The action-adventure game genre is the most extensive of all gaming genres because it contains many sub-genres. Pretty much any game(e.g. Half-Life 2, Dishonored, Grand Theft Auto, Legend of Zelda) that involves exploration as well as some form of action can be labeled an ‘Action-Adventure’. But with there being so many options to choose from you can easily find yourself spending more time deciding on a game than playing one. To make sure you don’t fall into this gaming deathtrap, we have put together a list of the top ten retro action-adventure games with pixel graphics for you to enjoy.
Top 10 Retro Action-Adventure Games
#10 – Ecco the Dolphin
Ecco the Dolphin is a stupid game. With that being said, I have yet to find a single gamer that has not played it and had fun. In the game, you play as Ecco the Dolphin(who would have thought) as he travels through time and saves the world from evil aliens hell-bent on taking over the planet. Combat in the game was based on actual dolphins and would revolve around picking up high amounts of speed and ramming into your enemies. Another feature of the game added to mimic actual dolphin behavior was the need to surface every so often to ‘take a breathe’ and prevent drowning. If you are one of the few people that missed this game you are truly missing out.
#9 – Goof Troop
Goof Troop is a multiplayer action-adventure video game released on the Super Nintendo in 1993. The game was based on a television show of the same name and allows the players to take control of the main characters, Goofy and Max, while they take part in a grand adventure. The combination of fun gameplay, interesting bosses, and logic-based puzzles make this a must-play for any fan of retro action-adventure games. An interesting fact about Goof Troop is that it was designed by Shinji Mikami, the father of the survival horror. Many game elements popularized by survival games can first be seen in Goof Troop.
#8 – Mechwarrior
The MechWarrior is a Super Nintendo port of the popular PC MechWarrior game. It was published by Activision and released in 1993. While still a good game, the storyline was altered to accommodate the console’s limited abilities. The plot revolves around a ‘MechWarrior’ named Herras Ragen and his mission of revenge against a group of renegade mercenaries. He does this by using a highly customizable robot warrior to take them out across various locations. I put MechWarrior on the list because of its original gameplay as well as its beautiful sprite work.
#7 – Legend of the Mystical Ninja
The Legend of the Mystical Ninja is a fun action-adventure game that was released in 1991 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System by Konami. It took me a while to get around to play it because of the cover art, but I’m glad I did. In ways, Legend of the Mystical Ninja feels like River City Ransom with a deeper combat system. The gameplay involves a healthy mix of beat ’em up games action and role-playing games character advancement. Aside from melee combat, the player had access to short-range throwable weapons that would cost money to use. The game produced three popular sequels in Japan but sadly never captured the hearts of western culture.
#6 – Wild Guns
Wild Guns is a fun space western shooting game that was developed in 1994 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The games core gameplay combines popular mechanics from light gun and third-person shooter games to create a new genre. The player moves around in the foreground while enemy robots move around and shoot in the background. The games space western theme drew ideas from classic Western films and the popular science fiction manga Cobra. With fun gameplay and a space western gimmick 9 years before Firefly, how couldn’t we put it on the list.
#5 – ToeJam & Earl
To be honest, I was never a fan of ‘ToeJam & Earl‘. The 1991 game follows a pair of alien rappers that have crash-landed on Earth. To escape they must transverse the planet searching for pieces of their broken spaceship. What made this game original, and added replay value, was the randomly generated levels. Every time you would play the game all the items would be in new loactions. One of the top-selling points of the game was its crude humor and references to the late 1980s hip-hop culture.
#4 – Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge
Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge is going to be an unpopular choice for the list. This is because a lot of gamers consider it to lack any plot and accuse it of being overly hard. Despite this, I think the beautiful sprites and classic gameplay goes a long way in this title. The game allows you to control both Spiderman and the X-men over the course of several levels.
#3 – The Firemen
The Firemen is a Super Nintendo Entertainment System game released by Human Entertainment in 1994. It was the second disaster game released by Human Entertainment, the first being SOS. The Firemen was released in Europe, Australia, and Japan. A sequel was released for the PlayStation in 1995 called The Firemen 2: Pete and Danny. Above all, the coolest part about The Firemen was that you were fighting real-world threats and not fictional monsters. It had fun gameplay and shined a light on some of the real heroes in the world.
#2 – Super Metroid
Super Metroid is a popular Run n’ Gun platformer game that has innovative exploration and RPG elements. It was published by Nintendo in 1994 and is the first game in the series for the Super Nintendo. The game has all the charm of the original but also added a handful of new mechanics to the series. Unlike the older games, the player now has access to both an inventory screen and an automap. Another feature added in Super Metroid was the ability to fire in all directions. Super Metroid is often considered one of the best video games ever made. Metroid in combination with Castlevania is often credited for creating the “Metroidvania” subgenre.
#1 – The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past makes the number one slot on the list simply because no list would be complete without it. The game originally released in 1991 but it is still considered to be one of the best games ever made and is responsible for introducing much of the mythology of the series such as the parallel world and Master Sword. The story of the game is actually a prequel to the previous two titles and takes place when Link is still a young boy meeting Zelda for the first time.
Did we list any of your favorites? Do you think we missed a great game on our list of the Top 10 Action-Adventure Games with Pixel Graphics? If you answered YES to either of these questions please let us know in the comments.