Depending on when you grew up, a retro game could encompass all different types of games. For some of us, it could be as modern as the late 2000s, games such as Grand Theft Auto IV and Pro Evolution Soccer 2009. For others, it may go back to the turn of the century with games such as Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. If you’re starting to sprout some grey hairs on your head, like I am, you could go even further back to when all games were two-dimensional and found on the SNES or PlayStation 1.
Games have come an astonishingly long way in the past 25 years, from robotic one-player games to huge online multi-player sports games such as NFL Madden. Teams participating in the NFL during the season feature heavily on NFL Madden as all teams are licensed. The career mode runs identically to the season, including having a Monday night football (MNF) feature. MNF is one of the stalwarts of the NFL season and regularly brings in millions of viewers across the United States. Playing a game replicating this is a far cry from the old robotic sports games of the early 1990s. We will look at which other games are considered retro games and try to narrow them down to the top five.
Tetris is a game that is widely recognized, even in today’s age of super computer-generated graphics. As one of the first games that drew a large fanbase, many gaming fans and enthusiasts still hold this game close to their hearts. For those of you that grew up in the late 1990s, where you could play it relentlessly from the palm of your hands on a Nintendo GameBoy, the nostalgia, sounds and shapes come flooding back at an overwhelming rate, I imagine. Tetris is still played today and remains a popular retro arcade game.
Super Mario Kart
The Mario Kart dynasty still rolls on today. The first installment of the iconic franchise took place in 1992. An instant classic among retro gamers, it helped unload the SNES console onto the world and forever remains in the hearts of gamers who lived through those early iconic years. There has since been over a dozen releases of Super Mario Kart games, and it remains one of the most profitable series of racing games for the console and online game market today. The branding and characters still play a key role in pop culture, especially in areas such as Japan, where the brand is still incredibly profitable and popular.
Crash Bandicoot was first released in 1996 and is synonymous with many millennials’ childhoods. There have now been 20 releases of various Crash Bandicoot games, and it has sold over 40 million units worldwide. The Crash Bandicoot group of games is one of only a handful of games that were developed in the West and found success in Japan. Two of the games sold over a million units each upon their release and were considered huge successes in the late 1990s.
While Crash Bandicoot is slightly newer than the first two games we mentioned, we wanted to provide some balance. Crash Bandicoot still brings up warm memories for gamers all over the globe as it reminds them of their first console gaming experiences in their youth, and it deserves its place in the top five.
The Legend of Zelda
Another game that has enjoyed multi-generational success, much like Mario Kart, is the Zelda franchise. First released over three decades ago, multiple releases and enhancements have allowed the games to continue to sell immensely well. The powers that be even turned it into a TV show, such was the game’s success. Several games within the franchise are individually considered some of the greatest games of all time. As many of us enjoyed the retro versions decades ago, new generations were introduced to the world of Zelda and created their own retro memories with up-to-date versions in their own childhoods.
Sonic The Hedgehog
Much like Zelda, Sonic has spawned other media due to the success of its gaming franchise. Sonic has sold over 100 million units worldwide and was first introduced to us in 1991. Many of us fondly recall its initial introduction on the world stage, and many of us also remember the later-generation games that came after it and influenced countless imitators. The franchise has generated multi-billion-dollar profits, and it is likely to continue being remade and enhanced for future generations.