10 Most Influential Home Console Games

Welcome to "Ten" column. Over the next few weeks, I will be looking at the most influential games. We will be doing home consoles, arcade games, handheld games, and computer games.

So, I look at what I feel are the Top 10 Most Influential Home Console games... past and present. These games changed video gaming usually for good but sometimes for bad. Either way, they are here.

Now, this is just opinion. Maybe I'm completely off base but we will see!

- Games FIRST released in the Arcade do not count.
- Neither do games FIRST released on the PC.
- And games released on the handheld first, as well.

10. Wii Sports

All Wii Sports was meant to do was showcase what the Wii could be capable of. I don't think anyone foresaw that this collection of simplistic sports games would turn into one of the biggest crazes ever.

There were mini-game collections before. That was mostly started with Mario Party. However, the concept did not become as huge as it is until Wii Sports took the video gaming world by storm.

Unfortunately, it also has spawned several cash in copycats. Some of them are good (e.g. Rayman Raving Rabbids, Clubhouse Games). Many of them are horrible (e.g. Deca Sports, Neighborhood Games, etc). It seems that the market on that is bottoming out so hopefully many developers will return to developing more serious titles.

However, its influence on motion-sensing controls can not be denied.

Who would have thought when they fired up their NES years ago that a simple bowling mini-game would be one of the most exciting video games of all time?

What it went on to influence in video gaming: Showcased what motion sensing controls could do. Wii Sports has spawned the mini-game collection fad. This game alone has sold millions of people on purchasing the Nintendo Wii, putting Nintendo in 1st place in the video game market for the first time in 10 years.

9. Grand Theft Auto III (Sony Playstation 2)

While the first two games were average, Grand Theft Auto III is the game that changed the face of gaming. It was the first popular game to feature a huge lack of morals. You killed random people. You robbed cars. You hit prostitutes. You worked on rising in the ranks of gangs.

Liberty City in GTA III was unlike anything we had ever seen before. You could rob a taxi and become a taxi driver. You could rob a cop car and become a vigilate chasing down criminals. You could rob an ambulance and take people to the hospital. The cars had several different radio stations that were each filled with a variety of songs and crazy DJs .

I am not a fan of Grand Theft Auto for many reasons. I find killing prostitutes and running from cops gets boring after awhile... which it shouldn't get boring! So, I get a little creeped out there. However, one can defend the game as art as a reflection of today's society. I say that's bs, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

Love it or hate, you can not deny the popularity of Grand Theft Auto.

What it went on to influence in video gaming: Popularized games with a lack of morals. This game and its sequels have created lots of controversies.

8. Resident Evil (Sony Playstation)

While not the first survival horror video game (Alone in the Dark, Night Trap, etc), Resident Evil and its sequels have been a major influence on the genre as a whole.

Whether it was the god awful voice acting ("Blood! I hope this isn't Chris's blood!") or the endless horde of zombies, all of it contributed to Resident Evil being the first game to create an authentic horror movie experience within a video game.

There have been several great games inspired by Resident Evil. My particular favorites are the Silent Hill series and the highly underrated Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem for the GameCube.

Oh yeah, and did I mention they made three movies loosely based off of this game? Granted

What it went on to influence in video gaming: Survival horror games generally follow the Resident Evil formula. Spawned a moderately successful movie trilogy.

7. E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (Atari 2600)

I know I'm going to get some shit for this, so hear me out. I said influential, not neccessarily good.

Howard Scott Warshaw, the programmer of the game, had made some good games in the past. Yars' Revenge is considered one of the top Atari 2600 games, and so was his other game, Raiders of the Lost Ark. However, he had less than 5 weeks to both come up with the concept for the game and for it to reach its final product. Why? Because that is all Atari gave him because they spent an obscene amount of money on the license. They wanted the title out by Christmas so it could be the hot Christmas item.

So, with that being said, you can imagine just how dull this game turned out to be. I've played worse, honestly. However, 1.5 people bought ET for the Atari 2600. It is the eighth best selling 2600 game. Although, it is the general understanding that many people returned the game (back when you could do that). Atari didn't come close to making a profit on the game and thus the 1983 crash of the video game market began. The American market did not recover until Nintendo redefined and resurrected quality gaming with the NES in 1985.

