You Can Take One Game With You To A Desert Island. What Is It?

You Can Take One Game With You To A Desert Island. What Is It?

My wife asked me this the other day, and what I thought was a pretty inane question actually turned into an absolute mind-tearer. Why? Because I wouldn’t take my favourite game.

That game is Wind Waker. I love it with every ounce of my heart, but faced with the prospect of playing only one game for weeks, months or maybe even years at a time (my desert island has power but no internet, OK?), I had to pause. It’s my favourite game, sure, but it’s far from the one I play the most.

In fact, I don’t think I’ve played through it in the last five years. I’m even getting hazy on plot specifics. The impact it made on me at release was profound, one that may never be beaten, but it’s just not something I replay over and over, nor is it something I put on when I’ve got a rainy day to myself.

That’s different to, say, my favourite comic. Or movie. Or album. Of those, the ones I’ve consumed the most are my favourites. That’s why I’ve consumed them the most.

If I had to take one game away, though, it would probably be Empire: Total War. I’ve played over 400 hours of it since release, and when you add the 300+ I’ve spent on its sequel Napoleon: Total War, you can see I have a love for sending colourful men with muskets to their deaths. I can spend entire days playing this game, and regardless of how much I’ve played previously, I just keep coming back for more.

The reason it’s on constant repeat, and Wind Waker isn’t, is because of its narrative. I don’t play games for challenge, or competition. I play games for escape, for story, for immersion in another world, and the fact Wind Waker’s was so enjoyable and so complete played a big part in why I love it. But the second time you play it, you’re playing the same story. The game doesn’t change.


Total War, on the other hand, builds you a new “narrative” every single time you play it. Each alliance, invasion and conquest writes a new story, one that will only play out once. The King of France might be your sworn enemy one game, your best friend the next. It’s a structure shared by games like Crusader Kings II and civilisation, which explains why I love those to death as well. Each playthrough is like an all-new story, one you’re writing with each turn.

Comparing the two games, and why I’ve played one so much more than the other, has been an interesting exercise. One that’s got me reconsidering my criteria for how I determine what my “favourite” video game really is. Simply comparing playtime is crude and ineffective; of more use was looking at why I spent way more time with Empire than I did with Wind Waker.

In the end, I couldn’t budge. Empire may have a stranglehold on my spare time, but I couldn’t sit you down in a bar and shout at you – like some current and former Kotaku writers can attest – about how “fucking magical” it is like I can with Wind Waker. That passion is about as good a criteria as any to keep Nintendo’s adventure at the top of my charts.

What about you guys? Do you play Pokémon every day but prefer Deus Ex? Pass your train ride with Temple Run but still saddle up with Skyrim? If so, ever ask yourself why?


  • Easy. Though possibly cheating a little bit, but I’d be there with my N64, 64DD, F-Zero X and F-Zero X Expansion Kit.

    It’s not only the best game in the universe but the expansion would also let me waste more time trying to create new tracks, then once/if I succeed throw a little variety into the mix. Plus that soundtrack is all I need to listen to for the rest of my life.

  • You should change the question slightly to something like “If you could live in one game desert island which would it be?”
    In answer to your original question I’d probably choose Fallout 3 if I also had access to the modding tools. With just the game and nothing else: Just Cause 2. For me that’s the one game that never got old, even in its vanilla form.

  • Call me old fashioned but if I am on a deserted island I don’t expect there to be power so I would take a Deck of Cards with me, teach myself magic tricks and how to use them as a weapon for when I need to hunt and survive, sounds like a win-win right?

  • I would have to day the same for Empire. Never have i ever been so sucked into a game and had actual feelings for its units. I once had a small army in t he carribean. Was mostly safe for the first half of the game until pirates came in and started pillaging everything. I had this “last stand” moment with 2 units and managed to fight off the horde of pirates on the ground. I renamed the 2 squads with new names like “Buccaneer Butchers” and “Vagabonds Bane”. These units separated, recruited more units and proceeded to rid the carribean of pirate scourge. Meanwhile i had lost the indian theater completely and America and the french (i was the brits) was starting to completely push me out of north america. It made me draw my own borders, make my own decisions and think outside the box the entire time. Lovedthat game to death. Hated the AI at times tho. Preferred Napoleons gameplay but their map was far far far too small for a total war game of that size. Navy battles were almost pointless.

  • Without a doubt, Super Smash Brothers Brawl (and 3 mates). Providing theres food and water/beer, we could play that forever.

    …or Dark Souls. Dark Souls would do nicely.

  • trololol wait wait wait…. you’re assuming the desert island has power and the system of your choice. That is a very nice desert island and one i wouldn’t really mind being stuck on for a while. I’d probably bring D3. I can play it, even if it is a repetitive grind. But the online requirement means I have internet which means that I can access websites and use facebook/twitter/myspace/kotaku etc to tell people where I am and to come and rescue me 🙂

    • Except you can’t play Diablo 3 because EA is horrible and their servers don’t work. What’s more, when you contact people and they find out that the one game you chose to be stranded on a desert island with was Diablo 3, they decide to just leave you there.

  • Mine would be Diablo 2 the most superior Diablo. The insane amount of time it takes to gear and max out a HC character in solo would be lucky to get 1 character maxed before i was found.

  • You always need to specificy whether it can be multiplayer or not when doing this. If multi it has to be an MMO or MOBA, though if I’m stranded with friends it’s smash bros melee hands down.
    Single player, maybe Dark Souls, Pokemon (EV train all of the things for time killing purposes), Donkey Kong Country 2 orrrrr maybe New Vegas? Or something like CIv….

    Honestly, if singleplayer I’d prefer to take my favourite book.

  • Tekken 5. I couldn’t even begin to calculate how much time I spent with that on my PSP.

    Max Payne 2 is probably my favourite game, but Tekken is better in terms of endless replayability.

  • Prob World of Warcraft as only game can spend hrs upon hrs playing without getting bored, otherwise Just Cause or Hitman.

  • Terraria. 250 hours clocked up (so far) and I can still think of a dozen projects I’d like to do in a new randomly generated world.

  • Super Metroid 3, it would be so awesome to memorize the fastest root for 100% speed runs as well as mastering the glitches and moves.

  • Hmmm a game which I could literally have to force myself to stop playing it because it’s insanely addictive – Team Fortress 2: even in it’s vanilla Xbox incarnation it’s difficult to put down and now 5 and a half years after it came out it’s still chock full of players on the 360, the Steam version is the kind of thing I could lose half my life to given the chance!

    If there was no internet then probably Sim City 4 – more than any other game I would play this and then, huh it’s 4am already, barely anything built…

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