Video games tell stories, challenge our minds, and provide us with avenues to just have fun. As kids we may not have realized the impact they had on us, but looking back, it’s obvious. These classic throwbacks will have you weeping for your lost childhood. Here are eight games that changed your childhood forever.
1. Mortal Kombat
Owning Mortal Kombat meant you were the cool kid on the block. Everyone would come over to your place for a Mortal Kombat tournament when it debuted in 1992. Each of you would pick a character and fight one-on-one until one lone champion remained. You memorized the button mash order for your favorite character’s finishing moves and laughed at the inappropriate graphic violence.
Mortal Kombat was one of the first games that proved the doubters wrong: video games weren’t about kids isolating themselves. Video games could be group activities too, and sometimes they were more fun that way. Other games like this came out around that time, but none had the panache of Mortal Kombat.
2. Sonic the Hedgehog
Debuting in 1991 on Sega Genesis, Sonic the Hedgehog epitomized the side-scrolling action genre. It had all the elements of games like Mario Brothers that made it both fun and successful. Jump through hoops to get rings and speed your way through traps, all with the simple goal of getting to the end of this level to take on the next.
Instead of saving a princess you’re battling against the evil Doctor Robotnik. Unlike the Mario games at the time, however, you could play cooperatively. A second player could pick up a controller and run alongside you as Tails in Sonic 2. Each level brought new challenges, especially the dreaded water levels.
Sonic the Hedgehog was undoubtedly one of Sega’s greatest success stories. Even with Sega’s game production days long gone, the legacy of this game lives on.
3. Final Fantasy VII
The Final Fantasy game have been around since 1987, but 1997’s Final Fantasy VII was the first to make a huge splash in the United States. Cloud Strife with his huge buster sword and iconic spiky blonde hair guided us through an alien dystopian fantasy. It was filled with magical materia, racing birds, and an evil corporation that was polluting the planet.
We cried when you-know-who died, we trained our characters to make the next battles easier, and perhaps most importantly, we learned to be patient. Some of us even became a little more aware of our impact on the planet.
4. Pokémon Red and Blue
It’s hard to believe, but there was a point in time when Pokémon was not a household name. The phenomenon started in the United States with the release of Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue for the Gameboy in 1998.
Each game was fundamentally the same, with the only difference being a few Pokémon that are exclusive to each version. But they launched a television series, movies, trading card games, and a sea of merchandise. There’s no doubt that the release of the Pokémon games changed many childhoods.
5. Mario Kart 64
If you never sat around with your friends or family for a versus round of Mario Kart 64, you missed out. The first iteration of Mario Kart happened on the SNES, but the Nintendo 64 version in 1996 is when it really caught on.
You could race around Yoshi’s Island or try not to fly off the edge of Rainbow Road with your buddies. You could drop bananas and blow up your friends in versus mode. Or you could compete solo against the entire cast of characters to unlock trophies and harder tracks.
Mario Kart 64 taught us how good or bad we were at both winning and losing. It also convinced an entire generation that driving was impossibly difficult.
6. Goldeneye 007
If you didn’t play Mario Kart 64 with your friends, you definitely played Goldeneye 007. There was a story mode, but let’s face it, the versus mode is where it was at.
There was always that one friend who got the golden gun and made everyone’s life miserable. Or the other friend who laid land mines just behind all the loot boxes.
First person shooters have come a long way technologically since this 1997 Nintendo 64 classic, but none can bring you quite as much joy and frustration as a round of Goldeneye 007.
For some people, 1993’s Myst invokes memories of wandering around in a world full of puzzles to solve. For others, it brings back the urge to throw their computer monitor through the nearest window.
Whatever your reaction is, Myst had a big impact on an entire generation. It set the bar for games that wanted to combine an adventure game with a puzzle game.
Back in the day of ’80s games like Zork, you had to choose between one or the other. Myst both changed and defined an entire gaming genre that survives to this day.
8. The Sims
2000’s The Sims wasn’t the first in its genre, but it’s certainly the game that made it popular. It was like a virtual ant farm. You could build a house, build a family, and watch as they interacted in the world you made. The game allowed you to control every movement of your characters or leave them to wander around on your own.
It brought up the inner psychopath in us all as kids. I don’t know a single person who didn’t remove the stairs out of the swimming pool once their Sim climbed in, or deleted all the floor tiles around one just to see what would happen.
The game still exists today in a much more complex form, but something about the simplicity of the original can’t be replaced.