Do your favorite games make the cut? Find out as we countdown the best of the best chosen by FYG’s certified “experts”!
We’re back with part two of FYG’s 100 Greatest Retro Video Games and this time we’re looking at games #80-61! What classic titles will be making a much deserved appearance? What oddities and obscurities will grace our list? Read on as we continue our journey through the greatest retro games as selected by six geeks with six very different gaming backgrounds!
Gearbox Software | 360, PS3, PC | Sep. 2012
The quintessential Shoot ‘n’ Loot FPS, Borderlands deftly blended snappy shooting, insanely customizable character builds, and wry humor to make one of the standout hits of 2009. Fast forward to 2012 and Gearbox gave fans exactly what they should have expected from a sequel. More guns, more character classes (thanks to the Mechromancer and Psycho DLC packs), more raunchy jokes, more Claptrap, and a story starring one of the greatest gaming villains of all time! Ten years later Borderlands 2 still stands the test of time.
Nintendo/Argonaut Software | SNES | Mar. 1993
UK-based Argonaut’s Super FX chipset revolutionized “16-bit” gaming on the SNES and this is the game that brought it home to the masses. Star Fox, or Star Wing in PAL regions, gave players a thrilling arcade style experience with branching paths and intense air and space combat, and sparked gaming innovation for years to come. It also quickly cemented itself as a flagship IP for Nintendo with numerous home console and handheld sequels, spin-offs, and remakes. “There are many games that owe their success to Star Fox.” – HokPlays
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Rockstar North | PS2, PC, Xbox | Oct. 2002
To tide players over during GTA IV’s development Rockstar North delivered what some consider the perfection of the formula. Set in 1986 in the fictional Vice City (based on real world Miami) the game is chock full of 80s cultural references, homages, and parodies while also portraying many real life events such as the US crack epidemic, Haitian/Cuban gang violence, and the height of the Miami criminal drug ring. “Cruising around Vice City pretending you are Scarface whilst pumping out some Video Killed The Radio Star. Perfection.” – GamingMule
Super Smash Bros. Melee
HAL Laboratory | GameCube | Dec. 2001
Fans of the N64 mascot mashup were graced with a GameCube sequel just in time for the 2001 holiday season. Where Smash Bros. was messy and unrefined Melee was polished to near perfection bridging the gap between party brawler and tournament fighter expertly. It’s still a centerpiece of many worldwide tournaments to this day. “My friends and I were obsessed with Melee all through college. We played it so much the game congratulated us for playing 5999 matches! It’s safe to say we got our money’s worth.” – Randomly Retro
Wendell Hicken | MS-DOS | 1991
Turn-based artillery games have been around since the days of teletype interfaces but in 1991 Wendell Hicken brought them into the modern age with Scorched Earth. Players take turns adjusting the angle and power of their shots, taking into account terrain and weather, in an attempt to annihilate their opponent with a variety of both conventional and unconventional ordinances. Deceptively simple yet deeply complex, it was also an incredibly addictive time waster and one of the most successful shareware games of its generation.
Mega Man X
Capcom | SNES | Jan. 1994
By its fifth installment the Mega Man series was starting to show its age. Capcom took note and revitalized the series for the SNES with a new protagonist in a new era. While it didn’t exactly innovate, there was no denying that X was a solid title with tight controls, bombastic boss fights, and a killer soundtrack. “Growing up on the NES I wasn’t a big Mega Man fan, but when X hit the scene I was hooked. The challenge was tough but enjoyable, and it fomented in me a unknown nostalgia for the older titles.” – Randomly Retro
Quake 3 Arena
id Software | PC, Linux | Dec. 1999
Quake and Quake II were fairly by the numbers campaign driven shooters, but with the third entry id decided to focus almost exclusively on producing a quality multiplayer title, and did they knock it out of the park! Quake 3 Arena standardized many features used by multiplayer shooters today and is still a staple in eSports tournaments including DreamHack, Electronic Sports World Cup, and Quakecon. Technically, it does have a single player “Story” mode but it’s nothing more than a series of challenge matches against an army of AI bots.
Silent Hill 2
Konami | PS2 | Sep. 2001
Many argue that Silent Hill 2 is the best that the franchise has to offer, and we would have to agree. Silent Hill 2 is a jarring and disorientating experience throughout – a truly unique blend of psychological horror that many games have sought to emulate since. Its unnerving gameplay is matched perfectly by its soundtrack which features one of the best title themes ever composed. “If you haven’t played Silent Hill 2 yet, it’s still just as enjoyable an experience today as it was 21 years ago. It’s a must play for any horror fan.” – HokPlays
Final Fantasy VIII
Squaresoft | PSX | Feb. 1999
Final Fantasy VII brought the vaunted series of JRPGs into the third dimension but was a relatively standard affair from a gameplay perspective. With Final Fantasy VIII Squaresoft decided to experiment. The story and setting, two aspects less favored by fans, are a bewildering series of plot twists set to a jarring backdrop of sci-fi and high fantasy that left many players confused. However, most can agree that the the Junction and Guardian Force systems were a radical departure to character development and combat, and were well received.
