God of War: Ragnarok
Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Santa Monica Studios' God of War: Ragnarok recently launched to critical acclaim (including a glowing review from our good pals over at Push Square), and its director Eric Williams has recently shared some of the games that inspired him and influenced his career.

Speaking with IGN (thanks, GoNintendo), Williams listed off five classic NES titles that informed how he approaches various aspects of game design, including combat, statistics, and day/night cycles. As expected, a few of his choices might seem pretty obvious to many of our readers here, but there are a couple that might come as a bit of a surprise.

The first game listed is, of couse, The Legend of Zelda. While not exactly a game that ranks highly in Nintendo's Zelda franchise these days, the impact of its introduction on the NES cannot be overstated. Williams states that “being from the Midwest and playing in the woods as a kid made this game feel so familiar and fantastical all at the same time.”

The second is Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. The sophomore entry to the Castlevania franchise, Simon's Quest is often left in the shadow of both its predecessor and immediate sequel, but Williams is a big fan of the game's “town, the day/night, the insane secrets”, and "the monster mythology."

Next up is Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, a game that we just recently covered in out regular Box Art Brawl feature. Williams is a big fan of the combat showcased here (as are we!) and states that “the patterns, mechanics, techniques, and challenge of this game informed all of my early notions of what a “good” combat system should be.”

The fourth game is Baseball Stars, an SNK game that became particularly successfull in the US when it launched in 1989. It was well received by critics at the time for its gameplay, but Williams found more inspiration from the game's economy mechanics, stating that "this game had a salary system that taught me the fundamentals of stats and economy systems.”

Finally, the last game listed by Williams is River City Ransom, a title that the director states influenced his approach to themes within video games. He states, “theme is very important to me and this game’s theme of being a 'kid' was so strong. Playground gangs, sports, weapons, comics to learn abilities, even the low money cap felt like lunch money or allowance values true of the time.”

So there you have it! It's always nice to see how the creators behind some of the world's most critically acclaimed games find their inspiration. Even though NES games may well seem somewhat primitive to youngsters these days, there's absolutely no denying the varying influence they had on modern gaming. Nice one, NES!

Have you played Ragnarok yet? Do you agree with Williams' assessments on these five NES games? Let us know!

[source ign.com, via gonintendo.com]