Last week, Chris and Kyle debated a time-honored question: What is the most overrated videogame? Their weapons of choice? The well-remembered JRPG FFVII and the breakthrough FPS on consoles GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64. Here’s the explanation for how they reached a conclusion.

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Chris: Ah the dreaded Most Overrated Video Game question. Flamebait? Perhaps? Trolling? Perhaps not. Much of the time we’ll encounter a slew of alternate choices that viewers quickly remind us we passed up, but this time, while we had a lot in favor of Final Fantasy VII and a handful intrigued by the inclusion of GoldenEye, we also had Ocarina of Time appear (unsurprisingly), Half-Life 2 show up (far more surprising), and Halo being a strong contender (to be fair, it was Kyle’s original choice for overrated game but didn’t want to seem cliché). With only a few other games to choose from, I feel we did a pretty fair job of grabbing our personal choices from the list. Kyle though, he seemed to leave a bit out in terms of argumentation.

See, while it is fashionable to hate Final Fantasy VII, much like it’s fashionable to hate anything that’s become popular such as Call of Duty, Avatar, or iPhones. If Kyle hit me with this angle, hinting at the fact that my choice may be motivated more by what seems “cool” to rag on, he’d have a lot of strength behind his arguments. By calling my personal bias into question, how could I be taken seriously?

Furthermore, while FFVII is again cool to hate on and has diminished its brand by being spread into as many spin-offs as the source material allows, the original game stands out as being the first of its kind. RPG’s existed before FFVII, but 3D RPG’s did not. Many tropes and clichés that perpetuate to this very day come from the Ballad of Sephiroth, and something that’s a game changer like this is incredibly difficult to slap the moniker “overrated” upon since, well, being the first does allow for some bonus points.

In terms of GoldenEye, Kyle was very right that the game wasn’t the first to do what it did, or the last. It was fun, yes, but its lasting appeal happened to be in multiplayer, an aspect that has been vastly improved upon in other games. Remembering back, GoldenEye‘s multiplayer was … alright at best. It was the greatest thing we could hope for (unless we were on a PC), so we remember it as being a heck of a lot better.

None of this matters though as Dan saw through my overrated arguments and gave me some overrated points, resulting in an overrated win for my camp. Hooray for me! Hooray for having so many people agree with me! Hooray for Ocarina of Time which is the greatest game of all time!

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Kyle: One big point that Chris had over me this week was that GoldenEye popularized multiplayer FPS on consoles for the first time, rather than PC. That’s certainly deserving of the praise heaped on 007’s shoulders.

Final Fantasy VII has a reputation for being a grand work of art. I’ve heard these nutty gamers talk about crying at the appropriate moments during that game. Crying. For Pete’s sake. Forgive me if I don’t find enough pathos in these ambiguous spiky sprites and their supposed plight to shed tears. It may be possible that this game isn’t bad at all, but it’s remembered way more fondly than it should be.

And that’s what over-rated means. We were not debating which game is worse. We were debating which game is more falsely placed on a higher unrealistic pedestal, due to sustained use of nostalgia-goggles. Having said that, GoldenEye and I didn’t have a chance. FFVII is regarded as something special, and it really was fantastic. But it does not deserve the mindless devotion it still receives fifteen years later.

GoldenEye, on the other hand, might. It not only pioneered console multiplayer for it’s genre, but it even foreshadows things to come for console games: achievements. Things like DK mode and Paintball mode were badges of honor that showed you knew this game. You earned the right to wield dual golden PP7s.

Clearly, there was more to this simple licensed movie game.

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Dan: It’s amazing to me how many fans in the comments section scolded us for saying that these two games were overrated, stating that they were, in fact, wonderful games. I seem to remember us specifically (well, Kyle) stating that overrated did not mean bad per se, only talked about in higher regard than they deserved. I just want that to be clear.

First point went to Chris for his argument that time may heal all wounds, but it also wounds most games. I am sure if you took someone who only knew Frogger and whisked them away to present day, sitting them in front of Bioshock, their brains would melt out their noses. Does that necessarily mean that Frogger wasn’t groundbreaking, or that Bioshock should be labeled as a biological weapon? No, it’s just all about perspective.

Second point went to Kyle for an historical comparison. Sadly, Mr. Thomas Edison was kind of a dick, but he got away with it due to being loaded, and then history was written by the victor. Truth is, much like ol Eddie, GoldenEye is remembered as a pioneer of many gaming aspects that it didn’t have claim to, but it did everything so well that no one really bothered to call it out.

Chris’ next point kinda had to be given to him on faith. See, I’ve never played any Final Fantasy game. Just never have. So when he was talking about the battle mechanics, I really didn’t know what he was talking about. However, when he mentioned that all the characters were interchangeable, I knew strange things were afoot at the circle K. Even GoldenEye had Jaws and Oddjob, who played very differently in the multiplayer.

Corridors got the next point on Kyle’s behalf. The last time I played GoldenEye, I was doing so for an episode of Drinking Games. Never seen it? It’s on The Escapist, go check it out. But with the filter of gaming experience under my belt, I noticed that all the levels played very similar, with textures and random pillars being the only variable. Pretty clever, programmers of the past, pretty clever.

As I was editing this episode, my wife (an avid FF fan) was agreeing with everything Chris said for this next point. Again, having never played any of them, I didn’t know, but you can all thank Mrs. Judge for agreeing that there are fans loyal to many FF games, for far better reasons than FF7. Sometimes the most loved edition of a series isn’t necessarily the best edition.

Who here remembers the movie GoldenEye as the best James Bond movie? Maybe some of you, but not the majority. Who here remembers the game GoldenEye as the best game of the series? Most of you is my guess. Chris wins the final point for arguing that those who loved the movie were actually influenced in part by the success of the game. That does speak for the quality of the game, and therefore wins FF7 as the most overrated.

Before I go, I want to mention one thing. Back in the day, I subscribed to Nintendo Power magazine. I remember buying GoldenEye with the little money I had, and not really being able to afford any other game for my N64. And every month, when I saw GoldenEye at the top of the chart for best game, it made me proud. And that streak lasted for several months, if not over a year! I also remember I would play with proximity mines in the multiplayer so long that after a while, my friends and I would spawn and explode in one fluidic motion. In the end, when something is critically acclaimed and fun to play, well you’ve got something special on your hands.

Daniel Epstein
Father, filmmaker, and writer. Once he won an Emmy, but it wasn't for being a father or writing.

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