If you want to be a true hardcore collector then go for a complete Neo Geo collection. If you don’t want to take out a second mortgage on your home you could simply focus on the following ten amazing games. It will still cost a pretty penny if you go after the original versions mind. Thank goodness so many are now available on various consoles.

stylishAES2Samurai Shodown II
Released: 1994
With its beautiful graphics, silky smooth animation and eclectic character roster, the second part of SNK’s Samurai Shodown series is easily its best. The 202-meg cart featured new fighters, glorious backdrops and even slicker controls than the impressive original. A massive arcade success, Samurai Shodown II was a fantastic two-fingered salute to Capcom and proved that SNK’s style and ambition knew no bounds. It certainly lacks the depth of later games in the series, but for sheer fun and accessibility Samurai Shodown II is without equal. A truly monumental fighter that still plays brilliantly today.

SAMURAI SSHOWDOANpngMetal Slug
Released: 1996
Nazca’s Metal Slug remains the definitive game in the series. Sure, we love X and 3, but the original just does everything right. The action is fast and furious and the pacing is superb, while the level design and variation remains impressive. Bosses are extremely satisfying to defeat, the tunes perfectly suit the action, and the tongue-in-cheek humour immediately makes it stand apart from other run-and-guns. It’s the glorious animation and the amazingly balanced gameplay, though, that proves to be Metal Slug’s trump card, not to mention that the titular tank is the cutest inanimate object we’ve ever seen.

metal slugThe Last Blade
Released: 1997
Now here’s a game that never seems to get enough love. Achingly beautiful – along with its sequel and Garou, it remains one of the Neo Geo’s best-looking games – The Last Blade’s deliberate pacing, outrageous depth and balanced characters have earned it an army of fans, and yet it’s nowhere near as well-known as Samurai Shodown. Its alarmingly deep gameplay, over-the-top moves, ability to parry, and glorious aesthetics helped usher in a new era of Neo Geo gaming and proved just how versatile the hardware was.

The Last BladeBlazing Star
Released: 1998
Sure, you can laugh at its fractured Engrish, but play Yumekobo’s stunning shooter and you’ll be gobsmacked. With its mesmerising pre-rendered sprites, insane bosses, and outrageous power-ups, the 346-meg Blazing Star always justifies its high price tag, and along with Pulstar, it remains the Neo Geo’s finest blaster. Blazing Star assaults the player with excited speech, intense alien waves, finely tuned gameplay mechanics and humongous mayors. The end result is an amazing rollercoaster of a ride that you’ll never want to end.

blazing starKing Of Fighters 98: The Slugfest
Released: 1998
It would have been all too easy to select several King Of Fighters for our top ten, but this is easily our favourite. Everything about King Of Fighters ’98 just screams, ‘Look at me! I’m so much better than everything else!’ The gameplay is instantly accessible but offers a satisfying layer of depth and its cartoony visuals still look sensational, while its many and varied backgrounds are some of the most detailed around. Add in its massive roster of excellent characters and it’s another essential AES purchase.

King of fighters 98Windjammers
Released: 1994
Windjammers proves that you don’t need superlative visuals or complex fighting mechanics to become an essential AES release. Essentially nothing more than a tarted-up version of Pong – you fling a frisbee and use angles to slip it past your opponent – Windjammers is one of the finest multiplayer games on the system and combines slick controls and fast gameplay to create one of the most enjoyable games around. Like the best arcade games, it’s easy to get into but includes enough nuances and techniques to ensure that you’ll constantly return to it.

wind jammersGarou: Mark Of The Wolves
Released: 1999
There can’t be many Retro Gamer readers who aren’t aware of this fantastic title, as we harp on about it every chance we get. Honestly, though, Mark Of The Wolves is basically the finest brawler on the AES and possibly the finest 2D fighter of all time. In addition to totally revitalising the Fatal Fury series, it boasts 11 new fighters, some of the best visuals to ever appear on the AES, and nigh-on perfect gameplay mechanics. It’s expensive, but you could argue that you’d never need to buy another fighter.

33 - Garou Mark of the WolvesNeo Turf Masters
Released: 1996
Extremely tough to get hold of – it currently has an ‘extra extra rare’ rating on Neo-Geo.com – this offering is still worth tracking down, providing you can afford it. While Neo Turf Masters (Big Tournament Golf in Japan) doesn’t really bring anything innovative to the table, Nazca’s superb offering plays an excellent version of the sport thanks to its slick presentation, tight controls and speedy pace. There are two modes to choose from, a variety of golfers, and some beautiful courses to play on. An excellent, surprisingly deep, game of golf.

