Sometimes the best games are the simplest.
Here are our five best retro games available to play for free online right now. Join us on a trip down gaming’s memory lane…
Super Mario Kart
No retro games list will be complete without the Italian plumber and his crew racing around psychedelic tracks, demonstrating bad sportsmanship by tossing consciously-aware mushrooms at their competitors. Super Mario Kart is an oldie but a goody. A classic racing game with extra fun elements to spice things up.
Originally released on the SNES in 1993, it quickly became the most popular and was the third bestselling SNES game, selling over 9 million copies. It launched the kart- racing genre as consumers found it engaging, simple and fun to play.
Play on your own against AI or compete with a friend on the same keyboard. Choose between the whole Mario characters, including Luigi, Princess Peach, Bowser, Yoshi and more! With two different game modes: Grand Prix and Time Trial, there’s plenty of gameplay to keep you entertained. There’s three nostalgic tracks to master: Mushroom, Flower and Star Cups. The low-bit graphics will take you down memory lane as you struggle to see the 2D track ahead and ram into an oddly placed green pipe or a slippery banana skin left by one your cheeky racing competitors.
The best aspect about this retro game emulator is the insanely difficult controls, but that’s the charm. Retro games were enjoyable because of their difficulty, the feeling of finally accomplishing a level or mastering the controls like a pro was something to really boast about back in the day! This makes for challenging competition, and will soon keep you enthralled as you compete to come first place in every Cup.
Super Mario Kart can be found here, totally free to play.
By Molly Colyer
Everyone who had one of the old Nokia brick phones knew about this bad boy. Snake is the classic mobile game, and now playable on browsers.
A simple concept but increasingly difficult the more you progress. The aim is to eat the randomly-placed food around the map, whilst avoiding collision with the surrounding walls and also your own body. The more you eat, the longer the snake body grows, and ultimately the harder and more strategic you have to become.
Available in three difficulties (or speeds) the game starts of relatively easy. The controls are simple, just use the arrow keys to change your direction. Note that compared to the chunky and spaced apart keypads when playing on the old Nokia phones, playing on the keyboard is so much easier. You can pull off tight direction changes seamlessly as the keys are closer together.
Emulating the colourless screens, the game is in greyscale and may seem quite boring. But you soon find that the gameplay is so fast-paced that you don’t care if the snake would look prettier with a splash of colour. Simplicity is the theme of this classic and is surprisingly addictive. The high score table encourages you to keep trying to beat your personal best.
The best feature is that anyone can pick up and play this game, no experience needed. Basic controls and a straightforward objective means even the most casual gamers can enjoy Snake, and you can access it here, free to play to your heart’s content.
By Molly Colyer
Chrono Trigger hit the stores in March 1995 on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and was a huge success in its home market becoming a bestseller in Japan and finding a good market across seas in the US and UK, eventually finding a release four years later on the PlayStation in preparation for the release of the sequel Chrono Cross.
The gameplay followed the basic guidelines of RPGs made at the time, however there were a number of innovations in the gameplay. Whilst most of the world is traversed via a scaled down map where the player can speak to NPCs, find items and solve challenges, some of the bigger areas are navigated through a zoomed out map that acts as a sort of fast travel. Enemy mechanics are different to that of most RPGs at the time as instead of appearing at random they would wait for the hero in the open, letting the player know that a battle with that particular enemy lies ahead.
One of the most unique features of Chrono Trigger is the ability to time travel through the game world’s seven different eras. When doing this the player can make allies and complete side quests that affect the future eras. The game has 13 unique endings that can be reached by how the player completes the game and is one of the first games to include a New Game+ feature, which challenges the player to complete the game again but with harder enemies and puzzles.
One of the best RPG games of all time and a model for games in the genre to follow for years to come, Chrono Trigger was one of the defining games of the SNES and has become an absolute classic.
The game can be found on many sites online however I feel the best emulation can be found here.
By Adam Hitchcock
The Legend of Zelda
Perhaps one of the most iconic and defining games of the NES generation, The Legend of Zelda was first released in 1986, and it spawned one of Nintendo’s most successful franchises. Players would follow the hero, Link, on his quest to rescue Princess Zelda, and travel through an unknown world to stop the mysterious evil entity known only as Ganon.
The Legend of Zelda has left an immense mark on the world of gaming. Considered a forerunner to the role-playing-game (RPG) genre, it was one of the first games to introduce a narrative, marrying an epic story with a game – something that had arguably never been done before in the history of gaming. The Legend of Zelda made that first leap, and to this day countless other games have followed suit; games are now comparable to big-budget films, thanks to the influence of The Legend of Zelda.
Because of the massive advancement in gaming technology since the release of The Legend of Zelda, the game can now be played on most PCs and laptops with ease. You can’t pass up the opportunity to play, for absolutely free, the first iteration of one of the most legendary franchises in gaming! It can be played here.
By Sammy Cooper
Known in the early 90s as Mario’s biggest rival, Sonic the Hedgehog was the ‘rebellious’ mascot to Sega, being marketed as the opposite, rebellious version of the goody-two-shoes that is Mario. During this time, the Sega vs Nintendo console war was in full swing, and Sega used Sonic in an attempt to even out the battle a little against Nintendo’s giant mascot.
In Sonic the Hedgehog, players assume the role of the titular character as they attempt to rescue animals from the clutches of the evil Doctor Eggman. The game is divided into six different zones, and Sonic will traverse through many different environments, rescuing animals and chasing Eggman along the way.
The soundtrack for the game is also iconic and the Green Hill Zone theme is one of the most memorable bits of music in gaming – when you hear that familiar chirping sound, you’ll instantly relate back to Sonic.
The gameplay was some of the most solid for a platformer, and Sonic’s handle as ‘the fastest thing on earth’ really conveys itself to the player. Sonic is fast, he can jump high, and the gameplay is satisfying. When Sonic jumps, he turns into a sharp ball and can use this to take out the many enemies he will encounter on his journey; another mechanic that is extremely satisfying.
Sonic the Hedgehog was first released on the Sega Megadrive in Europe, and the Genesis in the US, meaning it will run smoothly on most PCs, but some may struggle to run it at a high framerate. It can be played here.
By Sammy Cooper