What Retro Games Still Hold Up In 2018?

Image: Otherside Entertainment

We're fortunate in that plenty of games are getting quality remasters, whether it's Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, the upcoming Resident Evil 2 remake, the work done on Shadow of the Colossus, and plenty more.

But sometimes the originals, even in 2018, still hold up real well.

The original Thief and System Shock 2 are two games I always think of whenever remasters come up, albeit for slightly different reasons. Thief's level design is still outstanding, even though the textures and lighting could definitely use a mod or three.

System Shock 2, on the other hand, has a visual style that is actually passable playing it back in 2018. There's some quirks and annoyances, like compatibility with widescreen resolutions. But on the whole, it works, it's perfectly playable, and the controls work well enough. The inventory system is definitely a byproduct of the late '90s, but you get used to that fairly quickly.

That said, a few texture upgrades certainly don't hurt:

Another game that holds up as well as ever is the Heroes of Might and Magic games, but specifically the second and third iterations. The original Complete Edition from GOG for Heroes 3 also has a wealth of cracking community mods to expand the campaign and races, but even if you're just playing through the original campaign content, you'll still get the full flavour of things. (Having the HD mod helps if you're running an ultrawide screen monitor and want a res closer to your monitor's native output, mind you.)

Cannon Fodder and Sensible Soccer hold up well today, although the latter really benefits the most from having a controller plugged in. I'm also a fan of the original GTA, even though getting it to actually run on Windows 10 is a right pain in the arse. The game plays superbly once you're past that hurdle, mind you.

What retro games do you go back to that still hold up well today?


    I've found any retro game that I played at the time it came out still generally hold up, but if I go to play a retro game I didn't play, I can't get into them that well.

      Totally. I think it's because I'm not wearing the nostalgia goggles. Changes the vibe big time.

    I still find myself revisiting SimTower from time to time.

    Yes, I basically need a PowerPC Mac or a virtual machine these days to play it but it's still worth the effort.

      I find yoot tower works a little better. Gameplay is different at time to SimTower, but almost the same. Also can recommend Project Highrise if you are into that sort of game. On sale for like $9.00 on GOG at the moment. And all the expansions are under $2 each

    A lot of tycoon games still hold up well as their charm isn't in the graphics. Transport Tycoon in particular is still a fun game to play today, and one I always have in my library.

    I think its largely because of the casual nature of those games, where its usually not twitch gaming but strategy.

      I would love to play Transport Tycoon again, but I'm scared that it will eat away way too many hours of my life. I've recently downloaded the open source Roller Coaster Tycoon 2, but again, I know if I start it up I'm screwed!

      ...I'm not even going to mention the Settlers. OMG! What a trap that would be. Bye-bye days of my life.

        Transport Tycoon Deluxe. Many hours spent on it. However once you figure out the formula to win it kinda ruins the game, unless of course you try and play specifically hinging off 1 type of resource or something

          I don't even care about winning most of the time, I just thoroughly enjoy the mechanics of the game. Starting a game and figuring out a good setup is half the fun for me.

        Oh, RCT is another series that I generally have installed as well. Was made worse when I scored a free version of the complete set sometime this year... But yeah, it fits into that Tycoon mentality as well - its the strategy that makes it so playable, not the graphics.

        I came across a go kart track that almost breaks things though. Smallest possible (2 start grids, 2 turns, 2 straights, 2 turns) with max 10 laps, and the patrons cant get enough. At $2 a pop it makes ridiculous money. Cant research it on every map though, so also have a few coasters that simplify things as well. Put waaay too many hours into that series.

        Settlers I haven't played in a long time. Loved it when it came out, haven't picked it up since. Not because its a bad game, just because it never made it back into my classics pile so kinda slipped aside.

        Great game though, can see why you'd lose so much time. Same mentality as well - its the strategy that makes these games work still, not the graphics.

    Zork I still holds up pretty well graphics wise...but they really could do with some DLC that allows you to change font.

    Knightlore on the Rare bundle plays very well for a 30+ year old game. Same with Jet-pac.
    Is my Retro too retro??

    A large portion of the games that I own and play regularly, and it's a big collection, are retro games from all sorts of platforms.

    I can definitely agree with the GTA games holding up. I’m still running Win7 but there’s some good mods for helping ensure they work properly.