So let us face it, even with how bad this game bombed, the majority of licensed games still follow this pattern. Developers are pressured by corporate suits to rush out a game. It doesn't matter if it is good or bad, just as long as it makes money. Parents and kids won't know the difference. Heck, hardcore gamers are sometimes tempted to at least rent it to see if the game lives up to its potential. Nine times out of ten... it won't.

General exclusions for licensed games are: Sports games. Games based on older movies (e.g. Scarface). Lego games. 1 out of every 3 Star Wars games.

What it went on to influence in video gaming: Most licensed games are rushed out cash in attempts. One of the catalysts responsible for the Video Game Crash of 1983.

6. Guitar Hero (Sony Playstation 2)

If you live in a cave on Mars with your eyes shut and your hands over your ears, Guitar Hero is the rhythm game where the player takes a guitar controller and jams out to some classic tunes.

The experience is perhaps more akin to playing the bass guitar as opposed to an actual acoustic or electric guitar since it’s a rhythm game. Either way, regular people don't know the difference. All they know is that they can be a rock star in their own living room.

While it may have reached its peak in popularity, the series is still going strong and every home that has a video game console is probably soon all going to have the guitar controller peripheral.

Unlike several other games that spawn a huge craze, the video game market has fortunately not been flooded with too many horrible cash in attempts (just only a few, thank god). In fact, the other big rhythm game is Rock Band, which was developed the by the original people who made the first two Guitar Hero games. Thankfully, people are smart enough to try out a game that costs $90 to $200 before they go throwing away money (e.g. Rock Revolution)... and games that don't require the peripherals are less appealing. (I'm looking at you Wii Music and Ultimate Band!)

Another point is that rock music has taken a beating from Hip Hop and Pop over the past several years in the music industry. Guitar Hero has helped level the playing field a lot. The great thing is that these classic songs that are used in the game have experienced renewed popularity on iTunes and other markets.

Guitar Hero is not just a game for some people. Guitar Hero is a way of life. Granted, I wouldn't go that far for me, personally, but I do enjoy the series quite much. I expect more instruments such as keyboard and turntables to be incorporated into future games.

What it went on to influence in video gaming: Redefined the rhythm game genre. Is a pre-cursor to the casual gaming craze. Made classic songs popular again and gave unknown artists some exposure. Made the concept of being a rock star cool again.

5. Goldeneye 007 (Nintendo 64)

First Person Shooter games had been around for years on the PC. In fact, many of the popular ones were ported over to consoles. However, when this hit the scene, there was truly something special about Goldeneye.

There was also more to the single player mode than the usual "just run around, blow shit up, and find the exit" that was generally present in most first person games. There was stealth. There were objectives.

The Death Match feature was practically unheard of on video game consoles at the time. However, since the N64 had four player capability built right into the system, it was a natural choice. With a nice selection of weapons, rules, scenarios (my personal favorite is always "The Man with the Golden Gun") combined with great levels, the Death Match mode was the best console experience at the time.

Several parties keep trying to capture the magic of Goldeneye. Rare, the original developers, keeps trying with Perfect Dark. Free Radical Design, which includes half of the original Goldeneye programmers, keeps trying with Timesplitters. Those are both great game series but not quite as good as the original Goldeneye. Also, EA and Activision keeps trying to cash in with their own Bond games. These are usually pretty horrible.

What it went on to influence in video gaming: Made the FPS genre much more viable on home consoles.

4. Final Fantasy VII (Sony Playstation)

Final Fantasy VII changed the face of both Role Playing Games and video games in general.
First, let us take a look at the game itself. It features a simple, yet deep "Materia" magic system that many claim still has yet to have been matched till this day.

To everyone, it seems where Final Fantasy VII excels at is the story. The story is a favorite among many and has resulted in a whole Final Fantasy VII brand where movies and video games continue to get released that are based off of the universe set in Final Fantasy VII. The game's protagonist Cloud Strife and the game's antagonist Sephiroth are still favorite characters among many gamers. Of course, the scene with involving Cloud's love interest, Aeris, is still rated as one of the heartbreaking scenes in a video game.

