Ah, gaming. The medium is still a little young (compared to Hollywood movies and EXTREMELY young compared to the long exhausting life of literature). Yet there are some games out there that have been able to really change the medium, or change the way we view certain aspects of the medium. No one here is asking you to like the games on these list. Only asking you to admit that at the time of their releases the things some of them did were big deals.
I think we all understand that say... Samus being a woman doesn't strike anyone as a big deal in 2010... but imagine playing video games in 1987 and seeing that? That's what this list is about. Trying to put some of the things here into some kind of historical context. There are, of course, more than ten games that have worked in changing the industry. But understand if we handpicked every game and I wrote about all of them... this particular list would've never been published.
The following things you'll find in this list are, for the most part, things which having a healthy reading about is what really makes you understand them. In short, how you feel about the game in and of itself is virtually irrelevent compared to the impact. Hating Metroid doesn't suddenly negate the influence of that particular twist. Or how it might've impacted the industry.
And let's also be honest... not every twist has an impact that still plays firm today. That's the beauty of some of these twists. Some are relevant to their time (games like Final Fantasy II have twists that, at the time were a big deal, but they're certainly no big deal now) and others are quite literally why some of us remember (or hate) certain games.
Lastly... and you'd think I wouldn't have to say this... but since we're talking about the twists and impact of some of these games you're going to get a TON of spoilers. If you complain about spoilers we're going to the glue factory and YOU won't get to come! Nyah!
The Game: One of the biggest games of 1998, Metal Gear Solid pits you in the role of Solid Snake as you infiltrate an Alaska Base known as Shadow Moses to stop Liquid Snake from launching a nuke. The Twist: Metal Gear Solid has A LOT of big twists throughout the story. One of the best stories you'll find in any video game, mind you. Yet the game's biggest twist comes from it's gameplay. About a quarter of the way through the game, you fight a boss called Psycho Mantis. Before the battle begins you're treated to a cutscene in which he reads your memory card, discerns how many times you've saved, died and how many traps you've avoided. His responses change accordingly. Yet the most surprising thing he does is actually read your memory card to check for other Konami Games you might have on your memory card. "You like Castlevania, don't you?" is one of the favorites. Then he moves your dual shock controller with the power of his will alone. Things get better when the actual fight begins. Psycho Mantis will read your every move and dodge EVERY attack you throw at him. Beating Mantis seemed like a near impossible task until it is revealed that you need to put your controller in the second port! And if for some reason you can't? Then you must die and destroy the heads of the statue. Despite Metal Gear having a lot of interesting and amusing fights in future games, Psycho Mantis stands out above all of them for the simple fact of this little experience. The Impact: In the first place, this little deal actually helped to change the way we looked at games in some ways. It wasn't so much the fight, but the fact that the game worked so well with the hardware. The Metal Gear Saga in particular has since had little Easter Eggs involving the hardware in some way. Nothing was quite as surprising as this one, however. Games became more involving somehow.
The Game: The ridiculously challenging first installment to the Metroid series takes Samus to planet Zebes to do battle with Mother Brain and save the galaxy. The Twist: Metroid has perhaps the most iconic twist in video game history, despite that it's so simple. To this day it's considered one of the best of early gaming. The first was that once you put an end to Mother Brain the game didn't end. You had to escape from Zebes as a counter ticked away. Yet the most surprising twist came once you escaped. Samus Aran wasn't who we thought. Samus Aran was a woman! The Impact: In 1986 when Metroid debuted, the idea of a woman kicking ass and taking names just wasn't a thought yet. To see Samus doing so was remarkable. The impact was even greater when realizing that the instruction manual never referred to Samus as a he or a she. Her identity was hidden behind a suit. For those who ventured through Metroid in the 80's this little twist has stuck with them ever since. Samus has gone on to become one of the most iconic characters in gaming as a result, proving that women can play with the big boys. With games like Mario, Castlevania, The Legend of Zelda and Mega Man around... it seemed like gaming was going to lend itself to having exclusively male dominated heroes. More than that, before Samus Aran women were placed primarily in such roles as either being the damsil in distress (Mario and The Legend of Zelda) or simply a supporting character. You might say that Samus paved the way for female protagonist. And while you still see more male heroes, it's nice to see that Samus was already breaking stereotypes when gaming was still in its infancy.
