Retro games lovers rejoice! It is extremely rare for any game to enjoy even a modicum of longevity as consumers are continually barraged by a raft of exciting new releases. However, a select few titles have managed to defy convention by enjoying enduring popularity. These retro games are still going strong to this day and it is testament to the genius of their developers:
Street Fighter II
Capcom released this classic title in 1991 and gamers are still enjoying it 28 years later. Dozens of other fighting games have come and gone in that time, but Street Fighter II retains a large cult following thanks to nostalgic players. Many talk about it as their favorite game of all time, and they argue that the series went downhill with the advent of 3D and new features that detracted from the fun. It turned legions of casual gamers into hardcore enthusiasts and they will return to it like a beloved old film or song.
Its characters are household names, including Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Blaca, E Honda, M. Bison, Blanka. Dhalsim, Zangief, Balrog, Vega and Sagat, while the Hadouken is world famous. The game has grossed around $10 million over the years and it even spawned a Hollywood movie featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Kylie Minogue and Raul Julia. Nicki Minaj, Kanyu West, Jay-Z, Drake and many more artists continue to sample Street Fighter II and rap about it, helping it maintain its cultural relevance.
Tetris is the absolute bastion of longevity within retro games. Russian engineer Pajitnov completed the first playable version on June 6, 1984, when Ronald Reagan was President of the USA and the Cold War was raging on. It is still supremely popular to this day.
The game is playable on almost every console and computer operating system ever made, and it has been adapted for smartphones and other mobile devices. Tetris has shifted more than 70 million copies since 1984, while there have been more than 100 million smartphone downloads, making it one of the most widely played games of all time. It has even been played on the side of buildings.
The concept of the puzzle is simple, but it is great fun and fiendishly difficult, as the falling Tetriminos quickly speed up. Tetris is said to lead to more efficient brain activity during play, while it can apparently help people quit smoking or stick to a diet. In 2012, Matthew Buco of New York received 999,999 points, the highest possible score in Tetris, with just 207 completed lines.
The iconic sci-fi strategy title hit shelves in 1998 and it went on to become one of the bestselling PC games ever made. Reviewers loved the elegance of its design and the quality of the pixel art, arguing that it set a new and extremely high benchmark for the real-time strategy genre. It became a national pastime in Korea, and it also earned legions of fans across the USA, Europe, China and a few other key hubs.
Last year, StarCraft celebrated its 20th anniversary and it was found to be the 17th most popular core PC game due to the hype around its birthday. Publisher Blizzard launched a celebratory streaming event and StarCraft racked up an impressive 8.3 million viewing hours during March. A sequel, StarCraft II, was launched in 2010, but the original game has frequently been able to outstrip it in the popularity stakes.
It remains one of the most influential titles in history and it remains a popular esport in 2019. Groups of leading gamers converge upon Seoul and other cities to battle it out for glory at a number of prestigious tournaments. After the sequel was released, the original StarCraft saw a hiatus from TV screens, but it returned in 2015 to Ongamenet. It remains the 13th most lucrative esport in history in terms of prize money handed out, and the top 50 players are all Korean.
League of Legends
It might be a bit of a stretch to call LoL a retro game, as it is constantly updated by a 2,500-strong team at Riot Games, but it is now celebrating its 10th anniversary and its longevity is remarkable. Its developers broke the mould when they released LoL, breaking the regular publishing cycle and offering a free to play game that made money by charging players for skins and other in-game extras. It enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence and then became a multibillion-dollar economic juggernaut.
LoL remains the most popular esport in the world, ahead of Dota 2 and CS:GO, and leading players like Faker are genuine superstars. It is at the top of Unikrn’s esports betting markets, while leading sponsors include MasterCard. There are major leagues in North America, Europe, China and Korea, and smaller leagues across the globe. The best teams converge each year for the World Championships and the last Grand Final was watched by a record-breaking 205 million people, outdoing the NBA Finals, the Super Bowl and Wimbledon.
It may be a decade old, but LoL is more relevant than ever before and it appears to have a glorious future ahead of it.
Sonic the Hedgehog
The amorphous blue hedgehog transformed Sega’s fortunes in the 1990s by allowing the Genesis to “do what Nintendon’t”. Sonic became the face of the company and he helped the company seize a tremendous share of the market from its rival. Gamers loved the gameplay, which involves soaring through colourful levels in a blur while jumping, stomping on enemies and collecting rings. It is one of the most iconic games of all time and it is still played widely in 2019.
The general consensus is that Sonic went downhill when gaming went 3D. It heralded Sega’s fall from grace and saw consoles like the Saturn and the Dreamcast flop. Sonic works best in 2D as he follows a linear path towards a showdown with the evil Dr Robotnik. This is not ideal for the complexities of modern gaming, but it makes Sonic a great retro title for mobile users.
You still see commuters playing Sonic the Hedgehog on their smartphones while travelling to work and it remains a real joy to guide him on his turbo-charged missions.
Retro games are indeed stronger than ever. But are we missing your favorite games? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.