The best retro games of each decade
We’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic recently (blame Netflix for increasing their catalogue of 90s high school rom coms and Sabrina the Teenage Witch) so we thought we’d get a little retro and look at the video games that we all loved playing as kids. So, just find your age below and take a trip down memory lane with the video games that defined your childhood.
The golden age of the arcade game. Did you even grow up in the 70s and early 80s if you didn’t get tennis elbow and repetitive strain in your thumbs at least once a week from hours at the arcade?
Arguably one of the most famous and recognisable games of all time, this fixed shooter set-up has you battling a descending swarm of pixelated aliens for the survival of planet Earth. The stakes couldn’t be higher, and the aliens couldn’t be more iconic. I know we’re supposed to kill them, but damn do they look cool.
This yellow little dude waka waka’d his way into our lives with an empty stomach and an appetite that couldn’t be stopped. We relate man, we relate. The basic principles were: eat the food and escape the ghosts. Sounds simple enough, but this game was well known for being devilishly difficult and a whole lot of fun.
Picture this: it’s 8pm on a school night. You’ve saved up your 10p and 20p coins for a night in the arcade. You’re surrounded by a crowd on the edge of their seat. You’re four hours in and wishing you could sell your soul for a line piece. Omg is that a line piece?! OMG IT IS. THE CROWD GOES WILD. That’s right baby, it’s Tetris. Classic. Iconic. The only reason you can now organise a drawer as an adult.
The 80s and early 90s in their prime: where everything was bigger, more colourful, and more extra than ever before. Long live hairspray and hedgehogs.
SEGA’s company mascot, this speedy blue hedgehog sprinted on the scene and stole hearts as well as gold rings. The biggest question of them all: could you keep up? Fun fact, he was originally going to be called Mr Needlemouse. Glad you stuck with Sonic there, SEGA.
I challenge you to Mortal Kombat! Fatality! You weak pathetic fool! Finish him! Phrases of a whole generation. Ever fancied casually ripping out a spine and karate chopping someone’s head off? Well, Mortal Kombat was the game for you.
If you grew up with a Game Boy, then you had Pokémon Red and Blue. Who was your favourite? The adorable and electric Pikachu? The all powerful Mewtwo? Red hot Charmander? Or perhaps Diglett, the one that looked like a turd? Much like a proud parent, don’t make us pick, we love them all!
This Japanese street fighting video game (you could guess from the name) burst onto the scene in 1987 and fought its way to the top with a mix of martial arts and super cool graphics.
The mid 90s. Otherwise known as the decade of hair scrunchies, Tamagotchis, and more importantly, the Nintendo 64. (If you haven’t seen the video of that kid getting a Nintendo 64 for Christmas, stop reading this sentence right now and YouTube it. The joy. The pure joy.)
In our humble opinion, Mario Kart is one of the greatest games of all time. Mario, his brother Luigi and his friends Princess Toadstool, Toad, Yoshi, King Bowser, Donkey Kong Jr. and Koopa Troopa all race each other and see who's the fastest in the Mushroom Kingdom. Damn you Rainbow Road, will we ever beat you?!
Despite what the name suggests, Zelda is actually about a cute lil’ guy called Link. Set in the fantasy land of Hyrule, you navigate the game to collect the eight fragments of the Triforce of Wisdom in order to rescue Princess Zelda from the evil villain Ganon. Legendary by name, and legendary by nature.
If you were a football fan in the 90s, you had Fifa. Simple as that. Playing as the best footballers and teams from Manchester United to Arsenal to Real Madrid, you could flex your footwork and cardio skills on the pitch with your friends. Highly addictive and highly fun. Now one of the best selling games ever, the entire series has sold over 325 million copies.
First off, if you’re ever stuck with what Spotify playlist to whack on, might we recommend the Tony Hawk soundtrack? It’s epic. Anyway, back to the game. Couldn’t quite stay on the board in real life? Well, thanks to our man Tony, you can skate like a true pro and pop shove-it, kickflip, nosegrab and melon your way to the top.
The 2000s, aka the noughties, aka the decade that Motorola Razrs and PlayStations were the hottest thing since sliced bread.
Set in the fictional (and hella corrupt) city of San Andreas where you rise through the criminal ranks by beating people up, robbing banks and if you can guess from the title, stealing cars. Good, illegal fun.
I mean, what can we say? Our personal favourite game series of all time, we probably sank a total of years into this epic saga. No regrets either. Whether you loved the racing or adventure games, what better hero can you wish for than a genetically enhanced bandicoot named Crash who wears jean shorts, sneakers and has a mohican? We rest our case.
If you never accidentally set your whole house on fire from making a sandwich or plugged the cheat ‘rosebud’ into the top left corner so you could afford the giant love bed, did you ever really play The Sims?
Archaeologists really had a moment didn’t they? There was a time when two of the world’s sexiest characters were Indiana and Lara. Imagine. In this classic Tomb Raider game you played as Lara Croft, archaeologist-adventurer with very big...ambitions. Anyway, during the game you navigate levels and ancient rooms while fighting enemies and solving puzzles to rescue an invaluable artefact. She basically invented the swinging blade and wall spikeys. Go Lara.
The twenty-tens: the era of Netflix, being woke and memes. It’s also a decade that doesn’t include 2020, so it’s winning.
Combining creativity with 3D block graphics, Minecraft is a pretty special experience of exploring, crafting and building things in an amazing world. And after being released in 2011, Minecraft officially became the best selling game of all time with a total of 200 million copies sold and 126 million monthly active users by 2020. Those mines sure are crafty.
In the cutest of cute games, you’re a little human who lives in a village amongst your animal villager friends where you spend your days fishing, bug catching, and fossil hunting. It’s pretty much as delightful as it sounds.
Based on an interstellar war between humanity and an alliance of aliens, this futuristic first person shooter game is one of the biggest franchises world-wide and remains one of Xbox’s hero games.
Gritty, violent and old school. Set in 1911 at the end of the American frontier, you play Red Dead Redemption as John Marston, a former outlaw whose wife and son are taken hostage by the government in ransom for his services as a hired gun. What won’t he do to save this wife and son? As it turns out, not much.
The premise is simple. You’re birds. Gross pigs have stolen your eggs. You’re angry. It’s time to launch yourselves one by one from a catapult to rescue your precious egg babies and beat the pigs up whilst you’re at it. Hours (and we really mean hours) of fun. Also, good luck ever removing the theme music from your head. It’s in there forever.
If this hasn’t filled the video game-shaped gap in your heart, you can view our entire range of gaming cards here.