With September 12th right around the corner, we figured a review of our Top 7 Retro Video Games choices was in order to celebrate National Video Game Day. While graphics and gaming platforms have evolved to a level probably never thought possible by game makers in the past, there is still something satisfying about breaking out the 2-button controllers and playing a low-res, simple yet challenging, blast from the past. Some may have been adults when these games were in their prime, while others were not even born yet, either way with these classics, there is fun to be had. We aren’t focusing on any particular system or genre, just the age and overall feel of the game that labels it as “retro” in our eyes. This list is in no particular order, so don’t get too upset if your favorite isn’t listed in the first few reviews. If you think we left one out that should absolutely have made it, feel free to leave a comment about it and why you think it should have been included.
While it is not the 1st video game created, it was the first game owned by a large amount of would be gamers from all over. With 32 levels to conquer (if no tunnels are used to skip), this game had everything you could ever want in a game. As one of two characters with a knack for plumbing and love of overalls and “cabby hats”, players take on weird turtles, hammer throwing evil meerkats (at least that’s what they look like to me), living mortar rounds, and even squid, fish and a flame throwing dragon turtle! Mario and Luigi are the brothers that have earned their spots in the hearts of gamers worldwide as they embark on their adventure to save the princess (who can’t seem to figure out the locks on her castle). Despite her inability to lock a door or window, we appreciate Princess Peach for being the reason Mario and Luigi must take arms and defend her honor.
If you need a quick fix of turtle stomping action, you can play Mario Bros. online in your browser here:
Or you can grab one of these Retro-Bit Retro Duo Twin Video Game System NES and SNES V3.0 units and go on a retro game binge.
Some may call them the “dollar store version” of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and some may enjoy them more, either way, Rash, Zitz, and Pimple are worth a mention in the Top 7 Retro Video Games list for their game, Battletoads. While this game was created to rival the turtles, it took on a life and following of its own. In game, players kicked, punched, and jumped their way past the Dark Queen’s Army to rescue their amphibious amigos. Though it was created before any of the “iThings”, this game was no pushover. In its time, Battletoads was well known for its difficulty to beat, to the point that they were allowed to fight alongside the Double Dragon twins in a crossover game.
For a quick trip down memory lane to pick up a burger and flies, you can play Battletoads online here:
Before the internet took off and youth everywhere had enough built up aggression to choke a horse, one game helped release you of your burden in the form of over the top violence, Mortal Kombat. Whether that aggression was from poor, magazine locating abilities, or the ridiculous hair and dress styles of the time, with a few ‘Fatalities’ under your belt, you could make it another day. In this one on one death match, players would execute a series of combos (or just mash buttons) to try and drain the life from their opponent in a best of three series. Should you defeat your foe twice, you were presented with an ‘offering’ of sorts, the chance to see the body of your opponent, mutilated in a unique and creative way for each character. For “arcade mode” the objective was the same, except after you took out other characters you could compete as, you took on the higher tier “bosses”.
To rip out some spines in a later version of Mortal Kombat (Mortal Kombat Karnage) online in your browser, go here:
Legend of Zelda
Still a very profitable series of games today, “The Legend of Zelda” started Link on his quests to save Princess Zelda from her evil captor, Ganon. With the advancement of technology, the Zelda series has “improved” its gameplay, offering users adjustable camera angle viewing, a plethora of new weapons, better graphics, and even a horse to ride across the vast map. In this original version of the game, you play from a top down view and fend off enemies by throwing your magically reappearing sword at them, or, later in the game, a boomerang. Throughout the game, you need to use items you receive, buy, or find to navigate your way through maze-like dungeons in order to eventually save Princess Zelda.
If you want to save a princess, not named after fruit, with a magic sword, click here:
“Little kids stack blocks every day, no way this takes more than 2 minutes to beat!”. Except that was nowhere close to how it went down. Not only do the blocks speed up and come out in shapes that aren’t as “stack friendly”, but the music somehow feels like the first drop on a roller coaster when you hit a certain level. Either way, if you are looking to be embarrassed by falling blocks, and to kill time, Tetris is the way to go.
To try your hand at stacking blocks in your browser, go here:
“HE’S ON FIRE!” If you have ever played NBA Jam, you know it’s time to posterize your opponents with airborne acrobatics as you put points on the board. NBA Jam is a two on two basketball game that allowed players to choose from NBA stars and face-off with each other or the CPU in a high-flying adrenaline filled match. While it can get a bit repetitive, NBA Jam is a great game to shut down higher thought and get primitive, having your only goal being to throw the glowing orb into the basket, while showboating as much as possible. The fact that it is not as realistic in gameplay as today’s basketball video games makes it a great game to sit down and “veg out” to.
If you feel your body telling you “It’s Tim to get Duncan” and are looking for a quick fix, you can play online here:
Finishing out our Top 7 Retro Video Games is a “retro futuristic” adventure in space, led by the character the game is named after, Star Fox. In what seems to be a cross between Star Wars, Galaga and Luny Tunes, players take on the role of Fox Mcloud and make their way through space like a Ninja Warrior contestant, dodging obstacles scattered around the path in front of them. As you go through the space hula hoops and space windmills (among other “space objects”) you have to fire your energy cannons at enemies while doing barrel rolls and getting messages from teammates that probably should be cut, considering how often they need your help. It all comes to a close when you fight and defeat “The Evil Andross” so he cannot successfully invade the Lylat Star System. All in all, this game is a good mix of strategy and freestyle, so you can enjoy the gameplay without getting too stressed from not figuring out the “magic win button” like some other games.
To give it a go at saving an entire star system, you can play online here:
Hopefully you have enjoyed the list, and possibly found something to do when outside isn’t an option. I am aware there are TONS of games to choose from, and I probably forgot about one of my favorites due to too many late night “study” sessions in college. If you think I missed a game that should replace another or I’m completely off base, let me know which game(s) and why in the comments. Please keep it civil, this is an opinion and unlike facts, the information does not remain constant depending on who hears it.