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Greetings faithful readers! Do you remember those games you played at an early age? Those games that, throughout the years, have stuck with you due to its sheer impact upon your life? I know I do, and that’s why I’m bringing you my top 12 nostalgic games!
(I'm definitely not ripping off the Nostalgia Critic this time! Even if it is about nostalgia, it's a top 12 list!)
With this, I'll be taking a look at the games that occupied most of my time as a child, as well as seeing just how well they hold up.
While I do love each and every one of these games, keep in mind that this is not a list of my favorites, or what I perceive as the best of all time. Any crossovers between this list and those (which I have not written yet…) are pure coincidence. Or bias. However you want to classify that.
Without further rambling, I give you my list!
12: Twisted Metal Series (PS1)
I’m going to be completely honest here; I never actually owned a Twisted Metal game until I bought the second on PSN. I did play a lot of Twisted Metal however, because I had a friend who absolutely adored the games. I think that reason, along with the creepy characters and the innovative concept, is why the game had such a big impact on me.
Once my friend and I parted ways, I had never really thought about the series up until Game Informer’s Replay of it. Upon seeing that, a flood of memories washed over my mind.
I could never really get the hang of how to play these, so I’m not sure if I can fairly critique how they hold up. If you want a fair analysis of the entire series, be sure to check the Replay.
11: Super Smash Bros (N64)
Smash Bros is one of those games where the concept is a million times better than the execution.
While still a fun game, it’s dated by the clunky controls and lack of well-rounded fighters (granted, you can blame that former complaint on the controller).
Smash Bros was an amazing game back in the day, and one I sunk much of my game time into. However, going back to it, my eyes were opened by just how far the series had come along with Melee and Brawl. Still, playing the original brought back wonderful memories, and that’s all you can really ask for when it comes to nostalgia.
10: Sonic Adventure Series (Dreamcast)
I want to get this out of the way right now: THESE GAMES ARE TERRIBLE. The voice acting is horrid, the stories are sub-par, the characters are uninteresting, and worst of all, the gameplay is as unpolished as an old boot. In fact, the only really good thing about these games is the music. And I love them both so much.
Yes, this is a series where I know I should hate the games, but my younger self just won’t allow it. Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 just have some dumb charm to me that won’t let me hate them. When I talk bad about them, I’m doing so with love. …If that makes sense.
Though I am a bit disappointed since I haven’t actually gotten to play Sonic Adventure 2 recently, but I’ve seen enough to know it’s not much better than the first.
If you would like to see a more extensive look at the first Sonic Adventure, be sure to check out the Replay.
9: Spider-Man (PS1)
How I came into contact with this game is blurry, as I’m not sure if I was a fan of the character of Spider-Man before or after playing it, but it increased my obsession either way. However, I was awful at this game, and always had to use cheat codes if I wanted to get through it. I still remember the password to unlock everything by heart; it’s Eel Nats, or Stan Lee spelled backwards.
As I started replaying Spider-Man, I was shocked to realize just how well it held up. While the camera is awful and the draw distance is atrocious, the combat system is actually a lot of fun. The story and writing are exactly what you’d expect from a quality Spider-Man tale too. There are interesting twists, there are cool cameos, and there are a lot of funny jokes.
While it most likely will never make anyone but my own top PlayStation games, Spider-Man is still worth a look back at in my opinion. I will be going through it, without cheat codes, soon.
8: Pokémon Snap (N64)
Easily a contender for one of my favorite games of all time, Pokémon Snap was and is some of the simplest, yet most compelling fun you can have with your Nintendo 64. Albeit with a few variables thrown in here and there, there’s literally only one thing you do in the game: take pictures of Pokémon.
While playing Pokémon Snap, you’re always relaxed, but still on the edge of your seat the whole time. It’s hard to explain, but fans of the game should understand what I mean. The calming music and surreal visuals balance out the tension of getting that one snapshot you need perfectly.
I’ve never tried to beat the game in one sitting, so I’m not entirely sure how long it takes to beat, but it’s certainly not long.
There’s really only one complaint I have about Snap, and even then they’re just nitpicks. I hate how the camera’s default is set to inverted, and it’s annoying that you have to reset the console to get to the title screen and options menu.
Be sure to check out the Pokemon Snap Replay.
7: Mario Kart 64 (N64)
This is the Mario Kart that got it right. Super Mario Kart was fun, but held back by the SNES’s limitations. Mario Kart 64 took the idea and brought it up to what, in my opinion, is still the most fun Mario Kart to date. Really, that’s all there is to say.
The only thing I find severely wrong with the game is its rubber band AI. If you’re in the lead on anything above 50CC, you can’t make a single mistake or else you’ll be passed by the CPUs going at super speed.
