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Top 10 Retro Games That Pushed The Limits

VO: Dan Paradis
Never say it’s not possible, because these are the games that defied system limitations. For this list we’re focusing on games that were technical milestones on their respected consoles. We’re setting a limit to fifth generation consoles, meaning the Playstation 1 and Nintendo 64 era as the latest games for consideration. Anything higher is for another list for another day. Join WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Retro games that pushed their systems to the limits.
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Top 10 Retro Games That Pushed The Limits


Never say it’s not possible, because these are the games that defied System Limitations. Welcome to Watchmojo.com and today we’re counting down our pick for the Top 10 Retro games that pushed their systems to the limits.

For this list we’re focusing on games that were technical milestones on their respected consoles. We’re setting a limit to fifth generation consoles, i.e Playstation 1 & Nintendo 64 era. Anything higher is for another list for another day.

#10: “Solaris” (1986)


The Atari 2600 kicks off our list with the most impressive game on the system. Most 2600 games tend to have graphic that look like this…Solaris however truly showed what the system was capable of, with graphics rivaling that of an early NES game, along with a progression system unseen in other 2600 games. This is one hidden gem worth checking out.

#9: “Kirby’s Adventure” (1993)


Mario 3 may be the game players remember as one of the best looking NES games, but Kirby showed off what the system was truly capable of. Released right at the end of the NES’s lifespan this game features extremely high detailed sprites and smooth scroll speeds. More amazing is the fact that the game doesn’t suffer from any of the sprite flicker which plagued a lot of late life NES titles.

#8: “Another World” (1991)


Known as “Out of this World” in North America, This game was a pioneer for using in-engine 3D cutscenes in the early 90’s. Originally developed for the Amiga and Atari ST computers, the game would later go on to be ported to other 16-bit consoles including the SNES and Genesis with its content kept mostly intact. Also worth mentioning is developer Delphine Software’s follow up Flashback, which was done in the same style too.

#7: “Metal Gear Solid” (1998)


During the Playstation One’s lifespan most 3D games attempted to mask the system’s limitations using Pre-Rendered Backgrounds or Fully rendered Full Motion Videos. But Hideo Kojima’s masterpiece defied expectations as to what the system was capable of, with full 3D environments and cinematic cutscenes done completely in-engine. It may look a bit muddy now, but it was way ahead of it’s time.

#6: “Resident Evil 2” Nintendo 64 Port (1994)


The N64’s biggest weakness was that its game cartridges could only hold a small portion of data compared to CD’s. But Angel Studios proved the impossible and was somehow able to squeeze the contents of two PS1 CD’s onto one 64 megabyte cartridge. Originally the developer wanted to port Final Fantasy 7 to the N64 but Square thought it would be truly impossible. The FMV’s may have been compressed, but everything was still there and quite enjoyable.

#5: “Shantae” (2002)


Wayforward’s debut franchise was quite the standout, showing off outstanding 2D graphics and animation, as well as a seemless day-night system in a metroid-vania style world. And by the way, this was all done on the Game Boy Color. Good luck getting a physical copy though, as auctions on eBay for this game start for as little $200 and go up to $1000. Or you can just get it on the 3DS eShop for $5.

#4: “Panorama Cotton” (1994)


If you haven’t heard of this game there is a good reason for that, it was only released in Japan on the Sega Mega Drive. Merely beholding its graphics and soundtrack makes it hard to believe this is technically a Genesis game. This 3D on-rails shooter had you playing as a witch named Cotton, with the help of a fairy that’s not quite as annoying as Navi, out to stop the world from falling into chaos.

#3: “Donkey Kong Country” Trilogy (1994-96)


Just when the SNES’s potential was all but used up, along came British Developer Rare who quite literally saved Nintendo from being overshadowed by the 32-bit systems coming out at the time. Using pre-rendered 3D Sprites and Backgrounds as well as the ability to display more onscreen colors than any other SNES game at the time, CDs would have to wait a little bit longer before becoming the new standard.

#2: “Dragon’s Lair” (1983)


Around the time this game came out, most other games in the arcade looked like this …or this… Safe to say this game really stood out, using laserdisc technology, it was the first to ever use Full Motion Video and high quality voiced audio. It should also be mentioned that the Gameboy Color port was quite the achievement as well. Yah, you heard that right, there is a Game Boy Color port: the sound took a nosedive but the animation was kept intact.

Before we get to number #1 lets look at some other game that wow’d us back in the day.

#1: “Starfox” (1993)


Known as “Star Wing” in Europe, this game takes the top spot, for showing off the unheard of. Released to show off the capability of the Super Nintendo’s Super FX chip, the game featured full 3D polygon models in a rail shooter environment, and became the granddaddy of 3D games to come. Despite it’s SNES sequel getting cancelled, StarFox remains a prime example as to why you should never call a system underpowered.

Agree with our list? Which games do you think performed technical wizardry? For more eye catching Top 10’s published everyday, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com
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