Most American Games of All Time

In honor of the Fourth of July holiday we give you a list of the games we feel best portray the great ups and downs of our great country.

By Carrie Gouskos and Jeff Gerstmann - posted July 4th, 2006

4th of July is a very special time for Americans. It's a time that we get to sit around in plastic loungers, drinking beer and incurring second-degree burns from stupid fireworks tricks. Oh, we also get to celebrate the birth of our country.

For some of us, the birth of America is a very important time, for others, we couldn't be less impressed. But the beautiful thing about America is that even if we're disgusted by some of the ugly parts of our past, we're entitled to enjoy those opinions and celebrate them. Well, that's the idea anyway.

The following is a list of the games we feel best portray the great ups and downs of our great country. We may be a little irreverent at times, but America, we love you just the same. Happy Birthday.

The Americanest!

Bad Dudes

Publisher: Data East
Developer: Data East
Release Date: 1989
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The year was 1986, and rap legends Run DMC came out with "Peter Piper", a song that would change the American lexicon for decades to come. Ahem. "He's a big bad wolf in your neighborhood. Not bad meaning bad but bad meaning good." It was this humble beginning that fostered the title of Data East's anthology about two simple American heroes, Bad Dudes.

Bypassing subtlety and going straight for the jugular of American stereotypes, Bad Dudes is about two guys with the most American Gladiator-esque names this side of Sabre, Blade, and Stryker. Their task? To save the country from foreign (and by foreign, we mean the deadly ninjii) invasion. And who are they to protect? There's no damsel in distress here, no. They must save the very icon of independence, the father of freedom, the pater of patriotism, the president of the United States, who, just happens to be modeled after one of the most American presidents in history, President Ronnie (W. Reagan).

The foreign hordes are seemingly endless, but success is sweet, since you can top off your adventure by catching a burger with President Ronnie at the end. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Deer Hunter

Publisher: WizardWorks
Developer: Sun Storm
Release Date: Dec 31, 1997
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There are exactly three sights that epitomize the American lifestyle: the view of the Lincoln Memorial at nighttime, the Stars and Stripes waving in a cool summer breeze, and crosshairs bearing down on a helpless deer grazing in the wilderness. Deer Hunter, the game, is primarily devoted to the last one, although it inarguably captures the essence of all three.

Bambi beware.

One of the best-selling games of all time, Deer Hunter has, for years, flown off the shelves of Wal-Marts and Costcos across the land and into the hands of the eager mammal-slaying masses. In the game, you can mimic the great American pastime of hunting by donning your camouflage gear, assigning relevant statistics to your hunter, and heading out into the classic American wilderness. While there, you must track deer using a number of different tools, overcome the obstacles of weather or blown calls on your deer horn, and make sure you properly disable as many four-legged foes as possible.

Since Deer Hunter is tremendously boring, it's not entirely clear why so many people in this fine country have latched onto it and made it one of our national video games. Perhaps because it serves as a model for the fundamental American rights, to bear arms, to take overpopulation into your own hands, and to rough it out in the wilderness on your own. Or something.

Duke Nukem 3D

Publisher: GT Interactive
Developer: 3D Realms
Release Date: Jan 31, 1996
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There are few game characters who epitomize the classic American male macho archetype better than Duke Nukem, star of approximately three games (spin-offs, map packs, mobile games, and non-existent sequels notwithstanding), but it was most notably Duke Nukem 3D, the first-person shooter, which launched Duke Nukem from part-time action hero to household name. Duke is bona fide all-American in all his crew-cut, steroid-induced, grimacing glory. Put it this way: Duke Nukem is the kind of tough that demands the sort of silly Internet fads typically reserved for suckers like Chuck Norris.

Part lover of ladies, part misogynist, Duke Nukem famously defends the barely clothed women of Earth from alien invasion by using an arsenal's worth of guns against them (both the women and the aliens). The character, though not based on anyone in particular, brings to mind the entire Jean-Claude Van Damme catalog-- simultaneously--especially the dancing scene in Kickboxer. With much homage to Army of Darkness, Duke Nukem tops the entire run-and-gun-and-oogle experience by shouting such memorably stolen lines as "Come get some!" and "Hail to the king, baby!"

And he travels by jetpack. If that doesn't scream "fear of male inadequacy euphemism" to you, then you're just not paying attention.

