Graphics and streamlined mechanics aside, modern video games can’t touch the greatness of retro video games. Trust me, it’s more than just nostalgia. I legitimately feel that video games from the 1980’s and 1990’s were simply better. There are so many classic video games that coming up with a list of my favorites was difficult. However, I have managed to take a look through old libraries and pick out a few favorites:
5. “Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue” – Nintendo 64 / PlayStation / Dreamcast
Many of you probably think I am crazy for putting “Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue” on this list. However, if you actually play through this game then I promise you will love it. It is a 3D platformer and it never tries to be anything else. Due to this, it’s one of the best platforming experiences I have ever had.
In each level of this game, you must collect five pizza planet tokens. Getting these tokens requires you to do things such as find 50 coins, find five animals, find a secret token, beat a speed challenge and defeating a boss. Each level is structured around this concept, but it never seems to get old. This is undoubtedly because of the diverse level design and the different music accompanying each level.
The only downsides to this game are the lack of both difficulty and length. However, these are only minor complaints and they don’t take away from the enjoyment factor of the overall game.
4. “Banjo-Kazooie” – Nintendo 64
I had a really tough time choosing between “Banjo-Kazooie” and “Super Mario 64” for this spot, but ultimately I chose “Banjo-Kazooie.” Trust me, I am not the only one who has lost sleep over this! Anyway, “Banjo-Kazooie” is another 3D platformer for the Nintendo 64. However, it’s much tougher and longer than the previously mentioned “Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue.”
Throughout “Banjo-Kazooie,” there are several huge worlds to explore. In each world, your main task is to collect 10 Jiggy pieces and 100 notes. Unlike “Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue,” most of the Jiggy pieces are unique in their own way. Sometimes you simply have to find them hidden in blocks, and sometimes you must complete a task to get them.
Overall, the reason I think “Banjo-Kazooie” is a little better than “Super Mario 64,” and “Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue,” is because of the perfect blend of platforming, difficulty and adventure. Simply put, there is not a better game on the Nintendo 64 than “Banjo-Kazooie.”
3. “Donkey Kong Country 2” – Super Nintendo Entertainment System
When it comes to finding secrets in video games, there is only one game that does it better than “Donkey Kong Country 2.” That game will be coming up soon, but this one is a close second in that category. “Donkey Kong Country 2” is a 2D platformer game that focuses heavily on secrets and bonuses.
In every single level of the game, besides boss levels, there is a DK coin to collect along with a certain amount of Kremkoins. The DK coin can be found hidden in each level and the Kremkoins can be collected by finding and completing a bonus game inside the level. This gives you something to look for in every single level, so you never feel unaccomplished.
The funny thing is even if there weren’t DK coins and Kremkoins, this game would still be amazing. The breathtaking level designs, absolutely amazing soundtrack and perfect level of difficulty automatically make this game a classic. However, when you throw in the DK coins and Kremkoins, it becomes one of the greatest video games ever made.
2. “Super Mario Bros 3” – Nintendo Entertainment System
It’s absolutely impossible to make a list of the best retro video games without having a Mario game. It can be argued that Mario saved the gaming industry, and the “Super Mario Bros” trilogy can be attributed to that. That being said, the third entry in the trilogy remains the best.
For the first time in the trilogy, “Super Mario Bros 3” allowed you to navigate through levels with a world map. In the previous two games, you were just thrown into the level. This added a tremendous element to the series as it felt like you had more control over the game. However, this game isn’t a masterpiece because of the world map alone.
Probably my favorite aspect to “Super Mario Bros 3” is the number of different power-ups in the game. Whether you want to swim with the Frog Suit, fly with the Raccoon Suit or throw hammers with the Hammer Suit, you will always find something to change your gameplay experience. As great as this game is, though, nothing tops the greatness of the next game.
1. “Super Mario World” – Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Do you remember when I said there was only one game with better secrets than “Donkey Kong Country 2”? “Super Mario World” was the game that I was alluding to. Everything that “Super Mario Bros 3” did “Super Mario World” did better. It had better level design, better music, and more secrets and exploration. It also helps that “Super Mario World” has the greatest power-up ever conceived: the cape.
The amount of tasks you can complete with the cape is amazing. You can fly in the sky, spin enemies, glide down from the sky and even perform a special double jump. Outside of the cape, though, the secrets are what make “Super Mario World” the greatest video game of all-time. In a number of levels there are two exits. There are the standard exits with the goal tape and then there are exits that require a key. Just like with “Donkey Kong Country 2”, this keeps the gameplay fresh.
If you haven’t experienced any of these classic games, then do yourself a favor and do so! Due to the fact that the original cartridges can be hard and expensive to find, it may be better to download them digitally. If you are doing this, however, you should probably make sure that you are not putting your data at risk. Your credit card information could get leaked and this could have financial and personal repercussions. However, there is no reason to worry about this as long as you download and use a VPN. This will ensure that when you are downloading and paying for these games, there is no risk of a cyber-attack.
Do you agree with the above list of great retro games? How would your list look? We would love to know, so please leave a comment below and tell us what you think.
I would like to thank EXP Grind for publishing this article on their site. I’ve found this site to be a great resource for video game reviews. I would specifically recommend their review on Street Fighter V as an example of their skill.