The longer video games are around, the more anniversaries there are to celebrate. In fact, if you look at games that debuted in 1979, 1984, 1989, 1994, and 1999 alone -- that is, games celebrating their 35th, 30th, 25th, 20th, or 15th anniversaries in 2014 and thus easily qualified to be considered "retro" -- you'll end up with a list of several thousand entries.
That's what happened to us. So we trimmed that list down to include only games that seemed notable or interesting... and still had several hundred games we wanted to write about. So, we decided the only thing to be done is to focus on the anniversary of a different classic each weekday throughout 2014. Rather than simply talk about them at random, though, we've grouped them together into weekly sets bound by meaningful connections, be it their publisher, their genre, their platform, their themes, or their characters. Each week, we'll be exploring different facets of gaming's evolution by celebrating the birthday of a different classic video game. Check back daily!
Week One: Tough Times for Nintendo
- January 20: Radar Scope (1979)
35 years ago, Nintendo's brush with arcade disaster nearly derailed the company's video game business before it even got off the ground.
- January 21: Punch-Out!! (1984)
As Nintendo set its sights on the home market, Punch-Out!! made a lovely swan song for their arcade business.
- January 22: Duck Hunt (1984)
With unconventional controls and roots in Nintendo's past, Duck Hunt embodied the Wii business model 20 years early.
- January 23: Donkey Kong Country (1994)
With technological obsolescence staring Nintendo in the face, it gambled on an empty-handed bluff and won.
- January 24: Pokémon Snap (1999)
How a frivolous photo safari embodied Nintendo's ability to make the best of a bad situation.
Week Two: When Platformers Came of Age
- January 27: Pitfall II: The Lost Caverns (1984)
The sequel to platformer legend Pitfall! added literal depth to its action.
- January 28: H.E.R.O. (1984)
How Activision advanced the run-and-jump game by abandoning the concepts of running and jumping.
- January 29: Jet Set Willy (1984)
Despite its coarse premise, this Spectrum classic raised the bar for platforming.
- January 30: Montezuma's Revenge (1984)
A startling sophisticated adventure that drew from... Adventure.
- January 31: Pac-Land (1984)
Pac-Man ushered in the dawn of a new era of gaming with another genre-defining adventure.
Week Three: 1989 and the Anime Invasion
- February 3: Clash at Demonhead (1989)
How comedy defied whitewashing with this unmistakably anime-inspired adventure.
- February 4: U.N. Squadron (1989)
A solid shoot-em-up afflicted with a baffling identity crisis.
- February 5: Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams (1989)
When TurboGrafx-16 shooters became adorable.
- February 6: Valis II (1989)
How can a game be both exotic and run-of-the-mill at once? It's all about cultural relativism.
- February 7: Ninja Gaiden (1989)
The adventure that hurtled anime influence into gaming's mainstream.
Week Four: Games I Love (Valentine's Self-Indulgence)
- February 10: The Misadventures of Tron Bonne (1999)
An echo of better days, when Mega Man spinoffs had their own spinoffs... and Mega Man had games, period.
- February 11: Final Fantasy VI (1994)
The essence of a franchise distilled into a single game.
- February 12: Strider (1989)
A cinematic game that put "game" ahead of "cinematic."
- February 13: Super Metroid (1994)
7 secrets of a Super NES masterpiece.
- February 14: Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (1989)
An NES franchise polished to near-perfection.
Week Five: Oddball Sequels
- February 17: Strider 2 (1999)
An arcade adventure born into the wrong era.
- February 18: Donkey Kong (1994)
An unlikely Game Boy revival for an arcade classic.
- February 19: Elevator Action Returns (1994)
An arcade oddity too beautiful for this miserable world.
- February 20: Bionic Commando: Elite Forces (1999)
A Game Boy Color reboot begat a cycle of rebirth.
- February 21: Chrono Cross (1999)
How this PlayStation sequel to Chrono Trigger triumphed over its predestined failure.
Week Six: The FPS Comes of Age
Coming the week of March 3!