A year ago I produced a radio documentary about nostalgia gaming and why we love the games of our past. It was an exciting documentary to produce where I was able to explore the psychological reasons why we are attached to the games of our past.
On its first anniversary ive decided to look back at my gaming history and pick my favourite nostalgia games that hold strong memories.
One of my first deep questions I remember thinking was how can Rayman exist with his limbless joints?
This 1995 Classic made the list because it’s the earliest game I can ever remember playing. This character with detachable limbs had a stunning debut, Looking back, this platformer has some of the most beautiful and creative art design i have ever seen, it had stunning environments such as a level based made up entirely on musical instruments. The use of his detachable arms meant for great attack gameplay to throw long distant punches or to grab items out of reach.
In recent years Rayman has returned to his 2D roots with critical acclaim, its nice knowing gameplay like this has been reimagined for a new generation. I think this is a worthy introduction to the world of video games.
9. Sonic The Hedgehog
While the Mega Drive or “Genesis” for you American readers out there may have been a bit before my time it was the only console at my grandparents house and thus introduced me to the Blue Blur. Whist the other games in that house Street Fighter and Echo The Dolphin were too confusing for my young eyes, Sega’s blue mascot was simple enough for me to play through. I think back at being amazed at the speed I would reach as the Green Hill zone music played out and how I dropped the controller the first time I went round a loop thinking I broke the game.
It was a game that if I wanted to I could blaze through the first acts of Green Hill zone to pass a few minutes or if I wanted I could pace myself through the more challenging stages and see how far I can make I through the game. I only remember completing it once back then I felt at the time that I deserved a medal.
I still play Sonic occasionally whenever I’m waiting for a train on my phone, the screen doesn’t feel the same as a mega drive controller but it’s still an enjoyable game that always takes me back to the past whenever I hear the start-up sound…. “SEGA”.
8. Rugrats: Search For Reptar
This was the quintessential game for any Nickelodeon child of the 90s. The opportunity to play the show and its adoring charters of Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, the lovable brat Angelica and even the Spike the dog was a marvellous one. The aim of the game was to collect all the pieces of the Reptar Jigsaw, every mission completed would award you with a jigsaw piece. Classic episodes were the basis of levels with my favourite being saving Chuckie from an aggressive goose.
There was something about the graphics in this game that I really loved as a kid, the pixellated 3D is so appealing to the eyes I find and playing as the characters really gave a baby perspective in the game with all environments seeming huge. the tasks in the game offer a variety of different gameplay which keeps gameplay fresh such as golf, target throwing and races.
The game has the most satisfying conclusion when you take control of the Dinosaur Reptar and absolutely unleash a fiery hell of destruction as you tear down a city before deciding cabaret dancing is a better alternative.
I won’t be playing Search for Reptar anytime soon because I’ll probably taints its memory by completing it too quickly and quite obviously it’s aimed for kids so I might find it a little too easy.
7. Super Mario Land 2
it is hard to grow up and not cross paths with this overweight plumber who runs and jumps so much you would assume he would have a bun of steel bun but no, spaghetti does have a lot of carbs.
This is probably Mario’s best portable outing as he sets out to reclaim his land and castle from the dastardly Wario who is being a bit of a twit and has hypnotised the island inhabitants into believing Mario is their enemy. Mario must conquer all six-zones to defeat all the bosses to obtain all 6 golden coins to enter his castle and give that Wario a slap about. This is by far my favourite 2D Mario game, the zones are incredible inventive with one of my favourite moment being when you guide Mario through the sky in a bubble blown by a giant hippo.
the game is difficult but not too big of a challenge for a kid, the boss fights are fun and simple enough (my favourite was the alien boss) The music is some of the best ive heard in a Mario game and it includes the greatest power up in the series, Bunny Mario which allows Mario to glide across the level and make him look like something out of playboy. I’ve recently downloaded the game for my 3DS and am pretty pleased that after all these years I still remember the entrances to the secret levels.
