9 Best Retro Games that are Still Played by Millions

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Best Retro Games

If you are a video game fan, you have probably heard of retro games. It’s hard to exactly define what retro games are, but it’s safe to say that they are games released many years ago, all the way back to the early 80s, but still conquer many players today. But why does this happen?

Retro games are considered true relics of video game history. They carry a very strong emotional charge, as many people grew up playing these titles. In addition, they have simple and challenging gameplay, which makes them a lot of fun.

Nostalgia is a powerful feeling, and the worldwide electronic games market has embraced remakes for good. Like it or not, ​​looking for retro games in long-forgotten catalogs has become a very current trend and profitable for all producers and developers in the sector. 

It is not difficult to understand why older players, even having adopted new productions and consoles, still feel that twinge of nostalgia when turning on a retro console and playing again with that game that permeated their childhood.

With that in mind, we have created a list of the best retro games still played by millions. Check out our list below:

Crash Bandicoot 2

It was in 1996 that Crash Bandicoot was released by Naughty Dog, and its PlayStation debut was quite impressive. The 2015 Guinness World Records Gamers edition states that the first Crash game sold 6.820 million copies on that console alone. In the first Crash, the story was also quite simple, something to be expected in platform games released then. He had been created by the evil Doctor Neo Cortex and needed to save his girlfriend, the also marsupial Tawna, who had been kidnapped. 

Crash Bandicoot
Cover: Naughty Dog

Approved by audiences and critics, it was only a matter of time before Crash Bandicoot returned. Even when he returned, players worldwide learned what would become the franchise’s best-selling game on the first PlayStation – we’re talking about Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. 

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Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back 559 Reviews $10.23

All aspects of Crash are improved in the second game in the series. The mandatory stages of completing the game have been reduced to 25, but the look and controls have become much more interesting than the first game. In addition, adding a secret room with more stages and two hidden scenarios contributed to that much-missed conspiracy talk between players. 

In Crash’s second game, players met his younger sister, Coco, who would become a recurring character in all of the franchise’s successive titles. With the slightly larger cast and more cutscenes between levels, a cohesive narrative logic began to emerge in a more explicit and fun way. 

Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII

Loved by many and hated by others, Crisis Crore: Final Fantasy VII is a Final Fantasy 7 Compilation centerpiece. We are talking about a work that explores the past of key characters and gives us a better understanding of the conflict that Cloud Strife, Tifa Lockhart, and Barret Wallace faced in the RPG Squaresoft launched in 1997. 

Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII
Cover: Squaresoft

Initially released in 2007, Bottom Line Crisis is a prequel to Final Fantasy 7. In it, we follow Zack Fair, a member of the SOLDIERs and a key player in the events of the classic JRPG, in a story that forces him to grow up and become a hero.

At the start of Crisis Core, you will immediately notice its main change is visual. Square Enix has worked hard to make this re-release more than a resolution upgrade. It is by renewing all environments and character models so that it resembles the visual identity of the Final Fantasy VII Remake. 

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Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII - Sony PSP Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII – Sony PSP 837 Reviews $64.65Amazon Prime

Another part that has been improved is combat. The basics are the same as the original game, but control has been simplified, and new options have been added to make it less clumsy. The main change is that you can now access all Materia actions by pressing the left bumper with another button. On the other hand, the DMW system stops making such long interruptions of combat, which is no longer a nuisance, and the action becomes faster. With these tweaks, the JRPG has a more straightforward and accessible combat system, which is great considering what you’ll spend the most time doing.

Despite its improved visual section, it is still a game for PSP. It is to be expected since, after all, this is a remaster and not a remake.

Grand Theft Auto Vice City

Palm trees, neon colors, and the mafia. Released in 2002, Grand Theft Auto Vice City arouses nothing but nostalgia. In Vice City, we take on the role of Thomas Vercetti – better known as Tommy Vercetti. The Hawaiian shirt-wearing crook is a member of the Forelli family but has been in prison for 15 years. After his release, he is sent to Vice City by the head of the family, Sonny Forelli, to orchestrate a drug deal. However, Vercetti fails. An unknown group ambushes the squad, forcing Tommy to flee without money or drugs. Of course, Sonny doesn’t like that at all, and he sends Tommy off to get the money back.

GTA Vice City
Cover: RockstarGames

The gameplay of the retro version closely resembles its predecessor to keep the originality but with refinements that enhance the overall experience, such as the inclusion of motorbikes, helicopters, additional weapons, and the ability to purchase and upgrade properties. The cars and characters look more detailed, and the lighting effects work better than before. Thanks to neon lights, the city’s colorful image comes into its own, especially at night – it’s easy to overlook the fact that a high-rise building appears out of nowhere in the distance.

