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Video Game Index / Main Page


#70: Spy Hunter

Company: Midway    System: Arcade

Undoubtedly, Spy Hunter is one of the most popular games of all time, as evidenced by the fact of the two modern remakes (which are great games in their own right) and an upcoming movie adaptation. Was it the weapons? The cool steering wheel with the triggers? Or that swank rendition of "Peter Gunn"?

Whatever it was, Spy Hunter blew away the primitive James Bond games that had come out to this point, and made many players feel like they were the world's top secret agent. The game's gentle difficulty curve and multiple paths gave it a great deal of replay value, which it retains to this day.


#69: NBA Jam

Company: Midway    System: Arcade

There were some previous attempts at "extreme" sports games, but NBA Jam was the first one to get it right. With fast, simple, and addictive gameplay, even people who weren't basketball fans would pump quarters into this by the handful. Midway also wisely put in codes and hidden characters to extend the life of the machine -- who can forget stuffing a dunk with a big-headed Bill Clinton?


#68: Track and Field

Company: Konami    System: Arcade

One of the first real competitive multi-player games, Track and Field also unfortunately introduced the element of outright cheating -- remember the old trick of using a comb or pencil to be able to hit the buttons faster?


#67: Star Wars

Company: Atari    System: Arcade

Re-enacting the climatic attack on the Death Star, this early arcade game was one of the first movie-to-game conversions to get things right. The vector graphics, while primitive by today's standards, allowed the game to capture the 3D action of flying a X-Wing in space, while the authentic sound effects, music and voice samples made the player feel like they were Luke Skywalker.


#66: California Games

Company: Epyx    System: Commodore 64

Epyx's "Games" series were huge hits on computers during the 1980's, and California Games was the best of the bunch. With a nice variety of events, from the frentic BMX racing to the laid-back hackysack, colorful graphics, and intuitive gameplay, California Games proved to be a huge hit -- it was on every computer system of the time and even consoles like the NES -- and it became the forefather for other unconventional sports games like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater.



#65: One on One - Dr. J Vs. Larry Bird

Company: EA    System: Apple II

Of course, EA is a company that is now synonymous with sports games, and it was One on One that started it all. Sure, there were sports games already in the market that had athlete's endorsements on them, but this was the first game to actually have true-to-life representations of the players.

Instead of controlling generic players, gamers could now control two of the most popular basketballers of the day. Even though the game was only one-on-one, it introduced important elements like player individuality, referees/fouls, and fatigue that gave it a much more realistic feel, and touches like being able to shatter the backboard with a powerful dunk made it that much more fun to play.

The gaming public responded wildly over these innovations, and One on One became a huge crossover hit. It was the first sports-based computer game to sell over 100,000 copies, which was a huge number for the time, since not as many households had computers as they do now. One on One, for better or worse depending on your view of things, firmly established sports as one of the most popular and profitable genres of video games.


#64: Blast Corps

Company: Rare    System: Nintendo 64

One of the most unique games ever created; anyone who played with big Tonka trucks and firecrackers as a kid will feel at home here. The aim of the game is simple -- clear a path for a truck carrying warheads using various machines, from speedy race cars to bulldozers to giant mechs -- but the way Blast Corps brings both thinking and outright destruction together in such a nice-looking package makes it one of the most under-rated games on the N64 system.


#63: Outrun

Company: Sega    System: Arcade

Outrun is on this list for two big reasons. First, the force-feedback steering wheel was a precursor for more sensory input devices in arcade and home games, such as Sony's revolutionary Dual Shock controller. Secondly, the licensing of Ferarri was a coup for Sega and video game companies in general, as they were now able to use more realistic car models in their driving games.

Even though Outrun seems simple compared to modern games like Gran Turismo, the fast action and multiple paths made it a favorite back in the day, and Outrun still holds some pull for the classic gamers out there.



#62: The Getaway - Black Monday

Company: Sony    System: PlayStation 2

Unfairly tagged as a Grand Theft Auto clone, The Getaway was actually a very solid "urban sandbox" game that gave a ultra-realistic depiction of London's streets (right down to recognizable landmarks and real cars) and weaved in an intriguing Guy Ritchie-eqsue story that was refreshingly "adult" in nature without insulting the intelligence of the player.

The sequel got rid of many of the problems that were in the original game (like having no sort of map to guide the player) and added in some nice new elements like motorcycles and stealth kills. Story-wise, Black Monday takes an amibitous approach by telling the story through the eyes of three characters. Some other games have tried a similar take, but Black Monday actually makes the player want to play through levels as a different character or trying a different method just to see where the story will lead.

Unfortunately, the graphics didn't make much of a leap from the original game, and there are a few overly difficult or cheap bits, but there are very few games that manage to weave gameplay and story so seamlessly while still being entertaining hell to play as Black Monday.


#61: Felony 11-79

Company: ASCII    System: PlayStation

An outrageously fun crash-and-smash driving game, Felony 11-79 (aka Runabout) paved the way for free-roaming racing games like Need for Speed and Midnight Club. The story was pretty much crap and the actual game was short, with only three levels. But the huge amount of unlockable vehicles, which ranged from everything from a RC car to a garbage truck, gave the game a huge amount of replay value. Plus, smashing through a mall while surf music is cranking is just damn cool.