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Charlie Brooker's best games ever.

LewiePLewieP Registered User regular
edited April 2008 in Games and Technology
Apparently the Guardian has told Charlie Brooker he has to compose a list of the best games ever.
Write a thing about the best videogames of all time, the Guardian commands me. And I obey. But space is short, so I've done it in instalments (part two next week). Bear in mind that these aren't the best videogames of all time, just a personal and possibly perverse selection, listed in order of release, not merit. Anyway: insert coin. Hit start button.
Asteroids (1979, Atari) Of all the early monochrome classics, Asteroids was my favourite, because it's truly bleak. Rather than aliens or robots, your enemies are unthinking lumps of rock that are hurtling through space. Twirling somewhere in the middle of this cluttered void is your tiny, heartbreakingly fragile spaceship, armed only with a feeble electric peashooter. If Asteroids has a message, it's this: you are insignificant, the universe doesn't care about you, and you are definitely going to die. Brilliant.

Pac-Man (1980, Namco) Pac-Man himself may be an ultimately unknowable yellow disc, but his spectral pursuers had proper googly eyes and everything. And nicknames. And blood types. OK, not blood types. But this was one of the first games with identifiable characters, which goes a long way to explaining its success.

3D Deathchase (1983, Micromega) A Spectrum game in which all you had to do was avoid trees and shoot fellow motorcyclists. Simple, speedy pseudo-3D graphics meant suddenly you were starring in the bike section from Return Of The Jedi. Yes. You really bloody were.

Stop The Express (1983, Hudson Soft) A rare Japanese Spectrum game, this was an insanely breakneck combat/platformer in which you had to scamper along the top of a runaway train, fighting assassins and dodging obstacles. Best of all, when you beat it, your sole reward was a caption reading "Congraturation! You sucsess!"

Elite (1984, Acornsoft) Most home computer games were simplistic, flick-screen affairs in which you played a fat mayor jumping over a nettle or something like that. Then Elite came along and took the piss. A groundbreaking 3D space combat-and-trading simulator that managed to convince me my computer could, when programmed correctly, house an entire alternative universe.

Jet Set Willy (1984, Software Projects) Back in the day, you needed only a single programmer to create a game - and since said programmers were often geeked-out stoners, said games were often weird. Jet Set Willy's blend of flying pigs, in-jokes, Python and Freak Brothers references encapsulates the homebrew quirkiness of the cottage industry software scene of the early 80s. We shall not see their like again.

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (1984, Infocom) Still one of the only games to contain proper, structured jokes, H2G2 was a text adventure co-written by Douglas Adams himself. It was also the first postmodern game, since it knew it was a game, and also knew you knew, so sometimes it would refer to you as Arthur Dent (star of the game) and other times simply as you (the player controlling him) - whichever seemed funniest at the time.

The Sentinel (1986, Firebird) You played a nomadic consciousness that had to absorb parts of the 3D landscape, then transfer itself inside a series of motionless avatars in order to travel - your goal being to ascend the highest peak before the ominous Sentinel stared you to death with his huge, cycloptic eye. In other words, it makes sense only when you play it.

Kato Chan And Ken Chan (1988, Hudson Soft) An import-only title for the PC Engine (a tiny Japanese console), Chan And Chan was a below-average platform game - but one that revolved, startlingly, around shitting, farting and pissing. The point at which I first grasped the illicit joy of off-kilter Japanese imports. (Also for the PC Engine: Toilet Kids, a shoot-em-up in which you fired turds at flying penises.)

Tetris (1989) There can't be a human being on Earth who doesn't love Tetris. Perpetual order from perpetual chaos. The most inherently satisfying video game ever created.

To be continued next week ...

Stephen Fry is away

Gloriously subjective.

In case you don't recognise the name, this guy used to write for PC Zone, and Yahtzee names him as on of the inspirations for Zero Punctuation. You should spend the next half hour or so searching his name on Youtube.


