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Retro Games

Eurogamer reported earlier this week that sources close to Nintendo has indicated that an SNES Classic will be released later on this year. Details are almost non-existent at this point, but one can assume that if this does end up happening, then it will be pretty similar to the NES Classic that was released last year.

This report got us thinking. What games from the Super Nintendo era would we want to see on this thing? The following is a lineup of games we would love to see! The NES classic had thirty games on it, and we strongly doubt that Nintendo would do the same thing again. Instead, we picked an assortment of twenty games. Take a look at our SNES Classic game list and then hop into the comments and tell us what you think!

Super Mario World

There was only one true Super Mario game released on the SNES and it would be a crime not to include it on any sort of SNES classic system. The fact that it also happens to be one of the series best is a bonus.

Super Mario World stands out for us because it was one of the first Mario games to encourage replaying levels and looking for levels looking for secrets. All of the previous games were more or less linear experiences.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

Popular among young kids and speed runners alike, Yoshi’s Island pushed the limits of the SNES hardware with a hand painted, timeless art style. This game took the classic Super Mario formula and added twists that have since been permanently added to Yoshi’s repertoire. Bouncing Eggs and Floaty Jumps both got their start here. This game was the core of what would later become Yoshi’s Wooly World, and it is clear that a lot of heart and soul got put into this game.

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Before Breath of the Wild, Link to the Past held a tie for best Zelda game along with Ocarina of Time. For many people, it served as the their first taste of the series and set the trend for a curated tour through a series of dungeons that would be a series hallmark for decades. The overworld theme of The Dark World is by far one of the most “hype-laden” SNES era songs and can only be beaten by the soundtracks from Squaresoft RPGs.

Super Mario Kart

Super Mario Kart started as a goofy little side project to and has grown into one of the tent poles of the Nintendo brand. Mario Kart games are celebrated when they are released, so this game needs to appear on the console.

The only concern that I have with this game is that Super Mario Kart doesn’t really hold up that well. The game is played on a flat surface using “Mode 7” graphics and it looks far more archaic now than it did in the past. With that said, I still think it should be included as a touchstone for players interested in the roots of the franchise.


This game is one that immortalized in Nintendo history with Captain Falcon’s place in the Smash Brother’s roster. What limitations could not be overcome on the SNES was overcome with fast action and syth-rock music blaring in the background. Go ahead and look up “Mute City Theme”… I’ll wait. As a stand alone title, it was a very solid racing game for the SNES era and solid hit of nostalgia.

Final Fantasy II (IV)

Most Final Fantasy fans would call for Final Fantasy III (VI) to be included, but we really doubt that Square Enix would be willing to put that masterpiece on a box like this.

Final Fantasy II, however, may be slightly less revered by fans, but it also has the distinction of being many SNES fans first entry to the series. We loved this game as it was the first RPG that our family really dug into (even our dad spent more than a few whole evenings playing the game).

FFII has a colorful cast of interesting characters that hold their own quite well against almost any other cast in franchise history. It would be a welcome addition to the console.

Secret of Mana

This game is a cornerstone RPG. So many pieces of art style and game mechanics got their first shakedown in here. This game has gotten better over the decades as story beats that I missed as a kid shined bright in a more recent play through. It also holds the rare distinction of being a RPG with co-operative play, as a second player could operate one of the two other characters for co-operative boss fight strategies.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of The Seven Stars

An RPG with “2 and Half D” platforming elements, designed by one of the precursors to SquareEnix, Set in the Mario Universe. This game tried to do everything, and succeeded. It took turn based gameplay and added input and reaction timing. It took the story of Mario and turned it on its head. Bowzer gets “defeated” and the princess is initially rescued, but the sprawling story only begins as the heroic plumber teams with a *very* unlikely group of heroes around a beautiful world with just the right amount of whimsy and humor to break up the action.

