Gaming My Way

17 Oct

Classic Video Games You Should Play

Now, just so there’s no confusion, I’m calling a classic video game any game from the 16-bit era or earlier. Classic can mean a lot of different things, and it does to different people, so I’m just putting out my own consideration from the start. Given that I started gaming on the NES, you shouldn’t expect to see anything from before that time period either.  Also, I’m not putting Rocket Knight Adventures on the list, because I very recently wrote a review of it. You should still play it though. I’m not putting Super Mario Bros. on the list because it’s on every single one of these lists I’ve ever read. That said, if you haven’t played it, what’s wrong with you?! Hopefully you’ll find something good in here you’d like to try out. Finally, these games are in no particular order.

Contra (NES)
Some people still don’t know what this game is. Others are terrified to play it. That said, it’s a great 2d shooter, and loads of fun, especially with a friend. There are a number of different guns, which you get as power-ups, and most of them are quite fun to use. The spread is definitely the most fun to lay your hands on though, as it makes it possible to clear screens of enemies with relative ease… which in Contra, is still difficult.

Oregon Trail (Apple II/PC/MAC)
Most of us have played this game, most likely during school hours. You can actually try to make it across the country if you want, but I played mostly for the hunting and rafting mini-game when I was younger. The entire game is actually deceptively fun though, and there’s lots of other stuff you can do with it for kicks if you so choose. Like try to go west while it’s still winter…

Snow Bros. (NES)
It seems like very few people know about this game, but it’s actually quite good. You take on the roles of two princes who were turned into snowmen by an evil sorcerer and need to save the kingdom (and two princesses) from him. You do it by rolling enemies into snow balls and into oblivion. Makes you wonder why the sorcerer bothered cursing them, since it gave them the power to defeat him. Ah well, it’s fun, so who cares?

Startropics (NES)
This game is reminiscent of most top down Zelda games, with a couple differences. First off, you can jump, which means small obstacles can actually be dealt with without resorting to walking half a dungeon away first. Of course, since you’d be way too strong with a sword, you get to save the world with a yo-yo instead. The game also looks very good for the NES, both technically and aesthetically. As far as plot, it’s standard save the world from evil by whatever means necessary.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES)
This game is under-appreciated, though the internet is working to fix that. No, it is not the Zelda you grew up with. It is a well made game though, even if it’s a touch on the difficult side towards the end. Though you’ll have to do some puzzle solving, this game is much more a test of your reflexes, as you have to maneuver your shield to block, even if it is just standing or crouching. Your enemies can move their shields as well, and trying to get attacks through can be difficult, especially against later enemies. The bosses are well designed, and quite fun, and even the normal enemies are fun and challenging to fight. The music is excellent, and this is the first Zelda game to have towns, along with people who talk to you and say more than take this or find that.

Lunar: Silver Star Story (Sega CD/Playstation)
I’m sneaking this one in on the technicality that it was originally released for the Sega CD. This game has a cast of diverse characters, and the main character isn’t even the typical angsty protagonist so commonly seen these days. Instead, he has a dream, and he’s going to make it happen. Of course, that dream is the typical becoming a hero, in this case, the Dragonmaster, which is the world’s most important guardian against evil. The game has a very well thought out history, a well-paced plot, excellent music, and it also has that something special that makes you feel immersed in the story. Well worth playing.

Megaman X (SNES)
For those who somehow missed it in the 20+ games released for the series, Megaman is a 2d shooter/platformer. Now, some people will berate me for choosing this over a game from the original series. That’s fine, I can certainly understand why some would prefer the originals. However, to me, Megaman X makes a lot of fun refinements to the series. The ability to dash jump and wall jump gives you a lot more maneuverability, something that is important when dodging lots of enemy attacks all at once. Plus, it’s fun to see how long you can stay off the ground in some levels, jumping from wall to wall to platform. The bosses are very fun to fight, and all have there own unique quirks.

Super Mario RPG (SNES)
This game has a lot of heart. Square did a masterful job bringing the characters from the Mushroom Kingdom (as well as a few of their own) alive. Furthermore, they had just enough seriousness to keep you invested in the plot, but kept it lighthearted and true to the series. The battle system is mostly standard turn-based rpg fare, but Square added in timed hits in order to keep players more involved in the battles. By timing commands right, you could do more damage with attacks or defend yourself against enemy attacks. This kept you paying attention and more invested in the battle than if you just entered commands and let it go. I still find myself trying for a timed hit in other rpgs I play today, even though I know it’s not there.

Marble Madness (NES)
This game was completely off the wall at the time. These days, it might be compared with Super Monkey Ball, though it has it’s differences. You took a marble, and rolled it through the stage to a goal post, and needed to make it within a certain amount of time. To stop you, there were pits of doom, vacuum cleaners, black marbles made to drop you over the edge of a pit, pools of acid, and frictionless surfaces to name a few. In two player mode, there was the added fun of trying to ram each other over the edge of a pit as well. Falling didn’t mean you lost or anything… it just slowed you down since you would be transported back to the last course checkpoint you passed. A challenging game with a unique design, you should definitely try it if you get a chance.

Golden Axe II (Genesis)
This is the absolute best beat ‘em up game I’ve ever played. You take on the role of one of three characters: A human woman with a sword and lots of magical firepower, a human man with a sword and middling magical power (and who makes me think of Conan the Barbarian when I see him), and the guy who seems to be everyone’s favorite, the short, well-built dwarf who hefts his battle-axe like it’s nothing and cares little for the arcane arts. Regardless of who you pick, you’ll go through multiple stages on your own, or with a single friend, battling the armies of Dark Guld for the chance to face off with him and reclaim the magical Golden Axe, thereby saving the kingdom again. The game controls like a dream, giving you a wealth of options in how to deal with your foes, of which there will be many. You can do normal attacks, jump attacks, high jump attacks, and charge attacks, all with there own specific uses. You can unleash magic when you have a supply of magic books, and you can steal your enemies mounts. The AI is a little dumb at times, but it gets the job done. The game’s a beat ‘em up after all, the AI doesn’t really need to do much. Definitely worth a play through.

And there’s my list of classic video games you should really give a try sometime. Pick them up on the virtual console if they’re available on it, otherwise find an old cart (or disc) somewhere, or borrow them from a friend who picked them up when they were still on sale. But play them if you get a chance, they’re worth it.


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