Some genre-defining games that are still inspiring new designs today.
Lunar lander (1969-73-79)
Almost educational, sciencey sim.
Site specific, custom controllers, multiplayer co-op
Pong (Video Olympics for Atari 2600) (1972)
First arcade game by Atari, ripped off from Magnavox, followed a lawsuit.
Although Atari and Magnavox were making “official” versions of Pong various clones began to flood the market made by a whole slew of manufacturers. Eventually the demand for the simple paddle game dwindled and companies that had invested large sums of money were seeing a staggering drop in sales as the bubble burst. Some refer to this as the “video game crash of 1977″, a clear foreshadow to the eventual crash of 1983.
Fluid simulation, less direct control, 2 extra actions, rich functional aesthetics
Also check Painstation, what happens when the act of playing is less consequence free?
Programmed by Steve Wozniak and Jobs. An attempt to innovate on the pong concept.
Breaksout Pippin Barr’s 36 variations on the classic
Gun fight/outlaw (1975)
First human vs human violence. Same creator as Space Invaders.
Platform specific gameplay and port, interesting tactical negotiations and resource management
Indy 500 (1977)
Adaptation of Indy 800, obscure 8 player arcade by Atari.
Early top down racing game. Similar to Deathrace, the first “controversial” game created the year before.
Bonus for not hitting obstacles reinforcing the alternative theme
Space invaders (1978)
Massive hit both arcade and on Atari (killer app). Iconic. What are the design choices that make it good?
Inspired by the first video game Spacewar! – paddle + button. Vector screen, try the real deal at Games’n at
2 player Co-op, navigation subsystem
Luftrausers is also kind of asteroid derived
First avoidance/stealth/nonviolent/empathy/environmentalist game?
Gesture based delayed control, similar theme
Robotron: 2084 (1982)
Perfecting Berzerk (top down dungeon crawler). Dual controls, still influential (geometry wars, binding of isaac). Precursor of WASD + mouse
Chain reactions, sound effect blended with music, levels with different feels and strategies, enemies following a complex organic behavior
“Worst video game EVAR”. Along with the terrible Pacman port was blamed for the video game industry crash of 1983, saturation/overproduction crisis. Terrible tie-in result of the loss of control of designer and growing influence of publishers.
BUT Some interesting features: opening screen, disempowered protagonist, open world-ish.
E.T.’s core gameplay is based on Adventure from 1978, which is the precursor of most action/adventure games (dungeon crawling, mazes, keys…)
Super Mario Bros. (1985)
NES saving the industry marketing it as toy. That’s why we associate games with kids. Boy toy.
Time warping mechanic transforming the puzzle-platformer genre
indie hit. Retro graphics. Flixel. One button game genre, procedural generation, environmental storytelling.
First person changes everything, press and hold, bonus, added vertigo/ilinx
Flappy bird (2013)
Random viral hit. Prankishly difficult? Masocore goes mainstream?
Play Flappy MMO online
Doesn’t change the mechanic or dynamic but aesthetically it does change the experience.
Adventure (first dungeon crawler, Zelda, rogue like), Centipede (Ed Logg & Dona Baley), Custer’s Revenge, Beat ‘Em & Eat ‘Em, Donkey Kong Atari crappy port and Donkey Kong Atari homebrew.