Ford vs. Chevy

Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: 2K Games
Release Date: Nov 9, 2005
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Throughout America's history, there have been plenty of long, drawn-out, and bloody conflicts. But arguably, even those battles pale in comparison to America's longest-running war. Costing billions of dollars annually and often causing Civil War-like splits along family lines, the ongoing squabble between Ford and Chevy is currently the most serious problem we, as a nation, must face. But unfortunately, there's no end in sight.

Another casualty of this war: horrific paint jobs

Thankfully, there's now a way to reenact several of the key battles in this dramatic war with Ford vs. Chevy, which was released on consoles last year. The two-sided battle raged onto our television screens, earning a whopping 5.0 from GameSpot. Unfortunately, this barely mediocre game does a poor job of representing this uniquely American conflict, with only a team-racing mode thrown in to make it seem slightly different from all of the other run-of-the-mill racers out there. With this game, you can experience epic battles like Camaro vs. Mustang, F150 vs. SSR, even Model T vs. Chevy 490, all without having to set foot into an auto shop or bar. Truly, this is the way that all future wars should be fought. Just, you know...don't invite Toyota or anything.

The poor quality of the game has no bearing on the internal turmoil that burns deeply inside each and every one of us. Which side are you on? And if you say "Mopar," just know that we're going to break a beer bottle over your head.

Freedom Fighters

Publisher: EA Games
Developer: Io Interactive
Release Date: Oct 1, 2003
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Since the dawn of time, or at least the dawn of the Cold War, American pop culture has been absolutely obsessed with the concept of evil Russians who are determined to rule the world, invade American soil, and drop the hammer (and sickle) on the free world. One need only look to such classic films as Red Dawn, Jumpin' Jack Flash, or Spies Like Us for incontrovertible proof of this. While the Russians aren't quite the bad guys they used to be back in the '80s, it didn't stop Io Interactive from spinning us a Red Dawn-like yarn about a Russian invasion and the scrappy group of American citizens who band together to form a resistance movement and deal the invading forces a major blow.

How do they deal this blow? With the blessing of the Second Amendment, baby! Though perhaps the right to bear arms doesn't include the right to blow up Russian-controlled gas stations and carry around with a bunch of hand grenades and all the other firepower that Freedom Fighters offers, we're pretty sure the Founding Fathers would do the same thing if they were in the shoes of plumber-turned-rebel Chris Stone.

Madden NFL 06

Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Sports
Release Date: Aug 8, 2005
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America is sort of like Burger King: We want things done our way and, as such, we aren't about to conform to standards set by other countries. After all, there's a reason you still run the mile in gym class and not the "1610 meters." So is it any wonder that a bunch of Yanks took the name of the world's most popular sport, used it to describe a completely different game, and redefined the sporting landscape in the US? Regardless of what the rotisserie baseball geeks will tell you, it's the NFL that is America's true sporting pastime.

And because of that, John Madden--in all his turkey-duck-chicken-stuffing glory--has become an American icon. Talk about a resume: Super Bowl-winning coach with the Oakland Raiders; a legendary broadcasting presence on CBS, Fox, ABC, and, soon, NBC; and, oh yeah, it's his name that just happens to be on the best-selling video game series of all time. So raise your pom-poms, Turducken legs, or the Green Bay Packers cozy that protects your favorite game-day beverage, and let's all salute the Coach together. Because about the only thing that could make him cooler now is if his lower half were replaced by tank treads. We've got our fingers crossed.

Oregon Trail

Publisher: MECC
Developer: MECC
Release Date: 1985
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Americans of a certain age, namely the children of the Reagan-era '80s educational system, received their first classroom computer experience almost universally with the Apple II edutainment games from developer MECC. The most famous of these, by far, is Oregon Trail, a brief overview of the life of 19th-century American settlers on a trip along the titular road, which stretches across the American heartland from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon City.

Oregon Trail may very well be considered the epitome of American games, used nationwide as a teaching tool to model an important part of the early American settler society. Players were memorably tasked with making their way across the country by Conestoga wagon (the only way to travel!), maintaining the health of their family members, taking care of their wagons, and hunting for food and provisions along the way. Failure to properly manage the trip resulted in death, and the countless tombstones that littered the path of the Oregon Trails in elementary schools across the land were inscribed with heartfelt messages that depicted mankind's constant battle with mortality in three simple words, "Pepperoni and Mushrooms."

