Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Platformer

“Genre-defining” is not a term that should be thrown about lightly. Any game that truly defines a genre must have elements that, to date, were unique and special. Elements that made the game groundbreaking – that really stuck with players and made them excited to be playing the game.

Metroid has since become one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises, with speedrun competitions still raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity. But its humble beginnings were in this NES title, jam packed with exploration, frustration and… something else-ation.


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Lunar Pool

Publisher: FCI
Genre: Sports

You’ve probably never had to program a physics engine from scratch. I mean, anyone can program a simple physics engine these days in Python, Java, or whatever, but there was a time when all that sort of programming was groundbreaking.

Share my annoyance, won't you?
Share my annoyance, won’t you?

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Publisher: Taito
Year: 1987
Genre: Breakout Clone 

Every day, people in the civilized world encounter, at bare minimum, four walls (presuming they have a coffee can in their bedroom to poop in), and you know what? Sometimes, we don’t like it. Sometimes, a man just has to say, “You know what, Mr. Wall? Who the hell are you to come into MY house and tell me which of MY rooms are partitioned from one another?” For those of you who, like me, have found themselves injuring some portion of their anatomy in a furious tequila-fueled attempt at libero cubiculum, Arkanoid may well prove to be the cathartic experience you need.

"Hey, kid - wanna eff up some walls?"
“Hey, kid – wanna eff up some walls?”

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Alpha Mission

Publisher: SNK
Year: 1987
Genre: Top-Scroll Shmup

Space Shooters are a staple genre of the NES. You might recall me giving Gradius the first perfect score of this blog, so I’m certainly not biased against them. Shmups, as they are sometimes called, have represented a huge slice of the gaming pie – and a rather delicious slice at that!

Grape and peach - delicious!
Grape and peach – delicious!

Having said that, there are certain qualities I expect in a space shooter. The first is variety – repetition is a huge game killer for any sort of Shmup, so a large variety of environments and enemies is a must. The second is graphic consistency – if a game takes itself seriously, it should make an effort to do so throughout the entire experience, keeping powerups – for example – looking like part of the environment rather than annexes to the games graphic library. The third is a aesthetic quality – the audio and visual experiences should be unobtrusive if not pleasant. Alpha Mission is a generic space shooter example of not working very hard on any of this.

Polygons. Polygons everywhere.
Polygons. Polygons everywhere.

John’s Rating: 2.0 out of 5.0. The only thing that stands out about this game to any meaningful degree is how annoying the music is. Beyond that, it’s pure vanilla paste.

The 3D Battles of World Runner

Publisher: Square
Year: 1987
Genre: Action

It might surprise you to know that 3D imagery achieved through stereoscopy dates back to before the American Civil War. Yes, it’s true: 3D images have existed for nearly two hundred years now. So while the relatively new 3DS has garnered considerable hype, it should come as no surprise to even the youngest most naive reader that it is neither the first 3D Game System, nor the first example of 3D games.

But it does have the most elaborate title screen to date. So that's something.
But it does have the most elaborate title screen to date. So that’s something.

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