Remedial gaming 101

By all immediate accounts I am a crazy videogame person. But when I try to join a community like this one I tend to feel sorely behind, and unable to contribute. I‘ve never played a Saturn. I’ve only played Bonk emulated. I don‘t read Japanese and have never imported a game. The only games I’ve really played in Japanese are Tetris Battle Gaiden and Super Mario Picross.

But I like playing old games. I want to broaden my experience and catch up. What should I play?

[edit: I also completed SMT: Synchronicity Prologue in Japanese.]


p.s., my worst gaming purchase ever was spending something like 400 Saudi riyal on Skyward Sword.

I'm afraid this question may be too broad? What do you want to play? What genres, styles or platforms interest you the most?

In the meantime, you will never go wrong with some good old SNES or Megadrive. Try some of the classics you never played until now. Googling underrated or hidden gem + the platform of choice has usually given me something interesting to start working on. In that regard, looking at fan translations at CDromance and may help you finding something that catches your eye too. And start small! Pick a game and play it, otherwise you risk drowning in titles without actually playing anything.

Beautiful thing about gaming is just there is just too much to see it all!

I am also in the Saturn't club! So you're not alone!

Shit man these days my "gaming" is 90 minutes of PUBG and scrolling through my steam list before I decide to just play PUBG.

I dunno, you can only hold so many experiences in your memory at once so don't sweat the games you haven't played!

In like, 2001 when I‘d download music it was really hard to not get caught up in the whole “discography” competition. It wasn’t enough to just like The Lonesome Crowded West, you had to download gigs and gigs and gigs of content and listen to everything a band ever recorded to “get it.” I feel like in some ways games are creeping on that territory a little bit.

When you find something you really vibe with, there is often an eternities worth of context to also consume. Often with the unstated or assumed end goal of providing greater appreciation for the thing you liked initially. Its especially prohibitive with gaming because of how time consuming the medium is.

Sometimes its enough to just have a good time without the historical context.

Also don't fret or feel lesser than. If anything I feel like the Racing Games are Great thread as really underscored that the forum members here as much as we might know about older games are just as excited about modern ones. I think a lot of the general knowledge here comes not from rigorous study but from the demographic here just being older and having played a lot of these games in their hey day.

My go to weird hidden retro gem is **Panic!** for the Sega CD. Should run fine on emulator.

I came across this wiki several years ago when my experience with older games was more of a patchwork as you describe yours:

It led me to a lot of good games that more mainstream sites would overlook. Also nice bc it's wide ranging but more focused than spending 30 seconds dipping in and out of 20k anonymous roms.

And yes it would be interesting if you could share what retro gaming is like in Saudi Arabia. What do people consider worthwhile? What do you have access to? Is Bonk the most popular and beloved character there like he is here in the USA?


You like Videoball and Link's Awakening. I think you'll fit right in here.
Don't worry about keeping up.


What should I play?

God Hand

Is God Hand really worth playing these days? Some people on that popular forum were VERY dogmatic about it back in the day… so much so that I wrote it off… I mean I played The Bouncer, how much better could it really be?


@Jtwo#7036 Is God Hand really worth playing these days?

Yeah, it really is.
It's a fantastic 3D brawler. It has very fast character movement, a complex fighting system, an engaging customization system for your move-set, an excellent dodge system, a ranking system that is displayed on your HUD that allows you to control how difficult you want things to be. Layers upon layers of depth, and a quirky charming presentation.
After saying all that, I still don't feel I'm doing it justice. It is more then the sum of its parts.

One nice thing about God Hand is if you watch someone else play, chances are it doesn't look the same as when you play. It avoids the common pitfalls of 3d brawlers and action games: It isn't button-mashy. It isn't overly simple.

It lives up to its reputation.

I‘d recommend diving into a ROM set or something similar and going with whatever you pull out. That way, you’re likely to stumble into an experience you'd be unlikely to find otherwise.

Speaking as kind of a loner and a dilettante, I think if you can follow the conversation, you can find a place in the community!

I agree it's hard to recommend stuff without knowing more about what you've played, but here's an attempt that's hopefully not too obvious or too obscure:

Light Crusader (Mega Drive) - A Treasure game that's been underrated imo because it doesn't use an anime aesthetic and it's fairly weird as far as Zelda-likes go. For instance, you can push around basically anything that's not nailed down, including NPCs. If you play it until you hit the boss of the first floor of the dungeon, you'll know if it's your kind of thing.

Donkey Kong (Gameboy) - Actually the best game with Mario in it.

Phantasy Star IV (Mega Drive) - My favorite RPG ever. Super well paced, great music and manga storytelling. Replaying it decades later, it was fun to discover how much more it has in common with Dragon Quest than Final Fantasy.