Super Street Fighter 2

Street Fighter 2 had three different iterations on the SNES console. We knew that we had to include one of them, so we chose the one with the most characters. Sure. That’s an arbitrary selection method, but any of the three iterations would be perfect on the console.

Street Fighter 2 marked the beginning of a significant shift from arcades to home consoles for fighting games. Until this point it was impossible to experience the thrill of the genre without throwing down quarters at an arcade or bowling alley. It’s also the first time in my life I remember actually calculating the monetary value I was saving by purchasing a video game because owning the cartridge limited the number of quarters I would need to spend on the machine.

Star Fox

Star Fox is, admittedly, a stretch. It is an essential Nintendo game, but it is notoriously hard to emulate because of the unique technology used to make it.

The sharp polygonal ships and the large environments were all possible thanks to a custom chipset built into the cartridge. Those effects can’t be accurately recreated on a modern device. As a result this game might need to be excluded by necessity.

With that said, Star Fox is an amazing game and was one of the first console games to be about arcade style dogfighting in spaceships (or anything for that matter).

Zombies Ate my Neighbors

Zombies Ate My Neighbors is, quietly, one of the most entertaining multiplayer games to grace the 16 bit consoles. The maze-like levels and quirky humor made this game a favorite at our house.

It doesn’t hurt that this game is devilishly challenging at times because of the limited ammunition available to players in most stages. This makes teamwork and communication critical to finishing this one even if it looks like it should be a throwaway game thanks to its hilarious animations.

Super Metroid

Save the Animals! This game is the quintessential Metroid game, and the foundation for Samus, arguably Nintendo’s first female protagonist. Its has a sprawling world, with a maze like structure and puzzling gateways that were the inspiration for countless games to come. The game’s themes of isolation and wanderlust are sharpened to a brutal point. You travel to the very depths of a planet, one that has once already been conquered by your heroics, only to find it teeming with new life and old, familiar foes.


Before Earthbound, video games never seemed to go near the realm of modern fantasy. Role playing games either brought you to the fantastical past or the distant sci-fi future. Earthbound was a game that took place in modern cities. Your treasure was in dollars and cents. You called home to save your game. Your bike was your first and last mode of fast transportation. And it all starts with a crashing meteor that starts a tale of psychic monsters, goverment conspiracies, kung fu masters, and a happy go lucky group of musicians.


Actraiser is an odd duck. It is an SNES that, on paper, looked like it was trying to do too much. The game married a side scrolling combat game with a top down “god game” a la Sim City. This shouldn’t have worked, but they pulled it off beautifully.

Despite all of this, it never got the credit that it was due. Many SNES gamers dismissed the game at the time, but but it has aged well. That makes it a great addition to the collection.

Super Castlevania IV

Quite possibly the last true Castlevania title before it evolved into a new genre in the Playstation Era, this is a tightly packed and incredibly difficult action/platformer game. The slow and steady whip of the Belmont gets sped up and goes in eight directions and it can latch onto special targets to perform a swinging jump. The classic creatures of horror that haunted Dracula’s Castle get new additions from gothic and fantasy horror, all while driving the player forward to the eventual showdown at the top.

Gradius III

There are a number of great space ship shooters that found a home (and success on the SNES) but none of them were as big (at least in our eyes) as Gradius III.

Gradius III was our first real taste of the genre and its bright colors, awesome soundtrack, and one-more-time challenge level kept us coming back for more.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were probably the biggest thing in kids’ media during the SNES era. It only made sense that they would have a bunch of video games. None of those games, however managed to capture the wackiness of the TMNT characters and story the same way as Turtles in Time.

The premise was simple: you control one of the four turtles in an arcade beat’em’up still game where each stage is a different era on time. The far future and the Wild West (aboard a train no less) were just two of the environments you played in.

This might be a longshot considering it is a licensed game, but I really hope it finds its way into the collection.

Yoshi’s Cookie

You can’t have a retro compilation console like the SNES classic without including at least one puzzle game. My choice is Yoshi’s Cookie.