      I just bought a new laptop and had a massive inclination to reinstall Episodes from Liberty City for some portable shenanigans. Boy was it a massive headache to look into trying to, what felt like, hack the game in order for it to run on windows 10 (mostly because of games for windows live). I ended up giving up but would love to get back into it. Never finished it but felt like gta4/EFLC were more fun to mess around in than gta5. Any tips?

    Personally, I find games with pre-rendered backgrounds to hold up quite well.

    Donkey kong country 1, 2 & 3
    Resident evil 1, 2 & 3
    Parasite eve 1 & 2
    Final Fantasy 7, 8 & 9
    Star ocean 2
    Chrono Cross
    Grim Fandango
    Balders Gate 2
    The longest journey
    Syberia 1 & 2
    Rollercoaster Tycoon 1 & 2

    And many more I'm probably forgetting. As for non pre-rendered, there are a quite a few that also still hold up with very good gameplay and use of pixel art or solid 3D level design.

    Final Fantasy 6
    Chrono Trigger
    Super mario bros 1, 3
    Super Mario World 1 & 2
    Super Mario 64
    Mario kart 64
    Mario Party 1 & 2
    Banjo Kazooie, Tooie
    Conkers Bad fur day
    Diddy Kong Racing
    Zelda Ocarina of time, Majoras Mask
    1080 snowboarding
    Spyro 1, 2 & 3
    Crash Bandicoot series
    Gran Turismo 1 & 2
    Colin McRae rally 2

    And more I'm probably forgetting. Note that I'm only going up to 2000 (with exception of syberia) in this list, so excluding ps2 generation onwards as I don't consider that totally retro just yet.

      As part of the "and many more" that I forgot when listing off the top of my head, I have to add deus ex, half-life, metal gear solid and silent hill to the non-prerendered category. Oh, and how could I forget worms 2!? Great party games are so timeless.

      Also for what I consider the category of "very retro", secret of monkey island 1 & 2, the incredible machine, sim city 2000...and many more great dos games that I can't quite recall just yet.

      Last edited 19/12/18 4:20 pm

      I have infinite range on my nostalgia goggles for Diddy Kong Racing and Conker's Bad Fur Day.

    I keep going back and play Star Wars Dark Forces every now and then. Aside from the dated control scheme it still holds up as a single player fps.

      I've had the biggest hankering to play the sequel lately. Imo it was one of the best first person shooters ever made, with great level design and some bad ass light saver boss fights.
      And the expansion featuring Mara Jade was superb too.
      Nostalgia is a hell of a drug. Sigh.

    It's not just Heroes of Might and Magic but some of the Might and Magic games too. 6,7 and 8 are still fun - I still need to get around to playing MM1 through 5.

    Also Arcanum is still awesome.

    Master of Orion 2. Still the best 4X ever made, and the graphics hold up surprisingly well for a game released 22 years ago.

    Star Raiders on the Atari 800 still holds up, amazing for a 1979 game.
    You can switch between the galactic map, the long range scanner, front and rear views out of the cockpit, turn on and off the targeting computer, shields etc. all in realtime, all in an 8K cartridge, and it is still loads of fun.

    Also, just finished the original XBOX Halo last night with my daughter in split-screen. It is still fun as hell and we were yelling at the screen as she ran to the final goal with 3 seconds left on the clock. The sound, music and voice work in that game is still amazing, and the graphics still look pretty good.

    I played the first Fallout for the first time this year and had a great time. Its UI is a bit below average with a lot of wasted screen real estate, and having to cycle cursors took a bit of getting used to, but dang the game holds up. Gonna jump into Fallout 2 when I have a bit more time .

    I played stacks of Doom 2 this year with the Project Brutality mod. It’s still one of the finest SP shooters ever made.

    For me in retro gaming i feel most Sega Master System games hold up so much better then Nes, the graphics are just a lot cleaner. But I still love me Nes games.

    I just played Max Payne 2 for the first time last week, it's surprising how good old games can still look when they're run at a high resolution. Just a few years ago I also played Armed & Dangerous again plus System Shock 2, Psychonauts and Duke Nukem 3D for the first time, greatly enjoying them! You don't have to just play games you did when you were young, a good game is a good game regardless of how dated it is!

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