6. Ty The Tasmanian Tiger
I remember opening Ty the Tasmanian tiger on a birthday having never even heard of it before, but from what I can remember it only took the first level for me to become fixated with the game for weeks. You play as Ty a boyish Tasmanian Tiger who is overly fond of the term “struth” and “Bonza” as he travels through the Australian outback to find the mystic talismans (Big Magic Coins) and defeat the evil Boss Cass (a sort of ostrich) from taking over Australia. It was one of my first 3D platformers and I fell in love with its collection style of gameplay. All the characters are based on Australian animals which was great because I was a big fan of Steve Irwin so loved it. What makes the game most original is the use of boomerangs that you use to process through the game, as you progress more boomerangs become available all with their own unique ability to help you through levels (my favourite was the kaboomerange which unleashed nothing but carnage).
The beautiful outback of stunning Australia is showcased throughout this game and had some of the most exciting boss battles I remember playing especially against a ferocious-looking hog.
This is a truly underrated platformer that I would love to see receive a reboot like Crash Bandicoot and Ratchet and Clank, in today’s world of nostalgia demand you never know who may make a comeback next and boomerangs always come back.
5: Pokemon Stadium
If you wanted to be cool in the schoolyard but couldn’t convince your mum to justify paying a three-figure sum for multi-pack Pokemon card boxes in the chance of obtaining a shiny Charizard then owning this game was your best chance.
Some of my fondest memories were pushing my battling skills to the limit earning prime cup trophies, battling gym leader but if I’m honest most of the time I was probably in the mini-game section with the Magikarp splash game being the most delightful where I would bash the A button to splash to my heart’s content.
The transfer pack allowed the opportunity to play the Gameboy titles on the television, even today’s technology can’t match the amazement I had witnessing my Psyduck I caught being playable in full 3D. Along with the amazing visuals I really enjoyed hearing the commentator throughout the battle although he can be a bit impatience if I take 10 seconds to make a decision and again and again he will tell me “What’s the matter Trainer?” Pressure, that’s whats the matter.
I occasionally still play Pokemon stadium and its sequel Pokemon Stadium 2, attempting to conquer gym battles and cup trophies, it’s a fun way to pass some time and reminds me how good the game, I don’t think I would care too much if they made Stadium 3, I would only desire to play with the first 2 generations of Pokemon and I find the graphics of today too polished, 64 bit is plenty for me and 2 stadium games are enough.
4: The Simpsons Hit and Run
The Simpsons have had mixed reception with video games. They had a pretty impressive beat ’em up arcade game in the early 90s, they tried to capitalize on the late 90s wrestling popularity with an absolutely appalling wrestling game, they got in legal trouble for a clone rip off of “Crazy Taxi” but in 2003 they released what was their finest video game outing.
This sandbox game brings Springfield to life as you fight to save it from a mysterious threat, I was a massive Simpsons fan growing up so was beyond excited for this release and It felt amazing to explore Springfield and interact with the characters, it was jam-packed with humorous references to classic episodes the game actually had an intriguing story. In terms of gameplay Hit and Run would surprise most gamers with its high quality, you get around mostly by vehicle and they handle really well and there’s a wide range to choose from the classic family pink Sedan, the Mr Plow truck and even a Monorail carriage (I bet the songs in your head) there’s also a fair amount of gameplay on foot with some platforming elements throughout the game.
you progress through the story completing missions, they could be as simple as Race Principle Skinner to Springfield elementary, or as bizarre as help Dr Nick collect all his escaped experimental chimps, they usually revolve around reaching a certain destination and racing against the clock.
This game might suffer from being too short with just 7 levels that will take a few days to complete, it’s still an enjoyable experience and possibly one of the best games based of a tv series. 15 years on and I’m surprised this game never got a sequel, The Simpsons are far beyond their prime now so perhaps their best chance to bring back old fans of the series would be the follow-up “Hit and Run…Faster”
3. Pokemon Pinball
I have a vivid memory being in Santa’s grotto explaining to jolly old St Nick that there was only one present I wanted that festive season, I was good all year I thought it was a reasonable demand and it was the sublime Pokemon Pinball. you can only imagine my excitement as I tore apart the wrapping from my stocking to reveal what seemed to be the holy grail.
The game was excited and addictive, whist pinball games mostly focus on racking up points this game was focused on racking up Pokemon as I remember my heart racing as bashed the A and B button constantly trying to capture the Pokemon before the timer ran out. the mini-games added an extra play style to the game where I especially enjoyed mercifully beating Meowth senselessly until he gave me all his money.
