No remakes allowed: The 5 retro games we want unchanged for today’s consoles
Those who lived through the first video games boom of the early 1980s will never forget the vast array of simple but imaginative platform, racing and shoot-‘em-up games they were addicted to. Most of these classics started out as coin-op arcade games and were subsequently adapted for various home consoles, where they became hits that spawned numerous clones and sequels.
Their timeless appeal remains today, which is why we want to see them return to gaming platforms in their original format, pure and unadulterated:
- Out Run
- Donkey Kong
- Space Invaders
- Street Fighter II
The definitive racing game from Sega, period. The player controls a red convertible Ferrari Testarossa with a blonde in the passenger seat; setting out from Coconut Beach, they must guide it through four checkpoints on all five stages within a certain time limit. Released in 1986, it showcased a fun new innovation: only the first stage of the race is set, with the player choosing the subsequent routes thereafter – an unprecedented amount of freedom for a video game in the mid-1980s. Its other strengths were its insanely catchy background music and graphics that really let the player feel the speed.
Nerd Knowledge: The three tracks the player could select on the Ferrari’s car stereo were named ‘Passing Breeze‘, ‘Magical Sound Shower‘ and ‘Splash Wave‘.
In 1981, Nintendo’s Donkey Kong gave the world a new genre of video game – the platform – and spawned an infinite number of successors.
The set-up: dastardly gorilla Donkey Kong has kidnapped the girlfriend of Jumpman, who the player controls in his attempt to free her. Jumpman, who would later morph into Nintendo’s much-loved character Mario, had to negotiate four different levels before he was re-united with his sweetheart. Throughout those levels, Donkey Kong would sit at the top of a series of platforms, throwing down barrels and other objects that Jumpman had to either leap over or avoid as he climbed upwards via strategically-placed ladders. The game’s creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, is said to have given his eponymous villain its name because he wanted to reflect the stubbornness and obstinacy of gorillas, and in English those characteristics were best encapsulated by the word ‘Donkey’. Initially Nintendo wasn’t too keen, but it stuck, and the rest is history.
Nerd knowledge: Donkey Kong could actually have ended up as a licensed Popeye game, with Bluto as the Donkey Kong character and Popeye ascending the platforms and dodging barrels to rescue Olive Oyl. However, Nintendo failed to get the license and instead came up with the characters we all know and love to this day.
One of the first ever colour arcade games, Space Invaders was released in 1978, just as interest in video games exploded. The player moves a laser cannon left and right across the bottom of the screen, using blocks as cover that are gradually destroyed by enemy fire. Above them are five rows of eleven aliens moving horizontally back and forth as they descend towards the laser cannon. The player earns points by shooting the aliens, but as more of them are eliminated, their descent and the game’s music speeds up. If they reach the bottom of the screen, the game stops and the player loses a life.
Nerd knowledge: Space Invaders exploded in popularity in Japanese amusement arcades. It was played so much that the 100-yen coin became scarce across the country.
In 1980 Namco launched an unassuming little maze game called ‘Puck Man’, which proceeded to become the most popular arcade machine of all time. When it reached the US, the game was re-named ‘Pac-Man’ for fear that the word ‘Puck’ could easily be altered to look like one the English language’s most profane swearwords. Using a joystick, the player controls Pac-Man through a maze on a quest to eat all pac-dots within it. With four ghosts constantly chasing at his heels, four larger power pills enable Pac to turn the tables – if he eats one, the ghosts turn blue, slow down and can be eaten as well. Other symbols, such as cherries, bring extra points; once every pac-dot is eaten the player advances to the next level, where everything is faster. Although it was designed to be an infinite game, a bug prevents anyone from advancing beyond level 256. On this level half the screen is corrupted, leaving only 114 dots available for Pac to eat. Since the game does not consider a level completed until 244 dots have been eaten, the next stage can never be reached.
Nerd-knowledge: The original Japanese title ‘Pakkuman’ is thought to be inspired by the onomatopoeic Japanese phrase ‘paku-paku taberu’, which describes the sound of a mouth opening widely and closing in quick succession. The English title was a reference to the main character’s hockey puck shape.
Street Fighter II
The sequel to the far less successful Street Fighter, Capcom’s 1991 smash hit was the first one-on-one fighting game that gave players the ability to choose from a variety of characters that possessed different moves. Each one had a unique fighting style with approximately 30 or more moves, including grappling moves and throws – previously unseen in fighting games – as well as two or three unique attacks triggered by specific combinations of joystick movements and button presses. As with the original, a second player could join in the game at any time and compete against player one, while solo players competed in a tournament of all the other characters, before facing four final bosses.
Nerd-knowledge: Street Fighter II went on to become a global phenomenon, exceeding $1.5 billion in sales by 1993, with more than 14 million copies of the game sold for the Super Nintendo and Sega Mega Drive.