With the Xbox One and PS4 still relatively young, it seems like a good time to talk about killer apps. Killer apps refer to a software or program that compels consumers to buy the new hardware that is required. Of course, the killer apps in the gaming industry are the games that convince you to buy the hot new console or platform. There are valuable lessons to be learned from killer apps. They can make or break a console. This a list of killer apps that have stood the test of time and are still just as fun to play today as they were back in their day. This is not to be mistaken as a generic "best games" list. To be on this list, the game had to be used to promote a particular console or service and stand the test of time. Some of the entries on this list were packaged with the consoles they were trying to promote. Best of all, all of these games are available now on a digital distribution service for a fine price. See which killer apps are still worth your time and money.
#5 'Sonic the Hedgehog' (1991)
Sonic the Hedgehog was another one of Sega's attempts to throw the gauntlet at Nintendo and seize their dominance in the industry. The Genesis/Mega Drive was three years into its life cycle; a time when Sega could no longer boast to be the only 16-bit console on the market (aside from the Turbo-Grafix 16, but that's for another article.) To compete with the likes of the Super Nintendo and Mario, Sega needed a face for their console with a game players wouldn't be able to put down. Sonic the Hedgehog delivered and then some. While partially responsible for provoking countless knock offs and wannabe mascot driven games, Sonic the Hedgehog for the Genesis/Mega Drive was a fun platformer that was unlike anything that came before it. It also helps that the game was able to stand the test of time. Even though the Super Nintendo sported superior graphics and sound, Sonic was able to do what many had failed to do in his place and give The Big N a run for their money. While the blue blur's 3D titles lacked the precision and fun that were in Mario's, the original game still holds up and is available on almost anything. Word of advice, though: steer clear of its butchered Game-boy Advance port.
#4 'Metal Gear Solid' (1998)
Metal Gear Solid did what every killer app is supposed to do. It showed off the hardware of the console, it made players want to buy a Sony PlayStation, and it left a huge impression on everyone who played it. It's widely considered to be the peak of the series and one of the greatest games of all time. Not only did it elevate the Metal Gear formula, it also revolutionized English translations in video games, sporting the finest English voice acting and revised dialogue for a Japanese developed game at the time. Where the characters and dialogue in localized games like Resident Evil sounded stiff and unnatural, the ones in Metal Gear Solid were believable and sympathetic. However, some aspects have not aged so gracefully. The character models are very blocky, the animations look outdated, and some of the dialogue is a bit cheesy. Regardless, It helped establish the PlayStation as the definitive console of the 32-bit era and it's still just as fun to play today as it was back in 1998.
#3 'Super Mario Bros' (1985)
If it weren't for Super Mario Bros, the gaming industry might not have been around. After the gaming crash of 1983 made video games a financially unstable business venture, a relatively obscure toy company from Japan made the risky move of entering the hardware industry. That company was Nintendo, and one of the games packaged with their console was a successor to the arcade hits Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. Super Mario Bros was one of the first games to feature an environment that scrolled as you move. It introduced the concept of featuring levels with a look that was distinct from each other. It served as a blueprint for the platformer genre and the many games to follow in its footsteps. Super Mario Bros showed that the video game industry could still be profitable and adapt to accommodate consumer taste. But most importantly, it's fun. It's easy to pick up and play, it controls great, and it flows magnificently. There's a reason this game has been constantly re-released on almost every Nintendo platform. There's so many opportunities to pick up and own this classic, and it's worth every penny.
#2 'Half Life 2' (2004)
Half Life 2 was a game that was truly ahead of its time. It sported the most expressive and detailed character models, a lot of clever and fun weapons, and some of the most unique storytelling and characters that this industry has ever seen. While some of the physics puzzles and NPC models are showing their age, there are aspects of this game that have yet to be surpassed by most first-person shooters today. Alyx Vance is still one of the finest, if not the finest, AI partners in video games. She reacts to events the same way a real person would, she's funny, and she can take care of herself. All the NPCs are easy to empathize with and your interactions with them are unforgettable. It was the first game to use Steam: a distribution service that is still used by Valve and gamers to this day. While players at the time had their reservations about having to download a program like Steam to play Valve's games, the excellence of Half Life 2 made that transition so much easier. To this day, Steam has yet to be topped by any other distribution service and Half Life 2 is still regarded as one of the finest first-person shooters of all time.
#1 'Tetris' (1984)
Tetris was the first form of recreational software to be exported from the USSR to the USA. Nintendo distributed it and used it to promote the Game-boy. The platform helped make Tetris a financial success and cultural phenominon. While it may not have had cutting edge graphics or an epic storyline, Tetris had a solid core concept executed absolutely perfectly. Those blocks falling down and turning around are still just as aesthetically pleasing and responsive now as they were back in the day. It's timeless. It's endlessly replayable. It's the subject of scientific research. It has been constantly re-released time and time again on platform after platform. No matter what you choose to play it on, whether be a phone, an Xbox 360, or even an original Game-boy, Tetris is and always will be just as fun now as it was back in the day. It just goes to show that good ideas never go out of style.