Update: Part 2 now up

Here's part two of my occasionally random selection of the best videogames ever, picking up from where we left off last week, in chronological order...
Road Rash (1991, EA) Road Rash was a Mega Drive motorbikin' game with a twist: you could swerve across the road to punch the other riders in the head, simply because you didn't like them. All your opponents had irritating names, which made developing pointless vendettas a breeze. Few things in life have satisfied me as much as repeatedly smacking preppy, clean-cut Biff in the face until he hurtled into an oncoming taxi at 100mph.

Doom (1993, id software) The king of all first-person shooters. Doom represented a huge technological leap forward, with graphics and multiplayer gameplay options that were way ahead of their time. But, most of all, Doom was scary. Really bloody scary. Flickering lights, horrifying monsters, pitch-black rooms and blood-curdling sound design. The snarling, bull-like "pinky" beasts that galloped over and bit your face off without warning are the most unsettling enemy in videogame history.

UFO: Enemy Unknown (1993, Microprose) It runs on the PC. It's a turn-based strategy game. It's got a "suburban alien invasion" vibe straight out of the X-Files. Bored already? Your own yawning mouth is lying to you. UFO (also known as X-COM) was one of the creepiest, most addictive and absorbing games of the 90s. Today, turn-based games are out of favour and UFO itself is a forgotten relic - a shame, because if it was released next week on Nintendo DS, it would be a bestseller. Someone needs to resurrect it.

Tekken 2 (1996, Namco) In 1996 I spent weeks sitting hunched over a PlayStation controller in my living room, fighting flatmates and friends in an uninterrupted Tekken trance. It's a hypnotic orgy of violence in which martial artists, thugs, robots, wrestlers and pandas knock 10 bells out of each other for no good reason; cue punches, kicks and harrowing acts of cartilage-grinding chiropractic violence that almost made you pity your opponent. Wonderful.

The Grand Theft Auto series (1997-2008, DMA/Rockstar) Controversial series of "sandbox" games that gift the player an entire city in which to misbehave. It began in 1997 as a cheeky mayhem simulator with a top-down, 2D viewpoint and a ZX Spectrum vibe. In 2001, it graduated to 3D and became an unstoppable blockbuster. The sun-kissed San Andreas is my favourite GTA, at least until the next-gen GTA IV arrives in a few weeks. Few Brits realise these games are made in Scotland: we should be far prouder of this stuff than we are.

The Orange Box (2007, Valve) Must-have compilation containing both Half-Life 2 (the best first-person shooter since Doom) and Portal (one of the most inventive brain-ticklers ever conceived). Playing Half-Life 2 is a bit like starring in a sci-fi horror remake of Die Hard, but better, while Portal is a description-defying 3D puzzle that folds your sense of spatial awareness in on itself. Utterly fantastic.

The Burnout series (2001-2008, Criterion) Another great British creation. Forget the stuffy gearstick-porn of Gran Turismo, Burnout provides the most thrilling racing experience around. Not in the slightest bit realistic, and better for it, it's the spiritual successor to Road Rash - ramming your opponent off the road at mind-mangling speed. The most recent entry, the free-roaming Burnout Paradise, is fun, but punishes the player at every turn with an abysmal navigation system; 2004's Burnout Takedown remains the high water mark.

Super Mario Galaxy (2007, Nintendo) All the Mario platformers are superb: Galaxy happens to be the most recent. A dizzying, challenging, ingenious romp, it's like having liquid joy poured into your head via the eyeholes. Anyone who believes videogames to be a mindless waste of time should play this. As surreal and inventive as Python; as much pure entertainment as 100 Tom and Jerry cartoons, it's a bona fide work of modern genius.

LewieP on
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    Mr BubblesMr Bubbles David Koresh Superstar Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Oh yes. I love Brooker, ever since he used to write 'Sick Notes' in PC Zone years ago...

    Mr Bubbles on
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    SmashismSmashism Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    My dad relates with the list better than I do, but we can both relate that its a well made list.

    Smashism on
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    TubeTube Registered User admin
    edited April 2008
    I have some fucking special feelings about Charlie Brooker I tell you what

    Tube on
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    Lave IILave II Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I was just coming here to make this thread. Brooker is a legend. I expected him to have to make a guardian friendly obvious game list but he's quickly mentioning 3D Deathchase (your sinclairs number one game on the spectrum no less) and Kato Chan And Ken Chan. In the Guardian. I'm impressed.

