- The Washington Times - Friday, May 5, 2017

“Donkey Kong,” “Street Fighter II” and the first installments of the Halo and Pokémon franchises were formally inducted Thursday into the World Video Game Hall of Fame, earning this year’s picks a place in the same category as arcade and console classics including “Pac-Man” and “Pong.”

This year’s four inductees were chosen by journalists, scholars and other video game experts from a pool of a 12 finalists and are now on permanent display at the Hall of Fame inside the The National Museum of Play, the former Strong museum, in Rochester, New York.

The Hall of Fame was established in 2015 to honor consistently successful titles that have influenced either the game industry or popular culture as a whole, and only included a dozen names until the third wave of inductees was announced at the museum Thursday.

In a statement, the museum said this year’s inductees “span multiple decades, countries of origin and gaming platforms, but all have significantly affected the video game industry, popular culture and society in general.”

In addition to “Donkey Kong” from 1981 and “Street Fighter II” from a decade later, this year’s inductees include “Halo: Combat Evolved” from 2001 as well as the “Red” and “Green” Pokémon games released simultaneously in 1996 — all titles that have enjoyed prolonged success in addition to spawning several well-acclaimed spinoffs.

“These are all games I played as a kid and that inspired me to get into the video gaming industry,” Frank O’Connor, franchise creative director of Halo, said at Thursday’s ceremony, USA Today reported.

“Video games play an increasingly important role in play as we now have a generation of children who grew up playing video games having a tremendous impact on our culture,” added Jeremy Saucier, assistant director of The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games. “All of the games inducted brought people together.”

When the Hall of Fame opened in 2015, inaugural inductees included “Super Mario Bros,” “Pong” and “Doom,” among others. Last year another six titles were added, among them “The Legend of Zelda” and “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

Indeed, Mario, the mustachioed pipe-jumper who saved royalty with his brother Luigi in the 1985 Nintendo classic, now has a new feat under his plumbers’ belt worth boasting about: Mario made his video game debut four years earlier in “Donkey Kong,” meaning the character has effectively landed himself two spots in the Hall of Fame following this week’s induction ceremony.

“Without ‘Donkey Kong’ there would be no ‘Super Mario Bros.,’” said Jon-Paul Dyson, director of The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games. “But ‘Donkey Kong’ is also about much more than one character. Its overarching narrative of love and its vibrant graphics brought the game to life in a way that few other games could in the early 1980s. It captured the hearts of a generation.”

Games that were finalists this year but ultimately weren’t inducted include “Final Fantasy VII,” “Microsoft Windows Solitaire,” “Mortal Kombat,” “Myst,” “Portal,” “Resident Evil,” “Tomb Raider” and “Wii Sports.”

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