When you talk about games that challenge the way you look at life or at least the ones that offer a bit of food for thought outside of the virtual space, it is quite a common occurrence these days. The consensus on gaming has changed drastically over the years, and the fact that you have a say over the course of a game compared to a book or a film helps many such games to transcend some of their most popular competitors.
That said, there was a time when people would scoff at the idea of a game that changed the way you thought. Way back when most people were too busy to deal with games compared them to toys that entertained children. However, it just might surprise you how cerebral gaming was, even in the old days. Here are just a couple of retro games from the SNES era that offered food for thought!
Earthbound, SNES/Famicom, 1994
Starting with what is touted to be one of the most influential RPGs of its time, Earthbound was released with a whimper rather than a bang. It was the reason why boxed versions of the game ended up in bargain bins all over the place. However, when its popularity grew to a boiling point, it became so rare to find online that it commanded a tidy sum – especially compared to other games.
For a game from 1994, Earthbound is a surprisingly cerebral game. It touches upon all sorts of mature themes, in the guise of a seemingly silly story. From time travel to psychics – with the latter actually getting people interested in a psychic reading – the game leaves people mystified about humanity as a whole. The final boss, in particular, is something that cannot be explained with words.
Mega Man 7, SNES/Famicom, 1995
Mega Man is a game about jumping and shooting. It is also about defeating the nefarious Dr. Wily and his dreaded robot masters. It didn’t seem like much, until the release of Mega Man 7 for the SNES/Famicom, which was also quite close to the release of Mega Man X, the spinoff that would take the series to new heights.
Megaman is a robot designed never to harm humans, so Dr. Wily tends to get away to fight another day. However, in 7, Megaman finally decides he’s willing to take Wily down for real. He claims he’s more than a robot. It comes out of left field, and is something more along the lines of “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”. The fact that it pops out of a seemingly mindless action platformer makes it all the more jarring.
While there are so many more retro games that are intelligently designed, Earthbound and Mega Man 7 are special cases as they are two sides of the same coin. They both represent the potential of retro gaming as great for all ages but provide something interesting in their own way. The former tantalizes and provides food for thought the whole way through, while the latter delivers it at the ending – making you wonder about everything that occurred beforehand.