VVG Show 11 – Listmania

In this podcast, the 11th episode of the Very Very Gaming Show, we dedicate 25 minutes to discussing the thinking behind All-Time Greatest Videogame Lists. What are they there for anyway? Are they a good idea? Do they work? All these and more questions will be pondered in this episode, inspired by a recent post on this topic by our blogging friend, Wizard Dojo. And just in case you were wondering whether the mere invocation of Four Swords Adventures on Gamecube could literally set alarm bells ringing, this episode says yes. Bonus: microphones that make you want to bone?!

Episode 11: Listmania

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  1. themancalledscott

    Wind Waker mediocre?! Obviously you must’ve confused Wind Waker for Twilight Princess. 😛

    Anyway, thanks for the various mentions! Very happy to be receiving free advertisement…err, I mean, recognition from my fellow bloggers. Much appreciated. 🙂

    You both make some good points, though I disagree that lists should try to be all inclusive. It is a shame that some smaller gems don’t often (or at all) make it onto these lists, but these are lists of bests, and if those compiling such lists think X number of Mario or Zelda or Metal Gear games should make the cut, so be it. If they limit or omit such games just to showcase more variety, then the list is no longer a “best” (or favorite) list, and is instead just a series of games acknowledged as good. Things like these lists should aim for a sense of honesty, no matter how biased that may be. But I admit I am a staunch exceptionalist in pretty much every facet of life, and have nothing but disdain for the “everyone’s a winner” mentality that is spreading like a disease these days.

    As for the usefulness of these lists, I feel they are more often more interesting than useful per se. But they can be useful in introducing people to old favorites or in helping define a library of essentials. They also can help put things in an historical context if that’s your cup of tea.

    Again, this was very fun to listen to, even if your opinion of Wind Waker is wrong. 😉 I look forward to whatever your lists might entail, and I wish I had something of a timetable for when I’ll be making my own favorites list, but unfortunately I have nothing specific timeframe just yet.

    • veryverygaming

      Believe me, I was thinking of you when Maya slagged off Wind Waker, since I figured you’d be listening 😛 I think it’s a good game but I’m not the biggest fan either!

      The question of whether you should include multiple entries from a franchise… often it depends on what criteria you’re judging games by. For example, if you’re judging games based on gameplay quality, I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least one of the Mario Galaxy games high up on a list. However if you’re leaning more towards impact and influence on the industry, you have to acknowledge that the Mario Galaxy games haven’t achieved half of what the New Super Mario Bros series have. Or if your list is accommodating both factors (more likely), then you’re in a bit of a bind. Do you leave off both or put both in?

      Another problem you run into with franchises is that they often (although not always) build heavily on their predecessors. Does a brilliantly honed and refined game – eight entries into a series, like Mario Kart 8 say – deserve the same attention as an excellent but somewhat rough original game like Little King’s Story? I don’t know that there’s an easy or simple answer to that question. Still, I agree that these lists are generally more interesting than they are useful, for gamers at least.

      We enjoyed recording this episode quite a bit, and so we’re planning to record a new episode shortly in which we’ll deliberate what games to include on our own top 10 best games list. Anytime after that it’d be simple to write up our thoughts on the games and turn it into a written list post. As I said in my previous comment on your blog, we’re flexible. We could post it here and link to yours and others, or post it on yours and reblog it here. Just let me know 🙂

      • themancalledscott

        I wouldn’t say New Super Mario Bros. has had a bigger impact than Galaxy necessarily, it just sold a lot better (not that Galaxy sold poorly by any means). There’s a difference between popularity and impact. Super Mario Bros., Tetris, Street Fighter 2, those are games with impact. I think Galaxy has a bit of impact of its own, but admittedly if you’r just going by impact the top games would almost all be from the 80s and early 90s.

