Games are an interesting medium in that unlike (for example) literature, the advances of technology have rapidly changed what it’s possible to do in a game. But that doesn’t mean that the newest games are necessarily the best! There are plenty of old games that are still totally worth playing, so we ask you: not including games you just play for nostalgia, what games from before the year 2000 are still worth playing?
Charlie: Crash Bandicoot: Warped. The Crash Bandicoot series holds up remarkably well given its age, probably because the cartoony art style didn’t call for much graphical processing power to begin with. And while sure, it’s not as pretty as a newer platformer like Little Big Planet, Warped is one of the best platforming games of all time thanks to its unique art design, clever gameplay variations, and finely-tuned controls. My brothers and I still play it whenever we’re together, and it’s not really because of the nostalgia. Even 15 years later, Warped is still one of the most fun 3D platformers I’ve ever laid my hands on, and I don’t plan to stop playing anytime soon.
Mary-Anne: Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!. I don’t know about all that fancy-schmancy Skylanders stuff going on now, but the old-fashioned platforming Spyro was where it’s at! Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage was the second game in the series and had an overhaul when compared to the first. It played better, it looked better, and it had memorable NPCs and well-designed levels. It was a platformer that was tough enough to be challenging, that had worlds designed to evoke the completionist in you, and god damn it it gave me the best boss fight I’ve ever fought. It also had a truckload of content since there were three main bosses to defeat, which is more than I can say for a lot of newer games.
Chris: King’s Quest 6: Heir Today Gone Tomorrow As a kid I loved the point-and-click adventure series King’s Quest. King’s Quest games were known for their puzzles and puns, which I loved, but King’s Quest 6 included a really well put together story that even included multiple endings that changed based on what decisions you made in the game. For a PC game made in 1992, that’s pretty impressive. The visuals may seem a bit dated now, but the puzzles, jokes, and story surely will stand the test of time. If you get the chance, check out King’s Quest 6.
Xairylle: Contra. This is a game I plan on letting my future kids play. Way before the realistic shooting games and action RPGs that we have now, Contra was one of the games what could make you understand what it means to dodge desperately. The story about fighting alien invaders is something you might consider common, but the gameplay is what you’re after. You need to deduce patterns and decide on which kind of ammunition to use as quickly as possible because everything is after you. Contra was and still is challenging not only because of the projectiles, enemies, and obstacles that are all out to get you, but also because you are forced to play the game in different views. I mean, after getting used to nothing but seeing your character in profile, you’re suddenly forced to play from bird’s eye view. It was annoying and frustrating, but also so challenging that I couldn’t stop playing. Oh, and did I mention that the Konami code works for this?
Iain: Planescape: Torment is the best game ever. Ever. It’s almost impossible to express the majesty of Torment in a few short sentences but I’m going to give it a go. It has the best plot of any video game ever and I don’t feel I am overstating my case when I say that Torment should be considered literature. The writing is tight and interesting, the characters are unique, disturbing and thought provoking and the them of “what can change the nature of man?” has haunted me for 15 years.
Torment also contains some of the best locations in the history of gaming. Sigel: the city of doors, The Brothel of Slating Intellectual Lust, and the maze that you can be imprisoned in for making fun of a ragdoll are all as awesome as they sound. They are so well-designed and scripted that I can’t help but smile whenever I think of them.
I can’t even begin to explain how cool the Nameless One is or how much fun it is to find out the mysteries of his past. Any character who willingly allows himself to be disemboweled just to see if his stomach contains any hidden items is a winner in my book!
David: Pokemon Yellow was the first colored Pokemon game. Your character followed the story of Ash Ketchum and received a Pikachu for his first pokemon. Not only did you have an extremely annoying rival (hi Gary, I’m talking to you), you could catch all three legendary bird pokemons! If you’re a fan of the Pokemon games and haven’t played Pokemon Yellow, you should definitely look into it.
How about you? Set your nostalgia aside for a moment—what old games are really still worth playing today?