Play it again, Sam. And again. And again.
Quality gameplay never ages, and you can learn a lot from enjoying the classics. Unfortunately, gaming moves so fast that the dust barely has a chance to settle on your old consoles before new ones come out. If you ever want to revisit those games of yesteryear, you'll have to find that old hardware--unless, that is, the companies that make those games are a bit more proactive.
There's a market for releasing old games on modern systems, as it takes a lot of the pain out of trying to find proper emulators, messing with compatibility settings, or dropping hundreds of dollars on rare and rapidly aging equipment. That said, many companies like to go a bit overboard, releasing and re-releasing a game dozens of times within a handful of years. Here are some of the more ridiculous examples.
The granddaddy of all first-person shooters has been re-released on pretty much anything with a screen and some buttons. It first appeared on MS-DOS, with several other computer ports following it. But computers weren't the only ones to get some shooter love; it also appeared on everything from the Atari Jaguar, to the 3DO, to even the Game Boy Advance and mobile phones. And those are just the official releases--intrepid homebrew developers have tried to get Doom on things where Doom has no right to exist. Like this ATM. Heck, you can play a version of Doom right freaking now in your internet browser. Crazy.
Total platforms: Officially: at least 11. Unofficially: ???
The original LaserDisc version of Dragon's Lair took arcades by storm, mostly because its flowing animation looked way better compared to the awkwardly pixelated alien invaders sitting next to it. It still looks gorgeous today, though its game design hasn't aged nearly as well--mostly because it plays like a gussied up version of the most frustrating game of Simon you'll ever get your hands on. That hasn't stopped it from appearing on dozens of platforms outside of arcades, with adaptations on the NES and Game Boy, to more accurate ports on iOS devices, computers, and even DVD players.
Total platforms: over 30 (or, way too many)
Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo
Capcom gets a bit ridiculous with how often it re-releases its own games, and Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo was where it all started. It's a slightly upgraded version of Super Street Fighter 2 which itself was a slightly upgraded version of Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior, and while those games got re-released a couple of times, it's the Turbo edition that gets the most love. From dead-on-arrival systems like the 3DO, to PCs, to modern-day consoles, Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo is still considered one of the highlights of the franchise.
Total platforms: 11
Ys 1 & 2
The Ys series has never quite reached the same stratospheric level of popularity of other JRPGs (probably because of its ridiculous name), but you wouldn't guess that based on how many versions of the game exist. It's actually kind of confusing: the first two games in the series (Ys 1 & 2) were supposed to be one game, but they got seperated into two back in 1987 and released on everything from the NES to the Sega Master System. Not happy with how it turned out, Falcom re-released those as a combined set in 1989 for the TurboGrafix-CD and that version has since been split up, remastered, recompiled and re-released several times over. My brain hurts just thinking about it.
Total platforms: I don't even know. 6 if you're just counting the re-released Ys 1 & 2 set, but many, many more if you're looking at the original, non-canonical versions as well.
While Final Fantasy 4 comes pretty close to having the most re-releases in the series, it's the very first game that walks away with the crown. You've got the original on NES, a Japan-exclusive Famicom compilation of Final Fantasy 1 & 2, a WonderSwan Color remake, its inclusion in the PlayStation compilation Final Fantasy Origins, plus a smattering of ports to the PSP, Wii Virtual Console, and mobile devices. Not too shabby for what could have been Square's last project ever.
Total platforms: 12
Tetris is, hands down, the most popular puzzle video game on the planet--if the countless clones and different interpretations are any indication. Still, even if you're simply counting official releases, there are tons of versions released on dozens of platforms. It's seen entries on PC, Amiga, and Apple 2, for starters. Two games appeared on the NES, one officially from Nintendo, the other produced by Tengen--and both were locked in litigation for several years after its release. And who can forget the Game Boy version that launched a bajillion handhelds? Add to that all of the sequels and variations (like the brilliant version on the Nintendo DS) and that's a hell of a lot of people waiting for that last line piece.
Total platforms: 27, if you're just counting re-releases of the original. Throw in official sequels and reboots, and that number skyrockets
Sonic the Hedgehog
While Super Mario may be the most well known mascot ever, there was a time when Sonic was giving him a run for his gold coins. With sweet sneakers and a 'tude to match, Sonic sped his way into our hearts, doing everything Nintendidn't in the process. A character this popular can't sit still, though, and he's been appearing on platforms other than the Genesis for years, starting with an official 8-bit demake for the Sega Master System and Game Gear back in 1991. Since then, he's appeared on the Game Boy Advance, iPhones, Xboxes, PlayStations, PCs, and Blackberry phones--you know, if you're still using a Blackberry.
Total platforms: 11
When Resident Evil arrived on the PlayStation back in 1996, it was a huge success. And knowing Capcom, they'll never leave a single game alone as long as people continue to buy it. A year after its release, we got an updated Director's Cut of the original Resident Evil. A year after that, we got another version of the Director's Cut that included Dual Shock support. The original zombie survival horror game also saw version on the Sega Saturn, PC, and DS. But the best update of all was the GameCube release, which saw a massive overhaul in graphics and tons of new features--and will be re-released again on last and new-gen consoles in early 2015. Not like you should be surprised, or anything.
Total platforms: 9 (soon to be 13)
We were lucky Pac-Man Fever wasn't actually a real disease, otherwise half of the planet would have succumbed to the plague back in the 1980s. Pac-Man may not have the same appeal he had back then, but updates like Pac-Man Championship Edition have kept the classic formula fresh. Though if you're looking for the classic, original Pac-Man, there's probably a device within arm's reach that can play it, as the yellow face that eats everything has appeared on computers, consoles, and mobile devices alike.
Total platforms: 20
Bubble Bobble is really freakin' weird. Two cutesy dragons run through hundreds of levels, blowing bubbles in order to trap the game's many enemies. Oh, and it was one of the first games that actually offered multiple endings based on how many secrets you found. It was a massive success for Taito, and they've been porting it to multiple platforms ever since the mid-1980s. In fact, they've been so dedicated to re-releasing it that, when the source code was lost in 1996, they commissioned a studio to recreate the original game by scratch. Freakin' weird, indeed.
Total platforms: At least 25, not counting numerous clones and remakes
Super Mario Bros.
Nintendo's mustachioed plumber is still one of the most famous mascots of all time--but you have to wonder if part of the reason why is that they continue to ram his games down everyone's throats. Take the first game, for instance. It's been ported and remade in some form or another for almost every single Nintendo platform in existence, from a "Deluxe" edition on the Game Boy Color, to its inclusion on the GameCube version of Animal Crossing. There are even special editions floating around, like All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros, with graphics based on a Japanese radio show, and even arcade versions with their own individual quirks.
Total platforms: 15
If I haven't played it, it's new to me!
It's all well and good to let new generations experience old games, but some of these games take double-dipping to a whole new level. Have you seen any games appear on way too many systems over the years? Let me know in the comments!
Looking for some more remastered love? Check out this list of 11 current-gen games that need next-gen remakes, or these forgotten Xbox franchises we'd love to revisit on the Xbox One.