10 best retro games you need to go back and play
We’re living in a golden age of gaming, with an incredible range of interactive experiences to suit all tastes. Even so, it’s hard not to occasionally pine for the simpler days of the arcade era, where the best retro games - those fantastic eight-bit and 16-bit titles - turned us into the healthy, sleep-shirking addicts we are today.
Have a gander through our top ten picks for the best retro games that kick started the gaming world (in no particular order). Warning: Expect a lot of Mario.
Super Mario Kart
While everyone has their favourite Mario Kart – from the four-player-thrills of Mario Kart 64 to the weaponised mayhem of Double Dash!! – few would deny the SNES game’s claim to top spot. It’s aged beautifully – and, unlike many of its successors, every victory is hard-earned. Gaming’s finest spin-off.
Super Mario Bros. 3
Having pretty much invented the platform game, Nintendo reinvented it with the secret-packed Super Mario Bros. 3, then repeated it with Super Mario World. The two best side-scrollers of all time, it’s a hard job to separate them. The sprawling ambition of Super Mario Bros. 3 or the invention of Super Mario World? The Frog Suit or Yoshi? The Super Leaf or the Cape Feather? We’ve plumped for SMB3, but they’re so close to gaming perfection, there’s nothing in it.
Street Fighter II Turbo
It’s teaching friends how to do the perfect dragon punch motion. It’s beating that bigger kid by doing Blanka’s electric attack. It’s unlocking Akuma and then immediately losing half of your life bar within seconds. Turbo might be the definitive version of Street Fighter II, but whichever one you played, the memories will no doubt still vividly linger.
It’s odd to think that a game focusing on finding the best way to successfully arrange a group of coloured blocks should have been at its best when played on a machine that was incapable of displaying more than four shades of greenish-grey. But, regardless, the Game Boy version of Alexei Pajitnov’s opus was simply the perfect match between game and hardware.
A high-end car, a beautiful track, blue skies and a long strip of road to the horizon. It’s not so much a race as a high-speed cruise, taking you on the ultimate US road trip.
Streets Of Rage 2
Two players, two pads, too many fizzy drinks: the only way to play Sega’s bruising brawler was with a partner. It was a rival to Capcom’s Final Fight, but this game definitely had the edge, which was partly due to Yuzo Koshiro’s particularly memorable score.
The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past
If Super Metroid taught us to fear the unknown, Link’s epic quest made it exciting again. A top-down Hyrule rammed with secrets and surprises, it’s a delight to explore. Not least when you figure out how the light and dark worlds slot together. Unlike these days where you’re given a nudge if you stray too far, here you’re encouraged to get gloriously, hopelessly lost – and you’ll have a whale of a time doing so.
For a certain generation, football rivalry wasn’t just between Fifa and Pro Evo. It was the pace and banana shots of Kick Off versus the sharp passing game of Sensible Soccer. For our money, Sensi wins: it gave a glimpse at tiki-taka way before Barca made it fashionable.
Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Sega’s blue speed merchant proved himself a worthy rival to Nintendo’s Mario with his Mega Drive debut. Yet it was the spectacular loops, corkscrews and clever environmental tricks in the follow-up that proved his makers carried the same swagger. With co-op partner Tails in tow (whose real name, Miles Prower, is one of gaming’s best dreadful puns) this blistering adventure was one of the finest two-player games of the 16-bit era and still leaves many of the modern Sonic games for dust.
The game that launched the career of a certain plumber, Nintendo’s 1981 arcade hit was pivotal. Having failed to crack the US, president Hiroshi Yamauchi convinced young designer Shigeru Miyamoto to create a new game. Jumpman (renamed Mario, after the US arm’s landlord, for the game’s Stateside launch) and his simian nemesis gobbled enough quarters to keep Nintendo afloat and launch countless Kong spinoffs. The rest is history.