Do your favorite games make the cut? Find out as we countdown the best of the best chosen by FYG’s certified “experts”!
‘Retro’ is a term thrown around quite a bit these days often used by nostalgia addicts to describe something with profound sentimental value that somehow bucks its outmoded nature. When used to describe video games, the term typically defines titles released before a specified date, or in my personal case before a specified generation of hardware. But what makes a retro video game great? And if you were to compile a list of the greatest retro video games of all time and publish it in a spiffy hardbound book what would it look like? Probably something like The 100 Greatest Retro Video Games: The Inside Stories Behind The Best Games Ever Made by Iain Lee.
However, as interesting as the inside stories are to read the actual list of the “greatest” retro games left many of us here at Feed Your Geek befuddled and angry. How can you take a list of the best games ever made seriously if BOTH Shenmue and Shenmue II are in it? Honestly, it’s impossible. That’s why your local “experts” at FYG took it upon themselves to come up with a more representative list based on the 100% scientifically accurate methods of personal bias and bandwagoning! So, without further ado let’s begin our journey through “The 100 Greatest Retro Video Games” as selected by six geeks with six very different gaming backgrounds!
Nintendo | Wii | Nov. 2006
When the Wii launched in 2006 its release library was threadbare. Fortunately, the pack-in title Wii Sports wound up being its biggest saving grace. Essentially a glorified tech demo each of its five sports were still ridiculously fun to play both solo and with friends! “I can’t imagine how many drunken hours were spent with my friends doing our best to get a perfect score in bowling. I genuinely believe it was one of the best games of its generation.” – Gaming Mule
World of Warcraft
Blizzard | PC | Nov. 2004
Love it or hate it, World of Warcraft defined the MMORPG genre for nearly a decade. Though many fans decry the shoddy state of the game today WoW saw a rare return to form during its Legion expansion that fueled many a late night endgame raid. “To me WoW was always about going on daring raids with guild mates and forging friendships, both in Discord and IRL. I’ll admit, I still get the itch to play a bit more each time a new expansion is announced.” – Randomly Retro
Atari/Midway | Arcade, N64, PSX, Dreamcast | Oct. 1998
When the original Gauntlet first hit the arcades it redefined cooperative gameplay. Gauntlet II didn’t stray far from the successes of the first, but with Gauntlet Legends Atari decided to shake things up a bit. Players could now level up their characters and save progress via a password system. The arcade version is still the best way to experience this classic, but the Dreamcast and N64 ports helmed by Midway are also excellent. The PlayStation version…not so much.
Guerilla Games | PS3 | Feb. 2009
The first Killzone swiftly fell into obscurity after its release. Critics panned it for terrible AI, mediocre gameplay, and persistent technical hiccups. The one thing most could agree on was that the gritty sci-fi setting and narrative were excellent. With this Guerilla forged ahead with a direct sequel that blew player’s minds with amazing visuals and audio, pulse-pounding gameplay, and intense mutliplayer. Killzone 2 is one the rare examples of a game living up to its pre-release hype.
Close Combat: Battle of the Bulge
Atomic Games | PC | Dec. 1999
Atomic Games heard the complaints of the previous Close Combat games and delivered one of the best entries in the series with Battle of the Bulge. Balancing unit types, making use of strategic map advantages, and constantly managing morale and supplies make each battle more akin to a game of chess where every move matters. “I highly recommend new players to the series start with Battle of the Bulge. It perfectly encapsulates everything great about these games.” – The Wizzard
Illusions Gaming Company | PSX, Saturn | Oct. 1996
From the minds of Terry Jones and Gavin Scott, Blazing Dragons started as a silly but short lived cartoon parodying the likes of King Arthur and Merlin on Canadian and French television in the late 90s. To coincide with the cartoon Illusions Gaming produced a similarly tongue in cheek point and click adventure on the PlayStation and Saturn. “The humor passed right over my head when I was younger, but the puzzles were fantastic and made me want more.” – NivekViking
Capcom | NES | Sep. 1989
Games based on existing licenses are usually poorly made cash-grabs, but not so with this NES classic from Capcom. Precision platforming, catchy music (the Moon stage theme became official DuckTales canon in the 2017 series reboot!), and great level design make this cartoon tie-in stand tall with the NES’s other amazing platformers. “The fun music and gameplay along with my nostalgia for the cartoon are why I still hold this game in high regard today.” – Nellielins
Gears of War
Epic Games | 360, PC | Nov. 2006
The “Console Wars” went into overdrive during the 7th generation of home hardware. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 had steadily eaten away at Sony’s monolithic market share for nearly a year before the PlayStation 3 finally arrived on the scene. Strategically released at the same time, Gears of War was a 360 exclusive with some chutzpah. Utilizing Unreal Engine 3 to its fullest extent, Gears was a visually stunning game with bone-grinding action, amazing sound design, and a killer multiplayer scene that people still talk about today.
