Super Arabian!!! Nice!!
Wow, I love this question. I always like lists as long as there is some explanation behind each choice. I’m 26 and grew up in a pretty poor area, so I was usually a generation behind on gaming. My dad always knew I loved games as a kid and always picked up what he could. He passed in April, but the memories I have of the games he got me, as well as the ones we played together, are ones that I’ll always cherish.
Mario Bros / Duck Hunt - I played some Atari at a relative’s house but this was the first game we ever had at home. I believe we borrowed the NES from my uncle (along with Zelda and Marble Madness), and we played the heck out of this cart. I remember Duck Hunt much more vividly than Mario, probably because the Zapper was freaking awesome! My infatuation with this game is probably what led my parents to get us a Sega Genesis later on.
Sonic 2 - This was the first game I completed and it still blows me away today. There is just so much style and charm in this game, it’s incredible. Sonic Mania has eclipsed it as my favorite in the series, but this is the game that hooked me originally.
Sega 6-Pack - Sort of cheating here, but I don’t care. This came packaged with my Genesis (I can still remember seeing the box in the back of our Ford Bronco a few nights before Christmas, my mom told me the box was a pair of boots for my dad!) and I loved all the games (Hang-On always kicked my butt though). It showed me how incredibly diverse gaming was, and led me down avenues toward other great games. This was also the first time I ever really played multiplayer with Streets of Rage. The memories I have of playing through this with my dad are some of my most cherished.
Crash Bandicoot 2 After the Genesis, we got a PS1 sometime in 98 (I think my dad traded a gun for it and a few games). The jump to 3D was unbelievably crazy at the time, and Crash 2 was something everyone got into. It was like the gaming world opened up around this time. Rental places started carrying games in my town, magazines started showing up, it was like this wonderful secret was out.
Spyro The Dragon - Crash was good but Spyro was my life. The charm and beauty of this game was unlike anything I had seen before. I wanted to live in those kooky worlds, and for a few years I pretty much did. Once again, this was a game my dad got into with me and we both ended up playing through multiple times, swapping the controller on our favorite worlds. We got to the point where we would play through the game multiple times a week, and even do 100% in a single sitting. I’m going to be a mess when I play through the Reignited Trilogy later this year.
Resident Evil 1 (Director’s Cut) - This one is funny. Shortly after we got our PS1, I grabbed this game. 8 year old me was accustomed to Sonic, Crash, and Spyro. This game was not like those one bit. It was slow, it was creepy (that first zombie reveal will always be burned into my brain), the inventory and saving were cumbersome, as were the controls and the puzzles. But I kept playing. Each time I would get a little further, uncover more of the mansion and the story, piece things together. The further I got the more I appreciated what RE was all about (or the first few games at least). All those ‘flaws’ were what separated this game from what I was used to; it had made me uncomfortable and that was exactly what it should have done. I have played through this game and every other mainline RE game at this point a few times, it’s one of my favorite series and I am very glad I was able to discover it through this game.
Halo - Three systems defined my childhood: Genesis, PS1, and Xbox. I played a Xbox demo disc at a friends’ house sometime in '02, and was instantly hooked by Halo. The level on the disc was a slightly modified Silent Cartographer. I loved the lore (I was deep into sci-fi at the time), I loved the enemy and weapon designs, and I loved Master Chief. Once I played that I knew I had to get an Xbox (I had been unimpressed with the PS2 and my cousin had a GC I could play whenever I wanted). Once I did in '03 I can’t tell you how pumped I was to finally play through this game, and it didn’t disappoint. I bought Xbox magazines, I played every demo on the discs, and I became totally immersed in gaming.
My cousin and I would co-op both Halo 1 &2 over and over, sometimes until the next morning. I don’t like the current FPS and online-multiplayer landscape that Halo 1 & 2 brought about (although I love Overwatch), but I can’t deny how big of an impact Halo had on me.
Super Smash Bros. Melee - A game I didn’t own myself until much later, Melee was the standout for me on the Gamecube. This is another game that my cousin (a 100% Die-hard Nintendo Fanboy) introduced me to, and one we played every time I came over (I have the GC and memory card now, we had over 500 hours logged on Melee). I started out a total scrub, I could never win. But 400 or so hours later and I came to understand advanced techniques as well as psychological tricks you can play in fighting games, and I couldn’t lose without throwing a match. This game taught me that I can become better, and it’s a touchstone that I still draw upon today. Super excited for Ultimate this year.
