God of War Ragnarok may be a fantastic showcase of modern AAA games, but the game inspirations run deep.
God of War Ragnarok director Eric Williams discussed the games that contributed to his take on the PS5 action-adventure in an interview with IGN (opens in new tab). All five are NES titles, some of which are already available to play through Nintendo Switch Online’s streamable NES library.
Williams’ choices range from predictable to fairly deep cuts. He begins with The Legend of Zelda, stating that “playing in the woods as a kid made this game feel so familiar and fantastic at the same time.”
His other picks, however, are a lot more interesting. Williams also cites Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, SNK slugger Baseball Stars, cult classic River City Ransom and – perhaps controversially – Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest, a game series that fans consider the early black sheep of Konami’s wacky spooky franchise.
Williams’ selection of inspirations may seem odd at first, but he explains his reasons behind each more than adequately. “This game had a pay system that taught me the basics of statistics and economics systems, he says about Baseball Stars, for example.
Other choices come as no surprise. River City Ransom (commonly known in Europe as Street Gangs) was ahead of its time. The game featured a non-linear world, unlockable moves, and upgradable stats. Its influence can be found to this day in works such as Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and the sequel to the River City Girls series.
Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest was also considered more off the beaten track for its time. But probably not for the best. The game feels quite archaic by today’s standards with its confusing overworld, cryptic progression and a wildly coded day/night cycle. Still, the game was not without promising ideas that would later be fully realized in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and other “metroidvania”-style games.
These NES games may be as old as the hills by today’s standards, but it’s clear they still have a big influence. Even for modern AAA games that couldn’t be further removed in terms of size and budget. We’re sure many more of the best PS5 games have taken on some retro inspiration as well.