*Official in terms of our readers’ opinions, anyway.
Our weekly polls and surveys generally zero in on smaller topics, such as best Star Wars game, the ranking of the Metroid games, or favorite open-world game. But once in awhile, we like to swing for the fences, which is what we did last week when we asked you to settle some of the most iconic debates and match-ups in video game history. The results to this epic survey are below.
Nintendo or Sega?
Winner: Nintendo, 72%
Sorry, PlayStation vs Xbox debaters, but there will never be a question for as long as video games exist that will be more heated than “Nintendo or Sega?” once was. And depending on who you asked this question to, and when it was asked, the winner would not have always been so clear. Even I, hardcore Nintendo fanboy that I am, would’ve chosen Sega at various points in my life. But the reality is that this question was asked in 2015, and it has been a long, long time since Sega even resembled the company that once went toe-to-toe with the seemingly unstoppable Nintendo juggernaut and held its own. You can’t simply dismiss that the ensuing 12 years or so since Sega showed its last gasps of true greatness has seen Nintendo continue to be a maker of excellent software as well as two of its most – and the most – successful platforms of all time (the Wii and the DS). Viewing both companies’ entire histories, no matter how fervent of a Sega lover you might be, its hard to make a case for them being the lifetime winner in this age-old rivalry.
PlayStation or Xbox?
Winner: PlayStation, 71%
Much like the Nintendo and Sega debate, PlayStation simply has more history on its side. The PS1 was the undisputed king of video games in the second half of the 90’s, and the PS2 rode that wave to a decisive victory in its battle against the Dreamcast, GameCube, and more relevantly, the Xbox. Sure, the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 battle doesn’t have a clear victor and is largely up to individual opinion, as is the PS4/XB1 race so far, but Sony’s dominance in its first two generations, not to mention Sony’s much deeper legacy of first-party franchises and characters, means that the Xbox is going to need to really give the PlayStation a beating for a good solid decade before it can make the case that it is the better overall video game brand – and with the future of dedicated gaming consoles uncertain beyond the current generation, they may never get that chance.
Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat?
Winner: Street Fighter, 61%
This was by far the most controversial match-up we did in terms of which two games we chose. Many felt that Mortal Kombat wasn’t a worthy competitor to Street Fighter, and suggested several alternatives (like King of Fighters). There was also talk of Killer Instinct being the better direct competitor to Mortal Kombat. Still, we maintain that throughout gaming history, the two fighting game franchises that have had the biggest, most long-lasting success and have garnered the most love are indeed SF and MK. Even if you write off MK as that crappy fighting game that relies on blood and shock value – a very short-sided and out-of-date opinion, by the way – the fact remains that the MK series has endured for over 20 years, and its most recent installments have been met with big critical and commercial acclaim. However, at the end of the day, Street Fighter still came out on top, as it likely would have no matter which franchise we matched it up with. SFII essentially created the tournament fighting genre and has been its signature series ever since, and its been one of those rare franchises, fighting or otherwise, that connects equally with the hardest of the hardcore and the most casual gamers.
Resident Evil or Silent Hill?
Winner: Resident Evil, 72%
While many people consider Silent Hill 2 to be the single best horror game of all time, the fact remains that the Silent Hill series has been very hit or miss beyond its most beloved installment. The Resident Evil series has certainly had its own fair share of duds, but at the end of the day, there are simply far more good RE games than there are good SH games, and even as someone who identifies himself on the Silent Hill side of this debate, its hard not to objectively give RE the edge for that reason alone. There’s also the matter of a little game called Resident Evil 4, which isn’t just one of the best horror games of all time but is often counted among the best overall games of all time, and it’s hard not to imagine that RE4 carried a lot of weight in peoples’ minds when they made this decision.
Call of Duty or Battlefield?
Winner: Call of Duty, 64%
Basically every other FPS franchise has been fighting to make a name for itself in the shadow of the CoD juggernaut since Modern Warfare, and none have come as close as Battlefield. But hardcore competitive online gaming is definitely an arena full of creatures of habit, and once you get the feel of a specific series its hard to stray too far from what you know, and most CoD players stay CoD players year after year.
