Nostalgic Review: 8 Bit Gaming


David Mendez

Video games, like all modern entertainment, grows more elaborate as technology improves. As consoles become more powerful, controllers get more buttons, and graphics improve, it is easy to forget gaming’s humble beginnings. Remember the days of 8-bit games? 8-bit gaming relies on simplicity and engaging game play rather than processing power. For many, 8-bit gaming is a symbol of childhood. We grew up with these titles and it’s easy to come up with a list of our favorites. With 8-bit gaming, there are so many classics that no two lists will be the same. My personal top 10 are listed below:

Pokemon Gold and Silver

Original Platform: Nintendo Game Boy

Where you can play it right now:

Why it’s great: Great role playing games are hard to come by and those you can take anywhere are even more rare. Gold and Silver version took the original game and simply added more. More types, moves, places to explore, gym leaders and, of course, Pokemon.

Why you should play it: You can take this game anywhere and spend hours adjusting your Pokemon line up, which is just plain addicting. Gold and Silver is one of the better of series as it has more, but not too much.

Memorable moment: There is a red Gyarados now?

Tip: Always start with the fire type.

Tecmo Superbowl

Original Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

Where you can play it right now:

Why it’s great: Tecmo Superbowl brought the game of football right into your home with simple pick up and play action. This was also one of the first games to feature real NFL teams, so you and your friends could settle which team was superior (in 1991).

Why you should play it: Simple arcade style action is always fun and with only eight plays, it does not get any simpler than this. This is a game you can play with someone who knows nothing about football and still have a good match. Find some friends and play this game until you get sick of it, if it’s even possible.

Memorable moment: Finding out how broken Bo Jackson is…

Tip: Always pass to Jackson


Original Platform: NES

Where you can play it right now:

Why it’s great: As space bounty hunter Samus Aran, you are tasked with investigating an alien planet all by yourself. With other games, you can explore too, but with others; in Metroid, you are literally alone. There are no other people to be found and you really feel a sense of isolation, which is impressive from a simple 8-bit game.

Why you should play it: Metroid a completely different experience mixed with platforming and shooting. If you love exploration, this game has it all. You could easily finish the game and still not see every room.

Memorable moment: Samus is a girl?!?

Tip: If you get stuck try the password Justin Bailey.


Original Platform: NES

Where you can play it right now:

Why it’s great: It’s a fast-paced action game in which one man (you) are sent to take down a whole army with a single gun and one hit point. It is difficult and is loved for it.

Why you should play it: While difficult at first, the feeling of just mowing down enemies with all kinds of power ups is irresistible. It’s a challenge and an experience that many games can’t measure up to.

Memorable moment: The hallway (2nd stage). It is one of the most iconic in gaming and the furthest most of us got without the Konami code…

Tip: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? B A Start

Legend of Zelda

Original Platform: NES

Where you can play it right now:

Why it’s great: The classic action adventure game, The Legend of Zelda, is one of the first games where you have total freedom of mobility. You start with only a sword but, by the end of the game, you have a whole tool box of weapons and items to aid you on your quest and save the land of Hyrule.

Why you should play it: This is one of the few games where the player can feel a real sense of adventure. Where you are supposed to go next is not always clear and it is up to you to solve the puzzle. In The Legend of Zelda, you are an adventurer.

Memorable moment: You have collected two pieces of the Triforce and the last thing standing between you and the final piece is that evil wizard-pig-thing, Ganon.

Tip: When you save, make sure to hold down the reset button or you could lose everything.


Original Platform: NES

Where you can play it right now:

Why it’s great: Castlevania has only one goal: Kill Dracula. Getting to him is the problem. You have to make it all the way through his castle dealing with all sorts of creatures, real and mythical. In this game, you aren’t armed with a sword or gun; you have a whip to dispatch the forces of darkness. Now, that’s awesome.

Why you should play it: There are many entries in the Castlevania series, but the very first one is often overshadowed by recent games. This is where it all started and it’s easy to see why the series became so popular.

Memorable moment: Fighting the Grim Reaper for the first time.

Tip: Enemies will always knock you backwards. Remember this when you plan your jumps.

Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out

Original Platform: NES

Where you can play it right now:

Why it’s great: This game came out before the advent of the modern fighting game and has a game play style all on its own. Throw in round after round of memorable characters and you have an instant classic.

Why you should play it: The quest to become heavy weight champ never gets old. That’s because the great controls and intense fighting are just as rare today as it was back when Punch-out was first released.

Memorable moment: Rising through the ranks and and squaring off with Iron Mike himself.

Tip: Be patient. While it maybe fun just to try to pummel your opponent, the later bosses will easily punish an over-aggressive style.

I Wanna be the Guy

Original Platform: PC

Where you can play it right now:

Why it’s great: Gamers often claim that modern games are “too easy.” Games today hold the player’s hand with regenerating health bars and help screens. IWBTG says nuts to that and gives you a challenge in the style of the classic 8-bit game that you will never forget. A game like this can only be described as hilariously difficult.

Why you should play it: IWBTG captures the nostalgia of 8-bit not only in its visual style but also in the sheer number of references it makes to past games. Nearly every stage is a throwback to another game. Also, this is the only entry on this list that is meant to be played on your computer. There is no excuse–if you are reading this, you can play it.

Memorable moment: Finding out fruit can fall up…

Tip: Pressing “R” lets you instantly restart from your last save point. (Trust me, you’ll need it)

Mega Man 2

Original Platform: NES

Where you can play it right now:

Why it’s great: The original Mega Man was all about fast action with futuristic robots with crazy powers. MM2 improves that formula by adding more powers and even better level design than its predecessor.

Why you should play it: This is the embodiment of an “old school game.” MM2 has just the right amount of difficulty and challenge to keep you coming back for more with clever level design and powerful enemies.

Memorable moment: The music. MM2 is regarded as having some of the best music in the series or of any game.

Tip: Start with metal man.

Super Mario Bros. 3

Original Platform: NES

Where you can play it right now:

Why it’s great: This was THE game on the NES when it first came out and will always be considered one of the best games ever. The controls are perfect, the game is expansive and full of hidden areas and, best of all, after all these years, it can still be played for hours.

Why you should play it: There is no way you haven’t already played it. You should play it again, because it is a symbol of a simpler time when gaming didn’t need to have HD graphics and online multiplayers.

Memorable moment: Thinking you have already seen everything and then seeing the giant world.

Tip: The famous warp flute can be found in world 1-3. Just stand on the white block towards the end of the stage and hold down.