Regular readers will know that we love classic video games at Retromash. Sure, modern video games boast exceptional graphics and epic storylines that’ll take you 30+ hours to complete. They’re pushing the boundaries and blurring the lines between cinema and gaming. None of this would be possible were it not for the classic games that came before! 

Carrying on that thought, we decided to pinpoint five of the most important retro video games of all time. An incredibly difficult task, but the five classic games below all grew huge legacies that transcended the world of gaming. 

Tomb Raider
When Tomb Raider was released in 1996, it provided the world with something we’d rarely seen before: a female video game protagonist who kicked ass. Most video games were headlined by male characters and the women were always presented as the “damsel in distress”. Tomb Raider took this script and ripped it into shreds. 

The game itself was a fantastic adventure puzzler involving caves, runes and archaeology. In many ways, Lara Croft was the female Indiana Jones – though you can easily argue that she became even bigger than him. She grew to be one of the most iconic video game characters of all time and people fell in love with the franchise.

Tomb Raider became so big it spawned films, remakes and numerous spin-off games. Loads of online casinos provide video slots either directly linked to Tomb Raider or paying homage to the graphics and game style. They’ve become some of the most popular slot games of all time too, and lots of these sites are offering a free spins on card registration bonus so you can try them for free. 

What started as a blocky game with pretty hilarious mechanics has turned into one of the biggest video game franchises of all time – and a go-to fancy dress costume come Halloween! 

Sonic the Hedgehog
The first Sonic the Hedgehog game launched in 1991 on the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. It earned rave reviews for its unique playstyle, fun character designs and cool graphics (for the time, anyway). People of all ages loved Sonic as it was easy to play and you had the replayability factor of trying to beat your best time. 

Nobody knew at the time how big of an impact this little blue hedgehog would have on the world. Fast forward to 2024 and there are over 50 Sonic-related video games for you to play. Better still, the series has created TV shows and movies. The live-action Sonic franchise recently announced plans for a third movie and a Knuckles series on Paramount Plus

It is a truly legendary retro game that led to many similar games being produced. Tons of developers have tried to replicate the Sonic formula, though none have succeeded. 

Super Mario Bros
Ironically, Mario first appeared in a Donkey Kong video game, yet he’s easily surpassed this big ape as one of Nintendo’s most iconic characters. Super Mario Bros the game soon followed in 1985 and the rest is history. 

Once more, you have a game that has transcended the video game space. The Super Mario Movie was a huge hit at the box office and became the second highest-grossing animated movie of all time in 2023. Almost everyone knows who Mario is – even if you’re not a proper gamer, you can pick Mario and Luigi out of a lineup. 

The first Super Mario Bros game kind of revolutionised platform scrollers. It added so many extra elements and puzzles to prove that a game like this can be fun and challenging. Arguably the coolest thing about the Mario franchise is how the games themselves remain fairly similar today. They have updated graphics, sure, but you still have the same side-scrolling action as before. 

This pick might take some of you by surprise, but we think Tetris is a retro game with a gigantic legacy. Look at loads of the mobile games you see today. Many of the top-sellers and most downloaded titles are built around the concept of Tetris. Things or shapes fall from the sky and you need to get rid of them before the shapes get too high. 

It’s such a simple concept, yet Tetris popularised it. We’ve included it as we think you wouldn’t see half as many online or mobile games today without it. Even ones that aren’t strictly like it – such as Candy Crush – easily took inspiration from the style. 

Oh, and you can still play classic Tetris today and have fun. It’s one of the few games ever that stands the test of time. You don’t care about the graphics or anything like that; it’s a fun game that keeps you entertained for hours. 

GoldenEye 007
If you owned a Nintendo 64 circa 1997, then you played a lot of GoldenEye 007. It’s genuinely one of the biggest first-person shooter games the world has ever seen. We’d go as far as to say it transformed the genre forever – and that’s the true legacy of GoldenEye 007. 

FPS games before this one were all frighteningly similar. They followed the DOOM format of arena shooters where you’re spraying things down. GoldenEye 007 was a game version of the popular James Bond GoldenEye film. So, you had to play like a spy, which meant the shooting mechanics were more realistic. 

You had to aim at things and there was a genuine skill ceiling. Even better, it introduced multiplayer play with deathmatches where people competed for kills. Every shooter that followed wanted to replicate this style – and we’re convinced the Call of Duty’s of today would not exist were it not for GoldenEye 007. 

Xbox and Nintendo Switch owners can get a taste of GoldenEye 007 again as it’s been released on both platforms. The Xbox version is a remaster while the Switch one is a port of the original. 

The brilliance of retro games is that we could list another five or ten titles that are more than worthy of a place on this list. As we enjoy the triple-A titles of today, let’s not forget the games that paved the way for such masterpieces to exist!