Pac-Man

Publisher: Bootleg
Developer: Namco
Release Date: 1981
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The year was 1980, and arcades had certainly started to take hold, but the appeal was still very narrow. Jean-jacketed thugs with switchblade combs were running rampant on the games of the early '80s, stealing quarters and sneering all the while. To put it mildly, if that business was going to overcome the pool-hall stigma it received during the pinball era, it was going to need to become something that the whole family could enjoy. And the game that made that all possible is the game that effectively brought video gaming to the American mainstream: the Namco-developed, Midway-licensed maze game, Pac-Man.

Billy Mitchell holds the world record for both Pac-Man and days spent wearing an American flag tie.

It was developed in Japan, and sure, it caused a real stir over there. But in the States, Pac-Man caused the first real video game craze, absolutely flooding arcades with something they probably rarely saw back then...women. And those women brought quarters. And they waited in lines just to play Pac-Man. Before long, the little yellow ghostbuster was big enough to set off one of the most American things that can possibly happen: a full-fledged merchandising craze. T-shirts, mugs, clocks, trading cards, scratch-off games, tabletop video games, a board game, a Saturday morning cartoon show, a breakfast cereal, and yes, about a billion sequels. Pac-Man was even named Man of the Year. Well, by Mad magazine, anyway.

In 1982, one-hit wonders Buckner & Garcia reached number eight on the US charts with a song titled "Pac-Man Fever," a song so American that it might as well be the national anthem.

Railroad Tycoon

Publisher: MicroProse
Developer: MPS Labs
Release Date: 1990
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Few things are more American than the American Dream, Horatio Alger's noble belief that hard work and determination is the surefire recipe for financial success. Over the years, Americans like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie perfected this lifestyle, rising quickly to the top of the heap and making the big bucks. You know, so that nobody else could.

Railroad Tycoon is the video game embodiment of this principal, putting you in the shoes of a budding railroad entrepreneur (you can imagine you're the young Cornelius Vanderbilt, if that's your thing) and letting you build a huge train empire. You must manage money, resources, and budget your workforces like the great industrial capitalists of US history.

The downsides to a failed railroad system in this game might not be on par with the downsides of failed capitalism in the early 20th century in the US, but if you can convince your younger sister or brother to do the more tedious tasks, like laying track for you while you smoke Havanas and drink scotch, then you will do your forebears proud, all the same.

WWE WrestleMania 21

Publisher: THQ
Developer: Studio Gigante
Release Date: Apr 20, 2005
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Some of our greatest American heroes made their bones in the squared circle, defending their honor in full-on extreme unarmed combat--true Americans like Triple H, John Cena, and everyone's favorite, the Canadian Crippler, Chris Benoit. OK, wait, forget that last one.

While Canada's wrestling roots certainly run deep, the world of professional wrestling is a lot like apple pie in that it's about as American as you can get. Plus, it reflects the country's melting-pot roots, bringing in international greats like Nikolai Volkoff, The Mountie, and the Ugandan Headhunter, Kamala. OK, fine, Kamala was actually from Mississippi. You got us again.

In America, we like a woman who can take a good punch.

Whether it's guys cutting themselves on the forehead with tiny blades and puffing up their cheeks to make a head wound gush blood, or the ever-popular practice of stomping on the mat with your foot every time you punch to make the punch sound like it's creating a booming noise, it's hard not to love "sports entertainment" in some way. Of course, capturing all of the excitement of the in-ring action and outside-the-ring drama is something that has eluded most game developers.

These days, the only viable wrestling game series is THQ's SmackDown! series, developed by the fine folks at Yuke's in Japan. Prior to that, though, each console got its own game, and the Xbox received the last "made-in-America" wrestling game, WWE Wrestlemania 21. Unfortunately, the product was released with a fairly severe online bug, though even when fixed, the game was really lacking. But while the best wrestling games may be coming out of Japan these days, Vince McMahon's WWE is nothing if not rabidly American. After all, how else can you explain the nearly insane amount of time "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan is getting on WWE's TV programming these days? Hooooooo!


Make Your Voice Heard

Do you have your own definition of American games that you'd like to share? Give us your thoughts on the long history of American games whether they're truly patriotic or dubious by dropping a comment below. Please adhere to the topic and keep the discussion civil.


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Discussion

596 comments
The_AI
The_AI

Freedom Fighters: Most American game EVER.

