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Games You Should Buy An Old Console For

For retro gamers, there's nothing superior to their classic consoles. The days of the original Nintendo Entertainment System through the Sega Genesis were golden, and laid the groundwork for everything we know and love about video games today. Enjoy The Witcher 3? You can thank Castlevania. Anything over 16 bits is for suckers, and here are some vintage games that prove it.

Metroid (NES - 1986)

Let's skip right past the obligatory Super Mario Bros. and pick up with Metroid instead. Everyone's already made those fat plumbers destroy turtles anyhow, so that's nothing new. What Metroid lacks in direct storytelling, it makes up for with a creepy, suspenseful experience. Starting somewhere in deep space, you're left to figure out how to survive as droves of surreal aliens assault you on every side. It's a huge world where you can just wander around with relative freedom. The final boss is a giant brain surrounded by life-draining jellyfish...and that's not even the last twist.

Earthworm Jim (Sega Genesis, SNES - 1994)

Earthworm Jim takes the traditional run-and-gun platformer to a whole new level, with your annelid hero running along pathways that twist through Heck, riding a rocket through space warps chasing an evil crow, and launching cows onto bosses. It subverts and even makes fun of the genre in countless interesting ways, and was good enough to spin off into a short-lived animated series. Earthworm Jim 2 is even better and weirder, but everything after that is junk. Unfortunately, the series had a lifespan shorter than an actual earthworm.

Chrono Trigger (SNES - 1995)

One of the best Super Nintendo games ever released, Chrono Trigger was one of the first to show the true breadth of a Japanese-style RPG, with a huge storyline and rewarding gameplay, even if you don't like that anime stuff. Ignore the giant, improbable spikes of hair and focus on how neat the gameplay and overworld battles are. It only narrowly beats the awesomeness of Secret of Mana, and is a solid palate cleanser after the sick agony of playing Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. Seriously, don't. It will make your other games dumber just by being near them.

Penguin Land (Sega Master System - 1987)

Not only is Penguin Land completely charming visually, but it's a solid puzzle-and-action game that uses a series of interesting mechanics to help a penguin get her egg to safety. If protecting a fetal bird from polar bears and gravity isn't enough of a thrill for you, hotshot, Penguin Land is also one of the first games to use a level editor function, allowing the player to make up their own puzzles to challenge themselves and friends. Sure, Wrecking Crew beat them to that by two years, but a hardhat-wearing Mario can't lay eggs. As far as we know.

Out Of This World (SNES, Sega Genesis - 1991)

There's never really been another game like Out Of This World. You start the game stranded on an alien world with nothing but a feeble kick as a weapon, and you need to figure out friend from foe without talking or getting hit even once. Players are forced into scavenging weapons and solving puzzles that exist without clues, making for one of the most memorable gaming experiences of its time. Out Of This World's other great strength is its minimalist graphics and unusually smooth animation, all of which work together to alienate and immerse the player at the same time. It's a game that will stay with you.

Shadowgate (NES - 1987)

Like playing Dungeons & Dragons, but without the whining and the Mountain Dew, Shadowgate is a point-and-click adventure through a magical, medieval castle. While it wasn't the first of its genre, something about the haunting music and simplistic graphics of the game have left an indelible impression on players. And if you're playing Shadowgate, you may as well pick up its companion games: Uninvited brings you through a haunted house, and Deja Vu is a 1940s murder mystery.

Gunstar Heroes (Sega Genesis - 1993)

Gunstar Heroes is the run-and-gun platformer that gamers dream of, like Mega Man on bath salts. Players use both close-combat actions and an array of weapons that can be combined for mega-firepower, making for limitless combat options. As such, fans and critics often praise the game for being both extremely difficult and fair. The game has been ported to many platforms, but many don't match the pure fun and nostalgia of the original. Today's game developers still use Gunstar Heroes as a reference point for their own pseudo-retro, pixel-sploding games.

Star Fox (SNES - 1993)

Star Fox is a 1993 video game that looks like what 1980s movies thought video games looked like—wrap your mind around that. While the graphics in Star Fox aren't much by today's standards, the 3D game engine that allowed triangular spaceships to fight giant, floating heads is beautiful in its simplicity. The game also includes a bizarre secret warp that sends you into a surreal, terrifying dimension where you fight giant paper planes for eternity. It's bleak and weird, but the start of an amazing series of space dogfighting games.

Shadow Of The Ninja (NES - 1991)

While many retro fans cling to the Ninja Gaiden series, Shadow of the Ninja is everything those games wanted to be. Oft-forgotten, and a bit rare, the game is tough without being merciless, and can be played cooperatively by two players at once. SotN is the most accurate and exciting 8-bit ninja game of them all, and there were a lot. It's like Nintendo came from Japan or something.