Once in awhile there comes along an experience that shapes the way that we look at things. A video game experience that makes something in your brain tingle. A game where simply a mere melody from its title screen sends nostalgia crawling up your spine. There are a few video games with these kinds of experience that stick out in our minds; not just for being great games, but for their “wow” factors. Sometimes these experiences are shaped by our personal interpretations; i.e. revolving around what was going on in our lives at the time. Therefore, you may have a different top five list, but we can all agree that the following five games helped to shape the way video games are made even to this day.
5) Dead or Alive 2
Up until DOA 2 came out on the Dreamcast in 2000, fighting games had been rather stiff. Tecmo changed all that when they introduced the fighter with sex appeal in an all new light. DOA 2 brought fluidity to fighting games; the same way Virtua Fighter introduced the genre and Tekken contributed bone breaking. Thanks to the intuitive counter system, the characters in DOA 2 appeared to actually be fighting with one another, and not just doing move after move. I can still remember the sense of awe I felt after I knocked somebody off of the Chinatown roof into the neon lights below. Do I even have to mention the female “bounce” that DOA pioneered? Didn’t think so.
4) Metal Gear Solid
When I first rented Metal Gear Solid from Blockbuster, I had no idea what to expect. Actually, I had rented GoldenEye 007 for the N64, and it was my brother who picked up Metal Gear Solid. By the next day, I had completely forgotten about GoldenEye and was immersed in Metal Gear Solid's incredibly unique gameplay and story. I was taken completely off guard as if Solid Snake himself had snuck up behind me and choked me out. From the start I began to realize that this was no ordinary game, but an event in video game history. The exhilarating thrill I got from hiding behind cover and stealthily sneaking out to choke out a guard, or running away from security cameras was unlike anything I had ever experienced in a video game. The incredible cinematics, dialog and voice acting, graphics, and stealth gameplay introduced a new type of video game experience that is still incorporated today.
3) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
From the first time you were greeted by that melodic tune as you load up the cartridge, to your first time on horseback exploring the vast depths of Hyrule, Ocarina of Time immersed you in a new video game experience. That experience came to take video games to a new level of depth and exploration in a virtual world. Never before had such large environments with no particular direction been incorporated into a game in such a way. Ocarina of Time brought you into an entirely different world from other games at the time, giving an unparalleled sense of adventure and fantasy. The green fields and blue skies still stick out in my memory to this day as one of the greatest video game experiences of all time.
2) Super Mario 64
No one thought that Mario would be able to make the transition from 2D to 3D while retaining the same feel as the old games, but boy did Mario 64 prove them wrong. Mario 64 wowed the world over with its incredible graphics and large environments. As one of only two launch titles, Mario 64 helped propel the Nintendo 64 through the holidays of 1996. You didn't even have to play the game, but could just watch and be astounded as Mario ran and jumped in all his 64-bit glory. Today, this 3D formula for Mario has produced some of his best video games such as Super Mario Galaxy 2, but none of the new titles could ever replicate the feeling of moving Mario around in 3D for the first time.
1) Halo: Combat Evolved
Like it or not, Halo changed the face of gaming for the better. Its intuitive control scheme, regenerating health, weapon limits, and many other aspects have become commonplace in all FPS to this day. But what set Halo: CE apart from any other video game at the time started the moment Master Chief’s escape pod crash landed in a burning blaze onto the Halo ring. From that moment on you knew that you were not playing an ordinary game. Never before had such an expansive world been detailed by a video game. As I adventured through this alien world for the first time I was wide eyed at the amount of detail, and stupefied by the endless terrain I had to traverse. The look down from the crossing bridge to the next plateau as a hostile alien ship hovered overhead, deafening whir pulsating through my subs, became a defining moment in the history of video games. The premier first person shooter on consoles had arrived.