Now, what did this do for the video game market? The game's story which was told both through the game and Full Motion Video helped give video games a more cinematic feel (as was evident in the opening video for the followup, Final Fantasy VIII). RPGs had a niche popularity in America (they were huge in Japan), but the sales of this game made developers start taking the genre a little more seriously.

Also, Nintendo had been king for years ever since the days of the NES. However, the hardware choice that Nintendo made for the Nintendo 64 didn't quite jive with what Squaresoft had in mind at the time. The limitations of the cartridge medium would seriously hamper the story that Square wanted to tell, and thus they went with the Playstation. I know several people who bought a Playstation just to get this game.

It took Nintendo 10 years to recover and become #1 again in home consoles.

What it went on to influence in video gaming: Helped made RPGs a little more mainstream America. Contributed to video games becoming more cinematic. Helped put Sony in 1st place in the video game market and Nintendo in 2nd place for the first time ever.

3. The Legend of Zelda (Nintendo Entertainment System)

What else can be said about the original Legend of Zelda that hasn't?

Zelda is top view action adventure game. Our hero, Link, has the task of uniting the 8 pieces of the Triforce from 8 different dungeons and then facing the evil Ganon on Death Mountain. The one thing that people must note that, at its time, the world in the original Legend of Zelda is HUGE. Heck, it still takes some time walking around and collecting everything in the game. Also, in theory, you could complete many of the dungeons out of order.

Zelda is not an RPG, but it is one of the biggest influences on the entire genre. Everything from fantasy elements to crawling dungeons to just about every aspect of the environments featured in most Role Playing Games.

I'm really not doing this game any justice. If you have played it then you know what it is that I am talking about. If you haven't, then pick it up for the Wii Virtual Console for $5, get a strategy guide, and give it a shot.

What it went on to influence in video gaming: The first major video game to have a save feature. While technically not an RPG, it did heavily influence the genre. Influenced the concept of non-linear games.

2. Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)

The original Super Mario Bros both changed games and established the standards from 2D Platforming games. In 1996, Nintendo reinvented the wheel once again with Super Mario 64.

Super Mario 64 introduced our favorite plumber into a whole new and exciting world.

The whole "collect 120 (insert random item) from the levels you can access through the overworld" idea established in Super Mario 64 has been adopted by so many other great (and not so great) 3D platform games, it is not even funny. Heck, even the most recent Super Mario Galaxy still goes with this system.

Other great elements for gaming in general were introduced.

So play it at least once. The game may seem a little archaic now, but it was
ahead of its time when it was released.

What it went on to influence in video gaming: Brought platforming games into the third dimension. Damn near every 3D platformer from Banjo-Kazooie to Spyro the Dragon has followed the ideas set by Super Mario 64.

1. Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo Entertainment System)

While platforming games such as Pitfall had existed, it was Super Mario Bros that took everything to a new level. Everything from power-ups to physics to you know name it were brought to the public eye in this game.

Think about some of the things that Super Mario Bros introduced?

First of all, it features some of the best physics and controls featured in any game. Even Super Mario 64 doesn't have as good controls as this game did. At the time, it was unheard to be able to control the speed of your character in a platformer. Look at Donkey Kong for an example of what I am talking about. However, in this, you can walk, jog, or run really fast. You can easily control the jump or Mario. I know these gaming aspects sound normal to most readers but this was a big deal then.

I think just about every gamer and several non gamers are familiar with the music in Super Mario Bros. It made great use of the original NES hardware at its time.

The graphics may be considered pretty horrible when compared to other NES games. However, this was one of the first NES games released for the system and the graphics are great for what they are.

Aside from the NES, it also has been released in one form or another for the Arcade (Vs. Super Mario Bros), SNES (Super Mario Bros All-Stars), GameBoy/GameBoy Color (Super Mario Bros Deluxe), GameBoy Advance (Classic NES Series), GameCube (Animal Crossing) and Wii (Virtual Console).

What it went on to influence in video gaming: The first major sidescrolling platform game. The biggest video game mascot and franchise of all time.

Share it: