#898 Playing old-school video games

If channel 3 doesn't work, try channel 4

If you’ve ever enjoyed some lazy afternoons just sitting on the rug, passing greasy controllers around, and occasionally blowing into the business end of a Nintendo cartridge, then you know what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the best old-school video games of all time. Here goes nothing:

13. Super Mario Bros 2. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who loved Mario 2 and those who hated it. If you hated it, you just couldn’t get past all the turnip-digging and carrot-tossing. If you loved it, you picked Princess, flew through all the levels, defeated all the egg-spitting ostrich bosses, dusted your palms together, and you called it a day. Of course, there was always that massive sense of disappointment when the end credits revealed that the entire game was just a dream Mario had one night. What a bummer.

12. Wolfenstein 3D. Wolfenstein really blew open the whole world of first-person shooters back in 1992. It was just you, a bunch of Nazis, and a maze of neverending hallways. Sounds scary, but you’d be fine as long as you ate enough turkey drumsticks before battling Robot Hitler. Mein leben!

11. Street Fighter 2. This game really evened the odds between the older brother, with the thick glasses and the calloused thumbs, and the kid sister, with the overalls and toothy aw-shucks grin. Because that kid sister, that Nintendo novice, that rookie who never played video games, well she could just go on a hot streak of straightup neverending E. Honda hundred-hand-slaps and there really wasn’t anything the older brother could do about it. Except possibly pull her hair until she started crying. Sorry, Nina.

10. Duck hunt. The great-great-grandfather of the Nintendo Wii would have to be Duck Hunt, where you used the plastic plugged-in gun to learn how to hunt. Now, who else walked right up the TV in frustration and killed every duck from two inches away? You practically had to when that invincible dog started laughing at you. There was no choice. Plus, how else could you train for clay shooting?

9. Bubble Bobble. An afternoon falling through the Bubble Bobble levels was like acid tripping for a six-year old. The music got wilder and wilder as you and a pal continuously slaughtered robots by suffocating them in your dangerous dinosaur-spewed bubbles and then eating their dead corpses which, after you popped them, magically turned into shiny pieces of fruit. Somehow this all made sense, too. We must’ve been high on Pixy Stix.

8. Pong. Distributed exclusively by Sears for $100 a pop during the 1975 Christmas season, Pong eventually burned its way into hearts and television screens across the world.

7. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out. Before rape, prison, and facial tattoos, Mike Tyson starred in an animated game for children. You played as Little Mac and worked your way up the circuit by pummeling boxers like Glass Joe, Bald Bull, Mr. Sandman, and eventually Mike Tyson himself. The characters were great and Mario even moonlighted as the referee here, once again showing his tremendous versatility and athleticism.

6. Sonic The Hedgehog. Sonic was a great game to play when you went over to your friend’s house and they had Sega instead of Nintendo. Why did they have Sega instead of Nintendo? Well, it was either for the sports games or the blood in Mortal Kombat, one of the two.

5. Tetris. If you were lucky, you could get away with telling your parents that Tetris was educational. It certainly looked like it was too, with all that falling geometry and the Kremlin backdrops. Though no one could really prove it, there sure was something suspiciously mathy about it. Of course, the greatest thing about Tetris was that you could just blame the game when you died. Those random shapes turned us all into hollow-eyed fatalists, left staring blankly into the television, shaking our heads and saying “I was just waiting for a line” over and over again.

4. Solitaire in Windows 3.0. Solitaire was that classic boring card game that you played by yourself when the boss wasn’t looking. It’s funny because almost everyone who finds it strangely addictive admits that it is in fact a completely terrible game. But it sure was a good way to teach your grandpa how to use a mouse.

3. Contra. Everyone talks about the famous Contra code that you entered during the startup screen to begin with 30 men but few people talk about how impossible this game was without the code. You had people shooting at you from all directions, you died after one bullet, and you started the game with only three lives. Even with the spray gun you probably only ran for about twenty seconds before getting shot and calling it quits. So basically, Contra taught us that bullets are really dangerous and that’s why cheating is important.

2. Super Mario Bros. There are so many memories from this instant classic, like the creepy music in World 1-2, the warp zone, the hammer brothers, the flying fish, and the first time you ever heard the phrase: “Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle!”

1. Super Mario Bros 3. Fred Savage helped Mario 3 launch to fame with the ninety-minute commercial known as The Wizard. Remember his catatonic little bro who just said ‘Cali-forn-yah’ the whole movie but eventually showed the world how to find the whistle? Yes, Mario 3 completely blew everything else away by introducing us to flying raccoons, angry suns, Tanooki and Frog suits, and that impossible Tube World. It was a larger than life video game that provided years of fun at birthday parties and sleepovers everywhere. For this last game, how about the original commercial instead of a clip? I believe it accurately captures how the world felt about this game.