The Game: Responsible for making the JRPG popular outside of Japan, Final Fantasy VII is a landmark title that centers on Cloud and his band of allies as they try to stop the Shinra Corporation from stealing energy from the planet. The story turns into something so much more. The bestselling Final Fantasy of all time is still a force to be reckoned with, even to this day. The Twist: There are a lot of surprising twist in Final Fantasy VII but there has been one that has become huge in the gaming world. During the deveopment of Final Fantasy VII, Hironobu Sakaguchi lost is mother, and decided to incorporate a sort of spiritual theme in the game. He wanted gamers to be able to accept death... but also learn that just because someone has died... doesn't mean their gone. Throughout Final Fantasy VII you meet a girl named Aeris who joins your party. About halfway through the game, Cloud and company fail to keep the black materia out of the hands of Sephiroth. Aeris runs off to the City of the Ancients and you rparty follows. While there, Cloud is manipulated by Sephiroth and almost strikes Aeris down. Cloud is able to resist Sephiroth's mind control. She's safe, you think, until you realize that Sephiroth is willing to do his own dirty work. He swoops down and kills Aeris himself. The Impact: In most games prior to Final Fantasy VII--particularly RPGs--when a character died, either all of their abilities and such were passed on to someone else who would replace them (as in Final Fantasy V) or there would be some way to bring said character back from the dead (Chrono Trigger). Final Fantasy VII didn't have this happen. Halfway through the game, one of the main characters in your party dies and there is no way to bring them back. It is one of the most highly emotional moments in gaming history. More than that, Sakaguchi made sure that there was no way to get Aeris back. Try as gamers might. For years they've been trying to create gameshark codes and modify the game to bring Aeris back, only to realize that no such code actually exist! Want to know how big this twist really is? Final Fantasy VII came out in 1997... the year is 2010 and there are STILL a multitude of Final Fantasy fans looking for a code to revive Aeris... or thinking that there has to be SOME way in the game itself to do it. It seems Sakaguchi was good at hitting emotional strings, but couldn't get some of the Final Fantasy VII audience to accept death.
See the full review, "One of the Greatest Games Ever Made".
The Game: "The last Metroid is in captivity. The galaxy is at peace." Set right after the second Metroid title, Super Metroid sees Samus rushing back to the station she left the baby Metroid at because it has come under attack by Ridley... who promptly runs off with it. Samus goes back to Zebes to find out what Ridley and the other Space Pirates are up to... and why they need this baby Metroid. While there, she faces old memories. The Twist: After exploring Zebes, Samus finally comes up against the Mother Brain and has to fight her again. It begins as a routine boss fight with you taking down the boss. That is until Mother Brain begins charging up a laser that zaps you down to health so low you--literally can't stand and fight. No, really, Samus gets down on her knees and you are unable to control her as Mother Brain begins to charge up her laser for one last attack. Just before Mother Brain can let loose, however, that little baby Metroid comes in and saves the day by distracting Mother Brain. With Mother Brain temporary out of comission, the Metroid tries to save Samus by restoring your health completely, as Mother Brain comes back. The no longer Baby Metroid makes one final attack on Mother Brain... only to die. But in its death it leaves you with one final gift: The Hyper Beam which is exactly what you need to take on Mother Brain and stop her. The Impact: Like the original Metroid, it's actually a surprise. In the first place, the battle was designed in such a way that you CAN'T win without first getting your ass saved by the Metroid. Yet what really makes this work is the set up. Super Metroid tells its story with virtually no narrative. The opening scene is all you get. Yet, this little twist at the end is not only a surprise, but it's quite dramatic. You'd have to see the scene yourself just to figure out why gamers and developers were so taken by this twist. Recall that this is a Super Nintendo game. You didn't have these cinematic cutscenes. Super Metroid had to present it's drama in another way and be creative about it. And without any narrative, Super Metroid was able to pull off the twist... and still make it surprising. It's because of this twist that Super Metroid became recognized as one of the greatest Super Nintendo games of all time. Many games have tried this trick. Some work well, but none have pulled it off as smoothly as Super Metroid. Even the Metroid series itself hasn't done it quite this well ever since. Metroid Fusion, for example, didn't do this quite as well as Super Metroid... despite that it's final confrontation uses the exact same dramatic formula.
