My Top 10 Retro Titles
Hello readers, I go by the name Lacks on the internet whenever possible and I've been passionate about video games literally all of my conscious life. My earliest memories are of playing Duck Hunt at my dad's house or playing Pitfall on a friend's Atari. My cousin, Sanguine also shares this passion with me and over the years we've had discussions about retro titles from our past that we've rediscovered and enjoyed over the years. Finally, as emulation has gotten easier and easier, we've decided to start a blog where we go through old retro libraries and play some of the best (and worst) games from our childhood. But I felt starting off with random games wouldn't tell you much about what we enjoyed as kids. So we decided to do a top 10 list of our favorite retro titles from days now forgotten. The games are unranked in my list as ordering them seems to be harder than finding an original, working controller to play them on. We plan to revisit these lists yearly to see if any revision is necessary. Do we suddenly not like a game on our list after revisiting it? Have we found new loves we missed in our youth? Only time will tell as we delve deep into the vast ocean of retro video game titles.
Perfect Dark -N64
What Rare's Goldeneye did for first person shooters was perfected in the successor of sorts, Perfect Dark. It's got everything a young boy could want. Gun fights galore, a decent plot, aliens, and weapons with secondary functions. Some may remember the infamous Laptop Gun and it's secondary mode, a Sentry Turret that would automatically shoot any hostile characters.
But where this game really shines in my opinion is the multiplayer mode. The entire campaign can be played with a friend in split screen mode and the separate “battle simulator” can support up to 4 players and 8 bots with the expansion pack add-on. The levels are unforgettable. It's been over fifteen years since I've dove into the multiplayer with my friends, but I can still draw a few of those maps from memory.
Super Mario RPG -NES
A masterpiece RPG from famed JRPG company, Squaresoft. You play as Mario and a group of various cast members coming to his side in a quest to collect the 7 lost stars after the Smithy Gang destroy Bowser's castle. The side quests in the game are unforgettable. From writing music with tadpoles on a pond to racing Yoshi's.
And the battle system. It's wonderful. Your characters have regular attacks as well as magical abilities to dish out some serious damage. But on top of that, it includes timed hits for almost any action. Mario's jump ability can go from one single jump to a triple bounce of butt pounding damage.
Super Mario 3 -SNES
This is the first game I received as a birthday present that I could call my own and is tied to some weird memories from my early childhood. I was never good enough to make it past the first map, but I played the crap out of what I could beat! I consider it vastly superior to Super Mario 2, but anyone with even minor knowledge of Mario games knows that's not a true title in the series, but a re-skin of the game Doki Doki Panic. Even as a kid the second Mario game just felt off to me but I didn't know why. But I digress.
If you want true retro platforming action look no further than Super Mario 3. Sharp controls mixed with wonderful colors and top it all off with a variety of different level themes as well as a handful of your favorite Mario monsters. This game is a true legend of our past.
Conker's Bad Fur Day -N64
Rated M for Mature. But chances are if you love this game you probably weren't old enough to buy it yourself and relied on your parents to not know any better when at the rental store. If you were one of the lucky ones then maybe this game helped round out your comedy repitoire. From homeless bees looking to bang hot sunflowers to the frickin Matrix, this game had it all. Oh? You don't think it had it all? You say it is missing a singing turd monster? WRONG! It's got that too!
The gameplay has aged a bit and the controls aren't as tight as I remember it being but the jokes are still top notch toilet humor. And just like Perfect Dark, this game has a multiplayer mode which included bots. I believe it was a 1:1 ratio of bots to humans, so not quite as versatile as Perfect Dark, but you couldn't storm the beaches of normandy in Perfect Dark like you could in Conker's Bad Fur Day. This is quite the rare title from the Rare company so if you see a copy of it for under $50 snatch that baby up!
