We do a fair bit of traveling here at EGM in order to bring you best news and previews in gaming. And a lot of us like to kill time on long plane trips by breaking out our iPads (if we have one) and playing Infinity Blade 2. This got us to thinking about how the original Infinity Blade really helped to legitimize the iOS as a gaming means. So, now that we’re all back in the office until the holidays, we decided to compile a list of our Top 5 games that legitimized their respective systems.
Super Mario 64
Released: June 1996 – Nintendo 64
How It Legitimized Its System: Some might say that this game not only legitimized the Nintendo 64 right out of the gate, but it may have also revolutionized gaming in general. One of the first 3D platformers, Mario 64 featured true 3D polygons and included a revolutionary dynamic camera—written into the story as carried around by a friendly Lakitu who’d listen to Mario whenever he pressed one of the yellow C buttons. Mario 64 would also feature huge changes to Nintendo’s No. 1 mascot by adding punches, kicks, and various new jumps to his Koopa-bashing repertoire, as well as an open-world aspect yet unseen in platforming.
Released: 1988 – Sega Master System
How It Legitimized Its System:Though it took me a while to learn there was more to life than the NES, in time, I came to love and appreciate Sega’s little 8-bit system that (unfortunately) couldn’t—the Sega Master System. For many of you out there, however, there’s probably only one game you could name from its lifespan: Phantasy Star. The explanation for that is simple: the game was larger than life in visuals, audio, and depth, providing an experience that not only didn’t exist on Nintendo’s gaming juggernaut, but couldn’t. Though the SMS played host to a number of great games, it is—for good reason—Phantasy Star that people will always remember.
-Eric L. Patterson
Super Castlevania IV
Released: December 1991 – SNES
How It Legitimized Its System:While some might pick Super Mario World or Final Fantasy II as the title that put the Super NES on the map, the game that really sold the potential of the console for me was Konami’s souped-up revision of its vampire-hunting classic. With spooktacular translucent fog effects, instantly recognizable classic tunes like “Vampire Killer” and “Bloody Tears” upgraded to the excellent SNES sound chip, swinging chandeliers delivered via Mode 7, the demented ghostly ballroom dancing of Paula Abghoul and Fred Askare, and hero Simon Belmont able to swing his trusty whip in eight different directions instead of the standard two, the amazing leap from Castlevania III to Castlevania IV gave developers a benchmark aspire to—and proved that it wasn’t just Nintendo that could get the job done.
Released: September 1999 – Sega Dreamcast
How It Legitimized Its System:A lot of folks dismissed the importance of Namco’s supercharged sequel to Sega’s launch lineup because, well, it wasn’t the more-popular Tekken, but after countless 10s from reviewers and four sequels, it’s clear that this visual showcase did more than put the Dreamcast on the map—it also took this lesser-known franchise and catapulted into instant stardom thanks to its incredible animations, haunting soundtrack, and rival-making gameplay. Having this title at launch gave a lot of gamers the confidence to jump on the DC bandwagon and helped make its launch one of the most compelling intros in gaming history. Too bad Sega gave up on it a few short years later, eh?
Released: October 1996 – PS1
How It Legitimized Its System:The PlayStation was defined by a handful of important titles: the seminal Resident Evil, the epic Final Fantasy VII, and the first Metal Gear to go 3D. Fighting fans got Tekken at its best, Crash Bandicoot went up against Mario, and Gran Turismo topped the racing charts, but it’s Tomb Raider that sticks with me as an indelible favorite. The series was a massive commercial success, selling millions and growing the snappy Lara Croft as a signature character for the system—and as one of the great games, the original Tomb Raider will be remembered as a new experience in a genre that had never seen anything quite like its grandiose brand of adventure.
Do you folks agree with the crew’s thoughts on what games legitimized each system? What systems and games were left off that you wished had made the list? Let us know what you think with comments below!