Not every video game will become a classic; some will only last for a trilogy or a few sequels at the most. at least until some executive with too much power decides it’s time for a remake/remaster.
Nonetheless, there are some series that have endured the test of time and remained popular despite decades of technological and cultural changes.
In honor of these games, we’ll be highlighting the PC and console series with the longest track records of longevity in 2022.
Keep checking back for updates, and let us know if we forgot any of your favorite series!
John Madden Football was first released in 1988.
New to the market is Madden NFL 22 (2021).
Madden NFL, first released as John Madden Football for the Microsoft DOS, is the longest running sports video game franchise.
The series, named after a legendary coach and commentator in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has sold over 250 million copies across 40 titles and more than three decades.
Recent installments and spin-offs of Madden NFL have made their way to handheld and mobile devices, despite the series’ primary reputation as a PC and console series.
Metal Gear was first released in 1987.
The newest Metal Gear game is titled Survivor (2018).
Originally released for the MSX2 computer as a top-down shooter, Metal Gear has since evolved into a third-person action-adventure game.
Originally released only in Japan, localized ports for Europe and North America eventually made the series available in 1987–1990, becoming known for its stealth-driven gameplay and lengthy cut scenes.
Fans of the Metal Gear series are holding out hope that Konami will return to the series in the future despite the lack of new entries since Metal Gear Survive, which came out shortly after creator Hideo Kojima’s departure.
Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Story was released for the first time in 1987.
This year’s newest release is Shin Megami Tensei V.
Over the course of its 34-year existence, Atlus’s Megami Tensei has spawned more than 50 games, not counting remakes and spin-offs.
Launching the series was the Japanese role-playing game Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei, adapted from the science fantasy novels of the same name by Japanese author Aya Nishitani.
Shin Megami Tensei V, the latest installment, was released for the Nintendo Switch in November 2021. It was the first new mainline game in the series since SMT4 in 2013.
Final Fantasy was first released in 1987.
Recent Movie: The Remake of Final Fantasy VII (2020)
After being conceptualized by series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi in the early 1980s, Final Fantasy finally saw its first game released in December 1987.
Sakaguchi thought Final Fantasy would be his last video game ever made, but the series has been so successful that it has spawned countless spin-offs and sequels.
There have been 15 mainline JRPGs in the series, with additional spinoffs spanning fighting, strategy, and even racing games.
Initiated with the first film, Wonder Boy (1986)
Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World (2021) is the newest movie in the franchise.
Although Sonic the Hedgehog is the most well-known Sega character, Wonder Boy (also known as Monster World) has been around for 35 years and counting, making it the company’s longest-running franchise.
In April of 1986, the arcade version of Wonder Boy was released, and it eventually made its way to the Sega Master System, where it became a staple.
Since then, Wonder Boy has only made a handful of appearances, though the recent resurgence of 2D platformers has spawned a wave of remakes, including Wonder Boy Returns, The Dragon’s Trap, and Asha in Monster World.
The Original Metroid Came Out In 1986.
Metroid Dread (2021) is the newest release.
There haven’t been any new Metroid games in a long time, which is surprising given that the franchise is one of Nintendo’s oldest.
The first game came out in 1986, and it and the Castlevania series are widely credited with founding the exploration-focused video game genre known as “Metroidvania.”
Nintendo has released 16 handheld and console Metroid games over the course of 35 years, with the most recent being Metroid Dread.
The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda was initially released in 1986.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD (2021) is the newest release from Nintendo.
The Legend of Zelda is another legendary series from Nintendo’s past, having been active for about 35 years and spawning a total of 27 games between the original series, spin-offs, and remasters.
Like with Super Mario and Pokemon, Nintendo frequently bundles new Zelda games with their home console and portable systems.
While the graphics and gameplay have improved over the years, the thrill of controlling the sword-wielding hero Link through perilous dungeons is just as rewarding in BOTW as it was in the original LoZ.
Castlevania, the first, was released in 1986.
This year’s newest Castlevania game, Grimoire of Souls, was released.
Even though there hasn’t been a new mainline Castlevania game since Lords of Shadow 2 in 2014, the series continues to thrive thanks to numerous compilations, remasters, and mobile spin-offs.
Beginning with the original Castlevania game for the NES, which was released 35 years ago, the games have occasionally shifted from 2D to 3D while retaining the series’ hallmark exploration-driven gameplay.
It’s another one of Konami’s properties that, like Metal Gear, could use some TLC and come back stronger than ever in the future.
Dragon Quest was first released in 1986.
