In the last article, I talked about how the perception of video games as an entertainment medium has drastically changed over the years. This is largely due to the fact that a large chunk of its core audience – who used to be kids back then – are now all grown up, leading to an expansion of technical innovations and narrative sophistication in modern games.
Another effect of these gamers having already grown up is that oftentimes, in between bouts of the graphical realism of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the interactive storytelling ambitions of Heavy Rain, and the seamless gameplay-to-story-to-gameplay integration of Uncharted 3, they yearn for the bygone days when gaming just meant frenetic unforgiving action and high scores. Thus was born retrogaming, which as the name implies, is the playing of classic video games whose original incarnations are for the most part no longer available; at least not as widely as they once were.
The last article gave a rundown of three of these classic games available for the iPhone, counting down to fifteen. Here are four more.
4. Chrono Trigger (SNES, 1995)
Hailed as the greatest JRPG of all time, Chrono Trigger is every bit deserving of the distinction. Gameplay-wise, it deviates from the usual formula by doing away with random enemy encounters; meaning that no longer were players bogged down by a fight every five seconds. If players saw enemies ahead and didn’t think they were up to the challenge, they could avoid them outright. While this doesn’t sound like much, it actually gave more depth to strategies (and strategies are what JRPGs are all about), especially when added to timer-based actions that sped up fights, and combo moves that utilized all player characters in a party.
If gameplay was all that greatness would be based on, then Chrono Trigger would already be a shoe-in. The game, though, was more than just that. It featured an engaging time-travel story, where actions in any given area and time would have great consequences in other places and eras. Such complications necessitated the game having twelve different endings, depending on players’ actions. In the 16-bit days, this storyline complexity was largely unheard of.
5. Duke Nukem 3D (PC, 1996)
The first-person shooter Duke Nukem 3D wasn’t revolutionary by any stretch from a gameplay standpoint. It did, however, widen the appeal of FPSes beyond the hardcore Doom and Wolfenstein 3D fanbase. It was also famous for its crass humor and All-American bad-ass attitude which were almost nonexistent in mainstream games at the time.
The success of this game prompted its developers to want to create a sequel that would match, or even top, Duke 3D’s reception. Called Duke Nukem Forever, the sequel’s title couldn’t have been more apt: The perfectionist attitude of the games’ chief designer, George Broussard, lengthened Duke Forever’s development time to fifteen years, with many gamers and critics commenting that the game was taking (*ehem*) forever to finish. To add insult to injury, once it was finally released last year, it was met with less than warm reception, its technology and game design being already dated by then.
Never mind all that, though. The iPhone gets the acclaimed Duke Nukem 3D, and that’s all you really need to know.
6. Earthworm Jim (Genesis, 1994)
At a time when platformers were a dime a dozen, Earthworm Jim stood out from other run ‘n’ gunners (basically platformers with guns) by employing hand-drawn sprites, fluid animation, and Ren & Stimpy-style humor. Those flourishes have served it well, maintaining its classic status even until now. Of course, it also didn’t hurt that it had exemplary gameplay.
The game's continuing popularity led to an excellent sequel (along with two lackluster ones), a TV show, and now an iPhone port.
7. Final Fight (arcade, 1989)
Although it was Double Dragon that ushered in the golden age of beat ‘em ups in 1987, Final Fight was nonetheless a great game in its own right, further popularizing the genre. A side-scrolling cooperative multiplayer fightfest, its popularity was no doubt also boosted by the fact that the game’s events took place in the same universe as Capcom’s other franchise, Street Fighter.
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