Neo Turf mastersFatal Fury Special
Released: 1993
Like Garou and The King Of Fighters ’98, Fatal Fury Special is available on Live Arcade for just 800 Points. Purists may want to go for the original, and with a nice low price point it’s definitely worth picking up. Essentially an updated version of Fatal Fury 2, improvements include a new combo system, speedier overall gameplay and a far larger roster of playable characters. Indeed, you now have access to all the bosses from FF2, as well as the return of several non-player characters from the original Fatal Fury, including Geese Howard and Duck King. It looks wonderful as well, with massive sprites and glorious backdrops.

fatal fury specialPulstar
Released: 1995
One day we’ll confirm that Pulstar was created by former Irem employees, but for the time being you’ll just have to be content to play one of the Neo Geo’s toughest shooters. Unflinchingly difficult – our hats are doffed to anyone who has 1CCed it – it requires a hell of a lot of skill to make any sort of progress but is so fantastically designed that you’ll want to keep persevering regardless, especially once you’ve managed to get to grips with its excellent charge system. Despite its difficulty, Pulstar remains a sensational addition to any Neo Geo collection and is highly recommended to all hardcore shmup fans.

pulstar

It’s incredibly hard choosing just ten premium games for Commodore’s 8-bit machine, mainly because it has so many incredible gems on it. We’re worked hard to narrow the list down though, so take a look at it and tell us if we’ve got things right or wrong (we’ve got it right).

Top Ten Commodore 64 GamesThe Sentinel
Released: 1986
Geoff Crammond’s name may be synonymous with racing games, but when he wasn’t pouring his heart and soul into his latest Grand Prix title, he was adept at turning his hand to all sorts of different genres, with The Sentinel being a perfect example of his handiwork. Haunting and with a meticulously designed game engine that gives a tremendous sense of scale and depth, Crammond’s Sentinel was one of the best strategy games on the C64 – although to be fair, it initially appeared on the BBC Micro – and even today offers a worryingly addictive challenge. Best of all, emulation means you no longer have to endure those lengthy screen loads. Lovely!

the sentinalIK+
Released: 1987
There had been previous games involving the slamming of bodily appendages against each other, in a sweaty contest of stamina and skill, but it was Archer Maclean’s IK+ which was first to ménage-à-trois with the concept – metaphorically speaking. It revolutionised the mechanics of games like Way Of The Exploding Fist and Karate Champ, and also incredibly well on the humble C64. Music was by Rob Hubbard and while there was only one background, it was filled with many clever Easter Eggs (those joyous bonuses you could spend months discovering). The fluidity of control made it easy to initially play, but this was backed-up by a complex system which rewarded continued practice. A classic.
Top Ten Commodore 64 GamesBubble Bobble
Released: 1987
There have been plenty of classic coin-op conversions on Commodore’s mighty 8-bit, but Bubble Bobble ranks as one of the best. From its cute, vibrant – if slightly squashed looking – visuals to the outstanding, bouncy music, the C64 perfectly captured the spirit of the original arcade hit and proved to be the perfect game to show-off to your Spectrum and Amstrad owning mates. It might not feature all the secrets that appeared in the original arcade game and having to press up on the joystick in order to jump is no substitute for a proper fire button, but if you’re looking for an extremely competent conversion of a classic arcade hit, look no further. A superb conversion that shouldn’t be missed.
bubble bobbleMayhem In Monster Land
Released: 1993
There was no question of this not making the Top 10, what with it being regarded by many as the C64’s last great release both in terms of gameplay and sheer technical achievement. As most already know, it infamously used a “bug” in the graphics chip, which allowed entire screen scrolling and therefore much smoother and faster gameplay. Despite being a C64 title it has all the speed and tactile control you’d expect from an early 1990s platformer, which not only guarantees it a place here but also means it’s still great to play even today. Being a dinosaur and returning colour to the land has never been such fun.
mayhem in monster landTurrican
Released: 1990
There’s an unwritten law in videogames that states: all C64 lists must feature at least one Manfred Trenz game. While many will no doubt argue that Trenz’s Turrican II is clearly the better game, we’ve decided to stick with the original, mainly because there was nothing quite else like it when it first appeared in 1990. It may well have borrowed heavily from obscure coin-op Psycho-Nics-Oscar, but Trenz’s technical wizardry of Commodore’s machine simply blew us away, and it still manages to impress today.
Part platformer, part shooter, Turrican features incredible visuals, a stunning score by music maestro Chris Hülsbeck and some of the most frenetic gameplay around. It fully deserves every accolade that has been bestowed on it.
Top Ten Commodore 64 GamesImpossible Mission
Released: 1984
We featured a Making Of article on Dennis Caswell’s timeless classic in Issue 22, so by now all of you should have had a chance to experience this classic game. Impossible Mission was a perfect blend of joystick waggling dexterity (especially when avoiding the terrifying spheres of floaty-electric-death), and also tricky puzzles (many had problems with the final password-piece assembly). Although its premise of searching furniture (to find those elusive passwords) and avoiding robots may sound nauseatingly simple, it made for a game, which was easy to get into but difficult to put down. Although ported to several other systems, for us the C64 original is still the best version.