    Lave II on
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    Recoil42Recoil42 Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Yeah, I'll be the first one to bitch:

    So it's a two part series.

    Meaning this is HALF of his list. And it's chronologically listed.


    1) He goes all the way to 1989, before ending this segment of the list. And I ask: Where the fuck is Mario? Zelda? There's not a single damn NES game on the list.

    2) Half of the best games of all time are from the 1980's? Certainly, there should be a bit of disproportion, the 80's was a very important era for gaming, but HALF? The 1990's and 2000's have to share the other half of the list? And again, the NES is already absent from this list.

    So basically, he's an old coot that thinks all the best games ever made were only on the 2600, C64, and Spectrum, while the NES/Famicom, Genesis, SNES, Saturn, N64, PSX, PS2, Gamecube, Dreamcast, Xbox, Xbox360, Wii, PS3, GBA, DS, and every modern PC game share dogshit.

    I know he disclaimed that this is a personal and "possibly peverse" selection, and he's certainly entitled to that, but come on.


    Love him all you want for whatever else, and yeah, sure, he just threw out a reference to your favorite cult game from the Spectrum that you're totally going to jizz all over the fact that he actually mentioned, but remember what he's forgetting. It's practically insulting.

    Recoil42 on
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    XagarathXagarath Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Hitchhiker's Guide mention earns him points in my book.


    The Guardian's videogame sections are often surprisingly well-informed for a mainstream newspaper, mind you.

    Xagarath on
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    bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    haha recoil

    established and important games journalist offers (to be concluded) opinion: wrong!

    sure, it seemed off balance to me too, but look at the guy and his experience and actually read the content of the article and you may half understand why he's chosen what he has

    allow the guy his nostalgia. all of our opinions are informed by personal experience, as long as he can justify himself in an enlightening way (which he has), what the fuck is there to complain about?

    bsjezz on
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    TubeTube Registered User admin
    edited April 2008
    christ knows we need another guy telling us how great mario was

    Tube on
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    bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    as long as transport tycoon is in part two i'll be happy

    bsjezz on
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    Recoil42Recoil42 Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    christ knows we need another guy telling us how great mario was

    It's a best games ever list, you 'tard. Just because it's been said a million times before, it doesn't suddenly become excused from being listed ever again.

    Fuck, what, are you gonna complain that Pac-man and Tetris are on there?

    Recoil42 on
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    Mr_GrinchMr_Grinch Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I'd agree with most of those. Especially The Sentinel. I LOVE that game.

    And maybe he doesn't LIKE Mario? I'd agree it's a great game but I wouldn't put it on my greatest ever list.

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    Recoil42Recoil42 Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    bsjezz wrote: »
    haha recoil

    established and important games journalist offers (to be concluded) opinion: wrong!

    sure, it seemed off balance to me too, but look at the guy and his experience and actually read the content of the article and you may half understand why he's chosen what he has

    allow the guy his nostalgia. all of our opinions are informed by personal experience, as long as he can justify himself in an enlightening way (which he has), what the fuck is there to complain about?

    I'm not saying his opinion is wrong, such a thing is impossible, and I'm well aware of that, thank you; I'm saying it's off balance, and I don't agree with it. He's entitled to his opinion, and hey, guess what: I'm entitled to disagree with it and call it flawed.

    I hear this is how discussions and debates are started.

    Recoil42 on
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    bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Recoil42 wrote: »
    I hear this is how discussions and debates are started.

    no, this is how unique musings are turned into homogenous lists of games that have never fallen off forums' first pages and endless bickering about whether Iconic Cartoon Game Character A is better than Iconic Cartoon Game Character B

    bsjezz on
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    LanrutconLanrutcon The LabyrinthRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I have to side with the anti-crowd here: maybe this guys has yet to play games from the last 3 to 5 years? I dunno. It's a mighty short list ...

