There are loads of “best of” lists for old console games, and new console games, and board games and mind games. But none of them really take into account how playable these games still are now that we’re used to a more fluid and user-friendly experience. I’ve tried my best to compile a list of games that I’ve played that I feel are still hugely playable. (spoiler, it’s mostly first-party Nintendo games!)
Probably riding off pure nostalgia power – it’s challenging, completely playable and the music and art are still pretty dandy.
Mario Land 2
A mini Mario World on a non-linear map. I wasn’t too keen on this when I was younger, it felt a little too floaty and Mario seemed too big for the screen. In my old age I don’t care about those things… it’s still playable, though a lot easier than Mario Land 1.
Simple mechanics and slow-paced gameplay keeps this one feeling fresh. It’s a lot more forgiving than Mario Land with more secrets than Mario Land 2. Really nice world to explore.
Link’s Awakening (and the Oracle games for similar reasons)
Light on the text, heavy on the creative locations and story. I prefer the grayscale version to the colour one, but that’s just due to nostalgia. It’s probably the most playable of all Gameboy games.
Pokemon gen 2
Deeper than Gen 1, had a huge area to explore and a really pleasant story. These are the least playable, especially if you’re going after completing the Pokedex and are used to how quick and nimble the newer games are.
2 courses (USA and Japan), 18 holes on each. Definitely a game to master due to the limited amount of content. The ball hitting mechanic is still in new games like Hot Shots golf, it’s actually pretty amazing how little has changed in this genre! The Hot Shots golf game I have on my Vita is fundamentally the same as this but with prettier graphics. Tennis for similar reasons. Both are great in multiplayer.
Tetris and Tetris Attack
Classics! Even the new games don’t add much to the formula.
I think this is one of the rarer games on the list. The formula is now used in Trials HD and those kind of games, except here it’s in multiplayer and has really awesome obstacles to navigate… oh wait, so does Trials! Ahead of it’s time and most importantly, enjoyable today!
Kirby’s Dreamland 1 and 2
Another famous classic. Dreamland 1 is short and sweet, it’s beatable in 30-45 minutes but there are still little secrets hidden away that you may not know about. Dreamland 2 is more ambitious but suffers from overusing than underusing (if that’s a thing. I think that’s a thing). Both are still fun to play even when put up against newer platform games.