What makes a game a real classic? As with wines, it is not just a matter of vintage. Its importance by defining a genre or technological epoch, the nostalgic factor, its subsequent copy or reinvention by other titles… There are many factors to consider.
And if we start to make a Top 10 based on more than five decades of technological progress and creativity, things get more and more complicated.
What is clear is that you cannot get to define a list with the best games in history (much less looking for your particular champion) without looking back. Choosing favorites, after all, is not only a matter of history but also of perspective.
Precursors: without them, nothing would have been possible
Like we said, finding the best video game in history isn’t easy. To a large extent, because there is not even consensus on when the first video game worthy of that title was developed. Bertie the Brain, a striped three created to demonstrate the potential of miniature vacuum tubes at the 1950 Canadian National Exhibition is possibly one of the most primitive and rudimentary examples. Although the first interactive and comparable example to current video games was Tennis for Two, which simulated virtual requites in an oscilloscope.
That said all this… what sounds like really something? Don’t you? Well, this is the difference between getting the first one and making a real impact. Its limited scope (mere technological demonstrations, at the end of the day) paved the way for the emergence of authentic immortal classics such as Pong (1972) and Missile Command (1980), which would popularize a new form of leisure in recreational halls and later through home consoles and computers.
After they would come to Tempest, Galaga, Donkey Kong and so a litany of Legends, but great as they were and remembered as they still are would anyone consider any of these games conceived in the ’70s and’ 80s as one of the best of all time? It’s certainly a complicated question. Although iconic, there is no doubt that their mechanics were extraordinarily simple, and if we dust them off four decades later, we will find that they are still very amusing, but they do not engage the public as they used to be.
The thousand times imitated: laying the foundations of their genres
We would probably have to wait for the 8-bit refinement and the appearance of the first 16-bit machines to find games with more current essence. We’re already talking about dangerous things. A lord called Lord British slumbered beneath the earth with Ultimo V, while Battle Chess woke up some controversy due to its violent interpretation of the civilized chess (oh, the think that this of the games edgy is something new) and the state of the art Falcon, Spectrum Holober became the basis of the flight simulators.
The power of computers such as the Atari ST, the Spectrum and later the long-lived friend allowed to shape complex worlds with hundreds of lines of dialogue, relatively complex music and graphics today slow and little detailed, but very well exploited thanks to the technical and visual talent of the programmers. But are they the best games of all time? Not many people will agree. And yet they had countless imitators.
Meanwhile, the x86 computers were taking the run. They were not yet a consolidated gaming platform, but they were already accelerating thanks to firms like MSI, which made history at the very time of its creation with the release in 1986 of the first base plate for 286 overclockable. And although it was still to reach the glory of the 486DX2, it was enough to move Commander Keen with complete fluency, marking the start of PC platform games.
The most exciting thing about this generation is that video games were finally starting to move in a new direction. It was no longer a simple question of moving from Point A to point B. There were complex mechanics, an atmospheric environment (all that the technique of the time allowed) and an authentic narrative emphasis. All this with a minuscule processing capacity compared to the mobile we have in our pocket, let’s not talk about new proposals like the MSI Aegis gaming tower.
This confluence of factors, coupled with the growing hardware capabilities of the time, began to produce something substantial during the later years. In the PC, the arrival of sound cards, the VGA graphics and the processors of the new generation (including the clones Cyrix) transformed these annoying beige boxes into powerful gaming machines. In combination with a huge amount of RAM and even larger storage capacity, they began the Golden Age of computer games.
It is from here that we begin to appreciate more candidates for “best game in history” or only “best game in your genre.”
Lucas Arts and Sierra turn the graphic adventure into something more complicated than a simple pixel search, while Comanche and Dune II lay the foundation for simulation and strategy. But not only that: we’re talking about games that, like Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, are still so much fun today that we could play them from top to bottom like the first day. Nostalgia plays an important role, but it is no longer a critical factor for your enjoyment.
This is especially true if we look at the dawn of the 3D age when the mechanics of what we might consider modern gameplay was developed. Approximately at that time, back in 1997, MSI launched its first 3D card. The MS-4413 was based on the design Per media two from 3DLabs, chipset popular in his time for his skill in OpenGL but that did not take long in giving it over to other much more potent as the MS-8802 1999, equipped with a chipset NVidia Riva TNT2.
Now yes, the maturity of 3D graphics was pulling force from MSI’s hand. Large the likes of Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit would catch up with it some of the highest levels of realism thanks to the leading card of the firm. A visual section as fluid as it is powerful, careful music and a very refined control (which was not too little for the time) made it one of the most influential racing games of all time.
The classics that never die: sequel after sequel, remake after remake or simple evolution continues
At this point, the respective genres of the industry have already reached a technical, mechanical, and even argumentative maturity to begin to find authentic, timeless jewels. A clear example would be Doom, who without being the first FPS sat chair and served to create a franchise that still lasts to this day. It’s exceptionally refined control has even been the subject of study, but what is equally important: it has served as the basis for countless sequels.
Doom 2016 is considered by many to be the best FPS in the decade, but the classic is still being updated by the madder’s community through initiatives such as Brutal Doom. And every anniversary, thousands of players gather to scatter online in the reminder of those mythical online battles. Could we meet at the best game of all time? He is undoubtedly a staunch candidate with myths as far away thematically as Tetris.