Yesterday, the Video Game Hall of Fame inducted its third-ever class, elevating a quartet of classic games to “BEST IN THE WORLD” status. What made the cut? Let’s take a look!
The World Video Game Hall of Fame is part of the Strong National Museum of Play, in Rochester, NY. The first class was inducted in 2015 and included Doom, Pac-Man, Pong, Super Mario Bros., Tetris and World of Warcraft.
Last year, another five games were added: Grand Theft Auto III, The Legend of Zelda, The Oregon Trail, The Sims, Sonic the Hedgehog and Space Invaders.
Anyone can nominate a game for inclusion in the hall, but the final class is determined “on the advice of journalists, scholars, and other individuals familiar with the history of video games and their role in society,” according to the Strong Museum’s website.
There were 12 nominees for induction this year, including three holdovers from the previous two years. But only four were considered good enough this time around.
Donkey Kong (1981)
If Super Mario Bros. is the grandaddy of the modern video game era, Donkey Kong is the godfather. Created by Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto, the game features a giant monkey that kidnapped Pauline and tossed barrels and fire at “Jumpman” – the proto-Mario – to prevent him from getting Pauline back. Players needed to navigate the hero over the barrels and up the ladders to confront Donkey Kong, before he takes Pauline up to a different level.
It was the first memorable platformer and without it, who knows where Nintendo would have found the mascot that launched decades worth of platforms. Donkey Kong was one of two first-ballot Hall of Famers this year, as it was shockingly not even nominated the previous two years. Definitely a worthy induction, to be sure.
Street Fighter II: The World Warrior
One of my favorite games of all times. Between this and the later iterations (Championship Edition, Turbo Hyper Fighting, Super, etc.), I spent most of my teen years playing this game with my friends. Like Donkey Kong, Street Fighter II’s popularity started in arcades across the country, and the legend grew once the game was ported onto home consoles.
Developed by Capcom, Street Fighter II popularized the player vs. player fighting game. With its outlandish characters and their special moves, Street Fighter II’s roster was filled with varying fighting styles, which allowed players to find their favorites and perfect their attacks. While there have been a few Street Fighter sequels over the years, this game continues to be the most popular. So popular, in fact, that a new version – Ultra Street Fighter II – The Final Challengers – is coming to the Nintendo Switch later this year.
Pokemon Red and Green
Released in the US as Pokemon Red and Blue for the Nintendo Game Boy (Blue was a special release in Japan), the Pokemon craze came about when I was almost out of high school, so I never really got into the whole thing. I can’t deny, though, the Pokemon popularity and the impact it had on the video game industry.
Using the rare Game Boy link cable, players could go head to head with others while also collecting the 150 Pokemon that were out in the world. It feels like there have been tons of Pokemon games over the last couple of decades, giving Nintendo yet another huge property to make huge amounts of money off of.
Halo: Combat Evolved
The most recent game on the list is the genesis of one of the most popular franchises of the 21st Century. Developed by Bungie for the X-Box, the first-person shooter became synonymous with Microsoft’s first console. The game focuses on Master Chief’s attempts to create a fighting force to take down The Covenant.
As with a lot of modern first-person shooters, what makes the game most popular is the co-op play, allowing players to join together to take the bad guys. In the pre-online multiplayer era, Halo helped to popularize LAN parties, where people connected multiple X-Boxes to bring up to 16 people into the same game. Although I suck at first-person shooters, Halo’s become one of the most popular FPS series and helped to cement the X-Box as a gaming giant.
Of the eight games that didn’t make the cut this year, the biggest surprises to miss out on Hall of Fame inductions include Final Fantasy VII, Microsoft Solitaire and Wii Sports. I think more people have spent time playing these three games (in solitaire’s case, wasting time at work) than any combination of other games. I would expect all three of them to go in eventually.
The one deserving nominee this year that I understand not getting in is Mortal Kombat. While the violent fighting game is one of the most popular games of the 1990s, but I’d argue that Street Fighter II is a much more important game.
Want to nominate a game for the 2018 class? According to the Hall of Fame’s website, nominations are open!
Let us know what you think about the 2017 class and who you think should be included next year!