Help me fill in the gaps of my gaming history.
May 1, 2007 7:10 PM   Subscribe

GamingFilter: I've pretty much only played recent games, and maybe a handful from way back. What classic games did I miss out on, from gaming's sixth generation and further back?

I was brought up overseas (typical expat child), and didn't get to game too much due to the costs of importing games and magazines from the US. I did, however, have a NES clone called the Micro Genius, and a quite possibly pirated cartridge containing 100 games on them: Karateka, Bomberman, Soccer, etc. Also spent many happy hours with Chrono Trigger and Super Mario RPG on the SNES; shooting it up on Counter-Strike; zerging it up on Starcraft; waiting an hour for Warcraft 2 to complete installing on the family PC. But that's about all there is to my gaming childhood.

Now that I'm back in the States, I'm nicely caught up in gaming's seventh generation with the Wii, PS3, World of Warcrack, etc. However, I do get a little lost when my friends reminisce about games they grew up with. There's talk about Math Busters, Carmen Sandiego, Oregon Trail, Monkey Island, Amazon: Guardians of Eden, to various fighting games, Dreamcast, PSOne, GameCube, and so on. Wha-? I completely missed out on this part.

I'd like to explore this gaming past that I missed out on - and I have the spare time for it! I'm not doing this just so I can hold my own in conversations, I'd really like to try out these games that others so fondly talk about. (I don't really care to try out Math Busters, though!) I check out games as I hear them mentioned in conversations, but surely there are more classics out there. I do trawl, but sometimes it's hard to pick what to play!

Any suggestions on what games I should check out (any system), or at the very least, read about?
posted by Xere to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (40 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Now THIS is a subject where I can lend a hand:

(Keeping this to console)

Fighting genre:

Street Fighter 2
Mortal Kombat 1 and 2
Tekken 3

To a lesser degree, maybe Killer Instinct, but not as much as the above.


Final Fantasy 7
Legend of Zelda (Original NES)
Legend of Zelda: A link to the past (SNES)

.. I've gotta be missing some from here


The leaders back then are still the leaders now.

Pick up old Madden's for football, Need for Speeds and Gran Turismo's for racing, etc.

One you NEED to play for basketball is NBA JAM. Probably the most fun basketball game ever made.


Some of these spill into PC

Duke Nukem 3D
Doom 2
Quake 1-3
Unreal Tournament

You've got counter-strike already listed so that's a plus

Someone else can help with the action based ones, my brain is shorting out on those.

Most of the above games other than specifically PC or NES can be acquired for the PS2.
posted by Industrial PhD at 7:22 PM on May 1, 2007

The original Diablo.
Super Castlevania on SNES
Draxula X: Chi no Rondo on PCEngine
Super Metroid on SNES
DoDonPachi on MAME
posted by PowerCat at 7:30 PM on May 1, 2007

I like this thread. There was the whole Myth series back in the day. It was pretty cool.

And Carmen Sandiago was the best game ever...

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiago (in Rockapella voice)
posted by jourman2 at 7:33 PM on May 1, 2007

Here's a way to learn more about older games.
Go to, go to Systems.
Browse the older systems and look at the message board, what people are saying, the games that are in the top list, etc.
Go to abandonware sites and look for ratings, other hints to indicate popularity.
The goal is to play the most games you can in the least amount of time, so play as many of them as you can.
Search for torrent of roms for older consoles, just play them randomly. You can even find torrents of abandonware packs.

Good playing!
posted by PowerCat at 7:36 PM on May 1, 2007

And by Myth, I mean Myst. Myst was cool. I never played Myth. It could be cool though.

Myst was for the geeky puzzle solving geeks...

like me
posted by jourman2 at 7:38 PM on May 1, 2007

Sierra's various early Quests (Space Quest, Hero's Quest/Quest for Glory, King's Quest) leap to mind first. I never played any of King's, but though it's been nearly a decade since I've played any video game that didn't start with the word "Half," I still get nostalgic for the first Hero's Quest occasionally. It was beautiful. PC. (Some of the Quests were reissued, I believe - look for the originals).

I second Super Metroid (SNES), both the original Dooms (PC), and Myst (PC).

The first Wing Commander was pretty neat, too; I never played any of the sequels. PC.

Oh, and, nitpick: Zelda wasn't an RPG, it was an action/adventure game. The greatest action/adventure game ever made.
posted by poweredbybeard at 7:44 PM on May 1, 2007

Fighting Genre:

Soulcaliber - At the time of its release, the Dreamcast port was almost universally hailed as the best 3D fighting game ever released for a console.

