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The violent video game hall of fame

The grand opening

April 04, 2004

I've got nothing against PacMan, Gran Turismo, The Sims or any of the many fine games starring Mario and his taller sibling. Each, in their time, entertained me for hours. I have dreamt Tetris, played Wipeout till my eyeballs bled and Zorked (http://www.infocom-if.org/downloads/downloads.html) till I could Zork no more. Present me with a list of the top ten video games for any year since 1983 and I guarantee that I have played them all. I love video games of all shapes and sizes. Thing is, I prefer my games bloody.

Now don't get me wrong - it takes more than gratuitous violence to make a great game. Anyone who played Postal II can tell you that (with all due respect to Gary Coleman). Engaging stories, lifelike or imaginative graphics, intuitive interfaces and addictive gameplay are all vital components to any successful game. But all other things being equal, I'll pick the game that lets me kill shit every time. Let's just call it the x factor.

Why is wonton destruction so attractive and downright fun? Maybe it's my primal, aggressive instincts forcing their way to the surface. Maybe capitalism has stapled the ideals of competition and domination directly to my brain stem. Maybe I just really like the color red. Whatever the reason, the fact is that if I was to name my favorite games of all time, nearly all of them have "killing shit" as one of their central gameplay tenets.

I think, in part, it is a release of aggression that draws me to these games. If I've had a hard day at work, there is nothing more soothing than busting sweet ninja moves and decapitating 14 or 15 unsuspecting guards. If I've had a long week, getting together with a few friends and killing a dragon or two is incredibly relaxing. Had a fight with your girl? Take two Counter-Strikes and call me in the morning. I'm not even kidding when I say that Soul Calibur is cheaper and more effective than any marriage counselor.

So, armed (ha!) with the knowledge that violence and video games are like peanut butter and jelly, Allan Trammell and Sweet Lou Whitaker or Peaches and Herb, I present you with my first inductees into the:

Violent video games hall of fame

In no particular order and only the first in a long line of inductees
  • EA Sports NHL

    (SNES, Genesis)
    I know I'll rile up the Madden fans of the world when I call this the greatest sports game series of all time. Aside from Madden '95 where you could maim your opponents with cheap shots after the whistle, though, this isn't even a competition. Sure, the haters will point to the dark years when EA decided that fighting was not a part of the sport they would include (EA later fixed this horrific lapse in judgment, realizing that IT'S IN THE GAME, bitches!). I counter that, even without fighting, you could still legally put your opponents through the glass or knock them into the bench with a wicked hip check. And who could possibly forget those poor little pixels writhing around on the ice, blood pouring from their heads after particularly vicious hits? I would play for HOURS just for the opportunity to see Claude Lemieux carted off the ice in an ambulance.

    EA Sports NHL 1995
  • Quake II

    This game is violence in its most unadulterated form and has given rise to one of the most popular of all genres - the online FPS. Other, later pretenders to the throne have added an unnecessary element of sophistication to the games by making you wait in limbo, watching the action until the end of the round after you eat someone's nail gun. Fuck that pussy shit. I want consequence free gibbing.

    With Quake II it is beautifully and perfectly simple. Load up, log in and start blowing people into clouds of fine red mist. Did someone catch you looking and separate your head from your avatar? No problem. Simply respawn, question your killer's sexuality and start chucking rockets. Classic.
  • Street Fighter 2

    (Arcade, SNES)
    What can I say about this game that hasn't already been said? SF2 skips merrily past the word "classic" without breaking stride.

    The cast of characters alone, now legendary, is worth the price of admission. Many of them were ripped straight from the Kung Fu classic Master of the Flying Guillotine (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072913/), but that hardly matters. There are few feelings in the world comparable to nailing a spinning pile driver with Zangief or pulling off a three hit Dragon Punch with Ryu or Ken.

