For this top ten, we shot out some messages via email and Facebook to solicit gamers to tell us the name of their favorite retro game. We got back boatloads of responses. That being said, we also took into account that there are a few games that have to be mentioned. So without further ado, here’s this week’s top ten.
Duck Hunt (NES)
The first real shooter title to grace home-based gaming consoles, Duck Hunt showed us that bringing the arcade home was possible. Until this title came along, the only place you could grab an actual gun peripheral and shoot at something in a game was at the video arcade. But the Nintendo Entertainment System changed all that. The only thing that we think they did wrong on this was not giving the gamer the ability to eventually shoot that stupid dog, who always laughed at you for missing a shot.
Altered Beast (Genesis)
This side-scrolling smash-fest gives us all a glimpse of what it would be like to experience a little lycanthropy in our gaming. But then they take it one step further by giving the players the ability to turn into all manner of beasts instead of just Wolfman. Oh, and the developers decide to resurrect you from the dead and make you into a shape-shifting super-soldier who’s really just a pawn in a much grander cosmic scheme. Even though at its core, this game isn’t anything more than a side-scrolling button-masher, it taps into something…the ability to become whatever you want through the medium of video games.
Ghouls N’ Ghosts (NES)
Every once in a great while, when you mix stupid with scary, you get something really, truly funny. That is the case with this title. Its “perfect storm” of fright-meets-comedy makes for hours and hours of fun. The fact that you don’t really need a health meter is kind of funny in itself. The more hits you take, the more clothes you lose. It is almost like the devil said, “Let’s not just make this guy suffer on his journey, let’s make him naked too!” At least that’s kind of the vibe the game gives off. You fight your way through hordes of baddies just to get your clothes ripped off?! It’s like strip poker…with demons.
Mike Tyson’s Punch Out (NES)
Pretty much solely based on the success of all the boxing and fighting movies of its day, MTPO quickly became a fan favorite. Not only do you play as the underdog boxer Mac–you take him through a career of incredible odds only to face the ear-biter himself…Mike Tyson. Everyone loves the underdog. That’s why the Rocky movies are so popular. That’s why kids are taught never to give up. And that’s why boxers are trained to never stop fighting…no matter how smashed up their head is. They just never stop fighting. I mean, look at the lineup of guys that Mac has to fight. Seriously, what kind of ranking system is that?! But somehow, he still manages to get the job done and win the title.
Earthworm Jim (SNES/Genesis)
This game sports goofy animations and a goofier story. But no matter what it is on the outside, Earthworm Jim is an incredible game filled with hours of great gameplay and insane platforming goodness. Who says earthworms can’t fight for themselves? All they need is a big heart, cunning wit…oh, and a robotic space suit that they can manipulate with their minds–and a blaster. But besides all that, Jim shows us that with the proper motivation and the right equipment, you can achieve anything. I guess it kind of goes back to the underdog thing. Except in this game, the dogs are trying to kill you.
Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, B, A, Select, Start. The game that started it all. The advent of the cheat code. This little snippet has been immortalized by gamers who remember the joy of hitting it just right and gaining the 99 lives for their achievement. But even though that is probably what Contra is most noted for, it is still one of the best couch co-op games to this very day. There is nothing more satisfying than sitting down with a buddy and shooting your way through truckloads of bad guys and inflicting copious amounts of damage on your enemies. Oh, and don’t forget the bragging rights for topping your buddy’s score at the end of each level. That is what we remember most about this title.
Twisted Metal Black (PS2)
Two words. Multiplayer mayhem. Sure, a few titles before it gave us a taste of what it could be like to trounce other gamers in an arena-style thrash-fest. But none of them equaled the deranged, mangled, blood-and-oil-soaked goodness of Twisted Metal Black . Every one of the characters’ stories is totally messed up. From Sweet Tooth to Spectre, no one escapes the arenas unscathed. Their stories always end in tragedy for someone. But in truth, the story isn’t why any of us play it. We all love the sting of battle. We relish the thrill of firing the missile that sends our foes to the fiery beyond. It is the intensity and insanity of the multiplayer games that truly make this title shine out above all the rest.
This game is nothing short of perfection. It gives you a great story mode with solid gameplay and super smooth controls. It is the first of its kind to really nail the FPS experience. It would become the cornerstone for nearly every FPS title that would come after it. But the multiplayer is where it’s truly extraordinary. The guys at Rare decided that it would be super fun to saddle up with three of your friends and shoot it out on on-screen for a winner-takes-all kill fest…and they were right. The four-player, split-screen versus mode practically coined the term “deathmatch” in the FPS world. Nowhere before had we been able to do such a thing. And many of us haven’t been able to stop since.
Legends of Dragoon (PS)
It’s rare that an RPG title gets mentioned above Final Fantasy . But shockingly, this title was mentioned even more so than FFVII . Legends of Dragoon was little more than a blip on the gaming radar when it was released. It had been overshadowed by the Final Fantasy franchise at the time. But as its popularity grew, so did its devout following. Having sold nearly as many copies as FFVIII and FFIX to date, it has slowly and surely climbed to the rank of quintessential RPG title from the PSOne catalog. So much so that there have been cries from the gaming community for it to make a triumphant return to consoles in the next-gen of gaming. Will it make an appearance? Only time will tell.
Mega Man Legends (PS)
In an unexpected twist, Mega Man Legends won our survey. This game is definitely something special. When it was released, Mega Man fans had a blast doing new and exciting things with the Blue Bomber. It is a journey of epic proportions to try and stop the Bonnes. The game breathed new life into an old franchise during a time when side-scrolling games were losing popularity. The real tragedy here is that Capcom–for whatever reason–has decided to put this section of the franchise to rest by pulling the plug on Mega Man Legends 3 . Hopefully, we’ll one day see the return of this great series.