Whether it be enjoying a particular level on a long car ride, or associating a game with visiting a certain family member, we all have fond childhood memories of video games that sit close to our hearts. This is something completely unique to every person; it’s unlikely that your favourite childhood gaming memory is the same as anyone else’s, but that’s what makes them so special. We hope you enjoy the ones shared to us by our lovely contributors!
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker – Callum Brown
While The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker defines my childhood, I must confess to not ever finishing the game until a couple years ago. You see, as a child, I was incredibly bad at video games, rarely making it past the first few levels of a game before giving up. Wind Waker was something I always came back to, even if my poor attention span usually made me want to play something else. Every few months, I’d turn on my dad’s GameCube, boot up the game, and start a new save from the beginning, promising myself I would beat the game this time. That never happened; I always gave up around Dragon Roost Island.
However, I always cherished Wind Waker because of this; every time I see the amazing cell shaded design, I’m filled with warm childhood memories. The music of Outset and Dragon Roost Island is permanently imprinted into my mind, and just hearing the menu’s main theme fills me with joy. Despite the fact I never finished the game, it’s definitely the game that I have the fondest memories of, and I suspect it has defined what I enjoy the most in a game for the rest of my life.
The Simpsons: Hit & Run – Adam Carter
The Simpsons: Hit & Run is a game that fondly permeates seemingly every childhood. The answer to every child who wanted all the violence, vehicular collisions, and explosions of Grand Theft Auto, disguised under the tongue-in-cheek, globally-loved comedy of The Simpsons, this meant that it not only got children’s approval, but parents wary of violent video games too. Hit & Run, and I say this with huge amounts of nostalgia, was an incredible experience. It allowed you to interact and play as the famous characters you knew and loved.
On top of this, the story it crafts is surprisingly engaging. The writers didn’t rely on The Simpsons’ monstrous popularity to keep players; a funny yet action-packed plot including brainwashing, aliens, zombies, and conspiracy theories kept the player waiting on every new mission to see where this never-before-seen Simpsons story ended up. But the fondest memory that we all share, which is a staple in the Gen Z childhood; immediately kicking Marge around as she flails and makes her catchphrase noises, sometimes all the way to the Kwik-E-Mart.
Tomb Raider II – Tom Buckland
I could gush about countless memories from the Tomb Raider series, but instead I’ll talk specifically about my nostalgia around Tomb Raider II. I don’t know if people have played any old Tomb Raider games, but know that they’re really hard.
So, myself, a young babe, and Tomb Raider games being monstrously difficult (unlike the entries of video gaming present), meant that I tended to visit Croft Manor. Croft Manor is dressed to the nines in terms of facilities ripe for helping harness your tomb raiding abilities. It has a hedge maze… an obstacle course… a swimming pool… a fridge…
Wait. A fridge?
You heard correctly, Croft Manor is equipped with a large, roomy fridge full of… well, nothing. But for Lara, that just won’t do.
I honestly don’t know how this came about, and how somehow Tomb Raider II became renowned for this one concept alone, especially when baby me was incapable of looking on the internet. Miraculously my sisters and I managed to figure out how to lock our beloved butler, Winston, into said fridge. Why, you ask? Because we felt like it. And hearing him grunt violently as he bumped himself and his tray of assortments into the fridge door in a desperate attempt of escape.
No, Winston, learn your place, this fridge is your home now. I do not need your creepy model ambling after me wherever I go about the manor, I want to be able to do five hundred backflips in quick succession in the ballroom without being tripped up by your gross body. Sorry.
I couldn’t tell you how many times we locked poor Winston in the fridge, but upon reflection I can still confidently admit he deserved every second within his frosty confines. That game was about me and Lara Croft, not him. It was called “Tomb Raider” for a reason, not “Croft Manor Butler”.
Yu-Gi-Oh! – Chelsea Burrell
As a kid, no toy or game was better than the ones where I got the opportunity to insert myself into a world I loved as a main character. Yu-Gi-Oh!, a Japanese card-game turned anime franchise was something I obsessed about. Although I often collected the cards and fancied myself a master of the game with my duel disk, the game Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Tag Force and it’s sequel games meant I could not only get immersed in the world of Yu-Gi-Oh!, but also allowed for me to become friends and fight alongside the beloved main characters of the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX series.
There is something quite special about being able to partner up with and become best friends with the cool heroes, and as a kid, I never got much of that except for these games. It was an experience that bonded me with my fantasies. And what 7 year old doesn’t want that?
Ratchet and Clank – Paige Cockbain
Gaming was a big part of my childhood, what with having so many brothers so close to my own age, meaning it was a constant battle of finishing your tea first so you could run up to the PlayStation 2 or GameCube, and claim it as yours for the night (or however long it took for one of the others to start whining about it being their turn).
There are a few games that stand out for me, but the biggest culprit of this tradition would probably be Insomniac’s Ratchet and Clank. It’s only since replaying the absolutely stunning PS4 remaster that I even understand the plot – as a child it was all about dividing up claimed territory with my brothers, and the sweet cling clang of nuts and bolts as they found their way into Ratchet’s pocket.
Ratchet and Clank reminds me of rainy days sat for hours running that Lombax around, but being too stupid a child to understand what I was actually supposed to be doing. This has been an ode, a poem, to my first love – Skid McMarx… I jest, I actually planned mine and Ratchet’s wedding.
(For the record, I would like you all to know that my “house” in that game was the cave on the first planet you ever go to.)
Donkey Kong Country – Tristan Dubuc
After moving house in the summer of 2005, I felt a bit lonely and disorientated. Me and my brother had the same feeling, but having the SNES and each other was reassuring. I remember being in the bedroom that I shared with my brother and spending time playing Donkey Kong Country. My brother watched me while I played, but it was still a strong moment we shared with each other as we got excited after each level we unlocked, and frustrated each time a Kremling got Donkey Kong. Even if at first, I had feelings of anxiety, me and my brother overall have such good memories of this period that recently, he bought an old SNES console and bought DKC so that we could play with each other.
The music was special, as it went well with the theme of the game, and it still manages to take me back to my childhood every time I hear it. Also, the noise the Kremlings makes each time you beat them is just iconic. Me and my brother laugh so much over this game. Between trying to catch every banana, get the letters to form K-O-N-G or catch the balloons for an extra life, there was just so much to do.
Halo: Reach – Ash Williams
Reach was the very first game I pre-ordered, as well as the first collector’s edition of a game I bought, and I could feel the anticipation building as I counted down the days until it finally arrived. I vividly remember walking home from school, turning into my road and seeing my mum’s car parked up; her standing near it with the very thing I had wanted for so long. It probably took me at least half an hour to put the game in the Xbox (partly down to how stacked the collector’s edition was with additional goodies), but once I did, I discovered one of my favourite games of the generation.
During the “golden age” of my childhood, when me and all my close friends owned the same console, we would often choose to go on Reach and either continue our co-op campaign run, or go into matchmaking online. More often than not, Swat was the game mode we’d land on, which wasn’t great for me, since I sucked at it. I much preferred Infection, or Forge, but the classic memories we shared on Bungie’s last Halo game will never fade, regardless of my own low skill level.