Even before computer games became a ‘thing’ and gaming consoles became a point of comparison on who owns the latest gadget, video games have already found their way in the hearts of many.
Having no internet back in the day isn’t a problem at all. Whether you’re with family or friends; setting up a Family Computer (FamiCom) system, or arguing with your sibling over who gets to play the Gameboy first, was the definition of fun.
Of course, these 8-bit games were also the progenitor of famous video game icons the generation of today has come to love such as Mario or Sonic. We’re rounding up a list of 10 nostalgic Family Computer games which most probably remember, but is definitely a must-try even for kids of today.
#1. Super Mario Bros. (1985)
If you were to ask your parents what got them involved in playing video games back in the day, most likely this is the first title among what they will enumerate.
The Italian plumber that we all came to love as Mario takes you to different levels and stages, each with new obstacles getting more and more difficult as you progress. Plus, its background music is something which truly sparks nostalgia—a unique sound which can be attributed to the original Super Mario Bros. game, as well as the future Mario series that will follow.
It has a pretty simple story too: a Princess is trapped in every stage, and you play as Mario (or his brother, Luigi, if you’re playing via multiplayer) who attempts to find and rescue her in a castle iconic to every stage-ender in the game. As the franchise continues up until today—even having its own show and live movie—more characters are introduced, expanding the Mario world.
#2. Pac-Man (1980)
Who knew that something repetitive could be both fun and challenging? That’s right, Pac-Man had proved its worth as one of the best games of all time due to its simplistic design and gameplay, yet provides a sense of thrill.
Pac-Man’s one simple goal is to eat all the pellets in this sort of ‘labyrinth’ design, but at the same time avoiding the four colored ghosts—Blinky (Red), Clyde (Orange), Inky (cyan), and Pinky (Pink). While the main point is to clear the level is to eat all pellets, the (slightly) bigger pellets is a game changer which allows Pac-Man to chase after the ghosts for a short period of time.
Along with Mario, Pac-Man continues to makes its impact known even today with remakes and shows featuring our beloved, yellow ball. Truly a mark of arcade classics, Pac-Man actually stands as one evidence that, what may look simple, actually packs a punch that sends ripples towards the future that will soon come to know it.
#3. Contra (1987)
Known as one of the most complicated platform shooting games of the old times (with some even dubbing it as an ‘impossible’ game to finish), Contra becomes a classic that is truly memorable as one of the games which made us rage.
It’s a run and gun type of gameplay set in a futuristic ‘world’ where an evil organization called the ‘Red Falcon’ is out to wipe out the whole of humanity. Players get to control commandos Bill Rizer and Lance Bean (multiplayer mode) as they shoot their way towards different levels, avoiding enemy gunners and obstacles alike.
Its this complication of trying to avoid enemies and obstacles suddenly coming out of nowhere which draws us to play this game. It seems like the mind-set of trying to ‘do better’ and understand the tricks and twists to pass each level is what makes us love Contra.
#4. Circus Charlie (1984)
Perhaps discovering this game back then would be like finding a gem among classic games where there were so many surfacing. This one was one of the games where it may have passed the standards of being challenging and having sufficient stages to maximize fun.
True to its title, you play as the clown Charlie in 6 stages (plus an extra one) of performing dangerous feats you will most likely see in a circus. This includes the famous Charlie riding a lion to jump over rings of fire in the first stage, to a tightrope walk to avoid monkeys getting in your way in the second stage.
The game’s all about timing and precision. If you make Charlie jump too early, you will get caught between two obstacles; if you jump too late, chances are you’ll land directly on the obstacle. Players also need to be observant of the obstacles speeding towards Charlie so they could better understand this ‘timing’.
#5. Galaga (1981)
This fixed-shooter arcade game allows players to control a battle space ship to shoot at the enemy coming from above the screen.
Galaga is kind of like the Space Impact (classic Nokia phone game) plot of a space ship shooting at alien enemies. One touch of an alien bullet could potentially destroy the ship.
Galaga is iconic for its blue, white, and red space ship as well as its colorful out-of-this-world enemies, some of which has different abilities such as ‘abducting’ the player’s ship via tractor beam. Not all of the enemies can be killed with a single bullet though as some need to be shot a few more times before they disappear from the screen.
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#6. Donkey Kong (1981)
Even before Mario came into the picture, he first appeared in a game called ‘Donkey Kong’. This platform classic features yet another iconic character of a gorilla bearing the name of the game’s title first released in the year 1981.
