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The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #38: Tomb Raider

“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.

For better or worse, Lara Croft is the most famous woman in all of gaming. But all her fame might be a fluke, because the developers behind her creation claim it was all an accident.

Formed in the late 80s, Core Design was an unlikely candidate to be creating a wide open 3D title like Tomb Raider. The developer’s biggest claim to fame at the time was Rick Dangerous, a game that could charitably be called an “homage” to Indiana Jones. Other gamers might remember Chuck Rock, a platformer created by Core that starred a dimwitted caveman. But like many British developers of the time, they didn’t think about their limitations and just went for it. This definitely applied to Toby Gard, the artist behind Lara Croft’s original look.

Like Rick Dangerous, Lara began life as a man with no name that bore a striking resemblance to Harrison Ford. Fearing a lawsuit, Gard redrew the character as a woman and began tinkering with a number of different personalities. The artist told IGN in 2008 that the proto-Tomb Raider began life as a “sociopathic blonde” before morphing into a muscle woman, a “flat topped hip hopster,” and a “Nazi-like militant in a baseball cap.” None of these looks fit the game that Core envisioned, but Gard’s final pass at it proved to be the winner. Laura Cruz, “a tough South American woman in a long braid and hot pants,” was born. (more…)

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The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #56: Ms. Pac-Man

“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.

It’s easy to forget nowadays, but Ms. Pac-Man was actually created by accident. Like Doc Brown’s invention of time travel after a tumble from the toilet, Ms. Pac-Man was created when a group of game developers from MIT attempted to release an unauthorized sequel to Pac-Man known as “Crazy Otto.”

Before turning their sights on the biggest arcade game of the day, the development team, General Computer, first used their programming skills to create an “enhancement kit” for Atari’s Missile Command. Instead of creating their own game from scratch, the enhancement kit hooked into Atari’s code and altered it to provide a new gameplay experience. Essentially, General Computer created the first expansion pack.

Even though the enhancement kit required an original Missile Command cabinet, Atari later attempted to sue General Computer for copyright infringement. But rather than become mired in a protracted court case, the arcade giant and the enterprising college students reached a settlement. Atari would hire General Computer to design original arcade games so long as they agreed not to create any additional enhancement kits without the permission of the original game publisher. The developers quickly signed on, but first they took a nearly complete version of “Crazy Otto” to Midway, the North American distributor of Pac-Man. (more…)

Posted in Features, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, Retro, SPBVGOAT, Top Story, Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox One | Tagged

The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #3: Super Mario 64

“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.

For Mario’s first foray into “The Third Dimension,” Nintendo wanted to ensure that everything was perfect. In fact, the Nintendo 64, its unique three-pronged controller, and the controller’s analog stick designed to better simulate 3D movement were all created with the needs of Super Mario 64 in mind.

Nintendo had good reason to be worried about getting all of the details just right, as most video gamers had never even seen a 3D platformer before Super Mario 64. Aside from a few experimental titles from the late 80s and early 90s, 3D movement was only found in a handful of titles on the market at the time, the most famous of which was probably EA’s Fade To Black. Naughty Dog’s Crash Bandicoot, which included pseudo-3D movement, beat Super Mario 64 to store shelves by about five weeks, but a majority of the game took place on a 2D plane.

So Nintendo used Super Mario 64 as an opportunity to introduce players to what was, in their mind, an entirely new genre. Shigeru Miyamoto’s exacting attention to detail helped mold every part of the game. The first interaction players had with the game was the appearance of an actual cameraman (Lakitu the Cloud), and instructions on how to control the camera’s angle with the diamond-shaped set of C-Buttons on the right side of the Nintendo 64 controller. Actually, let me back up… the very first thing most players experienced after booting up Super Mario 64 was the interactive Mario face on the Title Screen. Miyamoto saw fit to even offer players a primer on polygons as the squares, rectangles, and rhombi that made up Mario’s face could be grabbed and manipulated in dozens of different ways. In a way, “It’s-a me, Mario! Hello!” was a coded message that encouraged players to jump right into this new 3D world. (more…)

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Video Game History Foundation wants to create a digital record of the industry’s past

Frank Cifaldi is a developer who has worked on Mega Man Legacy Collection and IDARB, but he is also the founder of the Video Game History Foundation, a new non-profit that seeks to preserve and digitize the history of video games.

The Video Game History Foundation launched their first “Digital Collection” yesterday, focusing on The NES Launch in 1985. Cifaldi is also seeking donations to expand the scope of the Foundation, as detailed on their “What We’re Doing” page:

The heart of the Foundation is its digital library, an online repository of artifacts related to the history of video games and video game culture. The ultimate goal is to create a searchable, organized, always-online archive of verified, high-quality material that is accessible to researchers and historians as a public education resource.

All donations to the Video Game History Foundation are tax deductible, and I can’t wait to see what collections they come up with next.

Posted in 3DS, DS, Etcetera, Mobile, News, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSP, Retro, Switch, Vita, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One |


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The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #91: Madden NFL Football (Series)

“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.

