Since every other blog seems to have a Top 10 list of some sort, I thought I might do the same. I decided to compile the best “Retro games” of 2004. You will notice that not all of them are classic games. However I have chosen games that all have the feel of the games we knew in our younger years. Thay are also games that I hope to see become more sucessful so that publishers will see that these types of games make people like you and me happy! So… on with the list!
#10) Mario vs Donkey Kong – GBA
I must admit, I was a tad skeptical about this title when it was first announced, but I heard good things about it, played the demo, and then played the full game. Now I have to say this is actually a very well-crafted effort by Nintendo and will be welcomed addition to any retro-gamer’s portable collection. Don’t expect a run-of-the-mill Mario game with this one — it has a strong platformer taste (both from its Mario & DK roots), but it relies on puzzle solving for its main gameplay. As I eluded to before it seems to be well polished as the presentation is top-notch Nintendo quality and the controls and graphics are pretty solid for a GBA game. I haven’t played it for hours on end quite yet, but I have no real complaints so far.
#9) Sonic Mega Collection Plus – XBox/PS2
A while back, Sega did Gamecube owners a favor by releasing the Sonic Mega Collection — a disc containing a healthy selection of Sonic the Hedgehog classics. Now its been ported to the PS2 and XBox adding some extra non-Sonic Sega Genesis jewels. Still missing are some of the non-Genesis games like Sonic CD (one of my personal favorite Sega CD games), Knuckles Chaotix (from 32X), and Sonic R (from the Saturn). However, this package will be keep many a gamer busy with 2D action!
#8) Street Fighter Anniversary Collection – PS2
In fighting games substance is more important than flash. The first part of the Street Fighter Anniversary Collection is a very cool version of 1994’s seminal Super Street Fighter II Turbo. While the graphics are a bit hazy due to interlacing, the rock-solid gameplay is in full effect, and is still as fun as ever. And this latest version of the games goes a bit further, letting you pick each and every version of every character from all five Street Fighter II releases. Its second offering is none other than Street Fighter III: Third Strike, Capcom’s 1999 CPS3 masterpiece and one of the best fighting games yet created. Best-of-class animation and incredibly deep gameplay systems make for a deadly one-two punch. It is possibly one of the most underrated fighting games there is.
#7) Fire Emblem – GBA
Nintendo’s line-up of RPGs is larger than you might realise. Since the company has decided that many of its better titles still are not suitable for Western audiences we have so far missed out on greats such as the Mother series and Fire Emblem. Thankfully now, though, the latest in the great SRPG franchise that is Fire Emblem has groped its way across the oceans to land on our rainy shores. Personally, I still enjoy the more kiddy look of Advance Wars 2, but for those that are looking for a more hardcore strategic experience, Fire Emblem is where it’s at.
#6) Outrun 2 – XBox
This sequal is an example one that pushes the series forward while retaining everything that made it great in the first place. Unfortunately, most gamers now go for more realistic racers such as Gran Turisimo or Burnout 3. Those games are great, I’m sure, but I still like the true arcade-like racing that I grew up with. Outrun 2 is one of the best sequels Sega has done in years. Outrun was certainly way before its time and was one of the greatest driving games ever in its hay day. Outrun 2 keeps the feeling and faith of the original by giving us the same crazy arcade gameplay with the classic music. The gameplay allows you to drift and powerslide on a corner like there is no tomorrow. The arcade mode takes after the original and the likes of the classic Pole Position. It’s a race to get to the checkpoint, nothing more, you and the clock. Although the arcade mode is a bit limited, as you can finish one race in about 10 minutes, and that’s it. But the fun is within the mission mode that gives you more variety and the ability to open new prizes. Even better you can take this baby on XBox Live and duke it out with 8 other racers.
#5) The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures – Gamecube
When Zelda first jumped into the multiplayer arena on the Game Boy Advance, it was applauded for its innovative gameplay model which required players to both compete and cooperate in order to succeed. The GameCube edition of the game — subtitled Four Swords Adventures — adapts and expands the gameplay for the livingroom. Currently, the title is the best example of Nintendo’s “connectivity” ideals thus far seen in a game. Graphically, the game mimics the style of earlier 2D entries to the series with additional screen-scaling and 3D effects that make the game look decidedly better than its 16-bit counterparts; The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures is by no means modern in appearance, however.
#4) Astro Boy: Omega Factor – GBA
Omega Factor is an old-fashioned beat-’em-up, with one major difference: there’s nothing old-fashioned about it. As Astro, you get to punch and kick through waves of relentless foes, and that’s pretty typical. However, Treasure’s characteristic quality shows itself in the deep, combo-based scoring system, chaotic action, occasional shooter sequences, charming storyline, and an overall level of polish that’s truly rare on the GBA. Astro Boy isn’t just one of the tightest action games on the GBA, it’s one of the tightest action games of the year.
#3) Metroid Prime Zero Mission – GBA
The Metroid series has seen a tremendous revial thanks to the recent incarnation on the GBA and Gamecube. Not only has the Gamecube’s “Prime” series received near-perfect critical acclaim, but the 2D GBA version have been welcomed with open arms. Metroid Fusion is the one game that made me fall in love with my Advance. This year, Nintendo decided to give the the original Metroid a similar treatment that made Fusion so great. Metroid: Zero Mission offers so much more than a visit to the roots of the series. While the general map layout is similar to that in the original Metroid, the environments themselves have been completely rebuilt for Zero Mission. This is, without a doubt, a new adventure.
#2) Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door – Gamecube
While this game doesn’t scream “retro”, I believe this game possess virtually all the main elements that I hope for when I’m on the lookout for some classic gameplay. It has a colorful, two-dimensional look while utilizing the graphics possibilities to give the polished look of a modern console game. The simple controls and gameplay delivers an incredibly fun experience which puts it as one of the best games available on the Gamecube to date. Though not quite as challenging as Superstar Saga (or most RPG’s in general), Paper Mario 2 manages to remain wholly engaging from beginning to end.
#1) Viewtiful Joe 2 – Gamecube and PS2
For the last two years, one new series has been nearly every modern 2D gamer’s dream. Viewtiful Joe brings one of the most popular genres from the early 90’s into the modern age. The first game caused quite a stir when it was first released thanks to its unique look and retroized, 2D beat-’em-up gameplay. The graphics and gameplay in the series probably don’t get much better in a 2D game than they are in Viewtiful Joe. VJ2 upholds that proud tradition with even more slick-looking levels full of bold lines, bright colors, and backgrounds that make it look like you’re playing in a living diorama. Thankfully, Capcom also added extra features and goodies in order to give a better excuse for releasing a sequal.