It may not be the strongest puzzle game to ever see light on a Nintendo console, but it is cute and is attached to one of the more recognizable Nintendo character outside of Mario.

Mega Man X

Mega Man is iconic and the Mega Man X series is where, in my opinion, he was at his best. The 16 bit pixel art, the synth-metal sound track, and the fast paced action all add up to an awesome experience.  The SNES classic would be incomplete without it.

Final Fight

The Brawler/Beat-em-up genre was at its peak during the 16-bit generation. TMNT IV may have been the best among them, but Final Fight is one of the very best. The characters weren’t exactly original, but Mayor Mike Haggar sure is iconic. He has become a Capcom favorite and has even appeared in Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

This is our dream list, but we know it isn’t perfect. What games do you want to see on here? Share your ideas for the SNES Classic in the comments!

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Battle Princess Madelyn, by Casual Bit Games, is a game I’ve been keeping my eye on for a very long time. How could I NOT talk about a game that is being made for an awesome little girl by her super cool dad?

The elevator pitch on this game is fairly simple. Battle Princess Madelyn is a retro styled platforming game that is heavily influenced by the super-challenging Ghouls and Ghosts. The story behind the game’s development is adorable as well.

Chris’s daughter Maddi really enjoyed watching him play the above mentioned Ghouls and Ghosts. She especially loved watching him play the first level over and over again. She loved it so much, in fact, that eventually she asked to play, but there was a catch. She knew her dad was a talented programmer so she asked him to put her into the game! He knew he couldn’t do that… but he offered her one better. Why not make a game for her. It could be a new game that would feature her as the brave Battle Princess. She liked the idea, but had a major problem with it. She said to her dad, “But, dad. Girls can’t be knights!” Chris scoffed at that problem. “Pfff. What color do you want your armor to be?” And with that, they were off.

Chris, the super-cool dad himself, took a moment out of his busy schedule to answer some of my questions about their game and how development is going. For more information about the game take a look at the Kickstarter video below and read the Q and A afterwards. I am certain you’ll fall in love with this game just like I have.



Battle Princess Madelyn

I’ve read the story about how the game started development and it sounds awesome. I have to ask though… Ghosts and Goblins is a bit macabre for most kids. What about that game drew your daughter in?

Having a father who’s basically sharing a brain with Tim Burton, she’s pretty used to everything. I introduced her to my 80’s cartoons at the age of 3. The ones she liked? The Real Ghostbusters and Beetlejuice and a bit of Inspector Gadget. I was the same way as a little kid though, always drawn in by skeletons and ghosts. Ghost Rider being my favorite comic book. But all in all I don’t find it macabre at all, It’s all just make believe and she loves it!

What were her favorite parts of the original game and how are they being reflected in the game you are making?

Level one of Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. Over and over, she just loved watching me destroy the first boss. “What is he daddy?” “I dunno. Maybe some kind of Zombie… lizard.. Cyclops thing? Who knows.” It’s really only the first level we Look to. She never cared for me to go past the Shielder, just kick its butt.

Why was it so important for her for the game to have a female protagonist? Are there other female characters that she likes out there right now?

For Maddi it really has nothing to do with a female protagonist at all. It all has to do with her wanting to be the kicker of the monster butts! As for other characters, no not really. She was actually upset when she found out the new Ghostbusters movie wasn’t with the classic “Peter and Egon”.

How long has your game been in active development?

This game has been in development for roughly two and a half years officially, between an HTML5 prototype I made while Daven was finishing off bug fixes and new features for Insanity’s Blade, and the full game in Unity (aka Pre-Alpha build) that we see today which Daven started coding last year in C#. The narrative of the game has been brewing in my mind since childhood, but was reignited when Maddi recently went through the loss of our poor old Fritzy in real life.

How involved has your daughter been in the development process so far? Is she helping with design? Or is she playing more of an artistic directorial role?

