Which Video Games Shaped your Childhood

Let’s face it, most of us here are children of the information age. Unlike our parents we grew up using computers, game consoles are similar devices. Our grandparents’ childhoods were mostly shaped by books they read. Our parents were products of both literature, cinema and TV industry. We on the other hand grew up immersed in all of the above plus video games. Some of you who are few years younger than me also grew up with the Internet – I did not have it when I was a kid though.

As much as we may deny this, the video games that we have played in our formative years have affected us in some ways. No, they didn’t make us into violent killers – that’s silly. But just like literature, TV and cinema they have made their mark. They allowed us to experience something new and unique and imprinted themselves upon our memory. I can honestly say that I no longer remember 90% of the games that I have played as a kid but there are few that still stand fresh in my mind. I remember them quite fondly, and reminisce about playing them every once in a while. This is what I want to talk about today.

What video games have really made an impact on you when you were a kid? Which games have you played over and over again? What game completely blew you away?

I remember several such games. One of them must probably be Another World by Delphine Software. At the time it had a revolutionary game play mechanics and game engine (it was one of the first video games in history that used real-time rendered polygons instead of sprites). What really blew me away was the unique story of a red haired scientist who accidentally finds himself in a strange parallel dimension. A story which was conveyed to the player with picture and sound alone (no actual words are spoken in the game). I have spent countless hours trying to beat that game, which in retrospect is quite impressive seeing how short it really was. You can actually see it in its entirety below.

Amiga Longplay [098] Another World by cubex55

I also loved Another World’s spiritual successor Flashback which featured similar game play but a different (equally compelling) SF universe and interesting story. Here is a sample of gameplay (I’m not going to post a speed run here because the game is much longer than Another World).

Flashback: The Quest for Identity, Level 1 (1/2) by djoldgames

Both these games were cinematic, action packed and incredibly difficult. So I used every cheat-code I could find to actually beat them. Both also had better stories than many modern games, and that is saying something considering neither one had voice acting, dialog trees and etc…

My first introduction to the RPG genre was Ishar – The Legend of the Fortress and I completely lost my shit for it. It was an massive, open ended world populated by orcs, monsters, villages where you could recruit party members, dungeons full of loot and NPC’s that would sometimes join you. Seriously, it was pretty much a sandbox game before sandbox was even a gaming concept. It had beautiful watercolor backgrounds, interesting character designs and a cool fantasy world seeped in mystery. Here is a short game play video:

Ishar – The Legend of the Fortress by madzionyu

The funniest part was that my copy was all in French. It was a pirate copy of a pirate copy that got to me via friend of a friend’s brother or something like that. But I didn’t care – I played it for hours on end anyway. I don’t believe I actually learned any French because of it – it was more of a trial and error type thing. I’d press buttons and dialog options at random to figure out what they do. Sadly, the language barrier made parts of the game inaccessible to me. For example, most hints given by NPC’s were incomprehensible. The game also had a complex alchemy system (you could make potions out of ingredients) but most of the in game instructions on how to do it were in French so I missed out. Since I could not really figure out what was the main quest I have never beat it – but I spent days just wandering around, getting lost, finding interesting recruitable NPC’s and dying in spectacular ways. It was a blast.

Another game that I will probably remember till I die was Syndicate by Bullfrog. Being quite an interesting mix between a RPG and RTS game, it had you controlling up to 4 cyber-enhanced agents on various missions that ranged from assassination and sabotage or recruiting new members for your organization. What really made me fall in love with it was the fact that the game featured realistic “living” cities. In some of the missions you would have to make your way through busy streets full of pedestrians. You could get hit by a passing car or hijack it and drive it to your destination. It had working train/tram lines that you could use and buildings you could enter (though there was usually nothing interesting inside). It was mind blowing at the time.

Here is a short vid:

Amiga 500: Syndicate by qettyz

Heimdall 2 was another one of my favorites. It mixed action, adventure and RPG elements with a really good story. The game introduced me to the Norse mythology which turned out to be a long term fascination of mine. I also remember that it had interesting magic system based on rune stones. Each rune had some magical properties but be useless on its own. You had to put several of them together in order to make spells. So for example a fire bolt spell would require a fire rune and another rune that would be related to magical projectiles. There were dozens of combinations and discovering them was part of the fun. One summer I made myself a whole set of these runic stones out of those flat washed out pebbles you can find on the beach.

Amiga – Heimdall 2: Into the Hall of Worlds by mingo870

A lot of people start their point-and-click adventure gaming carer with one of the Lucas Arts SCUMM games like The Secret of the Monkey Island. I started with Simon the Sorcerer which was not only incredibly funny but also massive. Unlike most adventure games that kept you confined to a small area until you figured out a puzzle, most of the world in Simon was open to you from the get go. The game was just as much about exploration as it was about puzzles. If you got stuck somewhere you just went roaming around. Eventually you would find new items and you would go “oh, I wonder if I can use it in the XYZ location”.

Simon the Sorcerer part 1/14 by russell19831983

I have played the original game without voice acting – hearing Simon’s voice actually ruins my nostalgia here because this is definitely not how he sounded in my head. Fun fact: I replayed this game as an adult and realized that it was way funnier than I remembered it. I assume that about a half (if not more) of the jokes flew over my head due to my limited grasp of English and inability to pick up on many of the innuendos, pop culture references and wink-wink-nude-nudge moments.

Oh, and before I forget, Moonstone – a game that me and my brother used to play a lot due to it’s competitive nature and incredible amount of gore it featured.

Amiga Misc [006] Moonstone – Best Parts by cubex55

My brother actually made the set of dice featured in the game – as in chiseled the dice out of wood and painted on the symbols. We used to always take that set on long trips in addition to playing cards.