Final Fantasy 8 -PSX
A perfect game to come out as I hit the apex of my brooding emo teen years. Now, admittedly I never beat this game as my Step Dad threw disc 3 in a rental case when he was taking back another game for me, but the first two discs left quite the impression. Now, it's a Final Fantasy game, so we kinda know how this rolls out. Some teens get brought together as if by destiny and then go off to save the world. For me the game was more about the romance between Squall and Rinoa and the card game. The will he/won't he of their relationship in the first two discs was great for me and I wish I completed this beauty of a game. And the card game was so in depth I wished it had its own stand alone game. I spent more time card battling in Final Fantasy 8 than I did in the Pokemon Trading Card game for Gameboy Color. (Actual Pokemon card battles weren't really a thing when I was a kid, it was all about collecting.)
This game features slightly more realistic graphics than Final Fantasy 7, and the cutscenes for the time were downright breathtaking. And the music! Oh man. Nobu really hit it out of the park and smashed the window of some poor guy living outside of the stadium. I still throw on the OST from time to time to listen to Waltz of the Moon.
Pokemon Gold/Silver -GBC
Does anyone not know about Pokemon? Cute little monsters, fairly basic combat, and a linear yet open world quest line of you with a simple 4 word goal. Gotta catch ‘em all! This was my go-to game to play before bed on my yellow Gameboy Color with one of those worm lights because the GBC had no backlight. The highlight of the game for me was Goldenrod City and the gambling arcade. But overall, this game provided a ton of quality of life improvements over previous titles. The graphics are basically identical to Pokemon Red/Blue but with the colors added from the Yellow version.
Highlights of the improvements include the ability to make your pokemon hold items that have various uses. From EXP share to berries that auto heal your hp or status effect counters when a threshold is hit. An EXP meter below your pokemon stats in the battle menu which helped tell you when your favorite pokemon was about to level up at a glance. And most notably, a day and night cycle with unique pokemon tied to diurnal or nocturnal cycles.
WrestleMania 2000 -N64
Now, I have to admit, this is not what most would consider a Top 10 worthy game, but it holds a special place in my heart. Next to Perfect Dark, this was the game I remember having the most fun with in multiplayer mode. My cousin, my brother and myself would spend 30 minutes each building our characters and then fight them all weekend long.
I can’t remember all the moves, but the list of moves and specials you could give your characters was vast and rewarding to fiddle with. As well as the character customizations. You could easily make your characters look like yourself or if you wanted, recreate your favorite Wrestler but give him a brand new move set. The graphics haven’t aged well, but the sounds are still wonderful and there’s nothing like the crowd cheering on a folding chair to the face to get your blood pumping for more.
Twisted Metal 2 -PSX
Cars. Weapons. Last man standing wins. This was an epic game in its time. The levels had clever hidden areas you could find to get to special or rare weapons and health pickups.
Nowadays the game feels clunky without analog sticks. It's an all or nothing turning system and the tappy tap turning of retro driving games doesn't feel as satisfying as it does in modern car games but it's still fun to slide into and blow people up. The cast of characters vary about as wildly as their vehicular counterparts and leave memorable impressions for years to come. Who doesn't know Sweet Tooth or Axel.
I am a sucker for simulation games. And it all started here. I first discovered SimCity while browsing the old SNES titles at my local video rental store. The N64 and PSX were already released but I kept renting this game over and over.
It's quite basic compared to modern games like Cities Skyline but that doesn't diminish its charm. The biggest complaint is that the music is very very repetitive. It only changes as your town advances in size to the next stage. From village to town one song plays. Town to city another song is played. And it can take hours to grow your city.
Top Gear 3000 -SNES
Not quite Mode 7 racing but still great. I find this game to be more in depth than your Mario Karts and other various racers. You are on a mission to be the fastest driver in the universe in a race across the galaxy held once every thousand years.
Top Gear already set the stage with car upgrades you buy with currency earned in races but this title in the series ups the ante with weapons. Now, don't expect a Twisted Metal experience, but the upgrades and weapons help give you the edge you need to become the best racer this side of Alpha Centauri. Just don't forget to pit!
My top games all stem from experience with them and, let's be honest, a lack of experience in many other great games that a kid just couldn't afford to tackle. I am not one to jump on bandwagons willy nilly and don't blanket support the companies that make these games. Each individual game worked its way into my heart by being a cut above the other games I had access to at the time. And as I go forward with my retro gaming hobby I look forward to this list changing. Which begs the question, have you ever played a game later in life that stole one of the spots in your own personal top ten retro video game lists?