The Legend of Zelda (1986)
The opening strains of this game’s theme song are known to mist the eyes of gamers who grew up in the 90’s. The Legend of Zelda’s cultural impact is second only to that of Mario, and even that is somewhat debateable. Robin Williams and his wife were such fans of the game that they named their daughter after Princess Zelda.
This classic top-down, action-adventure game delivered puzzles that enthralled gamers for years - so it’s sad that the hero Link still gets mistaken for Zelda.
Featuring arguably the most innovative use of the light gun since Duck Hunt, Gumshoe allowed players to control the hero of a platformer through the sole use of the Zapper. You would shoot at the sleuth in order to launch him in the air, while simultaneously having to shoot at his enemies as well.
Clever and addictive, it’s challenging enough that we might still not even be able to complete it even though we’re old enough to legally drive and own property.
Wild Gunman (1985)
Probably the most well-known light gun game to non-gamers, Wild Gunman famously featured in Back to the Future 2 - in its original arcade form - appearing in the 80’s cafe that Marty Mcfly stumbles into. How many childhoods were haunted by the laughter of those 8-bit gunmen who riddled us with their pixel bullets?
While basically a reaction time test utilising the rules of the deadly quick draw duel, I’m pretty sure that almost every kid cheated at this game at one point or another, and just kept their guns pointed at the screen instead of starting with their guns holstered. Hey, there are no rules in the wild, wild west.
Metroid combined the platforming of Mario and the puzzle-solving action of Zelda to make an unforgettable space adventure that we remember playing and being absolutely terrible at it. I don’t think half of us even knew that you could use your ball form to break through certain walls.
One of Nintendo’s more complex offerings, Metroid’s sci-fi fantasy setting and darker, more mature tone won over many fans in its day. The revelation that the protagonist Samus was female at the end of the game surprised many a boy, but little did they know at the time that she had initiated a breakthrough for female protagonists in video games.