Flapperdoodle's Gaming Blog Ep. 131: My Top 10 Childhood Games
Nope. No need. Below please.
Growing up: it's always seen as just a part of life. It's gonna happen, it sucks, but suck it up and get over it. Even if we do stay young at heart, we are eventually going to have to grow older; and hopefully wiser. But there's always a point in someone's life where they say to themselves, "gee, I wish I was a kid again…" and for good reason. When your a child, you don't have many responsibilities to handle, and you are just experiencing all of these new things. You can do whatever you want, and nobody will take you seriously at that age yet. It's a great time in life to discover new things, make long-lasting friends, and some god damn fun.
With every childhood, there comes video games to go with it. Sure, you may not play video games now, and you may not have played video games that much as a child. But everybody I know, even parents and adults, played a video game once or twice in their life, from Pac-Man on the arcades to Wii Sports on the Wii. Nearly everybody born from at least the 70s and on has had some sort of experience with it. From Atari 2600, to SNES, to Wii. Everybody has a story. Today, I plan to illustrate my childhood to you in the form of this Top 20. This, is...
OK, before we start this list… we need to establish quite a few rules first…
1. I was born on June 13th, 1997. Any game made long before that is not going to be on this list most likely. I have played many games from the 80s, even some from the 70s. The thing is, I didn't become confident enough to call myself a gamer until I was 13 or so. That's when I truly considered gaming to be a true passion of mine. So, don't expect games like Super Mario World, Galaga, or even games like Sonic The Hedgehog to be a part of this list.
2. A game was put on this list based on a few criteria;
- How much I played it as a child
- How memorable it is to this day
- How much it holds up to this day
- How much it effected me as a gamer
These are the main things. I think the list is accurate when adding all of that together.
3. And this is the most important rule here. I don't care if you disagree with this, I don't care if you are young at heart, I don't care. This rule is my philosophy, and I am following it. I consider my childhood from the minute I was born to the last day I became 12. When I became 13, I became a man in the Jewish religion, and a teenager in the popular norm. I consider myself a teenager, now being 15, and I am sticking by it. I am no longer a child. With that said, the game had to be a game I strongly remember playing between the dates of June 13th, 1997 and June 12th, 2010. This is the main rule. I don't care that I love playing Mario Party 2 to this, I discovered that game in 2011. I don't care if I consider Super Mario 64 my favorite game of all time, I played it a total of two times until 2010. Yeah, I said it. Let's follow this rule, ok? Great.
So, those are the rules. Are we clear?
Wonderful. It's time for my normal dose of Honorable Mentions!
Honorable Mention #1: Over The Hedge
Wow… a movie licensed game even supposedly on the list? Most of you are probably thinking the word "ouch" right now. But I am thinking the words "Hell Yes". Many people don't realize this enough, but there quite a few movie or show licensed games that actually are good. We'll see one or two others on the actual list in fact, but let's discuss one that actually took up a good year or two of time in my life. This was around the time I was still dominated mostly by my computer when it came to games, and this was also when I loved DreamWorks Animation (which I still do… sadly not as much as I used to). I did enjoy Over The Hedge as a movie, but this was when I finally realized that good movies actually had games attached to them. It was awesome for me to be able to play through a movie I liked, even if the levels weren't 100% identical to the movie. Later in life I would learn the grim reality of this hated genre of gaming, but for the time I played Over The Hedge… it was a ton of fun. And I'm willing to admit, it may still hold up today.
The game allowed you to play as either RJ, Verne, Hammy, or Stella, and the game… now that I am remembering it, actually starts where the movie finished up. Now that the gang's food from the suburbs is all gone, they need to get some real food. The game essentially takes the mechanics from the movie, expands upon them, and creates it's own levels and such. You can use weapons in the game like golf clubs, branches, and various guns. And, like the movie, things like pringles-esque cans and Doritos-esque chips are used as items and collectibles. The game is a 3D platformer, which is my favorite, and the environments and levels are actually pretty well designed. There's plenty of different settings, and there are even different types of levels. There are boss battles, levels where you have to defeat waves of enemies like a beat-em-up, and there are also regular platforming levels. It really surprised me how fun it was!
Despite Dreamworks' track record with games, Over The Hedge for the PC is able to be a diamond in the rough. Forget the games about Shrek man, this is where it's at.
Honorable Mention #2: Yoshi's Island DS
Aw man… so many fond memories of this game. Many of you don't realize this, but this game actually holds some memories for me. This was the first game I got a strategy guide for actually. Yoshi's Island DS is essentially a sequel to Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. You are Yoshi and after finding Baby Mario and Baby Peach, they go on a quest to save the Mushroom Kingdom babies from Kamek and Bowser. The journey takes them through exotic lands, lets them meet amazing creatures, and allows them to have some help from some very impressive babies. The game has Baby Mario as usual, but also Baby Peach, Baby DK, Baby Wario, and Baby Bowser. That's not so huge now since these characters have been used many times, but back then, I was in total awe. I mean, I was controlling Bowser… AS A FRICKEN BABY! Hell, I didn't even know Yoshi was around when DK was a baby. Seriously, holy cow man, this is awesome. The game takes the graphical style of the original game, and expands upon it and uses it to the DS' fullest potential. There's plenty of awesome designs in the game too. The game is so colorful, so pretty, and sometimes, adorable. I'm not gonna lie, the game has cute moments.