Tekken or Virtua Fighter?
Winner: Tekken, 74%
A lot of competitors entered the 3D fighting arena over the years, but for a time, the genre was defined by the battle between its first two superstars: Tekken and Virtua Fighter. And as the Tekken series aimed for mass appeal, the VF games got increasingly more hardcore and technical, which was great for its fans but not so much for the average gamer. Later VF games simply weren’t that accessible, which is fine if that’s what you’re going for, but there are a lot of casual fighting game fans out there too and they just weren’t able to jump in and kick ass with VF the way they were with Tekken.
Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest?
Winner: Final Fantasy, 84%
While Dragon Quest has been one of Japan’s biggest gaming franchises throughout its 30 year history, it has only ever gained a niche following outside of that region, whereas Final Fantasy has seen massive success worldwide (though less so recently). It’s hard to imagine that JRPGs will ever again reach the critical mass that they did with Final Fantasy VII and in the handful of years after, and even gamers who don’t identify themselves as “RPG fans” have probably played – and enjoyed – at least one or two FF games.
Metroid or Castlevania?
Winner: Castlevania, 61%
Both of these franchises are sadly in limbo right now, and neither ended on the strongest of notes. But both contain some of the greatest games ever made, and are forever linked thanks to the term “Metroidvania.” It’s hard to say exactly why more people went with Castlevania over Metroid, but it could just be another case of there simply being far more Castlevania games than Metroid.
Final Fight or Streets of Rage?
Winner: Streets of Rage, 52%
One of our closest races. To be fair, Streets of Rage borrowed a lot from Final Fight, down to almost identical enemy designs and level types. But in video games, the originator isn’t always the “best” game – especially in early gaming – and Streets of Rage simply did Final Fight a little bit better than Final Fight did.
Grand Theft Auto or Saint’s Row?
Winner: Grand Theft Auto, 77%
We didn’t think this one would be much of a fight, but we were still curious to see how many of you preferred the Saint’s Row approach of taking GTA’s crazier moments, exaggerating them to a ridiculous degree, and building an entire game series around them. And a fair number of you do, as it turns out. But GTA is still the king.
Command & Conquer or Age of Empires?
Winner: Command & Conquer, 58%
Another fairly close race. Two of the most iconic franchises in strategy gaming, and PC gaming in general. We got a lot of feedback about this one, and many of you said how long you deliberated over this particular choice. But slightly more of you went with Westwood Studios’ take on the genre over Ensemble’s (both studios of which are now closed, thank you very much EA and Microsoft, respectively).
Contra or Metal Slug?
Winner: Contra, 66%
Contra has had a few one-off competitors, most famously Gunstar Heroes, but the only actual legitimate franchise that has ever existed alongside it is SNK’s Metal Slug. The Metal Slug games are more visually arresting, there’s little debating that. And they have more of a much-welcomed sense of humor as opposed to Contra’s silly seriousness (if you’ve played a Contra game that’ll make perfect sense). But the original Contra is one of the most beloved games of all time, and that game alone could take on the entire Metal Slug series and still win.
Gradius or R-Type?
Winner: Gradius, 57%
The shoot-em-up genre is full of a lot of well-loved games, but many of them are single-installment titles like Radiant Silvergun. Probably the only two actual franchises in the genre have been Gradius and R-Type, and more of you preferred Gradius. My guess? The spin-off Parodius parody series sealed the deal.
Quake or Unreal?
Winner: Quake, 61%
In some ways, this match-up was id vs Epic as much as it was about these two game franchises. And its clear that the love for id just goes a little bit deeper. Sorry, Cliffy B.
Ninja Gaiden or Shinobi?
