Monday, July 2, 2012

Top 50: Video Game and Video Game Moment #1

Platform: PC (though I also purchased - and beat - the Playstation version. That one was murder on the fingers.)

Absurdly Specific Genre: Weaponized Vertigo

Difficulty: 5

Beaten: Yes, literally dozens of times (I usually play through and beat it once or twice a year)

I've gone on record (if this meager blog counts as 'on record')  as saying that the N64 era represents the awkward adolescence of video games - both overly nostalgic and of questionable lasting quality. It stands to reason, then, that my favorite game of all time is a blocky, nearly plotless shooter most well known for its vertigo inducing controls and confusing level layouts.

You are....somewhere.
As far as I can tell, though, this isn't pointless nostalgia. I've played through this game many, many times, and I'm reasonably sure I know every secret the game possesses, and it still feels as fresh nearly twenty years later as it did that day that I sat down at my uncle's computer and chose to click on the icon with the little spaceship instead of the one with the guy in the crew cut and sunglasses (it's okay, I gave Duke Nukem a few days later). The level design is wonderful - if a little nausea inducing at times. If Doom had really committed to the 3D concept, I'm still not sure it could've sold it half as well as Descent did. The robot's AIs were years ahead of their time. At a time when enemies were generally meant to be bullet sponges that ran straight at you, you had silent, deadly enemies that stalked you, avoided your missile fire, and generally attempted to not get dead.

Yeah. Silent but deadly. I get it. This dude will still haunt your nightmares.
 The Descent series never seemed particularly popular. Every friend I ever showed it to played it for a while and said "yeah, that's cool, I guess, let's play Doom" (though one or two friends and I did have some epic games held via dial-up). I vaguely remember a couple of commercials for it, but anyone who was playing shooter in the mid-90s was playing Doom or Duke Nukem. Descent ended up becoming a bit of a matter of pride for my brother and I. Here was a game that forced you to use tactics, to plan your assault on a room before you ran in. The fact that no one else seemed to recognize that only made it sweeter.

I suppose this is as good a time as any to segue directly to the number one video game moment...

No spoilers. Don't worry.