Top Ten 80’s-90’s Games!! (7# – 5#)

28 01 2008

7: SONIC THE HEDGEHOG (1991)

Sega’s faster, edgier answer to Nintendo’s series of Super Mario Bros. games, Sonic the Hedgehog created a blue, spike-haired mascot for the company and propelled the Genesis ahead of the Super NES during the highly competitive Christmas season of 1991. Players guide the running, jumping, spinning, enemy-pouncing title character through six colorful, beautifully illustrated zones (including the Spring Yard Zone and the Labyrinth Zone), zipping through them with reckless abandon, or exploring them a little more slowly in hopes of finding hidden rings, lives, power sneakers, and other goodies.

The bad guys (such as Caterkiller and Dr. Robotnik) are memorable, there are cool obstacles to avoid (including spikes and lava) and fun bonus levels to play, and gameplay is butter smooth and nice and easy (probably too easy). The game that invented the “fast-scrolling, character-with-an-attitude” sub-genre, Sonic the Hedgehog is easily the most important cartridge ever released for the Sega Genesis.

6: DOUBLE DRAGON 2: The Revenge (1988)

Double Dragon II drops the rescue premise of the original game in favor of a revenge theme (hence the subtitle). Whereas in the original game, Marian was kidnapped, in the sequel she is shot to death by Black Warriors’ leader Willy right in the very beginning of the game, giving the game a much darker tone than the original. The plot deviates slightly in the NES version. While the revenge premise is the same, Willy does not appear in the game at all and a new final boss (the Mysterious Warrior) is introduced in his place.

The ending also differs between the original arcade version and in the NES version. In the arcade version, the game ends after Billy (and/or Jimmy) defeat their evil doppelgangers. The game shows a photograph of the Lee brothers and Marian. Marian sheds a tear that forms the words, “The End,” at the bottom of the screen. In the NES version, there’s an additional stage after the doppelgangers, where Billy and Jimmy must confront the Mysterious Warrior in a two-part final showdown. After they defeat the Mysterious Warrior, he tells the Lee brothers of the prophecy of his fighting style. Billy returns to Marian’s body to find her restored to life, as if she had merely been asleep.

5: GRAND THEFT AUTO (1998)

Grand Theft Auto is made up of a series of levels each set in one of the three cities in the game. In each level, the player has a target number of points to achieve, and five lives to attain the score. The player is free to do whatever he wants. The player can gain points by causing death and destruction amid the traffic in the city, or steal and sell cars for profit, although to get to the large target money amount to complete a level, players will usually opt to complete some missions. Even during missions there is still some freedom as most of the time the player is free to choose the route to take, but the destination is usually fixed. It is this level of freedom which set GTA apart from other action based computer games at the time. The PC releases of the game allowed networked multiplayer gameplay using the IPX protocol.

Grand Theft Auto has seven ‘radio stations’, plus a police band track, which can be heard once the player enters a car, however each vehicle can only receive a limited amount of these radio stations. In the Playstation port each car only had one station.

PC players can remove the CD once the game is loaded and replace it with an audio CD. The next time the character enters a vehicle, a song from the CD will randomly play.

The game’s title track is “Gangster Friday” by Craig Conner (who played all instruments on this track), credited to the fictitious band Slumpussy, and doesn’t appear on any of the radio stations With the exception of Head Radio FM, the names of songs or the radio station names are never mentioned in-game. However the soundtrack is listed in the booklet which comes with the Grand Theft Auto game.

The three cities in which the game is set are modelled after real cities, in terms of landscape and style. They are Liberty City (New York City), San Andreas (San Francisco) and Vice City (Miami).

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