#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. Goo

    Contra can be beaten without the code. In fact it can be beaten without getting shot…

  2. OP, I want to have your children.

  3. this list feels like ” o, i need to make every one happy when they read this, so ill put EVERY game in”
    and 2X Mario ,its like saying: Half life 2 is the best game for this time, and on number 2 is half fife episode 1, and on 3 is episode 2, number 4 is portal, and 5 is world of warcraft….

    but a good read, just not the best list of old games i have seen.

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  5. pabvlaki

    I still play bubble bobble, thank god my NES still works and i still have all my games!

    But why a top 13? what made you stop at 13? or not stop at 10, or 5. Seems odd, you could have added Megaman 2! or Kid Icarus! or EXCITE BIKE!!

  6. pong and wolfenstein. So much time wasted that I will never get back.

  7. I would have to agree with some of the comments here, where’s Zelda? Other than that the list is spot on.

  8. ontariobusiness

    oh wow….Wolfenstein……feels like yesterday!!!

  9. homelessgirl

    omy god when you described the sreetfighter thing thats exactly what happened with my older brother, except the hurting part.
    i had Mario as well. My console was a Nintendo 16 and I still have it.

  10. Ammi

    Ahhh I can’t believe you didn’t include _______

  11. Dan

    With regard to the old-school-ness I’d say it’d be for someone around my age group (20s) because these are the games I would place in the old school category.

    However, to not see Oregon Trail on here is a bit of a disappointment. We’re all entitled to our own opinions, sure, but you can’t tell me you didn’t spend all day trying to ford that dang river…and proceed to kill the kids…

    And unnecessarily hunt for food for most of the game.

  12. I don’t know what this Tetris thing is you speak of, I do remember playing a game called NYET looking very similar.

    Anyone else remember the Sinclair Z80? I don’t remember any great games on it… not even Zork.

  13. Pingback: 13 Best Old School Video Games « irrevocable stuff

  14. Blowing in the cartridges works ok, but if your really having trouble you got to get dirty and lick it, works like a charm.

  15. Ah, Wolfenstein…the glorius days before political correctness.

    I also enjoyed (on DOS):

    Jetpak
    Duke Nukem
    Jill of the Jungle 1, 2 & 3
    Cosmo 3
    Commander Keen
    Crystal Caves
    Hocus Pocus

  16. I’m in the Love SM2 Camp, and Yes, I was the Princess. You got me. :-P

  17. ilves

    Bubble bobble?? I LOOVED BUBBLE BOBBLE.

  18. Yes, I remember those days. I spent many hours playing my atari. I think I played it so much that it stopped working. Those were the days.

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  20. GovContractor

    Two Words… Lode Runner

  21. Fairly obvious list, but awesome nonetheless. :)

    Big fan of Street Fighter, would’ve like to see that higher, but dammit SMB 3 is a good choice for a great game :)

  22. Pingback: 13 Best Old School Video Games | InverseFlux: The Blog 3.0

  23. Yes! Mike Tyson’s Knock Out.

    I loved that game. I can still remember Glass Joe and that stupid German boxer guy. (Those are the only 2 levels I could pass)

    Glad you’ve got this blog – tis’ sweet!

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  26. you can buy all these great nes nintendo games here http://www.nintendosforsale.com Refurbished and cleaned.

  27. David

    no mention of battletoads yet?

  28. kimlno

    No Centipede? Dig Dug? Tempest? Frogger?

  29. Freddo

    Dude?

    What about Octobots? or Shooter Killer 3?

    How could you possibly forget Smash Dash? Everyone knows that game was the best!

    Also, you’re an idiot for excluding Atmospheer! And Turblox?

    I would’ve let you off the hook for those, but epic, EPIC fail for forgetting Centimax Blaster!

    LAME!

  30. jdurley

    Ya, this post was totally

    LAME.

  31. OMG! That totally brought back so many memories from back in the day!

  32. areyoufuckingmad

    SF2 biggest arcade seller ever ranked below duck hunt? grow a brain

  33. Sing it with me…

    Every blip is a ship on an A-LE-IN trip
    Yar’s Revenge; it’s a game from Atari
    Have you played Atari today?

  34. dwight605

    I love the old school games but I hate trying to find them. In my search RomsHQ.com is the best I found and is really easy to use but some of the sites like theoldcomputer.com have a larger selection if you can it.

  35. PMedGuy

    Where’s Asteroids? You gotta have Asteroids on this list. You don’t even have Pac Man on this list!!!

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  37. Andrew

    WHY DOES EVERYONE FORGET THE NES MASTERPIECE CASTLEVANIA?

    Great game, big challenge, catchy score, brilliant graphics, creepy story.

    Castlevania II sucked kind of, but 1 and 3 define my young life.

  38. I love this website!!

    Have you ever played the Ultima 2 computer game called Savage Empire?? It’s so rad that I made a whole website to it.

    http://www.savageempire.blogspot.com

  39. I loved the old Sega games. Outrun and Hang On were some of the best. I miss the Sega Genesis. I wish they would make it again.

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  42. james

    excellent article! i was gonna wail “OMG U LEFT OUT ________!!!!!1! U FIAL! LIST UNCOMPLEET! U SUK!” and i wouldve put Oregon Trail in the blank, but i see you got plenty of that already… dont wanna over do it…

    also, since this is such a good article, and such a good blog all around, i give you:

    nintendo8.com
    c64s.com
    gbemul.com
    mastersystem8.com
    dosdose.com

    that should take up a few weeks of your time

  43. Riku

    Now you made me want to play old school video games, with old school 8-bit Nintendo.
    You bastard.

  44. chopsway

    NHL 94 or 95 ( i can’t remember) . Fighting, blood on the ice and scoring on every one timer.

  45. Link

    This is another vote for Zelda…that game is SOLID

    keep up the great work!

  46. gud job buddy……. u remained me my school times.

  47. WarDragon

    Like said before, Zelda should have been in it, but on the other hand, it would be hard to choose one.

    Also, yeah, Mario 2 is a hack of Doki Doki Panic.

    Awesome blog

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