The funny thing about retro games is that a lot of people believe that the latest technology is always the greatest. Whether you’re into first-person shooters or open-world adventures, the conventional wisdom is that the more realistic the graphics of a game title, the more gamers would enjoy it.
This is true up to a certain point because you finally find yourself in a place where, when it comes to graphics realism, all game titles are the same. They use the same graphics rendering technology, and they have the same interactive functions. It’s going to be very hard to tell them apart.
We have finally reached that point because both PC gaming and console game hardware technology have made rendering images to a high degree of photorealism not only cheap but commonplace.
It doesn’t come as a shock that, given the state of video game technologies, a lot of gaming fans are turning to retro console games. These are games that are 8-bit and 16-bit titles. Now that we have 64-bit technology, 8-bit and 16-bit titles look very dated.
But far from being marks of graphics inferiority, these are precisely the reasons why a lot of people who are looking to simply take a break from today’s hottest and best games have fallen in love with retro games.
In terms of gameplay mechanics, retro games are much simpler to play because there’s less processing power involved. They have to be simple and stripped down.
Here is my shortlist of the top 15 retro console games that gamers simply can’t get enough of. Keep in mind that this is just a shortlist. If you were to do a survey of players of retro console games, the list would probably be endless. There’s a lot to get excited about.
Super Mario Brothers 3
Native to the NES or Nintendo Entertainment System, the original Super Mario Brothers 3 was released in 1993. It spawned other classics like Super Mario All-Stars and, of course, Super Mario World.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
This is – hands down – one of the most nostalgic video game console titles out there. Originally released in 1992, it features epic quests with surprises, lots of twists and turns, and – of course – secrets.
If you’re looking to explore and you’re a fairly casual gamer, this game has everything you need. It has lots of light and dark worlds. There’s something in it for everybody.
In fact, if you were to ask a hardcore gamer today who has played this game in the past, a lot of them would have fond memories. No wonder this continues to be one of the most popular retro game console titles available for download, hands down.
While Tetris has been around for quite some time, its Nintendo GameBoy version has made quite a bit of fans. There’s just something about arranging a group of colored blocks and pressing a button to speed up the completion of the blocks that make for a great and entertaining way to kill time.
Street Fighter 2 Turbo
Street Fighter began life as an arcade game. In fact, it became such a big hit that it quickly got converted into a console game. You can easily set up a fight between you and your buddy. It also makes for a great spectator sport as the rest of your friends gather around as you and your opponent try to kick each other’s butts using a wide range of characters.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
While the SEGA platform is no longer around, its intellectual property Sonic is still pretty much all the rage. You only need to look at all the memes based on Sonic to see this hedgehog character stay in power.
As far as the game that established Sonic, it has a lot to offer. It’s an adventure game with spectacular loops, corkscrews, and environmental tricks. It also features a wide range of characters. It definitely doesn’t get boring quickly.
Super Mario Kart
Originally released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1992, this is a racing game with Mario characters. You can switch from character to character and car to car. Its easy mix and match customization, as well as its short games through different terrains, make it one of the most popular console games still available for download.
This is the grandpa of all retro games out there. If you truly want to go old school, you might want to check out this title that was released way back in 1981. It is a combination of both action- and puzzle-type games.
This was originally an arcade game released in the mid-80s. It is a racing game with a high-end car, and it feels like you’re going on a US road trip.
Now, we’re going really old school. If you ask what Space Invaders is to somebody who was born after 1990, you will draw a blank stare. But if you ask somebody who’s a baby boomer or born in a later generation after the boomers, a flash of nostalgia will come over their eyes.
This is, of course, one of the oldest games out there. It’s a fixed shooter game – very simplistic but also very addictive because of the aliens descending on you with lasers, and you get to rack up points.
Originally released in 1994 for the SNES or Super Nintendo Entertainment System, this is a 3D installment of the Metroid series. It’s an action-adventure game with 3D rendering.
Streets of Rage 2
This is a two-player game for the SEGA Mega Drive Console, and it features a side-scrolling layout where you beat up wave after wave of enemies. It’s a two-player game, and it was quite popular when it was first released. And it continues to have a long life way after the SEGA hardware platform went defunct.
Released in 1984 on the NES, you use a zapper to shoot ducks that appear on your screen. These ducks appear two or three at a time, and you receive points for shooting the ducks. Very simple, straightforward, and oh-so-addictive.
Released in 1985, this is based on an arcade game where you deliver newspapers along a street on your bicycle. The name of the game is to completely deliver all the newspapers to the right addresses while avoiding hazards on the road.
This is a different version of the original PacMan game. What made this 1982 version popular is that it’s much harder than the original PacMan. You actually had to have a decent strategy to do well in this game.
Released in 1985, this previously arcade-based game enables different players, playing in a multiplayer system, to finish a labyrinth level. This was quite the rage back in the day because this was the first arcade game that featured a multiplayer dungeon crawl. So if you’re a big World of Warcraft fan or any kind of MMORPG involving dungeons and many different players, a lot of that game design and technology DNA traces back to Gauntlet and earlier games.