7 – SUPER MARIO 64 (1996) – NINTENDO EAD
Super Mario 64 is to platformers what Star Wars was to the film industry when it was first released – people couldn’t believe what they were seeing. The world of the Mushroom Kingdom, which has previously been limited to side scrolling high jinks, was opened up for players to run, jump and kick about in, and not only became the instant reason for wanting a Nintendo 64 (when the console was put to bed for the Gamecube, roughly 1/3rd of N64 owners had a copy of Super Mario 64), but also became the quintessential 3D platformer that even to this day has rarely been bettered.
It wasn’t just the huge colourful worlds, objective based structures and classic characters given new proportions that impressed though – it was the sense that it was so far ahead of its time. By implementing the brand new analogue stick on the N64 controller, players had the freedom to move Mario about exactly where they wanted him to go, and also allowed for a fully adjustable camera that meant that players could take in the scenery and plan where they wanted to go – looking up at the peak of Bob-Omb Mountain and then proceeding to travel there may not seem special at all nowadays, but in 1996 it was like scaling Mt. Everest. It would even force Sony to create an analogue pad of their own for the Playstation.
As with other games in this list, Super Mario 64 has somewhat of an ageless quality to it – go and play it nowadays and it still feels as taught as the day it was released. Like Elvis Presley, it has many imitators; but there can only be one true King.
8 – GOLDENEYE 007 (1997) – RARE
In a world of ‘Doom clones’, Goldeneye 007 was a bolt from the blue. Based on the fantastic film of 1995, British company Rare incorporated new elements of design that made the game one of the most legendary first person shooters to ever be released.
Eschewing the balls out action of stuff like Doom, Goldeneye 007 (one of the first FPS’s released exclusively for a console) adopted a more realistic outlook. Much work was done to make the player get the feeling that you are James Bond, as sneaking around taking out security cameras and dispatching guards as quietly as possible becomes the most desirable way to progress through the game. Rare also introduced several new features that have become staples of the genre; guards will react differently depending on where they are shot, and the zoomable scoped sniper rifle that allowed you to kill enemies from a distance is now a standard inclusion in virtually every shooting game.
Goldeneye’s legacy however primarily lies in its multiplayer mode. Featuring fully customisable game modes and four player split screen action, this game became the measuring stick from which all other multiplayer games, not just first person shooters, were judged for sheer amounts of fun. Anyone who has played this game will have fun memories of chopping people to death, racing to get the golden gun for one shot kills, and cursing the person who decided to pick Oddjob. Arguments continue to rage about whether Goldeneye is still the ultimate deathmatch template, even after the likes of Halo and Call Of Duty have come along – a testament to the games continuing quality.