    Lanrutcon on
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    David_TDavid_T A fashion yes-man is no good to me. Copenhagen, DenmarkRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Lanrutcon wrote: »
    I have to side with the anti-crowd here: maybe this guys has yet to play games from the last 3 to 5 years? I dunno. It's a mighty short list ...

    Or...
    space is short, so I've done it in instalments (part two next week).

    It's really half a list.

    David_T on
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    Cynic JesterCynic Jester Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Lanrutcon wrote: »
    I have to side with the anti-crowd here: maybe this guys has yet to play games from the last 3 to 5 years? I dunno. It's a mighty short list ...

    It's the first part of his list. Maybe the next one is twice as long. We don't fucking know.

    Edit: So beaten.

    Cynic Jester on
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    LanrutconLanrutcon The LabyrinthRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Well, obviously I'm assuming the next part is as long as this part. If he does a 100 part list then this is probably ok. If he ends up with most of the list made of games over 18 years old I'm just gonna shake my head.

    Lanrutcon on
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    TyrantCowTyrantCow Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I liked the list it was funny.

    TyrantCow on
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    Cynic JesterCynic Jester Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Lanrutcon wrote: »
    Well, obviously I'm assuming the next part is as long as this part. If he does a 100 part list then this is probably ok. If he ends up with most of the list made of games over 18 years old I'm just gonna shake my head.

    I disagree with someones opinion on what they feel is the best games they have ever played, a purely subjective list at that which the reviewer isn't trying to pass off as objective. I'm just going to shake my head.

    Cynic Jester on
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    LanrutconLanrutcon The LabyrinthRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Lanrutcon wrote: »
    Well, obviously I'm assuming the next part is as long as this part. If he does a 100 part list then this is probably ok. If he ends up with most of the list made of games over 18 years old I'm just gonna shake my head.

    I disagree with someones opinion on what they feel is the best games they have ever played, a purely subjective list at that which the reviewer isn't trying to pass off as objective. I'm just going to shake my head.

    Completely. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to kick a puppy and play with my Halo figurines.

    Lanrutcon on
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    AldoAldo Hippo Hooray Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Jesus, leave it to PAers to take an amusement article all serious. :|

    I think his commentary on crazy games is pretty amusing and I'm looking forward to the second half. I wonder if he's going to mention Monkey Island/Day of the Tentacle/Indiana Jones?

    Aldo on
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    ben0207ben0207 Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Recoil42 wrote: »
    Yeah, I'll be the first one to bitch:

    So it's a two part series.

    Meaning this is HALF of his list. And it's chronologically listed.


    1) He goes all the way to 1989, before ending this segment of the list. And I ask: Where the fuck is Mario? Zelda? There's not a single damn NES game on the list.

    2) Half of the best games of all time are from the 1980's? Certainly, there should be a bit of disproportion, the 80's was a very important era for gaming, but HALF? The 1990's and 2000's have to share the other half of the list? And again, the NES is already absent from this list.

    So basically, he's an old coot that thinks all the best games ever made were only on the 2600, C64, and Spectrum, while the NES/Famicom, Genesis, SNES, Saturn, N64, PSX, PS2, Gamecube, Dreamcast, Xbox, Xbox360, Wii, PS3, GBA, DS, and every modern PC game share dogshit.

    I know he disclaimed that this is a personal and "possibly peverse" selection, and he's certainly entitled to that, but come on.


    Love him all you want for whatever else, and yeah, sure, he just threw out a reference to your favorite cult game from the Spectrum that you're totally going to jizz all over the fact that he actually mentioned, but remember what he's forgetting. It's practically insulting.

    He's English. The NES really wasn't such a big deal over here, as the C64, BBC etc kept gaming alive for us before Nintendo "saved" it, and so some of the best British games were produced in the 1980s.

    I mean, christ, the first console I had that was current was the Saturn. Before that my house was exclusively Amiga.

    ben0207 on
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    Lave IILave II Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Jesus fuck Recoil:
    Bear in mind that these aren't the best videogames of all time, just a personal and possibly perverse selection, listed in order of release, not merit

    He's made a list of some games he likes. It's a funny list. And it's an article is a mainstream paper that doesn't feel it needs to explain what computer games infact are, or indeed talk about how they are killing our children, and instead can go as far as talking about importing PCE games.