The Game: As a man named Jack, you're in a plane that goes down in the middle of the ocean... but it turns out there's a lighthouse that takes you to the underwater world of Rapture. A place created by Andrew Ryan. Except it's fallen into despair. The denizens have gone crazy and two philosophies have clashed. With Andrew Ryan's Arch Nemesis, Fontaine dead... Andrew Ryan is in a world of total freedom. As Jack, you are getting help from a man named Atlas to survive in a world that is run by a madman. The Twist: As you run through Rapture, thinking you're supposed to take on Andrew Ryan, it comes as a shock when you finally confront the man. After Andrew Ryan gives you a lecture about how "A man chooses," and "a slave obeys," he demonstrates that everything you've done has been because you've been manipulated. With the simple utterance of the words: "Would you kindly," anyone can get Jack to do ANYTHING. And thanks to this, you're taken for a twist when your character kills Andrew Ryan... only to learn that it was through manipulation to do it... by the very much alive Fontaine. The Impact: Here is why the twist was just so awesome. The words "would you kindly," make the main character do anything. As you play through the game, Atlas is always saying, "Now would you kindly..." and then issues a command. You do it. Because, in the first place, it's how you progress. At the beginning Atlas says "Would you kindly find a crowbar or something..." and you do. You, the gamer... not just Jack... are being manipulated. YOU are the slave! It's one of best modern day gaming plot twists to ever take place.
The Game: The much anticipated sequel to the original Metal Gear Solid. Metal Gear Solid 2 sends Snake on a Tanker to expose that the US Military is using Metal Gears and is transporting them. The mission goes haywire when the Tanker is taken over by the Russians. The Twist: After the first portion that takes place on the Tanker ends, the game shifts gears and gamers are treated to a big surprise. They won't be playing the rest of the game as Solid Snake. Rather they were put in the role of an operative known as Raiden. Gamers decided to push through the games in hopes that they could play as Snake, only to find out he'd been pushed down to a supporting role while they were stuck in the role of Raiden for the duration of the game. The Impact: The impact here is actually how upset gamers got than anything. In Japan they welcomed Raiden with open arms. For the rest of the world it was a slap in the face that they couldn't play as Snake. Even worse, Kojima kept Raiden a secret. Making gamers believe that they were going to play as Snake. In short, Hideo Kojima underestimated just how much people actually loved Solid Snake.
See the full review, "Ahead of Its Time".
The Game: Well, when it comes to survival horror Resident Evil probably set the stage the most. Resident Evil 2, in spite of everything is mostly known as the most popular title in the series before Resident Evil 4 and has a large following. It's also one of the greatest video game sequels ever made. Leon and Claire stumble into Raccoon City, to find that the place has been overtaken by Zombies. They hide out in the police station and formulate a plan to escape. The game has two discs. One for Leon and one for Claire. The Twist: One of the best things about Resident Evil 2 is that the game has length that doesn't feel inflated. CAPCOM does this by giving you two disc. One for Leon and one for Claire. It doesn't matter which disc you start with. Let's say you play through Leon first. Throughout the game you run into Claire and find out what she's been up to. By the time you finish you're reunited and it's clear Claire has been through hell as well. What's interesting is that after finishing Leon's A Scenario, you go onto Claire's B Scenario... which is seeing Leon's story, but from Claire's point of view. And things do make a difference. For example, there are some parts where the things Leon has done impact what you find in Claire's game. Even better? The same thing happens if you go through Claire's game first and then Leon's B Scenario. The Impact: Since then Capcom has tried the scenario thing in a lot of other games. They do it in Resident Evil 4 and they do it in some of their Mega Man X games (particularly X5 and X6 where who you choose to start and who you choose to finish the game as has an impact on the ending). Other games have tried this multiple scenario thing, but Resident Evil 2 is the one that does it the best. If Leon picks up certain items, for example, they won't show up in Claire's game. The reverse is also true. Even certain moments change. For example depending on how you handle the alligator in the sewers depends on whether or not he's even there in the B Scenario. Not many games do this now, but it certainly has impacted the Resident Evil games. Two separate scenarios was nothing new for CAPCOM, but interlacing them was.