Megadeth_Owns
Megadeth_Owns

How about john deere american faqrmer, it has american in the name!

pinguis
pinguis

a really american game is Fight Club. it is very american to use a movie liscence and try to make a quick buck with it in the gaming industry regardless of how pathetic the result may be.

davidscorc
davidscorc

I have to go with madden or wrestling.

DeityCode
DeityCode

The name American derives form the name of the country, the United States of America. This should be obvious to our neighbors who take umbrage with the name American. Mexicans, Canadians, North Americans all, but we are Americans.

DeityCode
DeityCode

Many people who wear 'pacifist' as a badge are some of the most violent people I have ever encountered. They say they don't want to fight but their words are full of hate, anger, venom, and pain. They will attempt to manipulate through guilt and fear. And they suffer from contempt prior to investigation. This is not true of all pacifists just many who define themselves that way.

Sputnixy
Sputnixy

The reason GTA is no on there is because if you look on the horrible mentions is because it's vilonent like in one of the horrible mentions 187 ride or die.

anyulled
anyulled

i vote for madden, the most american game of all times

8th_pacifist
8th_pacifist

thered0390, you are an idiot. The USA is not the only free country in the world and "Americans" are not the only people in the world. Oh, and well done for obliterating the whole of South America and Canada. I have no objection to patriotism or pride. What I object to is arrogance, so I sincerely hope you were being ironic.

Canon-D
Canon-D

lol really all very "american games" but what about battle toads? XD o yea.. and earthworm jim was real american comedy at ti's best!

thered0390
thered0390

Oh, and to all the "America is a continent" people. In your country it may not be legal for you to express your opinion. Another great quality here in the land of Amerigo Vespucci.

thered0390
thered0390

Good choices. But on the video: where's the explosion on Halo 2 of Regret's ship jumping and devastating New Mombasa? Or the destruction of the initial Halo? Good explosions right there.

AA7
AA7

Canada Rules!

Recurvebow_ak47
Recurvebow_ak47

Socom, 1, 2, 3, Socom: FTB PSP, America's Army, Conflict Series, Medal Of Honor series? Anything to do with American warfare could work too Gamespot. World War I, and II flight sims, Navy Seal games like in the Socom series. Some of the ones you put in there I think are not too well known, or can be recognized as you say they are. My listed titles would for sure beat some of the games you guys put up there. Though, Duke Nukem, and Pacman should stay. Just my opinion might be wrong about some other games. Buy the way, I liked the video, explosions are just right for the 4th. :)

D00MGIVER
D00MGIVER

I think that there is more to Americans than the whole "senseless violence" and sports idea. I think it's just the propaganda spread about what a stereotypical American citizen does, or likes that influences what games are made, or chosen to be on the list. All Canadians reading this, go look up the Massey Commission, and you'll find out why something like this doesn't exist for Canada (I'm Canadian, trust me on this one). This way you don't need to keep asking. I have nothing against the US of A, but I just believe in thinking for one's self, and deciding how you choose to view the world, and it's citizens.

blum55555
blum55555

snake !!!! a real amaricn hero!

cheez-it277
cheez-it277

24, the video game!!!!! there is nothing more american than jack bauer

JakeGates
JakeGates

What about Splinter Cell. I mean whats more patriotic then putin' a knife to a terrorists throat.

MrGrimFandango
MrGrimFandango

Where is Duke Nukem, he's the real American hero..

deathneo
deathneo

Why isn't America's Army on the list. The whole game was funded by American Taxpayers and developed by the US Army. How can you get any more American than that???

diablusx
diablusx

Madden - American football. Big Mother Trucker - What other country would this relate to? Duke Nukem 3D/Plutonium - Babes, beer and aliens. Just like any summer blockbuster. Deer Hunter - (see BMT) Final Fight (original) - 80's America style American Gladiator - (use your common sense)

leon2365
leon2365

I think the resident evil series should be there... the whole racoon outbreak (asuming it actualy happened) took place in america... if it went smooth america would have the game and the real thing.

jplb230
jplb230

What about Freedom Force!

someotherguy654
someotherguy654

Ah, yes, Freedom Fighters. I have had countless dreams with the FF storyline. :)

Chirijiden
Chirijiden

The WWE sucks. Legends of Wrestling would have made a better wrestling game on the list. LoW represented the time when wrestling was actually fun for the whole family to watch. Wrestlers had personality. In fact, Wrestlemania VII (the match between Hulk Hogan and Sgt. Slaughter) is the very definition of patriotism. Now, we have shorthaired roidmeisters and wannabe "gangstas" for wrestlers. And now that Dwayne Johnson has left, it's only gotten worse. Wrestlemania was once the quintessential pay-per-view event. Now? Current Wrestlemanias consist of hour-long staredowns coupled with boring rhetoric between pompous idiots. There are matches in there some where, but they're usually only 2 to 5 minutes long. I was hesitant to post this at first, since there are several fans of the WWE schlock they air on TV now, but I've made up my mind. People seem to be too busy having pseudo-intellectual discussions about ethnic classification to care about what I think of the WWE. I could be wrong, but I won't participate in any debates.

