The 10 Most Important Japanese Video Games Ever Made

The 10 Most Important Japanese Video Games Ever Made
(Source: Namco / YouTube)

Has any other country given more to video games than Japan? Their creative influence laid the foundation that modern games have been built on.

These are 10 of the most important Japanese video games:

  1. Space Invaders (’78): This one fired off a whole new era of shooting games. It was also one of the first games to incorporate music and capitalize on the enhancement from a soundtrack. Today, video games scores are played by symphonies and written with the same effort as film scores.
  2. Pac-Man (’80): This one’s about as classic as they come; simple, too. You eat dots and avoid enemies. It’s these basic ideas that have fueled so many more games. Because of this, Pac-Man has been placed in a collection at the Smithsonian and in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
  3. Super Mario Bros. (’85): Have you heard of this one? This game was a game changer; it was the best selling video game for nearly three decades and further popularized the side-scrolling genre of video games. It’s well-known around the world for good reason.
  4. Pokemon: Red and Green (’96): I mean, it’s Pokemon. The franchise that launched a thousand look-a-likes. It would later evolve into movies, anime series, card collecting games, and manga. Truthfully, no game has exploded the same way that Pokemon did ever since. Plus, it kicked off a whole era of those addictive handheld games we love today.
  5. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (’98): This certainly wasn’t the first Zelda game, but this made some big leaps for worlds of 3D and it boasted one of the biggest in-game worlds to date for any video game franchise. It came out nearly alongside Super Mario 64 and both of pushed the boundaries established by their predecessors.
  6. Harvest Moon (’07): It might not be a game you think about very often nowadays, but it was one of the first games to introduce the idea of farming, managing animals, getting married and weathering the storm of life. So yes, it directly led to games like Farmville or any other free-to-play micro transaction-based time waster.
  7. Metal Gear Solid (’98): The stealth based game is now a cornerstone of the video game industry, but at the time the first Metal Gear Solid was pretty inventive. The use of enemy radar and hiding techniques were at their very best with this game. I know it has launched a beefy franchise that has gotten pretty crazy and over the top, but original was one of the first to feel like you were watching a movie instead of just playing a game.
  8. Final Fantasy VII (’97): The Final Fantasy franchise itself deserves a spot on this list. The seventh entry might not be every fan’s favorite but you cannot deny its impact; Final Fantasy VII changed all future renditions of the franchise and actually brought more players to the Playstation gaming system. RPGs would never be the same, plus storytelling in video games was forever improved.
  9. Wii Sports (’06): That is barely a game right? Well the Wii system and the Wii Sports games that came with it brought a whole new generation of gamers to the console era. People who never thought video games were for them suddenly had something they could play and enjoy. Motion control remotes and technology like this has improved significantly since then, but Wii Sports set the standard.
  10. Resident Evil (’96): The survival horror genre is very different than the action shooter genre. It premiered the idea of simply surviving an encounter with a monster rather than conquering it. There have been a ton of sequels and even a pretty successful movie franchise. The idea of taking power away from the players might have been a response to the other video games that were letting players do anything they wanted. Survival horror brings back the challenge of the difficult games from the past.

What’s your favorite Japanese game?


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