The video game industry is going through a golden age. There have never been so many great games and the quality seems to be getter better and better every year.
The problem is I'm getting older.
I don't have the free time anymore to invest 200+ hours into a modern game.
If you're like me, sometimes you just want to plug in an old classic. Something that you know and love. Something that doesn't ask more than an hour of your time to enjoy and has stood the test of time.
Luckily with the vast array of emulators out there and even better remakes! Most of these old classics are available to you on your computer or smartphone.
I have compiled a list of my favorite classic games to play.
This list is by no means definitive, but I have personally replayed each of these games in the past year, and the magic is still there for each one...
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
No list could be complete for me without this game. This is the one that started it all, The first truly immersive game with an epic storyline to go with it.
I still remember seeing this game playing at a store when I was a child and almost crying when my parents bought it for me for Christmas. We were not a wealthy family and this was just the ultimate gift.
Ocarina of Time introduced a huge number of conventions taken for granted in the rest of the franchise. As well as in a lot of other titles for that matter. Some of these include target lock and context-sensitive buttons.
Seeing the world of Hyrule rendered in 3D for the first time was something else too. I will never forget the sense of grandeur running out into Hyrule Field for the first time.
If all that wasn't enough, the storyline is utterly captivating. Even today it draws you in the same way it did 20 years ago.
Super Mario Bros. (NES)
Probably one of the definitive moments of Nintendo's history.
Super Mario Bros. was the perfect follow-up to the original Donkey Kong. Expanding the platforming elements of DK, Super Mario left players pleasantly surprised.
Various power-ups, combo move options, and secret warps made this more than another side-scrolling adventure. The deceptively simple controls and deep story (for the time) make this probably the most important Nintendo game ever made.
I don't know anyone who wouldn't enjoy a couple of hours re-immersing themselves in the original game.
Pokemon Blue and Red (Gameboy)
Entire friendships of mine are solely based on this game.
Released near the end of the original 8-bit monochrome game boy's life. Pokemon Red and Blue breathed new life into the console.
Every other person was playing this game, and finding out someone had a link cable to transfer pokemon? literal game-changer. You were the coolest kid on the block.
Although later releases were ultimately better, this game is still charming and worth a revisit if only see how the series started.
Pokemon Gold and Silver (Gameboy)
The second generation of Pokemon games not only left the original games in the dust. The game was so polished, it seems every game afterward was just a recycling of these original masterpieces.
With a more compelling story, tougher matches, and an infinitely larger world to explore, it was possible to lose yourself for hours.
The day and night option had coming back to see what might have changed. The real icing on the cake was being able to return to the original Kanto region and face against the original protagonist Red.
I still get goose-bumps remembering the first time I saw him...
The Secret of Monkey Island (DOS/PC)
When I talk to my friends about this game, no-one seems to know what I'm talking about.
Maybe because it was originally made for DOS (yes I'm that old) or because it's a point-and-click adventure. Either way, this game is in my all-time favorites for just relaxing and enjoying a laugh.
Made by George Lucas' LucasArts company. This Adventure follows the inept Guybrush Threepwood as he tries to become a pirate. Hilarious dialogue and characters combine to figure out the answer to the Secret of Monkey Island.
This game spawned many sequels well into the 2000s but this is still my favorite version due to the originality.
GoldenEye 007 (N64)
This game changed everything for first-person shooters. The first shooter with an outstanding storyline, perfect music, and amazing realism for the time.
The real magic of GoldenEye of course is multiplayer. Only one other game got my friends and me excited to beat each other. The idea of shooting each other instead of stupid and predictable AI was first fully realized in this game. What's more, this was the first mature Nintendo game, something you could talk about and be "cool" about.
Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings (PC)
Another one of those games that everyone seemed to have played as a child. One of the all-time classic real-time strategy games ever.
No-one could have predicted just how enjoyable building your cities and defending them could be. With multiple historical civilizations to play and impressive AI, this game was pure addiction.
There were sequels to this game but they didn't capture the same magic as this game. If something was to lure me away from mac it would be to replay this gem.
Diablo II (PC)
The Diablo series is probably one of the most well-known series on PC. Although there are 3 games in the series, Diablo II is the best of the bunch.
This game carried on the story from the original game and took it to even darker and sinister directions. The story is completely engrossing and the ending is badass.
Although the graphics aren't as impressive as Diablo 3, it isn't dragged down by auction houses and an overdrawn storyline.
Adding the expansion pack just adds to this epic game with an extra act and more badass classes.
If you are in the mood to kill hordes of hellspawn for a couple of hours, this is your game.
The Oregon Trail (DOS/PC)
Now, this is a game dragged from the depths of the video game vaults. Released in 1974 this game was designed to teach children the realities of pioneer life on the famous Oregon Trail.
What was designed to be educational, ended up being one of the most brutally difficult games of my early childhood? One small mistake could mean the injury of a party member or worse death for the whole group.
Navigating river crossings while trying to hunt and provide for your fellow pioneers, all while everyone seems to try their hardest to die? I'm getting frustrated just thinking about it.
After all that hard work, if you survive, you are awarded points based on your chosen profession and decisions along the trail. The pride of finishing the game could be quickly staled by finding out your best friend got double your high score.
Not a game for everyone, but if you feel up to the challenge of The Oregon Trai, it's worth a try.