The newest installment in the Dragon Quest series is titled Dragon Quest Dai: A Hero’s Bond (2021).
The Dragon Quest series, which was first introduced to Western audiences as Dragon Warriors, is one of the longest-running and most critically acclaimed JRPG series in the gaming industry.
Dragon Quest began in 1986 with the first main entry, and to this day, both main entries and spin-offs are released annually.
The recent critical success of Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age bodes well for the series’ global appeal, despite its current popularity being skewed toward primarily Japanese audiences.
To begin with, Super Mario Bros.
The Newest Release: Super Mario 3D World and Bowser’s Fury (2021)
Once introduced in Donkey Kong in 1981, the Italian plumber known as Mario would not star in his own game until Super Mario Bros. in 1985.
Originally a 2D platformer, the series has expanded to include racing games, sports games, party games, and even some faithful 3D iterations of the original platformer’s gameplay.
This explains why, as of 2021, Super Mario has sold over 380 million units, making it one of the most successful video game franchises ever.
The Original Tetris Was Released In 1984
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 (2020) is the newest release.
Puzzle game fans can rest assured that Tetris will continue to keep them entertained long after the latest console generation has been replaced.
Only the music, backgrounds, and game modes have been updated across the series’ thirty-seven-year lifespan.
You can play Tetris on a computer, a console, a mobile device, and even a virtual reality headset right now.
Movie History Begins with “Bomber Man” (1983)
Super Bomberman R Online (2020) Is the Newest Release.
Many gamers probably don’t realize that Hudson Soft released the original Bomberman for the PC in July 1983, making it older than many of the franchises on this list.
Since then, more than 70 games have been released in the series across PC, console, and mobile platforms as either mainline entries or spin-offs.
Even though Bomberman hasn’t seen the same level of success as it did in the ’90s and ’00s, if 2020’s Super Bomberman R does well, it could persuade Konami to approve more games in the series.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
Microsoft’s Flight Simulator debuted in 1982.
Microsoft’s newest flight simulator will debut in 2020.
Despite its lower profile compared to other series on this list, Microsoft Flight Simulator has been around for a lot longer than you might think.
The first prototype of the flight simulator was created in 1977, and the finished product was released for the IBM PC five years later, making it the longest-running Microsoft software and predating Windows by four years.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 for Windows PC and Xbox Series X/S will feature the most advanced controls, user interface, and graphics to date.
Castle Wolfenstein was first released all the way back in 1981.
New this year is the action-packed survival game Wolfenstein: Youngblood (2019).
Wolfenstein is another successful franchise that has been around for decades and has spawned 13 games that have sold in the millions.
Originally released in the 1980s, Castle Wolfenstein was a 2D action-adventure game that bore little resemblance to the series’ subsequent first-person shooter iterations.
Considering that more than nine studios have worked on the franchise over the years, the most recent entry being Wolfenstein: Youngblood by Arkane Studios, it’s easy to see why.
Initially, Donkey Kong was released in 1981.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (2018) is the most recent installment in the series.
Donkey Kong’s meteoric rise to fame after its 1981 arcade debut laid the groundwork for future Nintendo first-party franchises like Super Mario and the Donkey Kong Country spinoff series.
Even after 40 years and 25 games, the franchise isn’t as popular as other Nintendo IPs like Super Mario, Legend of Zelda, or Pokemon. Its popularity is more akin to Metroid.
In light of the fact that Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (2018) was the last platformer featuring the lovable ape, it’s safe to say that players are due for a new entry in the series.
Pac-Man was first released in 1980.
The newest Pac-Man movie is Pac-Man 99 (2021).
Toru Iwatani, the man credited with creating the Pac-Man arcade game, supposedly had the inspiration for the game while enjoying a pizza at a Tokyo restaurant.
In any case, whether or not that legend is accurate, the series has all the makings of a cultural phenomenon on par with Tetris or Pong.
The battle royale-inspired Switch exclusive Pac-Man 99 was released in 2021, making Pac-Man 41 years old in the gaming industry.
Game & Watch
Silver, the original Game & Watch, was released in 1980.
The Legend of Zelda Game & Watch (2020) Is the Newest Release in the Series.
The Game & Watch line, which includes both software and hardware releases, is a fascinating chapter in Nintendo’s past and has strong ties to many of the company’s most cherished properties.
Beginning in 1980 with Game & Watch Silver, the series saw well over fifty hardware and game releases before dying out in the 1990s.
