Video games are reaching new heights, not only in complexity and realness, but also in their degree of cultural saturation. On Sunday, 40,000 people packed the World Cup stadium in Seoul, South Korea for the League of Legends final – here, gamers’ names are synonymous with celebrity. Many of us remember the humble early days of video games before the advent of 3D graphics, before the creation of massive online arenas, and most definitely a time when the 40,000 fans gathered around the screen was more like the three friends. This Throwback Thursday harkens back to some of the classics that made sitting around the tube so much fun.
- Sonic the Hedgehog
This little blue hedgehog rolled into our lives early on in the 1990s, appearing first on the SEGA Genesis in glorious 16-bit. The original gameplay followed the same formula as a Super Mario Bros. game but sped up to bring reaction time into the mix. Gathering coins, defeating enemies, and finding hidden passages comprised most of the action Even though its original device has become a relic, the Sonic franchise has carried on across multiple generations of game systems as well as in many people’s hearts and minds.
- Super Mario Bros.
This 8-bit classic came by way of the original Nintendo Entertainment System – the only system that could be fixed by blowing on it. While definitely more subdued compared to most modern titles, this one will continue to be a favorite for its old-school charm. The design of the game is a masterpiece in and of itself, with hidden features peppered throughout. Despite lacking the ability to save progress, the game never got old – a large part of why it will continue to be fun in its old age.
- SSX Tricky
While definitely not the original snowboarding game, this one “brought the action.” From races to time trials and trick courses, this game challenged your fingers with its seemingly endless combinations of button mashing and stick swiveling. Throw in a classic track from Run DMC (the title says it all) and you have one of the best Gamecube games of all time.
- Super Smash Bros.
If ever there was a game that needed no introduction, it is this one. Super Smash Bros. and its band of characters from the Nintendo universe endless, literally endless, hours of group gameplay. From the original on Nintendo 64, to Melee on Gamecube, Brawl on Wii, and now a new generation of Super Smash Bros. coming for the Wii U. Nintendo’s latest console has been slow to sell, but this late addition title may be the shot in the arm it needs to finally make it. Why yes, Nintendo, by all means manipulate our love and nostalgia for this classic – for once we’re ok with it.
- Mario Kart
Like Smash Bros., Mario Kart is one of those games that gets renewed with each generation of console. Featuring the classic Nintendo characters and then some, this classic spawned tracks that have continued to inspire awe in gamers (looking at you, Rainbow Road). Newer versions don’t have quite the same novelty as the earlier versions, but they’ll satisfy the itch to play. Plus, this is one of those games that keeps on giving with myriad additional rules that can be applied, such as those that require safe and responsible driving habits.
I am by no means an authority on video game lore, and there are countless great games that could have and maybe should have made the list – other classics from console generations past that may have been too obscure or too contentious for a “best classic videogames” list. Nevertheless, as is apparent with the prominence of gaming culture now, there will be many more great games to come.
Image courtesy of Nintendo