Readers discuss their favourite video game franchises that are over 25 years old and what they hope from them in the next gen.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Grackle and is based on the fact that there are a lot of major series celebrating their 25th, 30th or even 40th anniversary this year. So we wanted to know which is your favourite franchise that’s at least 25 years old?
Unsurprisingly, Nintendo dominated a lot of the answers, thanks to Mario and Zelda, but no more so than The Elder Scrolls, which many may not realise is due to celebrate its 27th anniversary next month.
Street fighting man
It’s Street Fighter for me. The game that redefined multiplayer game forever (Street Fighter 2 that is, weird how the first game is such a big fat nothing) will always be my favourite and I’ve played it and rebought it on so many different consoles now I couldn’t even begin to list them all.
Street Fighter 5 wasn’t a highlight of the series but I’ve still enjoyed it in the end and I wouldn’t say any of the main games were duds. The franchises has so many memorably characters that people that have never even played it (are there such people?) would probably still recognise the likes of Ryu, Chun-Li, and Blanka.
I’m hopeful for the next generation and whatever Street Fighter 6 is because now that Yoshinori Ono has left it’s a new, younger team in charge and hopefully that will ensure some innovation and surprises.
You cannot kill what does not live
For me it’s got to be Resident Evil. It was one of the first PlayStation games I played and I have loved the series ever since. Still remember it clearly 25 years on, the first zombie turning round, the dogs smashing through the windows. And who can forget the cheesy lines!?
The series has kept itself interesting introducing new characters, co-op, and more recently first person. My favourites are Resident Evil 4 and the remake of the first game on the PlayStation 4. Look forward to playing Village. Vampire lady is already becoming a fan favourite even though we don’t know much about her yet!
Tony–1975 (PSN ID)
For me, it has to be The Elder Scrolls, although I fear it may have already had its day and am a lot less confident in The Elder Scrolls 6 as I was before Fallout 76.
I’ve not been with it from the start, but I stumbled upon Morrowind in my local GAME in (I think) late 2003 and fell in love – I’d literally never played anything like it before. I had a great time with Morrowind and the excellent Tribunal and Bloodmoon expansions. Oblivion and Skyrim were also great for me, but nothing is going to bring back the magic of realising that I was in this open world as a character I’d created and could do whatever I want.
Despite Fallout 76 and some nightmarishly buggy releases from Bethesda Games Studios on the rest of their catalogue, I still can’t see myself doing anything other than picking up the next game day one…
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Next year’s choice
Initially, I was going to say the Mario platformers for this Hot Topic, but then I remembered Super Mario Sunshine, which I still can’t muster the enthusiasm to boot up on 3D All-Stars, so perhaps not. Maybe Zelda? But then I recall how The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword pale in comparison to the other main entries in the franchise, in my opinion. Then, I saw your story on GTA 3 turning 20 this year, and so, I’m going with the GTA franchise.
I didn’t really play the original or sequel, or the London one either, so 3 was my first foray into the world of GTA. Honestly, I can recall the playground (I was 15 – bless my mum for letting me get it – I turned out okay!) buzzing about this new game, the word of mouth effect was massive. The previous entries hadn’t really been talked about too much, as far as I was aware, but 3 was just absolutely huge. Of course, being a naive teenager meant that I didn’t see how blatantly Rockstar had ripped off many famous movies, the controls weren’t fantastic, and the missions became repetitive, but the soundtrack (all original songs I think?) and sense of freedom really set it apart for me.
Then, one year later, yes, ONE year later, they release Vice City, which improved pretty much every aspect of 3. Being set in the 80s was a great choice and Vice City felt like an extra character in a way that Liberty City didn’t.
Then, two years later, we get San Andreas. Now, I know this is perhaps the most divisive of the three; it added so much, the map was huge for instance, but I think overall, perhaps, it was a little bloated. You could gain and lose weight, for instance, something I don’t think anyone thought the game needed.
Overall, they were all immense fun. I must have spent the equivalent of many, many days playing all of those games. I went to university before GTA 4 and couldn’t afford a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, so missed out on that until I built a PC in 2012 and played it through then. For me, it lost some of the magic the previous three had contained. Then, came 5, and once more I lost days to a game. I’m not a fan of the online side of it, and I’m hoping 6 has a self-contained single-player story, but I suppose the sales figures tell you all you need to know.
