R.C. Pro-Am

Throughout the 20th century, various fads threatened America: In the 1960s, it was hula-hoop mania. The 1970s brought us Frisbee mania and pet-rock mania. In 1987, gamers found themselves in the tenacious grip of the most dangerous mania of them all: Castlevania mania. It threatened to destroy the social fabric of our country, and a desperate nation turned to the video-game company Rare to save a generation. Rare responded with R.C. Pro-Am, a racing game with simulated remote-control cars that prompted kids everywhere to put down their virtual chain-whips and pick up their virtual remote controls.

Gameplay: For safety's sake, most racetracks are nice and clear, but not this one! In addition to the usual oil slicks and puddles, you'll want to avoid rainstorms and these annoying little walls that pop up in the middle of the track and make you crash, usually when you're neck-and-neck on your way to the finish line. The raceway is also littered with useful pickups: missiles will politely nudge opponents out of your way, while fireballs will gently encourage those behind you to back off. You can also get temporary invincibility, and upgrade your tires and engine. Pick up the letters to spell N-I-N-T-E-N-D-O, and you'll upgrade your whole damn vehicle.

Could be mistaken for: Sprint, Sprint II, Super Sprint, Ironman Ivan Stewart's Super Off Road.

Kids today might not like it because: There's no multiplayer mode, and the soundtrack doesn't have a single Snoop Dogg song on it, unlike the racing games they're used to.

Kids today might like it because: No matter how hard you try to fight it, it's really fun to race little cars and shoot at your opponents. And the 8-bit trophies you get are super-cool.

Enduring contribution to gaming history: R.C. Pro-Am combined the simple concept of racing a little car with the equally simple concept of blasting the crap out of your opponents. This was such a successful formula that Rare went on to combine the simple concept of a father and son running through the jungle with the equally simple concept of talking monkeys, creating Donkey Kong Country, one of the greatest Super Nintendo titles of all time. —Wil Wheaton

Wil Wheaton is the author of Dancing Barefoot and Just A Geek. He has a magic remote that controls the future.