I remember the game also being VERY hard at times. I remember an Ice World with annoying penguins in it. Dude, I was stuck on those levels for days and days on end. There are always those levels in games you just CAN'T beat. But seriously, that ice be slippery. But difficulty does not get in the way of how much I do adore this game. The different powers that the babies have add a lot of depth to the gameplay. Where the original SMW2 had the Yoshi gameplay, which was good for the time, but adding the new mechanics like the magnetization, the fire, and the parasol gravity physics add a new level to the game. Plus, having to use each baby at different times forces you to learn to adapt to change, which makes the game even more deep. This game definitely took over my life for a good few months. I was able to beat the game's full story mode, not 100%, but I beat the game. I still replay whenever it whenever I can, because it sends waves of nostalgia in my face. But even to this day, the game is still fun to play.
Whether it's the deep mechanics, the cutesy art style, or the fun gameplay, Yoshi's Island DS definitely stacks up there with the DS library. Many overlook it, but I never do. I think I own that strategy guide still… hm...
Honorable Mention #3: Mario Party DS
Speaking of DS games that were a huge part of my childhood… this! Mario Party is a VERY subjective series, probably one of the most debated series of Mario games ever. Sure, the retro 2D Mario games is a hot topic, and Mario Kart also has a ton of different opinions, but Mario Party is up there. A ton of people like 2, a ton hate 9, and I'm sure 99.9% of people in those two groups do not even know a Mario Party DS existed. It was a pretty obscure release honestly. The only reason I found out about it was an ad on some website. I think the game is definitely underrated, and if I had a penny for every time somebody judged the game because it came out on the DS, I'd be a rich man. The game is basically like any other Mario Party. It's got some interesting boards, a ton of minigames, and extra modes just oozing from the game. This time, however, Mario and his gang get shrunken by Bowser and are dropped somewhere in the Mushroom Kingdom. Being tiny, it is hard for them to get around with the world so big. They wanna get back to regular size, so they must find their way back to Bowser and defeat him for the umpteenth time.
Honestly, Mario Party DS does have some flaws. Many of the minigames have controls I would personally change, the character roster is too small, the extra modes get repetitive, and I felt the graphics needed a bit more refining. But honesty guys, there is nothing more fun than playing DS games with your friends. Especially when you play in separate rooms, that stuff is fun as hell. I love playing Mario Party with friends, and to do it with friends handheld style is so much fun. Just, go into separate rooms, start a game, and have some damn fun. This is honestly why this game came so close… because it was so much fun for me. Seriously. And as much as the extra modes do get stale and repetitive, all that essentially goes away with friends. I know it probably isn't a good thing to praise a game simply on a multiplayer standpoint (I'm looking at you Call of Duty…) but at the same time… it's so hard not to in this case. It sucks playing Mario Party by yourself, which is why the main story mode was lame, even with the kinda ok boss battles.
Ya want a great multiplayer game? Mario Party DS has you covered.
OK, the boring part is over. Let's get into the real goodies. THIS is the Top 10! And, inspired by Elmo 3000, I'm gonna leeway into each number before I tell you what it is… *chuckles maniacally*
Ya know what's a perfect way to start off this list? To name a game you honestly think doesn't hold up to this very day…
The Sims 2
Guys… I am sick of this series at this point. Honestly, I cannot believe my cousins sat me down to play ANYTHING from the game series known as "The Sims". I was never a fan of real-life simulation games to begin with honestly, so it is a shock to me that I had so much fun with this series.
Maybe it was the fact that my sister and my cousins joining it made me less lonely. Maybe it was because our combination of ideas made the game ridiculous. Maybe it was because we definitely didn't play by the game's rules too much. Either way, I remember playing this game a lot. A LOT. Every chance me and my sister had time, we'd see how our family was doing in our little universe. We'd mess around with them, make em do stupid stuff. Like we'd have one try to kiss another and get slapped. We would then have one walk into the fire that was caused by an intentional kitchen accident. And of course… we'd make them go to the bathroom way too often. It's obvious the game was full of laughs, and the character generator as well didn't make it much easier to contain the hilarity. There were tons of times we'd make our characters look physically deranged. But we loved it. We loved building houses, going out to restaurants, and all that kinda stuff. I will admit I could understand it being fun for a youngster. We never cared about graphics or substance… or execution… or hell, even atmosphere. It was all about the fun.
