Some Games Do Stand The Test Of Time.

I have to say that I may have been overly unfair to Deus Ex in my previous post. I’ve tried and tried and tried, and I’m getting to grips with how the game plays, but honestly I still don’t think it’s the world beater that people hype it up to be. Honestly, there have just been better games released that use the same key ideas. The Elder Scrolls come to mind, as does Fallout 3.

But the purpose of this post is not to earn even more ire from the gaming community by beating it’s nostalgic memories, it’s to take a look at games which have defied convention and actually aged well. Reading over my posts so far, I’ve been quite negative, so hopefully this will add a spark of positivity to this blog!

1. Tetris.

When people think of classic games, this is one of the big three (I think we can get to the other two later in this list). Tetris managed to defy the years thanks to once simple trait- it has the key hallmark of any truly addictive ‘casual’ game- easy to learn, hard to master. The premise of Tetris is so simple that anyone can play it, and yet there are layers and layers of variations and tactics woven into the game play. Different people have very different ways of playing the same version of Tetris.

Speaking of versions, Tetris has had more knock offs and variations than any other title I can think of, ranging from including power ups, to new blocks, to matching specific bricks rather than forming lines- Tetris has spawned a plethora of games, and defined a genre of its own. Even today, Tetris remains popular thanks to its simple control and goals, combined with addictive game play. There’s also an element of hate in there too, something many younger gamers get when they play classic games- “If it’s so simple, why do I suck at it?” millisecond reflexes and a custom made gaming rig will not help you ‘beat’ Tetris. For that, you’re going to need sharp wits and actual skill. Tetris is also responsible for one of the oldest debates in video gaming history- Floating algorithm, or realistic gravity?

Tetris also inspired one of my favourite games of all time, Wetrix.

2. Pong

Another of the big three, pong is widely (and arguably mistakenly) considered the first video game. The great thing about Pong is that the basic idea has been built on and some really interesting ideas have come out of it. A GBA emulator game called Pong Wars springs to mind. The idea was simple enough, its Pong but you can also shoot at your opponent, meaning you needed to dodge gunfire while also trying to hit the ball. Factor in that you can’t keep up a constant stream of bullets and it adds a whole new level of tactics to the game.

Like Tetris, Pong has the rule of easy to learn, difficult to master, and while I wouldn’t suggest me and some friends play pong for an evening, a few rounds of these spin offs can be very entertaining.

For a very entertaining documentary on Pong and Pong consoles in general, check out this video by James Rolfe, the Angry Video Game Nerd.

3. Space invaders

And the third and final of our big three. Space invaders is the stuff of legend and to be honest, it still holds up fairly well. Yet again, it’s easy to learn and hard to master. Now, space invaders has also created a whole subgenre, leading into space shooters such as R-Type. Space invaders itself hasn’t aged that well, nowadays it’s fairly dull and monotonous to play, but its spin offs- the 2D side scrolling space shooter, are still popular today, several of these titles are also available on XBL arcade.

Space invaders was, and still is a game of skill, and when I go out drinking I always make sure to stop at a pub which has a retro coin-op machine for a few rounds of Galaxian, 1942, and of course Space Invaders.

4. Perfect Dark.

Recently re released on XBL arcade, I think this game is probably Rare’s finest hour. The single player was brilliant, but the multiplayer is where Perfect Dark really comes into its own. In my opinion, this game is better than Goldeneye (another title which is certainly not bad, but who’s rep is overstated thanks to nostalgia). There was a variety of game modes, levels and an excellent and varied selection of weapons (as opposed to the modern bland pistol, Assault rifle, shotgun, sniper rifle set ups), ranging from the laptop gun (A machine gun you could deploy as a sentry turret), to the legendary Farsight (a gun that could track you and shoot you through walls, meaning nowhere on the level was safe).

This was also the first game I played to make extensive use of bots. Me and a friend used to love filling a level with as many crap bots as we could and then staging a sort of zombie survival scenario where we would gun them down. This was also the first time I remember being outfoxed by an AI- some of the higher level bots where genuinely creepy with how quickly they learned.

There’s a degree of nostalgia here I’ll admit, but honestly Perfect Dark still holds up very well as a party game. The single player experience is a little lacking nowadays, but the sheer variety and simplicity of the multiplayer mode makes it well worth your time. I especially enjoy it now that I’m old enough to combine it with beer.

5. Conker’s bad fur day (Conker, live and reloaded)
This was originally an N64 title, but was also ported to the Xbox later on, and then added as a compatible game to the Xbox 360. This is a title that has occurred in the last three generations of console gaming.

And these are not spin offs, aside from the ported Xbox version -which changes a few things in order to take the piss out of crappy ports- this is the same damn game. People are still playing it, nearly 10 years after its release.

The game has a timeless charm and some brilliant satire. And while the movies that it spoofs have long since fallen out of the public consciousness, if you’ve watched them you’ll still crack a giggle (especially the ending where they manage to take the piss out of the Matrix, Star Wars and Alien at the same damn time).

The graphics still hold up well (for the Xbox port anyway), thanks to the fact that they really pushed the machine’s limits when the game was brought out, the game play is excellent, smooth and engaging and the extra game modes added to the Xbox port are genuinely fun and clearly have had a lot of effort put into them.

Factor in some M rated jokes (the game earned a 15 rating in Britain), and it’s a classic, highly amusing experience. My only problem is that the Xbox port of the game was heavily censored, probably because some dipshit thought that a game where all the characters are anthropomorphic animals could only be aimed at kids (those of you who know otherwise know who you are), and therefore should not feature a giant turd singing about shit.

No, that’s actually a scene in the game. And who could forget the Scouse dung beetles?

So there you go, proof that I do have a heart and don’t think anything over three years old is a pile of garbage. Remember, nostalgia is fine, but don’t kid yourself into thinking that games are not as good as they used to be- very few games actually hold their age well, and retain their ability to compete in the modern market. But if you have any other games you’d like to raise awareness of, please feel free to comment below.

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