Whether you love them or hate them, Nintendo has always looked to the future when it comes to both their hardware and software. As the Wii U continues to divide opinions with its innovative design, it's a good time to look back on the most impactful releases in Nintendo's long and illustrious history.
Here are the top 5 revolutionary Nintendo games.
Pokémon Red/Blue's impact upon the world in the late 90's wasn't restricted to video games. The immense popularity of the Game Boy title also led to the popularisation of trading cards, and introduced anime to much of the western world thanks to the Pokémon animated television series. For many youngsters, Red/Blue would also be their first introduction to the RPG genre, and beneath the cuddly concept of owning and nurturing your own adorable little mythical creature there lay a surprisingly sophisticated training and fighting system. Very few games have had as immense a cultural impact upon the world as Red/Blue, and while the series may have lost its steely grip on the imaginations of the world's youth since then, it's still impossible to forget how devoted we once were to catching 'em all.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
While arguments continue to persist over which The Legend of Zelda game is the greatest, it is surely the SNES's A Link to the Past which was the most revolutionary. While the original Zelda was an ambitious game restricted by the limited capabilities of the NES, A Link to the Past felt like the true realisation of creator Shigeru Miyamoto's original concept. Miyamoto has stated that his inspiration for The Legend of Zelda series came from his childhood in Japan, where he would explore the forests and caves surrounding his hometown of Sonobe. In A Link to the Past, the player is actively encouraged to explore the mythical land of Hyrule in an attempt to unearth its many secrets, and it's this that seperated it from its far more linear contemporaries.
Super Mario Kart
In 2012 many will refuse to give a game so much as a second glance if it doesn't contain any multiplayer modes, but back in 1992 Super Mario Kart's emphasis on split-screen racing and car combat was virtually unheard of. If you had siblings or friends who enjoyed video games, Super Mario Kart was an essential purchase and would likely become the most revisited title in your collection. While the karting sub-genre it spawned may have been relatively hit 'n' miss, Super Mario Kart was also the first Mario spin-off title, thus paving the way for the creation of the Super Smash Bros., Mario Tennis, Mario Golf and Mario Party series, which have all contributed to making Mario the biggest and most well-known franchise in video game history.
Wii Sports ultimately didn't change the way we'd play games in the future. Even though the Wii, Kinect and PlayStation Move have all given us the opportunity to play our video games by waggling our limbs in front of the TV screen if we so wish, the majority would still prefer to simply sit down with a standard controller. However, what Wii Sports did change was who would be playing games in the future. Whether or not you like the fact that the video game industry has grown to the point where your grandma probably has a K/D ratio, the huge steps gaming has made to the forefront of the entertainment industry is in no small way thanks to the success of the Wii, which in turn was in no small way thanks to the accessibility of Wii Sports. Although it's not a classic Nintendo title, it is a definite turning point for the industry and for Nintendo itself.
Super Mario 64
Although platform games are not as prevalent as they once were, Super Mario 64's influence has stretched far beyond the genre that it inhabits. Mario's first venture into the third dimension saw him explore what was essentially an open world, with multi-layered levels that contained different objectives, thus encouraging the player to revisit them. While it certainly didn't contain the gore we've come to expect from the sandbox genre, Mario's foray into an open environment essentially made Super Mario 64 a precursor to the Grand Theft Auto's and Saints Row's we know and love today. This, of course, was made possible by the analog stick. Of all of Nintendo's continuous attempts at pumping innovation into the video game industry, the humble analog stick is perhaps the most important, and Super Mario 64 showcased just why it would become an industry standard.
Paul Tamburro is the UK Editor of Crave Online. Follow him on Twitter @PaulTamburro.