The Strong Museum has announced the finalists competing for a spot in the World Video Game Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016.
The Legend of Zelda, Minecraft, The Oregon Trail, Pokemon Red and Blue, The Sims, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Space Invaders were all nominated last year, but ultimately weren’t selected by the Hall of Fame’s international committee. They’ll get another shot in 2016, alongside Elite, Final Fantasy, John Madden Football, Nurburgring, Sid Meier’s Civilization, Street Figher II, and Tomb Raider.
Any and all of these titles would be worthy of enshrinement in the World Video Game Hall of Fame, but only a handful of titles will make the final cut when the inductees are announced on May 5 at 10:30 AM (Eastern Time).
If you’re unfamiliar with any of these classic games, a quick rundown of all 15 titles (provided by The Strong) is available after the break.
Elite: Developed in Great Britain and released in 1984, Elite pioneered innovative 3-D graphics and the idea of open-world games by allowing players to control ships that roamed the galaxy. The expansive universe and strategy elements helped to spawn a generation of games with endless play possibilities, such as Grand Theft Auto III and Eve Online. Elite proved to be one of the most popular games of the British personal computer boom in the 1980s, and it drastically impacted the design of other games.
Final Fantasy: The role-playing game Final Fantasy debuted in 1987 and pioneered combat and magical elements that remain genre staples to this day. Combining an epic plot, iconic music, and unique artwork, Final Fantasy launched one of the most recognizable and profitable video game franchises in the world, which includes total game sales of more than $110 million across the globe, animated television shows, comics and novels, and a theatrical movie.
Grand Theft Auto III: Released in 2001, Grand Theft Auto III was the first 3-D open-ended, “sandbox-style” game to achieve massive mainstream popularity and widespread critical acclaim. The third standalone title in the franchise sold 14.5 million copies by 2008, acting as the first breakout hit in a series that sold more than 220 million units as of 2015. Appealing to players who relished the freedom to push the boundaries of what their in-game characters could do, Grand Theft Auto III made the series one of the biggest and most controversial video game franchises ever.
John Madden Football: Electronic Arts redefined the modern sports video game with its 1990 reboot of John Madden Football. The new game moved beyond its sports game predecessors that emphasized statistical modeling, transforming the virtual gridiron into an action game that thrived on individual confrontations between virtual players. The game created a pop cultural phenomenon that has sold more than 100 million copies since its debut.
The Legend of Zelda: Inspired by creator Shigeru Miyamoto’s childhood expeditions through woods and caves, The Legend of Zelda debuted in 1986 and popularized non-linear, open-world exploration games. As the first Nintendo Entertainment System game to sell more than one million copies as a standalone title, it became one of the most iconic titles of the 1980s. It also became a staple of popular culture, spawning sequels, spin-offs, comic books, and a television series.
Minecraft: With its endless game play possibilities, Minecraft has become a global phenomenon in the seven years since its introduction in 2009. Players in a worldwide, online community make their own creations using sets of pixilated blocks that they mine and use to build elaborate structures. As of 2015, the game had sold more than 70 million copies across several platforms.
Nurburgring: German racing game Nurburgring—released in 1975—changed the popular racing game genre forever. It introduced a first-person perspective, allowing players to feel like they were actually driving around the track. At a time when most racing games offered simple simulations, Nurburgring provided players the thrill of real-life driving and became the model for almost every car racing game that followed.
The Oregon Trail: This revolutionary educational game, first developed in 1971, evolved with the advancement of computers—from mainframe to PCs to mobile phones. Still enjoyed by American school children both in the classroom and at home, The Oregon Trail has taught history, introduced kids to computers, and become a cultural icon for millions.
Pokemon Red and Blue: Pokémon created a multinational cultural phenomenon when it was released on the Nintendo Game Boy in 1996 as Pocket Monsters Aka and Midori [and in the US as Pokemon Red and Blue]. As of 2014, the Pokémon series had sold more than 260 million copies of Pokémon games, 21.5 billion trading cards, and numerous spinoffs including more than 800 television episodes and 17 movies.
Sid Meier’s Civilization: Released in 1991, Sid Meier’s Civilization became one of the most influential simulation and strategy games of all time. Large in scope, the game invited players to develop their own empire over centuries of time, and the title launched a series of successor games including, in recent years, Civilization V and Civilization: Beyond Earth. With more than 33 million units sold, the popularity of the Civilization series disproves the common perception that it is always more fun to destroy than to create.
The Sims: Released in 2000, designer Will Wright’s virtual dollhouse game, The Sims, pushed the boundaries of what a video game could be by allowing players flexibility to tell stories in an open-ended environment. By simulating the complexities of human relationships, The Sims taught players to view their own lives in new ways. With nearly 200 million sales in 60 countries and more than 20 languages, The Sims is the best-selling PC game franchise ever.
Sonic the Hedgehog: After its launch in 1991, the lightning-fast game play of Sonic the Hedgehog struck a chord with Generation X gamers who loved the character’s brash, in-your-face attitude. Sonic became the face of the Sega Genesis game console, allowing Sega to challenge Nintendo for supremacy in the electronic game marketplace. The game spawned its own franchise, including more than 20 additional games and spin-offs, as well as a television show and comic book, making Segas’s mascot recognizable to millions of people worldwide who may have never played the game.
Space Invaders: The first Japanese arcade game to use a microprocessor, Space Invaders debuted in 1978 and launched the international arcade game craze of the late 1970s and early 1980s by challenging players to fight off waves of attacking aliens. The game’s exciting play and innovative features popularized the “space shooter” game and the idea of achieving a “high score.”
Street Fighter II: Released by Capcom in 1991, Street Fighter II: The World Warrior helped to spark an arcade renaissance in the 1990s. The game spawned numerous sequels and an entire genre of one-on-one fighting games. Capcom sold more than 60,000 original cabinets and a staggering 140,000 cabinets and game conversion kits of the company’s “Champion Edition,” making it one of the top-selling arcade games ever.
Tomb Raider: Combining the best elements of action-adventure games with platform games and puzzle-solving, Tomb Raider (1996) provided gamers with a unique cinematic 3-D universe, cutting edge graphics, and a female protagonist who remains an iconic female figure in gaming. Largely thanks to the character of Lara Croft, and Angelina Jolie’s theatrical portrayal of her in a blockbuster movie, Tomb Raider enjoys a widespread appeal among gamers and non-gamers alike, and currently heads a franchise that has sold more than 45 million units worldwide.