Videogames have been around for over twenty years, and while not always the graphical works of art they are now, they’ve always held something much more important—influence, originality, and grace. Whatever they may have lacked in visuals and story, gameplay more than made up for and helped create some of the most addictive games of all time. The following list contains the Top-Ten most addictive and/or influential games from the past twenty or so years.
10: Pressure Cooker (Atari)
Pressure Cooker, which was made in 1986 by Activision for the Atari 2600, is a game where you are a chef trying to build hamburgers as fast as possible. On paper, it may seem like a bad idea but once you get down and start playing the game you’ll hardly want to stop. The game starts with a rather amusing tune and then you get right to business. Once you grab the bottom bun, you must build the burgers you need, which are indicated by colored bars on the bottom of the screen. The ingredients fly from chutes and you must either send them back if they aren’t needed or grab them if they are. At first it is very simple, starting with only one ingredient per burger but, as the game progresses, you must add more and more ingredients to each burger. It gets very tricky. Messing up an order by either dropping it or adding the wrong ingredient(s) costs you major points, and once your points reach zero it’s game over.
9: Dig Dug (NES)
One of the most unique games on this list is Dig Dug. Dig Dug was created by Namco in 1982, and even after all these years people are still talking about it. The gameplay is quite straightforward: move around the screen, avoid enemies, and then make them explode by pumping them full of air. There isn’t any tangible story to speak of, but when I was a wee pup I spent many hours playing Dig Dug with my sister as we tried to beat each other’s scores. Of course, our scores got higher because we improved with each turn, making it all the more difficult to beat your opponent while vastly increasing your playtime. I recommend this game for only the serious or avid gamers out there. I don’t think this type of game would appeal very much to the part-time gamers among us.
8: Mega Man (NES)
Mega Man (known as Rockman in Japan) was created in 1987 by Capcom and is a name known by gamers almost everywhere. While the game was a simple, side-scrolling shooter, the real highlight of the game resided in the power-ups you could gain. Mega Man could easily be the very first game to ever mix the action genre with RPG elements. However, instead of powering-up by gaining levels and experience, like you would in Final Fantasy or the KotOR series, you powered-up by gaining the abilities of the bosses you defeated. These power-ups would correspond with the boss’s type of attack. If you fought and beat a boss who used fire against you, you would then gain that fire ability, if you fought a water boss and won, you’d gain water, and so on in a similar fashion. You could then use these new gained powers on later bosses and do more damage if they were vulnerable to that power. For example, using an attack you earned from ‘Fireman’ on ‘Woodman’ would, naturally, inflict more damage. This level of customization was rare back then.
7: Donkey Kong (NES)
Today, Donkey Kong can be found in almost all Mario-based Nintendo games but that was no different in 1981 when DK made his first appearance. The difference is Donkey Kong was a very bad guy back then. The purpose in Donkey Kong was for Mario to save Pauline (Mario’s girlfriend at the time), who had been kidnapped by DK. Donkey Kong doesn’t make it easy for you, however; he’ll constantly be hurling barrels at you in order to stop you from making your way to the top of the level. Mario’s only defense was through jumping and, if you got lucky enough to get it, a hammer that you could use to smash the barrels before they smashed you. Donkey Kong was an extremely difficult game and if you wish to try your luck you can—Donkey Kong can be found available to play on the Internet and is completely legal. Now is your chance to play one of the biggest classics ever.
6: Asteroids (Atari)
While Asteroids may have been simple in concept it was anything but simple when it came to gameplay. You are a spaceship lost in uncharted space, and you’re surrounded by asteroids. With no idea where to go, or how to get home, your only option is to blast as many asteroids as you can without getting destroyed. The graphics are what you’d expect from a game created in the early ‘80s—lines and dots are all that was used to create the asteroids and space ship in this game—but the graphics weren’t the highlight, it was the gameplay. Asteroids got harder after each completed level, with more asteroids to shoot and dodge, faster asteroids, and a UFO that would also try to destroy you. How rude! Space is a cold place in more ways than one.
