Friday, 26 October 2012

Top Ten Retro Games Of All-Time

Retro gaming is a chance for the younger generation to see where all the current games started; and for older people like myself to relive moments of their childhood. It is also a chance to see when games were more about gameplay rather than graphics.

Once again, like my previous 'top ten' lists, it is merely a personal list. This means I know I left games out that others would consider should be in the top ten. That is what the comments section is for. People can list their own top ten retro games.

At one time or another I have owned almost every gaming console released. I have always had the idea that computers do their thing and games consoles do their thing. With the way computers have progressed this is no longer a fact; be it Windows, Linux, or Mac they can all play games. Which leads nicely into retro gaming via emulators. Before listing some good emulators the legal stuff:

"You must own the original game before you download a ROM of the game. If you use the BIOS of the original game console you must own that too."

That being said, here are some great emulators of games consoles, arcade machines, and computers. When the list mentions it works on 'Linux' it really means Ubuntu Linux; but will most likely work on any Debian-based Linux distribution.

Gens/GS: An emulator for the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive in the UK), 32X, and Sega CD. Runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac.
SDLMAME: An emulator for arcade machines. Runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac (Windows users may wish to just use MAME)
ZSNES: An emulator for the Super Nintendo (Super Famicom in Japan and Eastern Asia). Runs on DOS, Windows, and Linux. (Mac users may want to check out SNES9x)
PCSX-Reloaded: An emulator for the original Sony Playstation. Runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac.
UAE: An emulator for the Commodore Amiga computers. Runs on Linux and Mac. (Windows users should use WinUAE)

That is the emulators I use at present. Anybody has any better options please leave a comment.

10. Ridge Racer (PCSX-R)

Released on the Playstation in 1995. Ridge Racer had great graphics, great sound, and was an all-round great game. The one thing that let it down was the A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) of the computer controlled cars. To be honest they sucked. Which wasn't much of a problem because you wanted to beat them and win the race. Win every race an you get to race against the '13th Devil Racing car'. After playing Ridge Racer you wonder how you ever put up with playing Sega's Outrun.  Overall a great game to while a couple of hours away.

09. Sensible Soccer: International Edition (Gens/GS & UAE)

Released in 1993 on the Sega Genesis, Amiga, Atari ST, and the short-lived Atari Jaguar. Sensible Soccer is possibly the worst graphics of any football game released on the 16-bit console and computer market. The players look like some funky colored chickens running around the pitch. But that is not important. What is important is the gameplay. Choose from local teams, international teams, or even teams made up crisp flavors. Choose your team, choose your formation, and play a game of football. The biggest thing that Sensible Soccer had going for it was the array of tournaments, cups, and leagues that could be played. Another great feature was the after touch feature where it was possible to do unrealistic swerves with the ball.

08. Battle Arena Toshinden 2 (PCSX-R & MAME)

Released on the Playstation in 1996. I never played it in the arcade but the MAME version plays slightly better; although this could be just MAME being tinkered with more than PCSX-R. Either way it is a great game. Why the second one? Because I never played the first, third, or fourth games. It is your typical one-on-one fighting game but Toshinden 2 had swords - really big over-sized swords. With 15 characters to choose from you fought through the others to get to, and defeat, Vermillion the final, and hidden, enemy.

07. Star Fox (ZSNES)

Star Fox was released in 1993. The game itself was nothing new. What was new was how it presented itself; it was in first-person 3D. It had taken the idea of After Burner (another great classic game) and instead of flying a plane you was flying a spacecraft. Oh and instead of being a human pilot you was a fox. It was the first game to include Nintendo's FX chip (a coprocessor); which allowed for the 3D. There is just something about flying a spacecraft and shooting at robots, creatures, and other spaceships which never gets old.

06. Streets Of Rage 2 (Gens/GS)

No, not Streets Of Rage 3. It has to be 2. The first game was good, the second game was great, but instead of improving once again the third game in the series went back to just being good. Streets Of Rage 2, released in 1992, had the gameplay of the first; but with better graphics. The third game, in my opinion, they messed up on the graphics and the gameplay was not as fluid. Overall a great series of 3 games but the second was the best of them. Play as either Alex, Blaze, Max, or Skate and beat your way through wave after wave of henchmen from the mysterious Mr. X throughout eight levels.

05. The Secret Of Monkey Island (UAE)

Released, originally, in 1990 on the Amiga computer. Admittedly when I first loaded the disks (all four) I was somewhat disappointed, as a kid, to see it was a 'point and click' graphical adventure game. But luckily I gave it a chance. The gameplay is pretty much along the lines of almost every game of the genre that was released at the time. The thing that sets it apart from all the others is the humor in the game. If you could imagine the Monty Python team creating a pirate adventure game; well then you would have this game. The main character is Guybrush Threepwood who dreams of becoming a pirate. To become a pirate he must complete three quests. It may be 'point and click' but the humor makes the game. Head to WikiQuote to see some of the humor.

04. Mortal Kombat (MAME & Gens/GS)

Released into arcades in 1992. When it was released on to game consoles in 1993 there was the whole 'Mortal Kombat vs Street Fighter' debate. My take on that debate is that both games are great for different reasons. Anyway, the Arcade version gave birth to those two immortal words - "Finish him!" Mortal Kombat was all about the blood; well that and characters that looked the same except the color (Scorpion/Sub-Zero/Reptile). Voted in 1993 as 'the most controversial arcade game ever' anyone who went in an arcade was guaranteed to play it. If you missed the hype of the original release be thankful that Mortal Kombat is still going; and next year Mortal Kombat: Legacy (a movie directed by Kevin Tancharoen) is planned to be released. So, go release some blood in a way only Mortal Kombat can.

03. Sonic The Hedgehog 3 (Gens/GS)

Launched on the Genesis in 1994. And before anyone asks - yes it does have to be Sonic 3. It was the first Sonic game you could actually save your game on; and it felt about 200% faster than than Sonic 2. If you don't know what Sonic The Hedgehog is all about I am surprised you got this far. Sonic was Sega's answer to Nintendo's Mario. He was the character everyone knew whether they had a Sega console or not. Play Sonic 1 & 2 then play the 3rd installment and wonder how good Sonic 1 could have been. On the Genesis you could even plug Sonic 3 into the follow-up game "Sonic & Knuckles" and play both games as if they were one. The same idea worked with Sonic 2 - but Knuckles could never defeat the final boss on his own.

02. Bad Dudes Vs DragonNinja (MAME)

Released in 1988 this game had everything - ninjas, nunchucks, and drinking Coke to regain health. Rescuing President Ronald Reagan was the whole plot of the game. Go through the levels beating up various henchmen of the DragonNinja clan. At the end of each level you have to defeat a boss to go to the next level; except the last level where you just complete the game. So fire up MAME, get Salt N Pepa playing in the background, beat up a whole load of ninjas and declare: "I'm bad!"

01. Shinobi (MAME)

Originally released in 1987 in arcades around the world. This is where I first discovered Shinobi; and many a 10p coin was put into the machine until finally the last boss was beaten. What makes Shinobi so great? Everything; the gameplay, the learning curve, and the graphics. But in all honesty for me, personally, what makes it so great is the nostalgia.

One thing I should have mentioned. Whether you are playing on Windows, Linux, or Mac it plays a whole lot better with a joypad - no matter which emulator you are running.

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