Of course by “ruined” I mean “made me never want to put games down ever.”
In no particular order (well, I suppose the chronology of the released dates do mean something, but I’m not going to arrange them here):
1. Super Mario Brothers 3
This series has been on so few lists. I swear many of you out there are making me feel like the lost generation here! How this game has not influenced gamers of my generation is beyond me, but apparently that’s the case. I remember Mario was the first game I wanted a save feature in, and it didn’t have one. Me and my buddies would gather in our garage, get as far as we could, and then pause the game all night just so we didn’t lose our progress. So many hidden levels, bugs, and tricks to explore, Mario was the reason I never put gaming down. It was the game that took me out of the arcade (thank god, because I didn’t have the money for games most of the time!).
2. Castlevania II
This was the first game to give me nightmares. I abandoned the series some time after Castlevania IV, but I still get shivers thinking about the first time I encountered Dracula, or when I see “what a horrible night to have a curse …” flash on my memory. I never wanted to play that game alone.
3. NBA Jam
Many a block tournament was spawned on this wonderfully fun, delicious sports jam. I wasn’t very into sports titles, but this one was so unbelievably gamey that I played it for years. The action’s fast and every second was exciting. This has to be one of the best made sports games ever.
This game introduced me to cold hands and feet. It was the first game that really put me in the seat of the driver. I felt like I was speeding, like my blood was rushing, like my knuckles were white, and like there was wind in my hair whenever I played this game. This was another game my friends and I did with block tournaments together. I still play this game on SNES emulator.
5. RC Pro AM
Pro AM had the same feel to it as NBA Jam and F-Zero for me, so it should be obvious enough why this game was so appealing. This is where Mario Kart got all it’s great ideas about road sabotage and wacky race tracks. Lots of fun, but nothing special. Still, it left it’s mark on my game tastes.
6. Legend of Zelda
This was my first true RPG. This was the first game in which character story and adventure were interesting for me. Gauntlet didn’t quite do it and even Castlevania didn’t quite have that RPG-feel to it. Zelda introduced me to game depth. I’ve never been the same since.
Because CONTRA. I don’t need a reason. And also, I never loved game music up until then as much as I loved the tracks in Contra. Contra was the game that made me hunt down game soundtracks thereafter. It’s had a huge impact on my musical tastes.
8. Street Fighter
Seeing a pattern here? Most games that have influenced me are going to be games I played with friends. Street Fighter has shaped the entire gaming community if you ask me. Where would game tournaments be without the passion of street fighters the world over?
9. Diablo 2
Diablo hooked me, but D2 blew me away. This is the game that made me take computer gaming seriously. I had played Starcraft and Warcraft and even dabbled in Ultima when it looked like a fancy AOL chat room, but none of them made me take computer gaming as serious as D2. Once again, the multiplayer aspects won me over. I played this nightly with friends.
10. The Sims
The whole idea of locking someone in a bathroom with no toilet until their bladder exploded through their head and they died just ….that kind of thing leaves an impression. I spent countless hours controlling sims because somehow, I really believed these little AIs were living their own life. This game made me pick up a few dozen philosphy books. I know, odd.
11. World of Warcraft
I kinda don’t want to list this because I think if you played games the past 10 years then it’s not possible to not be influenced by this game. This game put PC gaming on the map in a way no others before it could. Plus, it was the first time, as a gamer, that I felt VR would become a thing in my life time because of how easy it was to spend days and weeks logged in to my priest.
12. Civilization 2
And every sequel thereafter. Civ is truely a timeless game. It gave new meaning to strategy and also made me try more sim/city-builder games.
13. Track & Field
Or really, any of the sports games that you could play with Nintendo’s Powerpad. This was the Wii or Kinect Sports of it’s day. It was totally in my favor that my friends and I played this in the garage because the amount of stomping on that pad that we did just wasn’t conducive to an apartment environment. Amazing fun. I’ve only been surprised that this level of video game interaction took nearly 15 years to return to us.
14. Elder Scrolls Morrowind
Put another point on the board for RPGs, Morrowind sealed the deal with me for the genre. After this series, I added RPGs permanently to my gaming favorites.
15. Sonic the Hedgehog
I really couldn’t tell you why I loved this game so much. Something about how fun the stages were to play, with its creative obstacles, funky music and completely weird futuristic, Robotnik flavor. I just know I never looked at Mario the same after Sonic.
This list is just a little bit arbitrary, though. I’ve played hundreds of games thus far and I’d like to think that all of them have left their mark on me, even the ones I didn’t like. One theme that runs throughout this list is that I played everyone of these games with GROUPS of friends. It wasn’t ever just one or two of us. It was regularly 4 and 7 of us, huddled around this small TV in my buddy’s dilapidated garage that we turned into Our Arcade. We shared controllers, cheered each other on, paused the game for each other so that just when we got to that difficult jump sequence on Ninja Gaiden, or that boss in Contra, or that puzzle in Zelda, the best of us could step in and push us closer to beating the game. The greatest impact games have left on me is that they are totally best enjoyed together. Is there any wonder I loved MMOs?
If you’re from my generation of gaming, perhaps your experience is similar. But I’m always up for friendly gaming sessions as some of you already know. For me, this is the greatest influence of all that games have had on me.
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Scree Tags: #influential15 #gamesofmylife #nostalgia