Most Overlooked Game of the Decade

I’m glad that this Wired list of the 15 Most Influential Games of the Decade exists since it proves yet again why Chris Kohler is one of my favourite people writing about video games and because it reinforces one of my opinions. A few other end of the decade video game lists left me rather disappointed but Guardian’s top 50 left me completely baffled. Four Grand Theft Auto games and not a single Sims game? Really? More disappointing still was their expanded Top 100 list which, after all those games, doesn’t even acknowledge one of the best and most influential games of the decade. A game that Chris Kohler rightfully recalls.

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved

It was a rather simple game with simple vector based graphics that unapologetically played like something straight out of an early 80s arcade. It’s easy to overlook a game like that, but there’s no denying that its influence was massive. It was a herald for a new kind of console game.

  1. It was an XBox 360 launch game and, more importantly, it was a launch game for XBox’s Live Arcade digital distribution service. By virtue of being there at the beginning it was one of the first, and the most successful, games that you could buy and play from the console itself. We almost take it for granted now but five years ago this was a big deal.
  2. Do you know how many credits the game has for design and programming? One. And even though it was a mini-game within the much larger Project Gotham Racing 3 and had that larger studio backing, it proved, right from the start of the XBox Arcade service, that small one-or-two man teams can create games for the platform and succeed. All the consoles now have quite a few small-team produced, independent games available on them. This too was mostly unthinkable five years ago.
  3. It’s not the first modern retro-styled game but it was a popular and successful (and cheaply made) one and because of it you can draw a line from Geometry Wars to Space Invaders Extreme and Pac-Man: Championship Edition and Galaga Legions and many others. Its aesthetic impact on this style of new-retro games is obvious.
  4. One of the best games of the decade wouldn’t exist if not for Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved and that game is: Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2.
  5. It showed the power of having an instantly accessible quick-play game installed on your system’s hard drive. Downloading something? Start up Geometry Wars, see where your friends are on the leaderboards (perfectly integrated, showing others how to do it from the start), and play for a few minutes.
  6. Hundreds of blatant clones.
  7. Other reasons.

It’s making me wish I had my XBox 360: my leaderboard scores need a boost.

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