The Game: Chrono Trigger follows a group of adventurers who travel through time to stop the world from ending in the year 1999 A.D. (the game was made in 1995). Throughout the adventure the group travels through the Prehistoric Age, the Ice Age, Dark ages and the future. The Twist: For an RPG--even in the Super Nintendo era--Chrono Trigger was ridiculously short. The game only lasting about 12-15 hours in length. In spite of a good story and gameplay that mirrored Final Fantasy (and giving you some interesting techs to do in battle) Chrono Trigger is a game you can finish in a good long weekend. It was also easy. Really easy. So how could they maximize the length of the game? Chrono Trigger decided to throw in a New Game+ feature. Once you finish the game, you can save it and start over with your current levels stats, abilities, items and weapons. Certain story weapons and items are gone, but for the most part you've got just about everything you finished the game with. What's the point of playing through the game like this? The fact that Chrono Trigger will let you take on the Final Boss any time you want. This results in Chrono Trigger having fourteen different endings. Depending on when you decide to go and vanquish Lavos makes a difference in what ending you get. Making a New Game+ totally worthwhile. The Impact: This one really DID have a huge impact on the industry in the sense that now it's hard to picture most games without some sort of New Game+ feature. We can't even say Chrono Trigger was the first, but it was the most in your face about it. Now game franchises such as Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Square's own Mana series etc., are pretty damn big on using the New Game+ feature. Although not all of them do the "Multiple Endings" thing like Chrono Trigger, the games are designed in such a way that you can still get something out of it. The Metal Gear Games (2 and 4, at least) let you up the difficulty level so that you can play with your new toys while experiencing a bigger challenge. Square's Legend of Mana lets you go through the game putting your enemies at higher levels. Resident Evil may not have a lot of pronounced differences, but playing through Resident Evil 4 or 5 with some of your more advanced weapons at the beginning can still be fun (Resident 4 and 5 also automatically adjust the difficulty based on the weapons in your inventory, the amount of healing items you have, how many times you've died and how much ammo you have left). It's hard to imagine where the gaming industry would be without the advent of New Game+. Thanks Chrono Trigger!
The game: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of the most iconic games ever made. It's also perhaps the Zelda game that really shaped what The Legend of Zelda is now. Sure Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess are both stellar game that do so much more than A Link to the Past, but they also still borrow quite heavily from A Link to the Past. The Twist: The game puts you in the position of having to stop some wizard named Agahnim. When you're in the world and you finally take the fight to Agahnim himself... surprise, surprise, you find out there's a whole other world to explore! There's the "Light World" which you begin and the "Dark World" which lies in ruin. And the game will have you do specific tasks throughout both of them. And yes, the actions done in one world have an impact on another. The Impact: If there's anything we can thank The Legend of Zelda series for doing... it's the "Two Parallel World's" dynamic. Like CAPCOM with their "Alternate Scenarios" thing, Nintendo seems to really enjoy the "Two different worlds," thing. The Legend of Zelda has done this in almost every game since... or they put different spins in some way. It's interesting stuff in all honesty and not very many do it better. Yet the impact seems to be that The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past showed us that games didn't have to be these small things. Obviously you didn't expect, say, the game to simply end because Agahnim was vanquished. The Legend of Zelda wasn't always known for making a simple quest either (remember, after "finishing" the first quest in the original, there's a whole new one with a lot more dungeons to explore). Yet giving you a whole other world to explore with it's own uniqueness and then having that dynamic of being able to affect things which happened in both worlds through certain actions? Now that doesn't seem like a huge deal (Metroid Prime 2 does the same thing) but... a game made in 1991 being this big and epic was something that was few and far between at the time. Platformers, run and gun shooters and beat 'em ups were still the more popular genres... games that could be beaten in a couple of hours. A Link to the Past was a bigger game thanks to this... but it did it without coming off as the slightest bit gimmicky!
