Video games are a history of evolution, but this does not imply that the games of the past are abandoned to time. Instead, games are filled with examples of outstanding titles that rose above the rest, that players kept coming back regardless of how many years or decades passed. It’s not an easy feat to accomplish, but by taking a look at these highlights, we can reveal a lot about what makes games great and such an inseparable part of our lives. So what are these timeless titles, and what made them immune to the obscurity that would eventually claim many of their countrymen?
The eternal titles
With such a vast library to draw from, going through all the timeless titles in the games would require a full-size novel. With this understanding, these are just a few of the standout ones that most gamers agree are just as playable today as they were when they were released.
Tetris, Game Boy – 1989
While not the first Tetris release, the Game Boy release is often touted as the one that propelled the concept to stardom. Selling 35 million copies, Tetris on Gameboy was simple, and that’s exactly what the system needed. Only requiring two buttons and two directions, Tetris offered a game that was easy to learn but impossible to master. With Tetris IP becoming the best-selling game of all time, it is perhaps no wonder that this game has done so well and is still sticking around.
“Gameboy Original” (CC BY 2.0) by PseudoGil
Doom, PC – 1993
Developer ID Software made a name for itself in the 3D realm with titles like Wolfenstein and Catacomb 3-D, but Doom was another beast altogether. Doom was pure action and brutality, with a perfect balance of weapons and monsters in a fusion that few games could match. However, Doom was not only good for its time, it was also so streamlined that it would never go out of style. Once installed on more machines than Windows, Doom had many releases over the years, and almost all of them are playable today as when the game was first released.
Age of Empires 2, PC – 1999
Working outside the framework of titles like StarCraft and Dune 2, AOE took a chance by adopting a more realistic historical setting. However, with such charming styling and highly competitive gameplay, the risk was worth it. Despite being a long-lasting and well-loved series, with the release of AOE4 this year, it is the second entry that received the most attention. The updated versions of the game, which keep everything important true, still boast more than 14,000 active players on average at any given time. If history is something to go through, this popularity won’t change anytime soon.
Super Mario 64, Nintendo 64 – 1996
Super Mario Bros. for the NES revolutionized the 2D platformer. A decade later, SM64 would achieve the same in 3D space. Don’t get us wrong, SM64 may look dated, even when emulated on modern systems, but in terms of playability, it holds up better than many modern titles. Mario just feels perfect to control, with all his movements offering the right balance of agility and weight as he navigates the different maps with YAHOO. Still considered the greatest game of all time by many, SM64 is worth it to any fan of classic games who originally missed it.
“GLideN64_SUPER_MARIO_64_010” (public domain) by Akira1364
Make a classic
When looking at why classic games stay fresh for so long, the answer always comes down to purity of purpose. Rather than relying on expanding graphics systems to ridiculous and impossible to maintain levels, the games that best stand the test of time are those with a clear and focused goal. In games, this idea is somewhat new, but similar examples have long existed in other forms of interactive entertainment.
One of the best illustrations of this purity in action can be found in casino experiences, represented by modern online casino titles like the Starburst free spins slot game. As a slot machine, this game takes advantage of the basic concept that was first established by mechanical machines more than a century ago. To help the slot machine, there are the host websites that offer specials like deposit games and free spins, but in essence, it is the ideal timeless slot that keeps the game going strong.
This is the same idea that video games have been working to understand, that a timeless game may be limited by the technology of its time, but this form of limitation is much less important than we think. As Tetris shows, the best ideas don’t have to be the most eye-catching. All you need is a hook and the ability to seamlessly connect players to your core premise.
When it comes to games, it is not an industry capable of infinite growth. Eventually, all new types of game systems will be explored, and the novelty of the new ones will fade into history. In the place of these sprawling games, there will be those who understand the success of the timeless games of yesteryear. The classics are not about constantly reaching for the stars; it’s about making something perfect with what you already have. As for how long this understanding could take for the biggest game publishers and developers, that is in doubt.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism