Game Boy and games

9 Nintendo games that changed gaming as know it

After a few years in the gaming wilderness, Nintendo are back on top with the Nintendo Switch. The Switch, a genius combination of a handheld and home console, has sold millions of units already and is on course to break quite a few sales records.

It’s another example of Nintendo’s ingenuity, creativity and unique ability to change the way we think about gaming.

To celebrate, we’ve compiled nine of Nintendo’s most influential games from over the years. If we’ve missed your favorite, let us know in the comments!

Donkey Kong (1981)

Released in arcades back in 1981, Donkey Kong one of the forefathers of platform gaming.

Interestingly, Donkey Kong is actually a baddie in this one. He’s kidnapped Princess Peach and the only man who can save her is…erm, Jumpman (who looks suspiciously like a certain Italian plumber).

Players have to help Jumpman climb to the top of a structure while performing inch-perfect jumps over barrels thrown by DK.

It’s fairly archaic even compared to games that came out a few years later, but Donkey Kong is still a super important moment in the history of videogames.

Super Mario Bros (1985)

Although it isn’t the first Mario Bros game, Super Mario Bros is the one most people remember.

Taking elements from his previous work in Donkey Kong and Mario Bros, Shigeru Miyamoto and his team crafted perhaps the perfect platforming game. Super Mario Bros combines simple controls with wonderfully designed levels and a memorable cast of characters.

It’s hard to imagine video games without Super Mario Bros, both figuratively and literally; its success in North America is credited with reviving the industry after the great video game crash of 1983.

The Legend of Zelda (1986)

It’s that man Miyamoto again! Not content with inventing platform gaming as we know it, he decided to create one of the world’s first RPGs (alongside Takashi Tezuka).

The Legend of Zelda is a vast fantasy epic that allowed players to explore a huge world filled with treasure, creatures and dungeons. Considering most games at the time only let you move left and right, it was pretty mind-blowing!

As well as spawning one of the most popular video game franchises of all time (including a couple of ‘best game of all time’ contenders), Zelda has inspired countless other RPG series too. Gaming would be a lot less ambitious without it.

Super Mario Kart (1992)

Super Mario Kart took the vast Mario cast, put them in go karts and made them race around a series of tough-but-awesome tracks while throwing weapons like red shells and bananas at each other.

It’s the kind of game that can make friendships after an epic race or break them after a perfectly-timed red shell knocks someone off course just before the finish line, sending them from 1st to 5th in a matter of seconds. It could very well be the best multiplayer game of all time!

It also started the rich tradition of Mario spin-offs, which has seen everyone’s favourite plumber take on everything from board games to the Olympic games, and inspired a legion of rip-offs which ranged from awesome (Crash Team Racing) to plain bad (Smurf Racer).

Super Metroid (1994)

In Super Metroid, players step into the space suit of Samus Aran and are tasked with exploring a distant planet in search of an elusive creature called a Metroid. Standing in your way is a small army of evil space pirates.

Super Metroid is perhaps the best example of the Metroidvania genre, combining action, platforming and a huge world that you’re free to explore (so long as you have the required power-ups).

The level of freedom offered to players in Super Metroid was unparallelled at the time, giving players numerous ways to approach and complete the game, while the power-ups allowed for some pretty cool gameplay mechanics.

It was also unforgiving difficult, although practise definitely did eventually make perfect!

Pokemon Red & Blue (1996)

Pokemon Red & Blue is a genius combination of life’s greatest pleasures: collecting stuff and Zelda-style RPGs.
Playing as young trainer Ash Ketchum (although you could rename him), players are sent out into the world to catch as many Pokemon (pocket monsters, as if you didn’t know already)  as possible, train them up in turn-based battles and then fight the world’s greatest trainers in order to become the ultimate Pokemon Master.

Pokemon offered endless hours of replay value, with gamers across the globe obsessively attempting to capture all 151 Pokemon.

It was also one of the first video games to spark a genuine cultural phenomenon, spawning a hugely popular TV series and the world’s most addictive card game!


Super Mario 64 (1996)

How do you improve the best platforming game of all time? Easy: you take all the good parts and transfer them into an incredible 3D world!

Super Mario 64 set the standard for 3D gaming at a time when developers weren’t sure how to make the most of it. The control scheme, which was one of the biggest problems with the transition from 2D to 3D, is intuitive and easy to pick up. You can still feel it’s influence in games today.

Meanwhile, the level design showcased just how much potential 3D graphics had. The levels on Super Mario 64 are nothing short of ingenious, the kind of levels you could happily play again and again without ever getting bored.

You can also partly blame Super Mario 64 for the popularity of rare collectibles in games, with the stars providing hours of entertainment even after Bowser had been defeated.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)

After successfully transferring Mario to the third dimension, Nintendo turned their attention to another of their most popular franchises.

The result was one of the best games of all time, Ocarina of Time. Like previous games, you control Link on his quest to save Princess Zelda from the evil Ganon. However, Hyrule is now a sprawling living kingdom with diverse regions and hundreds – if not thousands – of secrets to discover.

Not only that, but you can also travel to the future and explore a post-apocalyptic version of the kingdom too. While Hyrule is tiny compared to modern monoliths like Skyrim, it was truly impressive at the time.

Ocarina of Time built the template for modern 3D action RPGs in other ways too, introducing now-standard elements like target locking and fast travel. It’s fair to say that without this game, the likes of Dark Souls and The Witcher probably wouldn’t exist.   

Wii Sports (2006)

Believe it or not, Wii Sports is one of the best selling games of all time. It sold over 80 million copies worldwide, although it was bundled with the Wii Console in certain markets.

Still, Wii Sports was super popular back in the day for two reasons: it was simple and it was fun.

With intuitive motion controls and classic games that pretty much everyone knows the rules to, Wii Sports could be enjoyed by everyone from your hardcore gamer best friend to your grandma who still thinks Atari are the big players in gaming.

It was nothing short of a major cultural event, catapulting video games back into the mainstream and helping the Nintendo Wii become one of the best selling consoles of all time. It was so popular, in fact, that it pretty much inspired Microsoft and Sony to design new motion control devices to compete!

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