In light of my ‘Retro Goggles’ article, I’ve decided to compile a top 10 list of my favourite retro games from Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. The list is in no particular order.
All these games are actually available for download via roms (just Google ‘roms’), in the high chance you are unable to locate the actual games and consoles.
01 – Comix Zone – Sega Genesis
This game kicked so much ass. You play Sketch Turner, a cartoonist who gets sucked into his own comic-book and in order to escape he needs to defeat Mortus and his minions. The coolest, most innovative thing about this game is that it’s made up of comic-book-like panels and you are required to navigate Sketch from panel to panel, locating secret items (sometimes by tearing the page) and beating the shit out of the bad guys. The combat engine is very cool, offering all sorts of kicks, punches and combos that feel very satisfying and you have access to several items including Roadkill, your trusty pet rat that can bite and shock (yes shock) enemies, he can also be used to navigate areas that are inaccessible to Sketch by creeping under tight areas in order to flip a switch etc. Not only does the game have a wonderfully polished graphics engine, but the soundtrack is quite awesome too and in fact, the game was released with a music CD as well.
02 – Earthworm Jim & Earthworm Jim 2 – Sega Genesis/Super Nintendo
I’m going to refer to Earthworm Jim and Earthworm Jim 2 as a collective as I like them equally the same.
The Earthworm Jim series (and I am not counting the horrid N64 version) are deliciously demented games created by Dave Perry and involves an earthworm who finds a cybernetic super suit that gives him superpowers, which he’ll need what with the villains he faces including Queen Slug-for-a-Butt, Major Mucus and Psy-Crow and all the while he is trying to save his beloved Princess Whats-Her-Name. Set in zany locations with a thumping soundtrack and crazy weapons (one example, you are able to use Jim as a whip). From launching cows to game shows, these games have insane levels of fun and should be played by all.
03 – Vectorman – Sega Genesis
Vectorman was one of the most impressive looking games on the Genesis as it used pre-rendered 3D models and was considered the answer to Nintendo’s Donkey Kong Country at the time, as they both used graphical tricks to look beyond what the console could do. I remember first reading about the game in a gaming magazine and then eventually convinced my brother to buy it. You play as a mechanical orbot made up of a multitude of spheres that is capable of morphing into a variety of things including: a car, drill, bomb and so on. This game was a great run-and-gun adventure and even spawned a sequel.
04 – Rocket Knight Adventures – Sega Genesis
Man I loved this game, it was one that I rented frequently from the local video store. You play an opossum named Sparkster, a rocket knight (armoured warrior with a jet pack) who fights an army of robots and pigs. Armed with a sword, you were able to power it up and (depending on the direction you were pointing to on the d-pad) using your jet pack, you’d be able to jet forward for a short period of time in any direction. Combining those two created a very handy attack. There were also flying levels which were awesome. Combined with a cool soundtrack and awesome graphics, this game rocked.
05 – TMNT 3 – The Manhattan Project – NES
I used to be a massive TMNT fan as a kid (still like them now) and back when I had a NES, one of my favourite games was this one. It was a challenging and fun game that allowed the player to pick from any of the four turtles (even though Michaelangelo was my favourite I always picked Leonardo as he had superior range) and engage in a ballet of side-scrolling, beat-’em-up greatness. Where this game really shined was in multiplayer, two players kicking the shit out of foot soldiers for hours on end, man that brings back fun memories.
06 – Rockman – NES
Ah yes, that one-eyed, yellow bastard (pictured above). He thwarted my best efforts to complete the game for ages up until I found out about the lightening trick. Rockman (Megaman in the U.S.A) is one of my all time favourite games. Rockman 1 was the first game in the series that I owned although my first contact with the series was Rockman 4. The moment I laid eyes onto it I was hooked. You play a robotic boy who must defeat the evil Dr. Wily, but before you can do that you need to defeat a team of evil robots that stand in your path. In all the games, you get to choose the stage you want to play and it’s this choice that is important for all the bad guys have weaknesses. Every time you beat one of the bosses you gain the ability to use their powers, a power that can be used to easily destroy another boss. So you need to find out who’s weak against who in order to win. Rockman and its sequels were always tough and challenging games and even to this day that stands true. This game is so good it’s like digital sex.
07 – Gunstar Heroes – Sega Genesis
Back when Treasure made great games and didn’t suck ass, they released a gem called Gunstar Heroes. Words like chaotic and frenetic come to mind. This game was insane, tons of enemies on screen, bullets everywhere and big, bad-ass guardians at the end of each stage made this game pure win.
Gunstar Heroes is a side scrolling shooter. The player has four weapons to choose from, and they can be combined in various pairs to create a total of 14 unique weapons. In addition to the weapons, the player can engage enemies in close quarters combat. It is possible to grab and toss enemies, perform sliding and jumping attacks and a long-range skid.
Unlike most games in the genre, the player has a life total calculated in numbers. Therefore, death to a player requires multiple hits but just one death will issue the option to continue or to end the game.
The main highlight of the game are its boss encounters, which often feature large enemies made up of multiple sprites allowing for fluid movement.
08 – Super Star Wars – Super Nintendo
When I say ‘Super Star Wars’ I refer to all three of the SNES games. Generally games based on films suck but these three (Super Star Wars, Super Empire Strikes Back & Super Return of the Jedi) were quite awesome. When it comes down to it, the game is basically just a run and gun except it introduced several 3D stages (piloting the speeder and X-Wing among others) taking advantage of the Super Nintendo’s awesome Mode-7 capabilities. The games are wonderfully polished, featuring smooth, fluid graphics and a glorious soundtrack, not forgetting of course that these games are insanely fun.
09 – Landstalker – Sega Genesis
Landstalker is an isometric, action-rpg and in my opinion one of the best rpgs on the system. You play as Nigel, a treasure-hunter, who must find the treasure of King Nole. It’s an action-rpg so it isn’t turn-based. It’s a bit like the Zelda games where you run around exploring dungeons and engaging in real-time combat. There’s plenty of towns to visit, people to talk to and rewards to be earned making for a long, enjoyable quest.
10 – Battletoads – NES
Battletoads was one of the coolest and toughest games available on the NES. It has also been called the #1 most infuriating ‘old school’ game of all time due to the ‘wind-tunnel’ levels. The first few stages are relatively easy, but once you reach the bike levels you are fucked. The only way that I actually managed to pass them is by using a Game Genie. Co-op was also a nightmare as you are able to beat up/kill your partner which sucks big time. One of the coolest things about the game is the combat. The toads’ hands and feet transform into giant boots and fists and when finishing off a bad guy it’s possible to morph your characters head into giant ram horns in order to headbutt your opponent into oblivion. There is much fun/frustration to be had with this game.
I had a NES and Sega Genesis console for the longest time, the last ‘retro’ console I got was a Super Nintendo, probably the reason why there aren’t too many SNES games on my list. Since I was a kid back then, in order to keep up with the latest in gaming I would always have to sell my current consoles in order to purchase the next generation. I ended up selling my Sega Genesis and SNES in order to buy a PlayStation, which looking back now was a damn shame.