There are literally stacks of monster drawings and levels she wants in the game. She has a desk next to mine where she will draw more monsters as she thinks of them. She’s come up with entire boss fight gameplay last year which frankly blew my mind. A detailed boss fight, it wasn’t just shoot shoot shoot. It was do X to do Y so the boss will turn around and you can shoot him in the bum!

This game obviously has retro influences. Are there any other games that have influenced you or your team?

This game really pays homage to a plethora of 2D platformers, although Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is the primary attraction factor we actually take some elements of Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon’s Trap, MegaMan and Duck Tales in an interesting way too (see if you can spot some of it in the Pre-Alpha). Alongside the overworld map and free level selection of unlocked stages, we think this will remind players of many of the games of their childhood, or interest new gamers in playing some retro titles! However, Battle Princess Madelyn is much more than the sum of its parts, as there’s many great ideas that Maddi comes up with which I can’t say I have ever heard before, and they’re definitely going to be fun-filled for players young and old alike!

Has your game gone through any major design changes since development started? What did your first prototype look like?

The only thing that’s really changed besides the engine changing over to Unity, is the addition of animations, and enemies. The first level is much bigger with the hidden levels. But overall these were things that were going to happen. The prototype had a full blown tutorial stage which will not be in the final game, it will be shown as a cinematic instead to avoid ‘hand-holding’ that many did not like in the prototype. Oh and the lighting and fancy effects didn’t exist in the prototype either!

I’m sure you’ve learned a lot through this process. Do you have any advice for parents who have kids interested in game design?

Remember that your kids imaginations aren’t hampered by seeing other people’s works yet. They are still fresh eyed and innocent. The things they come up with can be far more imaginative and amazing than you’d think.

Your Kickstarter is doing very well. This means that you and your team may be creating a female character that will draw positive attention as you move towards release. What do you all think of that? Are you looking forward to it?

We believe that it’s great when a character is created that is believable and interesting, and that’s exactly what my daughter is! We also think it’s fantastic that Maddi can be a catalyst for inspiring young girl gamers that they can be the hero too! This game is first and foremost a game for Maddi to me, but if it shares positive messages to the players too then we couldn’t ask for anything better!


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With so many new games and systems available, why would you play retro games with your kids?


Nostalgia is a pretty big reason a lot of parents play the games they knew and loved as kids with their kids. While we can tell big tales about how amazing it is to finally beat that big boss at the end of Contra, or playing Legend of Zelda for the first time – there’s nothing quite like experiencing it firsthand. Showing your kids some of the things you loved as a kid, and going through the ups and downs, the joys and frustrations, is a really fun way to bond. Being able to show them the origins of some of the modern titles they like can help introduce them to the world’s lore – especially in RPGs. It brings some context to bosses and characters who show up in later titles or in games full of characters (like Super Smash Bros. or Marvel Vs. Capcom). Its great to have your kids understand gaming references and jokes from your favorite games, too.


Sometimes being intimately familiar with the games your kids play can be a huge help. It makes you that much more helpful when they get stuck. It also means you are more likely to know the content of the game without having to look it up. Being able to easily determine its appropriateness for your kids’ tolerance for difficulty and content take out some of the guess work.

Practical Reasons

There are some practical reasons to play retro games, too. Older games are often simpler as far as game controls go. This makes some of the older games a bit easier for an intermediate gamer to figure out. Getting your kids started on RPGs where the fighting is simplified to a few different buttons gets them mastering the basics before moving on to more complex systems.

Simplified button configurations and gaming options don’t mean the games are easy though. Older games are known for being a significant challenge – and can be a great way for a kid to practice building some frustration tolerance and perseverance. Older games often emphasize and prioritize things like resource management – for everything from in-game items to lives. Retro games are also particularly good at giving rewards for pattern recognition and timing – so if you have a kid who could use a boost to either skill, retro games are great for that. Platforming games (games which require the user to guide their avatar to jump from platform to platform or to avoid obstacles, etc.) are great for hand-eye coordination and pattern recognition. Text-based RPGs taught about how to explore, gather resources, and think outside the box for solutions. Simulators taught both resource management and coordination. The RPGs of the Nintendo era were a good mix of action and decision making. So many skills can be strengthened with games, but especially retro games which were less forgiving than modern games.

