Santa Monica Studios’ God of War: Ragnarok recently launched to critical acclaim (including ia glorious review from our good friends at Push Square), and its director Eric Williams recently shared some of the games that inspired him and influenced his career.
Speaking to IGN (thanks, GoNintendo), Williams listed five classic NES titles that informed his approach to various aspects of game design, including combat, statistics, and day/night cycles. As expected, a few of his choices may seem obvious to most of our readers here, but there are a couple that may surprise you.
The first game on the list is The Legend of Zelda. Although it’s not really a high-end game for Nintendo Zelda franchise these days, the impact of its launch on the NES cannot be overstated. Williams says “being from the Midwest and playing in the woods as a kid made this game feel familiar and fun at the same time.”
The second is Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. Second entry in Castlevania The franchise, Simon’s Quest is often left in the shadows of both its predecessors and its latest sequels, but Williams is a big fan of the game’s “city, day/night, secrets of madness”, and “horror tales.”
Next up is Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, a game we recently added to the regular Box Art Brawl feature. Williams is a big fan of the combat on display here (as are we!) and says that “the patterns, mechanics, strategies, and challenge of this game informed all of my early ideas of what a ‘good’ combat system should be.”
The fourth game is Baseball Stars, an SNK game that was particularly successful in the US when it launched in 1989. It was well-received by critics at the time for its gameplay, but Williams found more inspiration in the game’s economic mechanics, saying “the game had a pay system that taught me the basics of math and economic systems.”
Finally, the last game on Williams’ list is River City Ransom, a title the director says influenced his approach to themes within video games. He says, “the theme is very important to me and the theme of this play about ‘child’ was very powerful. Gangs, sports, weapons, jokes to learn skills, even a small amount of money sounded like lunch money or realistic measurements at the time.”
So there you have it! It’s always interesting to see how the creators of some of the world’s most respected games get their inspiration. Even though NES games may seem like classics to the youngsters these days, there is absolutely no denying the diverse influence they had on modern gaming. Great, NES!
Have you played Ragnarok yet? Do you agree with Williams’ assessment of these five NES games? Let us know!