Ninja Gaiden (Xbox) - Man, this game. If there was ever an example of a modern game with a hardcore retro mindset, this is it. It was amazing looking then (and still holds up well today), and I don’t think the fluidity or effortless playstyle has ever been matched in a character action game as they’re called these days. I remember distinctly moving into a new house over the summer of '04 and playing this game almost non-stop for those two months. The first things I moved in my new room were my TV, Xbox, and some pillows to sit on. I remember getting stuck on the fish-tower near the end of the game (if you’ve played it you know where I mean), and I’ve never been so frustrated at a game. Eventually I cleared it though and Whenever a new character-action game comes out I’m always in a sort of Sonic cycle hoping it’ll be as great as Ninja Gaiden, but they always fall short and I just boot my old Xbox up.
Morrowind - I had played a few JRPGs on the PS1 (FFVIII, Legend of Dragoon), and while I liked those the turn-based battles always felt weird. My introduction to WRPGs came from Morrowind. I was in 6th grade and one of my friends came in telling me about this awesome game, where you could go anywhere and do anything. I really didn’t get it until (no idea why this stuck out), he told me “Dude, you can shoot an arrow into a tree, and then run over and pick it back up!” My mind was blown and I had to get it. I eventually logged over 300 hours on the Xbox version, and then another 300 or so on the GOTY PC game. The Xbox was my gateway to RPGs. KOTOR, Jade Empire, and the Dark Alliance games all followed on the Xbox, and I even went out and got Baldur’s Gate 2 and Planescape on PC, but Morrowind is the one that hooked me.
My childhood was defined by the Amstrad, then the Master System and the Game Gear. I never had many games for these systems, less than a dozen for each console and a bunch of pirated games for the computer (but not that many, as I didn’t know anyone who could provide me with discs or cassettes). By the time the Saturn came out I was a teenager so I’ll leave it out of the list, and also I’d need to add like another twenty games .
- L’aigle d’or (Amstrad CPC)
You’re trying to loot a castle from its treasures, most notably the golden eagle from the title. it plays in three dimensions, you have to open doors with keys or force them open with a crowbar, duck to avoid bats, jump over pits or use a rope to climb out of them, use a torch in unlit rooms, etc. items are bought at a store before starting exploring, and while you can get back to the store to buy more stuff, there isn’t much money to collect in the castle (that I found anyway). I was never able to get to the final treasure, despite me playing so many times and mapping the entire thing. I learned recently that most pirated copies had a bug that prevented a door from opening, and that may very well be the reason why
- Saboteur (Amstrad CPC)
You’re a ninja (and his sister in the follow up game) tasked with infiltrating a base, stealing documents, planting a bomb and then escaping by stealing a helicopter. Of course these goals were explained in the original manual, which I never had because my disks were second hand. As such I had no idea what I was supposed to do and as a kid only managed to find the copter in the first game. I enjoyed exploring the base but for some reason never found the entrance to the underground area where most of the game happen (including a metro system and a missile launching pad!) so I was quite shocked when I first saw it as an adult! The second game had an even bigger map but I didn’t bother much with it, I think I saw the motorbike used to escape once and that was it. Saboteur II however had a killer title tune! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpfWui1NKUA
- Thanatos (Amstrad CPC)
You’re a dragon! You can spit fire at those tiny humans, or take them in your claws and let them fall, or simply crush them on the ground! Again, I had no idea what I was supposed to do but that dragon was majestic and terrifying, and simply flying free or crushing soldiers was immensely satisfying. I used to fly up to a women tied to a pole, at which point I didn’t know what to do next. Apparently you’re supposed to free her, then go to a cauldron and a magic book. Another fantastic intro music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKZ0r8MYB9g
One last thing to note, is that these games, Saboteur I/II and Thanatos, were ported from the ZX Spectrum like so many English Amstrad games, and as such keep its smaller screen resolution and its colour limitations, with a worse framerate because it’s a shit port. I’ll be playing these games on the Spectrum Next once it’s out, that’s for sure!
