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Retro games hold a special place in gamers’ hearts. They bring a charm and nostalgia like no other. These classic games come from the golden era and have been loved for generations. Let’s take a look at the top 10 best-selling retro games ever. They show the lasting power of great gameplay and unforgettable characters.

The first source tells us that Super Mario Bros. is the top-selling retro game. It came out in 1985 for the NES. Since then, it has sold over 40 million copies. This game has not just entertained but also made billions. Another iconic game is Tetris, known for its addictive fun and strategy play. It has sold over 170 million copies!

The third source shares the author’s top 5 picks. This list includes Kirby and the Amazing Mirror, Pokemon Emerald, Super Smash Bros., Crash Team Racing, and SSX. It shows the variety of beloved retro games on different consoles.

Key Takeaways : Best Retro Games

  • The best-selling retro game of all time is Super Mario Bros., released for the NES in 1985.
  • Tetris, created by Alexey Pajitnov, is another cult classic with over 170 million copies sold.
  • Retro games span a wide range of genres, from platformers to RPGs, across various consoles.
  • Retro gaming continues to captivate gamers with its nostalgic appeal and timeless gameplay.
  • The legacy of these best-selling retro games has shaped the video game industry and inspired modern gaming.

Introduction to Retro Gaming

The gaming industry is always changing. Many people are now falling in love with the retro game era. These games, once on consoles like Sega and Nintendo, are popular again. They attract both experienced gamers and new players.

Defining Retro Games

Retro games refer to the first games that people played when the video game industry began. These older games are now known as “retro.” They have a special charm. This charm lets people see the gaming world of the past.

The Nostalgia Factor

Nostalgia plays a big part in why retro gaming is back. Players want to feel the same excitement as when they first played these games. Reliving these memories is both comforting and fun.

The Enduring Legacy of Retro Games

Although nostalgia is strong, retro games do more. They still inspire new gamers today. Their influence on the video game world is huge. They helped create what gaming is today.

Super Mario Bros. – A Platforming Masterpiece

Super Mario Bros.

The iconic Super Mario Bros. hit the market in 1985. Nintendo released it for their NES console. It quickly became the best-selling retro game, selling over 40 million copies. This game started the well-known Mario franchise. It also set the bar for platforming games with new gameplay mechanics.

The Birth of the Iconic Mario Franchise

Super Mario Bros. brought us Mario and his brother, Luigi. They are now gaming icons. The game did so well that it led to many sequels and spin-offs. It made the Mario franchise a key part of the game world.

Groundbreaking Gameplay Mechanics

It was Super Mario Bros.’s precise controls and tough levels that shined. Players had to travel through tricky lands and dodge problems. They could collect power-ups along the way. These gameplay mechanics inspired many later platforming games.

The Game That Saved the Industry

After the video game crash of 1983, Super Mario Bros. played a huge part in the industry’s comeback. Its big hit status helped boost the industry again. This began Nintendo‘s era of leading games.

Tetris – The Ultimate Puzzle Game


Tetris is the legendary puzzle game by Alexey Pajitnov. It has sold over 170 million copies. This tetris masterpiece is famous for its addictive yet challenging gameplay.

The Origins of Tetris

In 1984, at Moscow’s Dorodnicyn Computing Centre, Alexey created Tetris. He did it to see what the Electronika 60 could do. His experiment turned into one of the most famous addictive gameplay experiences in video game history.

The Addictive Gameplay Loop

The secret to Tetris’ lasting popularity is its gameplay. Players have to think fast, turning and placing the falling pieces to clear full lines. When they do, lines vanish, letting them keep playing.

This quick, puzzle-solving process is challenging yet satisfying. It keeps you trying to beat your best score. It’s easy to understand but hard to stop playing. Tetris is a classic that people of all ages love.

Pokemon Red/Green/Blue – The Phenomenon Begins


The Pokemon story began with Pokemon Red/Green/Blue for the Game Boy in the 1990s. These games started the journey of catching and training Pokemon. It was a new and exciting idea that quickly became a part of pop culture.

The Concept of Catching and Training Pokemon

The first Pokemon games were about collecting and training Pokemon. Players jumped into a world full of adventure. They captured Pokemon in special Pokeballs and trained them to be strong. This fun and addictive style led to the game’s immense popularity.

