Every month or two, those of us lucky enough to report on video games are treated and get the first glimpses at rare instances of total brilliance, in character or environment design, soundtrack composition, or storytelling. As gamers, though, many of us have followed our favourite series’ since their first inception, waiting for the day we can scream “I TOLD YOU THIS SERIES WOULD BE BADASS” at our less devoted friends. Here are some of the moments that changed the game (“Oh, I see what you did there!”) forever.
Mario Kart 64 (N64) - The First Split-Screen Race
Mario Kart 64 is one of those rare games that friends these days will still gladly set up and play together. It had the perfect blend of unpredictability, challenge and competition that could keep players entertained for hours on end, and the courses were so varied that by the time you had run through them all, you were jumping to do it all again - and by the time you had done them all again, you were ready for a few rounds of the battle mode. Not only did it have a perfect mix of gameplay elements, but the split-screen implementation worked fantastically well. Despite subsequent releases throwing up a greater variety of weapons, characters, vehicles and tracks, Mario Kart 64, with its simplicity, remains the most charming of all.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64) - Approaching the Castle
Although the Legend of Zelda series has always had a strong following, it wasn’t until Hyrule was fully developed in 3D that most of us knew how captivating a place it was. A true innovation, Ocarina of Time combined some devilish dungeons with a world that seemed full of life (or devoid of life, depending on which era you were playing), and a score that accompanied each landscape to the tee; even typing this has me humming the tune from the Hyrule field. Without getting lost in a universe of nostalgia and fond memories, Hyrule truly was a world designed for players to get lost in.
Grand Theft Auto III (PS2/XBOX/PC) - The First Crime Spree
Grand Theft Auto III reminds me of a simpler time, one where I didn’t waste the day on facebook, but instead kicked the footy around the backyard by myself. When I first played GTA III, I was stunned. Having already played GTA 2, I was no stranger to the premise, but seeing someone carjack an innocent driver, in three dimensions and at my command, was just so real. The endless crime sprees, with multiple tank runs, never tired; neither did listening to the police radio describe my antics. Grand Theft Auto III spawned what has become undoubtedly one of the most famous media franchises of all time, and it goes without saying that what little we know of GTA V already has me as excited as I was the first time I stole a Banshee from the car yard near 8-Ball’s.
FIFA Football 2008 (PS3/X360) - The First Kickoff
Controversial it may seem to suggest this, but every football fan agreed that Pro Evolution Soccer dominated the PlayStation 2 and XBox. FIFA’s rise to prominence coincided with the release of the next generation consoles, and although it took a couple of years until it finally held the mantle, FIFA 2008 laid the platform with a vastly improved physics engine and some gorgeous player models. The inclusion of the A-League for the first time also helped its cause Down Under.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (PC, X360, PS3) - The First Online Round
Whether you love it or hate it, Call of Duty 4 revolutionized online shooters. The killstreaks, perks and leveling system ensured no two matches felt the same. I remember the first time I played online at a friend’s house, using the old “pass the control” routine every time we died. Call of Duty 4 was so easy to pick up and play; everything felt so instinctive. While the series may not be known for its innovations, the fact that it continues to grow in popularity is testament to its successful FPS formula.
By Tom Hughes
Do you agree with our list? What moments have defined your gaming experience over the years? Let us know in the comments below!