This was when players were first introduced to the character they play as—Mario—whose goal is to climb his way up a series of ladders while Donkey Kong throws barrels which the player must guide Mario to avoid. There are also obstacles other than the barrels to make things a bit more complicated.
The game became such a massive hit in the arcades that, later on in the future, other characters in the Donkey Kong universe were introduced (such as Diddy Kong), as well as games which revolve around these characters. Donkey Kong also became one of the video game world’s top icons, even appearing in the 2015 movie, Pixels, starring Adam Sandler.
#7. Dig Dug (1982)
Classic games have their fair share of cuteness along with a challenge when it comes to Dig Dug. First released in the year 1982, it follows the success of the 1981 Pac Man. Both became progenitors of the maze game genre.
While Pac Man aims to collect all pellets while avoiding enemy ghosts within the maze, Dig Dug is given the ability to defeat enemies underground by inflating them until they pop. Enemies include the red tomato-like creatures called Pookas and the green dragons called Fygars. Players can also drop rocks to enemies in order to defeat them.
Once all the enemies within the stage are defeated, the player gets to proceed to the next level. A true classical arcade game, Dig Dug isn’t just about popping enemies with the bike pump, but it’s also about being cautious of enemies who can pass through solid walls and sneak up behind you while you’re busy inflating another foe. Players have to be quick about it, and they also have to be careful on where they position while inflating enemies so they won’t be caught off guard.
#8. Ice Climbers (1984)
This vertical platform game makes itself familiar through Popo and Nana—the main characters of the game collectively known as the ‘Ice Climbers’. Popo is the male ice climber wearing a blue eskimo parka, while Nana is his female counterpart sporting a pink eskimo parka.
In multiplayer mode, one player gets to control Popo, and the other Nana; however if you’re playing solo, you’ll see more of the male ice climber than his female partner. Both are equipped with a wooden mallet used for crushing the ice above them and to whack enemies. The goal is literally to climb to the top by crushing the ice blocks and jumping from platform to platform in order to reach the summit. There, a bonus stage is located before proceeding to the next level.
Climbing a mountain may already sound like a difficult task, couple that with enemies who comes toward the player or swoop down at them. The seal enemy could even replace an ice block you’ve already crushed therefore sealing your way to climb up top!
#9. Double Dragon (1987)
This beat’em-up game became an instant favorite because of its pseudo-3D graphics and its combat action which was a steady rise during the evolution of video games.
Double Dragon features two brothers—Billy and Jimmy Lee—who are both martial artists as playeres get to control them in a series of kicks and punches from enemies coming to surround them. What’s great about this game is that it doesn’t limit players to physical combat alone, but also makes use of weapons such as baseball bats for the martial artists to use.
The game became such a huge fan favorite that it even got its own animated series in the year 1993, a live-action adaptation in the year 1994, and succeeding games for future consoles such as the Game Boy Advanced. With a game showing so much promise, it won’t be a surprise if more Double Dragon remakes are announced even until today.
#10. Frogger (1981)
You honestly think that classic games won’t get any simpler yet fun? How about having to control a frog and literally have him cross a ‘river’ to win the game?
Frogger is literally just that: the objective is to safely guide the frog from the starting side towards one of the empty frog homes on the other side (the top) of the screen. The player only needs to focus on 4 diretions: going up, down, left, and right. The first half of the screen consists of a busy road where the frog must avoid getting ‘roadkilled’ by speeding vehicles, while the second half of the screen is the river section where the frog must ride a log or alligators with their mouths CLOSED.
Talk about a classic take on today’s smartphone hit Crossy Road. Back in the day, this was what kept players’ eyes glued to the screen to work on their timing while time pass them by.
Simple yet exciting, these games are some which made childhood truly a memorable experience. It was also a ‘golden age’ for video games as this were times when developers were exploring various genres to satisfy what people were looking for in entertainment back in the day.
So, you see, games we know today had their humble beginnings. Some were not well known, while some rose to fame that they became huge names in the gaming world today. There are some who still kept their old Family Computer console lying around, while there are people who created gadgets which allows people to play these classic games (and many more not mentioned here) through these ‘consoles’. If you have patience searching on the internet, maybe you can still find some of these classics put online.
Truly, these are what we call pillars of gaming. They stood the test of time, and it something that generations and generations to come will look back on as the beginning of everything gaming.