So, I've been playing video games since I was a young chap. Here are 4 games that had a large impact on me back in the day.
Big adventure games were cool, but Smash Bros. managed to single-handedly control 90% of my social life. I grew to be extremely competitive and would play for hours on end--daily--so that I could hold my title as #1 smasher. It's just ridiculously fun--and I've developed a lot of strong friendships out of it. Not only that, but it introduced me to many game series that I later grew to love-- the Mother series in particular, but also Star Fox, Metroid and F-Zero.
Donkey Kong 64 was what got me started playing 3D games, but Ocarina was the first one that really captured my imagination. Some kids grew up on cool movies or cool TV characters or cool comic-book stories, but I'd go so far as to say that Link was one my heroes that I grew up with. The adventures told in this game were just so epic and large-scale... I even dressed up as link one year for halloween when I was a kid.
This game was so addicting, it was like they put crack in the GameBoy buttons. I really couldn't get enough of the Pokemon games, despite loathing the show with a passion. The great thing about the Pokemon games was their combination of basic RPG tactics with a great deal of the player's creativity; there were a ridiculous number of different unique pokemon, each with bottomless possibilities in what attacks they'd utilize, so that every one's elite team of 6 pokemon was radically different, and that was awesome. I had a lot of fun starting a new game, planning out who my 6 would be... and although not as significant in Smash Bros. in establishing my circle of friends, it did give me a new way to connect with a lot of people.
The story of how I came to play Super Mario Land is the story of how I grew to love video games. Some kids asked their parents to get them their first video games, some kids' parents already had videogames and got their kids into it. My very first taste of video gaming was when my mom won a GameBoy Pocket in some magazine competition by total chance... she hadn't actually tried to enter it or anything, but she got the gameboy and had no idea what to do with it except give it to me. My encounter with videogames wasn't something anybody had ever previously considered or thought of; it was fate. The GameBoy came with 3 titles: Bugs Bunny: Crazy Castle, Tetris Plus, and Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3.
And those games kept me busy for a while, actually. But one day I was browsing a friend's bin of old games when I found Super Mario Land. I didn't realize it was a prequel to a game I already had, though I did notice the lower quality graphics and sound. What I did see in it was much more exciting level design and simpler, more intuitive play mechanics; this was my first true Mario game, and I was hooked. I traded Wario for Mario in a heartbeat, and today I'm proud of myself for seeing past the glitz and recognizing a better game, even if it was older. Nowadays when I look back, I realize that those are the same ideas I bring in today, now that I'm designing games.