You know, nostalgia is an odd thing. It's all built from your past experiences, and it extends to the many works of fiction you've come across during your life. As a result, you will often remember fondly a kids' movie that you grew up with, and show great hatred for a film you watched as a kid and disliked. Nostalgia can also be treacherous, as you can re-watch a film you disliked as a child and find lots of new qualities to it, or on the contrary, re-watch a film you loved as you grew up and find many defects. We've all gone through this at some point, looking at a nostalgic work of fiction with our current eyes and having a completely different point of view.
Yes, nostalgia is an odd thing. That's probably the reason why gamers will look fondly on the first gaming console they ever owned, and the games they played on it. In my case, I got a NES from a garage sale for only 10 bucks, and I also received the gamer's entire collection of NES cartridges, a total of 14. Some of those games were not that great, but others kept a soft spot in my heart. A few years later, one of my cousins outgrew his Super Nintendo Entertainment System and gave it to me. I received his eight SNES games with it. All in all, I can say I've been lucky, 22 games nearly for free... Still, a few years ago I sold the two systems and all of the games because I needed money for another item of (current) gaming. I still keep good memories of the games I owned (or, well, good memories of the ones worth remembering). I also remember the games I loved to play as a child... and now I'm sad because I cannot play them anymore. However, I kept a list of games I used to own, and today I bring you a list of 12 games I really, really liked. Some of these titles may be completely unknown to you; To me, they represent hours and hours of fun. Today is a trip down my own Nostalgia Lane, and I invite you to come along. These are 12+ games I'd like to play again someday, either on the real game systems, or on emulators.
Note: At the end of the actual Top 12, there's a list of all the games I owned that weren't on the list. Let's go!
This is the story of B.O.B., a teenage robot who leaves home for a night of fun and crashes the family car on an unfriendly planet. Or rather, three unfriendly planets, one after the other, because this robot has worse luck than me. Anyway, in order to find his way home, B.O.B. (no relation to R.O.B.) ventures through military bases and alien lands, defeats missile launchers and goop spewers, meets all sorts of crazy bosses... I loved this SNES game because it was REALLY hard to beat. I remember spending hours and hours trying to complete it. And when I finally did, it was incredible! This game is great in every possible way. B.O.B. gains a whole arsenal of weapons and tools to aid him on his quest to head back home, the levels are varied, and it represents a true challenge to any gamer. It had very little plot, but for this one, I could actually accept it, as everything else was just so great. Try it someday, you won't be sorry.
2. Bubble Bobble
Anyone remembers this one? The story of two little dragons who happen to be humans transformed against their will? They have to travel across numerous levels in order to retrieve their appearance and save their parents? Every level was a puzzle and the dragons had to defeat every enemy by trapping them in bubbles they spewed before popping said bubbles. The gameplay was great, and the final boss was a force that had to be seen to be believed. I remember having both great times and hard times playing it, because it was such a difficult, difficult, DIFFICULT game in the later levels. The kicker? You cannot beat the game for real unless you beat it in 2-Player mode. Even with that small problem, it was still quite fun, and I remember many things about it that make me want to play it again now.
3. The Disney NES titles
-Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers
Everyone who grew up in the '90s knows Chip and Dale, Scrooge McDuck, and Darkwing Duck. Well, three of Disney's best TV shows that got their NES adaptations. Out of the three, only DuckTales was reissued recently with an updated art style, making the game look even better than it used to. But the other two were also very good. I remember the strange bosses in the Chip and Dale NES game, from the Tutorial boss to Fat Cat. I remember some of the bosses from the Darkwing Duck game, even if it was a lot harder than the other two. Oddly enough, while I grew up watching Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers and DuckTales (in the French version; I wasn't always an English-speaker, you know), I never got to watch Darkwing Duck. I've been told it's alright (though some would call this an understatement). Those are three games I won't forget, and I will play them again if I get the chance. Give them a try, they're available on NES emulators.
4. Donkey Kong Country
Yeah, a classic of the SNES. Donkey Kong Country is awesome. It's just epic. Not only did it feature the new DK, but also Diddy, the Kremlings, more members of the Kong Family, and oh so much. The levels were varied, many of them contained awesome gimmicks, and there were some legitimately dangerous enemies. Plus, who doesn't like being blasted from barrel to barrel? In a game, it looks amazing. DKC was followed by two sequels, and a sequel series made for the original Game Boy consoles. That's the legacy of Donkey Kong Country. I remember loving this game, trying oh so hard to find everything there was to find... Hours of enjoyment. The animal buddies, the Kremlings... I just cannot say how much I liked this game. I'd buy it on the Virtual Console, but I switched to Windows 8 a few months ago and I haven't been able to connect my Wii to Internet since, so I can't buy new games on the Wii Shop Channel... But still, Donkey Kong Country is pure greatness, and you must try it at least once. You must.
5. Dr. Mario
Classics once again! Yeah, not everyone remembers this game fondly. I can see why. It's not the easiest puzzle game around. The viruses are kind of annoying. There's no clear plot, and nowhere is it said where Mario got his Ph.D. Either way, it must have been a crappy university if they taught him to use pills to solve every problem. However, the concept was quite fun. I remember playing it a little. It's simple, really: The bottle is infested with viruses, and you have to kill them by placing colored pills matching the colors of the virus you want to destroy; and if four “squares” (counting virus and pill halves) of the same color are aligned, they all disappear. While this is fun, sometimes I largely prefer action games. Dr. Mario still has its merits, it sure is memorable. It went on to receive a few sequels, and is considered part of the Mario canon. What else can I say? Give it a try.