- Commando (Amstrad CPC)
The best 8bit port of the original arcade game imo. Looks much better than the Spectrum version, and has many more than three levels like on the C64. It plays very well too, fast and everything! Not like Ikari Warrior. And thanks to the computer innate ability and competent programming, two buttons could be used on the controller! It’s a damn button masher though; as a kid I could only complete the first level, and not every time: the final flood of enemies was too much for me. This one even had ingame music! and a banging tune too! C64 users would argue that their tune is better, but nah.
- Orphée (Amstrad CPC)
A text and graphics adventure game, French style. Unlike Anglo text adventures, where everything was described as text and the pictures were supplementary illustrations, French text adventure games took a different approach to the genre: the text was a very simple one-line description, and the player was supposed to find out what to interact with and how by looking at the complementary picture. I never got very far.
- Alex Kidd (Master System)
Like most everybody else with a Master System, I had that game included in the console. Couldn’t get past the jungle though, those damn coconut-throwing monkeys always got me at some point.
- Shinobi (Master System)
The other game included with the console. I spent a lot of time on it, I basically mastered it (got all the hostages and bonuses, almost never being hit. Yet, I was always failing at the third boss, Mandara (the column statues boss). Because the weapons cycle, after collecting all of them you end up facing the boss with the weakest shuriken. I’m still not sure how you’re supposed to beat it like that. I’ll have to think about it.
- The Lucky Dime Caper Starring Donald Duck
This one came a little bit later, and like the others, I spent a lot of time with it. Couldn’t finish it back then but could go up to the last world. I recently went back to it and managed to finish it finally, by abusing a respawn point and farming lives, a strategy I would have never even thought about as a kid. A fantastic game, very pretty and very playable, I recommend it to this day.
- Ecco and Ecco II (Game Gear)
Fantastic 8bit rendition of the larger Megadrive game, I played and finished the first game and bought the second one as soon as it came out. I keep reading about how the Megadrive version is extremely difficult, but even though the later levels (especially the last autoscrolling one) can be a pain, I never felt it was too difficult. The dolphin handling is a little bit different on the 8bit, where it doesn’t drift as much. Maybe it makes all the difference? I don’t know.
- Micro Machines (Game Gear)
You thought you had fun sharing a controller on the Megadrive? Try sharing a handheld while on a roadtrip! That’s right, two players on a single game gear, heads bumping over the single tiny screen. The single player mode is really unforgiving though, and totally unfair in the later levels, with CPU machines going at twice your speed without making any mistakes. I went up to the last couple of races (out of like 30) but these were just impossible.
- Mortal Kombat II (Game Gear)
I missed out on the first one, played the hell out of the second one. The blood! the action! the fighters! The game was bigger than anything on the tiny Game Gear. I remember I had a small hint book with all the techniques detailed for every characters for the Megadrive version, and most were also working on the Game Gear.
- Shinobi (Game Gear)
Another game I spent a lot of time on, mastering all its levels. I can still beat it today, the dreaded (online) last level being a light maze where each ninja special ability needs to be mastered to get out of. Once you know the way you just have to “git gud” to be able to reach the correct doors. it’s tough, but I never felt it was unfair in its difficulty. You need to play it several times to figure out the ninja order, but in that time you are learning the levels and how to use the ninja’s special abilities, so when the final level comes, you are actually prepared to face it.
This is a great topic, and I’ve had a blast reading everyone’s responses so far. After thinking about the topic, I decided to stick to earlier childhood, basically up to “pre-teen”, even though some of my favourite games of all time came out when I was a teenager.
This was also really hard to pare down to 10. It feels like I missing so many classic games from my childhood, so I added a “runner up” list at the bottom.
Quest for Glory: So You Want to be a Hero? - Sierra Online - DOS, 1989
This entire series is one of my favourites, but the original Quest for Glory (or Hero’s Quest when first released, before a trademark dispute with Milton Bradley) is where I spent the most time. My dad loves to tell people I learned how to read by playing Sierra games… To this day I think this game is the only usage of the word “unguent” I’ve ever seen! As much as I love all of their “Quest” games, QFG was always my favourite. Being able to pick my class, level my character, and approach puzzles in unique ways depending on my skills was mindblowing, and it was one of the first games that I ever played to give me that “open world” feel.
