E.T. wasn’t single-handedly responsible for the Videogame Crash of 1983, but it became somewhat emblematic of the industry’s problems as a whole. After the crash, it became almost impossible to sell new games or consoles in the US. Until Nintendo arrived later with the NES, that is…
It takes the perfect mix of hardware and software to make a truly world-changing game. Tetris and the original Game Boy were made for each other, and together they raised the profile of portable consoles to make them just as important as home formats. Who doesn’t remember sitting in the back of their parent’s car, playing their Game Boy on a long drive?
A game doesn't have to be the first of its kind to be influential. Street Fighter II isn't just the quintessential beat 'em-up: it also helped popularise multiplayer as the driving force behind gaming, an effect that can still be felt today.
In 1991 Nintendo was supposed to announce a joint venture with Sony to make a CD-ROM drive for the SNES. After reading the small print of the contract though Nintendo backed out - leaving Sony with no choice but to go it alone with their own console. Possibly the best move any company has made ever.
Doom was the game that set the first person shoot 'em-up on the road to becoming the most popular genre in gaming. Because the game was initially distributed online it also started the whole digital download bandwagon. It also had boomsticks and the BFG 9000, which we’re assured stands for Big Friendly Gun.
In the mid-90s 3D graphics were still in very early stages. That all changed when Super Mario 64 came out, as in one small step it rewrote the book on third person action, 3D level design and analogue control. Plus it had us swing Bowser around by his tail into a pit of lava. Something we’d been desperate to do since the NES-era.
It wasn't until the advent of 3D graphics "accelerator" cards in that PC gaming became the force it is today. Games like Quake were the first to surpass consoles and they've been one step (or one rocket jump) ahead ever since.
Some of the earliest games attempted to make virtual worlds that people could explore together. Ultima Online was the first widely popular massively multiplayer online game though, paving the way for the juggernaut that is World of WarCraft.
The Dreamcast was the first console to ship with a modem as standard - and thus online console gaming was born. Chu Chu Rocket was its first online game, but the console’s online capacities didn’t explode until Phantasy Star Online came out. Now that game did online gaming right.
Popularising first person shooters on consoles is the least of Halo's claims to fame. It got Microsoft into the console business, which in turn opened up more PC developers to the console market, curbing the influence of Japanese developers. Plus it had us shooting aliens (and one another) as the gruff Master Chief. What’s not to like?
For a supposed novelty, Guitar Hero not only made costly controllers mainstream but it actually changed the way many people listen to music. Games and music companies have fallen over themselves to copy it, while it also helped to make microtransactions seem almost reasonable.
Oh Nintendo Wii. Where would we be today without you? Single-handedly responsible for making gaming truly mainstream, the family-friendly, easy to play console became a main-stay of living rooms the world over. For long time gamers, there was nothing more enjoyable than seeing your mom play Mario for the first time. Truly one of the greatest consoles of all time.
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