5: Space Invaders (Atari)
Since its creation in 1978, Space Invaders has gained a level of infamy that few games have been able to reach. Its type of gameplay has even been used for several videogame titles’ mini-games such as the old board game-turned Nintendo title, Pictionary. The gameplay was very simple: you controlled a tank that moved from side-to-side while trying to destroy all invading alien ships that would continue to lower to the ground. It started to get harder when more ships were destroyed, as those remaining would move faster and faster as their numbers decreased. The invading aliens would also return fire upon you. Your only chance to avoid being killed was to hide under floating ‘shields’ that could eventually be blasted away. While in hiding, your enemy still inches closer to the ground and, once they land, it means enslavement for the entire human race and anal probes all around.
4: Super Mario Bros. (NES)
What more could I say about Super Mario Bros. that I haven’t already said in previous articles? Mario is to videogames what Shakespeare is to literature. Mario has become a phenomenon throughout the world and has inspired many people to continue playing videogames. He is kind of like a pusher, but I don’t mind getting hooked on his stuff…I digress. In Super Mario Bros. you play Mario as he attempts to save Princess Toadstool (aka Peach) from the evil King Koopa (aka Bowser). Throughout the massive nine ‘worlds’, each with four levels, you will face off against several of Koopa’s underlings, including turtle-like Koopa Troopas, mushroom-headed Goombas, and various other creatures that contain Koopa’s lust for domination. The game gets increasingly harder the farther you progress through it, until becoming its hardest at the final castle, where you must first find your way through a maze. Upon exiting the maze you come face to face with King Koopa himself, who is throwing a never-ending stream of hammers whilst spitting fire. Good luck getting through without having some sort of power-up.
3: Adventure (Atari)
Few have heard of this game, and even fewer have actually played it. Adventure is a fairly simple game where you play a knight (indicated by a square) who must rescue the kingdom from the forces of evil. In an attempt to stop you from saving said kingdom, three fierce dragons (who look like ducks) are released by the evil opposition. You complete the game by slaying the dragons and returning the missing golden chalice to the golden kingdom. Complications arise when a bat appears—you do not want to be caught by the bat. The bat has the ability to move objects around the game world and place them in hard to access areas. He can also pick you up and place you anywhere he chooses. The real reason why Adventure finds itself on the list is because it contains the very first gaming Easter Egg! Back in the early days of gaming, developers (usually consisting of less than five people) were not allowed by publishers to put in production credits. Warren Robinett, creator of Adventure, wanted to be credited for his work so he made a secret room that could only be unlocked with an invisible key. In it were the words “Created by Warren Robinett.” Ta-Dah! The first Easter Egg is born.
2: Pac-Man (Atari)
Pac-Man is a name synonymous with arcade games. While writing this article, I was surprised at the impact Pac-Man has made on the world. Within the last five minutes, I’ve learned there have been Pac-Man drum sets, ashtrays, cartoons, playing cards, canned pastas, and even a Hot Rod. Pac-Man has earned Namco of Japan $100 million in quarters just from the arcade game, and it’s estimated to have been played over ten billion times in its 20 year history; but enough of the trivia…onto the game. In Pac-Man, you are a character who was actually inspired by a pizza with a slice missing (Okay, okay, no more trivia, starting…Now!) The purpose of the game was to move around a maze eating all its bite-sized pellets while trying to avoid four ghosts, named Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde. If you happened to get cornered by them you could eat a ‘Power Pellet’, which would cause the ghosts to turn blue and run away as you attempt to bite back, quite literally. However, there were only four Power Pellets, each in a separate corner of the maze, so you had to use them wisely or you could be caught and eaten. Pac-Man was a highly addictive game that every hard-core gamer should play at least once.
Ralph H. Baer, the man responsible for Pong, and the resulting games that followed, is largely known as the creator of videogames. The Pong prototype was first built in the late 1960s and later finalized in the 1970s, and has since paved the way for videogames as we know them. Pong was as simple as they come. Electronic Ping-Pong—that’s all it was. Two players face off against each another by using rectangular paddles to keep the ‘ball’ in play, if you screw up and let the ball pass you then your opponent gets a point. Simple as a pimple. Is Pong not violent enough for you? Well, there’s a solution. An arcade-type machine exists where two people play a game of Pong against each another. The twist of this machine is if you get a point scored against you, you are met with an electric shock or a rapid whipping of the hand from devices built into the machine. Even a game with scant and mediocre gameplay such as Pong can be fun if pain and/or alcohol are involved. Not that we’re advising you to hurt one another and become inebriated while playing videogames.