It started with a poll on our Facebook page, asking you for your help to determine ‘The Ten Videogames That Changed The World.’ And boy, did you answer. Here’s the list you came up with.
1: Super Mario Bros
Is it the moustache? The overalls? We have no idea. What we do know is that Super Mario Bros was by far the most voted upon in our game competition. Not a surprise, considering that this videogame sold more than 40 million copies worldwide. The game’s objective is to race through the Mushroom Kingdom, beat the main antagonist Bowser and save Princess Toadstool. If you happen to be two player mode, Mario’s brother Luigi is also available for this mission. This month, Super Mario’s creator Shigeru Miyamoto announced in an interview with Wired.com that he was planning on slowing down a bit. “I’m not saying that I’m going to retire from game development altogether,” he stated, “What I mean by retiring is, retiring from my current position.”
“A yellow, pie-shaped character named Pac-Man runs along inside a maze, eating dots as it avoids four ghosts.” Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Immensely popular from its original release to the present day, the name Pac-Man is synonymous with video games, as well as being an icon of 1980s. A perfect Pac-Man game occurs when the player achieves the maximum possible score on the first 255 levels (by eating every possible dot, power pellet, fruit, and enemy) without losing a single life, and then scoring as many points as possible in the last level. Although Pacman was designed to have no ending, is it virtually impossible to continue after level 255, because the 256th ‘Split-Screen Level’ shows only shows half of the maze due to a bug in the system. Although some people claim to have beat this ‘Kill Screen’, as it is dubbed, this was never proven or documented.
3: The Legend of Zelda
Third in line: The Legend of Zelda. It’s basic objective is not that different from Super Mario’s mission; Zelda centers on Link, the playable main character, who is often given the task of rescuing Princess Zelda from Ganon—also known as Ganondorf. Destroying bosses, exploring dungeons, and solving puzzles are all crucial elements of the Zelda series, but finding new items might be the most exciting of them all. Whether it’s The Bunny Hood, The Empty Bottle or The Blast Mask, collecting stuff proves very rewarding. Although Zelda has been around since the eighties, the series is still very popular. For die hard fans there is Zeldapedia – yes, The Legend of Zelda has outgrown its normal Wikipedia page- with polls (‘Who is your favorite Potion maker in the Legend of Zelda series?’), daily ‘Zelda News’ and ‘Quotes of the Moment’.
4: Duck Hunt
Nintendo’s Duck Hunt is the kind of game you can really look forward to playing (if you haven’t done it in years), but is actually quite repetitive and boring. By using the special plastic gun sensor, your goal is to shoot as many ducks as possible while avoiding the hungry dog. Sounds simple, but how does it work exactly? Here’s what happens. You shoot at a duck, which appears on an ordinary TV screen. The gun is connected to the game console; pressing the trigger blackens the screen, then causes a duck-shaped white target to appear momentarily. If your aim is true, a photo sensor in the gun detects the shift from dark to light, and bingo–dead duck. For technical details, go here. Fun fact: the dog has become an universal symbol of annoyance. Game website ING for example included him in their ‘Annoying Character Hall of Fame’, calling him the “most annoying pooch they couldn’t kill.”
The first non-Japanese videogame in our list: Tetris was made in the Soviet-Union in 1984 by Alexey Pajitnov. Although Tetris was first available for the PC, Nintendo’s Game Boy version became the most well-known, selling over 33 million copies. Computer Gaming World called the game “deceptively simple and insidiously addictive,” which is definitely true. Tetris is all about spatial awareness – to move different shaped blocks into position so they form a straight line and then disappear from the screen. The higher the level, the faster the objects come down on the screen. Besides being fun, playing Tetris is mentally stimulating as well: in 2009, neurologists found that regular turns on Tetris caused the grey matter in the brain to thicken.
Doom was created in 1993 and is widely recognized for having popularized the first person shooting genre. Playing Doom means wandering the halls of a “military base in space,” while shooting demons from hell. Doom was somewhat controversial from the start due to its graphic and interactive violence and Satanic imagery, but became notorious after the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. Because the two boys who committed the shootings were avid players of the game, many people assumed there was some connection. However, a recent study featured by the Greater Good Science Center shows that killing sprees and first person shooter games are not closely related; out of 37 incidents of school violence, only eight of the shooters showed any special interest in violent video games.
7: Leisure Suit Larry
“The Amorous Escapades that Shocked America,” is the ominous tagline on this game’s cover. Leisure Suit Larry is ‘point-and-click adventure game’ that focuses on the quest of balding doofus Larry Laffer. A common link between the series of games are Larry’s explorations of luxurious and cosmopolitan hotels, ships, beaches, resorts and casinos. The game is not designed for the little ones: the basic objective is to get Larry laid. Unfortunately, Larry is looking for love in all the wrong places. So in order to help him, you must gain money and specific items through gambling and completing different tasks, which might get him into someone’s pants. Typical Larry conversation:
[Larry offers Annette toilet paper]:
Annette Boning – Mysterious woman in black: Oh, that’s it! You did it! That’s exactly what I’ve been wanting from you all this time. Let’s have sex, now and repeatedly!
[Larry fails to understand that Annette was talking sarcastically]
Larry Laffer: Really? With me?
Annette Boning – Mysterious woman in black: Hell, no, you idiot! You are SUCH a jerk!
8: Monkey Island
If you thought the Pirates of the Carribean movie series to be the first successful rip-off from the Disney ride; think again. First, there was the point-and-click adventure game The Secret of Monkey Island, developed in 1990. The plot focuses on the somewhat childish pirate Guybrush Threepwood as he struggles to defeat undead antagonist LeChuck. Oh, and yes, there is also a girl that needs saving. In 2009, creator LucasArts launched a remake of the game. What’s especially fun about this edition is that it includes the option to switch back and forth from the old and new design. So one moment three-dimensional Guybrush, who’s able to talk, is entering the screen, and the next he’s mute and 8-bit again. This of course makes it very easy to compare the characters and locations, which boosts the game’s nostalgia factor.
9: Wolfenstein 3D
Wolfenstein 3D has been termed the “grandfather of 3D first person shooters”, because it was the first properly created game of its kind – paving the way for other shooters such as Doom and Quake. During the game, you are William ‘B.J.’ Blazkowicz, a chisel-jawed, leather jacket wearing Polish-American soldier who also happens to be an Allied spy. Blazkowicz is fighting Nazis of all ranks – varying from prison guard Hans Grosse to the Führer himself. Integrating a nonlinear approach, Wolfenstein allows gamers to choose the order of their quests, while wandering the different and sometimes hidden chambers of the Castle. Due to its use of swastikas and the Nazi Party’s anthem, Wolfenstein was banned in Germany and the American SNES version was heavily edited as well. All Nazi references – including Hitler’s moustache- were removed and blood was replaced with sweat to make the game seem less violent.
10: Grand Theft Auto
Probably the most controversial videogame that we included in our Top Ten. Since the original Grand Theft Auto was released in 1997, game developer Rockstar Games has met all sorts of criticism. There are those who say GTA encourages gratuitous violence as players immerse themselves in an underground world of LA gangs and gun-ridden ghettos. Others point out that the game is filled with sexual content – The Lost and Damned shows full frontal male nudity, which was not appreciated by parents group Common Sense Media- and racist remarks - as the game includes lines such as “kill the Haitian dickheads.” Surely, Rockstar is no stranger to pushing the envelope in terms of game content. But that same controversy has also led to enormous success with each new game in the GTA franchise.