Welcome to the Greatest Games of All Time
First lets get some classic preamble in here. You know, up the word count a bit. Stick with me, this might get interesting. Video Games have been around since around 1947-52, depending on your terminology.
What game types exist? Well they break down into a few distinct categories:
Action (Used to be Arcade)
– Maze eg. Pacman
– Casual/Party eg. Warioware
Adventure eg. Myst
– SCUMM/Point and Click/Dialogue games eg. Sam and Max
– Visual Novel/Comic
Action Adventure (Used to be Arcade-Adventure) eg. Zelda
– Action-RPG eg. Diablo
– Survival eg. Resident Evil
– Stealth eg. Metal Gear Solid
Beat em Up
– 2D eg. Final Fight
– 3D eg. Tekken
– Scrolling eg. Double Dragon
– Action eg. Outrun
– Simulation eg. Hard Drivin’
FPS (First Person Shooter) eg. Doom
– Massively multiplayer online first person shooter games (MMOFPS) eg. Counter Strike
– Third person shooter eg. God of War
Platform eg. Mario Bros.
Puzzle eg. Tetris
RPG (Role Playing Game) eg. Oblivion
– Massively multiplayer online RPG (MMORPG) eg. World of Warcraft
– Tactical RPG eg. Final Fantasy Tactics
Shoot em Up eg. Space Invaders
– Gun based eg. Operation Wolf
Simulation eg. The Sims
– God Games eg. Populous
– City/Government/World/Economic eg. Sim City
Strategy eg. The Sentinel
– RTS Real time strategy eg. Command and Conquer
– TB Turn based eg. X-Com
Each main genre has sub genres (such as 3D-Platformer). You may have just noticed a notable exception to my own arbitrary rules, gold star if you did. FPS is not rolled into Shoot em Up as the sub genre became so large and well defined that it became its own category. Arcade adventure, the old term, is getting taken over by the newer terminology Action-Adventure so I note that above for the terminally confused.
Platinum star goes to anyone who noticed that I missed out the old term ‘Arcade’ from the above list. The category Arcade used to denote games that had originally been arcade games, they were action oriented and designed to have short playtime and be easy to ‘pick up and play’. This term no longer really counts for much, the death of the popular arcade and the growth of ‘arcade quality’ home consoles killed it off.
I’m working on building the new pages, for now you just get the old content:
Smash TV (1990)
Marble Madness (1984)
TLL (Tornado Low Level) (Vortex, Spectrum, 1984)
The Revenge of Shinobi (1989)
The Simpsons (Arcade, Konami, 1991)
With a nod to X-Men/TMNT, Konami’s 4 player fighting games were a genre all to themselves. Not much in the way of skill required but good fun.
Day of the Tentacle (1993)
Grim Fandango (LucasArts, PC, 1998)
LucasArts SCUMM games are point and click joy. But were they the pinnacle? No, that was the 3D Grim Fandango. I know this shouldn’t be in my list as GF is named below as well, but everyone knows this is the greatest point and click ever made and yet so few have actually played it. Buy it now.
Star Control II (1992)
Head over Heels (Ocean, Spectrum 48/128K, 1987)
Ultimate’s (now Rare) Knight Lore proved it could be done in 48K, Head over Heels by Ocean
refined the genre to near perfection. In the days before polygons sprite isometric 3D adventures were top of the graphic food chain. The Spectrum led worldwide home gaming back in 1984 – 1987 and this isometric arcade adventure puzzle game is one of the best. Head and Heels have been captured, separated and imprisoned in the castle headquarters of Blacktooth. Your job is to get them both out of the castle and into the market place so they can join up again and escape. Sounds easy? Believe me it isn’t. Head over Heels has a freeware remake available for the PC and Mac OS X.
Quazatron (Hewson, Spectrum 48K, 1985)
An underrated classic that improved on the C64 incarnation Paradroid in every way, this isometric tactical shooter stole a huge chunk of my childhood. As a kleptomaniac faulty droid you are sent on what your superiors consider a suicide mission. To survive you need to blow up or grapple and take parts from other robots until you clear each world. I still sometimes load Quazatron now, it is that good. There is no working remake of Quazatron, although a couple of teams are trying to make 3D versions there progress looks like it is between slow to none.
Ranarama (Hewson, Spectrum 48/128K, C64, Atari ST, 1987)
If Quazatron is underrated this one is off the radar; few rate this game as it’s just not known and yet is is a classic. Hewson took the game elements of Quazatron, made it a top down gauntlet game, and then polished everything. Mervyn was messing about with some spells and has turned himself into a frog, and now he has to conquer the dungeons to find the mage that can turn him back. He can cast spells, but to do this (and to survive) he has to tackle the warlocks and necromancers wandering the dungeons and grab runes off them. As well as a fast past shoot-em up and adventure the game has a great puzzle sequence revolving around the spelling of Ranarama. Try it, this is a classic. Not surprisingly no-one has released a remake of Ranarama.
Gauntlet (Atari, Arcade, 1985)
“Save keys to open doors” the game informs you in an American accent. Up to four people can play at once, exploring dungeons and fighting monsters from a top-view perspective. Each player’s character has different strengths and weaknesses: Warrior, Wizard, Elf, and Valkyrie. The players collect food, potions, and treasure in return for points, health, magic and power-ups.
Elite (Firebird, BBC Micro, 1984)
David Braben and Ian Bells masterpiece, the game that took them to court and spawned the most bugged PC sequel ever. The best version is the Acorn Archimedes, though playing that is a bit difficult as the Archimedes emulators are not great. The second best version, and the version Ian Bell recommends, is the NES one. It is available for free from Ian’s website.