17 – GUITAR HERO (2005) – HARMONIX
Fun fact: The guitar periperhal included with the game is a 3/4 size replica of a Gibson SG
The music genre in video games is a veritable mixing bowl of different ideas and concepts. You can dance to music (Dance Dance Revolution/Just Dance), create music (Music 2000/Mario Paint), or have a downright quirky experience with music (Vib Ribbon/Rez). In the midpoint of the last decade, Guitar Hero carved out an entirely new niche that allowed you to play music, allowing individuals (like myself) with no music talent to pretend they were rock gods.
Using a custom guitar controller, Guitar Hero gives players a setlist of songs to play through using a rhythm tap function to simulate the notes of a guitar in the actual song. With varying difficulties to play through, players can start off slow, and then advance to an even closer simulation of real life guitar playing…albeit with only five buttons in this case. An ace setlist of songs combined with a scoring system for playing better made this the new must have party game for consoles, offering something different in a market that was increasingly becoming dominated with shooting games.
Guitar Hero’s spot on this list comes because of a twofold reason. First off, it led to a renewal of interest in the music genre spawning other projects such as Rock Band which brought different instruments such as drums to the party, and also had a surprisingly unexpected impact on music culture in general, highlighting old artists and helping to boost record sales in some cases. The other reason is mainly negative though; Guitar Hero created a franchise that showed what happens when you flog a series to death. In five years, the Hero franchise of music games gave us five direct sequels, three games based purely on a single band, two spin off games and numerous portable titles – 24 games in all. Little wonder then that the music genre became oversaturated and essentially ceased to be of interest to developers about a year ago. Consumers have taken this example to look at other game series and campaign for quality over sheer quantity.
18 – WII SPORTS (2006) – NINTENDO
Fun fact: It’s easier to get a strike in bowling with a overarm throwing motion rather than an underarm throw
The best way to answer your critics is to make them eat their own words. The gaming press was by no means unified over whether or not the Nintendo Wii would attract enough players with its motion control gimmicks when it was released in 2006, but they had not anticipated the title that would be bundled in with the console – Wii Sports may be nothing more than a collection of demonstration minigames, but its hard to think of anything that could have shown off the appeal of the Wii so effortlessly.
Giving players the option of five sporting events to play through (Tennis, Bowling, Golf, Baseball and Boxing), players use the Wii remote and nunchuck attachment to simulate actions such as swinging a tennis racket or throwing a punch, which are then replicated in game by Mii’s (custom avatars created and stored on the console). The design of Wii Sports makes it so that both experienced gamers and novices can get involved straight away with ease, and it is a game that for once does not lie with it advertising; anyone from young children to grandparents can get involved.
I heavily doubt the launch of the Wii would have been as successful as it was without Wii Sports bundled in. The inclusion of software that could be easily played by the whole family straight from unwrapping the box at Christmas was a masterstroke on Nintendo’s behalf. It’s not just that it works though; Wii Sports really is good fun for the whole family. The game holds the title of the best selling video game of all time pushing the near 80 million mark, and inspired a range of in house titles utilising the Wii’s motion controls, including Wii Play, Wii Music and a direct sequel, Wii Sports Resort. Motion controls may still be in need of refinement for it to become a fully viable replacement for handheld controllers, but Wii Sports was instrumental in showing that a new way of playing games was possible.