Japan is a strange place. It is a small island nation that has helped shape the Internet and the world immensely out of proportion with its size and influence.
Much of this has, of course, been due to the Japanese superiority in the field of electronics, their work ethic, and their ability to adapt. A greater part has been due to their games.
Japan saved video games in the west. Mired in the 1984 Atari video game crash, the future looked bleak for the US game industry. Then the first Nintendo console came to the US and jump-started the gaming market again, and consequently ended up dominating it for a long time. Here's what else happened:
10. Dance Dance Revolution
The arcade dancing sensation was one of the first games that required a player to actually move. It paved the way for one of the biggest success stories ever...
9. The Wii
The Wii is a system that's worth mentioning in its entirety because it was probably the first system that reached out to people of all ages. It was a huge success, even with the older generation, who used it as an excuse to exercise.
8. Demon’s Souls
A brutally difficult game, it drew a massive following of people who were bored with simplistic western Role Playing Games.
7. Mario Kart
One of the all-time best party games, Mario Kart is a fast and fun yet extremely competitive game with mass appeal.
6. Street Fighter 2
One of the original beat-'em-up games, it launched a genre craze in the US, raising concerns over game violence for perhaps the first time ever.
Not a video game, but definitely one of the most widely played Japanese games of all time.
4. Metal Gear Solid 2
An innovative game both for its stealth game play and for its cinematic style it has left a lasting mark on players and game developers in the west.
3. Final Fantasy
The entire series is the standard-bearer of Japanese Role-Playing Games in the west. Always fresh and always selling like hot-cakes, Final Fantasy is one of the most popular video game franchises in history.
What is there left to say about Pokemon? The lovable trainable monster game has spawned numerous sequels, an anime series, a half-dozen movies, hundreds of toy Pikachus, and billions of dollars in profits.
1. Mario Bros.
The cornerstone of Japanese gaming and perhaps the most important game in the history of the world, the first Mario not only brought the lovable plumber to the US, but almost single-handedly changed the gaming industry both in Japan and everywhere else. To this day his name is synonymous with gaming and the small mustachioed plumber can easily be recognized by anyone in the world from a suburban kid to a Bedouin or Inuit.