I just finished replaying The Lost Vikings 1 and 2 on SNES after probably over a decade or so of hiatus.
They're both incredibly smart, 2D puzzle platformers full of pop-culture references (Star Wars, Evil Dead) that are still relevant. Star Wars references make me groan nowadays, back in 1997 it was mindblowing. The passwords for levels 16 through 19 are DRNK YOVR OV4L T1N3. A Christmas Story reference in a 1997 video game hidden in the passwords for the levels?!?
The difficulty and pacing are second to none. Going from cakewalk to fiendish over the course of 30 to 40 levels with not a spike in sight. You never don't know why you died. Some puzzle solutions are pretty damned hard, but nothing requires a walk-through.
I put Legend of Grimrock and God of War 3 - two other games I'm currently working through - on hold for these, because after getting a small taste, they made me play them. These are the games every modern indie platformer wishes they could be, with the pacing, intelligence and gameplay every modern game wishes it had. They just don't make them like this anymore.
Don't get me wrong, I love the spectacle of modern gaming, but I feel like we've lost some of the inherent possibility for perfection in simplicity. These games work because they're optimized within the limitations of a 16-bit console, where too many modern games try to do too much with more.
I'm rambling and drunk. Happy Chuseok! (Korean holiday involving lots of bowing to dead people and drinking...)