Sadly, now-a-days I can never get back into it. The graphics are too blocky and so freakish usually, and the weird language the people speak, quite frankly, gives me nightmares. The game sooner or later gets incredibly boring and the game loses its novelty very quickly. It is incredibly silly, and it never truly feels worth playing. The game doesn't suck necessarily. The game is very expansive, and the graphics did improve a little bit. Plus, the game has many options, has a great character generator, and is a ton of fun. With laughs up the wazoo, I can see the love of it. I know a lot of people love this franchise. To those who are wondering, yes, I have played other installments, like the third expansion, the MySims games, and House Party. But honestly, I never played much of them during my childhood. It was mostly just Sims 2. Yup… I mean it's not like I'm truly and completely not proud of having played it. A lot of my friends and a lot of gamers I have met had The Sims as a part of their childhood. I just am saying it is very unlikely I'll get into the series ever again.
It definitely affected my sense of comedy and experience… but The Sims 2 is no longer my type of game anymore… aw well.
Finally. Here's a game I can get into 100% even to this day. In fact, I did recently… look at that…
Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time
The DS was the first handheld gaming device I ever truly owned with my own money. I had played plenty of GameBoy Advance games, and also some miscellaneous handheld games from other companies I can't remember. So, when I got my first DS, the DS Lite, I was super excited for it. It was gonna be like playing video games… but in the palm of my hands… and really really bright! So, when I got the console, I opened it, and realized there were no games in it… yup. So after one of the saddest and most anxiety-filled days ever, I went to GameStop and asked for what they'd recommend for the DS. The guy handed me this game. I had already been a Mario fan, but I never heard of this game. So, I tried it out. The main premise drew me in right away. Time holes start appearing left and right throughout the Mushroom Kingdom after E. Gadd uses his time machine, and sadly, Luigi and Mario end up in one, which brings them to the past, where they meet their past selfs, Baby Mario and Baby Luigi. In the past, an evil force known as the Shroobs have been raiding the Mushroom Kingdom, and now The Princess Shroob has captured Peach and has taken her to the Mushroom Kingdom in the past, which has completely gone under Shroob control. It's up to the four brothers of stache to stop them.
This is easily one of my favorite DS games, no question about it. The game has so many good things about it. For one, the game looks beautiful and has a ton of awesome environments. As you go through the game, you go to plenty of different places, and each one is cleverly thought out with different enemies, landscapes, challenges, moves to learn, and more. It truly feels like an adventure. Another reason is the game's battle system. I have always loved the Mario RPG series for its unique take on turn based battling. I'm not talking substance, more so style. Mario's moveset and items you can use for battling are classic Mario. But at the same time, there are some awesome moves you can do. My favorite was the Mix Flower, in which all four brothers would team up together to create one massive fireball. It was beyond awesome. I would always use up that move to cause I loved doing it so much. But the main reason this game sticks with me is because it introduced me to the true RPG. I had never gotten what people saw in the genre at first, but after playing one, I truly understood what was so awesome about it. Sadly, most fantasy RPGs to me are still alright. RPGs like Final Fantasy and Diablo never really got me. I preferred games like this… different ones. Stuff like this, Xenoblade Chronicles, and occasionally Pokemon. Occasionally.
While I think Bowser's Inside Story is a bit better, Partners in Time definitely deserves a spot in anyone's DS library. Why wouldn't it of course?
When I was little, before video games took a big role in my life, I watched a lot of TV. Looking back, I watched way too much TV, but I digress. One of the TV stations I watched nearly consistently was Nickelodeon. Turns out they made quite a few games based off of their shows. This was one of them.
The Fairly Odd Parents: Breakin' Da Rules
I really did like this show. I thought it was funny, and I still think some of the jokes are still funny to this day. Mostly the ones with Cosmo, but there is some other stuff that holds up. Anyway, so I was at my friend's house one afternoon to hang out and play some games. I was going through his collection to see what he had, and this little number caught my eye immediately. My friend never remembered buying it, but we decided there was no harm in trying it. What we got was hours and hours of fun off of a game we doubted. How silly of us… what a shame. I honestly wish we learnt of the game sooner. The game is about Timmy and his godparents, as he one day wishes he didn't have to follow "Da Rules", the fairy god parent rule book. Cosmo then destroys the book, and Vicky gets possession of the 10 pages. Jorgen, furious, demands that Timmy, Wanda, and Cosmo find the pages of Da Rules in 49… and a half hours. Timmy has to navigate the usual strange surroundings and crazy levels to get the pages back. It's not the best plot, but for a kid who wanted a fun game with Timmy Turner, it did its job.
I played the PS2 version of the game, mainly because that was my friend's main console at the time. The game definitely had some interesting locals, many I recognized immediately from the show. One of my favorite levels is the one in the comics, where you help the Crimson Chin and play as Cleft, The Boy Chin Wonder. That was my favorite for sure. I loved fighting the various villains… although I wish I could've fought Nega-Chin. He's not in the level, but it's all cool. Then there are levels where you play as a dog, a girl, Crash Nebula, and even that suit that he used in the episode where he went into the video game. I can tell the people who made the game really put effort tint choosing which episodes to base levels off of. They chose the ones where he gets in the wackiest of situations. Plus, the game keeps up the humor the show has. Plenty of Cosmo being stupid, Wanda's voicing of reason being rejected, and Timmy… well, let's be honest, being stupid. The game resembles the cartoon a lot, and that really is the key. The method to making good games like this is having it resemble the show. You'll see how this comes into play later on the list… just you wait. But as I was discussing earlier, the game has fun platforming, pretty alright cell shading graphics, and actually very good voice acting.
