One big passion of mine has always been and will probably always be (i can safely say that now that i passed age 30) video games. In various forms and variations.
I really started out on the Amiga as a pre-teen, always loved arcade machines, especially on holidays in italy and at one point even tried so hard at a drawing contest to win an NES that i even won one in the end. I later switched to PC and then back to consoles while occasionally enjoying an iPad game or two.
I tried to compile, sort of chronologically, which games really had a big impact on me and have made such a lasting impression that they have attained such a legendary status in their respective genres, that i automatically associate one with the other. Often i still play these classics, just because they were so well designed, had an astonishing soundtrack that still brings alive memories or just because they are just plain fun and addictive.
Here’s the list of the games that ultimately managed to define a whole genre for me. They might not always be the obvious choices but as said before, they influenced me a lot in early days.
Double Dragon (Beat’em’up, 1987)
This takes me far back to childhood, i remember this one being on one of the first arcade machines i ever laid hands on. Down in Italy back then, all the bars and restaurants were full of them. And it only cost 200 Lira a credit.
I also had lots of good times with the NES port and the Amiga Port later on.
Mega Man 2 (Platform Game, 1988)
Hands down the best NES game ever. Not gameplay wise, but the soundtrack was so beyond awesome, i still love listening to it now, just like i listen to regular rock music. Really, no game ever had such an awesome score, not even on the C64.
Populous (God Game, 1989)
The God game that started them all. It seemed epic when my dad announced this as being proclaimed the “Best Game Yet” to me. But indeed, i got really hooked and also loved its sequels later on. This masterpiece redefined both the strategy genre and spawned a new genre itself.
I even started playing it again lately, so a more in depth post is on the way.
Pizza Connection (Business Sim, 1994)
I know “Business Sims” recently got some kind of a new touch, with all the Facebook and Mobile Games and the Freemium models that sort of emulate Business Simulations, but all you really do is “Click a Cow“.
Pizza Connection was different. It is to me easily the best Business Sim ever, out of two reasons:
You could literally create pizzas, as in putting ingredients in various forms on them and release them to public acclaim.
Secondly, you could get down with the “Underworld”, hustling for the Mob, trade weapons and carry out attacks on your competitors.
The game’s so legendary to me, i’m also planning on a more elaborate review. Stay tuned.
Street Fighter 2 (Fighting Game, 1991)
Sho-ryu-ken! Nuff said. Well, technically, Ha-do-ken, but you get my point.
Monkey Island 2 (Point and Click, 1991)
While Maniac Mansion was technically my entry drug into point and click adventures (which back then were made so that you could actually die and/or lose the game) – Monkey Island 2 was the one that stuck and is up to this day, my favorite Adventure Game in terms of theme and humor.
I loved it so much back then, that i even wrote a walkthrough for it, which was written like the acutal story. I was 9 years old back then and some people that didn’t know the game probably thought i was crazy when it was released in the elementary school’s student’s newspaper.
Jagged Alliance (Round Based Strategy, 1994)
While it was widely a RBS game, the Role Playing element was a lot bigger than initially visible. While (at least not until the sequel) you played your own role, like what RPG’s are usually about, every single character in this game was really a character. All the mercenaries you could hire for your mission had unique traits and lots of dialogue options which was never seen before at that time.
There were hundreds of easter egg like actions to discover, as some of the characters got along better than others, which sometimes would spawn hilarious scenes during combat. But also the actual Round Based Strategy Gameplay was pretty solid, with lots of different weapons, explosives and other items that could be combined in various ways to improve durability or firepower.
Duke Nukem 3d (1st Person Shooter, 1996)
I never liked 1st Person Shooters too much, Doom and Wolfenstein went past me without much notice as i was more into RPG and Adventuring. But when i first played Duke Nukem 3d at a friend’s house, i was hooked. Not so much by the action or the gameplay, but the details and the jokes they put into this game were just stunning.
There were actual bullet holes that got stuck in walls and things like toilets you could actually use, or strippers you could throw money at. The moral implications might be subject to discussion, but at age fourteen i just thought it was quite fun.
The level editor was also really revolutionary and i spent quite some time creating a level that was modeled after parts of our school building. I would’ve probably got taken into custody if i did that ten years later, but as i said before, it was just funny back then – i never turned particularily violent because of it.