Gaming’s Gateway Drugs: Ancient Edition

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The premise was quite simple – run from left to right as you collect treasure. The hook, though, was that you only had twenty minutes to collect as much as you could. After that it was game over, regardless of whether or not you were out of lives. While we’re not sure how well this would go over in a modern game, but the idea of playing over and over trying to best your score was pretty addicting in 1982.

Super Mario Bros.

There’s absolutely nothing I can add to this entry that you don’t already know. You already know that this game made Miyamoto a household name amongst gamers. You already know all of the warp zones, the super-catchy soundtrack by master composer Koji Kondo, the approximately 700 kajillion sales it claims. Hell, you already even know that the shrubs in the game are just palette-swapped clouds.


Of course she is

It’s far from the best entry in the Super Mario series, but you’re hard-pressed to find one that’s more important. The epitome of pick-up-and-play 2D platforming.

Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!

Depending on whether you were late to the party or not, you may have played Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream. If you did, your childhood is hereby invalidated. I didn’t want it to end this way and I’m sorry for that.

For everyone else, you not only got the finest sports title that Nintendo ever produced, but one of its finest puzzlers as well. Unlike your modern-day Fight Night, it was all about learning your opponent’s attack patterns and tells, then quickly countering with a flurry of tiny punches. Lather, rinse, and repeat. Better yet, all of the fighters were cultural caricatures. Nothing too offensive, but enough to get a chuckle out of everyone playing.


Up yours, ya rapey jerkass

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It all culminated into what, in hindsight, is a rather frightening final boss battle – MF’ing Mike Tyson himself. Back in 1987, it was a pretty big deal, but now … well, let’s just say that it’s not so hard to see why Nintendo distanced themselves from Iron Mike and went with the more generic Mr. Dream.

The Legend of Zelda

To many gamers worldwide, this is Mr. Miyamoto’s best franchise, rather than a certain pudgy plumber. If you ask us, there’s no wrong answer here. It’s like asking which color is more correct.

The fun thing about this game is that it’s based on Shiggy’s (can we call you Shiggy? Thanks!) love for exploration growing up. It definitely showed in the game’s design – in 1987, it gave a sense of exploration unlike any other, even after Metroid’s release a year prior.


Nintendo owes millions a 1986 summer

Even 23 years later the game is still influencing game design. This year alone Darksiders was described as half-Zelda and half-God of War, followed by the very Zelda-like 3D Dot Game Heroes in May.

Well, that’s about it for the older, more experienced part of the feature. Before closing this chapter and moving on to the next, one quick thought: You’ve got to love the arcade era. The idea of building a 400-lb. cabinet dedicated to playing a single game that you can now buy for $5 on PSN is pretty insane. It’s not exactly surprising that arcades went the direction they did, despite how much we loved spending time there.

Check back soon for the next part, where we get to talk about the games we at PlayStation University were born in time to play personally!

Readers Comments (9)

  1. I’m a newer gamer. I started playing PC during the fourth gen, but didn’t get a console until the fifth gen. I was an N64 guy then. I still love the classics, though, especially the Zelda games. My favorite is A Link to the Past for the SNES.

  2. I started out playing NES and SNES. I’m dissapointed with the new gamers, because they probably haven’t experienced “true gaming”.

    They get too excited by saying “I finished Halo 3 on legendary mode”. Well, I could beat Super Contra on hard mode when I was five, how about that?.

    I guess my point is: being a gamer and how each person sees himself as a “gamer” totally depends on the generation one started playing. So, I would never ever call someone who plays iphone games a true gamer.

    Anyway, pretty much any snes game would be an excellent entry point to gaming.

  3. I started out with Intellivision, still love Night Stalker. Later on though, Megaman 2 and Final Fantasy 6 would further inspire my gaming needs.

  4. TraumaticTighearnan September 26, 2010 @ 12:55

    You just named every loved retro game there is.. I was expecting games from this generation.. =P

  5. @Traumatic — This is part one of a three-part feature. The newest games will be in the last part. 😉

  6. I miss those games. Especially the Atari games. I still have my NES though and I still play with it. I still haven’t been able to beat Mike Tyson. 18 freaking years and I still get my behind handed to me by a pixelated Mike Tyson. Also, my version of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out is the original version.

    I still play all my favorite games. Zelda, Metroid, Mega Man 2, Ninja Gaiden, Batman, Super Mario bros.1&3, Castlevania 1&3, Double Dragon II, Blaster Master, Punch Out, Battletoads, Duck Tales, Darkwing Duck and many others.

  7. @Dreamer_Lion
    I agree with you completely. The thing is that games now are just way too easy (seriously, even on “hard” mode). Also, game developers put so many training wheels like regenerating health, auto saves, checkpoints after every step you take etc. The only game that could compare to old games is Demon’s Souls (my personal favorite game this generation). Before, it was obligated to not get hit (especially the “1 hit and you’re dead” types of games) and not waste any of your lives. Now its just spawn at the last checkpoint after losing.

  8. Sega Master as a gateway drug… ’nuff said.

  9. TraumaticTighearnan September 27, 2010 @ 11:25

    @Joe Ahh, I see.. Apologies xD

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