniji (北虹 寵 Kitaniji Megumi?, キタニジ Kitaniji), the Game's Conductor. Kitaniji explains that he created the red pins in an attempt to remake Shibuya, which the Composer challenged him to do; if he fails, both he (for losing) and Shibuya will be erased.

 If you have an Nintendo DS or any of it's kin (DSi, DS Lite, DS xl, 3DS), then you owe it to yourself to at least play this game. It proves you can have both INCREDIBLE style and AMAZING substance. It shows you an have a role player with a near turn based system without constantly having to menu flip, a la Final Fantasy. The action is fast and furious. The leveling and minimal menu hopping is engaging and interesting.

At Number four, coming up we have a cyberpunk adventure from way back in 1994 that came out on a doomed system. See you back here later!



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