The history of gaming isn’t that old compared to other artistic and entertainment mediums. Many people have lived through the entirety of video game history, and more people have seen most of it. As such, you’d think that the history of video games would be pretty well documented.
Yet, there are some games that just don’t get the historical credit they deserve. It’s strange to think that some of the most important innovators in video game history can be largely forgotten, but it happens more than you may think.
With that said, here are five games that we bet you didn’t know changed gaming forever.
How it Changed Gaming: One of the first console games with functional, official online multiplayer.
Gamers of a certain age may remember ChuChu Rocket and the buzz it generated in 1999, but the game’s innovations have tragically been overlooked as the years go on.
ChuChu Rocket is a puzzle game that was essentially designed as a test of the Dreamcast’s online multiplayer capabilities. At a time when online console gaming was little more than a pipe dream, ChuChu Rocket offered easy-to-access competitive multiplayer that ran fairly well. It even let players upload and download custom maps!
The game itself was fairly simple (yet still a lot of fun), but it should be remembered as the game that helped a generation of developers figure out how online console multiplayer was practically going to work.
So while you may have been able to technically play other console games online before ChuChu Rocket, this is the game that made the dream a reality.
How it Changed Gaming: The introduction of an active cover system.
This one is a little hard to explain. See, there were games before Kill Switch that featured a cover system. Metal Gear Solid 2, for instance, let you take cover to avoid detection or incoming damage.
Yet, Kill Switch is the game that introduced the cover system as we typically see it used today. By that, I mean that Kill Switch allowed you to rapidly move from cover to cover and pop out from your cover to engage in firefights. Whereas previous cover systems were largely defensive, Kill Switch‘s use of cover was all about staying on the offense.
Granted, Kill Switch borrowed a rough draft of that concept from games like Time Crisis, but at the time of its release in 2003, nobody had seen a third-person action game that let you move like that. Kill Switch‘s cover system was even featured in the game’s marketing and on the cover of the game’s case.
Gears of War tends to get the credit for this one, but we owe a lot to Kill Switch.
Mark of Kri
How it Changed Gaming: Use of 3D, multi-target combat.
It’s funny how a game can come along, garner critical acclaim, and over the years, kind of fall by the wayside. That’s about what happened with Mark of Kri.
Mark of Kri is a pretty great game in general, but its best feature was a dual-analog targeting system that let you assign an attack button to enemies around you. By doing so, you could easily jump between multiple enemies during combat sequences.
Does that sound familiar? It should, as it’s basically the combat system that Batman: Arkham would eventually help popularize. The difference is that Arkham came out in 2009 and Mark of Kri came out in 2002. While Kri‘s system was certainly rougher, it still feels like a generational leap ahead of everything else that was around.
At a time when 3D combat was rough, Mark of Kri figured out how to make it feel satisfying.
How it Changed Gaming: The first open-world game, first flight simulator, and first first-person game.
To be honest with you, I tend to hate talking about absolute firsts in gaming as the earliest technical examples of a concept tend to be rough.
However, Jet Rocket‘s historical accomplishments are too notable to ignore despite the very, very rough nature of the game itself.
Released in 1970, Jet Rocket allowed players to navigate an open 3D landscape while piloting a fighter jet. Its open-world design is particularly interesting, as the environment featured a few simple digital landmarks that actually offered a sense of perspective. Remarkably, the arcade cabinet was even shaped like a cockpit which enhanced the feeling of actually piloting a plane.
So why isn’t Jet Rocket typically remembered as an innovator? Sadly, a couple of companies got their hands on an early prototype of the game and ripped it off ahead of its global release. At least we now know we have Jet Rocket to thank for so many early innovations.
How it Changed Gaming: Introduction of free-aim mouse and keyboard controls.
Go back and play the original version of Doom. If you’ve been raised on modern first-person shooters, we’re willing to bet that the first thing you’ll notice is the fact Doom does not use the mouse for aiming and looking.
Actually, the first game to really introduce that concept was Bungie’s Marathon.
Generally remembered as the series that Bungie made before Halo, the Macintosh version of Marathon featured a mouse-and-keyboard look and movement system that feels remarkably modern. It actually took a little while for this innovation to catch on, but once it did, it led to the development of FPS games that emphasized precision aim and fast movements.
It’s truly incredible to think that such a seemingly simple control concept would change gaming forever.
Note: Updated from the original article dated Nov 1, 2020.