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The Most Revolutionary Videogames Of All Time

December 19, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

These 14 groundbreaking games forever changed the way we play.

 

Think “Rock Band” is revolutionary? Well, not compared to the first video music game ever: “PaRappa the Rapper.” First released in Japan in late 1996 for the original Sony PlayStation, “PaRappa” was the first music (or rhythm) game ever. Featuring an animated rapping dog, PaRappa was eventually released in North America in October 1997 and went on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies, paving the way for mega-hits like “Guitar Hero” (2005) and the “Rock Band” series (2007).

The trailblazing games on this list are not necessarily the “best” games ever made or even best sellers. Some, like “Dune II” (1992), were out-and-out commercial flops. But they all have one feature in common–they changed the way people play. Some introduced innovative controls or enhanced graphics. Others defined a genre or expanded gaming to entirely new audiences. All altered the industry).

The oldest game on our list is also the first videogame ever made–“Spacewar!” (1962). Created by Steve Russell, a computer programmer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the game originally ran on a PDP-1, a minicomputer from the Digital Equipment Corporation, which used paper tape as its primary storage system).

In the game, two players controlled spaceships contending with the effects of gravity from a nearby star while firing missiles at each other. The game proved popular, both as a means of testing PDP-1s for potential bugs and among computer nerds looking to blow off steam. Russell could be credited with launching the $11.7 billion (2008 U.S. sales) videogame industry although he himself never saw a dime from “SpaceWar!” )

On the other end of the spectrum, the newest game on our list is Wii Sports, which was released in 2006. Bundled with Nintendo’s Wii videogame console, Wii Sports was designed to show off the revolutionary motion capture capability of the Wii Remote. Players used realistic motions to swing virtual tennis rackets and golf clubs and along the way Wii Sports launched a whole new trend of “exer-gaming”–yes, exercising by playing video games–that culminated in Wii Fit).

First released in Japan at the end of 2007, Wii Fit–in which players can simulate doing activities ranging from yoga to ski jumping–is currently the second best-selling videogame of all time).

Which game is most revolutionary? According to our experts, it’s a tossup between two classics, “Super Mario 64” (1996) and the “Legend of Zelda” (1986).

Mario is the slight favorite–it is widely considered the first game to properly use a three-dimensional perspective, and it is credited by many with resurrecting the home videogame industry. But Zelda also has its fans, who point to its open structure–players could go wherever they wanted!–the fact that there were multiple ways to win the game, features that figure prominently in later game hits, particularly the Grand Theft Auto series from Rockstar Games).

As Chris Garcia, curator at the Computer History Museum puts it, “People tend to think of Mario first and Zelda second. I would argue that from a game play point of view Zelda is probably more significant. In a way you can trace through Zelda all the way through to ‘Grand Theft Auto III.'”).

To draw up our list of the most revolutionary videogames of all time we consulted with a panel of experts. In addition to Chris Garcia from the Computer History Museum, we drew upon the collective wisdom of Adam Sessler, co-host and editor of G4’s X-Play; legendary professional gamer Johnathan ‘Fatal1ty’ Wendel; Carl Goodman, curator at the Museum of the Moving Image; Laffy Taylor, senior producer at Bethesda Softworks; and Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities).

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