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Grand Theft Auto Vice City Grand Theft Auto Vice City 1,673 Reviews $33.50

Halo: Combat Evolved

When Halo: Combat Evolved (then simply titled Halo) was announced in 1999, Bungie was still an independent studio. The game was meanwhile developed as a real-time strategy game. Over time, however, the development team changed direction and made Halo a TPS whose lore was already very close to that of the final version. Later, Microsoft bought it and made the game an exclusive dedicated to its future first console. The studio, therefore, decided to rewrite Halo, which will thus become the first-person shooter we all know today.

Halo: Combat Evolved
Cover: Microsoft

As a sci-fi game, Halo: Combat Evolved’s story takes place in the future, in the 26th century. At that time, the human race is forced to colonize other planets to combat the overpopulation of the Earth. The player embodies Spartan John-117 (also known as Master Chief, about his rank), a genetically modified super-soldier who must fight against the Covenant. This intelligent extraterrestrial race has declared war on humanity. For this, he is notably accompanied by Cortana, an artificial intelligence from the vessel where the adventure begins: the Pillar of Autumn.

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Halo: Combat Evolved - Xbox (Renewed) Halo: Combat Evolved – Xbox (Renewed) 150 Reviews $22.68

Upon its release, the Bungie title met with worldwide success, both from a critical and commercial point of view. The renewed version offers extremely dynamic combat; the game particularly appeals to the variety of its arsenal, which mixes human firearms, alien weapons, explosives, and hand-to-hand combat. Another aspect of note is the impressive level of the AI ​​of the enemies and the richness of this universe.

Mega Man Legacy Collection 2

Released in 1987, Mega Man Legacy Collection managed to present the initial steps of the evolutionary chain of the series starring the little blue robot; the second part of the collection opened up the enormous leap of innovation that the franchise had in its first decade of life. Less than 10 years separate the release of the original 8-bit adventure from the character’s debut on the Super Nintendo. It is precisely this journey that served as a gateway to the 16-bit universe that opened the list of games in Mega Man Legacy Collection 2

Mega Man Legacy Collection
Cover: Capcom

In addition to the significant visual and sound advancement, compared to the previous collection, the gameplay progress is remarkable, with challenges that remain difficult but less punishing. There is also the influence of the X series, which had two chapters already released on the SNES when Mega Man 7 went on sale in 1995.

As a way to conquer space among the new generation players, the collection manages to masterfully fulfill its objective. So much so that between it and the previous one, the recommendation is that beginners opt for the second package. As for veterans, the release serves as a nostalgic tool that helps to relive the days of childhood adventures alongside the blue bomber. 

Check it out on Steam.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Launched in 1992, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 is the best-selling game on the Mega Drive, with more or less 6 million copies sold.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Cover: Mega Drive

The story begins with Sonic crash-landing his Tornado plane on West Side Island. After a few days, he realizes a two-tailed fox is following him. Sonic tries to run away, but the little fox spins its tail like a helicopter propeller until it catches up with him. Sonic, impressed by this skill, allows the fox to join him. This charismatic character was created in an internal contest by Yasushi Yamaguchi. After a few days, they hear an explosion in the center of the island. The forest had been destroyed, and robots were surrounding the area. Sonic already imagined that Dr Robotnik had returned and was seeking the power of the Chaos Emeralds to power the Egg of Death (Death EGG). 

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Sonic the Hedgehog 2 [Download] Sonic the Hedgehog 2 [Download] 14 Reviews

The graphics haven’t undergone major changes and continue with beautiful and colorful scenarios, just like the first Sonic video game from Mega. It is clear that there was a natural evolution of things; the level of detail is higher, the colors are more vivid, and the scenarios are more animated and full of effects, but all within the framework of a well-made continuation. The game’s stages underwent a drastic change in their count: in Sonic 1, the zones go up to Act 3, and in Sonic 2, they only go up to Act 2, but even so, the game didn’t get smaller, quite the contrary: the number of different zones is huge, and this decrease in total acts was made in favor of this massive variety of different scenarios. 

Super Mario Bros. 3

Released in 1988 in Japan and 1990 in the United States, Super Mario Bros. 3 came to recover the image of Nintendo, mainly in the West, after the fiasco of Super Mario Bros 2 that completely escaped the Mario theme (let’s face it, that wasn’t real Mario). And it did! Super Mario Bros 3 took the old Super Mario Bros. formula and greatly improved it. This made it one of the most exciting games of the franchise released to date.

