The Top 7... new games that you already played

Above: Harmonix may seem like it's leading the way to the next music game party with Rock Band 2 (left). But Konami's influence with Guitar Freaks and DrumMania (right) can't be ignored

Now Konami looks like they're late to the party with their latest music game, Rock Revolution, when they were actually one of the first ones there. But this doesn't seem to be stopping any enthusiasm for Rock Band 2, which will feature new songs and additional modes.

We don't care if you're talking about Warhammer: Online or the latest free-to-play Korean port. If you look at the elements that make modern MMOs fun and trace their roots of origin, you'll eventually arrive at text-based MUDs. Those were Multi-User Dungeons for those too young to remember dial-in bulletin board systems and antique modems that used your land line.

Accepting quests from NPCs, exploring dungeons, forming groups to tackle bosses, random loot drops, chatting with strangers, and the fascination of watching stats grow as you grind through mobs to level up - these are the core elements that make today's MMOs so addictive, and they were all present before the technology existed that allowed you to wrap those all important numbers and lengthy fields of text in average graphics.

Above: The elements that make modern MMOs fun can be traced back to ancient text-based MUDs. But you’d never be able to grab screenshots like this

MMOs have come a long way since the days when we first typed 'N' to head North. But let's not forget that players were paying to play text-based RPGs online and were grinding for XP, farming for gold, and writing macros to attack trolls long before World of Warcraft, EverQuest, or Ultima Online.

We're worried that you haven't tried Braid yet. It's one of the most thoughtful games we've played, but has received sparse coverage from the mainstream gaming press. Braid is a platformer that delivers Portal-quality puzzles, which feel rewarding and challenging without ever getting too frustrating. Its backgrounds are visually stunning and look like a Fauvist painting that's melting because some drunk spilled his absinthe all over it. For a platforming title, Braid also features an unusually cryptic narrative that has you piece together the patchworks of its seemingly traditional story about a boy looking for a princess.

But like all the other games on this list, Braid benefits from a variety of outside influences. "As far as games go, the main influence is Super Mario Bros, which is obvious as soon as you start playing. Most of the other influences come from other media (Italo Calvino's "Invisible Cities," David Lynch's "Mulholland Dr.," the music of the Dirty Three... and probably a bunch of stuff that I am not remembering right now.)," said Braid's designer, Jonathan Blow on Independent Gaming.

Above: Braid is a game that demands to be played. You can only get it on Xbox LIVE at the moment, but plans for a PC version are in the works

Spore may play like the ultimate distillation and combination of the best strategy games, but Braid is much more subtle and will make you reflect on games that mattered to you without you even realizing it. Geometry Wars may feel like a retro revival of the fading spirit of old school arcade classics, but Braid draws from that well of nostalgia without kicking you in the nuts or taunting you with the impossible. Braid won't just remind you of Mario games and Donkey Kong. It'll also make you reflect on books you've read, films you've seen, and paintings you admire. And if you haven't read anything by Italo Calvino, watched a film by David Lynch, or taken an afternoon to visit a museum in a while, you'll want to (at least we hope you will), after playing Braid.

Hear more about this article inTalkRadar.

Aug 11, 2008

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