I hear of other Fairly Odd Parents games released over the years, but nothing I've seen comes close to the nostalgia wave "Breakin' Da Rules" wipes over me. It's a good time, and the best part, there are no rules needed to break.
Before it got so many sequels and became tied in with too many franchises it needed, this franchise was actually pure. Too bad "purity" means sh*t now-a-days.
Didn't expect this one did ya? Yeah, I was surprised looking back on it. Diner Dash was a game that looked like a simple restaurant simulator at first, but soon it became so much more. Whenever my cousins and I would hang out, we'd just look at each other, and know what was coming next. We'd pop the disc in, get through some levels, and have a ton of fun. It's weird though, I don't even remember buying this game, nor hearing of it until I played it a wee bit. I guess it was my cousins who had it. I assume I just kinda leaned into playing it. But trust me, this game lasted us a while. We loved playing this game, and even to this day, I still think its ok. I don't think it's a gem or anything, but I do think it's a well-designed game that can be a little too addicting. The game has you playing as Flo, a woman who is sick of her corporate stock market job, and wants to buy a diner and peruse her dream of being… a waitress. Well, everyone's gotta start somewhere I guess. She buys it, hires a person to cook for her, and presto chango! She now has a diner for people to eat. The main objective is to seat every costumer that walks through your door, and get some money from them. You can earn more money by keeping the customers happy with coffee and other food, as well as seating certain guests by color. Some seats will be color-coded for help. It's a simple four step process after seating: take the order, go get their order cooked, bring it to them to eat, and then clean up their table.
The game adds a lot of strategy to this though, as any game like this would. For one, their are various customers. Some are normal girls who can wait a little bit, while others are stern businessmen who needed to be seated immediately. You gotta think about which ones to place first, which ones can wait, and you have to keep an eye out for the heart meter on waiting customers. If it takes too long… they're not gonna wait for you. Not only that, but you of course have money to spend and earn. This can include a faster cook, some more food and entertainment to make people happy, and even things to distract the waiting of people on line. Trust me, that is a savior in the game. There are also multiple restaurants, and as surprising as this sounds, this can really change up gameplay. The game is really all about being fast on your feet… nay, your fingers. Gotta click the mouse. What's cool is you can click on multiple parts of the screen so that way you can plan a route of sorts. This can help a lot, as long as your plan goes… smoothly, to say the least. I hate the times when you plan a route, and you think it'll go smoothly, but then it all is foiled eventually. Then ya just gotta plan a new route. It's that simple. Either way, the game packs a lot of strategy into a tiny little casual game. It's actually quite impressive to see how much GameLab and PlayFirst put in the game. I can tell they spent time on it and really made sure it was polished. Sadly, the game has been getting sequel after sequel, tie-in after tie-in. But the original always sticks with me.
Sure, it may look like some simple game… and it's 2003 release date definitely makes it look like i has aged. But believe me, Diner Dark is worth every penny… or megabyte it takes to play it. Addicting is an understatement.
Everyone praises RollerCoaster Tycoon for being the best simulation game ever. Every time I mention it to people, they go, "Hell yeah, I remember that game. That game was the sh*t!" It's not that I don't agree with them… but seriously, f*ck RollerCoaster Tycoon compared to this game.
Zoo Tycoon Complete Collection
Seriously… c'mon guys. COME ON. There is no way that people can enjoy RollerCoaster Tycoon over Zoo Tycoon. Zoo Tycoon does everything RollerCoaster Tycoon wanted to do. It had better graphics, bigger environments, more options to customize your park/zoo, and it had animals. And no, these aren't stupid still shots of animals. These animals moved around, did various actions, and looked awesome for 2001. Now please note, Zoo Tycoon and RollerCoaster Tycoon are two separate games from two separate companies. RCT was published by Hasbro. Zoo Tycoon was published by Microsoft. So, they were essentially competing, and no offense RCT (I do like RCT a lot), but Zoo Tycoon gets my vote. This game was a load of fun, when I was a kid, and still to this day. Whenever I went to my friend's house, the first thing we would do is go upstairs and experiment in Zoo Tycoon. And unlike RCT, we experimented in a serious manner, actually trying to see what can make our zoos the best it could possibly be. We didn't let animals loose randomly… most of the time. RCT is loved for many reasons, but one big reason is that you can launch people off of a roller coaster and kill them. Yay. Zoo Tycoon can be taken seriously 99% of the time, and it has fun intricate gameplay. There's depth in the customization, whether it comes to how to design cages, the animals themselves, or various other ways to design the park. Employees, food and toys for the animals, concession stands, the price of damn admission, your advertising campaign, ALL OF IT. The possibilities are endless… to say the least!
