A look at the developers that defined my gaming career.
The gaming industry has matured to a state where we can have books and movies about its history and the significant figures that have altered it. Events like the console wars and the great Video Game Crash of 1983 are forever engrained in every gamer’s mind, regardless of how old they are and when they began playing. As with most histories, over the course of more than fifty years, many developers have come and gone, some leaving behind great classics while others slipping into the cracks for eternity. Nevertheless, it is always a pleasure to look back at not only the games that defined me as a gamer, but also the people who were involved in making them. Below is a list of my personal favorite video game developers of all time.
Before I begin, I would like to name a few honorable mentions. These developers hold a special place in my heart and have developed some of my favorite games of all time, but I just could not fit them into my top 5 list. These developers are, in no particular order, AlphaDream (Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga), Chris Sawyer (RollerCoaster Tycoon 2), Criterion (Burnout 3: Takedown), Monolith Soft (Xenoblade Chronicles), SCE Japan Studio (Ape Escape 3), and Valve Corporation (Portal 2).
And now, for the main event:
Favorite Game: Mass Effect 3
My experience with Bioware has only really been limited to the Mass Effect games, but even with that little exposure, it is not too hard for me to see how great a developer they are. The Mass Effect games – although individually did not break my top 25 list I made last year – make up what I believe to be the best video game trilogy to date. The way Bioware integrates an interesting and evolving narrative into their games without it overbearing upon the gameplay is a skill rarely seen in this industry, and for those reasons they most certainly deserve a spot on this list.
4. HAL Laboratory
Favorite Game: Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Although their name may not as immediately familiar as Retro or Rare, HAL Laboratory is perhaps the most important first-party subsidiary for Nintendo behind only Nintendo themselves, not only in terms of the iconic games they have created but also the important Nintendo figures they produced, among them Satoru Iwata and Masahiro Sakurai. They are perhaps best known for creating the likes of Kirby, Earthbound, and Super Smash Bros (which combined have sold over 50 million copies), and some of my favorite games of all time like Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Kirby’s Return to Dream Land were developed by them as well.
Favorite Game: Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Anyone who grew up playing video games in the 90’s will instantly recognize Rareware and their legacy on Nintendo consoles. They are responsible for creating some of the most iconic games and franchises in the history of video games, including Donkey Kong Country, Killer Instinct, GoldenEye, Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, and Conker. Their games are so great, in fact, that two of their titles – Conker’s Bad Fur Day and Banjo-Tooie – landed in my top five games of all time last year. Unfortunately, Rareware was bought out by Microsoft in the early 2000’s and, after being rebranded as Rare Limited, began their focus on more casual titles for the Xbox market.
2. Intelligent Systems
Favorite Game: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
Intelligent Systems is perhaps best known for their work on the Fire Emblem franchise, but I remember them mostly for the WarioWare and Paper Mario series. The company is easily one of Nintendo’s oldest partners, having created games for every Nintendo platform to date. Their resume of games is as such quite impressive, ranging from legendary games as Super Metroid to smaller digital titles as Pushmo. Of course, they are also responsible for one of my personal favorite games of all time – Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.
1. Nintendo EAD
Favorite Game: Super Mario World
All of this talk about Nintendo should make it quite obvious that my favorite game creator of all time is Nintendo EAD themselves. EAD has had their hand in most if not all of Nintendo’s many iconic franchises, including Super Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, Animal Crossing, Pikmin, Star Fox, and most recently Splatoon. Originally founded as Nintendo R&D4, they were also responsible for creating some of the most important and iconic games of all time, including the original Donkey Kong, Super Mario Brothers, and The Legend of Zelda games. Combined, the team is responsible for 6 of my top 25 games of all time – the most of any company on my list.
There you have it, my top 5 favorite developers of all time. Enjoyed my list? Why not give me a follow, and as always feel free to discuss in the comments below!