6. Mighty Final Fight
Oh noes! Mayor Haggar's daughter has been kidnapped – again! Helped of two younger fighters, Guy and Cody, Haggar sets out to retrieve his daughter! Being one of the few Beat'Em-Up games I played in the early days, I have a soft spot for it. For starters, you can pick between three different fighters, which is neat. Plus, as you progress through the game, these fighters level up and gain new amazing attacks. The game also contains a lot of comedy, which makes it even better. Seeing the villains give an "Oh crap" face when you hit them is priceless. The heroes are great, the plot is fine, the bosses are – wow, I remember now: The bosses are just incredible, all of them. The settings are varied, and the gameplay is good. I swear, this is a great introduction to Beat'Em-Up games, and I liked it. Liked it a lot. It's great. Also, Haggar is a crazy awesome wrestler.
7. Mrs. Pac-Man Maze Madness
I bought this Game Boy Advance many years ago, and I remember having a lot of fun with it, but I inexplicably lost the cartridge not even a year after I bought it. While not “nostalgic” for this game, I sure hope I could play it again... This game was first released on the PlayStation system, then jumped to the Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast before appearing in GBA cartridge form. As for the plot? A witch invades a castle and kidnaps the princess, so Mrs. Pac-Man must save the four regions of Pac-Land in order to bring peace again. Yeah, that's it. All I remember is that it had the right level of difficulty, it had a lot of puzzle elements, and it was pretty darn fun. I don't remember actually beating the full game, but knowing my persistence, I probably wasn't too far from achieving that. Oh well. Here goes another game I'd look for on emulator sites if I were to review it.
8. Road Runner: Death Valley Rally
I didn't own Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time, but I did own another Looney Tunes game. In Death Valley Rally, you control the Road Runner, as he speeds around five different worlds while trying to avoid or thwart the coyote's plans. As such, our favorite speedy bird runs through a desert, a construction site, trains, a mine and a space station to fool Wile E. Coyote. As is to be expected from a Looney Tunes game, each time the bird reaches the end of the level, Coyote's plans crash on him in all sorts of fun ways. Did I mention that the last boss is a giant robotic Wile E. Coyote head? Most of the coyote's plans are shout-outs to things he tried in the cartoon, and here he still fails in using them. The game was very challenging and I keep fond memories of it. I wished I could play it right now...
10. Super Mario Bros. 1, 2 & 3
Classics, once again! Who hasn't played the very first Super Mario Bros.? The second one? The third one? You must have played at least one of those at some point in your life. They're just THAT famous. The first SMB game used to be the highest-selling game of all time. The second ones (either the American version, taken from Doki Doki Panic, or The Lost Levels; both count as Super Mario Bros. 2 in a way) also gained a reputation as great games, with The Lost Levels being known for its extreme difficulty, and SMB2 as the first time in history that Toad and Princess Peach were playable AND had their own abilities. SMB3 is one of Mario's greatest adventures, the first appearance of the Koopalings, and an all-around awesome game to own and play. It looked great, it had great gameplay and ideas, and it was fun. These four games were awesome, each in their own way, and for this reason I hope to play them again at some point in my life. (Note: I owned Super Mario bros. 1, 2 and 3, but I also had Super Mario All-Stars for the SNES, which is why I could play The Lost Levels as well.)
11. Tiny Toon Adventures 2: Trouble In Wackyland
Another relatively unknown game. Most people who grew up in the 90s know the Tiny Toons. Did you know they had video game adaptations? In this one, the main cast (Buster, Babs, Bucky, etc.) enters an amusement park called Wackyland, which seems fun... but actually, it's filled with traps! And of course, none of them knows it until they're on the rides! As a result, Babs has to survive a CRAZY roller coaster ride, Bucky enters an all-too-risky Bumper Car challenge, and Buster visits a castle in which the gravity keeps changing. The game was difficult at times, but nothing unbeatable. It makes sense, as it was made for kids! It was creative. My memories of this game are mostly positive, so I want to be able to play this game again someday. It was really fun, and if you know of a way for me – and for you! - to play it, tell me, I'll be more than happy to know!
12. WarioWare: Twisted!
For this last one, there's a bit of history. I owned this game, and so did a friend of mine. However, her cartridge of WarioWare: Twisted! was stolen by someone, another person who wasn't quite a friend, and as a result I gave her my cartridge. I never got a chance to play it ever again. It's kind of sad, too, as WarioWare: Twisted is one of a handful of Game Boy Advance games with a built-in movement detector, a creative new feature. The game knows when you're tilting the cartridge! The only other control used in microgames for this installment was the A button, so the games were all rather simplistic. It doesn't matter, though. The microgames were still a lot of fun, so I guess it reached its goal. It was REALLY enjoyable, and if I could get my hands on a copy of WarioWare: Twisted!, I would buy it. I want to play this again, it was just so cool. Sure, you looked like a ditz spinning the game console, but hey! It worked!
Other games I owned that weren't mentioned on this list: The Adventures of Bayou Billy, Duck Hunt, Platoon, Rad Racer, Spy Hunter, StarTropics, Super C, Tetris, TMNT: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode, Touchdown Fever (man, this one SUCKED), Gunforce, Mortal Kombat 3, Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Super Mario Kart. Just because they're not on this list doesn't mean I didn't like them. Some were okay, there are others I really despised. But I owned them in the past, so I felt like I should at least acknowledge them. I bought some of these games on the Virtual Console, which is why I did not include them on the list: I've played them, albeit in a different form, in the recent years.
Do you have a gaming console you are nostalgic for? What are the games you played that you don't have anymore, that you would like to play once again? Share them in the comments, I will be more than happy to read them. Nostalgia is a great thing and no one should shy away from it.