Yes, playing old school video games was always a sure way to get sore thumbs, strained eyes, and a dry mouth. But would you trade anything for all those hours in front of the TV set exploring strange and exotic worlds with your friends? Yes, the sun would dip down, the lights would go off upstairs, the bowls of Doritos and cans of Pepsi would empty, but that bright, flickering light from the TV didn’t stop casting kaleidoscope shadows on the wide-eyed faces sitting three feet in front of them well into the night.

And those were some seriously good times, my friend.

Some seriously good times.

AWESOME!

Ah, memories

Photos from: here and here

155 Comments

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155 responses to “#898 Playing old-school video games

  1. You had me at blowing into the Nintendo cartridges. You could’ve ended the entry there, but no you did not.

    You included every single old school game I’ve played in the last few years. I was going to ask where Duck Hunt was, and then I decided to scroll upwards. Oh, the joys of reading a list backwards.

  2. I still have my original NES and my Sega Genesis. I don’t know why, because neither of them work anymore.

    This is why I love the Wii, though: I have downloaded all my favorite old school games from both systems and can play them any time I want. The best part is that I don’t have to lose my place in Mario and start all over if I have to go eat dinner and turn the system off!

  3. I’m pretty sure I spent at least 90% of 1994, playing solitaire on Windows 3.0, which as you can imagine, doesn’t leave much time for sleep.

  4. YEAH! Go old school gaming

  5. Megan

    Anyone remember the Game Genie for Nintendo? All gold and shiny and it came with that book of cheat codes…

  6. Ryan Buell

    Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, select, start! Can’t get it out of my head! AWESOME!

    • samuel

      ur right playing ninja gaiden today at lvl 6.3 on the new last lvl too easy for me i beat contra gonna try to be super c have fun

  7. Jen

    All listed were great, but you forgot ZELDA!!!

    (And if you want to get really old school, let’s talk Pac Man, Ms Pac Man, & Donkey Kong!) :-)

  8. Chris

    Yeah Zelda should be on that list. I would of added Doom to your list also. 3 Mario games and no Doom? Wolf may have started the FPS push but Doom made it huge. So I would have axed the Super Mario 2 (which camp am I in) and added Doom in the top 7. I also would have added Super Mario World instead of Mario 3. Even if Mario World is on the verge of being too new and stole a LOT from Mario 3.

    If I could expand the list to about 20: Starcraft, Diablo, SimCity, Zelda, Metroid, Tecmo Bowl and Zork would make my list.

  9. Just the pictures of them make me feel nostalgic..

  10. Jason

    One word: Galaga

  11. Dude wow.

    If you could have thrown in excite-bike in there.

    good list anywho!

  12. Chris

    Crap choice, where is Galaga, Doom Duke 3d ?

  13. who cares

    Thanks for ruining the ending to Mario 2, Doosh.

  14. Al K. Lloyd

    Great article, but no mention of emulators?

    Al

  15. Ahh, I hadn’t finished playing Mario Bros. 2! Now I know the ending! Crap.

  16. solrac924

    You left out Atari 2600 & commodore 64 games. Elite was awesome as well as the “Games” series by Epyx.

  17. not to forget, in no particular order: Beast and Stunt Car Racer for Amiga, Atari 400 Defender, Atari 2600 Adventure, Space Invaders, Asteroids, Combat, Pitfall, Rally Speedway, C-64 Impossible Mission, Space Invaders and Dungeon on the Commodore PET, original PC Doom, and Mortal Kombat 1 and 2 on Sega Genesis and or SNES plus Road Rash, Madden, PGA Golf.

  18. Opinionated

    where the hell is goldeneye for N64

  19. Hello how can anyone forget????
    M.U.L.E the best multi-player game ever!

  20. Mikey

    screw the contra code!!! original pwnage training right there

    same with galaga, which should be on that list.. does anyone know of an ending? or does it just get harder and more complicated infinately

  21. WebmastuhB

    You missed classic games from the 2600. You really can’t get more old school than that. Pitfall, Pitfall 2, Adventure, Raiders of the Lost Arc, Asteroids, Kaboom… I’m sure there are others.

