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The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #10: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

“The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time” is a statistical meta-analysis of 44 “Best Video Games of All Time” lists that were published between 1995 and 2016. Catch up on how we decided to sort the games and the rest of the Top 100 in the Introduction.

You can also help support the completion of this project through Patreon.

General William Tecumseh Sherman famously declared that “War is Hell” in a speech in 1880, though I think it’s safe to assume that more people are familiar with the anti-war protestations of a certain green Muppet from 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. While this sentiment has existed in the public consciousness for hundreds of years, the basic structure of a game as a confrontation that pits the player against the CPU (or another player) makes armed conflict an ideal setting.

War might be Hell, but it has also been very good for Activision’s bottom line thanks to the Call of Duty franchise.

Publisher Activision and developer Infinity Ward quietly released the original Call of Duty in 2003, and its World War II setting was designed to compete directly with the popular Medal of Honor series. Not so coincidentally, the majority of Infinity Ward’s employees, including founders Jason West and Vince Zampella, had previously worked at 2015 Inc., the developer behind Medal of Honor: Allied Assault.

Call of Duty received a raft of good reviews, as well as several industry awards (“Game of the Year” at the DICE Awards and “Best Debut” at the GDC Awards). And due to its strong sales, Infinity Ward immediately went to work on an expansion and a full-fledged sequel, and Activision tasked Treyarch with producing several console-centric spinoffs. But to become a world-beating juggernaut, the franchise had to abandon its Greatest Generation roots and embrace a more modern sensibility in 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. (more…)

Posted in Features, PC, PS3, PS4, SPBVGOAT, Top Story, Xbox 360, Xbox One | Tagged

The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #66: Mega Man 2

“The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time” is a statistical meta-analysis of 44 “Best Video Games of All Time” lists that were published between 1995 and 2016. Catch up on how we decided to sort the games and the rest of the Top 100 in the Introduction.

You can also help support the completion of this project through Patreon.

The first Mega Man game is a bit of an odd duck, which has become even more pronounced as the years go by. The graphics are simplistic, the sound is tinny, there’s only six Robot Masters instead of the traditional eight, and there’s even a score counter (a feature that was jettisoned from the dozens of sequels that followed). There’s just a smoothness to subsequent games in the franchise that Capcom had yet to master with the first entry.

But like most Mega Man fans, I only learned all this after the fact. At the time, whatever memories I have of the first game were formed by guide writers who described it as an unfairly difficult game, old episodes of Captain N, and the fact that none of the local rental outlets owned a copy (unsurprisingly, Lee Trevino’s Fighting Golf was always available).

I finally got the chance to see what all the fuss was about with Mega Man 2, which was also the first game in the Mega Man franchise to be spearheaded by Capcom’s Keiji Inafune. With an expanded role in the sequel’s development, Inafune became known as the “Father” of Mega Man to plenty of fans, and codified many of the traditions and patterns the series is known for. (more…)

Posted in 3DS, Features, Mobile, PC, PS2, PS4, Retro, SPBVGOAT, Top Story, Wii, Wii U, Xbox One | Tagged

The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #22: Super Mario Kart

“The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time” is a statistical meta-analysis of 44 “Best Video Games of All Time” lists that were published between 1995 and 2016. Catch up on how we decided to sort the games and the rest of the Top 100 in the Introduction.

You can also help support the completion of this project through Patreon.

Even from its earliest days, the personalities behind the video game industry looked to pro wrestling’s combination of spectacle and soap opera for tips on how to behave. This dedication to competition came to a head in the early 90s when Nintendo and Sega engaged in the first “Console War.”

Beginning with the “Genesis Does What Nintendon’t” campaign in 1990, Sega began mercilessly picking at their rival over a variety of claims, some provable and some not. But that was just a warm-up for the infamous “Blast Processing” campaign and Nintendo’s eventual reply of asking their fans to “Play It Loud.” The Genesis and Super NES used these advertisements to compete in a head-to-head contest for the love and support of gamers everywhere, but the heaviest fighting actually took place on playgrounds and lunch tables between kids that weren’t even old enough to shave.

No game better symbolized this battleground of friend-versus-friend than Super Mario Kart. (more…)

Posted in Features, Retro, SPBVGOAT, Top Story, Wii, Wii U | Tagged

The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #100: Pong

“The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time” is a statistical meta-analysis of 44 “Best Video Games of All Time” lists that were published between 1995 and 2016. Catch up on how we decided to sort the games and the rest of the Top 100 in the Introduction.

You can also help support the completion of this project through Patreon.

Why were early game developers so fixated on bouncing a ball back and forth?

It’s hard to pinpoint the very first video game, but it most likely belongs to A.S. Douglas and OXO. This electronic version of Tic-Tac-Toe was created by Douglas in 1952 to support his doctoral thesis, Interactions Between Human and Computer. But after that, the only question early gamemakers wanted to ask was, “Tennis, anyone?”

William Higinbotham was probably unfamiliar with OXO when he unleashed Tennis For Two on the world on October 18, 1958. Presented to the public during an open house at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, the game harnessed the pulses of an oscilloscope to give players the illusion of a playing field with a net in the center and a ball bouncing back and forth. Unlike Douglas, Higinbotham was trying to wow a crowd with the possibilities of science and add a little pizazz to the BNL’s normally staid event:

“The instruction book that came with the computer described how to plot trajectories and bouncing shapes, for research. I thought, ‘Hell, this would make a good game.’ It took me four hours to design one and a technician a couple of weeks to put it together. Everybody stood in line to play. The other exhibits were pretty static, obviously. The game seemed to me sort of an obvious thing.”

