Saturday, August 20, 2016

Off Topic: Favorite Retro Video Games

I trust that my fellow late Gen Xers will enjoy this post.  I don't play video games anymore and haven't since I got my first real job 10 years ago but I've got a lot of good memories and had a lot of fun with them growing up.  That said, I still spent plenty of time playing outside as a kid and was no couch potato even before I started running.

8 bit Nintendo- Got this system in 2nd grade (1988-89).  As I said earlier, if you are a Millennial born in the mid-80s, you were probably too young for this system and your first console was likely Sega or Super Nintendo.

World Class Track Meet- You run in place on a Power Pad to control your character in 4 different events (100 meters, 110 hurdles, long jump and triple jump).  I remember being so excited when I first broke 6 seconds in the 100 and 30 meters in the triple jump.  You could also race computer opponents in a tournament who were named after animals starting with Turtle and ending with Cheetah.

Blades of Steel- An arcade style hockey game.  Though it featured only a few teams named generically after US and Canadian cities with no real players, the game play was fun.  You could start fights with the other team and the LOSER of the fight was the one sent to the penalty box.  LOL.

Rad Racer 2- A fun car racing game that featured courses that had to be negotiated with a time limit.  Courses included Key West, NYC, Monument Valley, Las Vegas, Rocky Mountains and Bay Bridge.

RBI Baseball 2- I believe this was the first baseball game to feature every MLB team with real players and stats, which was way ahead of its time.  The graphics and music were pretty good for the era as well.  While it lacked the verisimilitude of more contemporary games, the game play was still quite fun.

Tecmo Super Bowl- This was perhaps my favorite of the NES games and retains a cult following to this day.  It featured all 28 NFL teams with real players including backups but the revolutionary aspect was the real 1991 NFL schedule in which players could control every game if they chose.  Stats were logged at the end of every game and you could view the NFL leaders in every statistical category at any time during the season.  There were only 8 plays to choose from and graphics were still fairly primitive but again, the game play was tons of fun.

Super Mario 3- Normally, I was not a big fan of adventure or role playing games but I made exceptions.  This one was a classic with 8 different worlds and over 100 levels with awesome power ups including the ability to fly through parts of different levels.  It took me several years to beat this game but I finally did by collecting as many power ups as I could and delaying the warp until I got stuck in Iceland (World 6).

Sega Genesis- Got this one near the end of 5th grade (1992).  This was my main console throughout middle school.

Joe Montana Football- This was the first game to feature a live play by play.  It was arcade style but featured a wider play selection that was still pretty simple for someone who never played organized football.  I used to call bizarre plays such as a Fake Punt on 1st down so the announcer would say “I can’t believe it.” Or “Oops. What a mistake!”  In the early versions, Montana was the only player whose name was spoken but in later years, the NFLPA license allowed for use of real players and teams.

Sports Talk Baseball- Basically baseball’s version of Joe Montana Football.  It featured real players and allowed the player to choose between 3 stadium options, which I believe was a first.  If you like RBI Baseball, you’d like this one too.

Sonic the Hedgehog- Sega’s version of Super Mario.  Featured 8 worlds with some pretty cool graphics and power ups.  Fun and relatively easy to play.  I did beat the game but it took many tries to do it.

NBA Jam- 2 on 2 basketball with power ups and no fouls.  The graphics and animation included dunks starting at the foul line in which players jumped twice as high as the hoop.  Yes, it was way over the top but that’s what made it so fun.  Featured real players from every team as well as several secret characters.

Streets of Rage 2- A walk and fight game with 8 levels of progressively increasing difficulty.  You can choose 1 of 4 characters with different strengths, attributes and special moves.  Very good music and graphics and not very difficult to beat.

Street Fighter 2- 1 on 1 fighting with 12 playable characters with different attributes and special moves such as fireballs, projectiles and super uppercut punches.  Featured combinations of attacks and adjustable difficulty.  I beat the game on at least level 5 with every character.  Sagat and Ryu were my favorites.

Mortal Kombat- Similar to Street Fighter 2 with more blood and gore.  Featured fatalities such as decapitations and ripping out hearts.   Very controversial at the time of its release around 1993 but I found it to be harmless entertainment.  Critics said it encouraged real life violence, which I found to be laughable considering many fatalities involved over the top actions such as turning into animals.  Scorpion and Sub Zero were my favorites.

Nintendo 64- Bought this console myself between 9th and 10th grade (1996)

Shadows of the Empire- I was a huge Star Wars fan at the time and this one featured the events of a novel that took place between Episode V and VI.  IIRC, it had 8 worlds with various challenges and tough enemies along the way.  It featured first person game play with amazingly realistic graphics for the time.

NFL Blitz- An arcade football game with real players and teams that included WWE type late hits and tackles that involved jumping on top of fallen ball carriers.  If you sacked the opposing quarterback a few times, he’d yell out insult to his linemen.  It had mild language such as “That sucked.”  Or “What the hell is wrong with that guy?”  Way over the top but tons of fun and I was very good at this game.

Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball- Realistic gameplay that featured not only real players and teams but also real stadiums for each team, which I believe was a first.  It lacked the complexities of games such as MVP or the MLB series but that was fine with me.  I actually prefer a bit more simplicity.

1080 Snowboarding- Another fun but easy to play game that featured 4 characters and 6 different race courses.  Very detailed graphics and hidden shortcuts but I would have like to have seen more courses.  You can master this game within just a few days.

Cruisin’ USA- A car racing game that featured a choice of 4 different sports cars and a competitive race against 9 other drivers over courses such as LA Freeway, Golden Gate, Grand Canyon, Redwood, Appalachia and DC.  In the arcade version, you could run over cows and spill some blood.  The game also featured secret cars such as a Police cruiser and a School bus.  This was my favorite of the series.  World and Exotica were too unrealistic even for me.

Golden Eye- An exciting Bond adventure that required a lot of skill.  I was not very good at this one but still enjoyed playing it and managed to beat it on Easy difficulty.  Where it really shines is in Multiplayer and it was especially popular in college dorms especially in my Freshman and Sophomore year.

X-Box- Got this one in 2001 or 2002 near the end of college.
I was beginning to outgrow video games by this point and played mostly sports games such as NCAA Football and John Madden NFL.  Both were ultra-realistic simulations that featured graphics so amazing that a casual observer might think it was a real game if they walked by a TV screen.  Another cool game was a boxing game simply titled Rocky in which you took the title character from a fight with Spider Rico in Rocky 1 all the way to Tommy Gunn in Rocky 5. 

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