6. Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen
While console strategy games weren’t entirely unheard of in 1993, it’s safe to say that those looking for a substantial strategy experience on consoles didn’t have a lot of options. Even if there were more options available, few of them could have possibly matched the brilliance of Ogre Battle.
Essentially a combination of “world map” grand strategy and more traditional RPG-like battle, it’s easy enough to consider Ogre Battle a precursor to games like Final Fantasy Tactics and even some of the more modern Fire Emblem titles. What impresses me most about this game, though, is how ahead of its time it was as an RPG. With its question-based character-building system, advanced party management options, large-scale political storyline, and reputation system, Ogre Battle had its finger on the pulse of advanced role-playing concepts that wouldn’t become more common until many years later.
It’s not too hard to see why Weaponlord wasn’t a bigger deal in its time. There were a ton of console fighting games on the market by the mid-’90s, and, even if there weren’t, Weaponlord’s weird animations, complicated controls, and punishing difficulty would have been enough to chase many fans away. Yet, most of Weaponlord’s faults can be attributed to its incredible ambition.
Weaponlord was a weapon-based fighting game created at a time when that now seemingly simple concept wasn’t really a thing. Every fighter had a unique weapon that helped define their playstyle, and the game’s advanced dodge and parry system was designed to simulate the feel of trying to dodge an opponent’s weapon while squeezing your own attacks in. Even the game’s strange animations were a side effect of its developer’s ambitions to create an early online fighting game where the animations were designed to account for possible input lag. Believed to be the inspiration for the Soul Edge/Soulcalibur series, it’s generally pretty easy to look at Weaponlord and see a little bit of a lot of fighting games that would follow.
4. Mario Paint
Mario Paint was an incredibly strange early SNES game from Nintendo. Essentially an education title packed with creative tools, Mario Paint certainly looked like a gimmick designed to help people learn to see the value of the SNES’ mouse peripheral. Indeed, many reviews at the time criticized the game for its lack of advanced tools that could have helped the project rise above its supposedly gimmicky nature.
30 years later, though, it’s easy to appreciate the many ways Mario Paint helped shape the modern video game industry. While I could tell you about the ways that Mario Paint’s creation-based entertainment helped pave the way for titles like Minecraft and Roblox, Mario Paint’s true legacy is the way it helped a generation of gamers find their creative spirit. From future game creators to those of us who never dared try to compose a song or create a painting again, Mario Paint truly helped so many discover the artist inside of them, if only for an afternoon.