    That and an British mag talking about our glorious heritage (Jet Set Willy was our Mario) makes a lot of sense.

    That and by default Charlie Brooker is right about everything (Warning terrible video link).

    Lave II on
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    Cynic JesterCynic Jester Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBACCJkEUaA&feature=related

    Charlie Brooker + Videogaiden = Awesome.

    Cynic Jester on
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    darleysamdarleysam On my way to UKRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    No Recoil, you're doing it wrong!
    Charlie Brooker is right. The man listed Elite, The Sentinel and Jet Set Willy. These are not choices you argue with.
    And it is entirely possible that he doesn't hold a warm, fuzzy soft spot for Mario like so many others do. I don't either.

    Also, I would pay money to see Brooker tear strips off the Mail for their handling of the Byron Report.

    darleysam on
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    LewiePLewieP Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    darleysam wrote: »
    Also, I would pay money to see Brooker tear strips off the Mail for their handling of the Byron Report.

    This.

    LewieP on
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    ben0207ben0207 Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    darleysam wrote: »
    No Recoil, you're doing it wrong!
    Charlie Brooker is right. The man listed Elite, The Sentinel and Jet Set Willy. These are not choices you argue with.
    And it is entirely possible that he doesn't hold a warm, fuzzy soft spot for Mario like so many others do. I don't either.

    Also, I would pay money to see Brooker tear strips off the Mail for their handling of the Byron Report.

    Elite on the other does have a fuzzy spot. Fuck, I love that game more than I love my girlfriend*, or cake.





    *Daniela if you're reading this it's a joke don't make me sleep in the tent.

    ben0207 on
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    AldoAldo Hippo Hooray Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    ben0207 wrote: »
    darleysam wrote: »
    No Recoil, you're doing it wrong!
    Charlie Brooker is right. The man listed Elite, The Sentinel and Jet Set Willy. These are not choices you argue with.
    And it is entirely possible that he doesn't hold a warm, fuzzy soft spot for Mario like so many others do. I don't either.

    Also, I would pay money to see Brooker tear strips off the Mail for their handling of the Byron Report.

    Elite on the other does have a fuzzy spot. Fuck, I love that game more than I love my girlfriend, or cake*.





    *Cake if you're reading this it's a joke don't make me sleep in the tent.

    Aldo on
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    darleysamdarleysam On my way to UKRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Elite hi5! Braben needs to finish up The Outsider then get on with making the next one.

    I will feel a little disappointed if he doesn't mention Half-Life in the second part of the list, but not enough to post my outrage on the internet. I'll just sigh, then keep on reading.

    darleysam on
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    ben0207ben0207 Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Frontier was better though.

    ben0207 on
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    Lave IILave II Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Elite huh?
    <--
    Points at name.

    Points at name.

    Lave II on
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    darleysamdarleysam On my way to UKRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Agreed, I wasted far too many hours on that. I went and bought the 'best' ship in the game (biggest and most expensive), pimped it right out with all sorts of weapons and death, then discovered it handled like a shopping trolley laden with breezeblocks. Hastily sold it off again and bought something faster and better.
    Never did play First Encounter.

    Mr Station! I was wondering when you'd join us.

    darleysam on
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    Lave IILave II Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    darleysam wrote: »
    Agreed, I wasted far too many hours on that. I went and bought the 'best' ship in the game (biggest and most expensive), pimped it right out with all sorts of weapons and death, then discovered it handled like a shopping trolley laden with breezeblocks. Hastily sold it off again and bought something faster and better.
    Never did play First Encounter.

    Mr Station! I was wondering when you'd join us.

    I rarely mention my full (fake) name, good memory!

    I prefer Frontier too to be honest. I loved the way that ships had different strengths and weakness and their wasn't a best. I had some of my best adventures in a Lion transport of all things. Slow, but cheap, and would carry a shit ton of stuff. And take a beating. That and the turrets meant it could cope with a lot more than it should off.