Not only that, but notice I don't just say Zoo Tycoon. I also am including the expansion packs for Zoo Tycoon, which is Marine Mania and Dinosaur Digs. This added things like various species of fish, real dinosaurs, and additions to the customization options. For example, dinosaurs can easily brake through a metal chain fence half their size. For certain dinosaurs, you need to put up an electric fence, twice as tall. This will force them to stay in the cage, while still allowing customers to watch them. And of course, marine animals need water in their cages, and they have their own needs. Plus, different employees need to be hired. Archaeologists and Marine Experts are specifically trained for the expansions, so you'll need to hire those. Sure, it's more pay, but if you are popular… why should that matter? Zoo Tycoon is not only bountiful in replay value and options for customization, it's bountiful in its look. For 2001, the animal and person sprites used are actually very colorful, and very nice to look at. There is accuracy in look, color, and size. Plus, the way the sprites interact with toys, buildings, and even customers if you like to play around is interesting. And yes, the T-Rexes can eat people… you crazy, crazy g1s. Anyway, the game just has a ton of content to it that you can choose to make it the way you like it. There are hours upon hours upon hours… upon hours of stuff to do, and that is no lie. This game showed me just how much bulk a game can have. Hell, every once in a while, I slip this game in to have some fun. It can last you for months… years even, if you are that imaginative.
Whether lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!), Zoo Tycoon has whatever you are looking for in a zoo simulator, and more. If you've got a lot of free time, meet your new best friend.
I loved Nickelodeon, as you could most likely tell. It took up a lot of my TV time when I was younger. You name it, Spongebob, Fairly Odd Parents, Jimmy Neutron, Ned's Declassified, Drake & Josh, I watched it all. So, when I saw a CD case picturing some of Nick's biggest names playing basketball together, I had to take on the opportunity. Looking back on it, what I got was a big surprise.
Many Nick characters have come together before. Games like Nicktoons Unite, Attack of the Toybots, and especially Nicktoons Racing show off how respectable developers can be when they bring such notable characters together. But my personal favorite game where all the characters come together is Nicktoons Basketball. And I am not much of a sports game guy myself. I got a kick out of this game.
The game didn't have much of a plot to speak of, except for that… Nickelodeon characters want to play some basketball. Woop-de-doo. The game essentially has you choosing from a huge roster of plenty of Nick characters. From Spongebob, to Tommy Pickles, Goddard, to even Jenny the Teenage Robot. It had a great cast of characters, one varied and quite interesting. But it gets much more intricate when the gameplay is involved, as each character has their own super moves they can use to help shoot some epic baskets. Some may have some unblockable slam dunks, others may have epic passes to multiple players, and other times it's just to keep the ball away from other people. Yup, it gets that simple. These special moves are used in a trading card system of sorts. You can use up to three cards per game, and you can earn cards by earning achievements and playing various games. But moving away from the special moves, the regular PC controls are actually very easy to work. I may not fully remember what they are per say, but I do remember constantly playing the game, which allowed me to master the controls like ultimate clockwork. They probably involved more of the mouse. Actually, now that I remember it, it actually had a changeable system. You could use the keyboard, some gamepad, or a mouse, which is what I did. I guess considering the mouse has like… two buttons. Hee hee. I had a lot of fun playing the game. The mouse was very simple, addictive, and it involved a lot of aiming with the mouse… or clicking. Simple, right?
The reason this game is so high is that, like many children, Nickelodeon was a huge part of my childhood, as previously mentioned. Every day, I would watch Nickelodeon when I got home, and I would laugh along to (at the time) my favorite shows. Even to this day I still watch Spongebob every now and again, as long as it is Season 3 or previous, and even Jimmy Neutron and Fairly Odd Parents. I loved all of the characters, I quoted episodes, and this may sound odd, but a lot of the comedy I know give off is styled after various episodes of Nick shows. So, to see them come alive in any other medium gave me goosebumps. And since my love for video games was flourishing, Nicktoons Basketball was like a godsend. All of my favorite characters in one simple yet awesome package? Yes, please. Anyway, what else was awesome about the game? Well, there were a ton of stages from the shows, like Bikini Bottom, Fairy World, and so on. The courts weren't 3D, they were 2D drawn, but at the same time, they fit right in. It would've been nice to see them in 3D, but the graphical style works very well, so I'm not complaining. There was also voice acting, and while this would bug me as of today, when I was younger, hearing my favorite characters talk while playing basketball was actually very humorous. Ya know, as you're reading this, it seems odd that a game so typical and so bad-sounding would be this high on my list. I was surprised when it got this high as well. But guys, I'm not gonna lie to you, and it sincerely is a fun entertaining sports game. That genre was never my forte to begin with, but I can promise you that this is far from abysmal, and worth playing at least once for the sheer awesomeness of seeing everyone's favorite Nicktoons play a good game of b-ball together.
Even though it still didn't come close to making me wanna join the basketball team, Nicktoons Basketball showed the greatness that could exude off of inner franchise crossovers… even in a place a typical as a basketball court.
