Greatest Game of 1989: The Competition

Now that I’ve stopped laughing about Chaz’s ludicrous nomination of Dragon Warrior for Best Game of 1989, I’d like to suggest two games that are in an entirely different stratosphere. Games that are legendary and spawned 25+ years of greatness. In other words, games that are truly deserving of the title Best Game of 1989.

Tetris

Ok, so let’s forget the gaming experience for a second and think about the impact of Tetris:

  • This game single-handedly ended the feud between Russia and the United States, ending the Cold War in its wake and tearing down that damn Berlin Wall. [1]
  • As IGN put it in 2007, Tetris isn’t just a puzzle game, this is THE puzzle game that started it all. Dr. Mario can’t hold Tetris’s jockstrap.
  • This game alone moved entire gaming systems. Name another puzzle game that could have done that.
  • This game advances science. No, really. In Tetris, “blocks appear to adsorb onto the lower surface of the window. This has led scientists to use tetrominoes ‘as a proxy for molecules with a complex shape’ to model their ‘adsorption on a flat surface’ to study the thermodynamics of nanoparticles.”
  • Most impressively, this game messes with your mind such that your brain will INVOLUNTARILY picture Tetris combinations long after you’ve stopped playing the game (the “Tetris effect”).  What more of an argument do I need here for lasting impact?

I absolutely loved Tetris, and it would easily make my top 10 of all time. WEEKS of my life were spent attempting to reach the highest level possible. Who could forget the feeling of satisfaction with a 5-line sweep? Of clearing the entire board mid-game? The gorilla-like rage after you hit down too quick or too slow, causing the straight piece to completely ruin your game?

Easily the best game of 1989 and the best puzzle game ever.

[1] Slight exaggeration.

SimCity

Let’s just start by saying that while the SimCity franchise is one of my favorites ever, the first SimCity game wasn’t THAT great. I mean, you really couldn’t do much, especially compared to more recent versions, but think of the idea that this game started – you can create an entire city to your liking. You get to play Mayor (or God if you so please) and balance the needs of your growing metropolis while keeping an eye on that pesky budget. And you have to make it work properly or otherwise it would be become Detroit circa 2009.

The gameplay was simple and intuitive. Build some houses, build some roads, attach some power, give people some jobs. Throw in an airport or a seaport to move the goods. Give your people some police/fire protection. Hell, even provide them with an awesome stadium for enjoyment. You even got to see your city through those potentially devastating natural disasters. All pretty basic stuff, but still so much damn fun. The game ended only when you wanted it to end, which is the way I love to play games (feeding my lack of self control).

Now, I don’t think anyone would still want to actually play this game, since the more recent versions have added an insane amount of new things to do (all while keeping the same basic principle established by SimCity). But I have to give the game its props for starting a 25+ year obsession with me.

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