1. Super Mario 64 (N64, 1997)
What is it? Phenomenal platform adventure game that inspired a generation of gamers and defined
countless aspects of modern gaming.
Why it changed the world: There was really only ever one contender for the top spot in our 50 Nintendo Games That Changed The World countdown, and that was the game in which our beloved plumber leapt into the wonderful world of 3D for the very first time.
Super Mario 64 became Nintendo's showcase title for the N64 and it demonstrated perfectly why the console's controller looked the way it did, with its analogue stick and button layout; after half an hour with the game, few
people would dare to argue with Shigeru Miyamoto's joypad logic. And analogue control is one of three reasons why this game changed the face of gaming.
Being one of the N64's launch titles, Super Mario 64 was the pioneer of super-smooth analogue control. For some people it was all a bit too much; coming from the all-or-nothing responses of the D-pad, analogue control was an alien concept, but nearly a decade later it's the accepted standard for controlling objects in a 3D environment.
A lot of the wow factor in Super Mario 64 came from the fact that we were getting to grips with these amazing new controls. The first time you successfully tip-toed up behind a Piranha Plant, the first time you ran rings around an enemy, every time you strung together a number of moves in order to reach a secret area... the control system let you experience all this and more. Even now, games try to emulate its perfection, but few actually achieve it.
The second world-changing aspect of the game was the camera. A great control system in a 3D environment is nothing without a good camera, and Miyamoto managed to get it pretty much spot-on with his first attempt. While the intelligent camera swooped into the most useful position for most situations, there would always be places where you wanted to adjust the pitch or zoom. At these times you could use the controller's camera buttons to place Lakitu the cameraman wherever you wanted.
Finally, the game's level design has provided divine inspiration for developers the world over. You could revisit Super Mario 64's levels again and again safe in the knowledge that every time something would be different. Whether that was because the removal of a boss opened up a new area or because a new ability that you had acquired enabled you to fly to a secret island, there was always far more than met the eye.
Super Mario 64 is a game that everyone must play. It was recently re-released on the DS but to experience it in all its glory you really need to play it on a big TV with the N64 controller. Or you could always download it via the Virtual Console service. Either way, you need it.
Defining Moment: The first 30 minutes of the game are without doubt the most magical. When you get
control of Mario for the first time you'll be reduced to a small child, running around the castle gardens trying to catch butterflies, sliding on your belly and climbing trees. Then you'll discover the pool of water.
Then you'll see that one of the green pipes is covered up. Finally, after a good half an hour of aimless but enormously fun exploration, you fall, exhausted, through the castle door. And only then does the magical game experience truly begin...