After reading totally top 10s list of most influential video games and not seeing certain games I thought were a shoe in, I decided to start my own top 10 list.
There are some games I could have included (like pong, and Mist) but I chose to segregate the list into genres as a means of showing how they pioneered some of the most popular games of today. Here’s the list:
1. Fighting Games
When we think fighting games, we think competition, mano a mano. Games like Renegade and Double Dragon were all the rage back in the day.
I remember the most exciting part of Double Dragon culminating after the heroes defeated the evil yellow machine gun guy. Spectators would look on in awe as the two gamers would duke it out for Marian’s affection. A sign of respect for the victor.
Years later there would enter a fighting game that would embrace the one on one style competition and teamwork of Double Dragon, while introducing a skill set of maneuvers far beyond the archaic controls of “Karate Champ”.
The game was Street Fighter II, and for those of you who were on the moon when it came out, Street Fighter II was it.
It would go on to make six buttons an industry standard, while offering unique command based special moves that would pave the way for games like Killer instinct, Clay fighter, and to a lesser extent Soul Caliber which also incorporated moves from the Mortal Combat, Virtua Fighter side of things.
Adding to the popularity of the game was a set of mistakes discovered by the gamers. Guile had a hand cuff freeze and an air throw, Dhalsim could turn invisible, and more.
Capcom was unable to recognize that the success of the game was partly due to hidden programming, intentional or not, and fixed what they believed to be a mistake with the introduction of Street Fighter II championship edition.
Although it had a better hierarchy of moves, and more characters, the lack of hidden secrets and discovery eventually dwindled the games popularity.
The Street Fighter name lives on in many forms and remains a dominant force in the gaming industry today.
2. Racing Games
True racing games are about getting to the finish line, not finishing off your opponent. One of the first racing games I remember was Pole Position. “Prepare to qualify” was the slogan from memory. Outrun, and Top Gear were favorites of mine as well, but many of my friends found great fun and competition in games like Sega Rally, Need for Speed, and of course Gran Turismo (not to be confused with the Clint Eastwood film of a slightly similar name).
The Most influential racing game so far however is probably Mario Cart. The ability to race and fight simultaneously in Mario Cart creates a competition that adds to its experience and popularity.
For a new change in the industry I would be looking for a racing game where Top Gear and Need for Speed meet Twisted Metal. A game where you can upgrade your car with tires, engines, turbos, weapons, characters, avatars and more. Of course, being able to race and fight other players in your class online would be a must.
Twisted metal online rally edition coming soon (hopefully)
3. Puzzle Games
When we think about mind puzzles and brain games, we think about Erno Rubik’s “Magic Cube”. Puzzles can fascinate us, distract us, or just occupy our minds during slow hours.
Most people have played games like Online Solitaire, Mine Sweep, or Bejeweled, but one puzzle game captured the minds of the nation in the 1980s and still has not let go.
Although the enumeration of pentominoes is dated to antiquity, Alexey Jajitnov’s game of “tetrominoes” ( 4 segment pieces) is available on almost every video gaming console in existence today.
Tetris was rated as “The Greatest Game of All Time” by Electronic Gaming Monthly’s 100th issue and remains one of the most popular puzzle games of all time.
Tetris was rated the number one game of all time
Many RPG games have gained enormous popularity over the years. The Legend of Zelda, Elder Scrolls, Knights of the Old Republic, and Baldur’s Gate to name a few. But there is one series that revolutionized rpg gaming itself.
Staring bankruptcy in the face, It would be their last chance to produce a Fantasy RPG game that the gaming populace would embrace. Appropriately, the game would be named “Final Fantasy”
Created for Square Enix by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the Final Fantasy name has spawned both game sequels as well as movies, as the games are known for their epic stories of good vs evil.
Since its inception it has been modifying the RPG genre by adopting an “Active Time Battle System” and later the “Active Dimension Battle System” By adding a sense of urgency, final fantasy was able to draw in the “non rpg” gamers attention and start a trend of fantasy games that continues to this day.
