Recently, I got to thinking about the video games that were important to me during my childhood. Those that shaped my daydreams, my imagination, and even my writing style. I was fascinated by many games for various systems, from the Nintendo 64 to the Xbox 360. In this post, I will share the games that shaped my childhood and impacted me so much they are recalled with fondness now. This is part one, so expect more posts like this one.
The First Game I Remember Playing
System: Game Boy Color
Release date: June 14, 1989
I suck at Tetris. In Tetris, blocks of various shapes fall from the top of the screen. The goal is to fill a horizontal line with blocks, after which the line is eliminated, but it is hard because of the different shapes. You lose if the blocks stack up to the top of the screen.
Simple, but more difficult than it sounds. It’s kind of like a puzzle game. And the pieces speed up the longer the game goes on. If you were good enough at it, I bet it could go on for hours. Not very exciting you would think, and yet addicting.
The Aquarium Game
Name: Fantasy Aquarium
System: Nintendo DS
Release date: November 13, 2007
Fantasy Aquarium is one of those games that stuck with me partially because of how much anxiety and mourning it produced in me at such a young age.
I should explain.
In Fantasy Aquarium, you can raise tanks of various kind of ocean animals somewhat in real time. You heard me, time actually elapses, the fish get hungry, and if you skip a few days or forget to feed them they die. Or they get too old, which happens really fast in the game, and they die. Or if the tank is too dirty for too long, they die.
I would come back to the game after a few days off and it would be a scene of mass extinction.
The most painful experience I had with this game was with my beloved sea horse I named Baby. I loved Baby. I fed Baby whenever she was hungry, I kept her tank clean. One day my little kid self thought, I want Baby to have a friend. She looks lonely.
Now, I should have just gave Baby a harmless seahorse friend.
I did not.
I gave her what I thought was a cute dolphin friend. It never occurred to me that dolphins, being carnivorous, could possibly eat seahorses. But a message flashed across the screen after a few moments, informing me of the beloved sea horse’s ghastly fate.
Eaten. My poor Baby…
My Second Puzzle Game
Name: Dr. Mario 64
System: Nintendo 64
Release date: April 8, 2001
I remember this game from when I was very little. I didn’t play it myself per se, or if I did it was very limited play. It’s actually very similar to Tetris, the difference being the mean-looking germs that you must vanquish with your color-matching skills. I recall that it made me think of germs differently in my imagination, as if they were entities capable of evil intentions. I probably knew they weren’t like that, but it was fun to think of them that way.
A Racing Game
Name: Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
Release date: November 7, 2003
Looking up Double Dash!! online now, I see that many people didn’t think it was the best Mario Kart game. In fact, a few critics say it was the worst. But to me, the idea of having two racers controlled by the same player working together to win was revolutionary. This was before the advent of bikes in Mario Kart, which I always play now. But kid me did not mind the limited selection of carts and characters. I thought it was just the greatest thing.
A Poorly Made RPG
Name: Infinite Undiscovery
System: Xbox 360
Release date: September 2, 2008
Infinite Undiscovery was one of those games that roused my imagination. That was chiefly because characters making up the Order of Chains literally chained the moon to the planet. As a kid, that was an intriguing and crazy idea. It took growing up to realize how completely ridiculous that was, to the point of being amusing. I liked the characters. Their names stuck with me despite the melodrama: Capell, Rico, Rucha, Aya, Edward. I didn’t play it myself–my dad did, and I watched.
The Panda Game
Name: National Geographic Panda
System: Nintendo DS
Release date: November 11, 2008
Animal-themed games were popular with me and my siblings, even though as we grew older we abandoned them for more serious gaming. National Geographic Panda was one that really struck me as adorable and fun. I fell in love with the cuddly, frolicking pandas that I could feed and to some extent play with. The stylus was a big part of that game. It kind of was with Fantasy Aquarium, but not as much. That interested me as well. The pandas really responded to what I did with the stylus, cooing and lounging.
A Game With Storytelling that Fascinated Me
Name: Lost Odyssey
System: Xbox 360
Release date: December 6, 2007
This game introduced me to the idea of immortality in a big way. It was another of the ones that my dad played that I watched. Kaim, the main character, is an immortal who has lived 1,000 years, and the video game follows his life. I was enthralled. It made me want to write a book about immortals, which I am almost doing now (not exactly immortals, just super long life span). I have been writing that story for about ten years now, and I remember this video game as one of my inspirations.
A Toys-to-Life Game
Name: Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure
Release date: October 12, 2011
The Skylanders series, and this game in particular, were revolutionary. Toys called Skylanders could be placed on the portal of power–a portal shaped device–to be used in gameplay. It started out with a few Skylanders, but then more were released until there were dozens of playable characters. These characters could be leveled up and you could choose from various paths they could take to develop unique powers. I loved the storytelling in this game, as well as the characters, from the hilarious villain Kaos to the equally hilarious balloonist Flynn. My siblings and I collected a few dozen of these Skylanders and had many hours of fun with them. My favorite was Stealth Elf.
I intend to make this a series of posts on the video games that shaped my childhood. These ones are more miscellaneous. The future ones will focus on series of video games. I hope you enjoy them! Comment below with a video game that was important to you growing up!
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