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Batthink avatar 5:31 AM on 06.02.2011
Fail List: Before You Die Edition



Fail List: Before You Die Edition

This is it. The big list. About as close to the ‘ultimate list’ as you can get.

When Cassell Illustrated published their 1001 series of books, the first one that caught my eye was 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. I bought it primarily via flicking through and finding Boards of Canada’s Music Has the Right to Children within it, a most righteous entry in my eyes indeed. For those not in the know, these lists are compiled by a group of several knowledgeable people in their chosen field, and presented chronologically. Each of them writes about the reason why their inclusion should be approached, highlighting facts and stuff about it. These books would get occasional updates to remove the chaff and insert what others felt improved on the removed. It is top quality work, well-presented.

The only problem I had with the book usually is the problem with every list; in spite of the large number of albums allowed, there were omissions of certain albums that I believed had a right to exist. I still enjoyed it thoroughly though, despite that fact. And that is the only negative feeling I get when I had perused my fresh copy of 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.

I started testing the list by finding out ones which I didn’t think should belong in the alphabetical list section at the beginning. Wii Fit and Wii Sports are allowed a begrudging nod through the doorway, since the title of this list isn’t ‘Absolute Best Games Ever!’ and introduced a whole new audience to gaming. However…John Woo Presents Stranglehold? And Army of Two: The 40th Day? Well, I guess those will probably get exchanged with something better when new editions are released, since it is at the latter end of the timeline.

Garry’s Mod is in the list. Explanation? Well, let’s just say that if you think LittleBigPlanet belongs in the list (which it does), then the Half Life mod should exist there too.

And…that’s it. It is quite astonishing that only two games look seriously out of place. The reason for this is the choice of experts. These include Kieron Gillen, Jim McCauley and Jim Rossignol who I knew from the great PC Gamer magazine. Believe me, they definitely know their games. You could have a go at certain choices involving sequels (no Grandia, Shining Force or Donkey Kong Country, but they are represented by Grandia 2, Shining Force 3 and Donkey Kong Country 3), and spiritual installments (no Ico, but Shadow of the Colossus is there), but there is not much to really knock about the book.

So, it seemed like a strong list with one movie spin-off and a late entry that will be eaten up by a more awesome game. But what about those omissions? The ones which you love that seemed to slip through the cracks? To find out, I asked the Destructoid IRC what games they would expect in the list. A few of the IRC-dwellers started off by deliberately shouting out bad games. This was handy, since they were testing their faith in the book’s contents, finding out how good this supposed ultimate list really was.

However, a gap in the armour was discovered early on by T0pc0w. He made a simple, common-sense request for a game that (I agreed) should have made it in there; the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis version of Aladdin. To my concern, the game…wasn’t in the list. I tried looking to see if the game appeared as a subtitle to something (still searching in the alphabetical section, see), and with no luck. Then, after registering his disappointment, he asked for another Disney game, Castle of Illusion. No luck. Then Evil_Cheese suggested Magical Quest. Nope.

When I couldn’t find that either, a shiver went down my spine…and after searching through the whole amount of entries, I reached a conclusion. Apart from Kingdom Hearts, there are no Disney-themed games in this list. Just let that sink in a bit. Maybe it is because most of those great, memorable games are platformers, and other, well-styled ones came before and influenced them. Or maybe that group of chosen gaming journos and experts have something against the big D. I mean, the only person I wouldn’t recommend the book to for fear of upset, other than hardcore Disney fans, is Chad Concelmo. Fortunately, he has already done us a great service and shown his own Best Disney Game List so we don’t need to worry about that…

…although he didn’t include Quackshot and The Jungle Book in that list. Hmph.

Continuing the subject of the rejects, the Star Ocean (Gemsi’s choice) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Coonskin’s choice) series of games do not feature in the book. Yars Revenge, a game that rated really highly on the Atari 2600, isn’t there, and neither are my personal favourites, like Turrican and Shogo: Mobile Armour Division. That said, the latter game still managed to get a nod; Fear 2’s listing has a large picture with a figure wearing an T-Shirt emblazoned with an unmade sequel.

But can you really fight against the existence of the list when you have entries such as Xenogears, Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger, Square games that usually get passed over in top lists because they either didn’t get an official release in some territories or just because they weren’t mainstream enough for people who didn’t know their stuff? Could you really denounce a book that selects Canabalt, Uplink or VVVVVV, when other lists wouldn’t acknowledge their minimal simplicity? Can you really be so dismissive of this tome just because it doesn’t have your favourite game, when it gives credit to Giants: Citizen Kabuto, God Hand, Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Mother 3, Odin Sphere, Sin and Punishment, Radiant Silvergun, Ikaruga, Psychonauts, Earth Defense Force 2017 and Retro Game Challenge, games that have had their praises sung to high heaven by other gamers and critics, ones who feel that their words have been ignored?

Other than the couple of odd selections and one or two pictures that don’t seem to match the games listed, this is an essential purchase if you can stomach those missing Disney games. I’m guessing that even those that can’t have to admit that choosing not to buy the book because only Kingdom Hearts represents their corner is a little bit sad. If you are one of them, why not make a list like Chad has done? The community blogs are here for you to do just that.

And it has a two-page preface by Peter Molyneux. You could decide not to get a copy because of that. Erm…

No. Just buy it. There really isn’t going to be another book out that is of this quality for a long time, other than an update of some sort. Seriously, I can’t recommend this 960-page book more. It belongs on your shelf.

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