1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die
This is a series where I have made it my mission to go through every video game in the 2013 edition of the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die, by Universe Publishing. I have actually done two text reviews of the book, which can be found here: and here. Long story short - I didn't like the book. I thought that it had a very bad understanding of video game history; putting in the most random games; excluding some of the most influential games of all time that even a novice would know about; and not to mention the filler. So many of the games in the book are blatant clones of each other, many franchises have way too many entries - the most egregious example would probably be four Guitar Hero games making it into the book.
Games I've played so far
- ActRaiser: Yes. This is a beautiful game, one of the first few that really saw video games as an artistic medium. It also looks and sounds great for its time, and is a unique blending of genres.
- Alter Ego: Yes. There isn't much "game" here, it's more or less a "choose your own adventure game" with RPG stats. However, it's very well written and can be quite funny at times. What lands it on my list though is that it tackles dark subject matter that other games don't - issues of sex, violence, suicide all come up; things that games don't tackle to this day, at least on this level. It can also help put the idea of "life" into perspective. I feel like playing this game added to my life.
- Canabalt: Tenative yes. For a game that only requires one button, it can be extremely addictive and fun. Whenever I play this, time seems to melt away.
- Defender: Yes. It's fun, extremely challenging, and had a layout of six buttons which was a lot for the time. It proved that gamers were willing to take on more complex and difficult games than the simple "move and shoot" games that were everywhere at the time.
- Deus Ex Machina: No. It's hard to even call this a video game. The only interactivity you get is a score at the end. It's hard to really even tell what you're supposed to be doing half of the time, because by design the game cannot change. It was originally mixed to be played along with a cassette tape. So, by design, this piece of interactive media cannot be interactive. The themes of the music are really cliche too, giving the message that "we're born and then we die" in as vague a way as possible.
- Facade: No. This feels more like a proof of concept than an actual game, and the only thing that it proves is that the concept was impossible to implement with the technology at the time. It's glitchy and it's ugly. The only time you really can enjoy the game is when you're purposefully ignoring the point and messing with the characters. Its primary attraction is the drama, but the drama is abysmal - just rambling and shouting about two horrible people with a marital dispute.
- Minesweeper: Yes. A very iconic and fun logic puzzle game, which really has a lot of depth if you take the time to really learn how to play.
- Pac-Man: No, but I understand why the game is in the book. Pac-Man is one of the most iconic video games ever made. However, it has been usurped by so many of its sequels. When a game like Ms. Pac-Man exists - a game that is better in every way - there is no reason to play the original.
- Pong: Yes. It was the first commercially successful video game, and could be recognized for jump starting the video game industry.
- Qix: No. The game is ass. It sounds like ass.
- Quadradius: No. It's checkers with a twist, and I don't think a game that you could play without video game help should really be considered a "must play video game."
- Space Invaders: Yes. It's one of the most important video games ever created. It can be a little archaic and difficult, but there is still fun to be had. It was the first "killer app" in video games and pushed the Atari 2600 to dominate sales. It also was the first hit from Japan, birthing the video game industry there.
- Super Mario Bros.: Yes. It's often cited as the best video game ever for a reason. The design is simple, yet fun, and it put Nintendo on the map, at least in the US.
- Thirty Flights of Loving: No. The story is so vague that it's hard to get a grip on anything that's going on, which is bad for a game that's main draw is its story. On top of that, it's not even Blendo Game's best or most known game, that being Gravity Bone
- VVVVVV: Yes. A fun little metroidvania game with a retro style that came out in the indie game boom of the late 2000's/early 2010's. Like many of them it has one main mechanic that it builds and builds on. It must be said that the soundtrack to this game is amazing.