Everybody knows 3D runs the world in, er, 3D World Runner.
RELEASE DATE: September 1987
You know who Square Enix is right? That’s right, the company who trademarked androgynous mopey teenagers! Remember when they were just Squaresoft? Mario RPG, Secret of Mana, among so many others… great memories. Before they were ever Squaresoft, though, they were simply Square, a tiny three-man operation in an obaa-chan’s basement. Amidst the sixty-hour work weeks and three pack-a-day insanity, there was one game that catapulted them into instant success, fame, and yes, after-hour coke parties: 3D World Runner*.
Arguably one of the most influential games of all time, 3D World Runner singlehandedly destroyed anything the gaming world knew about video games. In a time when only games with real gameplay were praised – Castlevania, Super Mario Bros., Hogan’s Alley, etc. – Square broke the mold. “What we need is a gimmick,” Hironobu Sakaguchi (the game’s developer) may or may not have said. “Something so earth shattering, so mind-blowing… so… not 2D, that everyone will bow down and kiss our feet.” As every gamer worth his salt now knows, that something was 3D.
In the game, you play a runner, equipped only with your trusty space suit and a whole lot of determination. You’re running through constantly-scrolling “three-dimensional” worlds, collecting stars for points, while trying to avoid fiery cacti, bottomless pits, and drugged out bouncing balls. You run… run… RUN harder and faster through these worlds, than any other World Runner before you. And why? Because of your 3D glasses that make you feel like you’re in ANOTHER WORLD. At the end of each world, you take on a boss that resembles a centipede and blow it up into chunky 3D meaty bits. Wash, rinse, and repeat through seven more similarly-themed worlds, and you have the making of a classic.
As everyone knows, 3D caught on in just about everything, including television, movie theaters, and even real life! Without the courageous exploits of our young World-Runner, these 3D efforts to make our heads explode while simultaneously trying to entertain, wouldn’t have come to pass.
*actual origin story of Squaresoft/Square Enix completely different – please read as attempt at humor.