10 Video Games That Should Be Considered Modern Art
10. Katamari DamacyThe World: Katamari Damacy’s world, as near as I can tell, is a fairly accurate depiction of modern day Japan. There’s rice, bamboo mats, plants, animals, cube people and massive hammer-headed monarchs who rule the universe. And that frightening monstrosity has tasked you with rolling up enough of Earth’s material into a ball to cause it to collapse upon itself and turn into a star. Never mind the fact that Earth itself is only about a millionth the size of a modest star; when the King of the Cosmos tells you to roll shit into a ball, you make like a dung beetle or risk being exiled to his velvet crotch-pouch.
9. 9: The Last ResortThe World: The Last Resort, previously owned by your uncle Thurston Last, has been left in your care. In a stunningly short period of time, this turns into you trying to oust Stephen Tyler and Joe Perry with the help of Cher, Christopher Reeve and Jim Belushi. Well, you’re actually dealing with the characters that they voice, although I think the game I just described sounds equally fun. How It’s Art: For one thing, Robert De Niro produced it, which more than makes up for Cher’s involvement. For another, its Wikipedia entry describes it as “a game designed to represent the limits of man’s imagination.” That may seem like a stretch, but only until you play the carnival organ to get past the Tiki guards to the room that houses the entirety of space.
8. The Fallout SeriesThe World: The Fallout games are among the most well known on this list, primarily because of the immense popularity of the newest entry, and the fact that I tacitly endorsed them at the end of last week's blog post (sales immediately rocketed 4000 percent). And while they’re set in what could, at first glance, be considered a run of the mill post-apocalyptic wasteland, it’s the touches of brilliance, attention to detail and abilities to have sex with people and swear that truly make these games shine.
7. Ico/Shadow of the ColossusThe World: At a time when every video game was operating on the “more is more” principle, Ico and its sequel, Shadow of the Colossus, dared to do away with basically everything. In the original, you got a board, a giant deserted castle, some shadow monsters and a princess who needs saving and lacks any other discernible traits except for her staggering inability to follow directions. In the next installment, you got a giant open field, 14 enemies (yes, total, for the whole game) each the size of a building and a horse that lacks any discernible traits except for its staggering inability to turn around.
6. Heart of DarknessThe World: Pretty much the same as Ico, except this time, instead of fighting the shadow monsters with a board, the kid’s got a laser gun and inexhaustible power orbs. He also never has to deal with a near-mute princess, although he does have stuff trying to kill him in horrendous ways at every possible moment, which is almost worse. Here’s a YouTube video with all 50-plus lovingly animated cutscenes of the precocious 10-year-old getting crushed, drowned or ripped apart by shadow-scorpions while screaming. Rated E! For everyone.
4. The Oddworld SeriesThe World: The Oddworld games follow unlikely (read: deformed) protagonists as they struggle to free their various peoples from a slave-like existence. To accomplish this noble goal, they jump a lot (except the one in a wheelchair) enlist the aid of their fellow slaves, and fart. The other twisted combinations of amphibian and machine that inhabit the world scuttle on robotic claws, swing eyeless faces while snapping hungry jaws and just generally imitate a cross between a squid and a Terminator.
3. Grim Fandango
2. Every Shiny Game Except The Ones Based On MoviesThe World: Once, there was a time when muppets still starred in movies, everyone took David Bowie very seriously and Shiny Entertainment was the wonkiest, weirdest, most awesomely twisted game company in the world. From Earthworm Jim to MDK to Sacrifice, every Shiny game seemed to exist in the same darkly comic, ooze-dripping, subversive and sticky quadrant of the underworld, and even the ones that were torture to play (
1. PsychonautsThe World: “Worlds” is actually more accurate. As a student at psychic summer camp, Raz is able to dive into the brain of pretty much any character in the game, and each is a unique, fully developed world with its own physics and art design evolved from the characteristics of the mind itself. Accordingly, the uptight Germanic counselor’s brain is a two tone neon box of ever-transforming precision; the paranoic security guard’s head is crammed with shady, faceless men muttering about conspiracy on an impossibly twisted version of Main Street, U.S.A.; and the giant fish-monster’s mind is exactly what you’d expect that to be.
When not writing for Cracked, Michael is apparently playing video games as head writer for and co-founder of Those Aren't Muskets!