How To Make Old Games Feel New Again

Illustration for article titled How To Make Old Games Feel New Again

As a young lad my gaming library was pretty limited, so I needed to find ways to make those games last. You can only play a game so many times before you've explored every nook and cranny of it, and once that happened it was time to get creative.

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(Top photo courtesy of Retro Game Challenge by XSEED Games)

Over the past few months I've been revisiting some of my childhood favorites, and I've found that the same tricks I used as a kid to breathe new life into those titles work well as an adult as well.

These are three of my favorite game-refreshing challenges. As a rule, I didn't include anything that involves mods or external cheat devices. All you need is the game, and in one case a friend.

Train on Enemy Rockets

Helpfully documented here by Youtuber ShadowMarioXLI, the Enemy Rockets cheat for Goldeneye turns the Train level into a blazing inferno of chaos.

Narrow corridors and exploding crates are the worst combination for rocket fire, and getting to the end required some serious patience and strategy. And once you got to the end you had to pray that the rockets launched by Trevelyan and Xenia Onatopp didn't blow Natalia away before you even had a chance to fire off a saving shot.

This was my dad and my favorite way to spend a weekend afternoon, passing the controller back and forth after each fiery death just to see who could get farther.

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The Maw Grand Prix

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Sure, Halo: Combat Evolved's multiplayer alone was enough to keep me and my friends busy for countless evenings, but when we finally needed a break from killing each other we turned our attention to competitive racing.

The rules of the Maw Grand Prix are simple: up until that final warthog ride to freedom, you and your partner are a shining example of teamwork. But once those elevator doors open, it's every man and woman for themselves.

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Fighting through the entire last level of Halo is a steep price for this payoff, but some of my favorite Halo memories are of careening around corridors with my friend furiously in pursuit.

The Zelda Three Heart Challenge

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This is one of the best known gaming challenges, but I'm including it because I've attempted it multiple times with multiple Zelda titles, and it remains at the top of my gaming bucket list.

The three heart challenge is simple enough - beat the Legend of Zelda title of your choice, but do it without collecting any additional heart containers along the way. It's sinister in that simplicity too, because making it the end of a Zelda title with only three hearts is a lesson in patience and frustration.

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I've attempted the challenge in Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, and A Link Between Worlds, and I've never completed it. What I've found during the challenge is that my normal approach to Zelda combat - blitz, blitz, blitz - leaves me way too exposed to damage. The key to completing the three heart challenge is not getting greedy. Get in, deal one strike of damage, then get out again before your enemy has a chance to counter.

Those are just three of my favorites. Any Kotaku readers have their own ways of breathing new life into old games?

DISCUSSION

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Zelda 1 no sword challenge- you can get every item and heart and get to gannon without touching a sword once, on both quests. so much fun.

smash bros melee any 1p mode- falcon punch only. you cannot perform any attack at all, not even up+b for recovery purposes, other than FALCON PUUUUUNCH. the AI is just smart enough, but just dumb enough that this is possible to clear, but still difficult. You can also substitute jigglypuff's rest, but that's even harder.

mario 64- really make up any sort of restriction you want, the game is fun every time.

Pokemon "nuzlocke" challenge- I actually don't like this but lots of people go nuts for it.

and when all else fails just pick up FF6 or Chrono Trigger and play it for the 187th time, because they are the perfect games.