With COVID-19 continuing to affect our ways of life, it’s nice to see a semblance of normalcy that coronavirus can’t touch. This week, the World Video Game Hall of Fame unveiled their finalists for the 2020 class. Here’s the list, and some thoughts on whether they’re deserving of entry. Of the 12 entries, I’ll be picking four that I would induct into the hall of fame.
Is there a category in any award show for most replicated? If there were, Bejeweled would certainly earn the crown in gaming. Bejeweled has been recreated about a gazillion times in one form or another. If you’ve never played Bejeweled, let me explain the concept and I bet it’ll sound familiar. It’s a puzzle game where you line up matching blocks to make them disappear in the hopes of combo’ing together more matches. Sound familiar? From Puyo Puyo to Huniepop to the freeware game that came on your smartphone, they all took inspiration from Bejeweled. So does that make it worthy of the gaming hall of fame? I would have to say yes.
On the other side of the spectrum is Centipede, a classic arcade shooter. It falls more in the realm of games like Galaga, Sinistar, and Defender. While Centipede is a beloved classic in the arcade era, I’m not sure its translated to the modern era like Bejeweled has. I know there’s gonna be someone out there with the high score of P-O-O who is upset by this, but Centipede doesn’t strike me as a hall of fame game. It’s a classic, but not a hall of famer.
Frogger is another arcade classic, although it might be better known for its appearance on an episode of Seinfeld. The goal is simple. You’re a frog and you need to get across the road and river to the other side. Unfortunately, a litany of obstacles is in your way. The game was as simple as it was addictive, and even now the mechanics will show up in a game from time to time. But it’s usually as a “hey, remember Frogger?” kind of joke rather than something serious. Again, it’s an arcade classic, but it wouldn’t get my vote for the hall of fame.
I’m going to do my best to be unbiased on this one. However, in the interest of transparency, I played the ever-loving hell out of this game as a kid. So, there’s definitely some rose-tinted glasses. You play as James Bond, moving through the various missions and parts of the movie ‘Goldeneye‘. With this game, Rare gave us one of the best adaptations of a movie that gaming has ever seen. More importantly, this game also effectively gave birth to couch multiplayer. Yes, you’ve been able to have multiple players as far back as the Atari, but nothing like what we saw with Goldeneye. Goldeneye 007 is where gaming started to become cool, and not something you kept secret. While I would say its spiritual successor, Perfect Dark, is a far superior game, I wouldn’t give it the hall of fame nod. Shooters wouldn’t be what they are today without Goldeneye, and for that, I say it deserves the Hall of Fame slot.
Getting this list narrowed down to four is incredibly difficult and Guitar Hero is the first one that I feel like is getting the shaft. Guitar Hero was in many ways similar to Goldeneye. Not in gameplay, graphics, sound, or story, but in what it did for gaming. You couldn’t walk around a college dorm in the 2000’s without hearing Guitar Hero. Everyone was playing it for a period of time, even yours truly. I was awful by the way. On the heels of the music/rhythm craze that Dance Dance Revolution started in North America, Guitar Hero truly rose to prominence. I hope it’s on the list again next year, but I’m passing this year.
Let’s turn back the clock to the earliest days of PC gaming. In its infancy, PC gaming was not the graphics juggernaut that it is today. In fact, early PC gaming was perhaps best known for text adventures. Think of a choose your own adventure book, but on a computer. Out of that genre was born the point and click adventure game. Similar concepts, but now utilizing graphics and a mouse. When we think of classic point and click adventures, the all-time greats like Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, or Day of the Tentacle spring to mind. However, none of those games would exist without King’s Quest. The original PC adventure game, King’s Quest spawned 7 sequels, a few of which were definitely better than the original. While I would love to cast a vote for it, the next game was just too important to ignore. I have to give a nay.
I know there’s some old school gamers out there who are furious that I passed on King’s Quest for Minecraft, but I’m sorry, that’s exactly what I did. While I played a bit of Minecraft, it never hooked me like it does so many. So why am I voting for it? Because it’s so important to gaming’s future. What games like Goldeneye and Halo did for my generation, Minecraft is doing for the next generation. Minecraft reminded us that games can be simple, and in fact, can be what you make of them. The graphics aren’t impressive, the story doesn’t offer much, and yet tens of millions of kids and adults alike love the game. Mark my words that in the next 5-10 years, when gamers are asked what got them into gaming, they’ll recall stories about Minecraft the same way we do World of Warcraft. I vote yea.
Let me make this clear. I don’t have a problem with sports gaming making it into the hall of fame. I wouldn’t cast my vote for a Madden game, but I would consider the Madden franchise as a whole. Now, there’s a few sports games I would like to see considered, but I truly didn’t play a lot of NBA Jam. That said, a whole lot of people did. It was one of the first truly great basketball video games. On a weaker year, I would probably give it the nod, but that is not the case in 2020.
Don’t get me wrong, I know why it’s on here. My entire generation had a Nokia brick as our first phone and we all played Snake when we had to kill time. In many ways, this was the first proof of concept that gaming on a phone was feasible. But I’m sorry, it came out in an era when most gamers still carried their Gameboy with them. It wasn’t impressive at the time, and unlike Bejeweled, I’m not willing to credit it with giving rise to mobile gaming.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Well, not to make the last two anti-climactic, but this one will be getting my fourth and final slot. What else can be said about Super Smash Bros. Melee? Even though I much preferred the original, I was very much alone in that. Melee rocketed the Gamecube to prominence, brought the fighting game community more into the mainstream, and remains played even today. You can still go to major fighting game tournaments and compete in Super Smash Bros Melee, almost 20 years later. Competitors still lug around CRT TV’s just to play this game. As much as I’d love to stick it to Melee and come up with some contrived reason it doesn’t deserve to be in the hall of fame, I can’t. It absolutely deserves the slot.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Am I missing something here? Most of the nominations on this list I can understand, but this one feels a little out of place. Yes, the Uncharted games are good. Yes, Uncharted 2 is probably the best of them. But hall of fame worthy? Really? Don’t get me wrong, any game made by Naughty Dog during the Amy Hennig era is probably worth consideration. I dunno, maybe I just missed out on the Uncharted craze. I went back and played the series later, and thoroughly enjoyed it, but didn’t love it. Maybe the second one was just a “you had to be there” kind of thing. Here’s the problem, people who are checking it out in the Hall of Fame probably weren’t there.
Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?
Oh, man. I can’t tell you how badly I want to make an exception and include this one as well. Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego was the bomb growing up. Whether it was the games or the PBS TV game show, kids everywhere were trying to figure out where in the world, or the USA, or in space, or in time Carmen Sandiego was. Did anyone ever actually catch her? I never even came close. I hope this one gets nominated again in future years, but I’ll pass this year.
So what about you? Those are the four games I think are worthy, but my opinion doesn’t count for much of anything. Which ones would you put in the Hall of Fame? How many of them would you put in?
It’s March and our Video Game Bracket Challenge is on! You and a friend could win a Respawn Gaming Chair and all you have to do is cast your votes for which games are the best of all time. You can have six chances to win by voting throughout the month. Check out the bracket here.
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