In my humble opinion, video games have gotten out of control. Games like Grand Theft Auto (which incarnation are we on now?) and other alternate realities where ultra violence reign supreme are a far cry from the glory of old school gaming. The video game arts used to be a fantastical thing, and are now close approximations of twisted realities. Unless I’m mistaken, video game characters and worlds from a not so distant past have been relocated to simple party distractions, and don’t hold the same esteem as gaming days of yore.
For the old school gamer wishing to relive those glory days, or even the new school video game enthusiast who wants to escape into pixelated paradises, this is a list of some of the greatest of all classic video games. All of these games should now be available as roms on emulators (barring the use of certain Apple computers), and by classic I mean before the turn of the 21st century (like Buzzfeed, I too love the 90s).
Chrono Trigger (1995) was like the Final Fantasy series meets time travel, which is incredible for so many reasons, and the narrative still makes current video games look as two dimensional as the older game’s graphics. It’s been almost 20 years and few games have been able to top Square Enix’s greatest achievement.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998), although not as classic as A Link to the Past, involved the titular ocarina (quite the awesome gameplay concept), a beautiful story, spinning sword moves in three dimensions, and some of the coolest bosses in the entire series. As long as we forgive Navi’s plea to “Hey! Listen” to her, this game will remain the best way to blow off final exams and job-hunting ever.
Final Fantasy VII (1997), also by Square Enix, is the best in the long running video game series for awesome characters (Cloud and the legendary Sephiroth), gorgeous mechanics, and a memorable story all gamers must revisit time and time again. Also, chocobos.
GoldenEye 007 (1997) will never be forgotten as that game you played instead of doing homework. Nothing fills me with nostalgia so much as the N64 classic where you could spend hours shooting each other in the oversized heads. Proximity mines and stealth sniping are just a few wonderful parts of an eternally great video game.
Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness (1995), developed by Blizzard, was the much awaited sequel to the first orc versus human, real time strategy (RTS) match up, and I recall the game being one hell of a classy experience. The multiplayer was groundbreaking and taught many a nerd to trash talk from the safety of their DOS or Mac OS machine.
Super Mario World (1990) was the first and best appearance by Yoshi, that lovable dinosaur creature that could swallow you up and lay an egg out of you. This Mario title was more expansive than the previous games, and involved a daring rescue of Dinosaur Land, which is both epic and surreal like only a Super Mario game can be.
Pokémon Red and Blue (1996) is still just as addictive as ever, a truly perfect video game that mixes so many amazing elements of gaming together. It’s a different sort of RPG with a revolutionary party system, and even more revolutionary trading system. This game made and lost you friends, and was better than every other pastime of anyone’s childhood. I would catch them all, all over again, forever.
Myst (1993), if you remember, was the game that made you want to throw your new Macintosh machine out the window of out of sheer frustration. The game, which plays like a mysterious novel, transported you into a world of impossible puzzles and mind-blowing curiosity, and still goes down in history as one of the most perplexing video games ever devised.
Marathon (1994) was the inspiration for the much more critically acclaimed Halo series, also created by Bungie (Microsoft ripped them from their Macintosh roots). The sci-fi first person shooter, with a sweet plot and a killer multiplayer mode, is still played by folks who ever cared about Macintosh gaming, and remains a true classic of the genre.
So I decided to be a bit disingenuous and add Shadow of the Colossus (2005) to the list. This game is a masterpiece because it remains true to the aesthetic feel of the art form, transporting you to a simple world where, underneath giant monsters, lies an intricate puzzle game harkening back to the good ol’ days. It’s a beautiful piece of video game art, almost as fun and captivating to watch as it is to play.
Although there are older games that deserve attention as well (I haven’t forgotten Tetris), these titles should continue to be played and seriously enjoyed until long after current trends disappear.