While our love for video games is universal, the origin stories of our love are always unique. We all arrive at our love for games from a different beginning, and maybe that’s something that makes it that much more powerful and special. If you were like me, a lot of your time as a child was spent desperately attempting to get your hands on any type of game your parents would allow (which wasn’t a lot in my case). Whether it was watching a sibling play or going over to a friend’s house to play, I always craved more.
The new decade should be a time to look forward at what is to come, but I wanted to also take a moment to remember where I have been, and how this love for gaming started. Below, I’ve listed ten games that walked with me through my childhood and harbored my passion for video games. I hope some of the games on the list relate to your own story, but I also hope there are some surprises for you. Games you’ve never heard of and certainly will never play, but games that are still important because they mean so much to me.
1) Putt-Putt Goes To The Moon (1993)
I played the fire out of some Putt-Putt games. I put this one of the list because it is the one I remember the most out of all of the games, but there were a ton of them that I enjoyed. Putt-Putt Joins the Parade, Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo, Putt-Putt Travels Through Time, Putt-Putt Joins the Circus just to name a few. They were my first taste of puzzle solving games, and I just couldn’t get enough of them.
2) Pajama Sam: No Need To Hide When It’s Dark Outside (1996)
Just like Putt-Putt, the Pajama Sam series was developed by Humongous Entertainment. I was allowed to play as many of these games as I wanted because my parents were certain there was nothing “too adult” in them for me.
3) Frogger (1997)
Over at my aunt and uncle’s house, they had a copy of Frogger in their game room. My sister, my cousins, and I would take turns playing over and over again. I remember never being more excited to go visit a family member. All I wanted to do was dodge cars and leap from log to log. It was the beginning of my affair with games.
4) The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
While my parents didn’t want me to play this game with all the dinosaur violence, that didn’t stop me from intently watching my sister (who is six years older) play for many hours. The further you got into the game, the cooler the dinosaurs you unlocked were. All we wanted to do was see the T-Rex eat people in the last level of the game.
5) Banjo and Kazooie (1998)
It took my parents a little while before they warmed up to the idea of video games, but one my father got his mind around it, he purchased a Nintendo 64 in 1999. He bought Banjo and Kazooie for my sister and me to play. It changed my life. The movement, the music, the characters, the whole thing was a game changer (no pun intended).
6) Freddi Fish 4: The Case of the Hogfish Rustlers of Briny Gulch (1999)
Like Putt-Putt and Pajama Sam, the same company made Freddi Fish. I particularly loved this one because they wore cowboy hats, and (being from Texas) that reminded me a lot of me. I also grew to be a huge fan of mysteries in adulthood, and maybe this one of the stories that planted that seed in me.
7) Crash Team Racing (1999)
I am almost certain this is the game I spent the most time playing as a kid. I knew every racetrack forwards and back and was confident in my abilities to land first place every single game. When the remaster came out, it was one of the happiest and most nostalgic games of 2019 for me.
8) The Sims (2000)
The first time I played the Sims was over at a friend’s house. We were having a sleepover, and I remember her asking me if I wanted to play the Sims. I had no idea what it was, but, of course, I wanted to play it with her. I fell in love. We created a family and had great adventures, and the second I got in the car with my dad when he picked me up, I told him I had to have it. I needed it.
9) Nancy Drew: Danger on Deception Island (2003)
This is a particular soft spot for me because this was the first “hard” game I played. Now, I’m saying hard because it released on PC in 2003, and it was a clunky game with a mix of point and click and reading long passages to find clues. You are trying to solve a real mystery, but the game mechanics felt like the real mystery most of the time. I also ended up learning morse code for this game because one of the clues was in morse. It turned out there was a built in key to translate it in my inventory, I just never realized how to get to it until my older (and much wiser) sister showed me.
10) Pokémon Fire Red / Leaf Green (2004)
My parents had been very skeptical of buying me any hand held gaming devices, but after I begged and begged and begged they finally gave in and let me get a GameBoy Advance SP. Life was changed for me all over again. Although the differences between the two games were far and few, I played both of them many times through (and enjoyed every second of it).
So, there you have it. A small sampling of the games that started it all for me. For me, one of the coolest thing about being a gamer is hearing what really sparked other people’s interest in games, and the stuff that made them never want to stop playing.