Top 20 Video Games That Aged Well

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Top 20 Video Games That Aged Well

VOICE OVER: Riccardo Tucci WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
You would never think that these video games are as old as they are! For this list, we'll be going over the video games whose graphics, gameplay, and overall experience still hold up today. Our countdown includes The Secret of Monkey Island, Half-Life 2, Mario Kart 64, Final Fantasy VI, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and more!
Transcript
Script written by Garrett Alden

Top 20 Video Games That Aged Well


Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’re counting down our picks or the top 20 video games that aged well.

For this list, we’ll be going over the video games whose graphics, gameplay, and overall experience still hold up today.

If there’s a game you enjoy just as much now, but whose absence from our list you didn’t like, please let us know in the comments!

#20: “The Secret of Monkey Island” (1990)


Point and click adventure games tend to age pretty well overall, since the overall gameplay has largely remained the same over the decades. “The Secret of Monkey Island” is one of the genre’s kings. Following the adventures of hapless wannabe pirate Guybrush Threepwood, the player must solve puzzles through dialog and performing various actions. The retro pixelated look certainly gives the game a classic feel, but it’s one that never really goes out of style. The biggest draw here is the story and characters, both of which are hilarious. “The Secret of Monkey Island” has aged better than a bottle of rum.

#19: “Left 4 Dead” (2008)


One of the more recent games on our list, “Left 4 Dead” is a zombie survival game focused on teamwork. A group of four survivors must navigate the apocalypse by making their way from safehouse to safehouse, while avoiding hordes of zombies, including mutated ones with special abilities. The visuals still hold up well over a decade later, but it’s the core gameplay that has really kept players invested in “Left 4 Dead” and its sequel. The need to cooperate with your teammates—as well as the constant danger—keeps the experience thrilling every time you play. It’s like being in a zombie movie, but without the risk of infection! Unlike its zombies, “Left 4 Dead” hasn’t decayed one bit.

#18: “Tekken 3” (1998)


“Tekken 3” was graphically impressive for a PS1 game. But while it may not hold a candle to visuals of modern instalments in the franchise,, it’s still a very solid fighter. The third entry in the franchise truly took things into the 3rd dimension, with fighters able to move in more directions than left or right and up or down. The variety of fighters is remarkable, and they all feel distinct from one another. Playing as a bear or a dinosaur with boxing gloves takes some getting used to, but these unconventional combatants really add to the experience.

#17: “Half-Life 2” (2004)


A much-beloved FPS, “Half-Life 2” was such a huge hit that, even a decade and a half after its release, it remains the standard by which comparable games are judged. Its physics engine allowed for new levels of interactivity with the environment through the awesome gravity gun. It immerses players in the dystopian sci-fi narrative by omitting cutscenes and keeping you in the action. It’s just an all around excellent gaming experience. While it might not seem revolutionary today, that’s only because every other FPS has since taken cues from “Half-Life 2!” If and when “Half-Life 3” comes out, it has a lot to live up to.

#16: “Chrono Trigger” (1995)


“Chrono Trigger” is more than just “that time travel RPG.” The world and characters are all brilliantly realized and change based on the actions you take in the past and the future. Its engaging story flies by, yet it feels richer and more detailed than games twice its length. The combat is turn-based, but is based on timed meters and allows for team-up attacks. There are also no random encounters. Basically, it doesn’t waste your time. “Chrono Trigger” could be made today and still be hailed as a masterpiece of an RPG. It’s just that timeless.

#15: “Pac-Man” (1980)


Simplicity often translates to a game aging well, and they don’t get much simpler than “Pac-Man.” Waka-waka your way through a maze, eat the pellets, avoid the ghosts or eat them with a power pellet, go to the next stage. It’s a repetitive gameplay loop, but it’s so fun and satisfying that it has been remade and remixed countless times. You can search Google right now and play the game right in the search engine – that’s how widespread it is. Pac-Man has never lost his appetite for pellets, and gamers have never lost their appetite for “Pac-Man.”

#14: “Mario Kart 64” (1996)


Racers in general tend to age better than most games, and “Mario Kart 64” is no exception. The game still handles great and has a ton of fun tracks to race on. While the 2D pre-rendered racers and items certainly date the game, the core gameplay is as fun as any of the newer “Mario Kart” entries. If you have it, popping it in with some friends to play battle mode or race through the grand prix is still a blast. And sure, getting hit with a blue shell might induce some rage, but it’s not like those are restricted to “64.”

#13: “Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes” (2000)


Fighting games come and go, but “Marvel vs. Capcom 2” will never die! Marvel superheroes and villains squaring off against Capcom video game characters in massive, 3v3 matches… what could be better? “MvC 2” is one of the flashiest, most broken fighters out there, and it’s all the better for it. Huge, cheap moves fill the screen and the whole experience is pure, unadulterated HYPE! The game is still frequently seen at tournaments and it’s because casuals and pros alike can appreciate the absolute insanity that occurs in matches. Plus, the animated art style and oh-so-smooth soundtrack make for a perfect pairing in any decade.

#12: “Diablo II” (2000)


Decades after its release, people are still playing “Diablo II.” It’s one of the undisputed kings of action RPGs. Part of the reason behind its longevity is the addictive gameplay. Sure, a lot of it is just clicking a mouse, but the progression of defeating the next enemy—or finding the next bit of loot that will help you defeat the next enemy—is incredibly satisfying. The degree of customization with your characters also ensures that you’ll be playing this game for a very long time!

