Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: Longest-running video game franchises

GameCentral readers reveal the video game series they’ve been fans of the longest, from Street Fighter to Castlevania.

The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Gannet, who asked what series you have the longest history with and whether you consider yourself a long-time fan of the series and always try to play a new one when it comes out.

Given how many long some franchises have been going on now there were plenty of different answers, although the most popular by a long way were Mario, Zelda, and Resident Evil.


Mostly classics

Simple answer: Resident Evil. I’ve been playing since the first PlayStation and have played and completed every numbered game and the majority of the spin-offs. I’m probably not the only one sending in a letter like this.

These games are all classics, bar number 6 and maybe for some the fifth (not me I loved it.) The quality is always there and every so often Capcom change it up and breathe new life in the aging series.

Roll on number 8.


Souls mate

The series I have played for the longest is the Souls games, including Bloodborne. It started with Demon’s Souls all those years ago and I have put literally hundreds of hours into the games, which I think are some of the greatest games ever made. I have Platinumed them all except the Dark Souls II: Scholar Of The First Sin remaster on PlayStation 4. I consider Dark Souls II to be the weakest in the series, it’s still a really good game but my least favourite.

I am really excited for Elden Ring, which is apparently a Norse style open world but with Dark Souls type gameplay. I agree that the Souls games had run their course but Elden Ring looks like it will scratch my Souls itch and I can’t wait.
z0mb13ch0pp3r (PSN ID)


‘80s classics

I assume that Resident Evil and Mario games are going to figure very highly in this Hot Topic, because of their age if nothing else, but if we’re being strictly truthful I think the answer for me is Pac-Man. I don’t think many people would say they were fans of the series, even if it’s hard to hate, but I have fond memories of playing various versions of it as a child and the recent Championship Editions have been excellent.

The other one I’m tempted to mention is Metal Gear, which I have played every entry in but the pre-PlayStation ones only in emulation, so I’m not sure that really counts. The series goes all the way back to 1987 though, so it’s actually only seven years younger than Pac-Man and much older than I think some people realise.

The only problem is that it’s effectively dead now, with the exit of Hideo Kojima, and even if they do do another game, which seems doubtful, I don’t see it ever being as good as it was.
Colin the Caterpillar


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World Warrior

I thought this would be easy! Gran Turismo! I’ve been playing it since 1997, bought ’em all, played ’em all, love ’em all!

Ah, hang on a minute! Longest franchise? That’d be Need For Speed… 1994 and I finished Payback last year.

But then what about Doom, I says to myself. Yes, 1993 dem were da days! Loved the reboot and will buy the next one fo’ shizzle!

Uhhh daddy, what about Wolfenstein then? Arrrrrgh, I totally forgot about that, boy! How long has it been since I booted that up on the 386? 28 years?! Crikey, son, I’m still working my way through The New Colossus!

However, there was one more to come flying at me like a raging fireball of pure destruction.


Street Fighter. 1987. Yeah I remember… those were the days. When 20c coins had meaning, goddammit. When you walked into that smoke-filled arcade with a pocket full of silver and you put your money where your mouth was. And you could hear a silence settle over everyone as you dropped that coin. People gathered around to watch. And you could see jaws dropping as you put out fireball/uppercut combos with ease.

Any challengers? No sir, they knew a veteran when they saw one. And I can still open a can of whoop on any hipster at the local pub… Makes me feel old to think I was playing Street Fighter before they was born!


30-year legend

I’m sure I’ll not be alone in this, but once again my answer to your Hot Topic is The Legend Of Zelda. I’ve been gaming since I was three and I was occasionally allowed to have a go on my dad’s ZX Spectrum (48K of memory is all you’ll ever need, people) but I was first introduced to Nintendo’s classic adventure ‘em-up at some early point in the summer of 1988, at the tender age of nine. My friend from next door popped over one day and asked if I’d like to come round and play his fancy new NES game. Apparently it even came on a golden cartridge. I’ve rarely seen such luxury, before or since.

Looking back, I’m pretty sure he’d started without me, but taken the phrase, ‘It’s dangerous to go alone…’ literally. I’m also fairly certain he arrived just as my copy of Sabrewulf had failed to load for the umpteenth time (ahhh, the joys of tape loading…) So off I went and was transported to the Kingdom of Hyrule for the very first time. It was definitely better than Sabrewulf. And Sabrewulf was awesome.

We played Zelda all summer. In fact, we must have played it most of that year once the New Game+, harder quest unlocked at the end.

I still remember getting a stern talking to from my dad for making a single premium rate phone call to the Nintendo helpline because we’d spent a week looking for the hidden entrance to Death Mountain on the second quest without success and we needed pointers. No internet FAQs or broadband powered YouTube walkthroughs then. The only kind of dial-up available involved you having to talk to someone on the other end of the phone.

The Legend Of Zelda and its oddball sequel bewitched us both. For years.

A Link To The Past cemented my resolve to scrimp and save all my pocket money and empty my post office account to pay for a SNES of my own.

Years later and Link’s Awakening DX did the same for the Game Boy Color.