        There are certain series that simply build on predecessors that I think can be condensed into a single game, like Mario Kart (Mario Kart 8) or Super Smash Bros. (the Wii U version…it’s better than Melee, dang it!), or even Halo. But other series, like the Mario platformers or Zelda, do more than simply build on previous foundations, but often reinvent them. With that said, there aren’t too many series that reinvent themselves as drastically or consistently as Mario (and to a lesser extent, Zelda), which is why I think those ones deserve multiple mentions. Can anyone only list Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World? It just seems wrong not to include both. Just the same, Galaxy is different than 64, etc. Obviously you have to condense things somewhat, but if a series has proven to have that kind of consistency, a list depriving such a series of multiple entries simply isn’t honest. And again, I’ll take something that’s honestly biased over something that’s dishonest for the sake of variety any day.

        When I make my personal lists of favorites, I will be using the criteria of how good I find the game to be, as well as the personal impact it had on me. But I’m also taking timeless appeal into consideration (so while I have many fond memories of Goldeneye, it won’t be anywhere on my list, because it’s aged like sour milk. Though I definitely would put it on a list of “most influential” or “impactful” games). So expect my list to be games that are fun and timeless (in my eyes, anyway), which might explain my preference of Nintendo titles come to think of it…

        We’ll see how things go, but I’m thinking everyone should post their lists on their own blogs and link them to each other. I don’t want to get all the attention (humble, saintly creature that I am).

        *Cough! Wind Waker rules! Cough!*

  2. Red Metal

    This subject reminds me of when I first started collecting music. I frequently perused Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time to discover new artists or the best albums of the bands I knew about from the start. However, it wasn’t too long before I discovered amazing albums and artists the list (and Rolling Stone, by extension) doesn’t even acknowledge. I also learned of NME’s own list of the greatest albums of all time and used it as a secondary source. These days, however, I don’t limit myself to one or two methods of discovering music; the key, as always, is research.

    When reading the Rolling Stone and NME music lists, I thought to myself, “Could these lists benefit from a rule that limits the amount of albums per artist to four or five?” That way, there would be a much more diverse representation that could teach beginners about obscure, great acts. I can’t help but think the same thing of these video game lists – would they be better if they only allowed one to three installments per franchise? That way, they could get beginners interested in these series, and if they like them, they’ll want to discover the other titles on their own, thereby forming their own opinions. Incidentally, this is why I have a rule when reviewing games that I only award a single 10/10 score per franchise.

    Long story short, I think lists are handy for beginners, but they become progressively less so the more familiar one becomes with the medium.

    • veryverygaming

      The series question is a good one and personally, I like the idea of limiting franchises so they don’t dominate lists at the expense of variety and scope. I used to be very much into music (I’ve fallen out of it recently) and my primary go-to resource was allmusic.com. One of the reasons I liked the site so much was that for any given artist it has star ratings on albums… but with a twist. The star ratings aren’t absolute ratings, as with a conventional review. Rather the star ratings exist exclusively in relation to other albums by the same artist. It’s a rather unique take on reviews, one that’s super refreshing compared with other sites that exhibit more than a hint of music snobbery. I can imagine something similar with games, for example grouping and rating games by developer, or by franchise, could work well.

      • Red Metal

        I too would say that AllMusic is one of the most reliable sources because it doesn’t seem like there’s a bias against any genre in particular. It’s not like some professional music critics out there who freely admit to not liking entire genres, thus potentially giving readers the wrong impression about otherwise amazing music. Having said that, there were some albums, such as Good by Morphine which got three stars out of five, that I thought were much better than the score suggests, so I don’t treat the site as an end-all source, but rather a guideline.

        Then again, of any form of entertainment, music is by far the most subjective. What’s appealing to one person may be completely unlistenable to another. It’s not like video games where you can point to material traits such as control or level design and declare the game good (or bad) based on those. It’s mostly when video games rely on a subjective trait that you can get valid appraisals from both ends of a 1 to 10 scale. For instance, Super Mario World relies entirely on its gameplay, which I feel is great to the point where even people who don’t care for it at least admit that the game is well-made. You usually won’t see anyone declare the game outright bad because even the most determined critic would be hard-pressed to find any material to work with to prove such a point. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s The Last of Us, which relies entirely on how much you like the characters – something far less objective than gameplay (which in the case of this game is okay, if not particularly standout). If you do, this game is all but destined to become one of your favorites. If you don’t, chances are, the game will completely lose you, for there is no fallback.

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