Destructoid operates within an industry that prescribes scores, usually a one-through-ten kind of affair, to the games we play. But as folks who live and breathe the stuff, it’s safe to say that our response to games goes a lot farther than a simple numerical value. Some games we’d bronze and pass to our grandchildren, and some others we’d melt into kibble to hurl at our most hated enemies.
There are good games, bad games, absolutely horrific games, and legendary games. Games you’d buy, games you sell, games you’d give away, games you’d throw away, and games you would graft to your back if the opportunity presented itself; these are special. They’re not always sitting on top of the heap on GameRankings or taking high rank in half-assed lists of the “best games of all time”. It’s an intensely personal affection, one that tends to vary widely. These are the games we’ll be playing ’til we’re too old to crap on our own.
So what games are sitting on your shelf that you’ll never, ever sell? What games do you immediately replace in the unlikely event that your copy gives out? Hit the jump for some examples from your friends and mine at Destructoid, and don’t forget to throw us some comments and tell us your own.
[Thanks to the whole crew for jumping in on this article.]
For some of us — or maybe just me, who is projecting upon you — a great game is like a great book. You want it on your shelf so you can return to it at a moment’s notice. This isn’t always easy — you don’t need a particular brand of, I dunno, glasses or somesuch to read a book the way you need a console to play a game — but for certain games, it’s worth it.
Every time I move, I have to haul along a metric ton of gaming crap along with me. It’s compulsory, something that simply can’t be avoided. Sure, there’s a lot of games I could probably sell off, and still more that I would simply trade in rather than ever play again. But a select few hold permanent residence in my collection; games that I play more often than I ought to. When I finally got my hands on a copy of Final Fantasy VI Advance, it occured to me that even after four or five years away from the game, I still remembered the contents of every chest and the weakness of every boss. I played through the game so many times I had lost count, but it hadn’t lost a single inch of fun.
It’s not all sunshine and happy memories, though — it gets damned obnoxious. I’m going to have to slog around my Dreamcast ’til the day I can’t slog no more so I can get my Bangai-O fix at any given moment, but Bangai-O is one of those games that demands to be played again and again, while never losing its appeal as the years go by. Still worth it.
As you might suspect, Mario got a lot of love from our editors, particularly the original Super Mario Bros. and the immortal Super Mario World. For many of us, Mario was the gatekeeper that hurled us headlong into our collective pastime.
“Super Mario Bros. was the first game I ever played in my life,” says Mike Ferry. “This was my gateway drug.”
But is it the sepia-toned nostalgia effect that brings us back for more? Nerdcore aficionado CTZ thinks different. “I’ve done everything possible, even maxing out the points to over 9 million, and I can always just pick it up and play the hell out of it. I don’t know what it is, but everything about the game is flawless. The level designs, the music, everything is perfect.”
Fronz, the daring alchemist that he is, puts two and two together: “It’s like DNA — never has a game so perfectly been constructed to stand the test of time. My favorite NES game is by far Bubble Bobble, but Super Mario Bros. is the only game that consistently has me hooking up an entire console just to play it. If I ever have kids, watching them play this game will, without a doubt, be one of my favorite memories of all time.”
Another title capturing a number of hearts among the Dtoid crew was Chrono Trigger, marked for brilliance by three of us. For me, Trigger was the first sign that gaming could truly go beyond other conventional forms of storytelling to provide an experience that was, at once, wholly unique but strangely familiar. That’s corny, I know — but hey, I was 12, and easily overwhelmed. Shit, I’m still easily overwhelmed.
Queen of the Hive Colette Bennett chimes in: “Classic RPG perfection. I can never hear this story too many times. I’m still amazed by the whole time travel concept and the way the game puts it into action. I only get around to replaying once every year or two, but I always come back to it.”
You can’t talk up RPGs without getting at least a few thousand nominations for Final Fantasy, in any of its twelve (going on thirteen) incarnations and myriad spinoffs. Square-Enix’s flagship series got quite a few nods, many of which were for FFVII, and before you roll your eyes, Hushgush has some words for you.
“Don’t give me that look, you know it was awesome, no matter how cliche it is,” he writes. “I just played through the whole thing again about a year ago, and filled a whole memory card with saves from all the good parts of the story so I can relive it whenever the mood strikes me.”
Orcist attributes his entire history of geekery to Final Fantasy IX. “It was my first Final Fantasy, and it drew me immediately into the entire FF universe. The way the characters interact, the story, and the gameplay are top notch. It’s also the first game that I had a real attachment to. I’d say it’s what made me a gamer.”
Of course, there are moments in which mere affection mutates into something much more sinister: obsession. “IX was the best-looking FF game I had ever seen,” writes Faith, “and the game was so addictive I never left my bedroom except to work, eat and go to the bathroom.” Been there, Faith — that’s why God made adult diapers. Lemme tell you, crapping oneself to play a great game uninterrupted is one of life’s truly liberating experiences. Some games are to be prioritized over poop emergencies.
I said earlier that many of these games aren’t necessarily remarked upon in the loads of “BEST GAME EVARR” lists that we see floating around the internet every so often — SMB, Trigger, and Final Fantasy are some exceptions. But occasionally we sink our teeth into games that, no matter how flawed, quirky, or unusual, strike us as absolutely essential to our libraries and our histories as gamers.
For me, River City Ransom is definitely that title. It’s far from perfect, but I’ve never since had such an amazing time with a cooperative title as I did with RCR. It’s a brief game — you can knock it out in an hour or two, tops — but with the right company, bringing some righteous ass-beating justice down upon the hoodlums and ne’er-do-wells of River City can be the most fun you’ll ever have with a video game.
Grim resurrects a lesser-known arcade-style beat-’em-up on a regular basis. “There are two reasons why I’m able to replay Captain Commando over and over again. The first being that it can be beaten in one short sitting. The second reason is that Captain Commando has some of the cheesiest characters you’ll ever see. Most gamers probably don’t look for either of those traits in their games, but for someone with a short attention span like myself, it’s perfect.” Cheesy characters? Dude, God Hand. Seriously.
“U.N. Squadron pales in comparison to grand shooters like Radiant Silvergun,” writes Glorious Leadertoid, “but this is a 30 minute SNES pixel-perfect workout I can pick up at any time and thoroughly enjoy from start to finish without wrinkling my forehead. At one point I was finishing the game in hard mode with one life buying only the last airplane, but I’m not that hardcore anymore.”
Robert Summa ought to move to Korea: “StarCraft. How can a game this old still be the best RTS to play? I don’t know, but it just is.”
“We Love Katamari is the best in the series,” says Hushgush. “Katamari has some magical property about it where even if it gets old, it never stays old. You can leave it alone for a month or two and when you come back to it, it’s just as much fun as the first time you played it. The real reason, however, is the awesome music. Don’t get me staaahted.” The Fronz agrees: “Never has a game had so much style and charisma, and yet been the ideal casual gamer title to pick up for some relaxing rolling.”
And finally, Nick Brutal has some harsh words for all y’all who doubt the power of the falling block: “Like cockroaches, Tetris on the Game Boy will survive a nuclear holocaust. It’s over 20 years later and almost anyone can pick up a game of Tetris and lose themselves in it. It’s not about the visuals that will lose flair over time. It’s not about a story that will lose it’s shine after you’ve heard it dozens of times. It’s not about a first person shooter formula that will look archaic in ten years. It’s just fucking Tetris.”
When the lot of us are old and useless, these are the games we’ll still be playing. The industry moves fast, but every so often we get our hands on something that simply persists the way that most games can’t. There you have it, gang — just a handful of Destructoid’s picks for gaming immortality. Hit the comments and tell us yours.