#11: “Donkey Kong Country” SNES trilogy (1994-96)


We usually like to restrict our entries to single games in a series, but the “Donkey Country Country'' games from the ‘90s were all so good and released so close together, we couldn’t choose one. This trio of platformers has distinctive, pre-rendered sprites that still look good today. Featuring a barrel full of levels, a ton of secrets, and iconic music, the “Donkey Kong Country” series has definitely aged better than Cranky Kong. Whether you’re looking for challenging platforming or just something fun to pick up, the first three “Donkey Kong Country” games are sure to drive you bananas—in the best possible way.

#10: “Halo: Combat Evolved” (2001)


The original “Halo” was a game changer for its time, bringing fast-paced, FPS gameplay to consoles, while also delivering a sweeping space epic and addictive multiplayer. Although some aspects of its level design haven’t aged gracefully, the majority of the game has. “Combat Evolved” really lived up to its name, proving incredibly influential on the FPS genre, which is perhaps why it continues to hold up so much better than its contemporaries. Playing through the campaign or multiplayer with friends is still as fun as it ever was. And that epic soundtrack will never, ever get old.

#9: “Final Fantasy VI” (1994)


“Final Fantasy” games are the gold standard of RPGs, and its 6th installment has aged like fine wine. The last in the series for the Super Nintendo, “Final Fantasy VI” features a story that subverts many of the tropes the franchise is known for, while also dealing with mature subject matter. It also features one of the biggest casts of playable characters in the series, which allows for a lot of variety in how you approach battles. The 16-bit graphics have an enduring appeal, and they still manage to make things like the opera scene moving—or Kefka’s laugh terrifying. “FF6” may not have some of its successors’ enduring popularity, but it has arguably held up better.

#8: “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” (1992)


These days, it can be easy to forget that Sonic was once one of the biggest names in platforming. And he had earned it. While all his Genesis era games are excellent, the second installment is our pick for the one that holds up the best. The game introduces Tails to the franchise, while also featuring more branching level design, as well as upgraded moves like the spin dash. While the pseudo-3D bonus stages certainly show their age, overall “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” has enough high-speed gameplay that any low points are quick and easy to breeze right past.

#7: “Castlevania: Symphony of the Night” (1997)


“Castlevania: Symphony of the Night” wasn’t the game that started the series’ non-linear approach with interconnected maps and RPG elements, but it certainly popularized it. “Symphony of the Night” features a sprawling, detailed castle to explore, fun and creative combat, and one of gaming’s most celebrated musical scores. The gorgeously detailed pixelated graphics still look excellent today. Like any good piece of music, “Symphony of the Night” will give you a different experience every time you return to it. The voice acting is admittedly pretty cringey at times, but the game’s depth and absorbing gameplay have helped it stay as ageless as Dracula…or Alucard, for that matter.

#6: “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” (1998)


Most games in the “Zelda” franchise have aged incredibly well, but if there’s one entry that fans keep returning to, it’s “Ocarina of Time.” It’s widely regarded as one of the best and most influential 3D adventure games ever made. The sense of adventure and satisfaction you get from exploring Hyrule on your quest to save the world is hard to beat. The characters and world brim with life and charm. And the music is utterly unforgettable. Of course, there are some clunky elements, and the graphics are no longer cutting edge, but despite this “Ocarina of Time” is a timeless masterpiece.

#5: “Doom” (1993)


Given that it practically invented the FPS genre, or at least popularized it, you’d think “Doom” would be incredibly dated. And to be sure, there are some aspects of this game that are very much products of its time. From the mostly 2D visuals, to the focus on gameplay over story, Doom shows its age.. But those aren’t necessarily bad things. Heck, it even does some things modern shooters don’t but should do more of, like allowing you to pit enemies against each other. “Doom” is a constant barrage of enemies, awesome guns, and progressive metal music. Killing demons on Mars will never stop being cool.

#4: “Super Smash Bros. Melee” (2001)


The “Super Smash Bros.” franchise has had some great titles in it, but few of them have the enduring popularity of “Melee.” Its graphics have aged more gracefully than even some of its successors, but where “Melee” truly shines is in its gameplay. While it’s of course a fun party game that pretty much anyone can pick up and enjoy, pitting famous Nintendo characters against each other, it’s deceptive in its simplicity. Hiding beneath its accessible veneer is a surprisingly rich fighter, whose precise controls have given it lasting popularity in esports. Whether you’re a casual or hardcore gamer, “Melee” will never die!

#3: “Resident Evil 4” (2005)


A singular entry in this horror franchise, “Resident Evil 4” is fantastic. The thrilling action takes the player on a roller coaster ride of one amazing set-piece after another. The story is linear, but gives players options in how to approach encounters. Sure, the QTEs are a pain for some and the inability to move while shooting can take some getting used to, but the game is built around them, so it’s fine. All in all, “RE4” influenced so many third person shooter games that it honestly doesn’t feel out of place among the big action titles of today.

#2: “Tetris” (1984)


Of course “Tetris'' has aged well – it’s “Tetris!” It’s THE puzzle game! Align different shaped blocks into rows to eliminate them until they stack up too high and you lose. Its addictive gameplay scratches that itch in all our brains while increasing the pace to keep us invested. Such a simple concept, but it’s because of this simplicity that Tetris has been copied, remixed, and remade for decades. It may not be our number one, but “Tetris'' will probably outlast all the rest of our entries, and maybe even the sun.

#1: “Super Mario World” (1990)


We could have chosen almost any “Mario” game for this list, but “Super Mario World” is arguably the most timeless title in the storied video game franchise. The “Mario” franchise had arguably already reached the peak of 2D platforming, but “Super Mario World” polished it to perfection. The expansive world has a ton of levels and even if you gun it to the final boss, there are still a plethora of secrets to uncover. The visuals and music leap off the screen and are just as appealing to the senses today as they’ve ever been. “Super Mario World,” like Mario’s mustache, will never go out of style.
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