What is your favorite retro game?

-Greg Livingston

Although Pitfall was my first gaming love, Super Mario World was the first video game I played seriously. The more I look back on my gaming tastes, the more I see them as a result of Super Mario World. Since it’s the source of my tastes, I think it’s fair to call it my favorite retro game.

In part, this is because the game employs subtlety in its enemy design.

For instance, the series’ staple simple enemy—the goomba—can now be picked up and thrown at other enemies instead of simply squashed. The standard koopas themselves contain quite a bit of depth now that they can be knocked out of their shell; for instance, a blue-shoed koopa without a shell will kick any shell it approaches.

And yet, you don’t have to learn any of that depth in the course of normal play. Super Mario World doesn’t force you to learn its mechanics, but rather, its mechanics are simply there to be experienced. You can get through the game without learning that blue koopas kick shells, and you can get through the game without utilizing the ability to throw goombas, but you can bet that there will be times that koopas kick shells at you, and there will also be times when you have the opportunity to throw a goomba into some other enemy.

You’re never required to learn the depth of enemy design, yet it colors your experience; that’s subtlety. That’s not all I have to say on Super Mario World, but it’s a start.

This concept of subtlety is embraced by Super Metroid. For instance, it’s perfectly possible to clear the game without performing a single wall jump, but it’s there for you to use if you wish. If you do use it, the game’s sequence becomes malleable, allowing you to take paths through Zebes that are otherwise impossible.

-Arron Ferguson

If I’’m honest my instinct is to say Super Mario Bros. 3 but given my answer to last weeks “best supporting character” being Yoshi and my feature this week being a trawl through Mario’s very own arkham asylum, I feel perhaps I should break my pattern so shall instead give you my second favourite.

It breaks my heart and fills me the impending dread of mid life crisis at the tender age of 22 to admit that Final Fantasy 7 can now be called a retro game, but alas it can. In recent time as the debate about games influence on real world violence rages on another less publicized debate has been brewing. “Are games art?”. Well much like any medium it has it’s artistic contributions and it has its more mindless, vacuous works. Whilst modal jazz masterpiece album “Kind of Blue” by music genius Miles Davis is most certainly a work of art, drunk Barry from down the road screaming the latest Justin Bieber hit at karaoke night is not. Similarly Wii Sports may just be a bit of mindless fun for all the family at Joey’s bar mitzvah but Final Fantasy 7 is most definitely art and perhaps the very first game in history to stand tall and scream at the top of it’s lungs “Look what games are capable of!”

This is possibly nostalgia talking but at a young age all I’d been used to were the exploits of Mario, Sonic, Rayman and the like and as much as I still adore platformers with all my heart my world was utterly blown to pieces when I took control of Cloud for the first time. The narrative is tight yet sprawling, the characters so real and (talking personality wise here not graphically) totally 3D.

But if there is one reason and one reason alone why this game should be remembered forever not by game fans but by lovers of narrative in all its variants it is “that scene”.  I simply refuse to explain it to detract from its impact for anyone who’s never played it but for those who have you must know what I mean by “that scene”. Proving that games do not need photo-realistic graphics to generate emotions they simple need developers who care.

A game as equally delicate as it is brutal; the very first of it’s kind. I give you Final Fantasy 7; the first ever masterpiece in the history of narrative driven gaming. 

-Geoff Barry

A tough choice but in the end the right one, my favorite retro game is Resident Evil 2. The original scared our pants off, but the sequel had the right amount of frights and gunplay. The new story also produced the fan favorite character Leon S. Kennedy. 

The best part was getting to play as either Leon or Claire Redfield. We could also play as two characters in the original, but since RE:2 choosing between characters has been removed from the gameplay. RE:4 was a highlight in the series, but there hasn’t been an as high of quality title from Capcom with zombies since the outbreak hit the inner city in RE:2.

-Eric Lee Lewis

It’s crazy to think about what is considered a retro game now. Some of the games that were cutting-edge that I grew up playing are no considered to be “old school”.  Nonetheless, I shall tell you my favorite “retro game”:

I am a huge zombie nerd. I love zombie games/movies/books/ and all other zombie media that it is ridiculous. Part of this love came from my brother, Justin, torturing me. Like a lot of other people in this world, I am a younger sibling. Like other younger siblings, my brother put me through some weird stuff. One of these things was to make me sit down next to him and watch him play ALL of Resident Evil: Director’s Cut. 

Through me being scared for a few years after, I somehow managed to fall in love with the zombie genre. Eventually, though the voice acting is horrendous, I went back and played and love Resident Evil.