These are the nostalgic video games that I recall when thinking back to a particular year growing up. Many notable games are missing from this list.....but this is my list, and purely off the top of my head. These games are a reflection of the times. Nothing more. Let's see the graduates and classmates of "video game high school".


Class of 1985


Gauntlet (Arcade)

The first game that I remember, other than "Pac-Man", that was available at skating rinks, arcades and grocery stores. Challenging, yet a good starter for video game freshmen. The "Archer" was my preferred character.........and yes, "he needs food badly."


Salutatorian:  Super Mario Bros. (NES)

Class President:  Tiger Heli (NES)

Treasurer:  Commando (Arcade)

Secretary:  Dig Dug II (NES)

Class Nerd:  Tetris (NES)

Class Clown:  Duckhunt (NES)

Class Bully:  Ghosts 'n Goblins (Arcade)

Class Jock:  Excite Bike (NES)

Cutest Couple:  Ice Climber (NES) / Gyromite (NES)



Class of 1986


The Legend of Zelda (NES)

The first game (for myself as a kid) where you felt truly engaged in the story; that everything you did mattered, and if you didn't find the last Triforce you were the neighborhood failure. Everyone has a memory for this game. Mine would be burning the bush and finding the secret dungeon......courtesy of "Nintendo Power" of course. This title holds holds a special place in every gamers heart. Zelda II on the other hand.......meh.


Salutatorian:  Arkanoid (Arcade)

Class President:  Dragon Warrior (NES)

Treasurer:  Kid Icarus (NES)

Secretary:  Milon's Secret Castle (NES)

Class Nerd:  Marble Madness (NES)

Class Bully:  Friday the 13th (NES)

Class Clown:  Bubble Bobble (NES)

Class Jock:  Outrun (Sega)

Cutest Couple:  Alex Kidd (Sega) / Kid Niki (NES)



Class of 1987


Castlevania (NES)

There was always something special about "Castlevania"......whether it be the graphically dark tone, memorable music, or the fact that Konami actually ported/made a game that at the time was the only "horror-esque" cart around. The "Medusa" stage was always frustrating, but those damn monkey dudes in  the "Frankenstein" level were so annoying! I love this franchise. I recall playing it on a table top unit at a pizza arcade in Florida. The "Grim Reaper" battle still haunts my dreams.


Salutatorian:  Shinobi (Sega)

Class President:  Afterburner (Sega)

Treasurer:  Final Fantasy (NES)

Secretary:  Metal Gear (NES)

Class Nerd:  Metroid (NES)

Class Clown:  Mike Tyson's Punch Out!! (NES)

Class Bully:  Double Dragon (Arcade)

Class Jock:  R.B.I. Baseball (NES)

Cutest Couple:  1943 (NES) / Gradius II (NES)



Class of 1988


Mega Man II (NES)

This is one of my all time favorite games! The first game for me  in the 80's that I played with so much skill  I was able to  speed run through it with a kitchen timer in less than a hour. So addictively fun, and  challenging enough to warrant a ton of replay value. The music is by far one of the best (if not the best) Capcom soundtrack to date. The only level that is burned in my memory was the first encounter in Wily's Castle with the "Stage 4 Boss" (a.k.a. crash bomb level). If you weren't managing your bomb arsenal you might run out and be screwed, having to start over. I can not say enough good things about "The Deuce".


Salutatorian:  Altered Beast (Sega)

Class President:  Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)

Treasurer:  Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (NES)

Secretary:  T&C Wood and Water Rage (NES)

Class Bully:  Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES)

Class Nerd:  Phantasy Star (Sega)

Class Jock:  Bases Loaded (NES)

Class Clown:  Kung Fu Heroes (Arcade)

Cutest Couple:  Adventure Island (NES) / Contra (NES)



Class of 1989


Ninja Gaiden (NES)


There is something satisfying about plowing through levels, attacking and slicing everyone with one hit. If you aren't speeding in this game, you aren't playing like a boss! The only bad part of Ninja Gaiden was the "back screen" know, were the enemies constantly regenerate at a point on the screen if you turn around then go back? Lame! The music helped set the mood to get you amped on killing some crazy enemies. Yet, getting sky raped by flying birds was Ryu Haybusas biggest adversity. Hee-Yaaa!


Salutatorian:  Blazing Lazers (TG-16)

Class President:  Strider (Sega)

Treasurer:  Golden Axe (Sega)

Secretary:  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade)

Class Bully:  Legacy of the Wizard (NES)

Class Nerd:  SimCity (PC)

Class Jock:  Tecmo Bowl (NES)

Class Clown:  River City Ransom (NES)

Cutest Couple:  Batman (NES) / Ducktales (NES)



Class of 1990


Bonk's Adventure (TG-16)

This thick-headed caveman was a fresh departure from the "walk to the right" platformer titles NES had been churning out. A good amount of original levels, strange colorful bosses, and interesting enemies made this a personal favorite. The mere size of the bosses in Bonk made other games and consoles look dated and unpolished. A fun game to blaze through if you set your "Turbopad" switches up, to flip and fly across  levels avoiding danger.


Salutatorian:  Mega Man III (NES)

Class President:  Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

Treasurer:  Final Fantasy III (NES)

Secretary:  Chip N' Dale's Rescue Rangers (NES)

Class Bully:  Pit Fighter (Arcade)

Class Sissy:  Michael Jackson's Moonwalker (Sega)

Class Jock:  Final Fight (Arcade)

Class Clown:  Little Nemo: The Dream Master (NES)

Cutest Couple:  F-Zero (SNES) / Rad Racer II (NES)



Class of 1991


Street Fighter II (Arcade)

When this game dropped at every arcade and 7-11 store in Virginia, I became a man possessed. I was and still am a Street Fighter fan. Capcom could do no wrong in the 90's. I was playing every day, burning through rolls of quarters. My dad tried to play as Guile because it was easier to learn charge attacks than to roll (QCF) a hadouken, but in the end Blanka's button mash electricity was his only defense! Good times.


Salutatorian:  Super Mario World (SNES)

Class President:  Spiderman (Arcade)

Treasurer:  Jackie Chan's Action Kung-Fu (TG-16)

Secretary:  Challenge of the Ancient Empires (PC)

Class Nerd:  Bible Adventures (NES)

Class Bully:  Battletoads (NES)

Class Jock:  WWF WrestleFest (Arcade)

Class Clown:  The Simpsons (Arcade)

Cutest Couple:  Fatal Fury (Sega) / Streets of Rage (Sega)



Class of 1992


Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Sega)

This sequel blew the original Sonic out of the water. Electric fast game play, "Super Sonic" and killer tunes make this an easy pick. The addition of "Tails" was pretty cool too, and how you could use him to your advantage in tight situations. I must say that the "Chemical Plant Zone" was my favorite!


Salutatorian:  X-Men (Arcade)

Class President:  Mortal Kombat (Arcade)

Treasurer:  Wolfenstein 3-D (PC)

Secretary:  Zelda: A Link To The Past (SNES)

Class Bully:  Smash T.V. (Arcade)

Class Clown:  Darkwing Duck (NES)

Class Jock:  Front Page Sports Football (PC)

Class Nerd:  Mario Paint (SNES)

Cutest Couple:  Art of Fighting (Sega) / World Heroes (SNES)






Continued in Volume II