AS I'VE MENTIONED a few times before, I am mainly interested in video games as far as I can play them. By this, I mean I am not especially interested in acquiring rare games unless they are fun to play. So, as I apply my limited funds towards classic video games I have been faced with a dilemma: which games are any good? You can read reviews, of course, and I do, but that has limitations. A good review should give you some objective information about the game, but all reviews are subjective to some extent or another. And the best reviews - the ones that are the most enjoyable to read - are often the most subjective. That's part of what makes them fun to read!
And, of course, there's the problem of quantity. I have a NES, a Genesis, a Playstation, a 2600, an Xbox, a Gamecube, a Gameboy Color (and a Gameboy), and a 130XE. Between those machines there were probably something like close to, or upwards of, 10,000 games that were commercially released. I do have about 200 games between all those systems, but that leaves a lot of games left over. I don't want to read a review of all 10,000 games in order to decide which game to purchase next, nor could I even if I did want to.
So what to do? I can narrow my search down a little, say, by focusing on a particular system, or a particular genre of game. But that only mitigates the problem a little, it doesn't eliminate it. I have about 20 Genesis games; the Genesis has a library of about 700 games (US only, if you include others...).
Fortunately, some folks have come up with a solution! www.gamerankings.com, one of my favorite web sites, aggregates reviews for games. What a brilliant idea! I have found that this solves almost all of the issues I mentioned above:
- Reviewer bias? When you average 20 different reviews you've got to figure that most of the bias is washed out (though you still have to watch out for systematic bias).
- The sheer number of games? With gamerankings.com I can show the top-ranked games for all systems, a single system, a single genre, or a combination, and then look at an overview. I can see which football game for the Xbox is best, and which is terrible.
It's great! Too bad it only covers systems newer than, um, the N64. (Well, technically, it does have Genesis and some other 16-bit games in their database, but the coverage is so spotty and sparse that it is essentially useless as an aggregator.)
So there's a void. And, in a burst of free time, I set out to fill that void. It started out as a spreadsheet with games, a simple description, and scores (from various websites) with hyperlinks. This began to become unwieldy, and I knew that my brother is always up for a programming project, so I asked him to build me a web-based database. We expanded it a bunch, I added a bunch more reviews, then spent a ton of time filling in all the data, so that now I can present:
Hosted on my brother's computer.
Right now the main focus is Genesis games; there are a few 32X, 2600, and NES games in there and I am in the process of adding SNES games in earnest, but I am pretty sure that, within one or two games, I have every US release for the Genesis in there, plus a bunch of Europe/Japan games, all with at least one review and most with more than that.
Tommy also helpfully added an advanced search/filter function, so you can do some cool things. For example, here are the top ten Genesis games with at least 3 reviews:
Sonic The Hedgehog 3
Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
Triple Play 96
Sonic The Hedgehog
Sonic and Knuckles
And here are the top-ten Genesis scrolling shooters with at least 5 reviews:
Thunder Force III
Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar
Wings of Wor
Thunder Force II
And finally - I just love playing with this - here are the top-five Genesis overhead-scrolling, fantasy action adventures (i.e., Zelda clones) with at least 4 reviews:
Landstalker: Treasure of King Nole
Crusader of Centy
So, if you are interested, take a look! I just wanted to share.