    There is much debate as to which is the superior Street Fighter: Ryu or Ken. Ryu, the no frills, disciplined warrior wins on style, but Ken, the flashier, blonder American gets my vote for his double rolling kick throw. The point, I suppose, is moot as any nerd will tell you that Chun Li was not only the hottest member of the SF2 fighting stable, but also the most deadly. Girl Power!

    Street Fighter II
  • Punch Out

    Punch Out This classic boxing game features opponents with names like "Pizza Pasta" and "Bald Bull." Each has a one dimensional strategy in the ring. Figure out their weakness and marching your way to the belt becomes ridiculously easy. And I mean that in the best possible way.

    Take, for example, Bald Bull. Popping Bald Bull with a left during one of his patented bull charges gives a feeling of elation not many games since have been able to capture. The first time you nail it you know what Luke felt like when he bulls-eyed the exhaust vent. Cue the John Williams score and commence to pound the shit out of Bull's bald ass. Pure bliss.

    Punch Out also scores for being easily the tallest arcade game of its time. With two 19" monitors stacked vertically (the bottom is occupied with ass kicking action while the top displays real-time stats on the fight -- groundbreaking!), it absolutely towers over the nearby Kangaroo, Popeye and Burger Time machines that your little sister remembers so fondly.
  • Rampage

    Now, I must admit that based on gameplay alone, Rampage never makes this list. It plays a little sluggishly and gets rather repetitive after a few dollars worth of quarters. However, the strength of the game's premise alone throttles it to classic status. For the three of you who are unaware, the principle of the game is that:


    That's right. You get to live out your every Godzilla or King Kong fantasy! You are a giant lizard or a giant gorilla that smashes buildings, grabs people out of their bathtubs and eats them. Oh, you can also play as a giant wolf if you're into that sort of thing and are some sort of Godzilla hating pervert. How could this possibly NOT be fun?
  • Smash TV

    Smash TV Six words: "I'd buy that for a dollar!"

    If The Running Man and Robotron: 2084 had a child, and that child owned a grenade spouting machine gun, this would be that child.
  • Resident Evil

    The great thing about the Resident Evil series is not the quantity of violence or even the fact that the storyline involves fighting zombies AND sticking it to the corporate man -- both great, if common, qualities in today's video game market.

    No, the thing I enjoy most about these games is the sheer hatred and frenzied button smashing they inspire in me. Every time a zombie, zombie dog, zombie mutant or zombie mutant dog zombie suddenly crashes through that window oh-so-unexpectedly, your stomach drops and you-have-never-wanted-any-fucking-thing-to-die-so-badly-in-your-entire-life.

    Resident Evil


    Thing is, this seems to happen about once every five minutes. You would think that, after the 147th window crashed in and I was yet again face to face with a shambling, moaning zombie, I would learn to control the adrenaline and calmly go about the business of zombie disposal. Nope, not me. Nooo, sireee. Every one of those fuckers equals an empty clip, a broken game controller and an angry neighbor pounding on my door. God, I love that.
  • Grand Theft Auto III

    (PS2, PC)
    Jack cars, mug people, screw hookers, kill cops. Not including GTA III in a list of violent video games would be like excluding lesbians from pornography.
  • Mortal Kombat

    Ok, look. If I really need to explain this one... well, let's just put it this way:

    Johnny Cage: An uppercut removes your head.
    Kano: Tears your still beating heart from your chest.
    Liu Kang: This pansy does a cartwheel and uppercuts you to death. *yawn* We'll just ignore him.
    Raiden: I never realized before that electricity could cause someone's head to explode. Now I know.
    Scorpion: Tears off his mask, revealing a skull. He then breathes fire, incinerating you.
    Sonya: Her kiss of death leaves you skinless. As in without any skin left.
    Sub-Zero: Tears off his opponents head with the spine still attached.


    Just in case my emphasis was missed, let me repeat that last bit. Sub-Zero tears off your head, pulling your spine out with it. If that requires further explanation, perhaps The Stile Project is a better site for you.

Five-Oh! Five-Oh!

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