Five hardly seems enough, so it seems appropriate to bring a few more into the spotlight.
The hilarious and sometimes frustrating (at least for a logically challenged brain like mine) Portal is a puzzle based first person platformer which pits the player against a series of trials using the now infamous portal gun. The gun, you guessed it, creates portals that are used to solve the puzzles throughout the short game. It is one of five games that make up Valve’s The Orange Box and became massively popular. It went on to create a pop culture legacy due to the game’s interesting mixture of first person and puzzle genres as well as the infamous antagonist GLADOS and the general hilarious nature of the game, not to mention the memes it created (the cake wasn’t a lie after all).
Portal 2 introduced a new multiplayer feature, made it significantly longer than its predecessor, increased the amount of environments, upped the story and humour and introduced Wheatley, another memorable character. Portal was revolutionary in that it managed to make a strange combination of features work perfectly. And a game that has a robot singing a musical number during the credits has my vote any day.
Super Mario 64
Of course there was going to be a Mario game on this list. It was a close call between this and the classic Super Mario Bros. but in the end I had to pick the game that brought the iconic Italian plumber into the 3D world. Talking technical feats, the camera was different in that it allowed the player complete control rather than remaining in a fixed position like most platformers of the time. It revolutionised Mario as a character by greatly increasing his abilities such as allowing him to climb, swim and attack. The player could also stray from the path to explore the environment. Mario’s new abilities reinvented him for a new generation of gaming but he still remains the character that we know and love. This freedom of exploration and technical reboots combined with the traditional elements of the Mario franchise created a game that not only revolutionised Mario, but the 3D platforming genre as a whole.
When compiling potential games for this list, The Sims was one that I wasn’t entirely sure about including. It’s a lot of things for sure; addictive, popular, different, an all-around clever idea. But is it revolutionary? I personally believe so. The Sims was the first simulation game to gain such a huge fan base and make a mainstream impact. The fact that the game is the biggest selling PC franchise ever and the best-selling simulation game is testament to this. It also paved the way for the other simulation games to gain popularity. If you haven’t checked out any Farming Simulator videos on YouTube, you haven’t lived.
The Sims spans across three main games, and an upcoming fourth, and includes a multitude of expansions. It is essentially a simple sandbox game in which there are no set goals. Although later console versions had story modes, you mostly just live out the life of your virtual Sim. It doesn’t matter if you want to give them a normal life and steady job or if you want to torture them by removing the step ladder from their swimming pool. The choice is entirely yours. The fact that this simplicity translated into a global phenomenon is what I believe makes this game revolutionary.
My first experience with Resident Evil was brief. I played for about five minutes before I abruptly turned off my PS1 and sobbed. Okay so I was probably a little young to be playing (7 maybe?) but I feel that my experience encapsulates my point. Whilst not the first survival horror game on the market, Resident Evil was the first that truly captured the spirit of what would become a prominent genre in the gaming world. The first game was released in 1996, set in a mansion where the player must uncover the truth of the creatures dwelling within it, and it became a massive franchise with multiple sequels, spin-offs and a wealth of other material such as comic books, merchandise and movies.
The premise of the series is simple enough; zombie invasion, the cause of which is a virus created by the Umbrella corporation to be used as a biological weapon. It provided the key elements that we expect from survival horror these days, such as limits to player resources, challenging puzzles and genuinely scary enemies. Despite the cheesiness that sometimes emanates from it, the dialogue particularly, its role in shaping the survival horror genre is unparalleled. Games such as Dead Island, Dead Rising, The Walking Dead, the upcoming Dying Light, and anything else with dead in the title; these all in some part sit upon the foundations that the Resident Evil series set in place.
From one scary game to another, Silent Hill is another horror game that revolutionised the genre as a whole. Released in 1999, the game follows one man searching for his missing daughter in the creepy fictional town of Silent Hill. Like the Resident Evil series, Silent Hill spawned multiple sequels and spin offs as well as a feature film. The game, however, moved away from traditional running and gunning B-movie style horror. It was the first major foray into psychological horror in videogames and that’s why it strikes me as a revolutionary title. It also introduced a character that did not have specialised combat training or gun skills. He’s an ordinary guy, so sometimes running away is the only option. This is always a concept that has freaked me out and the popularity of games such as Slender, Amnesia and Outlast suggest that I’m not alone in this. Atmosphere is a key element in psychological horror and Silent Hill gets it right. Stumbling through thick fog with only the sound of radio static to guide you is more tense and unnerving than blasting your way through a group of zombies. Silent Hill led the way for the psychological horror genre, a genre which now hosts some of the scariest games of all time.
What videogames do you think are revolutionary?