Were you one of the cool kids playing any of these?
I wonder how many abandoned Nintendogs are sitting in a drawer somewhere, waiting for their former owners to return? This game was all the rage back in the day, and which kind of dog you had was a genuine factor in determining your coolness. Sure, cat people may not have understood the hype — but this game could be part of the reason why millennials are so damn obsessed with pups to this day.
Nintendogs was undoubtedly a cool game. You could teach your dog tricks! You could take them for walks! The microphone feature even allowed you to teach your virtual pet to recognize your voice and follow commands! It’s pretty much exactly like having a real pet except without being able to cuddle them or take cute photos of them. Hmmm. Aren’t those the best parts of pet ownership though…?
There’s something so satisfying about crafting your own little settlement in the world of SimCity, it was the game to have for a time. Watching it grow from a bunch of tiny houses into a bustling city full of skyscrapers brings a real sense of achievement! However, your enthusiasm for the game faded pretty quickly when the random Godzilla-like creature turned up and promptly smashed your metropolis into ruins. Why do video games have to be so cruel? Guess we’re back to square one.
16. Wii Sports
Back when the Nintendo Wii was a revolutionary piece of technology, everyone and their mother seemed to get hooked on the free game included with the console. That game was, of course, WiiSports, creator of rivalries and destroyer of friendships. Its powers of addiction were strong: even kids who absolutely despised all sports and constantly tried to get out of gym class became obsessed with beating their opponents and getting the high score in golf. Like, GOLF! Actually. It’s so boring! Why did we all care so much about this stupid game?!?
Who didn’t want to spend their time battling with Pikachu, or trying to catch ’em all? The amazing marketing that was the anime series contributed massively to our generation’s obsession with the franchise, and the release of Pokémon Go last year only added to it. Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, and co will always have a special place in our hearts. Whether you were playing with Pokémon cards, clicking away at your Gameboy or got the game on your original Nintendo, there wasn’t a ’90s kid in the world who didn’t have something to do with this game as a child.
14. Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft was a pretty badass role model for girls of this generation. She didn’t need a man to look after her and traveled around the globe searching for famous artifacts and battling various foes as she went. It’s only her slightly questionable bodily proportions that stop us from labeling her a full-blown feminist icon. If you can get past her unhealthily small waist and frankly uncomfortable boob size (she must get intense back pain with those ones, AMIRIGHT?), the original Tomb Raider is one of the best games ever made. Let’s just ignore the sub-par film adaptation starring Angelina Jolie.
13. Crash Bandicoot
The Crash Bandicoot games took a fairly unheard of Australian mammal and turned it into an off-the-wall, fun-loving anthropomorphic protagonist. Through the years, the way you actually played this game has become pretty muddled but it definitely involved destroying crates, engaging in a lot of dangerous driving, and defeating a range of nefarious villains. To be honest, that’s pretty much an accurate summary of the franchise. Also, Crash definitely looks more like a fox than a bandicoot. Just sayin’.
12. Rollercoaster Tycoon
Were you a thrill-seeking child who always wanted to visit amusement parks and ride the fastest rollercoasters? Well, while you were out there doing that, we slightly more nervous kids were satisfied with creating our own theme parks on Rollercoaster Tycoon. Parts of the game were actually quite dark: visitors could literally die if rides malfunctioned (which happened worryingly regularly). However, the game was mostly an escapist trip into the world of customizable rollercoaster creation. Some of these parks were truly EPIC and forcing people to pay to use the restroom? Hilarious.
11. The Harry Potter video games
If there’s one thing our generation will be known for, it’s probably that all of us were complete and total Potterheads. We devoured the books, saw every film at the cinema (at midnight on the night of the premiere, usually), and got all of the merchandise supplied at Hot Topic. It wasn’t just teeshirts and Ron Weasley dolls that were to be acquired, though. We also most definitely needed the video games for the first three books, which were actually incredible. (Special shout out to #2 cause damn, that one was good.)
The graphics were pretty dodgy — Hagrid looked like he’d been hit really hard in the face and ended up with his features squished — but, in general, the games were awesome. You got to explore Hogwarts while casting spells, jumping all over the moving staircases, playing Quidditch, and having duels. A full cast of voice actors really brought all of the characters to life. In the third one, you could even fly around Hogwarts on Buckbeak! The games were essential purchases for all Potter superfans. To this day, we’d highly recommend playing.
10. Mario Kart
The most famous incarnation of Mario Kart has to be the Wii version. It inspired fits of gamer rage in all of us, especially when your bestie went and threw a turtle shell at your car so they could overtake you! Special mention has to go to the Rainbow Road track which drove everybody nuts. It was just impossible to stay on the road without floating off into space! Quite frankly, this game probably contributed to many people’s decision not to drive. If we weren’t able to control a fictional car on-screen, how were we supposed to handle one IRL?
Worms was a pretty weird concept for a kids’ video game but was addictive none the less. It basically involved strategizing and waging a war against rival teams of worms in a range of settings. Why did they choose worms as the combatants? Don’t ask us. Why was this considered fun? We’re honestly not sure. However, it undoubtedly was a pretty entertaining way to spend your free time for at least some ’90s kids. Somehow the franchise is still going, even though each new game released is pretty much identical to the last.