Forgansiar
Forgansiar

i think that any of the games in the Tom Clancy section should be on that list because theyre all games about americans fighting terrorists

gamepopper
gamepopper

I'm from the UK. But I like to try some backyard games

Ds4H9
Ds4H9

To you "America is a continent" people: what are we supposed to call ourselves? United Statesians? United States of Americans? Are these the most United Statesian games of all time? Give me a break.

Born4this
Born4this

With regards to the most american game, It would probably have to be some kind of WWII game or espionage game, or anykind or soldier game. Most Americans are very into the military stuff. With regards to this whole definition of "america" considering the fact that at the top of the page it makes mention to the 4th of july, and knowing that The USA is the only country that gives special meaning to that day, I think this page is meant for Americans, who live in the united states of AMERICA! If you live in Brazil, you are not american, you are Brazilian. If you want to be general you can say you are from the america's. If your from germany, you are german. To be general, a european. If you are from Texas, your an american. To be general, from the america's. So i think it is safe to assume that this article is refering, not because we're better or anything, to the people who live in the USA. Besides, it would be really hard to sum up all of the America countries in one game. the only one I can think of is FIFA soccer.

Reetesh
Reetesh

I felt that Duke Nukem was more European type, with all those chicks and all that.... well if it was european they would have Nudity in that:lol: (no offence Intended)

SteelAttack
SteelAttack

And Billy Mitchell looks really creepy in that picture. Looks like Rob Zombie.

SteelAttack
SteelAttack

I know. I guess I got a little too carried away, this site is meant for people who enjoy video games, and it doesn't matter if they're mexican, american, polish-pennsylvanian, or chinese-icelandic-turkmenistanian. Peace to all. By the way, I think WWE and Madden pretty much portrait what the feature is about.

klausbaudelaire
klausbaudelaire

Well, this whole "American" is not actually "American", but it refers to the general population of South and North America....but then what the heck are people called from USA if we can't say we're Americans without someone thinking that that's just a term used to describe a vast amount of places? I guess I just have to stick to being called a Polish Pennsylvanian...XD.

SteelAttack
SteelAttack

I do understand the meaning of the feature and the reason of its title, but you have to realize that people from other countries enter this site, and that in some american countries, there are people who might take an offense when people from the US call themselves american meaning their home country, even though "being american" is world wide known as being a citizen from the US. I am not offended by this, but in these times of political-correctness it's quite hard to know where the line is drawn and we all should be aware of this. And da_spoony, I don't know which country are you from, but in some countries like mine, we are taught that America is the landmass and associated islands between Greenland and Cape Horn in Chile. Even though for other purposes there are regions of it known as North, central and South america. And yes, there are some advocates of using the term "Eurasia" for what you refer to. If you want to call yourselves americans based on your home country, that's ok, but I have the right to disagree and explain my point of view.

da_spoony
da_spoony

Correction North America is a Continent not America by your logic South American countries are American too plus it's called the United States of America not the United states of South or North America a specific region in the continent. I guess you would say people in France or Germany are Asian since the continents are connected.

snow_kow
snow_kow

SteelAttack, the reason this feature is titled Most American Games of All Time is due to the fact that the country is officially the United States of America. If gamespot were based in say Canada, it would more than likely be titled Most Canadian Games of All Time. The title has nothing at all to do with the continent of America. People from the United States of America have the right to call themselves Americans just as people from Cuba have the right to call themselves Cubans.

SteelAttack
SteelAttack

I agree completely with you, Isamu714, I am from México, and I am an american too. And the people from Cuba, or Brazil, or Canada, or any of the almost 50 countries in this continent, are americans as well. But since this site is run by people from the US, I guess it's their right to call their country whatever they want to call it. Just don't expect all of us to accept it warmly.