I broke the news on FantasyAnime first but every week, I will highlight games I played between 1988 and 2002. That’s the same span of time I was in grade school, actually. Anyway, I have two reasons for doing this. The first is to trigger the nostalgia in those who played many of the games that defined cherished moments in their childhoods. The other is to tell those who either got imto gaming later or are too young much of what they may be looking for may already exist.
These are the consoles I will focus on in no particular order:
- Nintendo 64
- Game Boy
- Game Boy Color
- Game Gear
- Playstation 1
The plan is to cover several games in a single post. There will be pics, audio and some other stuff as well. I plan to make at least one retro post a week through Labor Day weekend but will likely make several per week.
To give folks a taste of what I have in mind, here’s a bit of a preview:
Sonic and Mario’s first adventures
They may get along now but if Sonic’s introduction in Super Smash Bros. Brawl is any indication to the young gamers out there, 25 years ago they were arch enemies. Mario was the face of Nintendo and Sonic the face of Sega, which as the older gamers know had its own line of consoles. Let’s take a look back at the two games that made them such icons.
Super Mario Bros. (NES)
…I threw in the music you all know and love. For those who never knew: The track is from the game’s very first level. It has since become synonymous with Mario in nearly every game he’s appeared in since. While technically not his first Nintendo appearance–Mario clashed with Donkey Kong in the first three Donkey Kong games–it is with this game that began his epic climb to international stardom. Good luck finding anyone on any of the seven continents who hasn’t at least HEARD OF Nintendo’s Mario. You won’t find anyone.
The original Super Mario Bros.’ soundtrack–only 5 songs TOTAL lasting about 10 minutes–is the most internationally recognized of any video game ever made. It is also the most remixed soundtrack in video game history, appearing in nearly every other game featuring Mario ever made including Super Mario RPG as well as the Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart series. The original Super Mario Bros. has been re-released almost every gen starting with the SNES as part of Super Mario All Stars (SNES) and most recently as a Virtual Console title for the Wii, Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.
Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis)
The world was not prepared for what Sega released–and neither was Sega for that matter. While Mario was making a name for himself famous on the Nintendo consoles, Sonic was busy making Sega and the Genesis household names. When you think Sega, you think Sonic and when you think of Sonic, you think of the game that started it all. Unlike Super Mario Bros., Sonic’s first game is remembered most for its soundtrack and being so visually stunning. It certainly helped the Genesis was a 16-bit console while the NES was an 8-bit console.
The game has seen several re-releases in the last 15 years including the Sonic Mega Collection (Gamecube, PS2 and Xbox), which contained all of Sonic’s early games plus the Knuckles variant to Sonic 2. A 20th Anniversary version of the game was released on the Nintendo DS in 2011 which gave Sonic the Spin Dash, which was introduced in Sonic 2. It is often included alongside Sonic 2 and sometimes Sonic Spinball as part of Sega Collection console releases. You can buy this game stand-alone digitally from the Wii/Wii U Virtual Consoles as well as from Xbox Live (Xbox 360 and Xbox One) though from what I recall, Sega has plans to release it as part of a bundle via Steam.
Unlike Mario, Sonic’s journey is split in two: His early 2-D roots and his modern, 3D oddyssey. The game Sonic Generations highlights the best of both worlds in one package. The end of Sega’s days as a console maker in 2001 was seen as the decisive victory for Nintendo it had been looking for. In a gracious move that shocked many, Nintendo invited their longtime rival to release video games on their consoles. When I bought my Game Boy Advance in November 2002, I bought Sonic Advance 2 along with Super Mario Advance 2. Little did gamers know at the time, this was just laying the groundwork for what would come six years later…
…Nintendo and Sega would make fans wait until 2008 to decide for themselves which icon reigned supreme: Sonic would be one of the two first-ever non-Nintendo characters introduced in Super Smash Bros. Brawl alongside Metal Gear Solid’s Solid Snake. Sonic would make his return in the following Super Smash Bros. game released on the 3DS and Wii U in 2014. He would also get his own stage in both games: The Green Hill Zone.
Speaking of soundtracks: Sonic and Mario are just a handful of video game characters who use the soundtrack from the first level of their first game as their theme music. These two video game icons are timeless and have more than earned their place in history.
Tetris: Soviet Russia’s Greatest Export?
Created in 1984 by then Soviet Programmer Alexey Pajitnov, Tetris was created purely by accident as a fun way to kill boredom. The story goes Pajitnov developed the game using Tetronimoes having no prior knowledge of video games. Tetris has since gained the illustrious award of being the greatest video game one-hit wonder of all time. Pajitnov has since made Tetris Open Source, which is why the game has been re-released on every single video game console since 1989 starting with the NES. You can literally get this game on ANY platform including iOS and Android free of charge.
The Oregon Trail: America’s first Sim?
If you had a PC in 1990, you probably played this game at least once. If not, go here to play the game free of charge online. The Oregon Trail is considered by many gamers to be one of the most simple yet difficult games ever made. This is one of those games in which RNG (Random Number Generator) hates you with a passion. You might have enough spare wheels to replace one that broke…only to have an axel break the next day with no spares left X.X
The game continues until you reach Oregon or you die, whichever happens first. Player deaths are noted in subsequent playthroughs by tombstones so…yeah. It actually is possible to clear the game as a farmer (Very Hard; $200.00 to start). I did it twice. What you do is put it all on Oxen and buy 500 pounds of food. Spend the rest on spare parts and ammo. Unlike later games, food doesn’t spoil. As long as you maintain a Health Rating of Fair when you reach Oregon, you’re set. I set the speed to Grueling (Fastest Speed, Health suffers) and the rationing to Bare Bones (Lowest Food Usage, Health suffers) for most of the trip, relaxing both settings as needed. I also set off in April so I arrive in Oregon by Early August the latest.
Anyways, weather you get there with everyone alive or not is up to RNG: It might give you a break and not have someone randomly die to dysentery (a really nasty way to die, actually) or you might lose alot of folks trying to cross a river. When you reach Walla Walla, you will be given the choice of floating down the river or taking the toll road. The river is the default option but take the toll road if you can afford it. Don’t have the money? Pray you don’t hit a rock while floating down the river and if you do, pray harder no one drowns!
Rating: Gaming History
…Well there you have it. I’m thinking 3 to 5 games per post. I will also give a rating for each game different from the ones I normally give:
- Gaming History
I will post the first real Retro Gaming Post later today. The format I’m thinking of is 3 games then a franchise and ending with a game known to pop culture. I might mix it up with something else so things don’t get stale. On that note, yes I will cover the Sonic and Mario sequels in later posts. Not all but some of ’em as well as a few spinoff games. Hopefully it will make more sense in the first real Retro Gaming post.