The best games to start your retro journey
When it comes to our passions, we all started somewhere that made us fond of them later in our lives. I, for one, started my journey down the rabbit hole of board gaming from the simple discovery of a six-sided die when I was young. This led me to inadvertently creating systems and mechanics that I could play with to accommodate the random nature of a number resulting from rolling that die. This also somehow led to me being interested in video games later in life, especially when I found out about how the games themselves did all the behind the scenes calculations for you.
Much like the delight that I got from rolling a die, retro games often tick something within its player base, giving them a huge amount of satisfaction when conquering them. Retro games, by definition, are simply games that were released a whole bunch of years ago. This makes the term relative, of course, since what’s new now will eventually become retro games for future generations.
If you’re someone who is looking to scratch a gaming itch that you can’t seem to understand, how about you try some retro games on for size? You’d be surprised at how deep and engaging some of these games from the olden times can be. Ranging from the very first iteration of what it means to be a video game to something as complex as games from the original Playstation, these are our picks for some of the best retro games to start your journey with.
Yes, it used to look like that
While definitely not the first video game to be publicly released, Tetris was one of the first to be widely available with great success. First released in 1984 for the Electronika 60 in Russia, there have since been plenty of ports of this incredibly simple yet engaging game. With differently shaped blocks falling from the top of the screen, the player must prevent these blocks from filling the screen by stacking them correctly. Filling a straight line with blocks clears that line, and doing so will cause blocks on top of it to fall. This means that the player must continuously manage to put the falling blocks into spaces that would facilitate the clearance of rows to keep the game going.
Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a challenge if it was just that. The game also gradually makes the falling blocks fall faster, requiring the player to increase their concentration and reflexes as the game goes on. And with an inherent scoring mechanic, Tetris has lived on to survive even to this day, receiving ports to modern consoles that allow players to compete online. There’s even an esport centered on being the best at it! Clearly a timeless classic.
Street Fighter 2
Careful where you fling those legs at
Speaking of esports, none of the fighting games of today’s landscape would probably even exist if it wasn’t for this game. Street Fighter 2 wasn’t just a successful sequel. It launched an entire genre on its own. By way of the developers deciding to leave in a bug for really good players to abuse, they also inadvertently introduced combos to the world of video gaming. And with such a successful game on their hands, Capcom eventually had multiple copycats vying for a slice of the fighting game pie.
And while Street Fighter 2 is not played in tournaments as much as newer iterations of the franchise, the inherent fluidity of the game’s mechanics stands the test of time. Still an enjoyable experience within the modern fighting game scene, Street Fighter 2 continues to endure, whether it be in occasional high-level tournaments or within the comfort of your couch.
If you’re looking for less beating down your opponents and more opportunities for getting a high score, then this game about gobbling might be more up your alley. Pac-Man is centered around its titular character trapped in a maze full of pellets, fruits, and ghosts. It’s up to you to guide him through this maze and have him eat every single one of the pellets while dodging ghosts. However, you have power pellets scattered across the level, and gobbling one up will allow you to eat ghosts for a limited time. And with the occasional fruit randomly spawning around the level and a limited amount of power pellets, it’s ultimately a choice of surviving more efficiently or gaining more points.
Unfortunately, the game is quite solved by this point. There’s a definite maximum number of points that you can achieve with the original arcade game, which is a whopping 3 333 360, due to how the game glitches out during the 256th level. Fortunately for us, you can either try your hand at being the select few who achieve this score or going for one of the more recent outings of this beloved icon.
For the uninitiated, Doom might seem like a newer franchise, especially with how popular the recent reboots have been. But that’s exactly what they were: reboots of a popular franchise, with the original game usually being credited as the game that popularized first-person shooters. And with good reason, because for its time, Doom controlled smoothly and was personally one of my most played games then. I wasn’t alone in that gameplay loop too, because it was also a very popular game, selling 2-3 million units.
If you’re frowning that a first-person shooter would be that popular without online multiplayer, you’d be wrong, because Doom also laid out the roots of what would eventually be modern online multiplayer. Despite how people used to access the limited capabilities of the internet back then, against all odds, it was possible for us to frag each other through online means. It was glorious, but you still wouldn’t want to miss out on the amazing single player campaign that it provided.
Final Fantasy VII
The story of Cloud Strife remains to be the most popular amongst the various other stories within the Final Fantasy series, which is a franchise of Japanese RPGs full of grandiose adventures. Receiving numerous spin-offs and also the first entry that received a complete remake for the current generation consoles, FFVII continues to appeal to multiple generations of fans with its gripping story, engaging boss battles, and quirky side quests.
If you haven’t played any role playing game yet, this is such a good starting point. While there are multiple inconsistencies throughout the game’s presentation, it was mainly due to the fact that this was the first entry in the series to utilize 3D graphics, so they never distracted from the game’s strong story elements
While these five games are some of the best of their class, there are plenty more retro games to start sinking your teeth into across different genres. You have the classic run-and-gun action of Metal Slug, the sprawling adventure of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or the absolutely charming platforming of Donkey Kong Country. But listing them all here would take forever because the list of great retro games is such a huge list that talking about them all here would take forever.
So which retro games do you think we missed? Is the omission of certain characters like a plumber or hedgehog egregious? Or maybe which among these would you love to try? Head on over to our Twitter Page to chime in on your thoughts or hit up our Youtube Channel to see more exciting retro gaming goodness.