Best childhood video games trigger great memories

Video games were a big part of growing up. What was your favorite?

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Best childhood video games trigger great memories

Holding a controller again while revisiting some classic games of my youth.

Holding a controller again while revisiting some classic games of my youth.

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Holding a controller again while revisiting some classic games of my youth.

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Holding a controller again while revisiting some classic games of my youth.

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If you were like me when I was a little guy, you’d spend the summer playing outside and then go inside once you got tired. Then you’d play some video games. I had some good times playing those games back then.

Even today when I happen across one of these games, I’ll get a little nostalgic. Those games were just such a blast, I had to take another look at them and share my top picks.

3. New Super Mario Bros.

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Mario and his brother Luigi. (courtesy stmd.net)

If you haven’t played this game at least at a friend’s house once or twice, then I question your childhood.

Now I know navigating your way through the eight worlds to that fiery world where you have to go into the haunted house and contend with lava and skeletons to get to and kill that witch and her friend in the pajamas may sound boring, but when you get to do cartwheels and flips to knock out Bowser’s little mushroom minions, you’re having a good time.

This game—no matter how far you think you’ve come—will always leave you with another challenge or other reason to keep you playing. After completing a course, you can go back and collect star coins. There are three in each course, and once you collect all three, a mini-game is unlocked. These mini-games are trivial and silly, but you can win a couple of Mario’s super-powers. In my opinion, the super-powers made the game so much better. They had everything from Penguin Mario who could slide on his belly—like a penguin—through his enemies, to fire Mario, who can throw fireballs at the Koopa Troopas—yet another reason why this game rocks.

2. NCAAF ‘08

I’d spend hours putting in work on this game. Boy, did they know how to make a video game back then. It’s all in the details.

Let’s start with gameplay. Because of the lack of realistic animations and a sophisticated AI that could keep up with a human user, the game was fantastical and unrealistic in a fun way—almost like arcade play. You could juke and hurdle your way through a defense like butter, but if they got a hold of you, man, you were you toast; you would actually fumble the ball instead of just being tackled like on any other hit.

That’s what made the gameplay so much better; things would happen then that just don’t happen now.  For example, when you spin, the defense misses on occasion. In today’s game, they’ll get you just about every time on that move. Also, the lateral would work. For some reason, there was always a player ready at a second’s notice to catch the ball and run with it. If you try to lateral in a more recent version of the game—unless you’re running an option—the ball goes right by everybody.

Another thing that makes this game so great is the game modes that it offers. NCAAF 14 has these features, but not in the specific details that ’08 does.

In Dynasty Mode, you had so much more control over your team. When recruiting, you can choose how you want to recruit prospective players. Certain actions are more influential on the player’s decision of going to your school or not. You could invite them to a game, invite them to a team luncheon, visit their family at home, and all kinds of other stuff. In my opinion, this is way more fun than just assigning points to the players.

NCAA ’08 Allows for more control over recruiting. (courtesy gamespot.com)

There are other little things in Dynasty mode that you can do, such requesting an injury redshirt. If my star player gets hurt for the season in the first game of the season or so, it would allow you to request a medical redshirt and have him back for another year. The game also prompts you with decisions as a coach, like discipline. Yes, you would actually have to suspend videogame players. Here’s the kicker though—if you keep under-suspending players, then you will start getting on the hotseat as a coach, and your job security will begin to decrease.

Even as a student-athlete in Campus Legend mode, you would get fan mail, and you had exams that you had to take. I know that’s not why you play the game, but I think that really adds a realistic element to it, and I appreciate the detail.

The last thing that I wanted to say I really liked about this game was the customization it gave you. You could create custom fans with signs that said whatever you wanted. After you’d score an extra point, the camera would show fans in the stands, and sometimes you’d see a fan with a sign saying some pretty goofy stuff—which I thought was just the cheese as a third-grader.

Additionally, you can create your own university with custom (to an extent) uniforms and a custom stadium. Heck, you could even choose your own fight song and mascot. I loved playing as the Langen U Slaughterers, with my red, black, and silver uniforms on our red turf (because of all the blood of course).

1. Ratchet & Clank

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Don’t tell me this doesn’t look awesome.

I will struggle to do this game justice.

Ratchet & Clank is a series of video games that centers around Ratchet—who is a mechanic and a creature known as a Lombax (see picture)—and Clank—who is Ratchet’s super-genius robot sidekick. They have to go on adventures and fight different characters depending on the game.

I owned a couple titles, but the best by far is Ratchet and Clank: Deadlocked. This game is heavily storyline-based. Ratchet, Clank, and their crew are taking a cruise through space when, all of a sudden, their ship gets captured and overtaken.

They are captured at the command of Gleeman Fox, a rich media mogul who recently started a gladiatorial reality TV show named “DreadZone,” in which players have to battle robots and crazy obstacles to stay alive. “DreadZone” airs on the Pox Network—a not-so-subtle parody of the Fox Network. Ratchet and Clank were enslaved to fight in this game. The player must complete all levels in all of the different planets to win the game and for Ratchet to win his freedom.

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Dallas (left): “You know, they say war is hell, Juanita… but where does that leave DreadZone?” (courtesy giantbomb.com)

The game is hectic and chaotic, but it is mostly fun. A big part of this is the comedy that is present throughout the game. Since this is a TV show, there is a SportsCenter-like vignette that gives news reports that follow the progress of the game. These help to advance the narrative of the game and are often funny bits, such as the constant slandering of Ratchet and the shock-testing they are doing as “market research” to get kids to like Pox’s products. In addition to this and the parody of the Pox Network, you’ll notice others as well—such as when they parody a character to be modeled after Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As for gameplay, this game plays a lot like a very sophisticated arcade game. The weapons in this game are awesome. They have a gun that shoots lava and also one of those medieval mace weapons.

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Gameplay of Deadlocked. (screenshot)

There are some cool modifications to the weapons, too. One that was notable caused whoever you shot to turn into exploding cartoon farm animals. Yeah—this game is out there, but that makes it fun. Between that and the innuendo that comes from the commentary during gameplay or from other titles in the game series—like Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters, Going Commando, Quest for Booty, and Full Frontal Assault—it is hilarious that the developers marketed this game to kids.

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