Whether they’re loved or hated, it can’t be denied that Video Games hold a massive chunk of our pop culture. Millions of people across the globe have dedicated themselves both casually and competitively to this ever-growing medium. From every new video game that comes out today, there are at least a few games that came before that help set the standard for the way we see gaming today.
Today we will look at the top 10 games that did just that. Created an influence in not only the genre they respectively portray, but also in some cases, how they changed the gaming scene as a whole.
10. Final Fantasy (1987)
Although JRPG’s may not be the first game that comes to mind when it comes to mainstream gaming, it most certainly has a following that can not be ignored. What would have been the last of Square’s games, if it had failed in sells, became the game to set the standards for RPG’s alike.
With its Level up systems, Strategizing in items and character abilities, and worlds that brought a whole new meaning to the term “fantasy,” this game contributed to many of its sequels as well as other Square and Square-Enix.
9. Doom (1993)
When it comes to First Person Shooters one might argue that nowadays, they tend to oversaturate the market. But back in the ’90s, the genre was still brand new and lead the way for new gaming visions. One of these visions came in the form of ID software’s Doom.
While Wolfenstein 3D may have been the first of its kind, one year prior, Doom took every about Wolfenstein and raised it to the highest ways possible. It showed just gore filled an FPS could become. Which as one could imagine, is something gamer couldn’t possibly resist. It also leads the way for FPS’s with multiple weapons, spikes in difficulty, and an overall feel of the intense rush.
8. Half Life (1998)
While Doom and Wolfenstein may have been the pioneers of FPS and Quake made it bigger with 3D FPS’s. Valve’s Half-Life created something much more revolutionary that could have never been seen before.
The first of the company’s games, Half-Life stood out from other FPS’s at the time for its now iconic narrative structure. In the past, the story of a game would be executed through cutscenes or other forms of text. Half-Life changed this by allowing gamers to play the game and view its story in real time, resulting in much more personal experiences.
This influence can be seen not just Valves other games such as their Portal and other Half-Life game series, but also in a lot of modern open world and 3D adventure platformers, such as the Batman Arkham games.
7. Street Fighter II (1991)
In the world of fighting games, one of the most influenced and copied, but rarely duplicated games in the genre would be Street Fighter II.
As grand as the original street fighter was back in 1987, it has not aged well with it’s stiffer controls and tricky move set. The sequel did everything possible and more to improve upon this format. This includes more characters to play as, more special moves that were easier to pull off, and much better controls that were faster to execute.
This, along with its many updates over the ’90s and early ’00s, became the catalysis for many of Capcom’s fighting games to this day. It also holds a space many other fighting games at the time such as SNK’s art of fighting and king of fighter, Namco’s Tekken, Midways Mortal Kombot, and so much more.
6. Grand Theft Auto: San Andres (2004)
Open world sandbox games are another well-loved genre for the casual gamer. When Rockstar first released GTA 3 back in 2001, it created a brand new market for players who wanted less story and more ways to cause destruction. While a year later GTA vice city might have improved on a lot of the smaller issues of 3, the installment of San Andres is what truly set the bar in the gamers eye.
This game not only became at the time the highest selling game on the PS2 but also set the bar for rockstar games alike with an open world system that changed as you progressed. Something that many games such as the Red dead redemption and Max Payne series would go on to adapt.
While the series as a whole may not have the best reputation with the media with its use of massive violence and harsh themes it became one of the first games in the series to have a more in-depth story. It may have also created the way for more realistic stories to view in gaming resulting in an experience that made the player feel for characters that otherwise would be seen as everyday criminals.
5. Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
Back in the ’90s, there was a time what was once known as “the mascot era.” Where other game companies created their mascots to rival Mario for the next best thing in gaming. Although many of them were long forgotten, one of them stood up far beyond the rest: Sonic.
While the franchise has seen been in a unique mix reception, the original game did something quite astonishing; it created the way for competition. If it weren’t for Sega’s influence, Nintendo would have been a near monopoly in the gaming world, resulting in a lot less variety and less potential for other companies. While Sega themselves may not have the long-lasting success, it showed others that the chance of success was still possible.
4. Tetris (1984)
Puzzle games, much like RPG’s, have not as much mainstream attention. One game, however that has one of the most robust reputations in Video Games is the classic puzzle game: Tetris.
Although it’s premise and objective is quite simple, the fun and challenge it brought forth was something that was more than simple to the eyes of gamers. It also became a significant influence on puzzle games on both consoles and arcades.
The game had been around for a while, but when it was first ported to the original 1989 Gameboy, it made history. At the time it became the highest selling game of all time, until Minecraft many years later took the title.
3. Super Mario 64 (1996)
Of course, one can’t talk about video games and their impact without talking about the grand master of them all: Mario. With so many different platformers and so many spinoffs, there’s no question why Mario has the influence he has today.
When it came to the new form of platforming that the Nintendo 64 introduced. Mario made one of the most significant contributions at the time, 3D platforming. With features so such as camera control and branching paths for collection, it seems that every modern day game such as the Uncharted series and more owes everything to Super Mario 64.
2. Super Mario Bros (1985)
But no 3D adventure could ever come close to where home gaming got its roots, and they first grew from the original Super Marios Brothers game.
The game began the tropes platforming elements, power-up system, and a challenge spike that made the difficulty go up to crazy levels of degree. It very well explains where the platform genre is today. This, along with its many sequels, was the game that created the standard for Nintendo as one of the most excellent video game developers of all time.
1. Pong (1972)
Before Nintendo, before online gaming, before arcades became a common pizza place standard; There was Pong.
While perhaps not the very first game of all time, it was one of the most prominent concepts that revolutionized the way people saw entertainment as a whole. The technology that allowed people to play a game on screen shocked people to this day with its innovation.
Because in the end, innovation is what these games strived for, it’s one of their most significant reasons for existing. Not just for entertainment and profit, but to change the world in of pop culture.