As technology develops, the video game industry reaches new heights. With VR kits being released, you probably feel as though a new age of gaming is on its way, unlike those who might remember the worthy but failed attempts more than two decades ago, such as the Sega VR set. Good try, but no.
That glorious decade wasn’t completely bereft of progress and functioning innovation, in fact, from the 1990s onward, it was advancement after advancement. Various games set the standard and established the basis upon which future games were built. These games for example, are some great examples of innovative video games that are argued to have established their genres.
It would be a crime not to mention this immortalised game on a list of innovative video games. Mario is known as the video game industry’s only super powered, turtle-fighting (koopas) plumber, venturing across a mystical land of plumbing and mushrooms to save a kidnapping-prone princess from the evil clutches of Bowser, a giant turtle/lion thing, or just fighting those Koopas and crabs for the good of New York. A few siblings will remember, he’d do so with the help of his emerald, skinnier brother, Luigi. Mario Bros. Introduced co-op gameplay to platforming video games way back in the 1980s, and other video games that followed, such as Sonic the Hedgehog in the early 1990s, would follow suit.
A little closer to this decade, was the epic first-person shooter, Doom, in which you blast your way through an onslaught of hellspawn and the undead in space and in the fiery red depths of hell. There are as many reasons for Doom’s appearance on this list as there are apparent levels in hell. The biggest reason for it would be the game’s 3D utilisation which made it one of the first games to be considered truly immersive, as well as offer online multiplayer gaming to IBM-computers.
The RTS games you may remember are more than likely to share certain similarities. Age of Empires and Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, for example, all use point and click, resource gathering, and the ‘fog of war’. These features were all introduced (with the exception of point and click movement, which was introduced with Herzog Wei) in Dune II, back in 1992. In fact, the term ‘Real-Time Strategy’ was first coined by Brett Sperry, co-founder of developer, Westwood Studios. Dune II, in regards to gameplay, would showcase the technical basis upon which nearly all RTS games were built.
Shogun: Total War
With all the innovative features of the past, the creators of Shogun: Total War, Creative Assembly, saw fit to try something new and include both Real-Time Tactics and Turn-Based Strategy elements to create their 2000 game, which, at the time of conception, was considered a high-risk product in regards to marketing. Turn based strategy allows you to better control and command you forces around the country while you get to lead your army through every battle using Real-Time Tactics. Ultimately, the innovative features of the game helped spawn ten more, taking us to a variety of different eras and locations from the Napoleonic era to that of medieval kings.
Grand Theft Auto III
In the realm of third person action/adventure games, there are only a few more widely known than the Grand Theft Auto series. From humble beginnings as a top-down open-world game wherein you choose to play as one of eight characters, to the grand open-world game where you’re free to plan and steal your way to the lap of luxury, the series has proven that innovation can be as simple as giving players excitement in the form of heists, or freedom in the form of the mundane, such as cycling through a valley. This was highlighted in the third entry to the series, the first to introduce us to its world from a third-person perspective and show us violence, sex, and freedom in a truly immersive, open-world environment. This popularised open-world and open-ended sandbox games, and paved the way for more mature games.
In the realm of all things unique, there’s no game more difficult to relate to another than 2011’s open-ended sandbox video game, Minecraft. The world within the game is filled with zombies, spiders, skeletons, and raw materials all rendered in seemingly outdated graphics that only add to the charm of the game. Players are free to build anything and everything their hearts desire within the game, and there have been some pretty amazing things constructed in the game purely due to the work and dedication of the players. There’s a reconstructed King’s Landing (from Game of Thrones), Minas Tirith (Lord of the Rings), and a Flame Atronach (The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion). As time goes on, who knows what else Minecraft players will end up building? That’s what sets Minecraft apart from other sandbox games— the unmatched freedom to create, as well as the thrill of survival.
Some of you may be fans of MMORPGs, any one of the numerous releases such as Star Wars: The Old Republic, World of Warcraft, or DC Universe Online may be your world right now, and if it wasn’t for Ultima Online, back in 1997, these games would have had a far smaller chance of ever being made, after all, the fantasy RPG pit friends against friends while still offering the beloved single-player elements that fans of the series had grown accustomed to, and as a result, popularised the genre of MMORPGs.
Large arena battles have never been particularly deep, and most rely on unique characters to keep things interesting. That changed with the sequel to Defence of the Ancients. 2013’s DOTA 2 awed everyone upon its release, giving its patient and loyal players everything a sequel should give. Essentially, there are two five-player teams (Radiant and Dire) consisting of five unique hero characters selected from a roster of 111. Players collect gold, fight creeps and the opposing team, all the while trying to destroy their ‘ancient tower’. To properly explain the gameplay and rules would require more than a simple article can give, however it can be said that one thing most critics agreed on was the “steep learning curve” that newcomers faced. However, that bit of critique was aimed more at the community rather than the game itself, and a game can’t be blamed for its followers. The game itself is a fantastic MOBA game which just so happens to be free-to-play, should any of you wish to try it out. You’ll see why the charmingly rendered arena and exciting matches have led gamers to play in official competitions worldwide.