19
Nov
2012
Modest Proposals
Time’s All-Time Top 100 Videogames Review Time (time time time)
Jhaan
Modest Proposals is a recurring chance for a rotating stable of Review to Be Named writers to sound off on pop culture at large, presenting ideas, theories, or observations about areas of pop culture that might not fit comfortably into our other running features. These ideas might not always be right. You might not always agree with them. Even the writer might consider them patently absurd. But this is Modest Proposals, and these are things worth thinking about.

A few days ago, Time magazine released their Top 100 Videogames of All-Time, to which I released a loud, "HAAAA". I don't know what it is about them, but I've always envisioned Time magazine being run by 80-90 year old men. Think Santa's workshop, but replace the elves with the elderly, work hammers with typewriters, and Santa with Mel Brooks.

Not only that, but Time is a pretty mainstream press source trying to tackle a niche subject. So consider me surprised when I ran through their Top 100 listing and came out quite satisfied.

To start, Time opted out of rankings, and simply pointed out 100 videogames they found to be most impressive and impactful to the industry. Gone were debates typical of most videogame lists that in the end are very arbitrary (what's the better game, Donkey Kong Country 2 or God of War? Read: do you like monkeys or gods?). They then went on to divide games by decade, being sure to include any game with contributions to the industry. Lastly, they dug deep for even the most obscure of titles, being sure to overlook popularity and instead opting for quality.

That being said, I have opinions that I of course am going to share. Here are my pleasant surprise inclusions, mindboggling snubs, and overall impressions, regardless of whether or not anyone actually wants to hear it (Mom not included. Speaking of which, I AM coming home for Thanksgiving, Mom. Enjoy this article).

Surprises:

Braid- Despite the incredible time-reversing game mechanics and mind-shattering twist ending, Braid is a relatively unknown videogame, probably due to its various independent game publishers and small release window on Xbox Live. The few who were lucky enough to have experienced this game were treated to a puzzle platformer like never before. The player's unlimited ability to reverse time and "rewind" actions (even after dying) served as a backdrop the most in-depth psychological portrayal of man's slow decent into insanity.

Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of Lounging Lizards- I'm not surprised it's here: I'm just surprised Time considers it a videogame. To call Leisure Suit Larry a videogame is stretching it- it's moreso porn that you reaaaally have to work for. The pixilated square boobage paved way for future franchises like Grand Theft Auto in terms of humor and sexual content found in videogames.

Oregon Trail- One of the first games you've ever played as a child that you've likely forgotten about as your videogaming career evolved. And yet it was this monumental goliath of an educational program that probably got you into gaming to begin with (and taught you how fun dysentery was!).

Katamari Damacy- This is the ballsy-est game I have ever played, and it's really good to see a game that pushed boundaries so far get a spot on the list. It's about a gay god who accidentally destroys a few hundred planets or so, and asks you to reconstruct them by rolling paper clips, computers, cows, people, entire buildings, and more together in a giant ball. Yes, you read that right. To get a sense of how high Namco was when creating this game, PLEASE check this out.

Mass Effect 3- Really, this spot should've honored the entire trilogy, which due to its continuing storyline and overlapping choice consequences could be considered "1 game". That said, if we were really going for greatest game in the trilogy, I don't see how you can give it to any game other than Mass Effect 2. Controversial ending to Mass Effect 3 aside.

Other Surprises: Thief: The Dark Project, Cave Story, Okami, Demon's Souls

Snubs:

Unreal Tournament 3- How you can forget to include the game that started the advent of Massive Multiplayer First Person Shooters is beyond me, PARTICULARLY for how it paved the way for games like Call of Duty 4 and Halo: Combat Evolved, and how it created subset of video gamers most other gamers consider the "New Jersey of the fanbase" (too soon?).

Super Mario Kart- Really, I'm just surprised that no racing games were included on the list. If ever there was one to include, it'd be this game, which kickstarted not only the Racing genre, but the trend of Mario games outside of the typical 2D platforming. Thank you, Super Mario Kart, for leading to phenomenal games like"¦Mario Paint"¦and"¦DDR: Mario Mix"¦"¦

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time- Absolutely the biggest snub of the list. The game that defined the series on a 3D plane in terms of mechanics and storyline, Ocarina of Time set standards for the N64 that few consider other games matched. Sure, Super Mario 64 defined what a 3D game was capable of producing, but Ocarina of Time took place in a large, changing, open world, and in a sense, showed just how far video games could stretch the capabilities defined by Super Mario 64.

Final Fantasy VI- Got snubbed in favor of Final Fantasy VII for the impact it had on RPGs in the Western Hemisphere. While I'm not bashing the inclusion of VII, Final Fantasy VI is considered by many to be the best game of the series, if not RPGs in general. A complicated storyline with complex protagonists and an antagonist not too dissimilar from Batman's Joker (he's even wearing makeup like him!) created what was easily one of the best stories I've experienced in my life.

Pokemon Series- Not one game on the list? Pretty much revived the handheld gaming industry single-handedly and introduced millions to the RPG genre. This series really needs more credit than this, from both mainstream media AND the videogame fanbase and I hope it eventually gets it. As wise man Herman Caine once said (err, stole), "It's never easy when there's so much on the line. But you and I can make a difference. There's a mission just for you and me."

Other Snubs: Minecraft, Super Smash Bros., System Shock, Street Fighter 4, Metal Gear Solid 3

Overall Impression:

I've gotta say, at the end of the day, I'm really impressed with Time's apparent diligence with the research when it comes to this list. Going back to my Time=Old People Typewriting analogy, I expected the list to be littered with classics that are unfairly placed ahead of better quality games based off of "Well, that game did ________ first". But Time made sure to fairly balance contribution to the industry with overall game quality. Games like Half Life 2, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and Demon's Souls all graced the list, and the decade with the most videogame inclusions was the 2000s!

And while there are a few games that I'm livid about being excluded, I closed the article window feeling pretty satisfied. More important that any of my silly opinions is the fact that Time, a mainstream news source, accredited many videogame successes to a storyline, and provided review guidelines not too dissimilar from review guidelines of a television show or movie. Seeing games like King's Quest, Deus Ex, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Bioshock make the list give me hope that, one day, video games will be viewed in the same light as these massive storytelling mediums.

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