Just saying the word ‘retro’ brings about many nostalgic memories. It’s a feeling that is hard to explain, but certainly somewhere many of us would like to re-visit. Think of it like history, it was an age of which was special within its own right – a formation of memories. For me, it was a time when pixel graphics were cutting edge, then followed by 2D and 3D, a far cry from the modern world we now live in. Of course, retro means different things, all depending from when you were born, but the late 1970s and early 1980s are what should be considered a main starting point. With that said, let’s go back in time and take a look at some of the very best classic releases, and whilst i’m sure we missed many of your favourites, the following are hard to ever forget.
Tetris was one of the first puzzle games and no “HD remaster” or “remake” really needed to ever happen… We don’t need new game modes and we don’t need to give the blocks special powers- simply finding the best way to keep your screen from filling up as the blocks fall faster is the best way to endure the wait at the DMV.
Super Mario Bros. 3
The original definitive platformer, Mario Bros. was so simple yet so incredibly challenging at the same time. SMB3 took all of that to a completely new level without having to introduce gimmicks or anything over the top. It was all about timing, and it was endlessly replayable.
What better way to get the world comfortable with first person shooting than by putting them against endless waves of demons and telling them to just go for it? Doom changed the way that video games were played, and it still holds up as an enjoyable experience even today. Even fighting sprites in a super low-res environment, you can’t deny the feelings when you pick up the BFG for the first time.
Pokemon Red and Blue
How many kids started gaming thanks to Pikachu? Pokemon taught problem solving skills, strategy, and compassion to a generation of people who are now adults and can use those skills in everyday life. I don’t care what anybody says- the original 151 were the only Pokemon, and they introduced me to a whole new world.
Street Fighter II
It’s the definitive fighting game, and it still lives on today. Street Fighter II struck the perfect balance between button-mashing and strategy, meaning anybody who stepped up to the cabinet had a fighting chance. And let’s not forget how unique and totally awesome the characters were… I’ll be a Blanka fan for life.
To this day, Gauntlet is probably one of the best four player co-op experiences out there. It brought so many people together by bringing D&D style fantasy to arcades that most old-school gamers still have a story to tell about getting three of their quarter-heavy friends together in order to make it all the way through.
As much of a cultural phenomenon as a gaming staple, Pac-Man was an incredibly tense experience that valued twitch movements as much as thought-out strategy, and it was so accessible that anyone can hop on a cabinet and figure out what they’re doing in less than a minute. Ms. Pac Man brought all of that up a notch, but there’s no denying that the original holds a very special place in retro gamers’ hearts.
Aside from Tetris and Pac-Man, Space Invaders is probably the only game on this list that any random reader would be able to immediately picture. Space Invaders was hard, but it was rewarding, and every time you survived a wave of enemy ships without losing a life, you felt a slight rush that would slowly get you hooked to the experience. There aren’t a lot of retro games that a modern gamer can pick up and enjoy, but this would be near the very top of the list.
Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
The best Legend of Zelda game (yes, even better than OoT) simply because of the complexity found within its simplicity. This game practically forced you to get lost and confused so that you could feel the adrenaline and satisfaction of solving a problem and moving on to the next area. More recent Zelda games have lost this sense of problem-solving, but A Link to the Past still holds its place as one of the best games ever.
King’s Quest 6: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow
I picked King’s Quest 6 for personal reasons, but any title in the series counts as a fantastic retro game. Here’s the thing about KQ– if you didn’t know what you were doing, you weren’t going to make it very far. King’s Quest was the complete opposite of what gaming is all about today- there was no hand-holding, no objective markers, no tutorial… It was just you in control of your fate, and if you couldn’t figure out how to pick that ring up off the beach, you could just go play something else.