Video games have come a long way since the 1970’s when text-based adventure games dominated the amber screen of yesteryear. While some have now been turned into slots, others have been turned into blockbuster Hollywood films. And, while the have been many epic games over years, there a few that have been so influential that they have changed the face of gaming forever. We take a look at the most influential video games of all time.
Pac-Man – 1980
Still available on the Nintendo Switch, Pac-Man was the original alien game that introduced the world to concepts such as powerups, alien enemies and in-game bonus items. The classic maze exploration setup is possibly the most recognisable game on the planet. Designed by Toru Iwatani to resemble a pizza with a piece missing, Pac-Man has become a commercially successful product, finding its way onto everything from clothing to lunch boxes, and even spawning its own cartoon show.
Tetris – 1984
Created by Alexey Pajitnov, Tetris is possibly the most ingenious shape-sorting puzzle game ever invented. First released on desktop, the game soon made its way onto consoles and Game Boy, where a generation of gamers spent many precious hours lost in abstract puzzle design. Such was the effect of the game that psychologists coined the term “Tetris effect” which describes a leisure-type experience that infiltrates a player’s dreams and mental patterns.
Super Mario Bros - 1985
If any one game has defined a generation, it is Super Mario Bros. Nintendo already introduced the world to the concept of platform games with Donkey Kong but Mario Bros was a complete game changer. This highly addictive console adventure game created an expanded alien world; filled with hidden treasures, level bosses and power-ups. The game remains one of the most exemplary definitions of video gaming design and technology and can still be played on many consoles and PC’s today.
Tomb Raider – 1996
In 1996, the world was introduced to Lara Croft. This multi-layered platform PC and console game featured one of the most attractive and spunky protagonists ever. With her tight khaki shorts, duel pistols, army boots and long ponytail, Lara Croft became an instant gaming icon, spawning the creating of 20 subsequent games, and 4 Hollywood films. Tomb Raider was the first popular video game to combine action roleplay, puzzle solving and quests all in one game. There is even a Tomb Raider online slots game, and despite being released way back in 2004 it remains a perennial player favourite.
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - 1998
While there is a good reason to include Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest in this section, Legend of Zelda is a true masterpiece of the roleplaying video game gene. Designed by Shigeru Miyamoto for the Nintendo 64, Legend of Zelda features a huge, multi-layered world with vibrant narratives, complex interactions and a playful spirit. The game transcended the ideas of world exploration, player agency and the discovery of hidden items.
Metal Gear Solid - 1999
While competing with Tomb Raider for the title of the most ambitious action adventure game of the 90’s, Metal Gear Solid has one over Tomb Raider, thanks to its integration of stealth mechanics, its slightly offbeat humour and intricate narrative. MGS basically showed designers and players that a game could be both epic in nature and personal at the same time.
Grand Theft Auto III - 2001
Released for the PlayStation 2, Grand Theft Auto III was the first 3D game to introduce players to the non-linear (sandbox) style of action gaming. The open-world type gameplay allowed players to head off on their own and cause a bit of havoc in the streets outside of the main game objective. Players could act out their darkest fantasies by beating up hookers, stealing cars or getting chased down by the cops. Filled with impressive graphics, humorous interactions and plenty of action, it’s no wonder it has spawned many a sequel.