Video Game Hall of Fame: What Would You Nominate?
Team GameSpot picks its treasured favourites.
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A New York-based museum that houses the National Toy Hall of Fame has revealed plans to launch the World Video Game Hall of Fame. This new hall, based in the Strong "National Museum of Play", will pay tribute to the best games across console, computer, arcade, handheld, and mobile platforms. Anyone can nominate a game for inclusion, the museum said, and votes for the inaugural class will be accepted until the end of March. Nominations can be submitted here,
Once the votes have been counted, a panel of experts will deliberate on which games should qualify for the first wave of inductees. Games will be evaluated on "icon-status, longevity, geographical reach and the influence it has had on the design of other games, entertainment, popular culture and society in general."
So which games deserve their spot in the first wave of inductees? GameSpot's editorial and video teams have searched their hearts and minds to present to you their top nominees.
GameSpot's Hall of Fame Nominees
SUPER MARIO 64
N64. Developed by Nintendo EAD. 1996. Mario 64 Review
If innovation was narrowly defined by who crossed the line first, then this nomination would probably belong to Alpha Waves. But while that long-forgotten Atari ST relic showed that platformers were theoretically workable in 3D, Super Mario 64 is a timeless and treasured celebration of how the genre works best in the third dimension.
"A timeless and treasured celebration of how the genre works best in the third dimension"
That is a staggering achievement in itself. Nintendo tore down its platformer formula--something which it had more-or-less perfected by the early nineties--and rebuilt it with a completely new perspective in mind. Not "new" as in the next cat gif you'll come across, but "new" as one would describe tumbling into the forth dimension.
A spate of casually introduced yet remarkable innovations (free camera controls, analogue-stick parkour, open-world playgrounds) ensured that navigating 3D was as obvious as running from left to right; a degree of simplicity that allowed the intoxicating bliss of Mario games to shine through.
- Rob Crossley, @rob_crossley_
N64. Developed by Rare. 1997. GoldenEye review
GoldenEye 007 most definitely belongs in the World Video Game Hall of Fame. The Rare-developed game was instrumental in popularizing the console FPS, laying the groundwork for Halo and Call of Duty to become household names. It also had a great, globe-trotting and gadget-filled campaign that was faithful to its source material.
"What I enjoyed so much about GoldenEye 007, and what I believe to be its most meaningful contribution to games, was its split-screen multiplayer mode"
But what I enjoyed so much about GoldenEye 007, and what I believe to be its most meaningful contribution to games, was its split-screen multiplayer mode. I'd never played anything like it before. And the many different rule variations--golden gun, free-for-all, choppers only--made the experience frenzied, frenetic, and fun every time.
- Eddie Makuch, @EddieMakuch
FINAL FANTASY VI
SNES. Developed by Square. 1996. Final Fantasy VI Review (GBA Edition)
Final Fantasy VI represents a high point in the Final Fantasy franchise's classic era. It's the perfect meld of meaningful mechanics and heartfelt story, making it a role-playing game worth sinking 60+ hours into.
"A perfect storm of engaging narrative and intriguing characters wrapped in a classic-style turned-based combat system and a beautiful world"
It's also memorable. You remember Shadow and Interceptor and their familial relationship with Rem, you remember Locke's cocksure attitude, you remember the Opera, and Ultros, and Kefka. Kefka's laugh.
It was a perfect storm of engaging narrative and intriguing characters wrapped in a classic-style turned-based combat system and a beautiful world. The world felt lived-in and loved, and you couldn't help but love it too.
- Alexa Ray Corriea, @AlexaRayC
ROCK BAND 3
Xbox 360, PS3, Wii. Developed by Harmonix. 2010. Rock Band 3 Review
Do you remember the first time you picked up a plastic guitar? The buttons were in weird places, and the motion of strumming a paddle in time with colored gems on the screen was far more difficult than you thought it would be. This is not the kind of game your body was used to.
But whenever you successfully hit a string of gems, a majestic guitar melody would play. A melody that corresponded to your synchronized, rhythmic movements. If you stopped, the music would stop. "Whoa," your brain said. "I am making this music. I am playing guitar."
"The rhythm game genre’s time in the spotlight may be over for now, but Rock Band 3 represents its pinnacle."
You’d learn to play more complex songs. You’d move onto the drums, keyboard, and even try to sing. You’d gain a deep appreciation for some of the greatest music of the 20th century. You’d recruit people for your band, and even your non-gamer friends and family would bug you to play. You were performing amazing music together, and the polygonal crowd would cheer you on as you succeeded. This felt awesome.
