Gaming is big business, and for very good reason. Games are interactive, fun, and let us experience thrills and excitement in a way that is more immersive than even the biggest-budget blockbusters. It’s gotten to be so big, that whole industries have arisen around it, and technology gets pushed forward by the beat of its drum. In this part of our CoverStory, we take a look at some of the most iconic console games of late, and while there are more titles than we could make a whole magazine about, here are some that resonate with the general gaming public. Grab a Mountain Dew, crack open a bag of Doritos, and settle in. You’re going to be in
for a ride.
Resident Evil, PlayStation, 1996
Few games bring us back like the original Resident Evil, released for the first PlayStation. With that console, 3D games were finally going mainstream, and even though by today’s standards, it’s a pixelated mess, it’s a title that changed the face of gaming, and brought to the fore a new genre altogether: survival horror. It might not be the first, or arguably the best, but you can’t say that gaming would be the same without that first zombie you encounter at that mansion in Raccoon City.
Goldeneye 007, N64, 1997
The N64 was quite the machine back in its day, and one of the most iconic titles on that console is, without a doubt, Goldeneye. It had both single- and multi-player modes, and while playing solo through the story was pleasant enough, it was finding a group of friends and going at it deathmatch-style that was the most fun. With a selection of weapons available, and intense split-screen action so that you and three other friends could play in a single living room, for many this was the first in a very long line of first person shooters that would eat up their lives.
The Legend of Zelda, NES, 1986
The Legend of Zelda, in all its fantasy action-adventure goodness is one of the first titles that comes to mind when I start thinking about RPGs. The deep story, immersive worlding, and that grand sense of adventure all come together to form a game that you just couldn’t put down. Along with different weapons and items that had to be used to solve in-world puzzles, or more easily defeat certain enemies and bosses, the game was done in a format that was appealing for little kids, and big ones alike. Really, pick it up now, and see if you don’t have a great time playing it all over again.
Chrono Trigger, SNES, 1995
While Legend of Zelda was the RPG for the NES, there is little doubt that Chrono Trigger for the SNES took that, and brought it up to a completely different level. With multiple characters, ability combinations, storylines, and endings, it took the usual RPG scope and broadened it to a point that even modern titles look up to. Replayability is amazing, and even now, several decades after it first came up, every playthrough feels like a new experience. While the grind, item hunt, and levelling-up is a lot of fun on its own, the game is made so much better by a superbly written story that has you at the edge of your seat at every turn. It’s a wonderful tale that every gamer should play at some point in their lives.
Gran Turismo, PlayStation, 1997
Until Gran Turismo came along, the closest you could get to a right proper racing game was at the arcade. Gran Turismo was really the first title to bring that same experience to your home. With gorgeous graphics, lots of car choices, and the chance to race against AI that was reasonably balanced meant it was a title you would keep coming back to over and over again. The clever system of unlocking licenses meant that you couldn’t just have the whole game waiting for you all at once, adding another layer of replayability and that sense of completion. There’s a lot of fun to be had finding the right line, or finally getting that perfect run, making this an influential title in its own right.
Dance Dance Revolution, PlayStation
Gaming was, until fairly recently, the territory of hardcore titles, and hardcore gamers. This title changed that. There were no bosses, there was nothing to grind. You didn’t have to spend hours looking for a magical item to open the portal to the land of Zod, or defeat an evil wizard warlord. It was a dancing game, and it was a lot of crazy fun. The playmat, which was really what made the whole experience worthwhile, was accessible to people who hadn’t played a single game before.
All they had to do was dance to the music, hitting the right pad at the right time—simple, easy to learn, and plenty enjoyable, plus you break a nice sweat in the process. If there’s any reason this makes it to our list, it’s because of how many people it taught that gaming isn’t about being a nerd, it’s about having fun.
Shadow of the Colossus, PlayStation 2, 2006
When we first got a hold of this game, we were honestly a bit lost. Having come from titles where you would follow a map, with pre-determined locations, more or less guided by rails, we didn’t really know where to start. There were no creatures to fight, nothing to level, no skills to learn. We just went in the general direction our sword took us, and fought big giant bosses. We didn’t know why, exactly, or if they were evil or not, but we went. We had no idea at the time, but this was the start of the trend towards sandbox-type games, where you are free to explore, roam and discover. Of course, there’s not a lot to discover in this game apart from truly epic boss fights, but just the same, the experience was new, exciting and fresh. Even now, we dust off the PS2 every so often, just to fire this title up again. We really haven’t seen anything like it since.
Metal Gear Solid 2, PlayStation, 1998
Action-adventure stealth games had been around prior to this title, with others such as the previous Metal Gear game being released for earlier systems. This title, however, made it mainstream.
With a heavy emphasis on sneaking around, direct conflict was usually met with failure. This was a welcome change of pace from the usual tactic of a solo hero jumping into the fray with guns blazing, and brought a slower, more tactical mindset to the console gaming world. The story, while done in typical Kojima fashion, might have been over the top for some, but the gameplay was stellar. So stellar in fact, that it has since spawned a number of subsequent games, each with roughly the same mechanics, and the same amazing gameplay, with a little more humor thrown in, to boot.
Street Fighter 2, SNES, 1992
While not the first in its series, Street Fighter 2 eclipsed the popularity of its predecessor to quickly become the fighting game to have at home. Arcades had been the territory of such titles in the past, but with the arrival of SF 2 was a wave that started to crest. With over 14 million copies sold for home use, it was clear that the fighting game was a lucrative home gaming genre. This title was just the first in a long line of successful Street Fighter games, as well as a springboard for other similar titles, cross-overs, and innovations down the line. It more or less started a revolution, and one we are more than happy to get behind.
There are so many more titles, systems, and franchises that made gaming the way it is now, and we do wish we had more time to cover them all. This, however, is a place to start, if you’re interested in learning how we got to where we are now. One thing remains true, however, games will continue to be made, so if you’re worried about running out of things to play, don’t. It’s a huge world out there.
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE March 2017 Issue
Words by Ren Alcantara