So, whether you’re looking to play those old games with your kids just for the nostalgia, or because you’d like to help them gain new skills – dust off those old systems, or find websites with some of those old floppy-disc based games and get your family game on!

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Playing retro games with your kids can be a blast. But, if you’re playing retro games on the original systems, it’s important to go over the basics with your kids about how to play with and troubleshoot them. You can still find many old systems at retro gaming stores and on Ebay. But, those consoles are only getting more expensive. Teaching your kids the basics will keep your older consoles running longer.

The Basics

First, let’s start with your entertainment center. It’s a good idea to set up your gaming systems as low to the floor as possible. This is especially true if your kids are young, or particularly animated. This prevents your child pulling the console to the floor when they enthusiastically moving the controller when they try to jump over a big chasm. You should also gauge the length of the controller chords for your consoles. Things like coffee tables can force kids to stretch the controller cords over them or to sit too far away. The goal in all this is the limit the damage kids can do with their excitement.

Second, you should show your kids how to switch over to the system on your entertainment center. Some set ups require several switches and TV inputs to be managed in order to use an old system to work. You need your kids to know the required settings for which machine. Depending on their age and memory, you might want to make a master list of how to access each system that’s connected to the TV.

Next, you should show your kids how to properly power up and down the machine, how (and when) to use the reset button, and how to insert and remove a game. This might seem super simple, but a lot of kids are used to discs and not cartridges. If you’re using a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), a Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), or another cartridge based system you need to show your kids how to troubleshoot cartridges which won’t load correctly. Cartridges that have been sitting idle for a long time might be dusty so teach them how to clean them or gently blow the dust off of the connectors. They will also need to know how to handle sticky buttons as well (canned air works great).

Lastly, sit with your kids the first few times they play on the old systems. A lot of systems have quirks that we’re very used to, but our kids have never encountered before. Sitting with them through those first few sessions can help you cover anything else you hadn’t yet explained. It will also have your kids feeling less intimidated by a new-to-them console.  Kids are quick to learn and adjust to new things. Follow these steps and they’ll be showing their younger siblings the ropes before you know it.


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Guest Writer: Kate Davis

If you are into retro games, and are thinking of introducing your kids to the gaming classics, we’re going to need to talk about difficulty level. There is a term in gaming, “Nintendo Hard” which refers to how brutally difficult Nintendo games of the 80’s and 90’s were (Contra, Battletoads, and others are most often referenced). Games from that era were based on the idea of an arcade – the more often you lost the game, the more often you were feeding quarters into the machine. Old games were difficult and designed to be challenging and frustrating. As arcades became less common, and at-home gaming became common, you began to see more and more games give you the option of continuing past your last life, with some sort of penalty to your stats or items. Long gone are the days of losing that final life on the big end-game boss and having to start the game all over again.

So how do we address this with kids who are used to endless lives? Well, we look to a skill called Frustration Tolerance. Frustration Tolerance is pretty self-explanatory: it’s a person’s ability to tolerate certain levels of frustration without losing focus, getting unproductively upset, or walking away. We are very used to the idea of starting games over if you lose, because that’s what we grew up with. So if you want to get your kids into some of the older games, working on building their frustration tolerance is important.

Like any skill, you want to start small and work your way up, so let’s avoid games like Solar Jetman for a long time. You want to start with games which have a gentle learning curve – ones that have you practice the basics again and again until you’re good enough to continue on. Super Mario Bros. or any of its sequels are great places to start. That first Super Mario Bros. level is classic frustration tolerance building – you slowly learn about timing, hitting mystery blocks, jumping on enemies, and then move on to jumping over holes, etc. Several of the Zelda games or other RPGs are also good places to start.

