Top 5 Graphically Impressive 8-Bit Games

Picking apart the pixels of the 8-bit era’s most gorgeous games

Top 5 Graphically Impressive 8-Bit Games


Look at those graphics! I’ve heard those four words strung together countless times throughout my childhood and even still to this day, but as us gamers got older and wiser we all figured out that gameplay trumps graphics in the long run. That wasn’t the case though back in the 8-bit days, as most gamers simply went off of the front cover art and the screenshots that were splashed across the back of the box, carefully placed between paragraphs of the game’s synopsis. If a game was new and you weren’t one of the lucky kids that had a subscription to a gaming magazine, you were out of luck unless the local rental store just happened to have the game in stock, but that was almost never the case with a newly released title. If the graphics on the back of the box looked good, the game must be just as good, right? Graphics were king!

When retro game fans discuss 8-bit games nowadays, I often hear how they “had to use their imagination”, considering that 8-bit graphics didn’t always portray the character the way the gamer had pictured them in their head, and in some cases this is true. Purple 8-bit Jason from Friday the 13th on the NES is a perfect example of this, and I can think of a few others that many gamers didn’t think twice about since that’s what we were used to seeing back then, but some games just pushed the hardware to the limits and found a way to make chunky sprites look amazing. In this list I want to focus on the games that really stood out in the graphics department. Games that managed to leave player’s mouths agape while staring at their CRT TV’s in awe at the amazing digital goodness their eyes were being treated to. Here are the top 5 graphically impressive games of the 8-bit era. I do realize that technically the Turbografx 16/PC Engine is running off an 8-bit CPU, but it’s also utilizing a 16-bit video color encoder and 16-bit video display controller, so in fairness we’re going to keep those games off the list.

Mike Vito has been a slave to gaming ever since playing his grandfather's Atari 2600. A collector of all things retro, his main focus is obtaining a full NES collection. Being a father has rekindled his spirit for Nintendo and he now spends most of his time teaching his daughter about the games of yesteryear. Check out his other work in Pat Contri’s Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the SNES Library. Current favorite games: Air Zonk, NHL Hitz 2003, Castlevania Symphony of the Night, & Super Dodgeball.

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