When I first was envisioning this list and brainstorming for it, I was with my friend on Skype. She was pretty much there as an advisor. So, I was looking through my collection of CDs, and this game popped up. I said this would probably be high on my list. She began laughing hysterically.
Frogger 2: Swampy's Revenge
Frogger is a 2D arcade classic, there's no doubt. It may not be as prolific as Pac-Man or Donkey Kong, but it still holds up. Not surprisingly, there have been many attempts to create a franchise out of the simple Amphibian's name, with the most recent being Frogger 3D for the 3DS. I really never had much of a background with Frogger until I came across the game Frogger 2: Swampy's Revenge. And no, this isn't a direct sequel to the Arcade game, but the remake of the Arcade game from 1997. The game centers around Frogger and his wife, Lillie (yup… Frogger has a wife), as they have their children (YUP. FROGGER HAS A FAMILY. YUPYUP.) stolen by a crocodile named Swampy. It's up to them to save their kids and restore peace to the pond. So, as ridiculous as this story may sound, the game actually does pad it out well. There are some humorous cutscenes, and the fact there's no true spoken word, just grunts and facial expressions, helps with the humor. As for the gameplay, it definitely does a great job of expanding upon the mechanics and the gameplay style of the original arcade game. The game has you going through various levels, but these are not simple levels where you cross a street and jump on logs. Nope, this game has you making your way through truly large levels, similar to a Mario game. In a bird's eye view perspective, you hop in various directions, and attempt to avoid obstacles while also collecting your children throughout the stages. And there are plenty of different levels, including a temple, space, and even a massive ant hill. The entire mechanic of avoiding enemies with timing is expanded incredibly, and it feels very fresh and new. The same can be said for the mechanic of using enemies to ride on.
But Frogger 2 doesn't forget about it's elders, as it respects them. It includes extra modes where you can play a classic version of Frogger involving those classic 2D graphics. Logs, crocs, and all. It also helps that levels can be replayed, and you can attempt to get through it without dying, or something like that. And yes… I 100%ed this game. Yes, you heard me, I truly tried my best, as a child, to 100% this game. It was fun, I won't lie. There's plenty of characters to play as (including Swampy himself), and there are some other fun modes the game has to offer. The one thing that hasn't aged well are the graphics. Sure, it was 2002, but hot damn were they polygon-y. Almost too polygon-y. I mean, the colors are nice and the stages are surprisingly detailed, but the character models are so flimsy and two dimensional. Swampy is the only one that has depth, but he's very smudgy and overall unpleasant. There's emotion… but my god this needs an HD remodeling. Thankfully the graphics don't hold it back too much, as the gameplay is fun, varied, and thorough. That, and the music is awesome. Seriously, the opening theme to the game is still stuck in my head… it has never left it. Plus, speaking of the opening, it's probably up on YouTube. If you want to see what I am talking about with this game, the opening can essentially sum up everything I just said into one massive blob. Trust me. The game hasn't been played by many people I know, so I do recommend it if you are willing to take the plunge. It is much better than it looks. The fact that I am saying this based on the PC version may also cause you to back away… no, wait! STOP! Get back here! We still got three more slots to go!!!
OK, good, you're back. As I was saying, Frogger 2 is definitely an overlooked game. If you want a game that pretty much makes the Frogger experience 10x bigger, this is what you are looking for.
For many people, their first LEGO game would be one of the LEGO Star Wars games. That's all good and fun… but for the people who actually know LEGO games like the back of their hand, like me (obviously), their first game involving LEGO as a franchise would have to be LEGO Racers.
Man, I love racing games. They don't quite hit the epic love I have for platformers, but I will say racing games are very awesome. When you bring a great cast of characters, epic tracks/courses, and some groovy cars together, you can obtain one hell of an awesome final product. So, when I heard there was a LEGO game about racing, I was a little skeptical. I mean… LEGO as a franchise definitively had none of these. But, alas, I was wrong in being a little critical too early… because this game fricken rocks. This consumed my childhood for quite some time when I was much younger. It was so creative, so unique, and so bursting with personality, that I just couldn't fathom it as a small young being of childhood. Here's the gist. Ya got "You", and essentially, you are just some run of mill racer guy. No biggy. But, you strive to be the champion. So, you must defeat the best of the best racers: Captain Redbeard, King Kahuka, Basil the Bat Lord, Johnny Thunder, Baron von Barron, Gypsy Moth, and the overall champion, Rocket Racer. You gotta race your damn ass off, with items and drifting and all that stuff! The main thing this game has going for it is creativity and customization. You can customize your racer and your car, with a ton of parts. If you win various races, you can also use parts from those stages. It's a ton of fun and it definitely allows you to think outside the box. Not only that, but the game has a ton of lovable characters from top to bottom. There's tons of awesome personality coming off of everyone. And man… Rocket Racer's entrance in the main story is so damn badass. Like, it's a dark room. A single door, and he just walks out. Legit, you are there with a huge "O" shaped mouth as you watch THE MAN walk out to earn his praises. I just set up the most epic scene of meeting your master haven't I?