Nintendo, however, is making an effort to keep the Game & Watch name alive by including Mr. Game & Watch in Super Smash Bros. and releasing special editions of games like Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda in 2021.
Launching in 1979, Galaxian was the first of its kind.
Namco Museum Archives (2020) Is the Most Recent Release.
Galaxian, like the vast majority of these other franchises, had its beginnings in the Japanese arcade scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s, making it roughly 42 years old.
After the release of the first Galaxian in 1979, numerous ports, sequels, remakes, and collections of the classic arcade shooter appeared.
Until Namco Museum Archives Vol. 1 in 2020, the last time you could play Galaxian was on a greatest hits compilation of Namco-published games.
Space Invaders premiered in 1978.
New on the market: Invaders from Space (2020)
Space Invaders is the second-oldest ongoing video game franchise, having debuted in arcades in the late ’70s.
There have been numerous remasters and ports of the game since then, with the most recent being 2020’s Space Invaders Forever for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.
Space Invaders’ core gameplay remains largely unchanged after all this time; the game’s visuals and soundtrack have been updated, but that’s about it.
The Oregon Trail
Oregon Trail premiered in 1971.
The Oregon Trail (2021) is the newest movie out.
Here we are at the longest-running video game series, which is still going strong after 47 years.
The Oregon Trail was first released in November 1971 with the intention of serving as a teaching tool to educate middle school students about the harsh realities faced by pioneers in the 19th century.
The Oregon Trail for Apple Arcade came out in 2021, and while it may not be as useful as an educational tool now, a new version comes out every couple of years.
Elevator Action (38 Years)
Elevator Action has, for some inexplicable reason, persisted through the video game industry’s formative years of upheaval. In 2021, Elevator Action Invasion was released as its most recent installment. The series has received high praise for its easy-to-learn mechanics and welcoming interface.
Arcade game franchises have been around since the 1980s, so the fact that one has made it to the present day is nothing short of remarkable. To progress through the game, the player must frequently use elevators to escape from armed guards. Invasion updated the concept by including a light gun gameplay formula reminiscent of games like Virtua Cop.
Frogger (38 Years)
In spite of its age, the classic video game Frogger remains a fan favorite. And yet, new generations of gamers are picking it up and trying to perfect their timing so that the innocent little frog doesn’t turn into a glob of red paste on the road.
The formula was widely imitated, but Frogger is still universally considered the best. Being so iconic, it inspired one of the saddest and funniest episodes of Seinfeld. After 38 years, the formula is still being used in games like Terminator Resistance, which features hacking minigames based on the original.
Space Invaders (38 Years)
Space Invaders, the original coin-op space shooter, was released in 1978 and has since become an iconic video game franchise. By today’s standards, there is nothing special about it, and that is the point. The game play is still the main draw.
Many gamers continue to test their limits in pursuit of the highest possible score, but few have succeeded in getting as far as possible before being annihilated. It’s not hard to pick up, but it takes practice and precision to get good at it.
Half-Life’s story Has Continued For Over 20 Years
Many gamers have a negative reputation because of the Half-Life series’ official canon. The series’ penchant for leaving things off on a cliffhanger is a big part of the appeal. There are three main games and six spinoffs in this series. With the release of Half-Life: Alyx, many fans’ fears that there would be no sequel to the events of Half-Life 2: Episode 2 were put to rest. There has been a lot of buzz about a third game in the franchise, and fans are eager to get back into the shoes of series protagonist Gordon Freeman.
Final Fantasy VII’s Story is still in progress
Final Fantasy VII, released in 1997, is the series’ flagship installment and follows a continuity that has been maintained throughout all of the mainline games in the series since. In total, there are eight books in this series, one of which is a movie sequel titled Advent Children. For a while, the film represented the series’ final chapter, with only the spinoff Dirge of Cerberus and the prequel Crisis Core games to follow.
SEE ALSO Final Fantasy VII Compilation: A Guide to the Entire Metaseries
Fans were caught off guard by the remake’s hints that it was more of a pseudo-sequel than a faithful recreation of the original. However, those eager to experience more from this universe will have to wait for the Playstation 5 enhanced remake.
Ace Attorney’s canon has captivated fans since 2001
Although there have been some non-canon entries in the Ace Attorney series, the overall storyline has remained consistent from the beginning. Many of the books in this series center on defense attorney Phoenix Wright as he fights to clear his clients’ names after they’ve been falsely accused of crimes. Athena Cykes and Apollo Justice, two other defense lawyers, have been introduced as the series has progressed. In addition to the six main installments, there are also six spinoffs and one crossover with Professor Layton in this series. An anime spinoff has been developed from the original series.