impossible missionParadroid
Released: 1985
Ask any C64 owner to name their favourite games, and chances are that this superb effort from Andrew Braybrook will almost always make their top five. Taking control of a weak prototype droid, your aim is to simply clear each boarded spaceship (of which there are eight) of its out-of-control robots. While your droid is woefully underpowered (even Dusty Bin could have it in a scrap) it does retain the unique ability to transfer itself into any available droid (albeit for a limited amount of time). This enables it to take out the ship’s more dangerous foes (via a charming mini-game) and adds an interesting play mechanic. With its subtle blend of strategy and blasting, Paradroid deserves to be in every C64 owner’s collection.

paradroidWizball
Released: 1987
Playing Wizball was a rites of passage for many Commodore 64 owners and became more than ample ammunition for those who wanted to taunt their CPC and ZX Spectrum owning peers. Insanely smooth scrolling, a scintillating soundtrack from the always dependable Martin Galway and its slick blending of genres means that Wizball will forever remain within the higher echelons of Commodore 64 classics. It might well have taken a while to get used to your ball’s incessant bouncing, but once you finally mastered it and collected a few power-ups Wizball’s true identify and depth are revealed. Quite possibly one of the most beautifully crafted C64 games that you’ll ever have the privilege to play.

Top Ten Commodore 64 GamesProject Firestart
Released: 1989
Many games claim to have pioneered the survival-horror genre but, while others came before it, Project Firestart is one of the very best and is still supremely enjoyable today. Your task is to dock with a research vessel in space and find out why there’s been no communication. From the start, when you see the body of a dead crewmember who has written the word “danger” in their own blood, you know it’s going to be an incredibly tense mission with plenty of twists and turns. Throughout the ship are mutilated bodies, log reports, even a survivor; then you encounter the terrifying invisible enemies, which randomly appear. Multiple endings guarantee regular returns to that hellish place.

project firestartZak McKracken And The Alien Mindbenders
Released: 1988
It’s only fair to list one of Lucasarts’ excellent games. But we can already hear a great disturbance, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, due to our choice. Yes, we could have listed Maniac Mansion, but everyone knows Maniac Mansion. Zak McKracken is arguably just as good, and the journalistic setting struck a chord in the office. Traversing the entire globe Zak encounters aliens disguised with Groucho Marx style nose-glasses and cowboy hats. Throw into the mix wacky sidekicks, a bus which travels to mars, plus some bitingly witty newspaper headlines, and you have one hell of a crazy adventure.

Top Ten Commodore 64 Games

Nintendo’s 8-bit console birthed a staggering amount of popular franchises and remains one of the company’s best selling consoles. With so many games released it’s a hard task to put aside ten favourites, but we’ve managed it and feel these to be the first port of call for any new NES owner.

NES

Duck Hunt
Released: 1984
Billed as the quintessential game for the clunky NES Zapper, Nintendo’s repetitive duck-murdering simulator allowed gamers to test their aim with the aid of canine-cohort, Mr Peepers. It was his job to startle a ball of petrified feathers into the air and yours to sight them in your pistol’s crosshair. You had three shots per target and the later levels, which included infinitesimal clay pigeons, called for either a swift dead-aim or the cowardly act of pressing the gun barrel against the television. The game had a neat feature, which allowed duck-welfare enthusiasts to control the direction of the fleeing birds with a second pad and save them from a good buckshot stuffing.

DuckHuntSuper Mario Bros
Released: 1985
It was the block punching, pipe-travelling exploits of two Italian plumbers that finally administered the medicine to the videogame crash’ of the Eighties, ridding it of the noxious Martian antibodies of Atari’s ET. Shigeru Miyamoto knew how to conjure up golden game icons and the Mario Bros are two of his most prolific. Placing the plumbers into a daring princess/mushroom rescue mission, inside a vivid, smooth-scrolling fantasy world, the game pioneered concepts such as level warping and head stomping. Super Mario Bros encapsulates everything that makes a game timeless: catchy theme, fluid gameplay, iconic characters and a hot princess.