Wing Commander - Origin Systems - DOS, 1990
I actually broke our joystick playing this one. Being a huge Star Wars fan, the feeling of getting into dogfights in space, having to lock onto enemies, conserve missiles, balance shields, all while being fired upon… Little me’s heart was pounding! The music dynamically changed based on the action too, hearing the victory fanfare when your blew away an enemy always put a smile on my face. What really drew me into this game was the story though: you had an overarching plot, and the missions you flew had weight because you knew the consequences. Fun fact: the game actually has a branching storyline, where depending on whether you complete certain mission objectives, you either start winning or losing the war. Origin Systems scrapped the concept in the sequel, as people didn’t like playing the “bad path”, and would just replay missions until the succeeded.
Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss - Origin Systems - DOS, 1992
I dabbled in the other Ultima games, but Underworld was the one that hooked me. Being able to explore a massive dungeon in 3D, meeting friendly NPCs, getting rare loot, learning a new language… The game was insanely addictive. I still don’t think I’ve ever beat it, but I will definitely have to go back at some point, as I remember many many nights exploring the Stygian Abyss and loving every second.
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge - LucasArts - DOS, 1991
When compiling my list, I told myself I’d only include 2 adventure games on it, because I could easily list 10. Since I already have a Sierra game, why not arguably the best game by their competitor, LucasArts? Monkey Island 2 was always my favourite growing up because the art was amazing, the locations were crazy, and the puzzles were HAAAARD. Seriously, this game is insanely difficult, but so rewarding when you finally get that AHA moment. Best puzzle: the spitting competition. There’s multiple layers to that puzzle so that when I finally figured out exactly how to win, I basically felt like the smartest person who ever lived.
DOOM - Id Software - DOS, 1993
I remember the first time I saw Doom: I was at one of my dad’s friends’ house, who had a 486 (we only had a 386 at the time), so he could play it. I had played my fair share of Wolfenstein 3d, but seeing Doom blew my mind. I mean, the gun SWAYED when the player character walked! I have many fond memories of playing Doom multiplayer by directly linking our PC at home with a laptop my dad would periodically take home from work (My brother and I would use the same setup for Duke 3d and Quake).
Super Mario Brothers 3 - Nintendo - NES, 1988
What can I say about Mario 3 that others haven’t said a million times? I would’ve been too young to realize how mind blowing this game was back when first released, but I certainly played the heck out of my cart. As much as I love Super Mario World, and certainly played that a lot, I never lost my appreciation for the sheer size, scope and difficulty of Mario 3. When I was young, I used to boot it up, get a warp whistle and go straight to World 4 (Big World) because it was my favourite back in the day. Also, that Sun from World 2 can go straight to hell.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - Nintendo - SNES, 1991
My dad and I played a LOT of video games together growing up, memories that I will treasure forever and hope to replicate with my daughter when she’s a bit older. One of my fondest memories was beating LttP with him. We rented this game over and over again, making sure to ask the clerk that we get the same cart each time so our save game would still be on it. We didn’t beat it until we got our own cart though, a few years later. Dad and I still try to play games online whenever possible, last game we played together to completion was Resident Evil 6 on PC, which was a blast. FUN FACT: Whenever you had to name your character or save file, we would always name it “GorAl”, which was a portmanteau of our names. About a year ago, I put in my Ocarina of Time cart and saw that our GorAl save was still on there.
Mortal Kombat 2 - Midway - SNES, 1992
I’ve chosen the SNES version of this game, because I wasn’t a huge arcade gamer. This was probably my most rented game of all time. I had the original on Genesis, and played the heck out of that, but the MK2 on SNES was such a huge step up: better graphics, more characters, more fatalities, stages, secrets… I would rent this and play for 12 hours at a time. I had a copy of EGM that had every move and fatality for every character over a two page spread, and that magazine got WORN OUT. Toasty! To this day, I’m still a Mortal Kombat fan over any other fighting game series.
