Sailing the Blue Skies since 2001.
Body Harvest (N64)
Pub: Midway/Dev: DMA Design/Nintendo
Rating: T/Players: 1
W- Body Harvest was a N64 title that was developed by DMA Design, assisted by Nintendo and published by Midway right around Zelda: Ocarina of Time's debut. Despite featuring unimpressive first-gen graphics in a second-gen era, BH packs enough unique (at the time) gameplay ideas, huge areas to explore, plenty of challenge and fairly solid (but a little stiff) controls to earn a very treasured place in my heart.
However, I have a lot of reason to believe that Body Harvest helped inspire the creation of Grand Theft Auto 3. How's that, do you ask? You're a thug in GTA and a time-traveling space marine in BH...how could those be related? The comparison is not the main character or the setting, but instead the gameplay ideas I mentioned above.
Grand Theft Auto 3 and its sequels thrive on the fact that you can hop into any vehicle in the area at any time. Well, Body Harvest helped pioneer that well before GTA3 came out (granted, the original 2D GTA had carhopping before BH, but I have a hunch BH helped DMA figure out how to implement the mechanic in 3D GTA's). Body Harvest is a third-person shooter, with rather responsive aiming, dodge moves and a variety of weapons. By holding the R button, the camera swings behind your character and an aiming cross hair appears, letting you quickly aim and blast the alien bugs trying to ravage the planet. The C buttons help you dodge and also perform a useful quick turn (although it takes a second for the camera to catch up), in case an alien was about to nibble on your back. GTA3's gunplay works in the third-person with its shooting controls, too, although I've heard they're not as responsive or effective as they could be (my GTA experience is about 4-6 hours on Vice City...so I'm not the greatest judge*). You can shoot from cars in both games. Both games have their fair share of blood. Both games let you shoot up civilians (although it is highly unadvised to do so in BH, as it helps the aliens win). And both games are huge, with tons of areas to explore and secrets to find.
I doubt all of these add up to coincidences, since DMA Design (now known as Rockstar North) developed both games. I just have a hunch BH was a springboard to the far more successful GTA3 and its sequels. But I want to let you know that BH is a fine game in its own right. It's loaded with huge levels in 5 time zones, features several different bugs to blast, tons of boss encounters, a scoring system at the end of levels (for a classic retro homage to shooters of old), somewhat destructible environments (you and the aliens can destroy some houses and just about all of the vehicles), human civilians to protect (quick explanation: your hero must prevent the aliens from harvesting the human civilians scattered in towns and cities. As the aliens harvest them, the game's world becomes more unpleasant as the aliens gain strength. There's a meter that tells you how many humans have been harvested, and if it fills all the way up, it's Game Over man!), many different vehicles to pilot ranging from boats, motorcycles, tanks, cars, trucks and planes, a few clever puzzles, a decent storyline, simplistic yet surprisingly enjoyable music, codes and cheats of many varieties, replayability through different difficulties, the ability to revisit past areas to find hidden items and improve high scores, and the aforementioned controls, challenge and game design. The graphics aren't pretty (even by N64 standards), and it's not perfect, but the game is loaded with plenty of charming qualities and is a very fun game regardless of how it looks...which is the important thing, right? Highly recommended! ^^
* = Since this opinion was written, I have dabbled with GTA: San Andreas and Liberty City Stories, and yes, I was correct. The shooting is clunky. Body Harvest is much less so.