Although still feeling like a relatively fledgling media compared to the likes of television or literature, video games have technically now been around for over 40 years, and finally, much like you can find with books and films, a compendium of the top 1001 video games ever has been assembled.
Contributed to by 36 gaming experts from a variety of productions and publications, this epic tome charts the thousand and one games that every gamer must claim to have had an experience with before reaching gaming nirvana, stretching from the edutaining 1971 adventure The Oregon Trail, all the way to today’s iPhone gaming generation.
It is incredibly satisfying to witness the conception of gaming icons – Mario, Sonic, Zelda, Donkey Kong, those nurses from Silent Hill, as well as the moments tiny gaming features we now take for granted first seeped into the video game world. The archaic origins of some of today’s most successful games are fascinating; how, for instance, The Sims can be traced back to ‘Little Computer People’ of 1985.
It can also be hugely nostalgic to unearth a long-forgotten and much revered title from childhood. The Zoombinis! How could I have forgotten about the Logical Journey of the Zoombinis! I used to love those little guys! Just as rewarding is stumbling across a completely unheard of title, some of which are so wacky and wonderful you marvel at how you’ve never heard of them before: the text adventure ‘The Hobbit’ from the early 80s, which came not with an instruction manual but a copy of the actual J.R.R. Tolkien book springs to mind. Happily, a lot of these older games, if they take your fancy, are available on online emulators or downloadable console arcade packs, and the book lets you know where these can be found.
With only 1001 places and yet millions of video games to pick from, the final list is guaranteed at least one moment of outrage as you see a much beloved series of games reduced to one small half-page segment, or omitted entirely. Being raised almost solely as a Sony lad I was appalled to see 25 separate Mario titles featured and yet not one mention of Crash Bandicoot, the frenzied, orange, spinning, crate-breaking marsupial who I see as a mascot of my youth.
Overall, though, ‘1001 Video Games you must play before you die’ is a wonderful, mesmerising read. It’s captivating and almost weirdly moving to see the progression from the simple, chunky charm of 70s arcade legends such as Pong and Breakout, to exquisite and inspired titles such as Heavy Rain or Mass Effect 2. A richer tapestry of the gaming world has never before been seen, and this is a must read for any gamer.
Click here to buy the book!