#10: Dragon Warrior (NES)
Dragon Quest/Warrior was amazing back in the day, but playing it now is a total chore. Several things are annoying. Gold comes in at a trickle, NPCs are boring, weapons and armor cost too much for what you win in random encounters, you have to return to the starting area of the entire game to save, and the lack of an interesting story tends to make the game drag. So what’s the big deal about Dragon Warrior? It’s all about historical significance. This is the game that brought RPGs to consoles (it predates Final Fantasy), but due to years late localizations, by the time it hit it’s creative peak with the fourth game, FF and others overshadowed it thoroughly, leaving the games to be rereleased years later on the DS and other systems, but the original deserves to be updated. With the wrinkles smoothed out, everyone can experience the grandfather of the modern console RPG.
When this game came out, there were not a whole lot of extreme sports titles. Snowboarding games were fun, but this popular ‘cool kid’ sport was gaining in popularity and Tony Hawk’s name sold plenty of copies. Unfortunately, the models are blocky, the environments are blurry and drab, the interface is clumsy, the options are limited, and there are no manuals for linking tricks! With it’s lengthy load times and lack of a personalized career mode, it seems like a piece of garbage today, but it was absolutely amazing back then. So many pro sports games have been released since, for surfing, BMX, ect. but the Tony Hawk series will always be the most well-known, and it all started here.
This game has it’s own charm today, but the atrocious voice acting, slow-placed gameplay, early-era 3D graphics and annoying inventory management is tough on modern gamers, especially if you play as Chris. With the horrible box art it doesn’t make a good impression either. That picture of Jill being attacked by a zombie may be a decent piece of art, but it’s hardly cover worthy. Plus, the font used for the title? Simply awful. After the action-heavy RE4, the tone of the series changed significantly. Luckily, newer RE games shifted back towards the slower-paced, creepy haunted house feel, so playing this can be interesting to see where the series started. Still, some of it’s puzzles are really obtuse, and constantly having to burn zombies to prevent Crimson Heads from spawning is super-annoying. It’s easy to see why later RE games ditched the many flaws of this title, but it still stands as one of the first survival horror games that was legitimately scary in its day, especially when you’re low on ammo.
#7: Star Fox (SNES)
This game was essentially made as a tech demo to show off the Super FX chip. Everything’s a polygon, the game looks clunky and is rather slow and choppy by todays standards, but back in the day it set the STANDARD for Super FX games. A sequel was planned but eventually never got released until the SNES classic. Most of its ideas ended up in Starfox 64, the peak of the series. With a secret black hole level, three different paths to the end and bright colors, the game could be a good retro-chic title if some of the above wrinkles were smoothed out and the game ran better. It also shows off some really graphic-intensive sections that pushed the Super Nintendo to its absolute breaking point. I still am amazed to this day that a game like this could run on a 16-bit machine. While the Starfox series has a had a tough time lately, returning to the classic style and ditching that awful WiiU gamepad-aiming garbage could be just what the series needs to get back into the minds of gamers.
The original Street Fighter II was one of the sole reasons to own an SNES in the 90s. Being able to play one of the greatest arcade fighters without needing quarters was the holy grail of gaming at the time, and Street Fighter II was a great way to liven up any party. Unfortunately, with the multitude of updates and incremental improvements over the years, the original feels very incomplete. No two players can use the same character, Balrog, Vega, Sagat, and M. Bison aren’t even playable, and there’s no combo stack system. It also runs very slow compared to every other entry (hence why they made the Turbo versions). The cast is small, lacking some fan-favorites like Cammy and Ibuki. Plus, the special moves are a little clunky and can’t be strung into combos, making them feel less effective. All of the updates and remakes showed that Capcom was onto something good with the original, but after a while, people were no longer interested in buying the same game over and over. SF III (and its billion updates) was a good entry too, but ditched tons of fan-loved characters and mechanics. It’dbeniceofthe classic, sprite-based graphics were used for a new game in the SF series, but it probably won’t happen, aside from HD remakes and ports.