Final Fantasy 3/6 - SquareSoft - SNES, 1994
Dad and I played a ton of RPGs together growing up, it was and remains our favourite genre. Final Fantasy 3 was the first one we played together that had so many memorable set pieces. I remember we rented it for an entire week (Dad sprang for the more expensive week-long rental because he wanted to play too), and played it non stop all week. By the end of the week, we figured we HAD to be close to the end, so Dad called up the guy at the video game store and asked, thinking if we were close, we could just rerent it for a couple more days. Upon telling him where we were, he said “Oh, you’re close to halfway through”…The rental was returned unfinished.
Lunar: The Silver Star - Studio Alex (Working Designs) - Sega CD, 1992
I told you we played a lot of RPGs! This is the first RPG I remember beating with my Dad. We ended up with a Sega CD because one of Dad’s coworkers had one and it was SO COOL. We ended up borrowing Lunar from that same coworker, and beat it over the course of a month. I remember how tense the final fight with the Dark Emperor was, being so nervous that we were going to lose that I accidentally used the wrong healing herb and nearly got us killed. The anime cutscenes were mind blowing back in the day. We never did play the followup on Sega CD, but beat both games on PSX when they were rereleased.
RUNNER UPS - Beacuse I couldn’t pick just 10…
- Megaman 2 - NES
- Stunts (aka 4D Sports Driving) - DOS
- Sonic the Hedgehog - Sega Genesis
- Jurassic Park - Sega Genesis
- Super Empire Strikes Back - SNES
- Another World (aka Out of this World) - SNES
This is such a great thread btw.
I love this!
I got into computers very early in life. I was born in 1980, and grew up playing Tandy TRS-80, Commodore VIC-20, Commodore 64, and later on the various Amiga systems. My first foray into the PC world was a 386, but I didn’t really spend much time with a PC until my parents bought a Pentium 150 system.
Like most kids my age (at least in Canada), we had classrooms full of Apple ][e computers in school, so I also got to play a few of the classics on the old green monochrome systems. I remember playing Oregon Trail, Number Munchers, and Loderunner.
On the console side of things, the family had a Sega Master System, and later on there was a Gameboy, Game Gear, Super Nintendo, and PS1 in the house. My best friend had an NES and later on an SNES.
So, with that short system history out of the way, here are the games that I feel defined my childhood. I’m going to stick to 1 or 2 games for each system, in an effort to try and stretch the list along a number of years.
Omega Race (VIC-20)
Super simple on the surface, but hard as nails. This is a take on a classic asteroids formula, but with alien ships that move and shoot, instead of asteroids. The enemy ships move around a rectangular track, and your goal is to clear the screen before moving onto the next level. Best played with a paddle setup like the official Commodore ones, or the Atari paddles.
Crossroads & Crossroads II: Pandemonium (C64)
Released as type-in games in issues of Compute! Gazette in 1987 and 1988, these are the best games on the system as far as I’m concerned. They never got a physical release, though. My older brother typed in the machine language code manually, and made disks for us to play. Crossroads is a top-down shooter in a maze-like setting. It pits you against hordes of enemies all hell-bent on collecting little discs called “Shield Spars”. Enemies can pick them up as well, and gain their benefits (taking extra damage). It’s intentionally programmed to be super-chaotic, and the enemies all have a bit of AI to them, where they will form alliances, and seek out certain groups to kill. We spent countless hours playing simultaneous 2-player with these, and it’s a real shame these games never got the attention they deserve. Crossroads II added more power ups (fire rate & walking speed), and a bunch more enemies.
Syndicate is an isometric action-strategy game set in a dystopian cyberpunk future. You control up to 4 agents tasked with various missions to do with taking out other rival syndicates, large corporations, and governments in an effort to establish your syndicate as the world-dominant force. The beautiful thing about this game is that your objectives can be completed in any way you want, which give you a level of control that I had never encountered before. Want to assassinate someone? You can hit them with a cop car that you stole, mow them down with a high powered machine gun, persuade the public to rise up in great numbers (thanks to your persuadertron), into a hunge army and kill the whole city, launch a gauss missile at them from a block away, etc etc. Freedom at it’s finest, and it’s an absolute blast.
Rick Dangerous (Amiga)
This is a horrifically difficult platformer in the age and style of Indiana Jones (the game even starts off with the famous boulder-chase scene from Raiders of The Lost Ark). There are many-many unfair moments where if you don’t have it memorized, you will invariably die to a completely secluded trap. If you are willing to learn the levels however, it’s an extremely fun, charming, and rewarding game worth the teeth gritting agony of defeat.
