The success of the modern game industry has been built on what’s come before. 2016 has seen a huge increase in retro games being revamped and re-released. They may not have the draw (or marketing budget) of the AAA games that are in stores, but they were the giants and flag bearers of the industry when they originally released. That is why retro titles should still have a place in any self respecting gamers catalog.
Many games have been remastered for the modern day operating system, and all have massive playability. It is worth giving up your time and money to see what makes these games worthy of being regarded as classics. If you remember them from their original release then you will no doubt have fond memories worth reliving. If you are new to them, then take the plunge and you may well be surprised.
8. Knights of the Sky
With the ever closing release of Battlefield 1, this game took us to the sky above the fields of the European front long before Dice came into existence. Knights of the Sky was released by Microprose in 1991 and was a better game than its rival flight sim Red Baron, with a huge open world map to fly around and even a head to head option if you had another friend with an Amiga to plug into. Granted, by today’s standards, it is very, very basic graphics wise. In the game’s favor, being able to choose from 20 flying machines from both sides of the conflict, each with their own cockpit design, gun layout and handling characteristics, was quite special at the time. There is also real life fighter aces, such as the Red Baron, that you will occasionally encounter on your sorties. This adds some longevity to the title, even though enemy planes have a nasty habit of spawning behind you out of thin air.
7. The Chaos Engine
Never has a game been so essentially steam punk as The Chaos Engine. Bitmap Brothers brought this to Amiga machines in 1993 and its top down, gritty feel made it a hit. The styling of the game is the very definition of Steam Punk. The 6 playable characters work together in pairs, as either two human players or one human with AI controlling the second character. Each carry their own personalized weapons, have differing health, movement speeds and special abilities. The four levels don’t flow in the usual left to right linear fashion of many games of the same era, instead forcing players to explore the map and face the dangers. Players are immersed in a threatening world of robots and goons, leading them to the final battle against the Chaos engine and its maniacal inventor himself. If steam punk is your thing, then look no further than this retro classic for inspiration.
6. Speedball 2 HD
Sports games at the time of Speedball 2 were dominated by pixel graphics. Speedball 2 arrived in 1990 following the success of the original. The sequel outpaced the first game with more features and nice little extra animations. And it has now been given an HD facelift to provide an even smoother graphical style. Simply put, the dystopian back story from the year 2105 makes the Running Man look like a paradise. The sport of Speedball is a mix of handball and ice hockey. You can beat the hell out of one another to gain the same number of points as scoring a goal, making violence a major part of the enjoyment. It boasts an impressive selection of players to choose from, and upgrades to be had for your team, such as power, stamina and throwing. Speedball 2 not only invented a new sport, but has spawned many remakes including a 2007 version released on Xbox 360. It has been remastered for Steam and is worth every penny.
5. Another World 20th Anniversary Edition
Another World launched in 1991 on Amiga and Atari ST. You play as Lester, a young scientist who gets caught in a bodged experiment involving a particle accelerator, leading him to be transported across space, ending on an alien planet where he’s then imprisoned. With help of an alien friend known as “Buddy” you escape and then have to make it to safety. Mechanically, it is a similar game to the original Prince of Persia, with jumping, climbing, hitting switches and trying to avoid enemies where possible. One hit and it is instant death. This adds to the connection with your character, and the challenge. It is now on Steam, and the immersive soundtrack and background styling that won plaudits at the time of release can still be appreciated by gamers today. There isn’t a much more satisfying feeling than vaporizing an alien prison guard with a stolen blaster pistol!
4. Day of the Tentacle (Remastered)
Day of the Tentacle is a point and click 2D puzzle game that was a great hit even when it originally launched. It has a cutesy cartoon feel to it, and sees the game’s three playable characters working together to foil a plot by the evil Purple Tentacle to take over the world. Purple Tentacle is a Frankenstein’s monster-esque villain who has been mutated into a super intelligent creature with its suckers on global domination. The remastered version has new hand drawn, high resolution artwork as well as remastered audio, music and sound effects. It of course keeps the same style and time travelling puzzle based action that made it such a success. Point and click games may have had their day, with room escape games being the mainstream puzzle archetype. Don’t discount Day of the Tentacle Remastered though. It manages to make it feel a bit special when finding a seemingly worthless item, and then leaving it somewhere for another of your three playable characters to find and use in a different time line.
3. Heroes of Might and Magic III
Released initially in 1999, Heroes of Might and Magic III has been remastered in HD for modern PCs. This version of the franchise learnt the lessons from the previous two in the series and improved upon them in terms of features and graphics. It also received much higher reviews compared to its follow up HoMMIV. You follow the tale of Queen Catherine Ironfist as she battles to retake her homeland of Erathia. It is a strategy game split into land exploration and turn based combat. The player controls a number of “Heroes” who rule over armies of creatures from myth and legend. It received commendation when originally released, and is part of a successful franchise of games. There is an astounding number of units to choose from, ranging from simple pikemen through to hydras and dragons. The maps spread both overground and underground, and will still keep players immersed for hours of enjoyment in the Kingdom of Erathia.
2. Monkey Island 2 Special Edition
Guybrush Threepwood is the unlikely hero of the LucasArts Monkey Island franchise. He first appeared in The Secret Of Monkey Island in 1990, but Monkey Island 2 LeChucks Revenge took the point and click adventure puzzle to greater heights of challenge and humour. Released in 1991 on the Amiga, it featured a difficult to handle 12 floppy disks. Fortunately, the modern remastered version is all in one, so no fumbling with a stack of disks when travelling from one scene to another. The tale follows Threepwood across 3 fictional islands of the Caribbean as he tries to avoid the ghost pirate LeChuck, his sworn enemy, and also find the treasure of “Big Whoop.” There is plenty of laughs and challenges that face the player, and with a nice remastering the visuals are pleasing too. This game is worth a revisit for those who enjoyed it first time around, and will prove highly entertaining for any who are new to the hapless pirate and his escapades.
1. X-COM Terror from the Deep
This year’s XCOM 2 is the latest visit to the universe of the alien invasion that has been around for over two decades. Terror from the Deep was the first X-COM sequel. A strong follow up to the original UFO: Enemy Unknown (which also, incidentally, is available via Steam) it hit the stores in 1995. Terror from the Deep is as the title suggests: terrifying. Exploring the deep ocean, knowing that an alien is lurking somewhere out of eyesight, really draws you in. The graphics may be dated, especially compared to the modern versions of the game, but the turn-based action is exactly the same in this older iteration. You become attached to your favourite soldiers, you know their names and their preferred weapons. You fear for their survival. If one of your squad is taken over by mind control, darkness fills the map and your squad begins to panic fire, your first instinct is always to abort the mission. The tension rises with every turn, and if you found yourself sinking hours into the reboots, then this is certainly worth a purchase. It must be stated that this game is notoriously difficult. It is this difficulty and sheer size of some of the maps, especially the cruise ships, that hold it ahead of the original. It just demands to be replayed, with you desperately trying to figure out a method to success. Good luck though, if you think you will defeat the menace and get all the way to the alien mother ship located somewhere in the abyss.