How would Alexander the Great’s army have faired against the U.S. in Iraq? The American Army would have annihilated them in under an hour. Horses, arrows, and spears simply cannot compete against tanks, mortars, and machineguns.
By the same token, you cannot compare a game like the original Super Mario Bros. to the New Mario Bros. in a direct comparison.
An even better example would be to compare Carol Shaw’s breakthrough Activision hit River Raid against Namco’s Ace Combat Zero. The visual and technology make a head to head comparison impossible.
You can, however, compare the experience of playing these games. You can measure the excitement each game created in its time and historic situation.
For instance, I personally believe that FIFA Soccer for the 3DO is the most influential sports game of the last 20 years.
How would FIFA Soccer for 3DO compare against Winning Eleven or FIFA Soccer 07? It would not compare. In its day, the 3DO was an amazing system. Back then, however, the biggest consoles it had to stack up against were the Super NES and Genesis.
The 3DO version of FIFA Soccer included 3D stadiums, free-flowing play-by-play audio commentary, realistic audience response to goals. Remember, we are talking 1994. All of this was breakthrough material then.
Taken in their time and judged by the excitement and addiction they caused, I think Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Mike Tyson’s Punchout, and Tetris deserve to be known as the greatest games of their time and competitors for the greatest games of all-time. A list of other companies that created great games would need to include Square, Midway, Electronic Arts, Activision, Namco, Capcom, and on and on.
In short, I think Nintendo is the most important video game manufacturer ever and I believe that Nintendo published the three best games of all-time: The Legend of Zelda, Tetris, and Super Mario Bros. 3. Looking back historically, I do not believe that Nintendo created the most great games, however.
In my opinion, the company that created the most great games was SEGA.
Let me start by saying that I have never considered Sonic The Hedgehog on a par with Mario. I like Sonic. I think Sonic holds a great place in history. But in a battle between Sonic and Mario, the mighty plumber wins every round.
But let us take a step away from the battle of the mascots and look one shade deeper. Thanks to the popular success of its consoles, Nintendo got by with help from somewhat abused friends with Super NES and NES while SEGA had to go it alone. (Nintendo executives always said, "The name of the game is the game.”, but when their games could not get things done, they were not shy about turning to politics.)
Until Acclaim and Konami broke their treaties with Nintendo, Nintendo would not allow third-party publishers to publish games on Genesis and NES or Super NES simultaneously. Hence, games such as Tecmo Super Bowl, Super C, Batman, and Streetfighter II were either released exclusively on Nintendo systems or came out late on competing systems.
Witht few exceptions, most noteably Electronic Arts, SEGA had to go it alone.
Here is an example of how that made SEGA great. When the Super NES launched, Capcom provided a solid version of Final Fight. Unable to get its hands on Final Fight, SEGA responded with Streets of Rage.
I love Final Fight. I happen to consider Final Fight one of the most influential games of its time, but I greatly prefer Streets of Rage.
Forced to support the early days of Genesis alone, SEGA became a great innovator. Herzog Zwei, arguably the first RTS game, Sonic The Hedgehog, Mickey Mouse in Castle of Illusion, and Eternal Champions sprung from SEGA being forced to support itself while Nintendo had friends.
Despite having more support for Saturn, SEGA still showed innovation. As support for Saturn waned toward the end, however, the SEGA of old emerged. The last three games for Saturn were Panzer Dragoon Saga, Burning Ranger, and The House of the Dead. The House of the Dead and Burning Ranger suffered for the systems lack of power, but I believe Saturn left off on a brilliant level.
Then came Dreamcast. Allow me to repeat, THEN CAME DREAMCAST.
I believe that SEGA supported Dreamcast better than any single company has ever supported any console ever. From Sonic Adventure and Shenmmue to Space Channel 5 and Seaman, Dreamcast delivered and delivered and delivered.
The result of SEGA so often having to go it alone was a company that could boast such games as Phantasy Star, Shining the Holy Ark, Beyond Oasis, Legend of Oasis, SEGA Bass Fishing, NiGHTS, Samba de Amigo, NFL 2K1, Sonic Adventure, Panzer Dragoon, Burning Ranger, Daytona, Virtua Racing, Virtua Fighter 2, Virtua Cop, Space Channel 5, The Typing of the Dead, Crazy Taxi, Virtua Tennis, Jet Grind Radio, Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution, Seaman, Shenmue, Rez, and the list goes on and on.
Nintendo may have created the very best games, but I believe SEGA has the most great games on its resume. Forced to take risks to support its consoles, SEGA pushed innovation to new levels that Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo would never have dreamed of taking.
In recent years, SEGA has not been the risk taker it once was. Without a console to support, SEGA has settled back and become part of the pack. Manufacturing consoles forced SEGA to operate in the red from 1986 through 2003, but SEGA did near bankruptcy in style.
That is why I consider SEGA the greatest game maker of all time.