Although many games can fit into the “strategy” category, Sim City deserves mention here in a non rpg type strategy class.
I remember how angry a friend of mine was was when I had a superior city to his after 3 days of playing. By typing in the word “fund” you would receive money to build with, but if you typed it in too many times, you would create earth quakes. I typed “fund’ in about 1000 times and left my computer on until the earthquakes stopped (I think about a day later). I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who cheated this way. Sim City gave inspiration to popular games like Civilization, Age of Empires and Black and White.
6. Accessory Dependent Video Games.
It is much harder for a game to break through in this area due to the burden of the extra cost placed on the gamer. From Duck Hunt, to Gyromite, accessory based video games only experienced moderate success if any at all.
Nowadays, games like Dance Dance Revolution are finding enough enthusiasm to bring life to a genre that was otherwise reserved for dancing on R.O.B’s head.
One accessory based video game was able to break the extra cost barrier. Featuring fast finger hammer ons and pull offs with whammy bar pitch control, Guitar Hero has made the accessory gaming industry enjoyable for the entire family. It is unknown how this industry will grow and change now that it has experienced success.
Who knows, maybe with the return of an advanced version of “R.O.B.” I know when I was a kid I had visions of Nintedo’s R.O.B. serving me drinks and cleaning my room.
Needless to say its limitations were much lower than I expected.
7. Maze Games
Maze games can include anything from Colecovision’s “Mouse Trap”, to Play Station 3’s “The Last Guy.” Of course a maze is generally just one aspect of a video game today, but this list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the iconic video game “Pacman”
Pacman also led to Ms Pacman which according to Marge Simpson “struck a blow for women’s rights.” On May 22 2010 Google celebrated Pacman’s 30th anniversary by placing a version of the game on their homepage, and has since launched a Free Google Pac-Man WordPress Plugin.
To this day I still think of Pac-Man when I hear wakka wakka wakka. Although to be fair the phrase probably belongs to Fozzie Bear.
8. 1st Person Shooters.
One of the barriers of entry for this genre of game was nausea. In testing, gamers complained that tackling a maze on screen in the first person gave them motion sickness. I remember this because I was one of the lucky people who got to try out one of the proposed games.
The game I was lucky enough to beta test was named Wolfenstien and its introduction would lead to some of the most popular games the industry has ever seen. Games like: Unreal Tournament 2004, Battlefield Vietnam, Half-Life, Far Cry, Doom , Halo, S.T.A.L.K.E.R., and one of my personal favorites “Golden Eye”
Wolfenstein without a doubt revolutionized video gaming as we know it.
9. 3rd Person Shooter’s:
This genre includes everything from “Hitman”, “Turok”, “Tomb Raider”, “Gears of War”, and to a certain extent “Grand Theft Auto”.
It’s hard to say which games were more influential than others, but to take a stand on one I have to say Max Payne.
BAFTA was able to combine the character’s internal and external battle in medias res, with the introduction of a new gaming feature the industry had never seen before, “Bullet Time.”
The ability to play in slow motion brought the blockbuster movie the Matrix into the palm of the gamer’s hand.
Max Payne came with perfect timing.
10. A Category of Their Own
Every so often a video game becomes known for creating a category of its own. To break through some of the graphic barriers of their time, former Disney animator Don Bluth along with Rick Dyer tapped into the large storage potential of the “laserdisc” The result would become the most influential game of 1983.
“Dragon’s Lair” brought life back into the sagging arcade industry and charged a whopping 50 cents, double the industry standard. It would later go on to spawn another laser game success “Time Traveler” the worlds first holographic video game. The game featured real people acting out scenes in front of a curved mirror that gave the perception of a hologram. Although successful financially, the technology has failed to move forward since.
Dragon’s lair however is still present and has recently been adapted for play on the i-Phone
The 11th spot is reserved for the next ground breaking change in the industry. My guess is that the game will bring 3D viewing, and Motion Sensing Technology together. Of course it could be an amalgamation of all of the above genres in one.
We’ll have to wait and see.