Video games have come a long way since the early days but nothing really ever beats the classics. Some games that were released decades ago have not aged well and feature clunky controls, disorienting visuals and jarring soundtracks. On the other hand, some titles are still incredibly fun and easy to play even today, so here are 10 of the best classic games that still hold up.
One of the key factors that ensure retro games hold up in today’s environment is simplicity. Snake is a game that is incredibly simple, requiring you to move up, down, left and right while you slowly grow in length from eating dots that randomly spawn on the screen. The difficulty here comes from the need to avoid crashing into your own tail, which becomes increasingly hard as you grow within the confined game screen. Easy to learn and difficult to master, Snake is one of the most legendary video games for good reason.
Originally released in 1991 for the Sega Genesis, Sonic the Hedgehog is a game that tasks you with navigating obstacle course style levels and puts the emphasis on speed, flow and reactionary controls. The incredibly recognizable blue mascot was Sega’s answer to Nintendo’s Mario character and this franchise has gone on to sell hundreds of millions of copies despite most entries being critically panned. This original game however still plays very well today and the 16-bit visuals, iconic soundtrack and fast gameplay is still a joy to experience.
8. Donkey Kong
Mario is one of the most recognizable characters in all of media but he first appeared in this next entry back in 1981, Donkey Kong. Taking control of the famous plumber, called Jumpman at the time, you are tasked with ascending levels of scaffolding all while the titular ape hurls barrels down toward you. You must use the ladders and items to rescue a damsel in distress called Pauline. With simplistic controls but some very difficult levels, it can be very easy to get completely sucked into the game even today.
7. Klondike Solitaire
Since 1990, Microsoft has bundled Klondike Solitaire into its Windows operating system for free. Because of the extraordinary amount of Windows devices sold over the years, chances are you have seen or played Klondike Solitaire. This classic, column based card game has captivated many players for hundreds or even thousands of hours and has become the poster child for procrastination at work or school. Because it is so easy to learn but difficult to complete, Klondike Solitaire goes down in history as one of the most iconic video games of all time.
First person shooter games are incredibly popular and widespread today, with the likes of Call of Duty, Halo, Destiny and Apex Legends dominating the space but none of them would exist if it wasn’t for the legendary pioneer of the genre, Doom. The 3D visuals and simple shooting mechanics have aged beautifully and the enemy, character and boss designs remain some of the most influential in all of gaming.
In the 1980’s, video game arcades were all the rage and you would seldom find an arcade without the iconic Pac-Man cabinet in it. Released in 1980 as ‘Puck Man’ within Japan, this masterpiece title soon spread to mass popularity worldwide. Controlling the titular yellow character, you must navigate a maze, consuming dots and evading the colorful, ghostly antagonists. With only up, right, left and down controls, Pac-Man remains one of the best pick-up-and-play video games of all time.
4. The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda is one of the most acclaimed video game series in history, with the Nintendo 64 entry ‘Ocarina of Time’ still ranking on Metacritic as the best reviewed game of all time. But what started it all was the original game, released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) which sees the hero Link explore dungeons, battle enemies and solve puzzles to rescue princess Zelda from the clutches of the evil Ganon. Simple controls, charming visuals and innovative level design for the time mean this title holds up incredibly well despite the advancements of the genre.
3. Super Mario Bros.
We have already mentioned Mario on this list but the game that skyrocketed him and his brother Luigi to become household names is Super Mario Bros. for the NES. You side scroll through some of the most memorable levels in all of gaming throughout the mushroom kingdom, jumping on the heads of enemies to defeat them in an epic quest to rescue princess Peach from King Koopa, who is now known as Bowser. This game gets quite difficult like many games of the era but it plays excellently today, further cementing Super Mario Bros. as one of the greats.
There aren’t many people out there who won’t recognize the colorful shaped blocks of Tetris or its catchy theme tune. Tetris is a simplistic game developed by a Soviet software engineer that has gone on to sell over 100 million copies worldwide. As different shaped blocks descend from the top of the screen, you are tasked with rotating them and forming lines which erase them and build your score. If you build up the blocks to the top of the screen, you lose and have to start over. Simple, addictive and timeless, Tetris is as great today as it has ever been.
In 1996, Nintendo released two monster collecting games developed by Game Freak in Pokémon Blue & Red. This innovative approach meant that exclusive creatures were available in each version, leading many to double up on their purchases to catch ‘em all. Collecting, trading and battling Pokémon became an absolutely global phenomenon and Pokémon has since gone on to become the single biggest media franchise in the world by revenue. With a simple but deep turn based battle system, a focus on collecting, charming visuals and a memorable soundtrack, Pokémon Blue and Red are some of the most replayable games in history and it is no wonder they spawned a media juggernaut.
So there you have 10 classic games that hold up even in today’s environment of 4K visuals, hyper-realistic graphics and a growing focus on live service experiences. This proves that games that are simple to pick up and difficult to master offer increased longevity and remain fun for years to come.