Time to pay tribute to those who carried the weight of a company on their shoulders.
Ever play that game Jenga? I’m sure you probably have, and even if you haven’t’, it’s not very hard to explain. A tall stack of rectangular wooden blocks are stacked one atop the other, forming a massive tower of anxiety forming danger. Players take turns gently pulling various logs from the base of the structure one at time. Eventually, as the game progresses, things become increasingly more unstable (until it collapses in on itself after the final yank). It’s been known to turn more than one family reunion into a full blown family feud (I’ll never forget that black eye Grandpa got during the summer of ’94)!
So what in the blue hell does Jenga have to do with Nintendo you might ask?
The answer my friends…is EVERYTHING. Don’t forget, the company used to manufacture things like playing cards before venturing into the video game world. But that’s not the point. My purpose of using Jenga above was to illustrate how easy things can come tumbling down if one or two key pieces don’t remain firmly in place. You could look back on Nintendo’s long storied history and draw the same comparison. Recently, Ubisoft EU boss Alain Corre touted that the upcoming Super Smash Bros. could very well provide a much needed boost the struggling system desperately needs this holiday season.
While I’m not here to debate the merits of that statement (although I could) it did get me thinking. What other key titles in Nintendo’s past were game changers on its previous consoles? So here is a quick look back at just a handful of those that made all the difference in propping up Nintendo’s 30+ year reign of industry superiority (in no particular order).
Wii Sports for the Wii (2006):
Chances are, if you owned a Wii console then you owned a copy of Wii Sports! You wouldn’t think such a quaint little title could be so wildly received, but I suppose that just speaks to the charm that is Nintendo. The Wii’s success and mass appeal can be tracked to its simplicity and easily accessible nature. Wii Sports only contained a few small mini-games and graphics that looked as if they were ripped from a PlayStation game ten years early. Despite that, this quickly became one of the most played Nintendo pack-ins since Duck Hunt/Clay Pigeons on the NES.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the Super Nintendo (1991):
Easily one of the most beloved Zelda’s ever. In fact; I’d go so far to say it might be THE Zelda title of a generation. Personally, I prefer Ocarina of Time (and will always love the original) Link to the Past was an utterly magical experience. It built upon what was so great about the first in a way only Super Nintendo could afford. Many would likely point to Super Mario World as the spark which set this 16-bit console on fire, I credit A Link to the Past as the gasoline that kept the raging inferno ablaze. Also, it was a cherished series of the late Robin Williams (who named is daughter after the iconic princess).
Tetris for Gameboy (1989):
Tetris proves that gaming isn’t all about photorealistic graphics and sprawling maps that stretch on as far as the eye can see. Back in the day, all we needed was a few L-shaped blocks and an afternoon with nothing to do. Hell, the colorful box was prettier to look at than this thing (as all the GameBoy could produce was those murky visuals via its headache inducing green/grey screen). But we didn’t’ care, as this game ultimately became the crack of the handheld market. Yes better ports were available on other systems, but allowing you to carry your addiction around in your pocket was what spelled success for the 3DS’ predecessor.
Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64 (1996):
The Nintendo 64 is fondly remembered as a transition point into what many consider the next-gen of gaming. Everything that came before is easily dropped into the retro category, while N64 and PlayStation games are where the line gets blurry. However, some forget the original launch library was quite anemic. With only a few choices like Crusin’ USA, Pilotwings and others, it took some waiting to beef up our selection. But that didn’t really matter, because all ANYONE was playing was Super Mario 64. I can’t say enough about this game. I absolutely love it and still consider it one of the greatest platformers of all time! It was revolutionary and set the stage for all that came after. Definitely a MUST PLAY every few years or so.
Fun Fact: Did you know two of the games listed above have the distinction of being the top selling in history? Wii Sports not only helped the Wii take root as a formidable contender of the last-generation, but sold over 80+ million units worldwide. This might seem impressive, but still only raises it into the #2 spot under Tetris (who continues to hold that record at a staggering 143 million)!
Do you have a favorite from consoles of yester-year that didn’t make the cut? Is there a game whose debut you feel was an absolute watershed moment? Let us know in the comments section below!