Super Mario Bros. 3
Cover: NES

The story is more or less the same; the Mushroom World has been invaded by seven children of Bowser who have stolen the royal magic wands and turned each king into an animal. Your mission? Retrieve the wands and fix the mess, of course!

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Nintendo NES Game System with Super Mario Bros. 1, 2 & 3 Nintendo NES Game System with Super Mario Bros. 1, 2 & 3 368 Reviews $169.98Amazon Prime

For the first time, the map system was used in the franchise, which made the player much more comfortable in choosing which level to play (including many of them you can choose not to play). In addition, on these maps, you can find items stored in your inventory – a brilliant idea still used today. The immense amount of items available (perhaps the largest to date) is also a separate attraction.

Super Mario Bros. 3 managed to recover the shine of the franchise that was once erased by the controversial SMB2, so much so that it was listed in 2008 as one of the best-selling non-bundled games of all time.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Launched in a troubled time (much was speculated about the transition from 2D to 3D), Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a game that traveled back in time. Even today, it still receives criticism and is the subject of discussions, whether from fans or haters. The first version of “Ocarina of Time” or “OoT” came out in 1998. 

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Cover: NES

The game brought technological innovations that would be used in future games, such as the lock-on camera and context-sensitive action buttons. In addition to the innovations in the interface, which went from 2D to 3D, “OoT” combined gameplay elements, including a musical instrument. 

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The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D 2,504 Reviews $34.76Amazon Prime

The adventure of “Ocarina of Time” unfolds in the world of Hyrule, formed by a large central field, which links several specific areas, such as Lake Hylia, the Gorons mountains, and the village of Kakariko. It is an action/adventure mix with RPG and puzzle elements. The player has control of the classic character of the series, Link, where he will interact in a fully three-dimensional environment. Initially equipped with only a sword and a shield, he will find the most varied items throughout the game, such as bombs, projectile weapons, spells, and “useless” items. These last ones are useless to the hero but are essential for a side-quest that needs to exchange items and, ultimately, receive the reward: the biggest weapon in the game, the Biggoron Sword.

Mortal Kombat Armageddon

Mortal Kombat Armageddon was released in 2006 by Midway Games in conjunction with Just Games Interactive. In terms of plot, this game completes the old and main series of Mortal Kombat games that have been going on since MK1. There lived the god Argus, his wife, a sorceress, and part-time clairvoyant, Delia, who once had a vision of the destruction of all worlds when all the warriors from every world become so strong that their war among themselves will lead to this total Armageddon.

Mortal Kombat Armageddon
Cover: Midway Games

To avoid such consequences, Argus built a pyramid in the crater of Edenia, and Delia created the elemental fire. Then they sent their sons Taven and Daegon on a campaign, during which they will have to find their armor, one of which can kill all the warriors while others simply take away their strength. And the one who wins out of the two brothers and then defeats Blaze himself, will become the new defender of Edenia, deciding the fate of the warriors.

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Mortal Kombat Armageddon - PlayStation 2 Mortal Kombat Armageddon – PlayStation 2 991 Reviews $42.99Amazon Prime

A new feature of this game was the ability to make your fatalities, which are more like beating the enemy, followed by decapitation, chopping, or another method of killing. And in addition, if that’s not enough, Midway Games introduced a Motor Kombat mini-game into this game, which is supposedly a clone of Mario Kart, added an intelligent Conquest mode, which has now become a third-person action game, and not a tutorial like earlier versions. But the icing on the cake is the fighter creation mode, which allows you to create your character using pre-made elements from different parts of costumes and the like. In addition, you could assign your character different moves and prepare special attacks, including weapon styles.

Final Words

Retro games continue to captivate players worldwide due to their nostalgic appeal and status as cultural artifacts in video game history. Whether it’s revisiting beloved classics or discovering hidden gems from the past, the allure of retro games remains strong. My personal favorites are Super Mario Bros. 3 and Grand Theft Auto Vice City. So, dust off your old consoles or fire up an emulator because the magic of retro gaming awaits you!

For those of you looking for new stories to experience, check out the best story-driven games!

  • Talha Khalid
    Author
    Gaming enthusiast turned writer, weaving words to capture the essence of virtual worlds, while doubling as a full stack developer, crafting immersive experiences both in and out of code. I have also written for GoTeleport, InfluxDB, and… read more