This was THE multiplayer FPS of the N64. From college dorms to living rooms, players flocked to the split screen death matches, which are still a blast to this day. However, the single player experience is pretty terrible. The characters faces got thrown into a blender, switching weapons is clunky, the aiming is cumbersome, and the strafing is mapped to the c buttons. That means that most people who try to play Goldeneye on the N64 will end up spinning on the spot while firing aimlessly at enemies. It’s a really baffling control scheme after so many FPS games have set the clear standard for how these games should control, and the escort portions are some of the most terrible experiences in gaming. It’s re-make for the Wii was a great way to let players experience the classic without all the frustration, but this game still deserves more love.
I can hear gen one defenders rappelling down the side of my apartment building, so I’ll keep this brief. The original Pokemon trilogy was pretty lame compared to the later generations. Playing gen one shows that we definitely take a lot for granted these days. Sleep mode, real time day/night cycles, Pokemon that look like they do in the anime, items pulled into groupings, contests, wireless connectivity and Wi-Fi functions. All that was not in the first generation, trading was a pain due to requiring a link cable and two people with the game (rare back in the day). Some pokemon Iike Evee needed to be acquired three times for its evolutions, the starters were once again exclusive (except in yellow), and filling up the Pokédex was a total pain due to all those things. It also had a bare bones presentation. If you really want to experience the first generation of Pokemon, you should stick with the Fire Red and Leaf Green remakes, the original trilogy definitely hasn’t aged well. I have to go now, the gen one defenders have laser sights trained on me and are teasing the triggers of their silenced pistols...
#3: Tomb Raider (PS)
Lara Croft is the kind of woman every girl wanted to be in the PlayStation days. Strong, independent, fearless, rich and attractive. However, raiding tombs isn’t quite what it was back then. Early on, this was a wonderful, console-defining game with tight acrobatic jumping, shooting action, and stunning environments. Nowadays? The textures are blurry, the platforming is nothing special, the environments are stock and the controls are terrible. Like Goldeneye, most modern players will end up spinning around and smashing into walls. It doesn’t control like Super Mario 64 or Ocarina Of Time. Lara only moves in a straight line the direction she’s facing. To have to stop and painstakingly turn her around to go somewhere else gets aggravating and the frustration really sets in when trying to shoot enemies. Tomb Raider is still revered as a classic, but playing it today isn’t fun.
While I still adore this game, it has been outshined by it’s subsequent entries in every conceivable way. The lack of moves, characters and modes becomes very apparent, especially with the loads of content stuffed into all the other games in the series. No trophies, no side specials, no sound test and no adventure mode. It was a great system seller in the N64s library and helped pave the way for Melee (which many stubbornly claim is the only one worth playing), but today its clear to see they were simply testing the waters, rather than throwing their weight behind it like now. I still appreciate it, but it never eats into my time with Ultimate. I really find some charm in the old 3D models and the subtle differences in characters compared to the later entries. For some reason, Kirby’s hats look nicer in this entry also, but that’s just my opinion. Maybe having to make less of them meant they could spend more time on each one...
This series is not hard, it’s unfair. Every single thing in this game is made to screw you over, make you scream and question if living in this world is even worth it anymore.
For those of you still here, trust me, this is a fun game while things are going right (which is rare, but it can happen). Provided you have the golden armor and the right weapon (probably the bow), it IS beatable, but beating it is gonna be hell on earth, and you have to beat it TWICE to get the true ending. Few people can say they have finished this game even once, even with emulators and savestates being abused like they’re going out of style. The levels are fun and pretty, they fit the ‘Halloween Decoration’ style perfectly, but Arthur is so weak, you start realizing that doing a no-damage run is almost essential to get anywhere (especially if you have the golden armor). Thankfully, there aren’t as many Red Devils in the game as there were in Ghosts ‘N Goblins, but it doesn’t matter much when everything else is still able to wreck you in seconds.
If you really want to experience this series, I’d recommend the Maximo games (Ghosts To Glory and Army Of Zen), they are a LITTLE bit more user friendly, but still tough as nails...
Being a retro-gamer, I can appreciate games from any bygone era, but I can also see how far things have come since the 90s. Every defining game has its merits, but since it successors have eclipsed it, all it seems is outdated now.
List by LostSoul (06/24/2019)
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