Each time they lose that last life, try to put emphasis on their effort, and that they have learned all the things they need to progress further. Praising their effort helps them to realize the prize isn’t how far they got, but how much they learned, and will help a LOT with retro games.

Another great way of helping your kids build frustration tolerance is by demonstrating it. Retro gamers are so used to losing and dying and starting over that half of us laugh when we make some epic mistake and have to start over. Showing your kids that there’s an alternative to anger and giving up will help them to get perspective over a loss. Tell them about your epic losses and about how satisfying it was to beat the final boss afterwards. Depending on how old your kids are when they start, they’re probably going to need some pep talks, so plan to be right there with them while they’re playing until they get used to the frustration.

Teach them about when to take breaks when they’ve reached their tolerance, how to calm down, or get hyped to try the game again another time. Teach them the stress relieving joys of intentionally killing your characters (think Tomb Raider!) sometimes so you can laugh and find your focus again. Teach them about how to maximize the strategic uses of save points (especially if you’re using an emulator), so that they can avoid some of the frustrations of losing that last life.

Playing retro games with your kids can be a lot of fun, and the frustration tolerance they build in playing these older games can help them with frustrations in other aspects of their lives. Including your kids in your gaming traditions will open up conversations between them and your family, and give you another way to be engaged in their lives.

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I never thought that I would play a video game at New York Toy Fair. I have demoed plenty of board games and educational apps, but a new video game console was never even on my radar.

That all changed when I got an email with a press release regarding the Coleco Chameleon. This new console was purported to be a revival of the cartridge based games that I remember from my youth. The was overcome with nostalgia for a few seconds, but then I was left with some significant concerns. The biggest among them being, “what games am I going to be playing on this thing?”

I made it a point to head over to their booth and talk to Mike Kennedy, the guy in charge of the project, and get to the bottom of it.

I found their booth, a humble 10×10, in the back corner and found Mike in deep discussions with another member of the press. While I was waiting my turn his wife approached me. She took the time to explain it all to me.

As for games, they have two routes that they are using to help expand the launch lineup. (See the video below for some of the games being released at launch.)

First, they have been approached by several prominent indie developers like Double Fine and Prima for Dev Kits (prerelease consoles that can be used to help create games). This presents an opportunity to lure some high profile games onto the console.

Second, they are working with a company who is obtaining the licenses for SNES and Genesis games that might never have been released in the US and localizing them. Some of these games are exceedingly rare and are only playable right now on emulators or by players willing to spend hundreds of dollars on cartridges.

If both of those things actually happen and the system can build a robust catalog it might be able to build a place for itself in the market. I highly doubt it will compete with juggernauts like the PlayStation 4 or even the Wii U, but it could definitely be a modest success.

My visit wasn’t all talk though. I had a chance to go hands on with an SNES inspired shooter and enjoyed myself. I didn’t spend a lot of time with it, but it definitely brought back memories from my childhood. It game me a lot of hope for the consoles potential.

Some of the advantages of using an always offline cartridge based system are attractive. The chameleon’s flyer lays some of those advantages out while throwing some serious shade at the state of the current console market.

“Never patch a game. Games are tested thoroughly before release, just like the used to be.”

“Never update your system or risk turning it into a brick. Your console stays factory fresh.”

“No network connection or game server(s) required. Never fear your favorite game will get pulled and shut down.”

“No hidden costs from downloadable content or streaming.”

None of this is a real guarantee right now though. The Chameleon won’t see life without additional funding through a Kickstarter campaign that will launch on February 26, 2016. They will have an early bird funding level at $135 dollars that will include the console, an HDMI cable, a game and a controller. Once the early bird level is expended people will be able to back the product at $150.

Keep your eyes here on Engaged Family Gaming for additional info as the Kickstarter comes closer. We might even be able to get our hands on a console for more hands on impressions.

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