OK, this is kind of "time-out" from other content. While I'm working on some Silverlight entries, new Flash games, etc, I thought I would go back a bit and name my Top-10 "Insanely Addictive" games of all time. These are not necessarily the "best" games of all time, just the ones that stole a good chunk of my life! Most of these games are also perfect for the so-called "Mid-Core" Gamer.
Arguably the first great "casual" game, Tetris is still amazingly addictive. Fitting those little 4-square shapes into one another has never grown old. Better games have emerged since its release, but this one had to make the list.
Who knew that swapping gems to get three in a row (or more) could be so compelling? I never played this one until I had it on my AT&T phone about 6 years ago. This was the game that proved to me that gaming would soon move away from traditional consoles and PCs and to other platforms.
Breakout might be one of my favorite games, but Arkanoid was the game that put Breakout back on the map in the 80's. With power-ups, multiple balls, well-crafted levels, this was one amazing update to an already addictive game. I've never counted, but this might be the game that "restarted" the most times in row. I believe I once sat and played for 5 hours, with an average game time of 2 minutes.
7. Crash Bandicoot
I know other people love Mario, but my first "Platform" love was Crash Bandicoot on the PSX. This was the first game I bought in 1996 for the console (the first console I had since the Atari 7800 in 1986). My wife and I stayed up all night to play through the amazingly gorgeous and intriguing levels of this game. Sadly, Later Crash games were never able to the pure joy of this title.
6. Bookworm Deluxe/Adventures
Making words from a grid of blocks was never this much fun (unless you count Boggle). Who knew that coming-up with longer and longer words would be so rewarding? The modern "Adventure" version only added to the addictiveness by giving players a reason to make all those words. However, I'm still waiting for a Mac version.
5. Pinball Hall Of Fame" Williams Collection (Wii)
Yes, you read that right. This is the finest pinball simulation ever made. The "Williams Challenge" in which you try to score a certain amount points on successive tables until you have played all of the ones in the game might be the most diabolically addictive challenge ever created. I've tried to complete it for 12 months, and I still have not done it. Still, I'm compelled to try again and again.
4. Roller Coaster Tycoon
The original Roller Coaster Tycoon not only started the "Tycoon" genre, but was also a true "play all night long" kind of game. Sure, it was in 2D and you could not "ride" the rides, but it was also an amazingly detailed and compelling simulation that was never played the same way. Later sequels could never capture the true beauty and ease of the use of this first game.
3. Pac-Man Championship Edition
Pac-Man? Yes Pac-Man. You must play this one to understand. This game made me realize that the arcade games of the 80's did not die-off because people got tired of simple arcade challenges, but because no one thought to make anything as awesome as this game. In a sense, it is simply Pac-Man. The rules are nearly the same and so are the mechanics to the game: the difference is the way the levels, power-up, dots, walls, and prizes are presented. I can't think of a better or more addictive arcade game old or new.
2. Dune II
Forget that rare Genesis game that no one played but everyone tries to convince themselves they discovered, this one was the true father of the RTS. Every RTS that followed basically remade this game (even if it made no sense: i.e. mining resources and building factories on the WWII battlefront). Building little armies and guiding them to win little real-time battles was insanely addictive. The first time I conquered an enemy base in this game was a transcendental experience. No RTS game I played afterwards could match that feeling.
1. Puzzle Quest
This deep and detailed game with seemingly 100's of hours of play value is the culmination of every game written about above. I don't think there are enough histrionic adjectives in the dictionary to fairly describe just how awesome (and awesomely mid-core) this game really is. As a combination match-3/adventure/RPG, Puzzle Quest seems like an odd combination at first, but by the time you actually understand the rules (maybe 10-20 hours of play) it becomes abundantly clear just how much care and design went into this experience. I firmly believe that this game and its recent sequel will go down as some of the finest games ever created.