These days, you can simply download a video game to your mobile phone, computer or console and start playing right away and guides on how to play and beat the game are readily available before release. In the early days of video games, though, all of the secrets were reserved only for physical guides that you had to buy in addition to the game. Because of this, there were a lot of retro games that sold like hotcakes in the days before the internet.
There were also plenty of games that were simply addicting in nature as you tried to beat your personal high score or set a new standard amongst your friends. There’s a nice blend of both categories in the highest-selling games of all time. Here are the five that were released before 2000 that sold the most copies and had seemingly everybody in the world playing them.
Super Mario Bros.
In 1985 Nintendo released the Super Mario Bros game in Japan for the Famicom (Family Computer), following the success of the Mario Bros arcade game released two years prior. Soon after, it was introduced in the US for the NES system for a short period of time.
It remains one of the most successful video game franchises to this day. Most are familiar with the Super Mario Bros merchandise, toys, cartoon, and the movie adaptation set to be released in the Spring of 2023.
Pac-Man, previously called “Pukkuman” and “Puck Man” in Japan and Europe, is a hugely popular arcade game released by Namco in July of 1980. It was released worldwide later that same year by Midway Manufacturing.
Many remakes and sequels have been made over the years, with Ms. Pac-Man having the greatest impact. Developers recognized the appeal of Pac-Man amongst their female players and decided it was time to welcome a sassy and cute new character. Both Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man ended up being two of the highest-earning arcade games of all time in North America.
One of the most simple, yet endlessly entertaining video games is the retro classic, Tetris. Russian-born Alexey Pajitnov engineered this colorful puzzle game in 1984, but it wasn’t released in Europe and North America until 1987 and 1988. Tetris became one of the best-selling video games of all time over the years.
Also providing surprising benefits as well. One benefit discovered by researcher Richard Haier shows that playing Tetris can improve brain function over time, in areas such as critical thinking. A separate study also found the usefulness of playing Tetris in treating older children suffering from lazy eyes, due to the game’s ability to keep the player focused and correct the lazy eye.
Super Mario World
Super Mario World is the fourth addition to the Super Mario Bros. video game series. The game was developed by Nintendo and released in Japan in 1990, later released in Australia and North America in 1991 and 1992. Unlike the previous three Super Mario Bros. games, the fourth was released for the SNES, the successor of the NES.
An excellent addition to the series was everyone’s favorite dinosaur-like cutie, Yoshi. Nintendo had plans to incorporate Yoshi into previous Super Mario Bros. games, but were unable with the hardware limitations. The game received extremely high praise and ended up the best-selling videogame of its time.
Pokémon Red, Green, and Blue
There are an astounding amount of Pokémon games available to play, with more being introduced on an almost yearly basis. The best selling and retro fan favorite is the first of the Pokémon games, Pokémon Red, Green, and Blue. Red and Green were first released for the Gameboy in Japan in 1996 under the name “Pocket Monsters”.
Later released in Australia and North America in 1998 and Europe in 1999. Blue was released internationally a few years later in 1999. Through the years, they remain the highest earning Pokémon games of all time, showing you can’t beat the classics.