I have two strong opinions about Apples to Apples. First, it’s a very strong game design. Second, I could happily never play it again :P
Back when I was a young one, Trivial Pursuit was the ‘great’ party game and I think it’s a terribly flawed game. Trivia is dangerous because it’s so binary, either you know it or not. (Wits and Wagers figured out how to make that work which is amazing. And pub quiz adds booze, which changes everything. You can decide if it’s for better or worse) And it had a meh implementation of Roll and Move.
So, when you consider that I came from a place of charades and Trivial Pursuit, Apples to Apples was a revelation. It was accessible to the point where you could play it with just about anyone and people didn’t get punished for not knowing the capital of Zanzibar or how to mime Christopher Walken.
I know Apples to Apples wasn’t the first ‘designer’ party game (Barbarossa came out before it did, for example) but Apples to Apples was my first experience with it and the first experience for many folks I know. I really think it changed the party game genre.
BUT I think that the ideas that it introduced have been done better since it came out. I would much, much rather play Dixit than Apples to Apples for example. And, yes, I know that tells you how old I am :D I really do think that Apples to Apples paved the way for better, more innovative party games, games that surpassed it.
I’m not big into party games but I do sometimes play them and I’m glad they have gotten better.