Recognizing a Great Game, 1984 Style

Some of you might have seen this already on Twitter knowing the forum crowd, but I just stumbled across this thought-provoking set of criteria for a great game from a 1984 TV Gamer Magazine issue:

https://twitter.com/vg_history/status/1474692696560193536](https://)

The first thing that struck me was—well, actually it was the scare quotes around “identify” and “ageless”—but the second thing that struck me was that I can think of almost no game that fulfills all of these. My actual favourite games are all excluded by at least one criterion, because they lack an interest in “improving skill,” “plot,” and/or “realism.” Sorry to Brothers, Dys4ia, Gain Ground, etc.

I pose as a challenge: Are there any truly great games (by the arbitrary standards of this 1984 magazine)? What comes closest to scoring a perfect 10?

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You don't get cross with it

welp, that's most _Castlevania_ games out of the running

@“ElSeeDee”#p75441 Well, this British person would have really enjoyed Ghost Trick. I hope they got to play it.

What I am rather trying to figure out is what actual game released by 1984 they were doing the Thatcher-era equivalent of subtweeting.

Two games that come to mind are Deus Ex and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. While some of the items on the list such as becoming “cross,” “identify,” and “enjoying the sound” are down to personal tastes, I think these two games strike most of those qualifiers.

This is mainly down to their gameplay and stories specifically with the latter I would regard as “ageless” since both have been seen as prophetic in how they discussed the spread of information and how what is and isn’t true becomes harder to determine which feels especially relevant in our current digital age.

The gameplay of both has a certain reward to it which I would chalk up to the immersive sim nature of Deus Ex which can be seen to some extent in MGS2. Plus Liberty Island and the Tanker chapter are seen as some of the best opening levels in modern games for what they showcase and teach the player what they’ll need for the rest of the game.

Three words: Armed Police Batrider

Love the use of “screens” throughout

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@“TracyDMcGrath”#p75605 Love the use of “screens” throughout

Gaming has really lost its way especially in this most recent console generation, those solid state drives are just giving you no time to think in between screens

@“TracyDMcGrath”#p75604 Thats your answer for everything!

I think I could really get Devil May Cry 3 in here! The only arguing point I can see is “It has realism”.

Well to that I say, what's more realistic than two brothers squabbling over something? Truly realistic and relatable, if I do say so myself.

@“tomjonjon”#p75616 that's because it is the answer to everything.

On a for real though note, it's interesting to see, pre-Super Mario Brothers, this much talk of plot and characters and modern games as art stuff while still keeping artifacts of the score chasing era (screens, improving an implied score, etc) that I honestly do think is something that is at it's most balanced in the late 90s early 00s arcade era. Batrider is one of the only 1 player action games I can think of with a large character select screen for example, and one of the few arcade games with difficulty settings, a level select screen, and a boss rush mode, so it legitimately does check the identify with your character box and the helps you improve at the game box in some ways I can't think of parallels to

I also “enjoy the sound”

@“TracyDMcGrath”#p75622 is mame to only way to play it?

@“tomjonjon”#p75628 basically unfortunately. There's a beta core on MiSTer now, and a novelty mini candy cab release

The, ‘identify’ with the main character bit is tricky on this one, but Deus Ex immediately comes to mind for every other point on this list.

Edit: realized I posted before reading the comment from @JCP So, I second their assessment!

@“Creekgrin”#p75621 I think this is a sticking point for most games. Not too my games I would consider both to be very good and realistic.

Celeste and Final Fantasy Tactics are two that immediately come to mind that check all the other boxes, but I don't know that I could say they have realism. Multi-dashing through the air or fighting with magic on top of giant bird-mounts doesn't exactly say realism to me.

@“Herb”#p75640 Ah, but running away from your problems to climb a mountain so you don‘t have to confront yourself… I think that could be considered realistic! Breathing techniques not being enough to stop anxiety is realistic. Gaining a second airdash when you accept your own flaws… THAT’S realism, baby!

@“TracyDMcGrath”#p75633 i tried the MiSTer core beta recently! It has some issues at the moment but it looks quite promising

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I haven't played a lot of batrider but looking forward to getting into it as soon as the core is done. (right now ESP Ra.De. is keeping me plenty busy)

thank you, @“ElSeeDee”#232, for making a thread about this. it absolutely deserves one.

my sister and i had a chat about this tweet a few days ago, and since we're both big ~~Baby Animal Game~~ Animal Crossing fans, that's naturally where the conversation went, and...

i'll be darned if Animal Crossing New Horizons doesn't score an 8.5/10 on this set of criteria.

only 8.5 because you can't avoid getting cross with it (sorry @"kory"#525 for stealing your joke (not sorry)).

but the plot issue is the real question here. either Animal Crossing has no plot, or a bad plot, or a plot you imagine for yourself. or you can make another ~~bad~~ great joke about the plot of land you get from Landlord Raccoon lol.

also, Animal Crossing deliberately does give you time to think between screens! there are instances in AC where you think, did this really need a big long transition screen? like, for example, when you're flying to a different island. this may have been a frustrating experience, if it weren't for this list from 1984 reminding us that, in fact, sometimes you need time to think in between screens.

@“穴”#p75646 not to derail the thread (unlike my dumb joke, which is totally appropriate and germane) but what kind of pad is that?? The handles look very comfy and I’m intrigued by that d-pad stick nubbin thing

@“kory”#p75652 it‘s a PS3 PDP Versus Fighting Pad, I think it was originally made for Street Fighter 4 and it has neo geo controller style microswitches! I wrote about it here. It’s currently my go to to play shoot em ups and action games on the genesis. It can be quite noisy though. I‘ve been thinking about buying a couple more since I really like how it feels and they are $10 new on ebay.

I found that for puzzle games it actually let’s me move around faster than with a regular d-pad. I was playing Panel De Pon with my brother and we were fighting about who got to use that controller lol