Is there anyone who can’t remember sitting in front of their Super NES console and playing games featuring those Super Mario Bros? But even though those days are gone, the impact they had on modern gameplay is still plain to see. So let’s take a nostalgic trip around the best of gaming from those early days when it seemed as if you would have to hire a truck to assemble the computing power you now carry around inside your smartphone!
Legendary games and consoles
Super Mario Kart (SNES, 1992): Everyone has a different favourite Mario Kart and few would deny this is probably one of gaming’s finest-ever spin offs. What about the 4-player thrills of Mario Kart 64, or that crazy mayhem you have to get through with Double Dash!! The whole Super Mario concept has matured beautifully and some game action still proves just as tough a challenge as ever.
Tetris (Nintendo GameBoy, 1989): Seems strange now that a platform limited to shades of grey-green was considered the state-of-the-art medium to play a game focused on arranging colour blocks. Even so, there’s little doubt that the GameBoy rendering of Pajitnov’s classic conundrum was an inspired pairing of game and hardware.
Ms. Pac-Man (Arcade,1982); Ms. Pac-Man takes you back to the arcade original, but with a lot more included. For instance, there were four different mapped mazes, improved graphic colours and a female character, plus a number of changes to make the gameplay tougher. No wonder this yellow gobbler became the most successful American coin-op.
Retro arcade-themed games
Some of you modern-day pinball wizards might imagine that it would be something like Lord of the Rings or another game introduced in the last two decades which has proved the best seller. But you would be mistaken. The majority of the industry’s best-selling pinball machines seem to have come from the period 1975-1995. During those 20 years, the pinball market saw a rollercoaster boom/bust sequence which induced many businesses to produce pinball games before then driving them out of business.
Top of the list is the Addams Family (1992) with 20,270 machines. But who can forget the likes of Star Trek (1979) – 16,842 machines, Flash (1979) – 19,505 machines, Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) – 15,202 machines, or High Speed (1986) – 17,080 machines.
Taking a closer look, there are a number of high-selling games from the late 70s. That’s the time when pinball moved on from games featuring moving score reels to solid-state game environments with digital displays. This development and the arrival of giant pinball arcades helped to take their popularity to new levels which have rarely been surpassed.
Retro slot machines
As with much exquisite workmanship from the past, antique and vintage slot machines are often worth far more today than any jackpot payout they might ever have delivered. Some great examples may still be occasionally found on display in casinos across the world, but the vast majority of these wonders from the bygone days of gambling are now in the hands of wealthy private collectors.
Even though Atlantic City and Las Vegas are today’s hot gambling cities in the US, the very first nickel slot was actually built in San Francisco in 1893. Inventor Gustav Schultze’s machine featured a ‘lucky’ horseshoe game paying out two nickels if the spinning wheel displayed one of ten horseshoe symbols.
Automatic payouts arrived in 1898, but money prizes were soon banned, and one-armed bandit slots were outlawed altogether in 1911. Smart manufacturers rebranded the machines to deliver gum, and after the Prohibition period machine sales took off again. The Second World War helped to spread the popularity of slots around the world and digital simulations have kept the concept alive for today’s gamers to enjoy.
Online slot machines
In our present-day online environment, finding online slots, including some very nice examples of retro games, is quite straightforward. Now it’s so easy to go back in time just by sitting in front of your PC or mobile device and playing online slots in an online casino. Here are two examples which evoke the atmosphere of vintage slot games:
Retro Reels: This Microgaming Online Slot is set up in true retro style and even has retro-type sound effects which take you right back to the old Las Vegas strip. You’ll get to try out a perfect, all-chrome slot machine which features all the authentic detail you would expect on a mechanical slot. However, you’ll still get to play 20 paylines and there’s a nice individual reel re-spin feature to put the player well in control of the gameplay.
Reel Rush: This is a NetEnt retro-themed slot which lacks only the low-res graphics. Reel Rush uses symbols inspired by all the classic slots and even your favourite 8-bit computer games. These are combined to create an addictive online slot. It’s brilliantly simple to play and comes complete with a familiar background filled with green pipes and mushrooms. There’s also a really thumping 8-bit style soundtrack to get your inner child fully pumped up, ready for game action.