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The Best Games of 1988: 30 Years of Gaming

In 1988, Nintendo was well on its way to cementing itself as a legendary gaming company; one that in many ways saved console gaming. The Super NES and Genesis were on the horizon, and arcade gaming was hot. The coolest part about being a gamer in the 80s, however, was that consoles were getting better at bringing home the arcade excitement…to a degree. It’s mind blowing to think that thirty years have already gone by, but here are some classic games that were the hotness then.

  • Tetris – While not exactly one of my favorite games, The influence of Tetris was everywhere. When the original Game Boy launched a few years later, that was the game that came along with it. The tune was cheesy and catchy, but the gameplay could be addictive.

  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge – Still one of the best co-op beat’em ups of all time, the Double Dragon franchise inspired so many clones and offshoots. Yes, it was weird that the brothers in the game were fighting gang members for the hand of the same woman and yes…depending on which version you played, the brothers would actually fight each other if you reached the end, but we’re not going to talk about that….and no, we aren’t going to talk about the film that came out nearly a decade later.

  • NARC– Long before there was Grand Theft Auto, this over-the-top gem came along. In this game you could play the role of a Narc agent and not just arrest criminals, but kill them as well. You could confiscate their drugs, which could either be turned in or actually used against enemies. It eventually got ported to the NES in 1990, but the home release was a tame one.

  • Altered Beast – In a market that was quickly becoming over-saturated with beat’em ups, this game went in a slightly different direction with its setting. While most games were focused on urban and post-apocalyptic settings, Altered Beast went back to ancient Greece. What made this game even cooler was the way your character could power up into mythical beasts, hence its name. The biggest thing about this game, however, was the graphics. Altered Beast took advantage of the fact that it released during the dawn of the 16-bit Sega Genesis, and even became one of the in-pack games for the console.

  • Contra – Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A. If you owned an NES you know what this meant. If ever there was a game that really sold the NES, this was it. Contra was one of the toughest games to beat, but it was also one of the most satisfying. I can remember losing many weekends in my youth playing this games with friends. Whether or not any of us here at PCU ever beat the game? Well, that’s a story for another time.

1988 was definitely a cool year for video games. These five are just a few of our favorites, and are really a testament to the origins of the gaming “obsessions” that a lot of us have. These were fun times, and fun games, but we want to hear from you. Let us know some of your favorites from 1988, or any era! Leave us a message down below, and be sure to follow our antics on Facebook and Twitter!

About Armand (1275 Articles)
Armand is a husband, father, and life long comics fan. A devoted fan of Batman and the Valiant Universe he loves writing for PCU, when he's not running his mouth on the PCU podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @armandmhill
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