Nintendo games have probably shaped me more as a person; their boundless creativity is unparalleled. However, for pure fun, GTA 3, Vice City, San Andreas, and more recently GTA 5, top the list for me.
GC: Technically Grand Theft Auto is only 24 years old, but that’s close enough.
Following a quick check on Wikipedia to see if it qualified (it does – the first entry was 1994), my favourite long lasting franchise is The Elder Scrolls.
My first experience with this series came with Morrowind on the original Xbox, and at the time I’d never played anything like it. It provided so much freedom compared to everything else; of movement and of choice. You could go anywhere on the map without invisible barriers, and if you had levitation you could basically fly. You could talk with anyone, specialise in anything, go in any building and pick up anything. You were making your own story basically, and genuinely playing a role. I’d played so-called role-playing games before, such as Final Fantasy 7 and Secret of Mana, but this was different. My character was of my choosing, and it was amazing.
The environment designs were beautiful and totally alien at times, compounding the sense I was living a true adventure, and the music was hauntingly atmospheric.
Oblivion was the follow-up, and whilst it was still terrific and a real technical showcase for the Xbox 360 at the time, I was ever so slightly disappointed since they’d removed levitation magic. I understand why; just propelling yourself in the air when in trouble was a bit of a cheat but still. I like flying.
And then came Skyrim, even more beautiful and evocative, and a game that I’m still playing 10 years on (and I don’t think I’m alone).
For the next game on the series, I think I’ll get my wish because the feature that will transform the experience the most is fast loading. Imagine walking into a room or fast travelling to the other side of the map and the transition being instantaneous.
Oh, and flying would be nice.
It’s never too late
I can probably imagine the obvious choices for this Hot Topic and while I don’t disagree with them at all I’ll go with a slightly less obvious one and say Doom. The first game was what got me into video games and the memories of playing that with my friends are very dear to me.
The franchise just dithered about doing nothing for basically ever after that, to the point where I would barely consider it a franchise, but the two new ones have been fantastic and really get the excitement and action of the original across while still being very different.
A happy little pile of secrets
It’s hard to think of popular retro gaming franchises that I have played, and that others have not already mentioned. If the games are still around now, then the popularity must be pretty well known to most.
Oblivious ones are Mario, Zelda, Final Fantasy, and a whole bunch of Japanese role-players, Street Fighter, Castlevania, Resident Evil, and Tetris in some form or another. I have played a lot of the above a great many number of times, and each one can be considered a favourite of mine. But one in particular I have had a love/hate attitude with, and that is Castlevania.
I played the originals on the NES but being a bit too young to appreciate the game’s precision style of difficulty! The appeal was lost and I just left it, being frustrated at the ridiculous difficulty involved with getting through the game – a right put off! Death and more death with impossible-to-get-by enemy attacks and platforming mayhem, especially with pixel perfect jumping in the third title of the series. Well, I certainly was not getting a good impression with this gaming franchise.
Now the Super Nintendo had Super Castlevania 4 and this was way easier than Castlevania 3! A couple or more years in between each title, but much user friendly. This was what made me more a fan of the series and set me up for some great years ahead.
Now I was more a cherry picker when choosing these titles and the music in Super Castlevania 4 inspired me to choose the highly rated Symphony Of The Night, because of some good reviews with the gameplay and the use of its soundtrack. This immersed you into a game with the best atmosphere of Dracula’s castle and his domain probably yet in gaming history.
Every note was hit with perfection, with the physics, artwork, effects, a real take on the film starring Gary Oldman in Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The film remains my favourite Dracula film and has one of my favourite film soundtracks, perfectly matching the visuals which are sheer genius! Symphony Of The Night did all this for the video game. Epic, haunting, beautiful and melancholy, but with amazing passion entwined into the gothic architecture of this incredible game.
I played Game Boy Advance versions and some DS versions of other Castlevania titles, with the N64 Castlevania at some point also. Lord Of Shadows bought me back to the big screen favourably again, with a rather decent game – a pretty good third person God Of War inspired version. Which suited me fine, being a God Of War fan.
I kind of left the franchise after Mirror Of Fate, due to time and other games taking my fancy. I do not know of other future titles that may be in store, as all seems a bit too quiet on the distant misty horizon! But will definitely be interested to see if this retro franchise rises up from its current slumber, to meet the modern technologies of the current times we all live in.
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