SuperMarioBrosRiver City Ransom
Released: 1985
Punch-bags meet sick-bags when Alex and Ryan receive a note from evil crime-lord Slick informing them their city is being held to ransom and Ryan’s girlfriend has been abducted. Welcome to River City, a place of tongue-in-cheek humour, cartoon violence and hard-up vomiting freshmen. Using anything they can lay their fists on, our protagonists set about the streets fighting through Slick’s army of students. Their strategy: force them to ‘barf’ and pocket their loose change. River City’s unique fusion of a scrolling beat-’em-up and a subtle RPG make it a superlative NES classic.

RiverCityRansomMegaman 2
Released: 1988
Don’t let Megaman’s mountainous energy bar fool you, trying to finish Megaman 2 is like trying to stay alive without any kidneys. This is an unforgiving platform blaster where each level demands pinpoint precision and patience. The order in which you blast through Dr Wily’s levels is up to you, but don’t think you can use the easier stages to stockpile lives. Each level houses a bionic-boss whose special power can be acquired. These abilities give Megaman an advantage over another boss, so choosing your route through the game was how you maintained a healthy blood pressure.

MegaMan2Punch-Out!!
Released: 1986
Nintendo’s port of its popular Eighties arcade puncher was somewhat lost in translation when it appeared in its 8-bit glory. The arcade’s transparent fighter was omitted and in his corner stood a pale, pint-sized pugilist on a mission to topple heavyweight hard-man, Mike Tyson. It quickly collected acclaim for its accessibility and colourful roster of cartoon boxers who were forced to sop up each blow of the games trademark playability. The NES homes the finest version of Punch-Out!!, still managing to pack more punch than its technically enhanced SNES sequel and arcade counterpart.

Punchout!!Super Mario Bros 3
Released: 1990
Mario’s goodbye gift to the NES is a marvel. It encapsulated all the qualities of the first game while introducing new elements now seen as essential to the series as Mario’s flat cap and black moustache. Super Mario Bros 3 incorporated sub-bosses, multiple routes and mini-games, while embracing the notions of secrets and level warping. In fact, the game’s so great, millions of Americans stood in unity to create a large image of his head using colourful T-shirts. Visible from space, it was a warning to ET to never release another game on our planet.

SuperMario3Metroid
Released: 1986
Long before Ms Croft raided her first tomb there was another tough female playing a central role in an iconic franchise. Donning unflattering yellow armour and forced to wear a red spaceship on her head, you really couldn’t tell whether Samus Aran was man, woman or beast. But one bash of the B button, sparking her elegant flip, gave us all the proof we needed. Metroid is a landmark NES title, the space shooter introduced password saves, non-linear levels and multiple endings. Its dark, menacing setting housed some truly freaky inhabitants, and the Giger-style levels really helped emanates a bleak, lonely atmosphere from inside the grey box.

MetroidContra
Released: 1988
It must be written into our genes that when visited by an alien it’s customary to either destroy them or try to adopt them. Mario Bros on steroids, the homeport of Konami’s arcade hit Contra is considered to be the finest run-and-gun on the NES. It tells the story of two marines who are assigned the mission of welcoming an alien species by unloading an ungodly amount of ammunition into their deformed domes. The game presents some inspired character and level designs, the most memorable being the breach of an alien base, which switched the perspective from a side-scrolling blaster to a Cabal-style shooting gallery.

probotectorDouble Dragon 2 – The Revenge
Released: 1989
Taking on a darker tone than its predecessor, Double Dragon 2 still follows the theme of the Lee brothers’ ill luck with the opposite sex. After their abducted girlfriend, Marian, is callously killed by Shadow Warrior, the brothers are forced into action. It’s widely considered to be the finest of the three Double Dragon games released on the NES, due to its intuitive controls. It also introduced a much requested two-player co-op option and iconic moves like the Whirlwind Kick and the Hyper Uppercut – which looked a lot cooler than Billy and Jimmy’s usual technique of pushing an enemy’s head into their groin.

DoubleDragon2The Legend Of Zelda
Released: 1987
Sheathed inside a majestic gold cartridge, The Legend Of Zelda’s tale of a nefarious powermonger, an ensnared princess and an elfin boy, bound together by unlikely heroism, was a chameleon of game genres that pioneered open-ended gameplay. Link’s first quest not only popularised adventure games, it established pivotal precedents that spoke out to all platforms. It outmoded high-score tables by exposing a greater desire in gamers for exploration and completion, and encapsulated perhaps the most respected and well-loved games ever created. It was fathered by Nintendo with a proud tenderness and the NES was there to videotape the birth.

legend of zelda