8. Lego video games
Whoever thought of combining video games and Lego is an utter genius. This series combined everyone’s favorite Danish building blocks with a ton of popular film series, including Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, and The Lord of the Rings. The resulting games were super fun, full of familiar characters, and were actually pretty hilarious in parts. When you think about it, the marketing concept is genius because true superfans had to buy not ONLY the game for the actual movie but also the Lego-version. Smart.
Since The Lego Movie came out back in 2014, Lego games have seen a massive resurgence. It looks like it’s time to pass the building blocks on to the next generation of gamers…
7. Grand Theft Auto
Grand Theft Auto was one of those games that nobody was really supposed to be playing. It’s way too violent for kids and contains a ton of inappropriate references to drinking, drugs, and sex. However, we’re pretty sure everyone found a way to access it at some point whether it was from your older, cooler cousins or your friend who had parents with very, very limited disciplinary skills. There’s something oddly fun about driving around on a rampage destroying things and pissing off the police… at least, pretending to. Plus, we were all too young to know what the game was ACTUALLY about. It was more of a “let’s smash things because we can’t in real life” type thing than “let’s commit multiple felonies, kill a prostitute, and steal a police car” daydream. It’s fine. We all turned out alright… right?
6. Animal Crossing
Okay going from Grand Theft Auto to this game seems like a weird transition but they were both fully iconic in their own ways. The Animal Crossing series of games were just so chilled out and adorable. You move to a little village in a forest, make friends with your neighbors (who are, as you’d expect by the title, animals), and just potter about fishing and gardening. There’s no real objective to the game, which makes it super relaxing. You don’t need to fuss about meeting goals or completing tasks: you can do whatever you want. It’s just so pure and wholesome! All of the animal characters have such hilarious and unique personalities, and there’s a ton of cute interior design options too for your little woodland cottage. It’s still a popular franchise, and even has a mobile app version coming soon!
5. The Legend of Zelda games
This game series has been pretty popular since it first burst onto the scene in the 1980s, and a decent number of ’90s kids were (and still are!) obsessed with it. Oddly, the most famous character from the games isn’t the titular Princess Zelda: it’s Link, the green-clad elf-boy who serves as the protagonist of the franchise. Everyday misogyny. Pour one out for Ocarina of Time, a game that’s often been labeled one of the best of all time. Solving the puzzles is so absorbing, and you constantly want to keep playing to progress to the next big bad boss! It’s the perfect formula for an engaging game. Don’t play it if you don’t like spiders, mind you. So many creepy spiders.
4. Sonic the Hedgehog
Everyone’s favorite super-charged hedgehog dashed into our lives back in 1991 and quickly became one of the regular fixtures of early 2000s gaming. The premise is pretty simple: Sonic runs really fast. You make him run places and collect various objects. Sometimes you beat bosses or complete challenges, all while – you guessed it – running really fast. However, simplicity is often the best way to go, and it really works in this case. Sonic has spawned a merchandising empire, including numerous animated TV series. There’s even a full-length feature film based on him in the works! The series also boasts the Guinness World Record for the longest-running comic book series based on a video game. Not bad for a hedgehog!
The cute little purple dragon was the basis of a whole ton of popular games back in the late ’90s and early aughts. I’m pretty sure every child of this time has memories of Spyro games, even if it’s just frantically collecting gems to purchase items or make it to the next area. The popularity of the series waned after, but hardcore fans from way back when need not worry: Spyro’s developers have said that there could well be a reboot in the works. You could yet see the day where you get to make a tiny dragon flap about and burn things all over again!
2. Zoo Tycoon
This offshoot of the Tycoon series appealed to the animal lover in all of us. The mission: set up your own zoo. Make it as enjoyable as possible for humans, but also look after all of your animals and protect their health and wellbeing. You’ve got to remember to put them in the right kind of habitat, or they won’t be happy! Also, for THE LOVE OF GOD don’t let the animals escape. In another dark twist for a kids’ game, escaped animals would literally go around killing people. It was pretty much impossible not to get too attached to your zoo animals which made the whole murderous thing pretty devastating.
1. The Sims
Okay, raise your hand if you still play this game every now and then. *Raises hand.* Every ’90s kid played some version of the Sims, whether it was the original game or one of the MANY sequels. (What are we at now? 4?) I’m pretty sure we all made a household based on ourselves and our crush and orchestrated events so that we got married and had lots of WooHooing and babies. (Of course, there was no WooHoo in the first iteration of the game and you just had to “Passionate Kiss” enough until the game asked if you wanted a baby.) We killed our Sims, usually in a horrific way (starting fires, deleting pool ladders while they were swimming, etc.) Playing God is just so darn addictive, as is building vast mansions for yourself and furnishing them in your dream style. Back to the WooHooing though, it was completely inappropriate. Just like when you’d delete the shower while they were in there and see their naked Sims body. Damn, kids are weird. rosebud;!;!;! forever.