Once a month, Gimme 5 will bring you a 'Top Five' of all things gaming. Whilst Adam Smith will always claim he's correct, we encourage healthy debate (and fierce outrage!), so do sound off in the comments if you disagree, or have anything you'd like to add - we'd love to hear your top five, too! This month's topic...
Gimme 5: Best Games of All Time!
Friends. Through life, we get through a fair few of them. Some are long-lasting, becoming irreplaceable and valued over time with no equal. Others may be important for a few months before the novelty wears off, or your interests meander in different directions. And the rest are like the methane squelched from your rear after a cheap curry, wafting past the nostrils of your life and lingering just long enough for you to either take offence or be mildly – and peculiarly – amused.
Games are like friends. Some we love forever: they touch our soul, burying their button combos and cutscenes into the very core of our being, and we take them with us, fondly. Other games we certainly like, and they have a questionless charm. Every once in a while, we may fancy a flutter on their whimsical fun-fairs of escapism and joy. And some… some we wish we’d never met. The money spent on their unsightly storylines or hand-cramping control system seems more than wasted, almost like it was an insult to the coins themselves for being sacrificed for such sorrow.
Today, I deal with my personal besties: the BFFs of the video-gaming gala, the lads, my boys. Let’s do this…
In choosing my top five, several other titles were in contention before being eliminated. Fallout 3 holds one hell of a special place in my collection, amassing an unprecedented numbers of hours as I stalked the scorched landscape looting and lynching as my one-man apocalypse. The loneliness the game conjures is terrifyingly real, and with RPG-elements that aren’t too strong as to offend the casual gamer, but not too diluted to disillusion the experienced, it ticked so many boxes. Two other games I often praise as pioneers didn’t quite make the cut either, but there’s no denying the scope and sheer gold that is Shenmue, nor the tormented tale experienced in Shadow of Memories. With the mainstream introduction to mechanics like QTEs – Quick-Timer Events – and decision-based story progression, the gameplay of both titles clearly influenced many of today’s outstanding games such as Heavy Rain, Mass Effect, and Skyrim, to name but a few.
5 – Tetris
Released – 1984
Platform – Electronica 60
Genre – Puzzle
Did you know… The name Tetris stems from ‘tetra’ meaning ‘four’, and ‘tennis’, the creator’s favourite sport. To perform a ‘Tetris’ in the game, you have to wipe out four-lines of tetrominoes at once: a feeling so satisfying, it causes your body to release the same hormones associated with love and being born into a pool of chocolate…FACT.
Thirty years on, there’s still something about the game with the falling blocks. From its DNA there have been hundreds of imitators, but no Columns or Dr Mario can quite capture the simple charm (SIMPLE!?!?) of our favourite Russian pastime – yes, even Russian Roulette doesn’t quite beat a blast on the ol’ Tetris. For me, there is nothing quite as addictive; no game I’ve played before or after has that ‘one more go’ feeling like this. I played the game so much one summer, I actually started to dream in Tetris (a genuine syndrome named after the game!), and knew it was time to stop…after one more game. Or seventeen. Thousand.
4 – Resident Evil 4
Released – 2005
Platform – Gamecube
Genre – Survival Horror / Action Horror
Did you know… It holds the record for best-selling survival horror of all time, and has an amusing feature where, if you try to look up Ashley’s skirt, she calls you a pervert…or, so I’ve been told…by a friend…
Resident Evil as a series was beginning to show its age, and the direction for its sixth official release was uncertain. But the move to scrap the majority of the puzzle elements, fixed camera angles, and HILARIOUS voice acting (“Help me, Leon!” aside…), replacing them with action-elements, QTEs, and an over-the-shoulder camera angle that was more akin to first-person shooters, was the best move Capcom could have made. It was terrifying, testing, looked the part, and played like a dream – or should that be nightmare? For me, Resident Evil 4 saved the series, and paved the way for so many titles we’ve adored ever since.
3 – Super Mario 64
Released – 1996
Platform – Nintendo 64
Genre – Platformer
Did you know… The control stick that appeared on the N64’s controller was the first console to utilise this particular control mechanism (it differs from a joystick, as it acts more like the D-pad), and revolutionised how games would be controlled from then on! Oh, and to save money and time, Boo’s laugh in the game is actually Bowser’s laugh sped up!
I remember turning on my N64 and spending a very long time toying with Mario’s rubbery face before even getting to the game itself, but when I finally did, I couldn’t adjust my eyes! No game had been ‘3D’ in the way this one was, and it set the standard for all-comers who arrived afterwards. Sure, Crash and Croc had a go, but the 3D landscapes that you could traverse freely, without a linear pathway, was all the plumber’s doing. The game is still magical to play today, with a gorgeous graphical quality and fun-tastic soundtrack. This game seriously had it all. Well done, Mazza.
2 – Final Fantasy VII
Released – 1997
Platform – Playstation
Genre – RPG
Did you know… The game sold over two-million copies in its first three days. Two of the game’s characters are optional (you don’t have to unlock them during gameplay) – Yuffie and Vincent – and, as such, do not appear in any FMV cut scene. Poor kids…
I know everyone has their own opinion about THE Final Fantasy game, but for me there was never competition to VII. The gameplay was refreshed, the jump to 3D – though dated now – was incredible for the era, and the story is truly both tragic and epic. Arguably the first game to make gamers cry out of genuine sadness, FFVII resonates not only as a result of its story, but through its characters and world that can’t help but remind us of our own. And Sephiroth…I mean, come on. That dude is PURE bad-assery.
1 – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Released – 1998
Platform – Nintendo 64
Genre – Adventure
Did you know… OoT is still the highest-rated video game of all time, even 16 years later! The game was originally considered to be programmed in first-person perspective, but was later ditched for the third-person experience we all know and love. Craziness…
For years, I never knew if Link or Cloud were the top of my video-gaming list. Then, just before writing this article, I realised how Ocarina of Time changed me as a gamer. Before it, I had never felt truly immersed in a world so vast. Sure, Final Fantasy VII’s world far eclipses Hyrule, but unlike FFVII, there’s no zooming out and running atop a world map. In OoT, you are the hero, and there’s no escaping the reality the game grounds you in. Between its brilliant puzzles, perplexing dungeons, and beautiful score (the music is still perfect, even by today’s standards), no matter what you compare it to, OoT stands the test of time. I’ll never forget entering Hyrule Field for the very first time and feeling like the world was bigger than I could ever traverse; the sense of awe that moment inspired in me alone is enough to rank this as number one. Well done Link, you did good. You did very, very good.
So, do you agree? Disagree? Think Adam is utterly mad? Let us know your Top Five in the comments below. Until next time, this has been Gimme 5.