The Harkening: The best games to start your retro journey
It’s a new year! That means new things to look forward to and of course, new resolutions to start the year right. But resolutions are a thing of the past. So instead of that, why don’t you try out new things this year! The word “new” might be something relative since what I’m going to introduce to you is something that is tethered in the past. But worry not! Because going retro is in more than ever and it never goes out of fashion. Plus, you get to have fun either solo or with friends!
Retro games often tick something within their player base. Some say it’s the nostalgia. Others argue it’s the huge amount of satisfaction when you finally get to conquer them years after. Whatever the reason is, it doesn’t hurt to give some of these old games a whirl. Who knows you might even discover a new favorite.
If you’re someone who is looking to scratch that gaming itch, how about you try some retro games on for size? You’d marvel at how deep and engaging some of these games from the old times can be. Here are our picks for some of the best retro games to start your journey with.
While not the first video game to be publicly released, Tetris was one of the first to be widely available with great success. This game was first released in 1984 for the Electronika 60 in Russia. Since then, there have been plenty of ports of this 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 This requires 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. There are multiple ports to modern consoles each with its unique gimmick. There’s even an e-sports event dedicated to the best of the best! A timeless classic.
Street Fighter 2
Speaking of e-sports, 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. I’d argue that it is still an enjoyable experience within the modern fighting game scene. Street Fighter 2 continues to endure, whether it be in high-level tournaments or within the comfort of your couch.
If you’re looking for less of the beating down opponents and more opportunities for getting a high score, then this game 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 which in turn would gain you more points.
If you’re willing to put yourself up for a challenge, then hear this out. There’s a definite maximum number of points you can achieve with the original arcade game. It’s a whopping 3,333,360 points, partly due to the game glitching out during the 256th level. If you're up to it, you can either try your hand at being the select few who achieved this score. If that doesn't cut it, then try the recent iterations of this beloved icon.
For the uninitiated, Doom might seem like a newer franchise. With how popular the recent reboots have been (Doom 2016 and Doom Eternal), I think that is forgivable. But that’s exactly what these games represent: reboots of a popular franchise. Doom is credited as the game that popularized first-person shooters. And with good reason, because for its time, Doom's controls were hella smooth and was everyone’s most played games then. Imagine selling 2-3 million units and still counting! A true testament to how popular this game is until now.
If you’re from the newer generation of gamers, you might be wondering how an old FPS would be that popular back then without online multiplayer. Well, stop scratching that head of yours because Doom laid out the roots of what would eventually be modern online multiplayer. Despite the limited capabilities of the internet, against all odds, it was possible to frag each other through online means. This was possible via a dial-up network and it was glorious! Minus that beeping dial-up sound of course. If you’re a multiplayer junkie, you still wouldn’t want to miss out on the amazing single-player campaign and rip and tear demons.
Final Fantasy VII
The story of Cloud Strife in Final Fantasy VII remains to be the most popular amongst the various other stories within the Final Fantasy series. Receiving numerous spin-offs and even a full CGI movie it is the first entry that received a complete remake for the current generation consoles. FFVII continues to appeal to multiple generations of fans and is a true testament to its timelessness. This is because of its gripping storyline, engaging boss battles, and quirky side quests.
If you haven’t played any role-playing games yet, this is a good starting point. While there are multiple inconsistencies throughout the game’s presentation, it’s mainly because this was the first entry in the series to utilize 3D graphics, so it never distracted from the game’s strong story elements.
To New Beginnings
While these five games are just a few examples, 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 charming platforming of Donkey Kong Country. Listing them all here would be quite an impossible task and it would take forever just talking about all of these amazing retro games. You have a whole year ahead to try most of them out, so get your game face on!
So which retro games do you think we missed? Is the omission of certain characters like a plumber or hedgehog appalling? Or which among these would you love to try? Head on over to our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to chime in on your thoughts. We’d also love for you to say meow on our Mega Cat Discord and start a gaming discussion!