Call of Duty 2
Infinity Ward | PC, 360, Mac | Oct. 2005
Building on the successes of 2003’s Call of Duty Infinity Ward delivered what many believe to be the game that put the series on the map. Built from the ground up using a new internal engine Call of Duty 2 provided players a more definitive and realistic wartime experience across three distinct campaigns. “Battles felt incredibly realistic with aircraft dropping bombs and strafing enemy lines, tanks thundering across the map, and artillery bombardments wreaking havoc.” – The Wizzard
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
Neversoft | PSX, N64, Dreamcast | Sep. 1999
In the late 90s skateboarding exploded in American culture due to the growing popularity of “extreme” sports competitions such as ESPN’s X Games, and the exploits of the man many believe created modern skateboarding, Tony Hawk. To capitalize on this movement Neversoft crafted what is quite possibly the best skateboarding game ever made with addictive gameplay, intuitive controls, and a perfectly matched soundtrack. “To this very day my tastes in games and music are in some way defined by Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.” – Gaming Mule
Mistwalker/Feelplus | 360 | Feb. 2008
With a story and sountrack from Final Fantasy veterans Hironobu Sakaguchi and Nobuo Uematsu, Lost Odyssey was on people’s radar well before its release. When it finally landed Xbox 360 owners were treated to an emotionally gripping JRPG with engaging combat via the Aim Ring System. Though some criticized the art style and narrative for being generic, there was no denying that Lost Odyssey was an amazing experience. “The soundtrack has an epic scale but also a sadness which reflects the themes of the story beautifully.” – Hokplays
Super Mario 64
Nintendo | N64 | Sep. 1996
Many games before it had tried to give players fully immersive 3D worlds, but Super Mario 64 was the first one that succeeded in almost every respect. Still touted today as a groundbreaking and industry defining 3D platformer, it single-handedly pushed sales of the Nintendo 64 on its release. Its popularity has seen a surprising resurgence in recent years as well being a centerpiece of the speed-running and randomizer crews that have seemingly taken over Twitch and YouTube.
Legend of Dragoon
Japan Studio | PSX | Jun. 2000
Competing against so many veteran JRPG series on Sony’s PlayStation, Legend of Dragoon had to fight an uphill battle just to be noticed. Though it didn’t fare well with reviewers initially the game has garnered a steady cult following praising its combat and graphics. “The Addition quick time events during battles had me and my best friend hooked, but we also had to laugh at each character’s extremely poor quality voice acting at the completion of each attack.” – NivekViking
Bullfrog Productions/Krisalis | PC, PSX | Mar. 1998
The successor to Theme Park and the second entry in Bullfrog’s “Theme” series, Theme Hospital tasked players with the diagnosis and treatment of patients while also meticulously micro-managing hospital staff, research, and policy. To counter balance what seems like a maddening gameplay loop, Theme Hospital is also brimming with charming visuals, excellent voice acting, and sly humor. The PlayStation port was mostly well received but bogged down by hampered controls so stick with the original PC version.
Acclaim | N64, PSX, Dreamcast | Jun. 1999
In what would be the last WWF title developed by Acclaim, Attitude was a swan song of sorts which built on everything great about previous entries. Each wrestler’s full intro was included, the “Create A Wrestler” feature was greatly expanded, and new “Create A Stable” and “Pay Per View” modes added innumerable options for custom match ups. Though the N64 and Dreamcast versions were poorly received, the expertly made PlayStation port is what saves a spot on this list for WWF Attitude.
Mega Man X4
Capcom | PSX, Saturn, PC | Oct. 1997
The limited technical specs of the Nintendo 64 forced Capcom to jump ship to the PlayStation and Saturn to continue their vision. Boasting gorgeous sprites, a rockin’ soundtrack, tight controls, and fully animated cut scenes X4 brought X and Zero to a new generation of gamers. Though it lacks innovation and the voice acting is laughably bad it’s still a blast to play today. “Mega Man X4 was my introduction to the Mega Man universe, and the story told through the animated cut scenes drew me in very quickly.” – Nellielins
TMNT IV: Turtles In Time
Konami | Arcade, SNES | Aug. 1992
In late 1992 fans of the second TMNT arcade game could keep the fun going at home on the SNES! Similar to the NES conversion of the first arcade game, the SNES port was a compromise of sorts. Visuals and audio took a dip but to compensate new levels and bosses were added as well as a Time Trial mode for one and two players. Even still it’s a visually impressive game, and the levels are varied, chaotic, and thrilling. “There’s something so intensely satisfying about throwing Foot Soldiers straight into Shredder’s face!” – Randomly Retro
Gran Turismo 4
Polyphony Digital | PS2 | Feb. 2005
As a franchise Gran Turismo touts itself as the “real driving simulator” striving for an experience as close to the real thing as possible. Gran Turismo 4 continued that tradition by refining its GT (Simulation) mode from Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec and adding a new B-Spec mode putting players in the shoes of a racing crew chief managing driver and crew actions and behaviors. Visually it was also a huge leap from GT3 and included a garage of 700 licensed vehicles all with unique handling and performance.
King’s Quest V
Sierra On-Line | PC, Mac, Amiga, NES | Nov. 1990
The trials and tribulations of the Kingdom of Daventry were brought into the modern age with King’s Quest V. The incorporation of VGA graphics, sound card support, and a point and click interface rather than a typing parser made the fifth entry one of the best looking, best sounding, and most user friendly computer games of its day. The NES port is far less impressive so stick with the original PC release which comes in two formats: the floppy disk version, and the CD-ROM version which included questionable voice acting by Sierra staff!
Relic Entertainment | PC, Mac | Sep. 1999
When it landed on home computers in 1999 Homeworld stunned players with its impressive graphics and revolutionary space exploration and combat. It took strategy games to a whole new level forcing players to guide their fleets in a fully 3D space all while managing resources, building their strength, and battling enemy forces. Add to this a sweeping score by Paul Ruskay and you get a sci-fi epic that was more than a game; it was a journey. “To this day Homeworld is one of the most gorgeous space-based games ever made.” – The Wizzard
That’s it for the first installment of our 100 Greatest Retro Video Games here at FYG! Stay tuned for our second installement, games #80-61, in the near future! Also, if you haven’t already be sure to follow all of our contributors on social media, and leave a comment if you agree (or disagree) with our selections! Until next time, geeks! – Retro