The rhythm game genre’s time in the spotlight may be over (for now at least), but Rock Band 3 represents its pinnacle, a quality package of memorable, empowering experiences. An all-time classic record that makes you smile every time you put it on.
- Edmond Tran, @EdmondTran
PlayStation 3. Developed by Thatgamecompany. 2012. Journey Review.
A master class in storytelling through interactivity, colored by the era of connectivity. Journey is a simple tale told not through primary narrative delivery methods--cutscenes, spoken dialogue, or text--but through the simple and joyous act of moving through its world.
"Powerful in ways that only an interactive medium create"
Danger and stress are communicated directly through the minimalist mechanics, with the joy of performing your floaty jump ripped from you as you encounter enemies and take damage. The game's minimalist approach continues in its multiplayer connectivity; your world is randomly and seamlessly populated by one other player, with communication methods limited to a melodic cry that could signal danger, elation, or even frustration.
That you come to feel such a strong bond with this anonymous individual by the time your journeys end is powerful in ways that only an interactive medium create.
- Dan Hindes, @dhindes
You begin Earthbound by exploring a fallen meteorite, being told by a bee from the future that that you're prophesied to save the world, and then setting out to explore your town with nothing but a broken baseball bat. Then things get weird.
"The simple, cartoon art style ensures that it looks just as good today as it did 20 years ago."
But it's not just Earthbound's quirky, light-hearted plot that make it such an important piece of gaming history. Like all of the recommendations on this list, it's how deftly it marries every facet of storytelling to make an experience that's more than just a really great role-playing game. Earthbound is touching and memorable in the same way that any great film, novel, or piece of music is.
The simple, cartoon art ensures that it looks just as good today as it did 20 years ago. The music evokes themes of Americana and pop culture, but warped and made fresh through unfamiliar arrangements. And the game mechanics, though their core is the same RPG system that many games used before and since, still feel original and exciting.
If nothing else, it says something that for a game that Nintendo mostly ignored in the West until very recently, devoted fans have put together their own convention to honor the game.
- Justin Haywald, @justinhaywald
PC. Developed by Id Software. 1993. Doom review.
When id Software first released Doom in 1993, it created a craze of interest in the first-person shooter genre that would remain formidable to this day. Indeed, for several years after the game's release, FPS games were simply referred to as "Doom clones."
"For several years after the game's release, FPS games were simply referred to as 'Doom clones'"
The game's graphics, level of action, and explicit violence changed the industry's landscape and pushed the envelope to show how immersive and interactive games could be. Doom established how shooters would play out for years to come. The game's co-operative and deathmatch features popularized multiplayer gaming over a local area network, introducing deathmatches to a mainstream audience. In addition, Doom supported custom user-made content, which spawned a strong modding community. And some of those early creators went on to become respectable game developers in their own right.
Few games changed video games the way Doom did, and the series continues today. An upcoming reboot is being published by Bethesda Software and scheduled to launch on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
- Zorine Te, @ztharli
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: OCARINA OF TIME
N64. Developed by Nintendo EAD. 1998. Zelda Ocarina of Time Review
The Legend of Zelda charmed us from the beginning with cave-exploring, enemy-killing, and treasure chest-opening goodness, but with Ocarina of Time we could to do it all in 3D. Link’s grand adventure to fulfill the Hero of Time prophecy is one of the ultimate video game hero fantasies, with humble beginnings that quickly escalates into an epic journey as the baddies get badder, and Hyrule’s fate rests in Link’s hands.
"This is one of gaming’s all-time quintessential hero narratives"
Ocarina of Time took the themes already established by the series and carried them over to its vast open world with stellar graphics, and an atmospheric soundtrack. You could ride a horse across Hyrule Field as the sun set and feel more immersed than ever in the enticing, vibrant game world, whether you were felling towering monsters, or simply returning stray chickens to their coop. This is one of gaming's all-time quintessential hero narratives, and it is entirely deserving of a spot in the Video Game Hall of Fame.
- Jess McDonell, @JessMcDonell
Arcade. Developed by Tomohiro Nishikado. 1978.
Arcades weren’t novel when Space Invaders was released in 1978, but they would never be the same thereafter. Taito’s vertical shooter took Japan by storm, leading to Space Invaders dedicated arcades and a rumored nationwide shortage of 100 yen coins.
"It's single-handedly responsible for popularizing arcades in Japan"
It's single-handedly responsible for popularizing arcades in Japan, which still command lots of attention and money from Japanese gamers. Space Invaders looks simple now--it's still a challenging and engaging experience, despite its age--but it was a marvel in its day. It set the foundation for an entire genre, and was the first arcade game to record high scores, something leaderboard chasers of today can appreciate.