Tales of the Abyss
Namco | PS2 | Oct. 2006
With Tales of the Abyss Namco built the game from the ground up around free movement in combat. The Free Range Linear Motion Battle and Fonon Field systems added more complexity to the game’s combat by prioritizing character positioning and elemental alignments. Abyss was also well received for its characters and writing, typically not the series’ strongest elements. “The game stood out to me for its focus on each character’s development, especially the main character, Luke, when his actions have massive consequences.” – Nellielins
MicroProse | PC | Feb. 1996
Civilization was a ground breaking strategy game that helped cement the genre as one of the pillars of gaming. For the direct sequel MircoProse addressed many of the complaints while also expanding and improving on almost every facet that players loved about the first. The addition of forging diplomatic relations with rival civilizations added an extra layer of depth to matches. Additionally, Civilization II was visually a mammoth leap over its predecessor with a much cleaner isometric map with added detail.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Rocksteady Studios | 360, PS3, PC | Aug. 2009
Batman: Arkham Asylum’s development was a long and challenging affair, but it was well worth the wait. It showed that superhero games could be more than mindless, button mashing brawlers while also simultaneously being faithful to its source material. The works of Grant Morrison, Neal Adams, and Frank Miller heavily inspired Arkham Asylum’s narrative and design which included exploration, puzzle solving, stealth, and “Freeflow” combat, and featured the vocal talents of Batman: The Animated Series veterans Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Arleen Sorkin!
Street Fighter 2 Turbo
Capcom | Arcade, SNES, Genesis | Dec. 1992
Capcom’s classic series has always represented the apex of traditional fighting games. Each title has tweaked and polished the in-game mechanics while also boasting an array of memorable characters and stages. Though many versions of Street Fighter II graced the arcade and home consoles, Turbo is the best version of the game. As the name suggests, Turbo is a much faster fighter than the original and features better character balance and expanded move sets. “Turbo’s design has directly influenced nearly all fighting games since.” – HokPlays
Mega Man 3
Capcom | NES | Sep. 1990
Many regard Mega Man 2 as the best of the original series, but we’d have to disagree. The third entry is just better in every respect from the stage design to the robot masters and power ups, and a absolutely amazing soundtrack. Plus, being able to slide and use robo-companion Rush in certain levels added some extra challenge to the already maddeningly difficult platforming. Some say Mega Man 3 is too hard, but we say it’s a demanding but rewarding game that defined the term “NES Hard”. “Mega Man 3 was far too difficult for 6 year old me, but I loved it all the same.” – NivekViking
Mortal Kombat Trilogy
Avalanche/Point Of View | PSX, N64, Saturn, PC | Oct. 1996
The second update to Mortal Kombat 3, Trilogy took the already overstuffed Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and added more! The roster was expanded bringing back several fan favorites, almost all of the stages that had ever appeared in the series were playable, the new Aggressor bar mechanic was added, and Brutality finishers, now a series staple, made their debut. If you were a MK arcade fan back in 1996 and had only enough money for a single home console port, Mortal Kombat Trilogy was the sure bet bringing you the most bang for your buck.
Fallout: New Vegas
Obsidian Entertainment | 360, PS3, PC | Oct. 2010
With much of their staff neck deep developing the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Bethesda reached out to Obsidian for a followup to 2008’s Fallout 3. Founded by many of the series’ original developers they opted instead to reinvent and expand on elements of the first two titles while using the overall game design of the third. The result is what many consider to be one of the best entries in the series, particularly from a writing and quest design perspective. “It’s arguably the best game in the series, and it wasn’t even developed by Bethesda! Just play it, for goodness sake!” – GamingMule
Spyro the Dragon
Insomniac | PSX | Sep. 1998
Insomniac’s first venture, Disruptor, didn’t sell well but the critical concensus encouraged them enough to forge ahead with a new project, Spyro the Dragon. The complete polar opposite of its predecessor, Spyro was a cartoony, kid-friendly platformer, but don’t let that fool you. Sporting clever level design, impressive visuals, and a soundtrack composed by Stewart Copeland (former drummer of The Police) Spyro enamored critics and gamers alike. “The first game is the one I still hold in the highest regard, regardless of the frustration I felt over those racing mini games.” – Nellielins
Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness
Blizzard | PC, PSX, Saturn | Dec. 1995
Not wishing to waste any of the momentum from the success of Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, Blizzard plowed ahead with a direct sequel. Tides of Darkness is far and away the superior game with better unit and AI balance, more engaging mission structure, and the “Fog of War” that obscured map details until fully explored. Warcraft 2’s emphatic reception would catapult Blizzard into the pantheon of elite game developers and would at least in part spark the boom of RTS games players were treated to in the late 90s.
Toejam & Earl
Johnson Voorsanger Productions | Genesis | Oct. 1991
Do you like Roguelikes? No? Do you like Toejam & Earl? If the answer is ‘Yes’ then Johnson Voorsanger’s work here is done. Though it doesn’t look it, Toejam & Earl has all the hallmarks of the sub genre, albeit disguised by several layers of pop culture references, slapstick humor, and farcical gameplay elements all set to a thumping Funk-inspired soundtrack. While not a smashing commercial success, fan reception has elevated the titular funky-fresh aliens to cultural icons. “I never did rebuild the ship and escape as a kid, but 30 years later I sought my revenge.” – NivekViking
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Konami | NES | Jun. 1989
TMNT on the NES was one of the first game offerings based on the blockbuster franchise, and is viewed by many as a disappointment with most citing the level design and harsh difficulty as its biggest faults. Despite those grievances the game was a huge commercial success and helped spawn a whole slew of excellent Konami developed TMNT games that fed worldwide Turtlemania for nearly a decade. In hindsight, the critics may have been right. TMNT is unpolished and borderline unfair, but somehow it still burrowed its way into our hearts.
And that wraps up part two of our 100 Greatest Retro Video Games FYG spectacular! What timeless titles and genre defining classics will appear next? Tune in soon for part three of our list covering games #60-41! Once again, be sure to follow our contributors on Twitter and leave a comment! Until next time, geeks!