Each Entry in Resident Evil has added more to the story
Fans of the Resident Evil series have been searching for answers to the series’ many mysteries since the series’ 1996 debut. With each new installment, more information is revealed about the shadowy Umbrella Corporation. There are a total of twenty-eight games in the Resident Evil series, three of which are remakes of earlier entries in the series. Each installment has delved deeper into the lore of this universe and the Umbrella Corporation’s arsenal of bioweapons.
Multiple genre changes, from standard survival horror to action, and back again, have occurred in this series. However, despite these shifts, the show’s consistent narrative has kept viewers coming back for more.
The over-20-year-old story of Shenmue has yet to reach its proper conclusion
Fans have been waiting years for the conclusion to Shenmue’s story. There hasn’t been a satisfying conclusion to the series yet, and the most recent installment, the third, has only left fans more eager for more. Players take on the role of Ryo Hazuki, who is out for revenge against the evil Lan Di for killing his father.
After nearly two decades between the second and third games in this series, many players were left with unanswered questions by the conclusion of the third game. The announcement of the anime adaptation has renewed interest in the series and raised expectations for more episodes.
Samus’ battles in the Metroid games are still far from over
Since its inception in 1986 with the release of the first Metroid game, the Metroid saga has been going strong longer than most. Gamers take control of bounty hunter Samus Aran as she battles space pirates trying to steal the Metroid creatures’ superpowers. The mysterious Chozo race and its past with the Metroid have been explored in greater depth in Metroid Dread.
While the gameplay is the primary draw for many fans, others stick around to see how Samus, the Chozo, and the Metroids fare in the next chapter. Counting the remake of the first game, Zero Mission, and the sequel Metroid II: Samus Returns, there have been a total of thirteen games in this series.
Legend of Zelda has had one canon since 1986
Many readers approach each book in this series as if it were a stand-alone novel. But there is a Zelda timeline that is based on a lot of speculation. While the first game in the Legend of Zelda series was released in 1986, many fans consider Skyward Sword to be the true beginning of the timeline.
Related: Here Are 10 Ways In Which Skyward Sword Is The Antidote To Breath Of The Wild In The Legend Of Zelda Series
There are some games that have sequels and even prequels, such as Majora’s Mask being a sequel to Ocarina of Time and Breath of the Wild having its own sequel in the works. Fans of The Legend of Zelda are constantly demanding new information in order to solidify their theories about the series’ timeline.
Mega Man still fights for everlasting peace
The original Mega Man series has maintained its continuity remarkably well across 32 games. There are a number of spinoffs and remakes among those games, but the main eleven all follow the adventures of Mega Man (Rockman in Japan) as he stops the evil Dr. Wily from taking over the world.
Mega Man X, a spinoff series set in a future populated primarily by advanced robots likely descended from their predecessors in the original Mega Man games, has direct ties to this series. Fans’ enthusiasm for the Mega Man series as a whole has been revitalized by the release of Mega Man 11. Mega Man and Dr. Wily have been rivals for a long time, so their storyline will probably continue.
Kingdom Hearts’ canon goes far beyond Sora’s adventures
Despite the fact that it’s a crossover between Disney and Final Fantasy, each installment has maintained a consistent narrative tone and setting. In most of these games, you’ll follow Sora as he explores both familiar Disney settings and brand-new environments. Kingdom Hearts’ history begins with the ancient keyblade war, which took place hundreds of years before the events of the first game. Many of these events with potential future consequences are covered in the game Kingdom Hearts: Unchained X and the short film Kingdom Hearts X: Back Cover.
Related: Here’s Every Final Fantasy Character That Makes An Appearance In Kingdom Hearts
The events surrounding the numbered titles, save for the very distant past, are covered extensively in other major series entries, such as Roxas’s history and Sora and Riku’s Mark of Mastery exam. These installments contribute to the overarching picture of this series’ canon.
The world of Metal Gear doesn’t end with Solid Snake
Metal Gear Solid on the PlayStation 1 may be the entry in the series that has attracted the most attention, but the Metal Gear franchise actually dates back to the 1980s. The very first game in this series was developed for the MSX2 in 1987. The ten books that make up the canon of this series tackle weighty ideas and political philosophies, which have kept readers discussing it long after its completion.
Storylines in this franchise have the freedom to be either grounded in reality with realistic events or to go as far out there as cyborgs fighting giant robots and even breaking the fourth wall. Despite the tone shifting, the audience keeps coming back for more.