Mars Matrix (Arcade/Dreamcast) - A shooter with really interesting atmosphere and mechanics that's actually playable by mere mortals. I recommend playing with the single button method based on how quickly you press or hold instead of using separate buttons to shoot or absorb bullets.


@yeso#7034 it would be interesting if you could share what retro gaming is like in Saudi Arabia.

I was an expat at the time, and I didn't see anything like retro gaming where I lived. It was all either pirate trash (we accidentally bought an illicit DS at one point) or expensive imports at [Tokyo Games]( (Notably, Tokyo Games advertised itself as "all originals" meaning they didn't sell pirate merchandise. I thought it was interesting that piracy was the default to which they compared themselves.)

The retro gaming I had access to was the stuff I brought in myself. At that point it was the PS2 I bought in transit and the emulators I had on my softmodded Wii. Maybe there would've been some retro gaming if I had managed to meet more Saudis; but I don't remember seeing any.


@jeelz#7048 Donkey Kong (Gameboy) - Actually the best game with Mario in it.

One of my proudest childhood gaming moments was instantly realizing how good DK94 is when I played it contemporaneously. 😁


@jeelz#7048 Phantasy Star IV (Mega Drive) - My favorite RPG ever

I really want to play Phantasy Star IV, but I decided I needed to start with the original Master System game first. I think my save is about half-way through; but my kids hate it, so it's been difficult to prioritize. I've got some good graph-paper maps, though.

@anderbubble#7050 If you've got a softmodded Wii you have maybe the best emulator box there is. Most everything on the Virtual Console is worth a spin, though I would go right to Rondo of Blood.

This is always an interesting question for me because I, like everyone here, think that there‘s no need to “study up” on older games unless it’s something you need to do for work or study, or, I suppose, if that's just how you like to engage with stuff, through recommendations. There was an earlier thread here trying to chart the evolution of 3D mechanics in platform games:

everyone had kind of a different path to it, which was cool! since games are such a subjective experience, it really feels like if you've got the time, then experimenting on your own is the best way to go. Frank and I have this thing we like to do at game industry parties where we'll bring a flash cart full of roms and set up on a TV, and just play whatever random thing comes up and try to find the fun in it. It's more enjoyable with friends, but it does wind up being pretty fun and informative.

I also think that, in general, newer games are better than older ones, because they have decades of game design to learn from. But if it's really something you enjoy, if I were to make a "you'll get what this console is all about" list for each "major" console, in such a way that you'd understand basically everything insert credit is about in the process, quickly off the top of my head I'd go:

Vice Project Doom
Legend of Zelda

Sonic 2
Robocop vs Terminator (you have to have some "janky, but still fun anyway" in a genesis list)
Shining Force II
Gunstar Heroes

Bonk's Revenge
Gate of Thunder
Valis 3
Devil's Crush

Super Mario World
Lufia 2
Chrono Trigger
Final Fight 3

Nights into Dreams
Sega Rally Champ (plus)
Silhouette Mirage
Psychic Killer Taromaru

Castlevania: SOTN
Jumping Flash
Vagrant Story
Silent Hill
Pepsiman (jank rule)

Raw Danger!
R-Type Final
Bujingai (lol)
A Dog's Life (jank rule)

Sonic Adventure
Space Channel 5
Jet Set Radio
D2 or Illbleed

Gears of War
Resonance of Fate
Vanquish (which I hate btw)
Bullet Witch
Forza 2

Ninja 5-0
Summon Night Sword Craft Story
Pokemon red/blue
Onimusha Tactics
Car Battler Joe

Vintage PC:
Secret of Monkey Island
Grim Fandango
Dune II
Chaos Engine

I only gave myself 15 minutes to do this as an exercise, but it'd probably cover it!?

Light Crusader and Mars Matrix rule, these lists were hard to make under duress!!! Also I left rondo out of pc engine. well, what can you do!


@JoJoestar#7026 What do you want to play? What genres, styles or platforms interest you the most?

I've found it difficult to classify my tastes. I'm currently in the process of evaluating Outer Wilds as my favorite game, overcoming my since-childhood love of Link's Awakening. I have a pretty extensive history with the Myst series. Death Stranding was great. So was Dark Souls. Also, water is wet.


@exodus#7054 or, I suppose, if that’s just how you like to engage with stuff

This is definitely me. I probably misspoke to focus on a sensation of being left out; it's probably more accurate to call it jealousy. I love to understand the historical context of things; and one of my favorite experiences with a game is to learn how to enjoy something I previously disliked [edit: or that would be easy to dislike].

Well there‘s a bunch of hot recs in this thread, I say make a list and do a game tasting! don’t even have to finish them.