R-Type (Sega Master System)
While I am well aware that this is not the definitive version of R-Type, it holds a very special place in my heart. It’s an excellent port of the Arcade classic, and I still have not manages to beat it to this day. Punishing difficulty and flashy graphics… I love it.
Super Mario Bros. (NES)
I never owned an NES as a kid, but my best friend did. What can be said that hasn’t already? My memories of this game are sitting on the dark brown carpet in the basement, in front of a small wood grain cladded CRT, trying to finish the game to no avail. While I think the later titles were ultimately the better games, they don’t have the fond memories like SMB1 has.
Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s Super Off Road (Arcade)
In my home town there was an arcade on the south side in the mall called Wizard’s Castle. I spent many hours in there playing the various games, but the two that stand out are Choplifter and Super Off-Road. I chose Super Off-Road simply because playing 3 players, all huddled around one CRT with 3 steering wheels was the pinnacle of fun.
Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)
No sense in describing the game at all here. This was my first Zelda game, and I still firmly believe that it’s my favourite game of all time. I have finished it probably a dozen times, and I have no inclination to stop playing it.
Duke Nukem 3D (PC)
While I’ve played through the single player campaign a few times, the real joy in this game lies in the multiplayer deathmatch that was played over modem with my next door neighbor. I was on my Pentium 150 and he was on a 468 DX-66. The extra speed of my computer had made my frame rates smooth as butter, while he struggled on large maps, and maps with artificial bridges (made out of tons of sprites). He used to get so frustrated with the constant ownage!
Final Fantasy VII (PS1)
The only game I spent a large amount of time with on the PS1, and my first introduction into the Final Fantasy series. To this day it remains my favourite JRPG, and the only one in the series that I have completed. I remember playing in our basement on a 27" CRT. My first playthrough was organic, doing what I wanted, when I wanted… I completed the game and needed more! I printed out a full walkthrough and proceeded to play through the entire game again with the goal of getting everything possible. I got all materia, all limit breaks, all summon materia, and all the chocobos. I love this game, and recently picked up a PSone to play through it again.
So, that’s it… It was tough to narrow this list to ten items for sure, and I could add a list of 50 more very fond games from my early gaming life with ease. Great thread!
I feel like my list should be really close to yours, as I was primarily exposed to computers instead of consoles.
I have fonder memories of early PC titles than anything else, but I wanted to try and limit my list to one game per system.
Warcraft 2, DOOM, Duke3D, Tomb Raider, Descent I, II, III & the Freespace games, Tribes, Unreal, Unreal Tournament, Monster Truck Madness, Rollcage, Forsaken, Freelancer, Jetpack, Total Annihilation, Quake, Quake 2, Quake 3, Diablo 1 & 2, Commander Keen, Death Rally, Terminal Velocity…
Man… The fun times we had at LAN parties. I could probably list 100 more.
Yes! I never did get into N64 because the controls and graphics were way too far behind the PC gaming curve for me to enjoy. I was playing 3D accelerated games, with colored lighting @ 1024x768 by then, and the idea of using a thumb stick to play an FPS game is still completely alien to me, to this day.
For some of the console exclusives like 007 and Halo, I dabbled a bit, but I always felt like I could be having 10x more fun with a mouse and keyboard.
Gotta reply to this bit as well… Quake 2 and 3 are my equal to your Diablo 2.
I was into competitive gaming then, and almost my entire group of friends that I hang out with now are from the Quake days. I’ve known most of them for over 20 years now, and we still LAN together a few times a year.
Without Quake 2 and 3, my life would be completely different.
damn, this is tough
alex kidd in miracle world
micheal jackson’s moonwalker
zombies ate my neighbors
phantasy star II
street fighter II
final fantasy IV (snes)
zelda: link to the past
aw man i didn’t have room for lunar and so much other stuff i adored
Another SMS kid!
This is a toughy. I can’t even name 10 cause I didn’t heavily play many games during my early years gaming except for the below ones. Also I define my childhood as under the age of 10.
It would mainly be
Donkey Kong country 2
Super Mario bros 3
Super Mario bros
I owned a few other games in those years but I kept coming back to these games.