Well, you knew it was coming. Nintendo has set the bar for gameplay and innovation since 1985, when it released its groundbreaking platformer Super Mario Brothers for the NES.
The gray, rectangular-shaped cartridge would revolutionize the way games were played and raise the videogame industry out of the ashes of the great crash that occurred earlier in the decade.
Shigeru Miyamoto, a man who needs no introduction, is the maniacal genius that manages Nintendo EAD (Entertainment Analysis and Development). He's possibly the most influential person in this modern video game empire, a kingdom that he helped create. Miyamoto would shine as Nintendo's lead idea man and obtain messianic status over the two decades for his contributions to videogames the world over.
His baby, Super Mario Brothers, was a bona-fide console seller. If you wanted to play it at home, you had to buy an NES, and everyone wanted to play. The game was like an adrenaline shot to the heart of an industry that crashed on poorly crafted software for graphically unimpressive consoles only a few years earlier.
With spot-on controls, challenging and intuitive level design, unforgettable characters and a high replay value, Mario showed us a glimpse of the future that was Nintendo.
But as this list shows, making one good game does not make you the world's greatest developer. While many promising companies are sprouting up in newly rented business parks, with high-budget, genre defying juggernauts in tow, time needs to be spent building a library before judgment can be passed down. For those of you who need things put in perspective, here you are: Super Mario Bros. sold more than 40 million copies!
Miyamoto received inspiration for his next opus by recalling his childhood. A young Shigeru once discovered a cave while trekking through the forests of Kyoto, Japan, an adventure that would linger until the boy became the man.
It was this memory of magic and wonder that would lead to the creation of one of his most vivid worlds-- Hyrule. The Legend of Zelda was a game that would, in many ways, show the possibility of becoming truly immersed in a videogame.
Before Zelda, games were closed track sprint sessions from point A to point B, all about gaining high scores and moving through portals. Zelda was more like a hike up an uncharted mountain. You were simply given a sword and an objective: save the world.
How you were to do this was in many ways up to you. Would you explore the wilds or brave the underground? Puzzle solving, boss battles, item collecting, secrets and exploration put Zelda in the spotlight, where it remains to this day.
Every few years brings a new adventure to the homes of gamers everywhere. The Zelda series has delivered unrivaled quality, time and time again. In 1998 Nintendo released what many consider to be the best game of all time: Ocarina of Time. Receiving perfect 10s from critics everywhere, the game would envelop a whole new crop of fans and keep the series popular almost a decade later.
And let it not be said that Zelda and Mario are the only mascots that would pave the way for the gaming giant that is Nintendo. Titles like Metroid, Star Fox, Donkey Kong, and Pokemon are interwoven into a gamer language, and they would further drive nails into the coffins of the competition. Lesser known carts such as Pilotwings, Balloon Fight, Ice Climber, and Kid Icarus may not have the worldwide acclaim of their bigger brothers, but they also have quite a big space in a lot of gamers' hearts.
For many, looking upon Nintendo's list of games triggers heartfelt nostalgia. Remembering a particular Nintendo game is to remember that point in time-- where you were, what you were doing, and what kind of person you were.
What makes Nintendo such a remarkable developer is the fact that many people can plot an entire lifetime by the release of one of their games. The first all-nighter you pulled trying to defeat Mother Brain in Metroid. That time you gave your brother a black eye for repeatedly bumping you into the wall in F-Zero. And who could forget the time you gave up a chance to get laid at your buddy's house party that weekend in 1998, because you were determined to beat the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time? We sure haven't forgotten.
Whatever your story, Nintendo has touched millions of people's lives on every continent, and for that they will always be number one.
Super Mario 64 (N64),
Super Metroid (SNES),
Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)
Luigi's Mansion (GC)