Being out in L.A. covering the 20th anniversary Madden release stuff drummed up some gamer nostalgia, and not just for league-license-monopolistic sports titles. I still buy anywhere from five to 10 games a year but a busy schedule of dick joke writing keeps my playing time limited to three to five hours or so a week. There’s a certain wistfulness for the days in middle school when I could devote 40 hours over a couple of days to beating Final Fantasy III or Chrono Trigger. I’ve put that much time over the last four months into Grand Theft Auto 4 and am only about 54 percent completed with the main storyline. It’s great and all, but fuck me in the pants that’s a long game.

The one negative offshoot of the refinement of console games is that there’s no impetus to make decent arcade games anymore. That’s a shame, because arcades are shitloads of fun. Where else can you get your ass kicked for beating someone at Police Trainer?

You’re open to pick any game for any system. Or an arcade game. Fuck, pick a pinball game. I don’t care. Just don’t pick any goddamn PC games, you Warcraft-playing mutants. And picking Guitar Hero is just gonna get you called a fag.

My pick: Maniac Mansion (NES)

Kind of an obscure one, but I never get tired of playing through it. The overarching plot isn’t all that involved – a girl gets kidnapped and a group of friends try to rescue her. But it has something very few games of the era have – humor, characters and character development. Moreover, it’s a pretty funny and complex game with multiple endings that doesn’t gives its clues away easily (as opposed to, say, Zelda games where you got a little fucking sprite yelling at you if you pass something of interest). Back when this came out, this was all pretty novel for a console game and it still holds up well now.