A Fine Design
Numerous games released ahead of their time attempted to revolutionize the medium by reinventing core concepts or reimagining narrative and gameplay preconceptions. These games have been lauded for their groundbreaking achievements in some cases. Undoubtedly, every example on this list has been a trailblazer. While many have received the recognition they deserve, such as the lasting legacy of space invaders, others have been overlooked, disregarded, or otherwise forgotten. Gaming has become ingrained in our culture. Despite numerous successes and failures, these video game designs influenced and shaped the industry as we know it today.
Minecraft was one of the most recognizable games of the 2010s, and it helped pave the way for the sandbox genre’s success. It’s the classic everything game. Some players get carried away in creative mode, spending hours building imaginary worlds. Others regard it as a game of survival. Nevertheless, the game is a blank canvas, and its user-centric approach has influenced other industries and areas of development.
Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
If you have gaming friends, at least one of them will argue that The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is superior to anything that has followed. Of course, superiority is subjective, but I don’t think it’s difficult to say they have a case. Every element you’ll encounter on your journey through the titular Morrowind was carefully crafted and placed. This gives the game a very different feel than the subsequent sprawling open worlds, and it’s well worth experiencing for yourself.
Blizzard used to be able to do no wrong. So when Blizzard announced Warcraft III, everyone rushed to give them their money, making it the most pre-ordered title, for a good reason. Orcs, humans, zombies, and night elves – the game appeared to be a treat, and it was. The beautiful and well-directed CGI cutscenes set the standard for future generations of games. The primary campaign allowed you to play through all four available races. An engrossing story kept you on the edge of your seat like nothing we’d seen in a strategy game before.
The Wii’s flagship launch title lacked the flashy graphics and sound that hard-core gamers have come to expect. Still, it was every bit as revolutionary as even the most cutting-edge shooter. Nintendo’s straightforward Wii Sports was a showcase for the Wiimote, a motion-sensing controller that essentially eliminated button pressing from the video game experience. Picking up the Wiimote and swinging it around, players could begin a game of tennis, baseball, boxing, bowling, or golf. Nintendo’s Wii was a bold step in an entirely new direction for the company, which decided that competing with Microsoft and Sony in the graphics and processing-power arms race was a waste of time. Instead, the seasoned game developer chose to target a completely different market.
The game that launched a franchise; few could have predicted that this game about a lovelorn plumber leaping barrels tossed by a giant ape to save his princess love would become the face of Nintendo. Numerous titles would be created by him and his brother Luigi. “Donkey Kong” is strangely addictive in and of itself and can be as enjoyable to play today as any Mario game.
Centipede, a 1981 fixed shooter co-created by Dona Bailey, Atari’s only female employee in the coin-op division, was released during the arcade game’s golden age. As a tiny magical gnome, the player fires at a centipede, moving through a field of mushrooms. Centipede became one of the most popular arcade games due to its pastel color palette and simple but challenging-to-master gameplay.
In 3D console games, analog controls are essential for navigation. While a mouse and keyboard are adequate for specific genres, the limitations of a d-pad and the inaccuracies of other methods, such as a trackball, are insufficient for more modern titles, particularly those that prioritize giving players freedom of exploration. Players can thank Sega’s Space Harrier for this breakthrough, as the arcade shooter was the first to use analog controls in the form of a flight stick. While it differs significantly from the examples found on PlayStation and Xbox controllers, it was the first step for 3D games and a giant leap for the industry.