The game has many fun courses, and as you may imagine, they all have amazing shortcuts which you can master getting through. And not all of them are so easy to get through. Plus, the courses are highly detailed, with lots of things on the side that fit the scenery. There's also a brilliant items system. There are various different categories of items. There are things you can drop on the ground that a racer may drive into eventually, there are things you can shoot at enemies, there are items that can shield you and so on. They are all classified by a certain color of bricks. Red bricks are projectiles, yellow bricks are mines, blue bricks are shields, and green bricks are speed boosts. There are also white bricks that do something awesome. They allow the power-up you currently have to "level-up" so to speak, and it becomes stronger. Sorta as if you got a Mushroom in Mario, and then this brick caused you to have two, another would be three, and then another would be a Golden Mushroom. It's a very good system and it works well. The items aren't the most original, but they suffice. The controls work well, specifically the PC controls, as they are fluid, and are easy to pick up. The game is just so much fun to play. This is one of the only LEGO games out there that isn't restricted by a franchise, and that could is usually a blessing. But it could be something bad, because LEGO actually has to think for itself. I know, shocker. No characters to make LEGO-y. No places to make LEGO-y. No vehicles to construct LEGO-y. It's all their own ideas. And yet, LEGO can hold their own. They created some pretty funny characters, and they truly did come up with their own game. Seriously, they should be proud to have their name on this,
Fast-paced, frantic, and fun, LEGO Racers is easily the second best racing game of my childhood…. FORESHADOWING. Yeah… I know… it was pretty bad foreshadowing, huh?
A third and final Nickelodeon entry? Another game based off of some kind of licensed property from television? A game that is so highly overlooked it makes my mind shudder at just the thought. Hell yeah, let's do this.
Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom
Spongebob rocks, man. There's no question, I love Spongebob. The first three seasons of the show are some of the best in cartoon history. And even some of Season 4 and 5 is alright. Even though the new episodes do not compare AT ALL to the older episodes, Spongebob is still a wonderful cartoon that all cartoons should look up to, just out of pure staying power. So, Spongebob in the video game world hasn't been the best lately. Besides for the movie game being alright, I can't say I'm too proud. But, one shining star that cannot be missed on the Spongebob radar is Battle for Bikini Bottom. I don't know how… but for some reason, the combination of Heavy Iron Studios, AWE Games, and Vicarious Visions hit the nail on the head. Their integration of the series into gameplay elements, the massive worlds they have allowed us to explore, and the wonderful humorous voice acting are so well done. The game has you as everyone's favorite yellow sea sponge, and you have to defeat the swarm of Plankton's evil robots, along with Plankton himself. The plot is kinda loose, but my god do they make up for this with the dialogue. The game perfectly captures the whimsical and hilarious vibe the show, with great character designs, and top notch voice acting. The game feels like it was pulled right from under the game's nose. It's seamless. Not only that, but the game's environments look like the show. It feels like you are in the world, and it feels like they pretty much just expanded upon the already laid out world. It's incredibly impressive how well the world of Bikini Bottom is mirrored in this game. It blows my mind every time I think about it. You can tell they tried so hard to make sure this pleases fans everywhere, and from what I've seen, it has.
Not only that, but the gameplay is so much fun. There's so much stuff you can do with so many worlds to explore. There is so much depth. For example, there are Shiny things that you collect as a currency of sorts. Fine, simple enough. But then there are Golden Spatulas you have to collect to access new areas. Those are a lot of fun to find. It essentially comes down to doing deeds for all of the members of Bikini Bottom. But THEN there are Socks you have to collect, and you have to give them to Patrick. Ten socks give you one Golden Spatula. As you can see, there's lots to find in this game, and it will take you quite a while, I promise you. There's a ton of fun combat to be had, as killing robots has never felt so fun and awesome. But man… the Dream World. The Dream World. There is no level like it. It may be one of my favorite levels of all time. Seriously, when Spongebob goes into the dreams off others, there is no words to describe how well designed and how much fun this level is. The world is so hilarious, the platforming is so on the dot and fun, and the music truly makes it feel like as if you are actually in a dream. Can I also say that the Slide in Sandy's dream is easily the best slide level in any game? Ever? Sorry Super Mario 64, Spongebob tops you ten fold. Sorry. It is just so much fun, and even though this is the #2 spot, the Slide level is the best level of my childhood. It was so challenging, and it took many a time to finally conquer it. But yet, I can't help but admire it's sheer epicness in design. So much need for accuracy. So many good obstacles. So many good twists and turns. There's even a secret aside the slide with an island and everything. I love that level so much… Can you see why this is #2?
So, while not my absolute favorite childhood game, I still think Battle for Bikini Bottom deserves to be played by any Spongebob fan. It perfectly embodies what a Spongebob game should be, while also keeping up typical gaming standards: wonderful voice acting, brilliant design, fun gameplay, and wonderful 3D graphics. Love it to hell.
So, we've gotten to the final #1 game of the list everyone. It's been a fun ride, but now we must announce the final game. But before we get to that, let's do a recap of the last nine games on our list.