As arcades became more popular, thanks to the catalytic impact of Space Invaders, the hardware inside of them blossomed at a rapid pace. During the '80s and '90s, console developers tried their best to replicate the arcade experience at home, and this techno-chase fueled console hardware and software development up until 3D games became the norm. It's safe to say that without Space Invaders, arcades may have been a much smaller industry in Japan. If Japan didn't patronize arcades, companies like Capcom may have never had the justification to develop Street Fighter. Though it was released 37 years ago, Space Invaders' impact can still be seen today, even if arcade machines can't.
- Peter Brown, @PCBrown
BBC Micro, et al. Developed by David Braben and Ian Bell. 1984.
This space exploration masterpiece not only awoke an interest in computer-gaming amongst an entire generation of kids, turning school computer rooms into lunchtime hives of smuggling, docking, trading and shooting, it also pioneered many of the traits we see in videogames today.
"Its technical innovations are numerous, from pioneering 3D visuals to the procedurally generated world"
Its technical innovations are numerous, from pioneering 3D visuals to the procedurally generated world, but it's in its approach to narrative and storytelling where Elite really endures. Completely open-ended gameplay that single-handedly drove forward what we now think of as immersive storytelling, creating an open-ended space adventure that was unique for every player.
Whether you were a smuggler, trader or straight-up weaponised space pirate, it set the benchmark for the possibilities of narrative in games, infinite stories that could be shared and told across the playground, and despite being over 30 years old, adventures that vividly linger in the memory even to this day.
- Ben Howard, @mondoben
Electronika 60. Developed by Alexey Pajitnov. 1984.
In 1984 programmer Alexey Pajitnov made a simple yet addictive electronic game in which players could arrange puzzle pieces in real time as they dropped from a ceiling at increasing speeds.
The game was ported and bundled with the original Game Boy, beginning its reign as a beloved global phenomenon that has since sold well over 125 million copies. Tetris has become the generation spanning go-to game for computers, mobile devices, TI-80 calculators and old and new consoles alike.
"Tetris has become the generation spanning go-to game for computers, mobile devices, TI-80 calculators and old and new consoles alike."
Tetris had such an impact on the world that it evolved out of its 2D, 10x20 pixel LED display and into pop culture; making appearances in cult classic movies such as Office Space and in popular shows including The Simpsons and Futurama. We’ve seen reflections of the game in interactive public art displays, re-enacted with real life objects in film, and in a permanent functional arcade display in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.
Those seven distinctive geometric shapes even find themselves in our daily lives when we’re packing large amounts of luggage into the backseat of our cars. Tetris, without a doubt, deserves a spot in the video game hall of fame because it rotated and placed its way perfectly in our hearts.
- Mary Kish, @merrykish
HALO: COMBAT EVOLVED
Xbox. Developed by Bungie. 2001. Halo Review.
"The game revolutionized the console shooter, utilizing the controller to its fullest"
Halo: CE brought everything. Engaging sci-fi story backed up with an expansive universe, iconic protagonist, breathtaking visual design, and one of the most powerful musical scores known in gaming.
The game revolutionized the console shooter, utilizing the controller to its fullest. Buttons devoted to melee and grenade sped up combat and two weapon slots. And the game introduced an innovative rechargeable shield/health mechanic, which is present in practically all modern shooters now. It opened doors for the tactician that favors timing over aiming.
Halo fans lugged TVs and Xboxes to garages without hesitation. Intense 16-player LAN parties flourished in that year prior to Xbox Live; Halo CE spawned the birth and saw the demise of a gaming era. Halo CE doesn't rest on top of the console FPS genre; it hovers.
- Rob Handlery, @roberthandlery
PC. Developed by Valve Software. 2004. Half-Life 2 Review
While hype and hysteria tend to be measured by Internet noise, Half-Life 3's appeal is uniquely defined by the anguished silence it carries. More than ten years since the release of Half-Life 2, it simply hurts too much to talk about its sequel.
The culprit for such unusual desire is a first-person shooter, released in 2004, which delivered a spectacular harmony of everything Westerners crave in modern action games.
"A spectacular harmony of everything westerners crave about modern action games"
Half-Life 2's beautifully observed dystopia, and the narrative threaded through it, was only made possible by a rare accord between its writing, characters, voice acting, and pioneering animation techniques.
As much as it delivered heart-pounding action sequences, along with an exhilarating game of cat-and-mouse against its alien foes, Half-Life 2 is perhaps best remembered for those unforgettable moments of freezing on the spot gazing up in awe.
- Rob Crossley, @rob_crossley_