Bear this thought in mind the next time you revel in the sublime graphics of Assassins Creed II, skid and screech your stolen car through the nigh-on photorealistic streetscape of GTA IV's Liberty City or get drawn in by the complex plot twists and game play of Dragon's Age Origins. In a lot less time than you think, these currently bleeding edge games will appear laughably outdated and unsophisticated.
First off, they will be superseded by better sequels or more impressive rivals. Then, you will start finding them in the classic sections of your local video store. Still later, you will get blank looks when you mention the games to youngsters. And, finally, in the ultimate insult, hobbyist developers will turn them into free-to-play Flash games.
That was the fate of these five games. But before you collapse in fits of giggles over their risible graphics, clunky game play and ridiculous plotlines, you ought to note that in their heyday, they were every bit as impressive to gamers as the greatest games out there today. We present to you our Top Five Classic Games that Can be Played in a Browser.
1Street Fighter II
Of our five games, this is undoubtedly the one that has aged the best - the Helen Mirren, if you like, of our little collection. Despite having none of the bells and whistles of its successors, Street Fighter II remains my favourite game in the series. It's perfectly formed: easy for a beginner to get to grips with but at the same time rewarding to those who put many hours into it. And best of all, you can play it right now in your browser here for free. Haaaadooouukkeeennnn!
Make no mistake, the release of Doom in 1993 was the biggest event in gaming history since Namco came up with the idea of a game involving a big-mouthed yellow blob being stalked by killer ghosts. It wasn't just the game's for-then amazing faux 3D graphics (yes, we know Wolfenstein did this first) that impressed but also its terrifying game play. Believe it or not, grown men were reduced to shaking wrecks playing this game. Nowadays, the pixelated zombies are more likely to induce laughter. But that is another matter. Play Doom here.
3Super Mario World
First released in 1990, Super Mario World is one of the most successful games ever, selling more than 20 million copies worldwide, and spawning countless copycat games. Oh yawn. Who cares. What we really want to know is what happens to a multi-million selling game a couple of decades later. Yes, you've got it, it gets turned into a little Flash game. Well, in the case of Super Mario, hundreds of little Flash games, most of them pretty badly done. One of the least-useless versions can be found here.
4Prince of Persia
To be honest, I have never been much of a fan of the Prince of Persia games. The latest version, released in 2008, was absolutely beautiful to look at but its game play was repetitive and dull. Not everyone agrees, obviously, because someone has taken the time to convert one of the earlier classic versions of the game into Flash. And, it has to be said, they have done a pretty slick job. If you are into challenging platformers where every move you make can be the difference between life and death, then, sure, go ahead and play it by clicking here. I, personally, have better things to do.
After blowing the gamescape apart with Doom, Id Software was always going to have a tough job with its next game. But those who doubted it could create another classic were quickly proven wrong. Quake - released in 1996 - took the burgeoning first-person shooter genre to the next level, quite literally, providing far more complex environments than Doom. There were multiple floors, sloping landscapes, spiral staircases and other clever stuff. Nothing to mention nowadays but back then, pretty radical. Click here to play a Flash version of the game.
Have I missed any classic games out of this list? If so, please share the game's humiliation with the rest of us in the comments section below.