Be sure to watch this Replay of Super Mario 64, with Mario Kart as the Roulette.
6: WCW/NWO: Revenge (N64)
While it was my brother’s game, as he was the only wrestling fan in our family, I still played plenty of Revenge even though I never really understood it. I’ll be honest, the only reason I was interested in the game in the first place is because Rey Mysterio Jr. looked like Spider-Man.
He was, and still is, the only person I play as. I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing anytime I play WCW/NWO: Revenge, but I still have a blast playing it. I think the main reason I put Revenge so high on this list is due to the multiplayer, as I played a lot of it with my brother and our friends and still remember it fondly.
5: NFL Blitz 2001 (PS1/N64)
There is absolutely, without a doubt, nothing wrong with this game. The controls are tight, the player designs are amusingly over-the-top, and the announcers are hysterical. This game is pure perfection, and you’re lying if you say otherwise!
Seriously though, I cannot find much, if anything to complain about with NFL Blitz. It’s arcadey, its over-the-top, it’s hilarious, and it’s oodles of fun. It doesn’t help that while trying to look back at the game for this blog, my brother came in and started playing with me.
As if I wasn’t already being hit with nostalgia, my brother and I playing Blitz together made me feel like I was just a little kid again. But, I digress.
Even for an eleven-year-old game, Blitz remains fun and intense at the same time. When I was only 6 points behind my opponent and there was just 10 seconds left on the clock, I literally started sweating out of nervousness.
4: Goof Troop (SNES)
Easily one of the first Disney products I ever came into contact with, Goof Troop was the only licensed game I owned on the SNES. Stealing the top down perspective, items, and puzzles from a Zelda game, Goof Troop is very similar to A Link to the Past, just without swords. That may be why I loved it so much – well that and the co-op.
I didn’t actually get a very long look at the game first-hand, as my SNES isn’t working anymore and it’s not available on Virtual Console. I did watch John Carson play through the entire game on a livestream, and although nostalgic, it looked extremely basic and slightly boring. I wouldn’t mind playing through it again, but I don’t think I’ll be going out of my way to do so anytime soon. I’ll just let this one stay in my memories.
3: Goldeneye 007 (N64)
When compared to the other games on this list, I think Goldeneye is the one that is the most significant in its “you had to be there” legacy. If you’ve never played it before and are only used to today’s first-person shooters, it may take hours until you finally get close to learning how Goldeneye works. Not to mention if it wasn’t for the extremely generous auto-aim, the game would be nearly unplayable.
If you do know how Goldeneye works, it’s certainly not too hard to pick back up. Then again, I may only know how the game works so well due to how much I played it with my friends and family in the N64 days.
Goldeneye is a bit like Sonic Adventure (albeit Goldeneye is a much better game) where it doesn’t hold up, but there’s no way I can bring myself to dislike it.
Be sure to check out the Season 2 pilot of Replay for a very extensive look at Goldeneye 007.
2: The Legend Of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)
It feels weird putting A Link to the Past as #2 on this list, as it’s my favorite game of all time. However, as much as I loved it back then, I love it even more now for different reasons.
When I was a kid, I loved it for the excessive feeling of adventure and discovery I got whenever I played. Finding brand new secrets and going through the incredibly large dungeons only added to this feeling.
Today I not only appreciate A Link to the Past for the nostalgic memories, but for the extremely high quality the game has. The graphics are gorgeous, the music is amazing, and the gameplay is top notch. Not only is this arguably the best Zelda game, but easily one of the greatest games of all time.
Check out the very first Super Replay, A Link to the Past!
1: Donkey Kong Country (SNES)
Here it is, my most nostalgic game! This is the game I spent the most time on as a lad, and technically one of the first games I ever “beat” (curse you fake-out credits!). My father and I spent countless hours on this game trying to make it to the final boss. I went back to it many times over the following years too.
If it wasn’t for Donkey Kong Country, I may not have ever gotten into video games in the first place! ...Or I may have just devoted more time to A Link to the Past, I dunno.
Today, Donkey Kong Country is a slight mess. The graphics, unlike a lot of SNES era games, look blurry and smeared thanks to the 3D rendered character models and backgrounds. The platforming is also off, making it inconsistent and frustrating.
If you’ve never experienced this game or its sequels, you’re better off sticking to the fantastic Retro developed Donkey Kong Country Returns. It’s easily the best of the series, and a contender for one of the greatest platformers of all time.
If you want to see Donkey Kong Country in action, watch the Replay.
And there you have it! Like I said, I do love these games, but this list is only to reminisce about the games that had an impact on me, or the ones I remember the most. If you share any of these games, or would like to share your most nostalgic games, please do so in the comments below. I would love to read each of your thoughts on the subject, since I’m a sucker for nostalgia! Hope you enjoyed the read!