Super Mario 64 (1997)
This N64 launch title was one of the first 3D platformers and revolutionised gaming with its camera angles and analog control. Luckily it was also bloomin' good fun, guiding Mario around Princess Peach's castle (no sniggering at the back) and defeating Bowser.
Flashback was a visual tour de force. The engrossing story of a futuristic secret agent trying to recover his lost memory was made wonderfully cinematic by the super-realistic movement of the main character. It was hard not to ooh and aah when you first saw him pull himself up a ledge or do a wild leap to a distant platform – like Prince of Persia with far lusher scenery.
Donkey Kong (1981)
Whether it was on the arcade machine, the Game & Watch handheld or the NES, the gameplay was supremely addictive. Hours could be spent guiding Mario – in his first appearance – up the ladders and along the girders, while avoiding barrels thrown by the malevolent Donkey Kong. So simple, so genius.
Prince of Persia (1989)
It's spawned countless sequels and a rather forgettable movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal, but this gorgeous 2D platformer for the Apple II is where it all started. The realistic animation of the hero was achieved using rotoscoping, and the swordfighting was a real departure from the projectile-based combat in its contemporaries.
You're Simon Belmont, a man with a whip and a mission: to traverse the perils of Dracula’s castle and eradicate various ghouls and monsters before contending with the arch-bloodsucker himself. Tricky and often frustrating, but Castlevania is an essential old-school challenge.