    Did I tell you about the time I landed on an Astroid, or the time I flew past Big Ben and didn't stop till I reached the rings of saturn, or the time I took down a Imperial Courier with an Eagle Mark II and had to limp home with only reverse thrusters and no autopilot (and managed it). Or the time I was an assassin. Or the time I used the wormhole trick to travel 500 light years a jump and explored unexplored space in search of the rumoured Thargoids and how I refuelled by skimming the surface of stars, or how I would read the enclosed story book which mentioned a cult planet where diamonds were illegal and so priced negatively (like radioactive waste) which I then found in the game, or how the A0 map was brilliant, or how the glossary of star systems book rocked, or how I once parked outside a space station with a large plasma acceleator and destroyed the police as they left to fight me, or how I once landed on a planet with no atmospheric shielding as I got the approach right, or how I made my first ship of the back of being a bounty hunter.....

    JESUS CRAP WORLD YOU'VE HAD DECADES AND YOU STILL NEVER MATCHED THIS WHY THE FUCK NOT HE PUT THE ENTIRE MILKY WAY ON A 880K FLOPPY AND YOU CAN'T DO SHIT.

    Lave II on
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    AldoAldo Hippo Hooray Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Lave II wrote: »
    I rarely mention my full (fake) name, good memory!

    I prefer Frontier too to be honest. I loved the way that ships had different strengths and weakness and their wasn't a best. I had some of my best adventures in a Lion transport of all things. Slow, but cheap, and would carry a shit ton of stuff. And take a beating. That and the turrets meant it could cope with a lot more than it should off.

    Did I tell you about the time I landed on an Astroid, or the time I flew past Big Ben and didn't stop till I reached the rings of saturn, or the time I took down a Imperial Courier with an Eagle Mark II and had to limp home with only reverse thrusters and no autopilot (and managed it). Or the time I was an assassin. Or the time I used the wormhole trick to travel 500 light years a jump and explored unexplored space in search of the rumoured Thargoids and how I refuelled by skimming the surface of stars, or how I would read the enclosed story book which mentioned a cult planet where diamonds were illegal and so priced negatively (like radioactive waste) which I then found in the game, or how the A0 map was brilliant, or how the glossary of star systems book rocked, or how I once parked outside a space station with a large plasma acceleator and destroyed the police as they left to fight me, or how I once landed on a planet with no atmospheric shielding as I got the approach right, or how I made my first ship of the back of being a bounty hunter.....

    JESUS CRAP WORLD YOU'VE HAD DECADES AND YOU STILL NEVER MATCHED THIS WHY THE FUCK NOT HE PUT THE ENTIRE MILKY WAY ON A 880K FLOPPY AND YOU CAN'T DO SHIT.
    Will Wright keeps telling us Spore will deliver the same open-ended/random gameplay. Soooooooooooo

    Aldo on
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    bongibongi regular
    edited April 2008
    i totally remember playing sentinel on my friends' amiga, i think

    bongi on
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    SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited April 2008
    Know what's good about this list?

    There aren't seven Final Fantasy games on it.

    Good list. Slightly before my time.

    I remember my uncles ZX Spectrum and remember thinking it was ridiculous compared to my Mac SE. But then again, the SE came out about five years after.

    Sheep on
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    ben0207ben0207 Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    God I might actually go dig out my old A500+ and play me some Elite II

    ben0207 on
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    seabassseabass Doctor MassachusettsRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I agree with the hitch hiker's guide making the list, and the fourth wall bits may have set it aside from other text adventures and infocom games, but you know what I think we're all forgetting about?

    Feelies.

    I'm going to go fawn over zorkmids on ebay now.

    seabass on
    Run you pigeons, it's Robert Frost!
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    TubeTube Registered User admin
    edited April 2008
    You know what? Mario sucked. All he did was jump on stupid platforms, over and over again. It was a terrible game.

    There, I said it.

    Tube on
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    SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited April 2008
    That's what I thought of Jet Set Willy all those years ago.

    :-D

    Sheep on
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