I didn't mean to sidetrack everything so much with that little post. So let me get back to game design.
One of the things I really like in games is when they offer a very unique perspective on things. For example, my favorite level in Psychonauts was Lungfishopolis, where you were basically temporarily transformed to Godzilla-size.
But even in the old days, I remember loving light-bike (the Tron bike game, yeah?) not because I was any good at it, not because it was actually fun, but because it was a very unique perspective. The idea that you could "carve up" the playing field is so unlike anything that I had seen that I found it entrancing. To this day I have a weakness for games which allow you to carve up or build the playing field, like those pipe games and those games where you have to isolate bouncing balls.
This isn't simply a matter of offering up a new play mechanic. Some games have the same basic play mechanic, but apply it in a radically new direction. For example, the gameplay in Daggerfall (the game before Morrowind) wasn't particularly new or innovative. But the game let you play that gameplay in a wide-open world of unprecedented size and complexity, giving you a radically different experience. A radically new perspective on an old style.
Do any of you have favorite games - or parts of games - where this is the case?