THE TOP TEN MOST NOSTALGIC VIDEO GAMES
Video games are more advanced than ever and have come a long way since they were first introduced into mainstream society. The future of gaming is bright, but it’s hard not to yearn for the simpler days of playing our NES favorites or holding that trusty Sega Genesis controller. Today we’re counting down 10 of our most nostalgic picks sure to take you back to the glory days of retro gaming.
10. Crash Bandicoot
An absolute classic for anyone that grew up with a Playstation, or with friends that had Playstations, the series transported us to the beautiful Wumpa Islands and introduced us to Crash, Coco, and the evil Doctor Neo Cortex. The game was groundbreaking at the time, described as having the best graphics of any game in history. The levels were always exciting, the animation was ahead of its time, and it’s secured its place among some of the most nostalgic games of all time.
9. Super Mario Kart
The Mario Kart games have seen multiple reboots across a huge variety of platforms and remains one of Nintendo’s most successful games, but nothing can top the nostalgia of the original Super Mario Kart created for the Super Nintendo. It involved players playing as one of eight classic Mario characters and racing through different tracks, facing obstacles and gaining speed boosting power-ups. The game was a staple of so many of our childhoods and paved the way for racing games, and video games in general, to follow.
8. Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sega’s answer to the Mario series proved to be massively successful and a childhood staple for many. In the game, Sonic and his sidekick Tails (also known as Miles Prower, one of the best/worst puns in video game history), attempt to stop the evil Ivo Robotnik from stealing Chaos Emeralds that power his space station. The high-speed gameplay and the health generated by gold rings collected throughout various levels were some of the most defining features of the game and the game was often described as a “faster, cooler alternative to Super Mario World.” While many of us enjoyed both series equally, there’s no denying that Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the greatest video games of all time and a staple of the 16-bit era.
7. The Legend of Zelda
To many of us, Princess Zelda and Link were early childhood friends. We shared in their adventures and discovered new lands together, and revisiting the series brings back warm feelings of childhood nostalgia. The series has seen many incarnations but they all seem to maintain those feelings of adventure, especially the earliest versions. The game’s landscape is described as one of the most fully-developed worlds of its time and was an early example of open-world gameplay, leaving players with endless options to explore and carve out their own adventures.
6. Final Fantasy
One of the best selling video game franchises of all time, it’s no doubt that the Final Fantasy series made a huge impact on our early gaming experiences. The game has been developed for gameplay on nearly 30 platforms but its original NES release holds a special place in many of our hearts. The story involves four young light warriors who each carry an elemental crystal that’s been darkened by the evil forces of the world. The players progress through towns and dungeons and interact with characters, obtain new equipment, and engage in battle. The ultimate goal is to restore light to the darkened crystals and although the gameplay is relatively simple, Final Fantasy is consistently ranked among the most nostalgic video games of all time due its creative take on fantasy role-play.
5. Out Run
Out Run helped pioneer the genre of driving games and the concept of non-linear gameplay, and it quickly became one of the best selling video games of its time. Many of us first experienced it as an arcade game in which we toured Europe in our sleek, gorgeous car. The game even spawned its own music genre of the same name, inspired by the neon 80’s aesthetic the game embodied.
4. Streets of Rage II
Streets of Rage II is a Sega Genesis classic and quickly became a cultural phenomenon. Fighting games were already popular at the time, but Streets of Rage helped to refine the genre and add unique elements like a well-developed backstory and crisper graphics than other games at the time. The soundtrack was also considered revolutionary and ahead of its time, praised for its “blend of swaggering house synths” and “dirty electro funk” that you might find straight out of a nightclub.
3. Street Fighter II Turbo
Street Fighter II wasn’t just a game, it was the beginning of a movement. It had a massive impact not only on other video games, but on pop culture as a whole. Developed as an arcade game in 1991, it differed from other fighting games at the time because it gave players the ability to choose characters with unique fighting styles and abilities. It’s considered one of the most influential video games of all time and is responsible for revitalizing the arcade video game industry. It also introduced the concept of live tournament style competitions during a time when competitions were typically limited to beating another person’s high score. Whether you played it at the arcade, on your GameBoy, or across a variety of platforms, there’s no doubt that Street Fighter II had a massive impact on not only our childhoods, but society as a whole.
Tetris obviously isn’t the most visually advanced game on our list, nor does it have a creative story. In fact, the entire point of the game was solely to arrange groups of colored blocks. It’s a ridiculously simple premise that required a surprising amount of skill. It’s one of the earliest video games on our list but many of us grew up spending hours on end clearing blocks from the board by arranging them into compact shapes. It was simple, it was frustrating at times, and it kept us occupied for ages. Imagery from the game is iconic and multiple studies have analyzed its effects on the brain and how we see the world in general.
1. Super Mario Bros
Super Mario Bros pretty much invented the platform game. It’s one that we’re all familiar with, the first game in the most successful series of all time. The soundtrack alone is one of the most famous sounds in the world, and the game helped popularize the side-scrolling format. It’s undeniably one of the most, if not the most, important video games ever made and is one that can transport millions of people straight to their childhoods.