The 5 Most Influential Video Games (IMHO)

Video Games?

I am a pop-culture mulcher. I like music, movies, television, video games, comic books (Watchmen was my fave all-time FYI), sports, and literature (I also love non-fiction, particularly about ex-POTUS and baseball).

So, yes, sometimes I write about all of these things.

My Top Five List

Most of these probably do not even register for Millennials. But, I started with an Atari and a TRS-1. I also remember playing in arcades on a regular basis (my favorite arcade game was the Star Wars video game - I also was a HUGE fan of the arcade version of "Super Punch Out"). I am only focusing on home games for this list (not arcades).

The sixth place entry would have been Tecmo Bowl. Tecmo Bowl was so amazing (at the time it was released) that my whole college dorm had ongoing Tecmo Bowl tournaments.

Yes, I fully realize this list is specific to my tastes, these are the games that most influenced me.

5. Legend of Zelda, Majora's Mask, Nintendo 64

Many people found this game to be annoying, but I love/d it. The multiple timelines premise was entirely unique and made you think about gaming in an entirely different way. I feel that this game opened the door for many of the high concept and cinematic video games that people love so much today.

4. Magic: The Gathering, Micro Prose, PC

Sid Meir of Civ's fame was part of the team on this one, so don't look at me like I am entirely crazy. In the mid-90's, I went from a mediocre magic player to someone who came one game from making the pro-tour twice (LA and Vegas qualifiers). What made the difference for me? Being part of a great magic community in Tempe Arizona and playing this game.

Magic is a great game, it is based entirely around the idea that every new card breaks the general rules of the game in some small way, this video game really helped hone my strategy and deck development strategies.

3. Legend of Zelda, Ocarina Of Time, Nintendo 64

To my mind, this was the second best game ever made on the Nintendo 64 (which I think was the home of many of the most innovative games ever made). I replayed this whole game recently, and it was still awesome. Link growing, the integration of the Ocarina, the beautiful renderings (for the time), and let us not forget that if you got worn out or grumpy you could just take a break and actually "Go Fishin'" in the game.

2. Starcraft, Blizzard Entertainment, PC

Look, if you have made a game that is so awesome, people in Korea fill stadiums to watch professional players compete, you have a pretty amazing game. I remember 10-20 of my friends and I going to the Computer lab at the University of North Texas to play all-night networked games of Starcraft. I am pretty sure that this is the game I have actually spent the most hours of my life playing. It was amazing, addictive, and challenging. Still is.

1. Super Mario 64, Nintendo 64

I remember sitting outside of a Best Buy in line at like 4 am to purchase my Nintendo 64. I remember the first time I sat down to play this amazing game. I remember being blown away by feeling, for the first time, like I had really entered a new three-dimensional world. 

I am still amazed, all these years later, by how detailed and constantly surprising experiencing this game was. Do you remember the first time you found one of the hidden slides? Or your first time flying? Or going swimming? Do you remember how fun it was to throw King Bomb off the mountain or to grab Bowser's tail? 

I am sure games have been this ambitious before but rarely (if ever) has a game succeeded so spectacularly at demonstrating the power of pure imagination and creativity.

Well, that is my list. Yes, I know it is Nintendo 64 heavy. I know it has no Star Wars games (blasphemy). But, it is my list.

What games would you have included? What games do you disagree with? Let me know what you think, leave a comment!

Joshua B. HoeComment