September 20, 2010 at 04:48 PM EDT

Videogames don’t really need a strong story. Tetris doesn’t have any complex characters (except for the L-block). But a good story can add a sense of addictive urgency to the gameplay, which is why I’ve been pounding through the Halo: Reach campaign mode until sunrise. Reach has some of the narrative blah-ness of other Halo games — your protagonist is a non-entity personality vacuum, and half the missions are about shutting down shield generators or turning on receiver signals or sci-fi blah blah– but there’s a chilling sense of fatalism pervading everything, since Reach (as a prequel) is destined to end badly. I’m glad I’m playing through the campaign with my roommate, because we typically have to talk each other out of just playing through breakfast.

All this after-midnight space-slaughter takes me back to my own personal gaming golden age. In 1999, my parents got me a PlayStation, even though they were worried it would negatively impact my still-developing teenaged brain. I instantly validated all their worst fears: I spent two sleepless months  playing Final Fantasy VII. I had dreams about it. I couldn’t get the soundtrack out of my head. My Biology grade was ruined.

PopWatchers, what games have kept you up past your bedtime? And do you also need a good story to push you past 3 a.m.? I don’t usually get the same addictive thrill from multiplayer games…although my brother and I could easily play Mario Kart 64 for a full weekend without noticing the passage of time. Wahhhhhh!

Read More:

Halo: Reach: Snap Judgement

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