FEATURE | Can there ever be a “greatest game?”

by Andrew W.III

What do you consider the greatest game of all-time? This question has sparked a savage, endless debate that will undoubtedly come to a conclusion when the sun can be contained inside a tuna can. I’ve often asked myself this question only to find myself torn between games of separate generations. This comparison, I found, simply cannot be resolved by fact nor opinion.

It’s a strange beast, but when thinking about it I don’t feel there needs to be a best game of all time in the numerical spot of one. Even if a title helped spark the gaming addiction that has swept the globe, it doesn’t mean it’s the definitive experience to represent everything. Too often do I see two exclusive titles going head to head that share similarities in only genre or maybe even less than that. If a game has given us something awesome then it deserves to be shared and spoken about. If a game gives us something unforgettable then it deserves to be immortalized.

Take, for instance, the Legend of Zelda series. Link’s battle against Ganon and his dark forces have been with us since the NES days and are responsible for propelling excellence to untold heights. Zelda showed us how an action/adventure game was done and as the series progressed with technology, it steadily grew better and better. But looking back, Zelda on the NES is unplayable today. There are design flaws and mechanics that would do nothing less than frustrate you into looking up what to do next.

I remember toward the end of the game there’s a hidden dungeon you need to locate. However, there are no hints or any suggestions as to where it might be found. You could spend hours trying to find this place and to no avail. What I’m trying to say is that Zelda should very well be noted for its importance to gaming, but should a game that suffers from such archaic gameplay mechanics be hailed as one of the greatest games of all time?

Yes. Zelda NES was a lot of fun back in the day and, as I said, it was responsible for the tremendous upbringing of other excellent action/adventure games. But there’s a difference between the most fun and addictive experiences and the titles who defined the medium with technology or other revolutionary mechanics.

Zelda was not the most fun game ever, but for what it did it should be awarded. Contesting these separate categories should never happen because the games they deal with are too different, especially if they were made in completely different generations.

Take BioWare’s widely praised Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn. It’s one of my favorite games ever and look at how it influenced other titles like their own Mass Effect series. Should Baldur’s Gate be credited with the better game title because it came first? Should it automatically be placed higher than Mass Effect in any list they’re both thrust into? Of course not.

I could sit here right now and list off a large number of games I consider the best that’s ever been; you may agree with it and then you may not. Everything’s an opinion and that’s NOT a bad thing. Games, websites, critics, everything needs an opinion and it’s up to you to filter them out in order to establish a connection with the ones who resonate with you most. These lists aren’t going to go away and they don’t need to.

It may make you upset that your favorite game didn’t get the top spot, but like college basketball rankings, it means little. It’s just what some people think and it’s there to cause discussion. There’s no real way to tell if Half-Life is that much better than Zelda. For me, Half-Life may be a much more fun game since it’s more modern, but once again you simply cannot take away what that damned Zelda game did.

So many games have given to the industry and all in their own individual ways. There is no “best game ever” and there likely never will be. Comparing Tekken Tag Tournament to Chrono Trigger for that top spot is just asinine and if it must be done, make sure it has relevance.

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