10 Retro Video Games Everyone Should Play

This list will teach you about 10 retro video games that everyone should play. The abundance of modern releases can easily leave gamers overwhelmed with choice. The problem with this oversaturation however, is that it causes many classic titles to be overlooked. This article hopes to give some of these old games the attention that they deserve.

10 Retro Video Games Everyone Should PlayWe live in an amazing time for video game releases. It’s hard to blink these days without another few AAA titles being announced. There’s a lot of variety, meaning there’s never a shortage of fresh games to play. This high volume of releases come at a price however. When gamers are flooded with new and exciting titles, they can often forget to check out the classics that helped to establish the medium.

This is not only depriving them of some amazing games, but it’s also leaving them ignorant to the evolution of this brilliant art form. If you don’t know where to start however, I’ve got you covered. Check out my list of 10 retro video games that every gamer has to get their hands on.

Earthbound (1994)

What ultimately draws us to every artform is their ability to capture some aspect of the human experience. Through realistic or more liberal means, getting to see an artist’s own take on reality will always be interesting. And it’s exactly this that makes Shigesato Itoi’s title Earthbound such a beloved classic. Itoi’s game uses a colourful visuals and a goofy narrative to tell the story of child’s journey to maturity.

The struggles of growing-up are shown in the game’s JRPG tropes, which are adapted for a more modern setting. You’ll battle stray dogs and police officers, buy equipment in crowded shopping malls, and stay in hotels to heal your party. This game is a truly unique experience that I will never forget, and it definitely deserves a place on any top 10 retro video games list. I encourage every gamer to pick it up at least once in their lives.

Earthbound - Gameplay Trailer | Nintendo Direct

Ghosts n’Goblins (1985)

Lest we forget, there was a time when video games were all made to be very, very difficult. During this period most releases were unnecessarily cruel and often downright unfair. Ghosts n’Goblins is one of these titles. Games like these can be viewed through two lenses. The first shows them as exploitative works that really didn’t push the medium to its limits. The second however, depicts video games like these as the founding fathers of challenging gaming.

Titles like these showed that there was a market for extreme difficulty. For many of us, the lure of the dopamine rush we get after overcoming challenges is too good to ignore. Hard retro games paved the way for many of the biggest titles in modern video games, such as the Souls series. They proved that some of us want a game that can push us to our limits. Even if this isn’t your cup of tea, I recommend trying it out. Every gamer should get to experience the frustrating nature of a game like this, and the satisfaction that comes from progressing in it.

Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection – Announcement Trailer – Nintendo Switch

Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)

Sonic will forever be one of the lead mascots of retro video games. Alongside other iconic releases of its time, Sonic the Hedgehog really showed just how fun a 2D platformer could be. Unique stages, diverse enemies and fast-paced gameplay was only part of the appeal. It also had a killer catchy soundtrack, fun boss battles and gave players an uncontrollable urge to collect gold rings.

This retro video game is far more than just a gem from the past however. Like most of the 10 entries on this list, it holds up well today. Take a look at Sonic Mania for example. This title is a recent homage that’s all but identical to the original Sonic the Hedgehog game – and it sold excellently. This game was a historical landmark for 2D platformers and has undoubtedly inspired millions of game developers worldwide. If you haven’t touched this title yet, definitely try to track it down.

Sonic the Hedgehog 100% - Green Hill Zone, Act 1

-Video credit to Digital Duck on Youtube.

Goldeneye (1997)

Even if I wasn’t planning on adding Goldeneye to this selection of 10 retro video games, I would still pretty much be obligated to. There’s no question that Goldeneye essentially kickstarted the lust for first-person shooters that’s still prevalent on the gaming market today. It pioneered many staples of the genre, such as headshots dealing more damage and silenced weaponry not alerting enemies. A video game alternate universe where Goldeneye never released would be all but unrecognisable.

This is certainly a retro title everyone should experience. Yes, many of its flaws have become apparent over time. Its graphics certainly could do with a fresh coat of paint. It’s original aiming system, while innovative, didn’t really lend itself to fluid gameplay either. But while there are a few problems, it nailed many features that truly are timeless. Once you pick up Goldeneye, it can be dangerously hard to put down – even today.

007: GoldenEye - Nintendo 64 - Mission 1 "DAM"

-Video credit to Giuseppe D. Francavilla on Youtube.

Super Metroid (1994)

You know a game series is good when it literally has an entire genre named after it. And Super Metroid was quite possibly the title that allowed this to happen. This game was a free-flowing sci-fi metroidvania that provided a constant stream of satisfaction of the player. Frequent upgrades and ability unlocks made gameplay interesting, but simultaneously added a lot more diversity. From the Ice Beam to the Super Missiles, there was always options in how you took down the game’s various bosses.

I think a game like this is so important because it’s clear how many amazing titles it has inspired since its creation. Games like Hollow Knight, Celeste and Owlboy would maybe never had existed if it wasn’t for innovative titles like Super Metroid. This is a retro video game that gamers need to experience – if not for the entertainment purposes, then for a brief lesson in gaming history.

Super Metroid Walkthrough (1) (No Commentary)

-Video credit to MrDragonKnightss on Youtube.