How about you? Which games affected you the most when you were a kid? Which games you still remember with astonishing clarity? Post them in the comments. If you can find cool youtube vids like the ones above, that would be even better!

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18 Responses to Which Video Games Shaped your Childhood

  1. Stefanie BELGIUM Mozilla Ubuntu Linux says:

    age of empires 1

    fifa 1998

    [sorry for multiple posting, the spam filter was complaining about the urls]

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  2. jambarama UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    My friend and I never did beat flashback as kids on Genesis. I didn’t even beat it later when I got it in an emulator.

    Growing up we had very few games. For nintendo we had excitebike, Mario Brothers, SMB3, Zelda 1 & 2, and Archon – all of which were awesome.

    [continued in next comment to avoid spam filter]

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  3. jambarama UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    For SNES we had SMB, MarioKart, Zelda, Knights of the Round Table, and Zombies ate my Neighbors (which is great BTW). That was the last console I had until we got a Wii.

    The games were few enough that I became very very good at them, and I can still pick up any of those games and go straight through them. I put up video links to the games you may not have seen before, I’m certain everyone has seen Zelda & Mario.

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  4. Kevin Benko UNITED STATES Konqueror Linux says:

    Alas, I am too old.
    Home computers were not affordable, and the Commodore 64 was released after I graduated High School.

    The only games that affected my adolescence were console games like Asteroids, Missile Command, and Defender (I always hated Space Invaders and Pac-Man)

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  5. Zel FRANCE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    The first I remember playing : Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros, both on the NES

    I remember playing a lot of Sim City 2000 with my father. Good times. I still enjoy some city building now and then.

    The game I remember almost perfectly and which changed my views on games is Fallout, which I played while barely knowing any english and still enjoyed. Before playing it I was mostly interested in arcade games, but then switched to RPGs.

    Final Fantasy 7 got me into Japanese RPGs and into computer hardware because our computer just couldn’t handle it : it would crash at the end of CD1, very frustrating. The mall techs where the computer was bought were not very helpful, and it took some time and efforts (and lots of money…) to finally find what the problems was.

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  6. Steve Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    I’m almost 48…so Pong. As a teenager and early 20’s – Galaxian.

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  7. Jenn UNITED STATES Google Chrome Mac OS Terminalist says:

    Minesweeper 4 life.

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  8. copperfish Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    I have to do this by platform (it sort of aligns with time). This is an extra sentence because the spam filter seems to dislike lots of links. I had to lose all the YouTube game links to get this post through:

    Atari 2600
    Difficult, twitchy and addictive.

    BBC Micro
    Need I say more?

    Apple IIe

    Trading and fighting in an addictive package. I spent ages playing Space Pilot on my palm which is effectively the same game.

    ZX Spectrum
    Chuckie Egg
    The quintessential platformer.
    Heavy on the Magik
    Something different, but amazing!

    XT PC
    King’s Quest

    I dislike this game now, but I spent an inordinate amount of time playing this.
    System Shock
    I can still play this. An absolute classic.

    There are more games and there is lots more on 386 era and higher machines. But by that time I wasn’t a kid anymore ;) I totally agree on Syndicate.

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  9. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Oh my… It seems that most of you guys are a bit older than me. :) Either that or you are purposefully picking the old school titles.

    So let me repair my street cred by bringing up few of the old C64 games I used to play all the time at my friends house:

    Creatures – we spent countless hours on this game. Compared to most of C64 titles it actually had awesome graphics and incredible attention to detail.

    River Raid was simple and yet addictive.

    And finally, Pyramid. It’s notable because it was so incredibly frustrating that my friend at one point stood up and angrily threw the joystick at the floor at which point it shattered into a million pieces. We stared at each other for like a minute and then I was like “Dude, how the hell are we going to play now”.

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  10. copperfish Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    I just realised that even though I put down a list like that, the most memorable games of my teens weren’t played on a home computer, but in video game arcades :)

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  11. Alphast NETHERLANDS Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    For me it was Commando on Commodore 64, then Silent Service and Gunship on Atari 520 STF. I had a soft side for simulators of all kinds then. Not much interest for RPG video games which I found better playing table top…

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  12. Steve CANADA Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @Luke: Sure – rub in the whole age thing :)

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  13. Zeke UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Magic Carpet: Best game ever…
    i played that game untill my head felt like it would explode or the computer was in danger of a spontanious kick of frustration( i was little… i think 7) i beat it after eons of playing, and i never beat it on the disk… cuase it wouldn’t work on windows XP sadly… i still have it. I finally got DosBox and i actually have it up right now as im typing this, work is soo boring. gotta love it. i just got the second one and i hate the night.

    Despite low draw distance, that made it look like you were fighting with a bag on your head, it has better gameplay than most games these days. wish they made one these days with modern graphics. i would pay whatever to play it.

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  14. Lemmings 1
    The Legend of Kyrandia 3
    Dungeon Keeper
    Earthsiege 2

    and (allthough a bit late for real childhood):

    Fallout 1&2

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  15. d UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    DUDE!!! I have been trying to remember the name of Another World forever!! I LOVED that game. I played it on the PC (286), though … never had an Amiga or a C64.

    Another 286 game I couldn’t get enough of was Thexder.

    Kaboom and Warlords were my absolute favorite Atari 2600 games.

    Gorilla and Tank Wars were both on my highly played DOS (486) list.

    Then came Lemmings … I wasted countless hours playing Tank Wars and Lemmings.

    My best friend would come over to the house and I remember on numerous occasions looking up from the computer and seeing daylight and thinking “… but it was 10pm just a second ago.”

    Now it’s the Xbox and the games just aren’t as memorable. Don’t get me wrong, I still play until the sun comes back around but I don’t enjoy it near as much as I used to.

    Thanks again, man, for bringing up those wonderful memories!!

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