Please don’t misunderstand us here. We’re certainly not suggesting cults are a good thing, nor will we be shipping burlap sack robes with the latest WiHD products. Parish the thought dear semi-hypnotized follower, we’re discussing cult games which hold special places in our hearts and minds, strolling on a narcotic-free trip down memory lane to discuss factors which might create such an avid following.
Broadly speaking, a cult game could be defined as one which developed an enthusiastic, ardent, following in spite of commercial shortcomings or perhaps old classics which maintained a diehard fan base while the rest of the industry moved on. Let’s indulge our nostalgia with some examples.
Starting at the Beginning
We often look back to videogame heritage in the WiHD blog so let’s do so again and start with the Atari 2600. The 2600 is one hell of a machine and titles such as Centipede, Dig Dug and Pacman were enjoyed by several generations past the console’s shelf life. These games become a much more than the sum of their part and much more than ‘just a game’. Perhaps the word ‘cult’ is not entirely inappropriate and the emotional responses elicited in us when we see these game being played again can be profound whether it’s the original Pong, a 2600 title or something later.
In 1985, we saw the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), the stomping ground of many a cult classic, and a few years later came the Game Boy. Even looking at a picture of one of these great consoles is enough to have us reaching for our hooded robes. The simple 8-bit animations of Mario donning his white suit and throwing fireballs after eating a flashing, pixelated flower might sound ridiculous when you say it loud, but my God it strikes a chord.
While playing Mario after a hard day’s work might be rare these days, any gamer with these titles ingrained in their heritage will staunchly defend them as amazing games. And rightly so. NES titles such as these are regularly revisited via emulators on everything from smartphones to desktop computers. NES cult classics also include Castlevania, River City Ransom and one particularly historical cult classic, MIDI Maze.
MIDI Maze offered the first ever first person shooter (FPS) multiplayer. We take this type of game for granted these days, so try to imagine the feeling when it first ever appeared on our old CRT TV screens. Though the setup process was somewhat convoluted, fellow geeks the world over fumbled through to enjoy owning one another in the simple 3-D environments on local networks for endless hours. Times were...