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Our Top Throwback Game Recommendations

We all love a good nostalgia trip, and when you’ve played video games your whole life, there are tons of golden oldies to reminisce about. If you’re prone to existential dread, turn away now!

Today, I’m giving you the Samurai Punk team’s top throwback game recommendations. Enjoy!

Jet Set Radio Future (2002) 

The cover art for Jet Set Radio Future, which features a cartoon illustration of a character roller skating with a spray paint can in their hand.

First up, we’re throwing it back to 2002 with a 20-year-old recommendation from Nick, one of our directors. In his words, Jet Set Radio Future “is way cooler than it has any right to be”. Developed by Smilebit, published by Sega, and featured on Nick’s Xbox when he was 10 years old, Jet Set Radio Future is all about “rollerblading to awesome Japanese alt rock, grinding on walls and graffing cops”. 

Unfortunately for Nick, and many angry online reviewers, Jet Set Radio Future hasn’t been released on PC and isn't available for purchase. You can play the game’s predecessor, Jet Set Radio, but it might be a good idea to prepare yourself for disappointment…

A screenshot of 2 reviews for Jet Set Radio. The top one says "I love this game but where's JSRF?", and the bottom one, written by a user called LankyNick, says "Picked this up since Jet Set Radio Future isn't available but was very disappointed. JSR may have introduced the concept but JSRF made it fun".
A screenshot of a Steam review for Jet Set Radio that says "Release Jet Set Radio Future on PC, you cowards".

(Brb, gotta ask Nick if the second review was actually written by him.)


Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (2014)

The cover art for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, depicting a futuristic, half-cyborg character with one glowing, red eye.

Winston, the other half of our director duo, recommends the 2014 title Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Here’s what he has to say about this epic action experience:

“Pairing the political melodrama of Metal Gear and the crazy, stylish action of Platinum Games was a match made in heaven. The zandatsu mechanic is still one of the most satisfying game mechanics I've experienced, and a really novel use of the concept of free cutting. I played it again this year when it got a resurgence in popularity and it holds up great even today. I was playing Metal Gear Rising during the inception of Samurai Punk as a studio, so it holds a special place in my memory.”

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has an “overwhelmingly positive” review rating on Steam, with 95% of its user reviews praising this brutal, action-oriented hack-and-slash.

Fish Tycoon (2005)

The cover art for Fish Tycoon, depicting an illustration of a tank full of colourful fish and coral.

Next up is the 2005 management sim Fish Tycoon, developed by Last Day of Work and recommended by Ruby, our producer. I never played this particular title, but I was flooded with nostalgia when Ruby gave me her recommendation. Memories of other Last Day of Work games came rushing back, like the Virtual Villagers and Virtual Families franchises, and I was reminded of the signature simple relaxation that accompanies this developer’s games. (It won’t surprise you to hear that I was also an obsessed Sims 2 & 3 fanatic throughout high school.) 

Ruby calls herself “a sucker for games that use real time”, and a quick scroll through Fish Tycoon’s Steam reviews will highlight just how integral that is to the enjoyment of Last Day of Work's titles. Many players describe this game as a casual experience that contains minimal active gameplay, designed for people who enjoy briefly checking in with their virtual world every so often. If that sounds like your jam, this game was made for you.

Fish Tycoon is free on the developer’s website, but you can purchase it on Steam if you want to show your support for the studio. 

Dishonored (2012) / Dishonored 2 (2016)

A side-by-side image of the cover art for Dishonored and Dishonored 2. Dishonored's cover art features a steampunk assassin wielding a sword, while Dishonored 2 depicts a close-up of a different assassin's face. On one side, the character is wearing a metallic mask, while the other half of the image shows the character without this mask.

Cyrian, our art director, recommends both the first and second instalments of the Dishonored franchise, developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. If you’re looking for “good ol’ fashioned Victorian steampunk” fun in a “beautiful and cohesive world”, then look no further.

With another “overwhelmingly positive” review score on Steam, Dishonored has been praised by 97% of its 51,053 user reviews, and has received its fair share of awards, while Dishonored 2 has garnered a “very positive” rating. It’s safe to say that Cyrian is not alone in his love for this supernatural assassin's story.

Ape Escape (1999)

The cover art for Ape Escape, illustrating 7 monkeys being chased by a character with spiky hair and a net.

Ape Escape is our oldest throwback from the team, recommended by our composer and audio engineer, Mitch. Released on PlayStation in 1999, and now available on PS4 and PS5, Ape Escape will take you on a chaotic journey through 20 levels of monkey-catching mayhem. Mitch would also like to point out that you get to “travel through time and fight a T-Rex”, which sounds pretty badass. 

After requesting throwback suggestions from the team, I also opened up this discussion to our lovely Discord community. 

Time for a rapid-fire round! Here are the 10 oldest throwback recommendations from the legends in our server:

Secret of Mana (1993)

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (1995)

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Shrek Super Slam (2005)

Ōkami (2006)

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006)

Etrian Odyssey (2007)

Portal (2007)

Super Mario Galaxy (2007)

Spelunky (2008)

So, how many of our throwbacks have you played? Are you overwhelmed by nostalgia and the relentless passing of time? Join our Discord server and give us your own recommendations!

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