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The 1980’s was when videogames truly began to implant themselves into the mindset of children and adults the world over. Space Invaders, released in 1979, was a thing that people really liked and at the turn of the decade, the Atari sat alone atop the ‘home-console’ throne. Alongside the home console market was the coin-operated arcade cabinets – their pixels flashing like neon signs at passers-by – that were notching new revenue high-scores. But in 1983, on the back of a few bad business decisions and a mountain of low-budget disasters, video game companies started going bankrupt. We saw Atari create the first video game cemetery and many smaller companies disappeared completely as the market went from a $3 billion industry to a $100 million seemingly overnight. Arcades chugged along, but the home console market dried up.
Then Nintendo got involved shortly after the great video game crash of ‘83, releasing the Nintendo Entertainment System to the US and the home console market exploded again. These formative years, especially for Nintendo, were witness to the creation of some of the most famous videogames even today: Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda all originated from the mind of Nintendo’s acclaimed designer Shigeru Miyamoto, whereas notable franchises such as Dragon Quest, Mega Man, Metal Gear, Ultima and Tetris all began to take shape in both a digital sense and in the hearts and minds of gamers everywhere.
These franchises still exist to this very day. Sure, Mega Man’s been in hiding for a number of years and a true Ultima series title hasn’t been seen since its creator left to gallivant around the solar system. But still, these series have been responsible for countless sales, spin-offs, toys, movie tie-ins – you name it, video games have conquered it (in a figurative sense, because the movie tie-ins normally suck) and become one of the premiere forms of media the world over. Today, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t own a console of some description, who hasn’t picked up a Wiimote in passing or hasn’t flicked their finger across a touchscreen sending an exploding bird spiralling toward its death.
With all these amazing video game series we are now privy to, the question surely must be asked: What is the greatest video game series of all-time? To answer this question, we at Dusty Cartridge are running an NCAA March Madness-style tournament to ultimately crown the 1st, 2nd and 3rd greatest series of all time. Starting tomorrow, our esteemed panel of DC staff members will take on the mammoth task of uncovering which video game series should progress through each round – and ultimately, which series should die by their own hand. It wasn’t easy to get to this point and, truly, we wish there could have been more spaces available.
Video game series have been seeded 1-8 in 6 divisions:
- The FPS Division – First Person Shooters
- The RPG Division – Role Playing Games
- The Heroes Division – Adventure / Platform Games
- The Crash ‘n’ Bash Division – A mixture of racers and fighters
- The Money Makin’ Division – Best selling series of all time
- The Wildcard Division – As the name suggests, wildcard / random big name series
Through a process in which 20 random internet gamers (thanks to my Twitter feed, Kotaku commenters and fellow DC staff members) ranked their favourite series from each division, we’ve come up with the following. The votes were tallied up and the bracket is as follows:
How is it going to work?
At this juncture, each and every series we’ve named has the opportunity to take out top-spot. Over the next few weeks, a member of the DC team will examine two series in a head-to-head matchup where only one can progress. Is there a real, clear answer as to who deserves this title? Not a hope in hell. If we’ve learnt anything since the earliest days trading a single pixel between two sticks in Pong, it’s that we all love video games and video game series differently. Hell, there’s videogames like Space Invaders and Journey that would probably feature highly on any Greatest Games of all-time list, but they’ve not been included here.
Why these games?For the most part, the series featured in the VGFO (Video Game Face Off) Tournament have all shifted a great deal of units, have all contributed to the medium in a number of ways over the years and are all loved in ways I couldn’t ever put into words. It is our hope we can stimulate discussion and intense debate over the merits of each series and examine them to better understand just why these series are so loved in the first place.
It could get ugly at any point, so feel free to drop by the comments and keep our heads on as straight as possible and let us know who you think deserves to win!