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Video Game Index / Main Page



#30: Virtua Fighter

Company: Sega    System: Arcade

The first few screenshots of Virtua Fighter did not generate that much buzz, but once players saw it in action, it became one of those must-play games at the arcade.

The somewhat primitive-looking graphics did not allow for as much detail as their counterparts, but the technology allowed the programmers to create stunningly realistic animation -- and thus the first true 3D fighting game was born.

Some note must also be made of the core gameplay; Sega eschewed the fireballs and dragon punches of their competition and put in actual martial arts.

This actually made the game harder to play since button-mashers were destined to be quickly taken out, but Virtua Fighter's toughness has made the series the pick for the fighting game elite to this day.



#29: Space Invaders

Company: Taito    System: Arcade

Space Invaders was undoubtedly one of the most influential games ever created.

At its' time of release in the late 1970's, most video games were variants on Pong or simple sports simulations. Space Invaders gave the player an actual story (simple as it is), and the graphics portrayed actual characters, rather than simple dots.

Also revolutionary was the play scheme -- players were no longer limited to a set time or number of points; they could play for as long as they could hold off the invaders.

To a public gripped in Star Wars fever, Space Invaders was like mana from heaven, and it became a blockbuster hit. Way before Mortal Kombat, this game garnered the attention of do-gooders and politicians, who decried its' "addictive" hold on the youth of America.

On the home console front, Space Invaders was the first arcade game from a third party to be licensed for the Atari 2600; this exclusivity sold millions of 2600 systems and made Atari the undisputed king of the home console wars.

In a bit of irony, this early success would provide the blueprint for Atari's later downfall from the console market, as Nintendo would use iron-clad contracts to keep popular games on their systems only, which effectively killed off the competition.


#28: Herzog Zwei

Company: Sega    System: Genesis

One of the forgotten gems in the Genesis library, Herzog Zwei is one of the first real-time strategy (RTS) games, paving the way for mega-popular titles such as Starcraft. Though it might appear simple at first, the game is surprisingly deep -- so much so that there are still fansites out there dedicated to the game, where new tactics and strategies are being come up with.



#27: Soul Calibur

Company: Namco    System: Dreamcast

Soul Calibur had a strong following at the arcade, but it was the excellent home version that turned many more people on to the series. Usually, launch-day releases for consoles aren't the greatest, and the Dreamcast's was no exception -- the most notable exception being this game.

The graphics were simply stunning, worlds above what could be accomplished on other systems. In fact, they still hold up well today, even after two sequels have been released on more advanced consoles.

Beyond the eye candy, Soul Calibur offered up one of the most unique cast of characters ever in a fighting game, and a gameplay system that newbies could pick up and feel like a killing machine, but offered enough depth to keep fighting game veterans satisfied.


#26: Tron

Company: Bally Midway    System: Arcade

Ever wonder why there are so many movie-to-game conversions? A big part of that can be traced back to this game, which was one of the first games released based on a major movie licence.

Sporting colorful graphics, unique joystick-and-dial gameplay, and four mini-games highlighting key scenes from the film, Tron became a huge hit in the arcades -- it actually ended up making more money than the movie itself.



#25: Starfox

Company: Nintendo    System: Super Nintendo

The Super Nintendo always had an edge on the Genesis in the graphics and sound department. After seeing the first product of Nintendo's "Super FX" chip, that gap seemed to have been blown wide open.

With some of the best graphics of the era providing the base, Starfox also upped the ante in the space shooting genre by putting the player into situations where they had to fly with different wingmen, each with their own unique personality. This deepening of the genre would go on to pave the way for more strategic shooter games, most notably the X-Wing series.

Unfortunately, the series has never quite lived up to the first game's potential. Starfox 64 was far too short and only sold well because it included the Rumble Pack, and the Gamecube versions made the idiotic decision to take the action on foot. Still, the original remains one of the classics of the genre, and fans are still clamoring for a "true" sequel.



#24: Karateka

Company: Broderbund    System: Apple II

The Apple II was not a computer known for its' action games, but Karateka was a major hit that fielded many revolutionary elements in the beat-em-up genre. The most striking aspect is the animation. Pain-stakingly constructed, it provided the most realistic movement seen up to that period, and it would be quite some time before it would be surpassed.

The game also sported some puzzle elements, the most notorious being at the end, where a wrong move toward the princess you were trying to save would result in a swift kick to the nuts that ended your game.

Also note-worthy is that all of the enemies in the game have different looks and fighting styles -- a far cry from similar games of the day, which would throw waves of clones at the player. Since the player took on the enemies one at a time, Karateka can be seen as one of the forefathers of the fighting games which would game to dominate the industry in later years.



#23: After Burner

Company: Sega    System: Arcade

Taking the formula developed by Space Harrier of insanely fast 3D action, After Burner -- in its' full arcade glory -- sported one of the most involving cabinets seen outside of a ride at an amusement park.

Players actually had to be strapped in as the machine would rotate all around as the player took out wave after wave of enemy fighters. Even though it cost a dollar to play (remember that this was when most games still cost a quarter), it became a huge hit and a mainstay of home gaming for several years after its' initial release.

Most of the home versions, especially the one for the Genesis, were acutally quite good at capturing the speed of the game, but the arcade version still remains one of the most unique experiences a gamer will ever have.



#22: Golden Tee Golf

Company: Incredible Technologies    System: Arcade

If you've been into a bar in the last ten years or so, chances are you've seen a Golden Tee machine. It's become as synonymous with bar gaming as darts and pool; there's even national tournaments for large sums of money.

Why? It's an easy answer -- with just a trackball controller, Golden Tee is extremely simple to pick up on, but it also offers up a lot of depth to withstand long drunken bouts of playing. Also, new versions with different courses are released on a regular basis, which means that veterans aren't as likely to get tired of the game.

Along with Tetris, Golden Tee is one of those few games that even people that don't consider themselves "gamers" will thrown in money to play, and has gone a long way to keeping the arcade machine industry from totally dying in the US.



#21: The House of the Dead 2

Company: Sega    System: Dreamcast

Despite a story that makes no sense and some of the worst voice acting ever in a video game, The House of the Dead 2 is the best light gun game ever released for a home console.

With manic and bloody action, it's more than enough to satisfy anyone's trigger finger, and the atmospheric graphics remain some of the best ever to come from Sega's design team -- and that's saying a lot.

Special note must be made of the extra mode, where players can collect some very unique weapons to use on the enemies. There's nothing quite like using a rapid-fire fishing lure to take down a horde of zombies.

Just do yourself a favor and stay far, far way from the horrible movie adaptation. It makes the acting here seem Shakespearean in comparison.