After the open house, Higinbotham’s invention was dismantled, and his status as a game development pioneer was forgotten… until the early 70s when he was dragged into the legal battle between Table Tennis and Pong. (more…)

Posted in Features, Retro, SPBVGOAT, Top Story | Tagged


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The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #71: Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!

“The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time” is a statistical meta-analysis of 44 “Best Video Games of All Time” lists that were published between 1995 and 2016. Catch up on how we decided to sort the games and the rest of the Top 100 in the Introduction.

You can also help support the completion of this project through Patreon.

“They say I can’t lose. I say you can’t win!”
– Mike Tyson, to Little Mac, in 1987’s Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!

“There’s no one that can match me. My style is impetuous, my defense is impregnable, and I’m just ferocious. I want your heart! I want to eat his children!”
– Mike Tyson, about Lennox Lewis, in 2000

In the 13 years between those two quotes, Mike Tyson went from being the face of boxing (and Nintendo’s best-selling Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!) to becoming a punchline for late night comedians. In between, he was convicted of sexual assault in 1992 and bit off a part of Evander Holyfield’s ear in 1997.

From that moment on, Tyson would fit right in with the cartoon characters that made up the undercard to his eponymous game. After his retirement from the ring, Tyson would remake himself as something of a gentle giant, constantly tending to the pigeons he kept on the roof of his apartment building. His later decision to act in absurdist comedies like The Hangover and Mike Tyson Mysteries (an animated Scooby-Doo parody where Tyson is assisted by the ghost of the Marquess of Queensberry) just cemented it. (more…)

Posted in 3DS, Features, Retro, SPBVGOAT, Top Story, Wii, Wii U | Tagged

The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #14: Street Fighter II

“The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time” is a statistical meta-analysis of 44 “Best Video Games of All Time” lists that were published between 1995 and 2016. Catch up on how we decided to sort the games and the rest of the Top 100 in the Introduction.

You can also help support the completion of this project through Patreon.

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior wasn’t the first fighting game ever released, but it single-handedly helped shape the genre for decades to come.

Capcom’s masterpiece rose to prominence by replacing the small and stiff characters of previous fighting games (including its predecessor, 1987’s Street Fighter) with highly detailed characters that seemed to fly around the screen. Instead of generic fighters clad in traditional karategi uniforms, Street Fighter II starred a diverse group of characters with fantastical “special moves.” And young fans lined up around the block to do battle with “World Warriors” like E. Honda, a sumo wrestler with a lightning-quick Hundred Hand Slap; Zangief, a Russian giant who fought bears; Blanka, a green-skinned prince who controlled electricity; and Dhalsim, a yoga master who breathed fire. (more…)

Posted in Features, PS3, Retro, SPBVGOAT, Switch, Top Story, Xbox 360 | Tagged

The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #82: Contra

“The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time” is a statistical meta-analysis of 44 “Best Video Games of All Time” lists that were published between 1995 and 2016. Catch up on how we decided to sort the games and the rest of the Top 100 in the Introduction.

You can also help support the completion of this project through Patreon.

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start.

The rhythm of the words made them sound less like a controller input and more like a prayer. By “speaking” the correct phrase with their controller as the Contra title screen rolled into view, players were able to invoke the spirit of the developers and begin the game with 27 additional lives. In a way, the Konami Code was quite literally a gift from the gods behind the game’s creation, and not so dissimilar from the God Mode cheat that was included in early first-person shooters like Doom.

The Konami Code was originally programmed into 1986’s Gradius by Kazuhisa Hashimoto as a way to unlock a huge weapons cache in the notoriously difficult shooter. He has even joked that the button sequence was left in the game by accident. The Code quickly became an accepted part of the of the publisher’s identity, and its inclusion in Contra (along with Super Mario Bros.‘s Warp Zones and Metroid‘s password system) changed the way people progressed through a game’s levels. These features meant that players were no longer forced to follow the same trail through a game. Now, they could veer off in new directions, and discover what secrets a game held on their own. (more…)

Posted in Features, Retro, SPBVGOAT, Top Story | Tagged

The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #17: Final Fantasy VII

“The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time” is a statistical meta-analysis of 44 “Best Video Games of All Time” lists that were published between 1995 and 2016. Catch up on how we decided to sort the games and the rest of the Top 100 in the Introduction.

You can also help support the completion of this project through Patreon.

Since the beginning, every new console cycle has existed as its own separate era that video game players speak of with as much reverence as comic fans who use “Golden Age” and “Silver Age” as a shorthand to represent the different decades of comic production. Ralph Baer’s Odyssey (1st Generation) directly lead to Nolan Bushnell’s Atari 2600 (2nd Generation). Atari’s machine gave way to the rise of Nintendo’s NES (3rd Generation), which in turn lead to the “16-Bit Wars” of the Super NES and the Genesis (4th Generation).

Up to this point, Square had only released three Final Fantasy games in America: 1990’s Final Fantasy, 1991’s Final Fantasy II (released in Japan as Final Fantasy IV), and 1994’s Final Fantasy III (released in Japan as Final Fantasy VI). Even though the remaining three games had yet to make their way across the Pacific, the publisher was determined to unify the franchise’s numbering across all regions with the next sequel. But they still had to find the right home for their game. (more…)

Posted in Features, PC, PS4, Retro, SPBVGOAT, Top Story | Tagged