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Plugged In

Big name games turn 25 this year

Plugged In

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1987 was a landmark year for pop culture entertainment. It was the first time we heard Capt. Jean-Luc Picard tell the crew of the Enterprise to "engage." A dysfunctional yellow family called The Simpsons debuted in a series of shorts on "The Tracey Ullman Show." And "Dick Clark's American Bandstand" took its final bow.

The video game universe saw some pretty dramatic events as well, as several of the industry's biggest franchises got their start in 1987 -- and some 25 years later, they'll still kicking.

Here's a look at some of the huge games that were born in 1987 and what they're up to now.

The Legend of Zelda

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While Shigeru Miyamoto's beloved action-adventure came out in Japan the previous year, it took the U.S. by storm in 1987. Released on an awesome gold cartridge and boasting all sorts of console game innovations (it was the first game to let you save directly on to the cart itself), it was an instant hit. Later on, Nintendo had planned to remake the original game for the Game Boy, but ultimately abandoned those plans.

Where is it now?
It's just where it was when it started: everywhere. Every Nintendo system since the NES has enjoyed some Zelda goodness, including last year's incredible Skyward Sword for the Wii.

We'll see Zelda next on the Wii U, though it won't be this holiday season. It's rumored to be a massive game, though, with sources calling it will be the most expensive project in Nintendo's history. Expect it sometime in 2014.

Metal Gear

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Back in 1987, Solid Snake was just a rookie facing off against enemies with names like Shoot Gunner and the Machine Gun Kid. He ultimately beat Big Boss -- but if players stuck around through the end credits of the original Metal Gear, the most appropriately named villain in gaming history reappeared, vowing that he'd meet Solid Snake again. Boy, was he right.

Where is it now?
The explosive Metal Gear Solid turned this lost classic into a legit blockbuster when it hit the PlayStation in 1998, and it's been a killer ever since.

Up next for the series is Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, due in 2013. The game will move in a different direction, eschewing stealth for pure action and letting Solid Snake sit things out in favor of cyborg ninja Raiden.

Street Fighter

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While the 1991's Street Fighter II was a much bigger hit, Street Fighter first got its start 25 years ago as a coin-op. And while it might seem a pretty straightforward "beat the crap out of the other guy" fighter, there's a very detailed backstory. For instance, Ken might look American, what with his blonde hair and convertibles. But Seth Killian, Capcom's since-departed Street Fighter special advisor, told USA Today that the character is actually three-quarters Japanese. He achieves his signature blonde hair look the same way Paris Hilton does — with dye.

Where is it now?
Still kicking butt. Earlier this month, Capcom released the Street Fighter 25th Anniversary Collector's Set to commemorate the game, complete with 11 discs worth of Street Fighter music and a two-disc Blu-Ray retrospective on the game's history.

[Related: Happy 25th Birthday, Street Fighter!]

Mega Man

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Capcom knocked it out of the park in 1987, launching both Street Fighter and Mega Man, which went on to become the publisher's biggest franchise. Over 50 Mega Man games have since hit shelves, selling roughly 30 million copies.

Where is it now?
Mega Man's kind of quiet these days, though. A 3DS version of the game was scrubbed, though he does appear to be headed to the App Store, as Capcom showed off Mega Man Xover at this year's Tokyo Game Show.

Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards

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Cheesier than a room full of Camembert, perpetual playboy Leisure Suit Larry was an icon of a gaming era whose time seems to have passed. But Al Lowe's sex-starved lounge lizard was more than just a bad pun machine: he was the headline act in a legitimately fun adventure game series.

It was enough of a hit that the original game came with a "boss key" to cloak the screen in case people played at work (though the bar chart compared condoms mentioned in the game). And if you made it through to the end, Ken Williams, the CEO of Sierra On-Line showed up to congratulate you and tell you the next game in the series.

Where is it now?
Unfortunately, Larry didn't know when to quit. A couple of truly terrible games released in the last decade marred the franchise's once-potent name. But those had nothing to do with creator Al Lowe, who is aiming to reboot Larry thanks to a successful kickstarter campaign

Double Dragon

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How big was Taito's legendary 1987 beat 'em up? Big enough to spawn the second video game movie ever made. And while its simple gameplay seems archaic by today's standards, it's considered  co-operative action game landmark.

Where is it now?
A few sequels followed the original Double Dragon, but the series went on hiatus for a while. It returned earlier this month with the release of Double Dragon Neon, a downloadable reboot for the Xbox 360 and PS3.

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