In the Beginning
From the days of our grandparents playing Nim in the 1940s to our cooler, older siblings playing arcade games in the 1980s, video games have been part of our culture for decades, and for those of us who were lucky enough to be born in the late 80s/ early 90s (BT, or Before Twitter, I think we call it), there were some awesome games at our disposal.
As is the style today, let us take a trip down memory lane together, and reminisce some of the classic video games that many millennials will remember. Let us think back to a time where virtual reality was a thing of the future, video games looked like video games, Mega-Drive cartridges were rented from the local video shop, and we felt that it in some way benefitted the gameplay if we tilted our bodies and controllers when playing Road Rash.
Super Mario Bros – NES, 1985
A sequel to 1983’s Mario Bros, this amazing franchise is still creating games to this day, and it is safe to say that they have come a long way since Donkey Kong hit our arcades in 1981, after releasing a string of follow-ups and spin-offs throughout the 90s. The original storyline was that the people of Mushroom Kingdom had been attacked by the Koopa Army (think turtles with bird-like heads), and Princess Toadstool captured, all by order of King Bowser – a larger, spikier, more muscular turtle. Mario, a local plumber, sees it as his business to rescue the princess and free the Mushroom people (who had been turned into stone), and after completing eight worlds in total, he comes face to face with Bowser to complete his mission once and for all. With iconic music, a gripping storyline and a loveable protagonist, it is no surprise that this game was so popular!
Sonic the Hedgehog – SEGA, 1991
Along with the gang of hedgehogs that taught us how to cross the road safely to the tune of Roger Miller’s King of the Road, Sonic is every 90s kids favourite ‘hog. The original Sonic the Hedgehog game, from 1991, was based on the blue garden critter’s attempts to stop the evil, and rather rotund, Dr Robotnik from taking over the world and acquiring all the Chaos Emeralds. As this game developed throughout the 90s, with sequels including Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and 3, and Sonic and Knuckles, the legacy continued and is still enjoyed across many consoles today. This game was iconic for its amazing sounds (remember the satisfying chime-esque sound when he collected the rings), boss level face-offs with Robotnik, amazing bonus levels and the ever-emotional feeling when the animals were freed after each level.
Tarzan – Sony Computer Entertainment, 1999
Released for the Sony PlayStation in the late 90s, Tarzan is one of the classic video games based on a film, and, in my opinion, one of the best. This game has a simple premise, you, or Tarzan if you’d prefer, has to save the jungle from Clayton, a gorilla hunter. What made this game so great to play is not only the fact that you grow and learn with Tarzan as he starts as a boy and finishes as a man, but the visuals were ahead of their time, and the 3D gameplay and jungle settings made it feel all the more immersive. Although Tarzan dates back to 1912 as a magazine publication, he has been appearing in games since the 1980s (Tarzan Goes Ape on the Commodore 64), through to the early 2000s in Disney’s Tarzan: Return to the Jungle on GameCube and PlayStation 2, and more recently he appeared in CasinoEuro’s Tarzan game, albeit in less-pixelated form.
Crash Bandicoot – Sony Computer entertainment, 1996
Who else didn’t know that a bandicoot was a real animal until this game? Just me? Anyway, this game’s 3D world, encapsulating music and loveable sound effects, meant that it found its way into our hearts, and like the aforementioned games in this list, it is still going strong today. This game was truly addictive, from the oh-so-satisfactory feeling of spinning into boxes to smash them (just look out for the TNT ones!) to the masks of Aku Aku, with questionable levels of political correctness, who provides invincibility. In this game, the aim was to defeat the antagonist, Dr Neo Cortex, who has created an army of mutated animals, and his strange army that includes a Kangaroo with sharp nails and a Hench Koala.
There are many great games that should be mentioned, and if I could, I would go on for pages and pages. Who could forget the other great Disney adaptations of Aladdin, Quack Shot and Lion King? Or the tranquil, yet startling epic, Echo the Dolphin? Or even the fantastic and slightly trippy Alex Kidd? Or the table top classic that is Micro Machines? One thing is for sure though, and that is no matter the preferred style of game, or the era you are born in, the late 90s and early 00s were pioneering eras for video games, producing some iconic characters and unforgettable childhood moments.