Marvel vs. Capcom 2 - This game is almost certainly the pinnacle of Capcom's fighting franchise, and one of the best 2D fighters ever made. Ported to Dreamcast and probably other systems.

RPG Genre:

Seconding the recommendation of Zelda: LttP (SNES), but I would choose Final Fantasy X (PS2) over VII (PS1). Chrono Cross (PS1) was probably overrated a tad due to the Chronotrigger nostalgia factor, but it holds up better, in my opinion, than the horribly schizophrenic Final Fantasy IX.

Sports Genre:

Seconding the recommendation of Gran Turismo for car racing and Madden for football. The Tony Hawk series (you'll find at least one installment on every console from the PS1 on) is tops for skateboarding, SSX (I'm partial to On Tour, though most people prefer SSX 3) is tops for snowboarding... or any downhill sport, really. The NBA Street series is a nice elaboration on the themes of showmanship that NBA Jam started.


Deus Ex (PC) - Very satisfying, very replayable, and undoubtedly one of the most literate mass-market games ever developed. Pick up a used copy, or purchase via Sierra's Steam service.
posted by The Confessor at 7:47 PM on May 1, 2007

Oh, and if "sixth generation" means anything before PS3, then you simply must find a way to play Goldeneye (N64).

Aside from those, you're really not missing much except a lack of kissing and exercise. Go outside.
posted by poweredbybeard at 7:50 PM on May 1, 2007

I just started replaying fallout 2 on my mac and it's pretty great.
posted by frieze at 7:54 PM on May 1, 2007

Undoubtedly among the most original (and fun) games to have been released in the last five years:

• Katamari Damacy
• We ♥ Katamari
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:58 PM on May 1, 2007

Myst and Oregon Trail are definitly worth knowing about.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 7:58 PM on May 1, 2007

I think you would be VERY pleasantly surprised how the Dreamcast still holds up, in graphic quality as well as gameplay and number of good games available. I still have mine, and many of the games look about as good as my (non 360) XBox. Plus, the consoles are available for cheap, and they are very small.

For Dreamcast, I like any of the NFL2K series. Chu-Chu Rocket is a GREAT "party game" for 4 players. Basically any genre of game you might like is available on Dreamcast. Check out eBay, pawn shops, and GameStop.

Have fun!
posted by The Deej at 8:02 PM on May 1, 2007

I have a pretty high threshold for gaming goodness. I'm gonna say Sonic & Sonic 2, the first and second Micro Machines, Unreal Tournament, Unreal Tournament 2004, Doom III, Sim City 4, one of the Tekkens, and we're done.
posted by unSane at 8:19 PM on May 1, 2007

Oh man. I second the suggestion of Sierra's Quest series. They churned out a ton of these between 1985-1994. Quest for Glory was my personal favorite, followed by the Space Quest series. There's also Gabriel Knight- I've only played the first in the series, but it was really good.

In a similar vein, you can also try Lucasart's adventure games-- they were Sierra's main rivals, and I don't think they sold as well but their games were just as well-crafted and had its own distinct feel. Your friends remember Monkey Island (totally awesome), but also look for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Loom, Maniac Mansion, The Dig, Grim Fandango... I've also heard great things about Full Throttle and Sam & Max, but I haven't played those.

On 3D shooters - they tend to get much better as time goes on so there's not a huge reason to play the older ones, but for "educational purposes" you'll get your fair share of shooter history by checking out Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, Duke Nukem 3D, Hexen, Heretic, Quake... Someone else has already suggested Unreal Tournament, which is a little newer, and also Deus Ex, which is cool because it's got a real storyline. If you like shooters with stories, also check out No One Lives Forever.

Hmm. I could go on, but that's good enough for now. Enjoy :)
posted by lou at 8:20 PM on May 1, 2007

Sierra's various early Quests (Space Quest, Hero's Quest/Quest for Glory, King's Quest) leap to mind first. I never played any of King's, but though it's been nearly a decade since I've played any video game that didn't start with the word "Half," I still get nostalgic for the first Hero's Quest occasionally. It was beautiful. PC. (Some of the Quests were reissued, I believe - look for the originals).