The Game: When we talk about Metal Gear... I'm not referring to that awful NES port. I'm actually referring to the true original game on the MSX. The NES version wasn't all awful, it was just not nearly as well designed, or as tight. Hideo Kojima stated that the game was hard for all the wrong reasons (the MSX version is too easy, however). As Snake you are to go into the base of Outer Heaven to stop a terrorist from launching a nuclear weapon: Metal Gear. As Snake you are to sneak into the base to stop them from launching Metal Gear. You save an operative named Grey Fox as well as a scientist who can tell you everything. You're being commanded and guided through Outer Heaven by a man named Big Boss and helped along by a strange cast of characters. The Twist: Metal Gear--the first Metal Gear--is a game that, for the most part, hasn't aged very well, but the twist is still one that people fall in love with. If you played the NES version you didn't see the full extent of this twist because the ending is changed so dramatically... that it hardly unfolds at all. This is because the NES version just lacks so much that the MSX version is actually willing to say. As you're being guided through Outer Heaven by Big Boss on your transceiver, at some point you get close to your objective and Big Boss starts giving you strange orders. He'll tell you to enter a truck and it'll take you back to the very early stages of the game if you do. He'll tell you to enter a door that will lead you right into an instant kill trap, but most of all, he tells you that the mission is a failure. It turns out that the leader of Outer Heaven is Big Boss himself. And he sent Snake on the mission in hope that Snake would soon fail and never be heard from again. Except Snake turned out to be more resilient than he thought. So Big Boss decides to take matters into his own hands once Snake destroys Metal Gear... and ultimately loses the fight. The Impact: Most people know of this twist, but very few actually saw it in action. Since we're speaking of the MSX game and not the NES Port (The MSX version is what I know) we can safely say that back when Metal Gear first dropped down in 1987 it was quite ambitious of a plot twist. The big take from this is that video games weren't always what you expected. At the time it was considered quite an unusual surprise. The MSX version capitalizes on the twist even further by giving you a final message after the credits have rolled, explaining that he isn't dead yet and that he will be back. Yet the biggest aspect about this twist that's so amusing is that you're manipulated... but you don't know it. It's almost like the twist in Bioshock only not quite as hard hitting when it comes about (in BioShock the scene is also just so damn good). Yet the, "Not everything as it seems," mystery that some video games evoke is pretty cool here only because the first time you play (without actually knowing the big twist of Big Boss being in charge) it is enough to make you wonder why your commander who sent you on this mission, helping you get as far as you did... would suddenly want to kill you... while being the leader of the elite unit on the mission. The thought provocation of the Metal Gear Solid franchise actually started with the very first game. The only real problem with this twist is that you've got to play through all four Metal Gear Solid games in order to fully understand it all. Obviously Hideo Kojima didn't plan out the entire franchise and spend 20 years... he was actually just using one game to build off a predecessor. With Metal Gear 2 he did this and then even incorporated it all into the next few games, making the plot of the Metal Gear Solid franchise one of the most amusing (and confusing) stories in video gaming history. Much of it thanks to Kojima's obsession with having to have a surprise. A sort of gotcha moment. Would Metal Gear have turned out the same if Big Boss hadn't been so obsessed with putting Snake into a simulation? We'll never know. But the twists gets placed here because it shows that even in the VERY early stages of gaming revival in the 80's there were always games daring to be ambitious and trying to surprise us. The NES version of Metal Gear may get most of the credit in America (because the MSX version never made it here) but even then the one thing that Metal Gear showed us in the end, was that gaming was trying to reach long before people saw story as being as important as it is now.
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more