Top 10 Oldest Games in my Backlog
Image source: Steve Johnson

Top 10 Oldest Games in my Backlog

Games on earlier video game systems are sometimes seen as outdated, or even ugly. It all comes down to personal preference though. For instance, I have no interest in the Atari 2600 or its games, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who still love the system today, and for whom its library is still very much worth playing, and that’s wonderful! I think all the games on this list are worth a try, but whether I’m right or wrong about each of them remains to be seen, since they’re still in my backlog!

Just a quick note, when I say “oldest,” I don’t mean the 10 games that have been in my backlog the longest, but rather the 10 games that have the earliest release dates. The release date I used was the North American release, unless the game never had one, in which case I used its Japanese release date. Admittedly, some of the release date information on some of these is pretty spotty online. There’s a section of the list focused on 1991 that could potentially be in the wrong order simply because I could only locate the release year for a game’s North American release.

10. Streets of Rage 2

  • Developer: Ancient / MNM Software Shout! / Designworks / H.I.C.
  • Release: December 20, 1992
  • Platform: Sega Genesis

Edit: I played through to the end with the help of an infinite lives cheat. I’m not nearly skilled enough to make it through the entire game otherwise, but I really enjoyed it! It’s a tough but tight beat ‘em up with a great soundtrack, and I can definitely see myself playing through it again someday! You can find more of my thoughts on it here.

As I said in my Top 10 Sega Genesis Games in my Backlog post, Streets of Rage 2 is a beat ‘em up game, and both it and the rest of the series are held in high regard by many. I enjoy the occasional beat ‘em up, so I’m really looking forward to giving this a try!

9. Arcana

  • Developer: HAL Laboratory
  • Release: May 1992
  • Platform: Super Nintendo

HAL Laboratory may be known for the Kirby series, but they’ve developed other games as well, including this RPG for the SNES. Arcana’s gameplay primarily involves exploring dungeons and towns in first-person and fighting enemies in turn-based battles triggered as random encounters. It sounds like a pretty difficult game for a number of reasons. In game, the characters and enemies are presented as cards, as if they’re part of a tabletop RPG. This sounds pretty charming, and I am curious to see some of HAL’s non-Kirby work.

8. Shin Megami Tensei

  • Developer: Atlus
  • Release: October 30, 1992 (Japan)
  • Platform: Super Nintendo

Edit: I’ve since played this one, and it’s a very fun, retro dungeon crawler! Some parts are a bit trying, like a high encounter rate and some non-obvious things you need to do to advance from time to time. But on the whole, it’s a very enjoyable game, and definitely one worth playing if you’re interested! You can read more of my thoughts on it here, spoiler-free.

Shin Megami Tensei made my Top 10 SNES Games in my Backlog list a while back. This is the game that launched the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, but as I mention in the aforementioned post, the only official English release of it was an iOS port in 2014. Luckily, a fan-made English translation patch was released by Aeon Genesis all the way back in 2002! That is no doubt the way I’ll be experiencing this game when I finally get around to it.

7. Super Castlevania IV

  • Developer: Konami
  • Release: December 4, 1991
  • Platform: Super Nintendo

Super Castlevania IV is a re-imagining of the original Castlevania. It is set at the same time, and follows the same story of Simon Belmont in his quest to defeat Count Dracula, but features different levels and gameplay. The game takes place over several stages where you control Simon, fighting enemies with his whip and doing some platforming. The whip can be swung in 8 directions rather than 2 as in the NES original.

I’ve heard this game is different enough from the original that it doesn’t replace it, but serves as a solid example of classic Castlevania gameplay in its own right.

6. ActRaiser

  • Developer: Quintet
  • Release: November 1991
  • Platform: Super Nintendo

Another game from the Top 10 SNES Games in my Backlog. ActRaiser still sounds really interesting. The juxtaposition of platforming and city-building elements within a single game is just too unique to pass up!

5. Shining in the Darkness

  • Developer: Climax Entertainment
  • Release: August 6, 1991
  • Platform: Sega Genesis

Though it’s a first-person dungeon crawler, a genre which I’ve struggled through in the past, I’m still interested in giving Shining in the Darkness a try. Thus, it remains a part of my backlog. Interestingly, Shining in the Darkness is the first game in the “Shining” series, but later games featured different styles of gameplay. For instance, the Shining Force games are strategy RPGs. At this time, only one other title in the series features first-person dungeon crawling: Shining the Holy Ark on the Sega Saturn.

4. Warsong

  • Developer: Masaya Games
  • Release: 1991
  • Platform: Sega Genesis

Known as Langrisser outside of North America, Warsong shares some similarities with Fire Emblem. It’s a strategy RPG, and you have several heroes with different character classes under your control. If a hero dies, they’re gone for good, but you can also hire generic troops.

Recently, this game and its sequel were remade and released as Langrisser I & II for PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. I’m really more interested in the upgraded versions than the original, but it could still be fun to see the original game and compare it to the 2020 remake.

3. Phantasy Star II

  • Developer: Sega
  • Release: March, 1990
  • Platform: Sega Genesis

I’ve actually played a bit of Phantasy Star II, but I don’t think I made it even halfway through. It was part of the Sega Smash Pack compilation for PC, and this was my first exposure to it. I really loved the aesthetic, it feels like sci-fi fused with high fantasy. It takes place on a planet with advanced technology, and yet some characters still use swords in battle, albeit high tech ones. From what I remember, a fair bit of grinding is involved in this game, as dungeons can be long, and filled with random encounters with challenging enemies.

2. Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei

  • Developer: Atlus
  • Release: September 11, 1987 (Japan)
  • Platform: Famicom

The grandfather of the Shin Megami Tensei series, Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei is a turn-based RPG where you explore dungeons in first person and fight demons in battles triggered via random encounters. Your party consists of two human characters and whatever demons you’re able to convince to join your side. The ability to negotiate with demons and have them join you is probably its greatest innovation, and this would go on to become a staple of the Shin Megami Tensei series. As an early RPG, and the ancestor of the difficult Shin Megami Tensei series, I’m sure many tough challenges await in this game. I may need to consult a strategy guide several times to make my way through it, but I’m definitely curious to experience the game that would lead to Shin Megami Tensei, and in turn, Persona!

Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei was released in Japan and never localized, but there is an English fan translation patch available on courtesy of EsperKnight, Tom, and Pennywise.

1. Castlevania

  • Developer: Konami
  • Release: May 1, 1987
  • Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System

After playing Symphony of the Night, I definitely became interested in the Castlevania series. The series started out with considerably different gameplay though. Castlevania on NES is an action-platformer, and is split into stages. Completing the game will definitely require a lot of patience to learn the ropes, but I know I’ll be able to do it eventually because you have unlimited lives. Eventually I’ll be able to guide Simon Belmont to victory in his quest to defeat Dracula, I just need to be persistent!

I’m not sure if I’ll end up playing this game or Super Castlevania IV first, but whichever order I play them in, I’m definitely curious to see how they compare.


The self-proclaimed "Guy with the Backlog", as of this writing his Steam backlog is slowly growing to the point of consuming him. Meanwhile, he spends most of his time trying to catch up on the retro classics he missed, as well as replaying the games he grew up with.

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