And don't forget the Police Quest series.
posted by mmascolino at 8:23 PM on May 1, 2007

Oh - and you have played Half Life, right? Right?
posted by poweredbybeard at 8:34 PM on May 1, 2007

Three NES suggestions:
River City Ransom
Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode
Simon's Quest
posted by mattbucher at 8:36 PM on May 1, 2007

Seconding (or firsting):

Civilisation series (the quintessential god-game)
Katamari series (coolest new concept in ages)
Monkey Island series (funniest game I ever played)
Planescape: Torment (best roleplaying game I ever played)
Unreal Tournament (the quintessential multiplayer shooter)
posted by Paragon at 9:14 PM on May 1, 2007

Planescape: Torment (best roleplaying game I ever played)

The Baldurs Gate series is good stuff, too. Same game engine I believe.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 9:25 PM on May 1, 2007

I can always play Mega Man 2 for the NES. Something about the music (and the Metal Blade weapon).

Another good one is Pilotwings for the SNES. And Tetris Attack is fun to play against friends (or the high-level computer).
posted by homer2k1 at 9:36 PM on May 1, 2007

I just can't get a handle on the date range of games you're looking for. Many of the games you mention having played were popular at the same time as other games that you missed out on.

Given that, there are lists of the top 50 games of all time from GameSpy and 1UP, and no fewer than four top 100 lists from IGN. For my money, the 1UP list is the set that you minimally would have to know to call yourself "game literate", but there are a bunch of more recent games in the other lists that are also touchstones of game culture.
posted by jjg at 9:39 PM on May 1, 2007

I'm a borderline Nintendo fanboi, so I'll stick to what I know.

NES: If you're around my age (22), every game ever made for the NES was just plain fun. It is hands down the best console ever. Game makers were of course only concerned with fun games back then. That may not be accurate, but things you remember from before you were ten (which is how old I was for NES) or so are always good, unless they're bad, in which case they really sucked.

Here's what you might say in a conversation about game X for NES (again, this is if you're around my age or younger, or possibly slightly older):
Your Friend: Oh man, and remember game X
You: Oh yeah! I think I played that once. Was it the one where you're (mention a game character archetype, like warrior, ninja, amphibian of some sort, etc).
Your friend: Yeah. That one and (more details). Or, no, you're thinking of Y. X was the one where you were (archetype) and there were (enemies) and you're in (setting).
You: Oh yeah. I loved (detail). It wasn't overdone or anything. And they just focused on making good games then. I really miss the NES. I think nintendo has really gone back to trying to making gaming fun with the Wii. It will bring back the glory days of gaming.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 10:24 PM on May 1, 2007

Metroid Prime. It's like $4.99 at GameStop. It'll play on your Wii. Go get it now. I'll wait.
posted by aparrish at 11:34 PM on May 1, 2007

Early PC turn-based-strategy: Master of Orion and Master of Magic. Absolute musts. Civ II and Warcraft II are also classics, but I prefer the others.

NES: Super Mario 3 can't be missed. Tecmo Super Bowl is the greatest sports game ever made. Mike Tyson's Punch Out is another one that lots of people have major childhood memories of (often of frustration).

Really old school: Infocom text adventures. My favorites are the Enchanter series (Enchanter, Sorcerer, Spellbreaker), which were followups to the Zork series. All of these are great. Planetfall is also really good. You can play all of these here.
posted by shadow vector at 11:40 PM on May 1, 2007

Oh, one more thing: I heartily second the endorsement of the Sierra games. But don't forget about the Leisure Suit Larry series. They don't have the same frisson when you're older than 13, but are still fun.
posted by shadow vector at 11:42 PM on May 1, 2007

The all time greats from my perspective:

The Legend of Zelda
Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. 3
Castlevania (and Castlevania 2)

Sonic the Hedgehog

Super Metroid (if you only play one game, this is it)
Super Mario World

Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Ratchet & Clank (and its various sequels)
Katamari Damacy

Doom (Still the only first person shooter I've ever liked. And by liked I mean loved and replayed like a thousand times.)
Monkey Island series
To a lesser extend the various Sierra "Quest" series, as mentioned by others.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 12:06 AM on May 2, 2007

Cute platformers: Bubble Bobble and New Zealand Story (Arcade), Super Mario 1-3 (NES), Super Mario World (SNES).

The scariest game I've played: Aliens vs Predator 1 (PC)
posted by martinrebas at 12:22 AM on May 2, 2007

Colossal Cave Adventure. A text adventure game so old you can now get it off of the web for free. Will also help you appreciate this post.
posted by kisch mokusch at 2:34 AM on May 2, 2007


Stunt Island
Wing Commander , WC2, WC3
Wolfenstein 3D (the first FPS, though Ultima Underworld did some of the mechanics first)
Ultima Underworld
System Shock & System Shock 2
X-Wing and TIE Fighter
Star Control 2 (maybe the best game EVAR!)
Carmageddon & Carmageddon 2
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:05 AM on May 2, 2007

My favorite games have been mentioned a couple times already (adventure genre Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion/Day of the Tentacle), but I am distraught to find only one mention of Sim City, and no mention of any of the other Sim games.