The Impact on Pop Culture

Pokemon Red/Green/Blue went beyond gaming to become a cultural icon. With characters like Pikachu and mysterious legendaries, it captured fans globally. Pokemon expanded into anime, trading cards, toys, and more, leaving a big mark on pop culture.

The Birth of a Franchise

The start of Pokemon with Pokemon Red/Green/Blue on the Game Boy was huge. It sold over 31 million copies worldwide. This success led to the growth of the Pokemon world, bringing many games, shows, and experiences to fans everywhere. Today, the Pokemon franchise stands as one of the best-loved gaming franchises.

Sonic the Hedgehog – Sega’s Iconic Mascot

sonic the hedgehog

Back in the day, Sega and Nintendo were in a fierce battle. Sega created Sonic the Hedgehog for their Sega Mega Drive to fight against Nintendo’s great characters. Sonic, the lightning-fast blue hedgehog, won over gamers everywhere with his quick and cool moves.

The Sega vs. Nintendo Rivalry

Sonic the Hedgehog soon became the face of Sega’s Mega Drive. It went up against Nintendo’s Super Mario. The clash between these game giants attracted players to Sonic’s world with its quick pace and bold designs. Sonic the Hedgehog hit over 15 million in sales, showing Sega was a major player in gaming, making Sonic one of the most famous characters around.

The Speedy and Stylish Gameplay

What set Sonic the Hedgehog apart was its fast-moving action. Gamers got to guide the blue hedgehog through colorful levels, grabbing rings for power and dodging enemies. The game was a hit because of its smooth controls, shifting camera, and its focus on keeping up speed and rhythm, giving players an electrifying experience.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – A Masterpiece of Adventure

legend of zelda ocarina of time

The legend of zelda series has enchanted players for years. Ocarina of Time stands out. It hit the scene in 1998 on the Nintendo 64. This action-adventure game is often named the best video game ever. It has sold over 7 million copies.

The Influential Storytelling and World-Building

Ocarina of Time tells a big story in a detailed world called Hyrule. You play as Link on an exciting adventure. The mix of exploring, solving puzzles, and getting to know characters makes the game unforgettable.

The Innovative Gameplay and Mechanics

This game set new standards for 3D action-adventure games with its smart gameplay mechanics. The Z-targeting system is a key example. It lets players focus on enemies with ease, making battles and exploring better. The dungeons, puzzles, and all the items Link can use make for an exciting journey.

The Impact on the Action-Adventure Genre

Ocarina of Time changed the action-adventure genre forever. Its mix of a great story, an amazing world, and cool features inspired many games. Even now, it’s seen as a model game. Developers often look to this game for its depth and excitement.

Best Retro Games – Donkey Kong and Pac-Man

Donkey Kong and Pac-Man

In the world of classic games, Donkey Kong and Pac-Man are at the top. These games from the past are still loved today. They have addictive gameplay and memorable characters. These games show just how fun gaming can be.

The Arcade Classics

Donkey Kong first came out in 1981. It was about a big ape and a girl he kidnapped. It sold over 6 million copies. Soon, everyone recognized it as a leading arcade game and loved its characters.

Pac-Man arrived a year earlier, in 1980. It’s about a little yellow guy eating dots in a maze. More than 10 million machines and games were sold. It became a hit, loved by many gamers.

The Cultural Impact of Donkey Kong and Pac-Man

Donkey Kong and Pac-Man went beyond just being popular. They made a big cultural impact outside of gaming. Today, you can see them in movies, clothes, and more.

Their story is not just about success. It’s about their lasting charm and how they sparked nostalgia. They show us why the old days of arcade games are so special. Donkey Kong and Pac-Man are unforgettable stars from the early days of gaming.

Final Fantasy VII – Redefining the RPG Genre

Final Fantasy VII

In 1997, Final Fantasy VII changed the RPG world forever. This game captured players worldwide and set new standards for its genre. It had a deep, engaging story, unforgettable characters, and amazing visuals. This made Final Fantasy VII a monumental game in the industry.

The Rich Storyline and Characters

The success of Final Fantasy VII came from its thrilling story. It followed Cloud Strife, who used to be in SOLDIER, on his journey. He faced a world nearing its end. The game’s character depth and complex story, exploring environment care and corporate evil, drew players in. They loved being part of the Final Fantasy VII world.

