After discussing those “classic” games which unfortunately don’t hold up, we’re flipping things on their head for this week’s proceedings; setting mere nostalgia aside, which old timers are just as great today as they were way back when?
Chris | Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is as good now as it was back in ‘92. Nostalgia might play a part in that statement, alongside the quality of life updates added when porting it to more modern systems, but the modest core mechanics are still smooth as butter.
There's an impressive amount of variety for a game with the simple goal of running from left to right, without dying along the way. Each zone offers different aesthetics, enemies and gameplay gimmicks, all rounded out with a unique boss battle. You may think that's a necessity to prevent things from going stale, but Pac-Man, Tetris and most current FPS games would beg to differ...
Its soundtrack is catchy to an unparalleled degree, so much so that the Casino Zone theme has been looping in my head since I started writing and will probably be the internal soundtrack to my life for at least the next few days (thanks for that, Sam).
Sonic 2 is perhaps the perfect sequel, and SEGA certainly haven’t bested it since.
James | Gunstar Heroes
Memorable moments, innovation and the legacy left behind are what I’d say lead to a game making its mark on history. You could argue that Gunstar Heroes has none of these things, and yet it still makes the grade through sheer force of will.
It holds up so well not only because the weapon combination mechanic gives you an incredible ten different firearms to play with from just a few elements, but also because of its good humour and excellent 16-bit graphics, which are a masterful example of how art style can help a game to achieve its maximum potential.
Gunstar was playable all the way through in co-op as well (the second player didn't even have to control a useless waste of space like Tails in Sonic 2), making it far more palatable than influences like Contra and Mega Man. Its frantic, exciting brand of gameplay even went on to inspire future classics like Cuphead.
On top of all that, there are some really memorable boss encounters (Curry and Rice, anyone?) which don’t quite match the rogues gallery of firm personal favourite Streets of Rage 2, but offered far more varied gameplay as you were forced to switch up your weapons to counter them. Also, at the end you have to fight some Infinity Stones AND a robot! What's not to like?
Liam | The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
A Link to the Past was the first Zelda game I ever played, and I have many fond memories of exploring Hyrule and fighting the legions of colourful enemies which call it home.
I’ll admit, I was a little concerned when booting up my SNES Mini two summers ago that the game wouldn’t hold up by today's standards, but luckily my worries proved to be unfounded, as A Link to the Past is as thoroughly enjoyable now as it was all those years ago.
The controls may feel a touch clunky compared to more modern Zelda titles, and there’s the occasional cheap death as you struggle to find the right angle to take to on incoming enemies, but apart from that the presentation and overall fun factor remain top notch.
While the scope of modern games has come on leaps and bounds since the early 90’s, if A Link to the Past was released in its current state today, it'd genuinely stand toe-to-toe with some of the industry’s best and brightest.
Rob | Super Mario Land
You don’t need a particularly keen eye to notice that many of Team PTC have opted for platformers, such is their timeless nature. Throwing forethought to the breeze, I’ll be playing the role of maverick, and thus selecting something from right-pitch: Super Mario Land...
SML (as I’ll be referring to it from now on) had a humongous impact on my gaming life, as it was one of the very first games I chowed down on, just the odd 24 years ago now.
Picture this scene if you will, chums: 7-year-old Bobby ‘ere (wearing a Worldwide Fund for Nature T-shirt) is very kindly gifted a glorious grey Game Boy by his fair Ma and Pa, complete with Tetris and a date with our mustachioed plumber.
Like every other child, man or beast that owned that little bundle, I went to work on creating the great battery shortage of 1994/5. Everything about SML had me hooked: the simple controls; the handheld benchmark in platforming; the amusing scenes at the end of every world, as the Princess morphed into a another baddie; the joyous shoot-‘em-up levels; and the utterly charming graphics and sound.
I’ve played almost every Mario game since, but really haven’t enjoyed any of them as much as that first hit. If you’ve got a 3DS/2DS/whatever-the-heck-they’re-calling-‘em-now-DS, hit up the Virtual Console and you won’t be disappointed.
Which classic game can't you get enough of? Let us know in the comments below.