10. The Sims
9. Mario & Luigi: Partner's in Time
8. The Fairly Odd Parents: Breakin' Da Rules
7. Diner Dash
6. Zoo Tycoon
5. Nicktoons Basketball
4. Frogger 2: Swampy's Revenge
3. LEGO Racers
2. Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom
And now… here it is. It's time for my #1 childhood game of all time.
Ya know, I am such a Mario fanatic. I'm a fanboy even, yup, I'll say it. So, you may be surprised to see my lack of Mario on the list. It's only been on one spot, and that was all the way down at #9. So yeah… it's been kinda absent. But… my Mario fanboy couldn't keep me from being truthful to myself in choosing #1. This game came to my head immediately, and it still stands on top.
Mario Kart DS
This may come off a slight surprise. Mario Kart DS is such a simple game. It's just another Mario Kart game on the DS that expanded upon the features of Mario Kart. Seems simple, right? Well, here's the thing about Mario Kart DS… it was one of the first DS games I ever had as a kid. This was my introduction to the Mario Kart series… and I loved every minute I had it. There was so much fun to be had with this game that it's hard to describe in words. The main thing that kept me coming back again and again was the multiplayer. Oh… OH that sweet savory multiplayer. I played this game with so many different people. I played it with my best friends from school, friends from my summer day camp, friends from my sleep-away camp, friends from various places I've went to, even with website communities. Mario Kart has always strived with the multiplayer aspect, and there are so many fun possibilities. There's no feeling like screwing over your best friend at last minute as you finish in 1st in the last second. There's no moment that can compare to knowing your friend is about to be hit by your blue shell, and then hearing that "Oh, god dammit!" right behind you. There's no bond quite as strong as two friends against two other friends facing off in a balloon battle for the highest of bragging rights. Mario Kart DS brought me closer together with my friends, and became my ice breaker. When I saw somebody with a DS sitting near me at some table at some place, I'd go up to them, say that I had Mario Kart DS, and we'd just know, in agreement, that we were about to have some good ol' Mario fun. There were times where I would play Mario Kart DS for hours on end to pass time, and none of it felt forced or tiresome. And my god, long car rides or long bus rides? No question, pop out Mario Kart DS with my friends and go on the Nintendo WFC for some sure fire red shell poplin' fun.
It become a near obsession at a point. Once I started the main Grand Prix and got into it, I vowed to 100% the hell out of this game, and I did. I did, and I rejoiced once that final mission was S'd. There was so much replay value in the game, with the Grand Prixs, and the Missions you had to complete, and all the unlockable characters, and all of the multiplayer modes to discover, and all of the time trials to keep besting… there was just no end. I played this to hell. I don't even remember the amount of hours I had on the game… but what I got out of it is unmatchable. I played it day and night, and I played it every day. I nearly mastered all of the courses, knowing them like the back of my hand. I became such a master, and such a known master about it in school and my camp, that people began coming up to me asking me for advice. I became the people they looked up to. Do you know how proud that made me feel? I was helping other people and making them feel good. This highly influenced me. I like to help people out if they look like they need it. While sometimes I can be a really big asshole, when somebody actually needs help, I feel the need to help them out of sheer sympathy. And when I do it, and it works out well, I feel very proud and needed . In a way, this whole process of having them need help, me helping them, and feeling good about it highly influenced this judgement. It felt really awesome to help people in their time of need. In some of these instances, I became friends with many of these said people, of course after a ton of awesome multiplayer matches, and we hang out together now all the time. See how much cause and effect Mario Kart DS has has on my life? Just to add on to that, Mario Kart DS introduced to me to Mario Kart as a whole. I soon after played Super Circuit, Double Dash, and I own Wii and 7. I love Mario Kart, it's one of my favorite franchises.
Sadly… one fateful day at sleep-away camp, the day I would be coming back home, I misplaced Mario Kart DS. I don't know where it went. I must've dropped it somewhere, or maybe it got stuck behind or below the bed. Either way, there just wasn't enough time to find it… and I lost it. I was utterly heartbroken. I had lost a piece of me. A piece of my childhood. It took me a very long time to truly get over the fact I had lost such a gem of a DS game. Thankfully, I had already 100%ed the game, and I'd played it to its near full potential. It wasn't a truly horrible loss, but a loss nonetheless. Thankfully, I've moved on, but I still miss the game deeply. I know it's somewhere, happy and still, but I know it probably would still have a better place in my 3DS library… aw well. It was REALLY FUN while it lasted.
As we can see… it's definitely worth of a #1 spot.
~ ~ ~
And thus, my list ends on a sad note. Sorry if I ended on a bit of a downer. Consider it more bittersweet. I lost a great game, but at the same time, it nearly made me the man I am today… and I am proud of it.
But anyway, leave your thoughts down below on your favorite childhood games. I am curious to see what your favorites are. And are my choices up to snuff? Which choices do you agree or disagree with? Let me know with a comment.
Thanks for reading everyone. My next blog will be out any day now. See you all on the flip side!
- Larry :)