It clouds our minds in almost everything we do. Somehow our brain always goes back to that feeling of familiarity. And for me there is nothing greater than the nostalgia I feel for the games I played when I was young.
I'm not particularly old, being in my 20s, but I did grow up without access to newer hardware or even the internet. My experience in gaming in my early childhood was mostly relegated to classic video games consoles, and that's the reason why I'm so fond of them nowadays. The SNES, MegaDrive, PS1, NES, PC-Engine, the arcades and more - that was all I had back then and I'm not complaining. I don't think there is any way I could've had a better childhood. It left me with a great appreciation for the history of this industry and made me give higher regard to what we have now.
So, after getting out of the shower I had an idea. I'll try to compile a list of my top 5 most favorite retro games. It's difficult because I'm not particularly good at looking things from a lens other than my own feelings. All rankings based on personal preferece are of course biased, but the way I look at things is a bit different.
Gaming has always been about the experience for me, and that's why I'm simply unable to be objective at all in a post such as this. But to be honest, I love the way my brain works. It has turned trash into treasure and treasure into experiences that are unforgetable.
So without furter adieu, let'sa go.
5. Nigel Mansell's World Championship (SNES)
This is an odd one, I know. It's not a very well known game and I'm honestly not sure how well it was received back in the day, but to me, it's bloody briliant. I did play other racing games in the Super Nintendo such as F-Zero, Top Gear and Super Mario Kart, but none managed to capture the happiness I felt with this one. I owned this cartridge for 90% of my life and even though it was battered and dirty, it still worked.
And well, looking at the reviews now, I know I'm very much at the minority here.
"Rating the game 1.5 stars out of five, Computer Gaming World in August 1994 said that despite the product endorsement, Nigel Mansell "is at best a mediocre attempt at a racing simulation" that should have been released five years earlier." - Wikipedia, review on the Amiga version.
But here's the thing about this one... I didn't exactly play the original version.
My love for Formula 1 was born out of the Brazilian F1 scene, back when I was young we had mediocre to great drivers such as Felipe Massa, Nelson Piquet Jr, Bruno Senna, Rubens Barrichello, and more (and that was in no particular order.)
This however, for a 1992 F1 game had a distinct lack of Ayrton Senna except for the Super Famicom version.
There was one happening that changed my view on this game, and immortalized it for me.
Someone, maybe Brazilian, maybe from some other Latin-American nation, made a rom hack of this, and a long time ago too, which replaced all appearances of Nigel Mansell with... Senna!
The exact label my cartridge had
The game even had FMVs of Senna racing, tips from Senna about particular tracks and a roster a little different from the standard version, not to mention everything was in Portuguese, which was great for 8 year old me.
The gameplay is the same, but I'm pretty sure if it weren't for those changes, this game likely wouldn't have sold as much as it did down here.
So thank you, random hacker and people who decided to put this on cartridges, you're heros.
4. The Mask (SNES)
Now here's another one from my childhood. This was another cartridge I owned for a long time and that was a little finnicky to get working, but when it did... Boy, this was fun.
It's a simple, rather floaty platformer with The Mask as its main character, with things that I assume come from the movie but I can't know since I never watched it.
However, if the movie is as charming and funny as the game then I'm sure it's pretty great, as this made kid me laugh every time some enemies showed up, such as the granny boss.
This was also a very hard game, with some levels being brutally difficult, at least for young me. I'm pretty sure I'd be able to get past them now, but it managed to keep me stuck for quite a while as a young kid, but that's how games worked back then and it was always fun conquering all the challenges.
This is one charming experience I'll never forget.
3. Medal of Honor/Medal of Honor Underground (PS1)
Yes, I'm including two games in one. The thing is, Underground feels very much like a mission pack for the original, and that's not a bad thing.
The original Medal of Honor was my first FPS ever, before I even owned a PC, this is what I was playing.
Doing splitscreen against my dad and cousins and carrying out missions against the Nazis deep in enemy territory, all in set pieces constructed by the brilliant Steven Spielberg.
It's safe to say the game hasn't aged particularly well in the graphics department and the gameplay is definitely going to feel a little clunky to anyone who's used to modern dual analog or keyboard and mouse shooters. But it is absolutely awesome for me, and I'm pretty sure for anyone else who's willing to give it a shot. It has a very Goldeneye feel to its control, and it was likely inspired by it in some way seeing as it came out in 1999. You can play with or without the dual analog controller, but I don't miss the analog sticks too much seeing as how I grew up with the simple dpad only joystick.
It has a button dedicated for aiming, great for headshots and that works a little like pressing L2/LB/LZ/Mouse2 in modern games, as it gives you more precision in your shots and firing without it is essentially hip firing. I found that both ways of firing are better for different scenarios, as when enemies are close by they always shoot faster.
This is an awesome game and it's a great look to how the FPS genre was evolving on consoles after the release of Goldeneye and even Quake on the PS1.
The second game introduced more weapons, more levels, more maps and a whole new story about a French resistance fighter, also a really good game.
2. CTR - Crash Team Racing (PS1)
Most people would likely include the original Crash trilogy in here or at least one of the games in it, but CTR has a special place in my heart. This was the first 3D racing game I played and I'm willing to bet it's still the one I played the most, with only Mario Kart Wii coming in at a close second.
This game has CHARM. The Crash universe and characters were absolutely perfect for a kart racing game, much like Mario and in my humble opinion, this is a better racer than Mario Kart 64. The graphics are a lot better, with all the characters being real 3D model and the tracks having tons more variety and style, something which Mario Kart did improve a lot over the years too. My love for both games is immense, but CTR takes the crown for me.
Another thing that sets it apart greatly from Mario Kart is the singleplayer experience, which was really valuable for me back then as the only person that really played with me much was my dad. So having an extensive adventure mode, tons of modes and still having the classic arcade formula (the one Mario Kart follows) was absolutely great and it's one of the things that make mre revisit this game every year. And even now, with tons of friends around, this is still something we always play at friend gatherings.
1. Super Mario World
Cliché? Yes, definitely.
Nostalgia? Without a shadow of a doubt.
Great game? Of course!
Super Mario World was and probably still is the greatest benchmark in terms of 2D platforming greatness. This game added so much from its predecessors and managed to be better than all of them, even when compared to the absolutely stellar Super Mario Bros. 3.
This is still the game I recommend to anyone that wants to get in to gaming, or at least retrogaming. Its visual style, sound design, world and tight controls make it a great example of platforming greatness.
This was a hard one to choose though, as the love I have for this game is matched by Sonic 2, another game I played a lot during my childhood.
And I'm pretty sure it must be a little surprising to those who know me to see that I've choosen this instead of Sonic, but there is one hard truth out there and that's this is a game that has held up a lot better over the years and was just superior in terms of design back in the day to Sonic 1, 2 and 3. So I decided to set down my feelings at least for this one, because loving the Sonic trilogy isn't enough to make them to take the throne from this one.
The first time I beat Bowser at just 6 years old is an experience I still haven't forgotten, even if it happened during such an early age.
And that about wraps it up.
If you feel the same way about any of the games here, feel free to tell your experiences, and if you think I'm doofus for my subjective list, I'll gladly hear it too.
Have a good one peeps.