The game is noteworthy for its rumble pack which blew my mind away and had me drop my Gameboy multiple times in sacred confusion. I’m not really a fan of pinball, the idea of playing just for a score doesn’t really excite me so throw in the concept of “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” and capturing Pokemon by playing pinball then you have a classic game.
2. Sonic Adventure
Ok I’ll admit I didn’t own a Dreamcast (Who did) but I remember one summer when a friend had brought his SEGA Dreamcast over for a sleepover and it stayed in my house for a month. In that time I became hooked on the first and arguably best 3D Sonic Game.
I’m sure most people here know the fate of the Dreamcast, for SEGA it was their last chance to stay in the console market after the financial failure of previous system Sega Saturn and years of bad marketing. In a last-ditch effort, they created the SEGA Dreamcast, a system so ahead of its time it had online capabilities! this was the 90s for crying out loud. One title needed desperately to get the system in homes was Sonic, there hadn’t been a main series sonic title since Sonic and Knuckles in 1994 but this time it had to be 3D. Needless to say, it wasn’t enough but the Dreamcast went out with its head held high as one of the most innovative consoles ever and Sonic Adventure is regarded as one of the best titles in the series.
I remember being amazed as the game started out with a boss battle against Chaos which honestly creeped me out, the first level blew me away it felt like a roller coaster racing across the coast, being chased by a killer whale and that music man, even as a child I knew that soundtrack was ace.
Sonic Adventure got better when more characters were unlocked and ushered more gameplay elements, I enjoyed searching for emerald pieces as knuckles or shooting the place up as the robot 3_102 Gamma and then there was Big the Cat who alone stops this game getting the no 1 spot and I’m sure him alone has been the cause of many smashed Dreamcast controllers.
It was one of the first storylines in a game that really captivated me, all character had a different motive and I loved how they all would cross paths. The game had a lot of variety and then there the Chao Garden where you could take a break from the main game for an hour or two raising adorable chao, it’s a perfect game (Minus Big and his enthusiasm for fishing).
I was reluctant to give my friend back his Dreamcast but his brother was bigger than me so I had no choice. I would beg to go round to his house to play it until it was re-released on Nintendo Gamecube when SEGA dropped out of the console race.
Some people say this game hasn’t aged well with its awkward cut scene animation, clumsy camera and Big the Cat. In some ways I agree that this is Sonics Flawed Masterpiece but nothing can take away the excitement I felt running down a skyscraper at full speed as a kid.
With all the games I had the pleasure of playing in my youth, no other title has brought more joy to my upbringing than this title which I’m sure you will agree is one of the greatest video games ever made.
The concept is so magnificent, an interactive Pokemon world in glorious 3D. You play as Todd a minor character in the anime series that the developers decided needed his own game, visit professor oak on the simply named Pokemon Island who gives you the task to photograph the islands inhabitants. as soon as you jump in the Zero-One buggy and transport to the first level the sight is amazing being put in the Pokemon world, it is amazing how I felt like I was in another world as Pokemon roamed free, thing got better when I unlocked apples and pester balls which allows you to interact with them especially to make them irate which leads to better point scores.
The only criticism can find with this title is that it is tragically short, it can be finished in a day and the Pokemon count stands as a measly 63 (ekens was rumoured to be 64). with just 7 levels you can’t help wanting more. I remember reading a gaming magazine that revealed the secrets on how to snap rare Pokemon, now I am a pro and can easily get acquire a pic of Gyrados or balloon Pikachu.
It has been nearly 2 decades and the world has yet to see a sequel to this original game and as sad as it may sound there probably never will be one. Pokemon isn’t the worldwide phenomenon it was then, current games have lost the pixellated charm that made them look like games in the first place and more importantly I am not a child anymore, I play Pokemon snap about once a year and complete it in a day, holding the same controller that was once too big for my younger hands. I’m so familiar with it and it always brings back memories of playing it as a child with no worries. If Nintendo were to release a sequel I would have no old memories to draw back on and am potentially expecting too much from a sequel. I’m happy enough the original exists as well as my childhood memories playing it.
Those are my top 10, you should spend some time making up your own list, brings back many fond memories.