Let's start the list off with one of the earliest examples of games within games. Before 1993, the concept was completely unheard of due to technical limitations at the time. But Day of the Tentacle changed that. Once Bernard and his friends partake in Dr. Fred's time travel experiment gone sour, players can take control of Bernard and go to Weird Ed's room on the 3rd floor. You'll notice a computer on his desk. If you 'use' the computer, you'll be taken to the character select screen of Maniac Mansion where you can play the original that started it all.
What's unique here is that the version you play here is the original 1987 graphic adventure that was first released on the Commodore 64 and Apple II. And yeah, it really shows. Nevertheless, it set the groundwork for the whole game in game trend. And it's still available in the remastered version of Day of the Tentacle.
Although the original Metroid was first unlockable in Metroid Prime for the Gamecube, it was expensive. You needed a Gameboy Advance system, a Gamecube - Gameboy Advance link cable and a copy of Metroid Fusion where you beat the game. Not to mention that the control scheme (B jumps and A shoots) wasn't the best. In Metroid: Zero Mission, you can simply unlock the original Metroid by beating the remake. You can then play the original on the go.
Now you're probably going to ask why I included this entry. I will admit that this game is pretty archaic. It was very easy to get lost thanks to the copy/paste map layouts and no in-game map to guide you. Not to mention that you had to let Samus die to get a 24 character password which was case-sensitive. While the original Metroid hasn't aged very well, it's not necessarily bad. It did set the groundwork for all Metroid-esque games that followed and were vast improvements. So I feel it needs to be paid some respect. Not to mention that in by playing the original and remake side by side, you can really appreciate how far video game technology has advanced in 17 1/2 years.
Over the years, Sonic has pretty much lost his edge and we've seen only a few recent releases that were any good. Therefore, Sonic Generations was a welcome return to form. However, some people agree that you just can't beat the original and if you're craving some 16-bit action like it was 1991, you're in luck as the console versions of Sonic Generations allow you to play Sonic's original Sega Genesis' outing as an unlockable. Simply go to the in-game shop left of the Greenhill Zone entrance and purchase the Sega Mega Drive controller for 7777 points. Then go to the console which is located above the trio of warp gates above the entrance to Greenhill Zone.
What makes this entry special is that you have the option to make the game easier. If you have an additional 1000 points, you can buy the infinite continues option. There weren't many players back in the day who were able to make it through to the end and this definitely helps.
While the NES version of Ninja Gaiden is hailed as one of the best games of all times with two sequels to boot, the NES wasn't where Ryu got his start in the video game world. The first title is the often forgotten beat em up arcade game that hasn't had as much coverage as it deserves, even if it can be downright punishing at times. The game can be unlocked by beating the game on normal or ninja dog mode after obtaining all 50 golden scarabs. Plus, if you change the text and voices to Japanese, you'll play the Japanese version of the arcade game.
It's a shame that the original arcade version is often overlooked because despite being difficult, there are still some people who enjoy the challenge. The graphics and sounds have also aged quite well and it also featured some neat ideas like hanging from poles and kicking enemies, mostly the Friday the 13th fan club. And how many of you remember the (in)famous continue screen? While the arcade version was available on the Wii Virtual Console, it has gone offline as of January 30th, 2019. Therefore, hunting down a copy of Ninja Gaiden Black and going through the whole scarab song and dance is the only legit way to play it without hunting down an actual arcade cabinet (at least as far as I know for now).
While the Gamecube had some awesome 1st-party titles, it's 3rd-party support left a lot to be desired. So it was definitely a rare treat to see something like this on the system. In fact, it's the only entry in EA Sports' Fight Night series to appear on a Nintendo console, but it knew how to make the best of it. While the Gamecube version lacked the online features that were on the Playstation 2 and Xbox versions, it made up for this shortcoming by including Super Punch-Out!! which was originally released for the SNES.
When this was released back in 2005, video game emulation was possible, but primitive compared to what's available today. And paying a good chunk of change on eBay wasn't everyone's cup of tea. Furthermore, beating Super Punch-Out!! was one way to be able to play as Little Mac in the game's main campaign mode. I don't know about the rest of you readers, but I rented Fight Night: Round 2 just to play Super Punch-Out!! And believe me, it was worth it.
While the NES was the platform where many people played their first Metal Gear game, what was mostly unknown back in the early 1990s is that the series made its initial debut on the MSX2 computer which wasn't released in North America. Both Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake made their debut on these systems and while the NES port of Metal Gear played something liked the MSX2 version, Metal Gear: Snake's Revenge played nothing like the MSX2 sequel.
When Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence was released, it gave North American players the chance to play the original MSX2 versions for the first time and see how vastly different they are. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake was the game that introduced many of the series mechanics such as the ability to crawl, the alert and evasion system, the radar, more intelligent enemies and the radio transmissions would change depending on the process you made instead of just room to room. It also introduced Solid Snake's commanding officer, Colonel Roy Campbell. The games are also included in the Metal Gear Solid compilations, but it's a shame it wasn't included in the 3DS port.
While Wolfenstein: The New Order may have resuscitated the franchise by showing us an alternate world where Nazis won World War 2 and rule the world, it still remembers the game that made the series (in)famous in the first place. While The New Order allowed us to play the first level from Wolfenstein 3D in a new way, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus went the full 9 yards and included the entire game. Once B.J. Blazkowicz and the Kreisau Circle secure a U-boat and make it their official new home, player can find an arcade cabinet in the Club Kreisau on the 4th floor. That's right. All six episodes.
While the structure of the game is identical to the original Wolfenstein 3D, this version has undergone some cosmetic issues since the Nazis have won the war. For starters, it's called Wolfstone 3D and you play as a Nazi soldier who's charged with taking down Terror Billy and the Kreisau Circle. The enemies speak English instead of German, the swastikas and portraits of Hitler have been replaced by the Kreisau Circle emblem and William's mugshot respectively. The name of the 3rd episode was also changed. While some people might be off-put by these cosmetic changes, it's still a neat way to play id Software's breakout hit from a different point of view.
One of the things that made the Yakuza series so popular was how it emulated some of its older, lesser known titles, although some have aged better than others. These are done via the Club Sega Arcades that have been a mainstay in the series since the first game and while they have appeared in a vast majority of them since then, I have to give my pick to the latest one in the franchise because it contains a more varied selection spanned across two locations. These include Puyo Puyo and Virtua Fighter 5 located on Nakamichi Street and Out Run, Fantasy Zone and Space Harrier in the Theater Square.
What's special about this entry is that there's a real arcade located in Tokyo's Akihabara district called Club Sega. Although arcades are very much alive and well in Japan, there aren't a lot of people who will ever be able to afford going there for their next vacation. So picking up one of the entries in the Yakuza series and going to these hangouts is probably the closest many of us will come to the real deal.
Donkey Kong 64 was an excellent game, even if there were literally 1000s of doohickeys to collect. But it also pays an excellent homage to Nintendo and Rare's humble beginnings. The original arcade Donkey Kong marked Shigeru Miyamoto's directorial debut as well as Jetpac being Rare's first game that was released for the ZX Spectrum and VIC-20. What's interesting here is that you're required to play both with different rules if you want to collect the N64 coin and Rareware coin needed to win the game. Once you do collect them along with six banana fairies, you can play both these classics at anytime from the mystery menu.
Although Jetpac has been re-released on Xbox hardware such as on Xbox Live Arcade and part of Rare Replay for Xbox One, it appears that Donkey Kong 64 remains the only legit way to play the original arcade Donkey Kong without hunting down an arcade machine. Yes, it's seen many releases, but it seems all of them are based on the home console version which excludes the conveyor belt level. If you really enjoy the original arcade version, I suggest either picking up a physical copy of Donkey Kong 64 or download it from the WiiU Virtual Console while it's still active.
What else could've claimed the number one spot? Although Animal Crossing sold itself on a game where things would happen every minute of everyday whether you were playing or not, one of the main draws was how it included up to 19 fully playable NES games that were obtainable via various means. In fact, the now discontinued GameNOW magazine once did a Top 10 list based entirely on the subject as well as their being web pages devoted to this one area. Old favorites included Super Mario Bros. The Legend of Zelda, Punch-Out! (the one with Mr. Dream instead of Mike Tyson because legal reasons) and Ice Climbers.
While some are easy and simple to get, others not so much. Some are available by digging up mounds of dirt, Tom Nook's monthly lotteries and so on. However, there are some games that can only be obtained by using an Action Replay which are The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros., Mario Bros., and Ice Climbers. If you enjoy playing these games in between paying off Tom Nook's renovation bills and the various activities, then you'll want to hang onto your cheat device for dear life.
Zork - Call of Duty: Black Ops
Space Harrier - Shenmue 2
Ninja Gaiden NES trilogy - Ninja Gaiden 2004
Mario Bros. - Super Mario Advance series
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night - Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles
Bioshock - Bioshock Infinite (PS3 version)
Well, I hope you enjoyed the list. I know I already said it, but this list is pretty experimental so there are bound to be ones I've missed. In any case, thanks for reading.
List by Raidramon0 (04/03/2019)
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