We’ve broken out 50 through 11 over the past week, and today, amid the E3 hubbub, we deploy the top ten. I’m taking #10 through #6, and come back later this afternoon for the top five. And #10 is one we know you guys have been expecting…
10) The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
MORE LIKE CELDA AMIRITE? This was, when first revealed, not the most popular art style in Nintendo’s history. What’s with all this cel-shaded stuff? Why does Link look like he’s five? And on and on and on.
But in truth, it was a clever way for the series to differentiate itself. This followed up The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, probably one of the single most beloved games ever released. Nobody wants to be the guy following the Beatles, and it’s to Nintendo’s credit they found a way to make the next entry unique while completely changing expectations.
9) Mickey’s Castle of Illusion
Taking on Disney takes guys. Disney is famous as a corporate entity, but artistically, the company’s 2D animation is some of the best in film history. Trying to capture that on 16 bits was a challenge, to say the least, but seeing it pulled off is, and remains, glorious.
If you weren’t around for it, it’s kind of hard to explain just what a revelation this game was. There was almost nothing like it at the time, and being built for PC hardware put the graphics, with their 3D environments, far ahead of what anything else could achieve at the time. More importantly, though, it started creating the style and visual grammar of the first-person shooter; much of what Doom laid down is still in use today.
7) Donkey Kong
This was a milestone in a lot of ways, but not least in that it established what an arcade game was supposed to look like. In a stroke, Donkey Kong ushered out simple lines and vector graphics and fathered the sprite art style that endured for nearly two decades.
6) Super Mario Bros.
For many people, when you say the words “video game,” this is what appears in their mind’s eye. Nintendo largely created 8-bit gaming with this, creating clever ideas and shortcuts most games for the system would use. It also made it clear that this was not the Atari that people remembered from the industry crash just a few years before. This was something… different, and decidedly better.
Keep an eye out for the top five this afternoon!