  22. minapan

    seriously, pong and windows solitaire? and a super nes game too, lack of consistency = FAIL

  23. Andy

    I would like to point out that Super Mario Bros 2 was actually a rip-off of another Japanese game. All they really changed was the title and the character graphics. It is technically not a Mario Game. Find out more from the Angry Nintendo Nerd on youtube.

  24. Pingback: ArcadeMojo.com » Top 13 Old School Video Games

  25. beauxcphus

    Dont forget the X-Wing and Tie Fighter series – I recently got that working on my Vista machine with updated 3D hardware acceleration support.

    no other movie game ties in as well. It is fun to see the same sort of energy management system used by Anakin on his pod racer in episode 1 that is used in this game.

    still the best star wars experience.

    -Beaux

  26. Daniel

    Nice list, but where the hell is Zelda?!

  27. Anon

    Wow, who knew everyone would have a different list?

    It’s almost like our experiences differ slightly!

  28. art

    Tecmo Bowl, by far belongs in the Top 10…

  29. Art

    Tecmo Bowl, by far belongs in the Top 10…

    HM: Blades of Steel

  30. Wow. Incredible list. I agree with nearly everything, except I would’ve ranked Punch-out higher and I wouldn’t have put Super Mario Bros. 2 on the list at all. It is the worst game ever . . . even with the princess.

    Caleb
    http://www.mefinanciallyfree.blogspot.com

  31. pin2d2

    I believe Solitaire doesn’t belong to this selected group.

    Spy vs Spy for Commodore 64 is missing here

  32. Graham

    Where are Bionic Commando and Duke Nukem?

  33. Neko

    Article made no mention of “Zombies Ate My Neighbors”

  34. gh0st

    Ok…if by “old school” you mean “old school compared to the new ‘live’ kiddies who have no clew what a raster graphic is…” than, well done!

    However, if by old school you meant, “the first true ones that started it all…” than, epic, epic fail.

    The NES is not, nor never was “old school”. Maybe “older school” perhaps, but no, oh no. Go to Wiki. First, become aware of the fact that there were several decades that happened before the 90s. To have a list “old school video games” that does not have the C64 is to create a list that is utterly without merit. I want even go REAL old school on yah and talk about the Apple IIe.

    And I will give you that the C64 crowd was perhaps a bit more ‘fringe’ (whatever) but than you completely skip over the Atari 2600???!?!

    Fail, fail, faaaaaaaaaail!

  35. Well written… I dont normally leave comments but I owe the author this much.

    Very well written indeed!

    -Chas3R.

  36. quickness

    Hmm Pretty good list bro. It’s so true about mario 2; you love it or you hate it.

    You all ever played abadox, it’s a really good shooter.
    Here you can play it in your browser here.

    There’s also a few other games playable in your browser at romsdb.com look on the left side for “nes browser roms”.

    I really enjoy abadox, it’s one of those lost gems. For a shooter anyway.

  37. also
    Star Raiders for Atari 8bit

    Archon, Karataka, Jumpman, Summer Games, Winter Games, Pitstop ][, Commando for the C-64

    Arkanoid, Bomberman, Battle Squadon for Amiga

  38. Joseph Grabko

    Um, you can’t have an old-school game list without mentioning Gradius. Science has proven it.

  39. Come to think of it, I played Solitaire for years without enjoyment. And Super Mario Bros. always creeped me out.

  40. Jess Wright

    OMG I remember spending HOURS playing Wolfenstien (and half the others you list). Boy, those were the days!

    Jess
    http://www.anolite.echoz.com

  41. You young whipper-snappers. Give me the old Atari 2600 with the joy stick and one button that cramped your thumb if you played too long.

  42. Sal

    HAHA… WHAT A LIST — OUSTANDING…
    I would have included
    DONKEY KONG
    POLE POSITION and
    PAPER BOY

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  44. Sal

    Why 13….most people make lists of either the TOP 10 or Top 1000!! haha.. 13, thats weird

  45. I played most of the games mentioned in the list. They were awesome. And I agree, there was no getting through Contra without that cheat code.

    And I remember liking Street Fighter because I could hold my own against my friends.

  46. Pingback: GoNintendo » Blog Archive » Top 13 old-school games- What are you waiting for?

  47. after Wolfenstein I never looked back, first person shooooot’em up is the thing for me…

  48. Agostino

    I love this post… you are not from planet earth if you can’t relate. So many other good games mentioned on the comments — makes we want to take a week off work and play.

    Here’s one that would be on my list — before Madden monopolized video football —
    Tecmo Bowl

    Awesome!

  49. Agostino

    ART… I just read your Tecmo Bowl… so good you wrote it twice. I am with you all the way on that!

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