Fancy graphics are fine, but all gamers know in their hearts that nothing will ever top the drama of Final Fantasy VII or the pure physicality of Super Mario Bros. 3. Playboy’s Retro Gaming articles look at why we love the classics and give you your nostalgia fix.
I had the luxury of growing up with the Sega Genesis, a video game console compatible with rectangular game cartridges that only worked some of the time. I adventured as a vibrant pony in Crystal’s Pony Tale and painted a colorful jungle in Wacky Worlds. Life was good and I was pretty content, but even I know something that perfect can’t last forever.
I began stumbling upon Sega game after Sega game that tested my patience and destroyed every ounce of confidence I had. I spewed profanity at my boxy television. These video games were shaping me into a person I didn’t recognize. How had it come to this? Were these petty games really making me that hostile?
You’re damn right they were.
8. ‘SONIC SPINBALL’
Sonic Spinball is a game that really doesn’t make much sense, but with Sonic being such a popular mascot, it received a good chunk of admiration. I initially even found the idea quite charming. That is until, you know, my impatience got the best of me and suddenly, Sonic was spinning in a perpetual motion toward his death.
Patience is a virtue, folks. Especially in a pinball game that only grants you three lives through the entire game. Additionally, mini challenges are also scattered throughout, inevitably throwing you off guard and Sonic into oblivion.
7. ‘TOY STORY’
At first glance, Toy Story for the Sega Genesis appears innocent; light-hearted even. You begin your journey as the heroic cowboy Woody, venturing through various stages that closely follow the plot of the Pixar animated feature.
The first level is effortless. You’re hurrying through Andy’s room with some upbeat background music, encountering Woody’s trusty pals and a couple of irrelevant enemies you can bypass pretty easily. The game is practically dangling your self-confidence right in front of your face, and before you know it, it vanishes. That gigantic ego you once had? Gone.
All of a sudden, the stages become extremely difficult. An over-sized Buzz Lightyear haunts Woody’s dreams with his daunting laser. Lives are scarce, and so is your patience. Between furious outbursts, you begin to wonder, “…is this seriously a Disney Pixar game?” It will turn your blood cold.
Battletoads is an unforgettable Sega Genesis experience revolving around brawny ninja toads fighting to save their kidnapped friends. At first, it emanates a fun and funky vibe until reality slaps you in the face, hard.
The only thing that makes Battletoads a little less evil is the fact that you are able to team up with another person and face your amphibian demises together. It’s bittersweet, really. As a hermit though, I attempted to succeed on my own. Don’t be like me. Please learn from my mistakes.
5. ‘THE LION KING’
Voyaging through the pride lands as the spirited Simba, you’ll have a pretty easy time with the first stage. You get a respectable grasp of the gameplay and the soundtrack is optimistic and cheerful. So far, Simba is doing pretty well. That is, of course, until the second level, and every level that follows.
Suddenly you’re dodging a stampede of antelope while simultaneously trying not to trip over the rocks that lay so conveniently in your path. It truly is maddening because the beginning stage leads you to believe you can succeed, only to set you up for heartache later on. Simba is going to have to wait forever to be king, because all of your lives are gone and so is your happiness.
4. ‘JURASSIC PARK’
In the Sega Genesis world of Jurassic Park, players are given the option to play as either a velociraptor or Dr. Grant himself. The concept is unique, considering you’re able to experience two very different perspectives, but the actuality of this grueling Jurassic Park game will shower you with defeat.
A lot of the challenge is related to how loose the controls are. One minute you’re jumping onto a platform, the next you’ve suddenly fallen off said platform into a deadly abyss. It’s infuriating because half of the time, it’s not even your fault. At least that’s what you’ll keep telling yourself so you don’t feel like such a failure.
3. ‘EARTHWORM JIM’
It’s all fun and games until Jim’s weapon is firing at everything except the enemy you’re aiming at. When all else fails, you can take a stab at using his primary melee attack, where he appears to whip his entire body out of his own suit. You probably won’t hit anything with that either, though.
Whenever I played Earthworm Jim I found myself rolling my eyes pretty consistently. Granted, the comical ambience does lighten the mood a bit, but it doesn’t make up for Jim’s rebellious ways.
2. ‘ECCO THE DOLPHIN’
Ecco the Dolphin presents this confusing experience where you don’t really know what’s going on, but you kind of just go with the flow anyway. As a happy-go-lucky dolphin, Ecco just hangs out and swims across the sea. Now as a former player of Ecco the Dolphin, I will openly admit that I swam back and forth across the water for a humiliating amount of time. Eventually, I grew tired of all the nothing that was happening and put the game to rest.
A century or so later, I forgave Ecco for being a waste of my time and decided to give it another go. It turns out you’re required to make a ridiculously high leap out of the water to progress onward in the story. Now how in the world are you supposed to figure that out? I must say I liked Ecco better when I thought he was just a carefree dolphin swimming around endlessly. Ignorance is bliss.
1. ’CONTRA: HARD CORPS’
Contra: Hard Corps can be described in two words: moronically impossible. I wish someone had warned me, but I had to learn the hard way. Full of one-hit kills and limited lives, you will die in the first ten seconds of gameplay if you don’t master your dodging techniques. Granted, the Sega Genesis’s version of “dodging” is a continuous awkward motion of leaping past enemies, so there’s really more luck involved than anything.
I’m typically not a fortunate person. I don’t win when I gamble, and that’s all Contra: Hard Corps is: gambling your lives and dreams away, except the odds are stacked against you big time. Sure, you can team up with a buddy, cross your fingers, and hope for the best, but the end result is still the same. You must recognize patterns and memorize each movement of your enemies; otherwise you will not be victorious. Contra will not coddle you. It will tear you down, piece by piece, and distort your views on life for all of eternity.
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