I was a Sim * devotee. Any of the Sim City versions are glorious--though I'd probably tend towards the latest, as they all just build on previous versions. I did have a fondness for Sim Ant, as well as Sim Farm, for no particular reason that I can discern. Sim Earth and Sim Life were kind of enh.
posted by that girl at 5:23 AM on May 2, 2007

To follow-up ROU_Xenophobe's comment, Star Control 2 is a fantastic game, and is available for free.

My own two cents, try to find a copy of M.U.L.E. I personally grew up with the C-64 version, but regardless of platform it is a very fun game, especially with a few friends.
posted by TommyH at 6:26 AM on May 2, 2007

Marathon is a classic, and played an important role in the deveopment of FPS games as a genre. They can be challenging to play now (few / oblique hints about how to procede in levels) but it's a totally different kind of storytelling that has since been replaced by the in-engine cutscene. You can grab an updated engine for it here.

In the same vein, I think Myth and Myth II are the finest strategy games ever produced, though they are (also) somewhat difficult to get into if you've played modern FPS. The pace of unit movement seems insanely slow, and it can feel quite hard because it's super easy to screw up and destroy all your own units. That said, if you can get into them, they provide some of the most compelling gameplay I've ever seen.

As mentioned, System Shock 2 and Deus Ex are similar-ish games (Warren Spector worked on the original SS and DX) that are both quite excellent.

AvP, mentioned earlier, is quite a bit of fun. I have never felt more scared in a computer game. Or more scary, when playing as an alien.
posted by heresiarch at 7:58 AM on May 2, 2007

Just thought of another one-- everyone has brought up the earlier Castlevanias on NES and SNES, but also be sure to check out Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on PSX. It's side scrolling perfection.
posted by lou at 8:12 AM on May 2, 2007

River Raid
Donkey Kong
Lady Bug
Yar's Revenge

I wasted my youth.
posted by kc0dxh at 10:58 AM on May 2, 2007

Definitely check out all the classic Lucasarts games. Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Sam and Max, Manian Mansion, Day of the Tentacle, The Dig, Full Throttle, even X-Wing and TIE Fighter. Good memories.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:33 AM on May 2, 2007

Old favorites nobody has mentioned yet:
  • Missile Command(orig. Atari, many other ports. Unique gameplay, one of the few Atari-era games I still find consistently playable.)
  • Defender(orig. arcade, ports to many consoles. The original side-scrolling shooter. I lost countless hours of my life to this.)
  • Marble Madness(orig. arcade, ports to NES and lots of other later consoles. Maddening, very unique gameplay.)
  • Wario's Woods(NES, puzzle game, like Tetris but you move the "blocks" already placed instead of the falling ones)
  • Final Fantasy I(NES, cant believe nobody has mentioned this. I just replayed it last year and it still holds up very well.)
  • Gyruss(many platforms, space shooter with a unique radial perspective.)
  • NHL '94(Sega Genesis, right up there with Tecmo Super Bowl for the best/most fun sports gameplay ever.)
  • Metroid(NES. How on Earth did nobody mention the original Metroid?! It's still fun to play, and was very innovative and ahead of its time.)
  • Ninja Gaiden(NES. Side scroller with lots of unique little innovations. Hilarious early attempts at cutscenes. Maddeningly difficult in a few key sections.)

posted by jdunn_entropy at 1:13 PM on May 2, 2007

If you liked Chrono Trigger, you may also like Final Fantasy VI of the same era. There are ports of it for PSone and GBA. I like the GBA one beacuse it's portable.

Of the PC shareware days, I remember spending hours on:
-Commander Keen (all of them)
-Wolfenstein 3D
-Duke Nukem (the side scrollers and 3D)
posted by nakedsushi at 3:43 PM on May 2, 2007

I'm such a dork about this, but I love Centipede, arcade-style. Probably much older than you were intending.
posted by Asherah at 4:16 PM on May 2, 2007

Bring 5 of your friends, then download and play Achtung, die kurve.

It may be from the early 90's, the 80's or even 50's, no one knows, no one even knows who made it, but it's got a whole subculture growing around it today. It might very well be the best multiplayer game ever made.
posted by cheerleaders_to_your_funeral at 6:02 PM on May 2, 2007

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