Streets of Rage (1991)

While this title didn’t so much create its own genre, it sure as hell popularised one. Streets of Rage was probably the first game to put beat-em-ups on the proverbial map. The premise is simple: punch everyone, and kick everyone else. But don’t let Streets of Rage‘s basic gameplay and level design fool you. Taking on hordes of nameless criminals to the beat of an iconic soundtrack is actually quite fulfilling. The range of different attacks and weapons at your disposal also keeps things fresh and active.

What’s really special about this retro classic however is its multiplayer mechanic. While it may not have been the first game to introduce something like this, it demonstrated just how enjoyable cooperative gaming could be. In two player mode, you and a friend form a video game crime fighting duo.

Nothing makes two people feel more a team than standing back to back and throwing out a flurry of blows to unsuspecting gang members. Streets of Rage’s multiplayer is what every modern coop experience should strive to be. Consider this game as one of the 10 retro video games you need to try out before you die. And if you can find a friend to play it with, you’re in for a special treat.

Streets of Rage Stage 1 - Street of Rage!

-Video credit to UsaSatsui on Youtube.

Super Mario 64 (1996)

I’ve talked a lot about how the games on this list paved the way for a lot of popular titles today. Super Mario 64 takes things one step further however. Yes, this is an example of a 3D platformer that helped to established its genre. However, many gamers would argue that no game has ever truly surpassed it. Super Mario 64 is still undoubtedly one of the greatest 3D platformers available.

It’s not really that hard to explain what makes it so special either. Its level design is innovative and vibrant. It offers enough mysteries and collectibles to give endless hours of playtime. The soundtrack is superb. The star of the show however (no pun intended) is the fluidity of the controls. Mario is more acrobatic than an Olympic gymnast, and can pull off more jumps and flips than most players know what to do with. If you’re a fan of platformers and haven’t touched this retro video game yet, I can honestly tell you that you’ve missed out on one of the best.

Mario 64 (1996) - IGN Gameplay Vault

Street Fighter: Third Strike (1999)

There’s quite a few arcade fighting series that could have made their way onto this list. In my opinion however, none of them capture the spirit of the gaming medium as much as Street Fighter. These games have everything you could want out of a game from this genre: an eccentric range of characters, lively stages to fight on, and an insane list of combos to execute.

Though I’ll admit my experience in this series is limited, Street Fighter seems like it really hit its stride with Third Strike. Not only did it provide everything listed above with abundance, but it was also the first large title to introduce the famous “parry” system. This was essentially a block that fully negated damage but was infamously difficult to execute. Everything about Third Strike allowed it to provide some of the most intense competitive gaming experiences the medium has ever seen. This is a definitely a title you need to try out if you want some nail-biting competitive gameplay.

Street Fighter III : 3rd Strike 1999 Gameplay | RYU |PC Gameplay | 4K 60FPS | MAME32

-Video credit to Gamerz Odd on Youtube.

Chrono Trigger (1995)

There’s some games that were so inventive, it’s a wonder that the industry didn’t put more effort into replicating them. Chrono Trigger is one of these games. If there was a metric for measuring ingenuity, this game’s levels would be off the charts. The gameplay puts the turn-based formula on its head, incorporating attack area and positioning dynamics. It also added a list of tag-team abilities called “Dual Techs” that vary depending on what skills you’ve learned and your party make-up.

What I can’t stress enough however is how inventive the character design is in this game. The main cast come from a range of different time periods, resulting in one of the most diverse line-ups of protagonists you’ll ever see in a JRPG. Want to have a robot from the future fight alongside a medieval knight? No problem! There’s absolutely no question that Chrono Trigger is one of the 10 best retro video games you can play right now. If JRPGS is your niche, you have no excuse for not checking out this title at some stage (especially because it’s now available on mobile!)

Chrono Trigger - Steam Launch Trailer

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991)

If The Legend of Zelda series is known for one thing, it’s the sense of adventure it gives the players. A Link to the Past is an exquisite example of this. There’s something about being put in the shoes of a protagonist on an ambitious adventure that’s can’t quite be described. It’s like it gives you all the responsibility and prowess of a hero, while only requiring a fraction of the effort. But this game really does deliver in providing the player with an epic quest to undertake.

In this game you’ll travel across the land, passing through villages and scouring dark dungeons. You’ll fight monstrous creatures and continuously grow stronger, all with a single objective in mind: rescue princess Zelda. While the story of this game is simple, it does absolutely everything a video game narrative should. It gives you a continuous goal to work towards and purpose to every second of your adventure. A Link to the Past is a retro game that gives player the kind of escapism modern titles flounder to replicate today.

A Link to the Past Walkthrough - First Dungeon

-Video credit to LinksHideaway on Youtube

Conclusion

That concludes this list for the 10 best retro video games that no gamer should overlook. The world of gaming is very exciting. New advances in technology and innovation mean that many new titles can offer fresh, exciting and unique gaming experiences. But we should never forget to look back on the amazing games that carried the medium to where it is today.

Not only do many of those games still hold up, but they can truly give gamers a deeper understanding of the origins of gaming. I hope that this piece has inspired some of you to pick up some of the retro titles I’ve listed above. Don’t be surprised if one of them ends up being your new favourite game of all time!

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