Your parents had better games than You


Clark Chamberlin

De Smet Clark Chamberlin lays out an assortment of vintage games that are regarded as the best ever made.

Clark Chamberlin, Staff Writer

I can count on one hand the games that came out in the last decade that were anything special. The past few years have been an awful time for games with very few that are halfway decent. Much of the big publishers and franchises have been producing nothing but garbage. For example, Pokémon, CoD, FIFA, Madden, and so on have been doing the same trash over and over again with no added creativity, as if all we really needed for the ultimate soccer experience was to see individual pores on the foreheads of the players. Bethesda just keeps putting Skyrim on everything, and then they brought back Doom in 2016, which was more like Quake, except unenjoyable. It had clunky, slow movement, a flow-breaking upgrade system, and way too many liberties taken on the classic, iconic, and most importantly, recognizable graphic design of the original games. The worst part is that there was lots of actual talent behind this, and it really shows, but the game is simply not fun. New Super Mario Bros is a pitiful shell of what 2D Mario games once were. The DS and Wii releases were great, but Nintendo didn’t ever make anything unique after that. The series hasn’t even had a new installment for almost a decade, but the “deluxe” port to the Switch gives me an excuse to complain about it. A similar thing could be said about Mario Kart but its 8-year-old installment is pretty good, if a bit unimaginative.

Just 1985-1990 for the NES alone had over a hundred excellent games. Even the Atari 2600, which had only five or six years before the 1983 crash and worse specs than a boiled cabbage, had over 50 great games for it. We are sitting on a treasure trove of hundreds of games that could last us several lifetimes, yet we keep playing the same tired and derivative trash.

A few games that are particularly good are: The Mario platformers – they’re guaranteed to be fun, other than New Super Mario Bros 2 on the 3DS. My favorites are Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, and Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2. Any game from the Wario Land series is gold. These exploration and puzzle-based platformers of greed are some of Nintendo’s greatest achievements, especially Wario Land 4 for the GBA. The Donkey Kong Country trilogy of platformer games for the SNES are beautiful and brutal. Much more challenging than the Mario series, and just as fun. The semi-recent revival of the series is also excellent. Doom, Real Doom, not Bethesda’s trash. The Ultimate Doom and Doom II are the only two Doom games you need to play, and trust me, you need to play them. With fast-paced, beautifully designed visuals, powerful and cathartic weapons, and masterfully designed levels, these are possibly the best FPS games ever made. Half-Life is the equal and opposite reaction to Doom. Just as good, if not better. No levels or loading screens, just a straight, mostly unbroken path from the start to the finish. The AI is better than many games we have today, and the combat is more of a puzzle of violence than the high-speed action of Doom. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out for the NES is the greatest boxing game of all time, with great characters, and even better creative, rhythm-based fights.

To play these older games on modern computers, you should use an emulator. Emulators are programs that let you play these old games on your phone or computer by simulating the original console. All you need is an emulator and a digital copy of your game, known as a “rom” (short for “read-only memory”), which you can get from many places, but the easiest way to get them is from online archives. In many ways, emulation can make these games even better than they are on their original hardware. The most prominent example of this is upscaling: Shaders can be applied to make everything look hand-drawn or to make the game look like it’s being played on one of the old CRT TVs that it was designed for, or, if you’re emulating a 3D console like the Wii, PlayStation, or Xbox, you could change the resolution to 1080p in the emulator’s settings. If you don’t want to do any of that, you could still have the game’s original resolution.

These have been around for a long time, and during that time people have been able to crack the games wide open and make something new out of them. Rom Hacks are new games created out of the old, and can range from simply changing Mario’s hat, to having all-new levels, graphics, sound, and mechanics. There are many places to get rom hacks, but one of the best is, a website dedicated to fan-made hacks. Plus, creating your own hack is surprisingly easy, and publishing them on sites like is even more so.

We are all sitting on a mountain of nearly perfectly designed classic games, yet we continue to consume the garbage that modern publishers keep pushing out. Stop buying new games and return to what humanity had before. Stop worrying about when the next update for whatever generic cookie-cutter trash you’re playing is going to drop, stop spending so much money on new, boring games you’re not even going to get as many hours out of as dollars you put in, get the games that are actually good. They’re cheaper, often free, there are more of them, and they are actually fun.