The Groundbreaking Graphics and Cinematics

Besides its story, Final Fantasy VII also changed RPG visuals. Its graphics and cutscenes were revolutionary, making a beautiful game world. The use of 3D characters and backgrounds was cutting-edge. It set a high standard for the genre with its dynamic battles.

Final Fantasy VII had a massive impact. It enchanted gamers and stood out as a key RPG title. Its story, characters, and top-notch visuals redefined RPGs. They influenced games that came after it.

Street Fighter II – The Ultimate Fighting Game

street fighter ii

Street Fighter II changed the video game world. It grabbed players everywhere with its cool characters and big fights. This game sold over 6 million copies and started a whole movement. It made fighters with their cool moves famous and set the stage for esports to grow.

The Memorable Characters and Moves

What made Street Fighter II special was its character lineup. Each had their very own way of fighting and special moves. You could pick from fast Ryu, strong Guile, tricky Chun-Li, or big Zangief. Their appeal made the game a hit, drawing players into their stories and powers.

The Competitive Scene and Esports Legacy

Street Fighter II was more than just a game; it was a challenge. It got players perfecting their moves and strategies in a growing world of competition. The game’s popularity made tournaments common and laid the ground for esports. It has inspired gamers for years.

The Impact on the Fighting Game Genre

Looking beyond its numbers, Street Fighter II set a golden standard for fighting games. Its simple controls and deep strategies were a hit. They not only made the game great but shaped many other games. Because of it, the gaming world was changed forever.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – A Timeless Adventure

The Legend of Zelda games are famous for their exciting adventures. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of the highlights. It was released in 1991 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). This game set the standard for the series with its rich world, complex dungeons, and memorable quests. Even now, it captures the hearts of players.

The Intricate Dungeons and Puzzles

In A Link to the Past, dungeons play a key role. Each one is full of tough puzzles and challenges. To move forward, players must find paths through maze-like structures, solve smart environmental puzzles, and defeat enemies. This game requires sharp thinking and a love for adventure.

The Memorable Quests and Storyline

Besides its dungeons, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past offers a rich story. You play as Link, a hero on a mission to save Hyrule from Ganon. The adventure is marked by lots of well-developed characters, interesting side-quests, and a world ready for exploration. The game’s strong story and immersive play draw players in deeply.

With its mix of challenging dungeons, fun puzzles, and deep story, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past remains an outstanding example of the series. This timeless adventure keeps drawing players back. Its influence will continue for many years, guiding new gamers on their discovery of Hyrule’s incredible world.

Also Read : Vintage Play: The Essentials Of Retro Game Collecting For Beginners


The top 10 best-selling retro games have changed the gaming industry. They brought us iconic characters and started new game types. These old classics still charm players of all ages.

They include great platformers, RPGs, and fighting games. These retro games have left their mark on gaming history. They inspire today’s game creators to make something magical.

In the years to come, their influence will keep growing. They will keep inspiring developers and delighting players who love retro games.


Q: What are the top 10 best retro games of all time?

A: Some of the top-rated retro games include Super Mario World, Tomb Raider, Streets of Rage 2, Resident Evil, and many more.

Q: How can I play retro games?

A: You can play retro games on retro gaming consoles, emulators, or by using remastered versions available on modern platforms.

Q: Which consoles are considered the best retro game consoles?

A: Some of the best retro game consoles are the Analogue Pocket, Game Boy, and various other handheld consoles known for their extensive retro game libraries.

Q: What is the best overall retro game?

A: While opinions vary, Super Mario World is often considered one of the best overall retro games due to its iconic status and timeless gameplay.

Q: How can I take a nostalgic trip down memory lane with retro games?

A: You can experience a nostalgic trip by playing classic games on original hardware, using emulators, or exploring remastered versions of beloved titles.

Q: What is the history of video games?

A: Video games have evolved from early arcade cabinets to modern console games. The industry has seen the rise of classic titles and innovative gaming experiences over the years.

Q: Are there any ways to play retro games on modern devices?

A: Yes, you can play retro games on modern devices through emulators, remastered versions, or by purchasing retro gaming consoles designed to play old games.

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