Winner: Ninja Gaiden, 73%
Its hard to know for sure how much this vote has to do with the two series’ 8- and 16-bit days and how much it has to do with the success of the Team Ninja’s more recent Ninja Gaiden reboot series, given that Shinobi’s presence beyond the arcade and Genesis has been sporadic and rather lackluster. But fair is fair, and we asked you to vote for each match-up with the big picture in mind, and Ninja Gaiden has simply lasted longer and stayed more relevant whereas Shinobi’s glory days are largely confined to just a few years in the late 80’s/early 90’s.
EA Sports or 2K Sports?
Winner: 2K Sports, 52%
Another extremely tight race. Despite EA’s monopoly-like dominance of the sports genre for the past few decades, 2K Sports games have a devoted following and a lot of gamers managed to take notice of the only real sports competitor that EA ever had. It’s too bad that some shady business dealings drove 2K out of the NFL, as many gamers actually preferred the NFL 2K series to Madden. Luckily, EA wasn’t able to take over all of the pro sports, and 2K remains alive and kicking and has even been able to establish itself in sports that EA has faltered in in recent years (like the NBA).
Turn-based or real-time battles (in RPGs)?
Winner: Turn-based, 71%
Given the success of games like The Witcher, Skyrim, Fallout 3 and Mass Effect, I expected real-time battle systems to have a stronger showing here. But it seems that our readers prefer the turn-based battle systems of classic console RPGs and JRPGs to the real-time fighting in the Western RPGs of late.
Inverted or standard controls?
Winner: Standard, 80%
Seriously, who prefers inverted controls? They only make any sort of functional sense for flight-based games. Otherwise, when we press up, the camera should go up. Seems like a no-brainer to me, and apparently it did to most of you as well.
Versus or co-op?
Winner: Co-op, 71%
I think that you have to have at least a small competitive streak to be a gamer at all, so it makes sense that a lot of gamers enjoy head-to-head gaming. But there’s just something satisfying about tackling a game with a friend, and clearly more of you feel that way than don’t. There’s also the matter of co-op gaming causing 100% less fights than competitive gaming – unless you’re talking about the New Super Mario Bros. games…
Hollywood actors or “voice actors?”
Winner: Voice actors, 80%
Look, it’s great that we’re at a point when A-listers like Kevin Spacey are willing to star in video games. But the problem is that Kevin Spacey is always going to sound like Kevin Spacey. The beauty of a talented voice actor is their ability to create a truly new and original voice for a character, rather than sounding like a familiar voice coming from a video game character’s body.
Licensed music or original music?
Winner: Original music, 85%
Even though far too many video game composers are just trying to be John Williams, it’s still always more compelling when a game has original music than some well-known pop song. Not that licensed music is always bad – in fact, sometimes the right song fits perfectly within a specific moment in a game. But that should always be used sparingly in favor of original compositions.
Pixels or polygons?
Winner: Pixels, 79%
Great things have been done with polygons and 3D visuals. But far more iconic games and gaming moments have been constructed with pixels than any other style of video game visual, and the fact that a whole new generation of game designers is returning to pixels as their medium of choice only speaks to their power.
Being good or being evil (in choice-based games)?
Winner: Being good, 63%
We all like to put up this tough-guy front, and we loved to root for anti-heroes. But clearly more of us choose the path of the so-called “good guy” when offered the choice in a video game. Most of us play decision-focused games as if we were the characters making the choices, and in truth, more of us are good people than bad, despite what all the cynicism of the world would have you believe.
Mobile gaming: Phones/tablets or dedicated gaming handhelds?
Winner: Gaming handhelds, 82%
I feel that most of us only play games on our phones because of how easy it is: We always have our phones on us, so it’s easier to play games on them on the go than lug around our DSes or Vitas. But everyone knows that nothing can ever beat a dedicated gaming handheld for a true gaming experience in the palm of your hands.
Retro releases on digital storefronts: Higher-priced HD version or lower-priced straight port?
Winner: Lower-priced straight port, 53%
It seems that the gaming community can go either way on this given how close this result was. I think we’re just happy any time a retro game is re-released in any fashion, and whether we have to spend a few extra bucks for a prettier version or just get a cheaper bare-bones port, we just want as many retro games as possible playable on as many different platforms as possible.