A gambler will tell you that they believe Lady Luck will reward them for respecting a streak, and a professional football player will tell you that he doesn’t believe in the Madden Curse. The former is a wishful thinker, and the latter is a liar.

The sports world is filled with superstitions. As a Little Leaguer growing up, I could show you what a “rally cap” was and explain the importance of never touching the baselines. I understood completely why retired Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland refused to change his underwear during a 12-game winning streak in 2011. I’ve even got strong opinions on what you say to a pitcher in the middle of a perfect game. The answer is you don’t say anything, because talking to him at all is bad luck.

For decades, the Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx served as a well-known precursor to the Madden Curse. Those who believe in the Jinx are convinced that any player who appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated will experience some form of terrible luck, even though a handful of high-profile hits have obscured the long list of players who avoided the Jinx over the years. If the sheer number of cover subjects doesn’t dissuade you (more than 3,000 issues have been produced since the magazine’s launch in 1954), the illustrious career of Michael Jordan should. The basketball great has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated a record 50 times, and he’s had the kind of career that other athletes dream about… not counting his detour through Minor League Baseball and Space Jam.

But what of the Madden Curse? Although you’ll find a few executives at Electronic Arts who enjoy hyping up the current year’s game with talk of the Curse, most of them like to downplay it. In 2008, the then-President of EA Sports, Peter Moore, said, “I guess when you look back there’s a grain of truth to the Madden Curse.” At the time, he wasn’t wrong. Five of the last six offensive players on the cover succumbed to some horrible calamity. The publishing giant even considered producing a movie based on the Madden Curse in 2010, though that project seems to have fallen off the radar in the years since.

And that’s probably because the Madden Curse is as mythical as a wild turducken. (more…)

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Nominations now being accepted for the World Video Game Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017

After inducting Grand Theft Auto III, The Legend of Zelda, The Oregon Trail, The Sims, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Space Invaders into video gaming’s inner circle last year, the World Video Game Hall of Fame is ready to begin accepting nominations for its Class of 2017.

Any game is eligible to be enshrined in the World Video Game Hall of Fame, and gamers of all stripes are encouraged to visit the Nominate A Game page to submit any title for nomination that fits the Selection Criteria:

  • Icon Status: The game is widely recognized and remembered.
  • Longevity: The game is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over time.
  • Geographical Reach: The game meets the above criteria across international boundaries.
  • Influence: The game has exerted significant influence on the design and development of other games, on other forms of entertainment, or on popular culture and society in general. A game may be inducted on the basis of this criterion without necessarily having met all of the first three.

All submissions for nominations must be made by March 6, and this year’s finalists will be announced on March 29.

The World Video Game Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017 will be selected by an internal committee on the advice of an international team of “journalists, scholars, and other individuals familiar with the history of video games and their role in society.” This year’s inductees will be announced as part of a special ceremony that’ll be held at The Strong Museum in Rochester, NY on May 4.

Posted in 3DS, DS, Mobile, News, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSP, Retro, Vita, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One |

The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #68: Resident Evil

“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.

If a Bizarro Universe doppelganger of Jerry Seinfeld was a hacky comedian who worked the nerd belt, I have a feeling he’d start off every set with, “What’s the deal with all the zombies?” And he wouldn’t be wrong. Zombies are everywhere. Just absolutely everywhere. But why? And why now? If you trace the epidemic all the way back to patient zero, it leads to a publisher named Capcom and their desire to create a scary game with zombies known as Resident Evil.

George A. Romero is rightly considered the godfather of the modern zombie movie. Starting with 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, his first film inspired a horde of filmmakers and lead to a pair of sequels in 1978 and 1985. But after the release of Day of the Dead and Dan O’Bannon’s Return of the Living Dead, the genre fell out of favor with the moviegoing public and was reanimated only when some low-budget film studio wanted to add something to the direct-to-video slush pile. Not even Romero himself, who helped visual effects master Tom Savini remake Night of the Living Dead in 1990, could bring it back to life.

Six years later, Capcom brought the zed menace back in a big way with Resident Evil. First released on Sony’s fledgling PlayStation console (and eventually re-released 12 times over the next 20 years), the game’s amateurish acting and stiff tank-like controls never obscured the terrifying zombie tale underneath. You might say that exploring Spencer Mansion and delving deeper into the story behind the T-Virus infected players in a way that few games ever had before. (more…)

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

The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #34: Super Mario Bros. 3

“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.

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
– As You Like It, Act II Scene VII

Mario and his Mushroom Kingdom cohorts have held a surprising number of occupations over the years. In addition to his plumbing business and the hero-for-hire game, Mario has been employed as a multi-sport athlete, a race car driver, a referee, a dancer, an artist, a virologist, and a typing tutor. He’s practically done it all, and I think only political office has eluded him. I guess that’s the trouble with monarchies.

Bouncing from genre to genre like that is usually considered a liability for other game characters. As sublimely silly as the idea seems, no one wants to see Kratos squeezed into a go-kart. And yet, fans readily accept Mario’s multitasking, and many of his spinoff adventures are now more popular than some of the franchise’s traditional platformers. There’s a strong possibility this all stems from the fact that Mario’s creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, designed the character this way from the beginning. (more…)

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