I’m not such an obsessive that I’ve gone for all the spin-offs and every handheld version. I’ve not played either of The Wind Waker sequels. Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland just looked weird and the Dynasty Warriors thing didn’t look like something I’d enjoy at all. But I’ve played all the mainline entries, most several times each.

The series has been pretty much entirely responsible for every Nintendo console purchase I’ve ever made. Sure, things like Mario, Mario Kart, and Metroid are all epic reasons to keep an eye on Nintendo, but it’s Zelda that always lures me in for the big spend. I’ve always got my eye out for whatever they’ve got lined up next for Link, Zelda, and Ganon.

True, I’ve not bought them all. Cash flow and changing life priorities, plus not actually liking anything much about the entire generation, stopped me getting an N64. Cash flow and time kept me away from the DS and it’s 3D sequel, but I’ve always found a way to get my Zelda fix.

I’ve never really gone in for much gaming memorabilia, but I do have a small collection of Wind Waker figures with moving eyes and a selection of items and treasures for them to hold someone once gave me as a birthday gift, which are pretty cool. If I’d had the disposable income I have now at the time I’d have bought every Zelda amiibo I could have got my hands on when they first came out.

All in all, I’ve been visiting Hyrule for over 30 years now. True, I’ve enjoyed some of my trips more than others over those years, but it’s always a place I’m sad to leave but never a place I’m sorry to have to the opportunity to return to. The knowledge that Breath Of The Wild 2 is A Thing That Is Happening makes me very, very happy. It might not be their oldest franchise, but it’s the one I hope Nintendo manage to keep going forever.

GC: So wait, you haven’t played Ocarina Of Time or Majora’s Mask?


Flawed victory

Now this is an interest question, that I’ve not considered before. I was going to say Pokémon, since the original Game Boy was my first console as a kid, although to be honest I’ve not bought a new one in two generations now (will probably get Sword/Shield though).

But actually I think the answer is Mortal Kombat. I have very early memories of trying to play that in the arcade and of course it’s still going on today. The game had a very rough patch in the middle of its run but the last two or three games have been great so I see no reason why it wouldn’t continue for a long while yet.


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Continuing series

My top four longest played series over many years are the main Super Mario games, not including spin-off games; the others are, Final Fantasy, Resident Evil, and Zelda.

With Mario, it started on my friend’s NES or the Nintendo Entertainment System with the original Super Mario Bros. then onto the second and third titles. The Super Nintendo was next with Super Mario World and Yoshi’s Island, with Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64 and my final one on the GameCube, which was Super Mario Sunshine. I never got the Wii and Wii U and am yet to get a Switch.

Resident Evil is still continuing now with Resident Evil 7 and the Resident Evil 2 remake on the PlayStation 4. It all started with the chilling first game (Director’s Cut version) on the PS one and the second one not long after, with the Nemesis title sometime after that. CODE: Veronica on the PlayStation 2 was a fine game, with Resident Evils 4 on the GameCube and 5 on the Xbox 360. Resident Evil 6 I don’t want to talk about, as it nearly made me abandon the series completely.

Zelda was just like Mario, playing all the titles right up to, but just stopping before, the Wii. Though I did not play the early NES versions, as I started on the masterpiece that was A Link To The Past, following shortly with the Game Boy’s Link’s Awakening; Ocarina Of Time and Majora’s Mask on the N64, with The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess on the GameCube (Twilight being my second favourite after A Link To The Past). Phantom Hourglass on the Nintendo DS was a great experience using the new gimmicks of the DS portable and that was it. Oh yes, and Four Swords on the GameCube, also (a genius of a game).

Final Fantasy is another still continuing series, starting with VII, obviously, and then VIII and eventually Final Fantasy VI when it was released on the PS one console; not forgetting Final Fantasy IX a and continuing with Final Fantasy X and XII on the PlayStation 2. Final Fantasy XIII on the PlayStation 3 was enjoyable, but not one of my favourite Final Fantasy games, but I did enjoy getting all the challenges needed to get the platinum Trophy. Final Fantasy XV was next on the PlayStation 4 and the anticipation for the Final Fantasy VII remake of the game which started it all off for me, is pretty high to say the least.

From what you see above, it’s not that I have a favourite series but I just stopped getting Zelda and Mario. It was about what I had time for, with everything else and games like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout taking my time up in recent years. I would have loved to have continued playing the Zelda and Mario titles but it was just impossible and with the amount of huge and hopefully amazing games coming to PlayStation 4 this year and next it’s even more doubtful I’ll get back to them. A shame really.

I have a great nostalgia for all these titles, with my favourite being Final Fantasy VII, my second A Link to the Past, my third Resident Evil 2, and Super Mario World being my fourth favourite. These series of games raised me from a kid to an adult and probably on into my senior years eventually. They are all timeless classics and I have replayed a lot of the above many times. It just amazes me I was born just at the right time to experience a timeline from near the series’ conceptions and watching them advance all the way to what now are the latest titles being showcased right now. An absolute privilege.


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