My Top 7 Nostalgic Games

Foggy lakes, swimming lessons, libraries and my grandparents’ camp remind me of my childhood. Every time I jump in a pool, I remember the daily swims with my old friends and my daily laps (anywhere between 30 and 50). But my childhood wasn’t all swimming and nature. I played video games on several devices, and I look back on those memories fondly. Now, I am nearly 24 and have lived in southern Ontario for close to six years. I sometimes miss my hometown, but whenever I want to go back in time, I can pop in a game and let the memories flow.

Read on to see which games make me the most nostalgic and some of my best memories associated with them, and what our readers loved!

  1. 1. The Sims 2

    I had always loved playing house and with dolls, so my natural progression was to go digital. The first time I played it, I had made the perfect love story with two teenagers. I played endlessly (and spent so much of my birthday and holiday money on expansion packs) and even had my own YouTube channel! (No, I will not link it. I look back and cringe) My favorite neighborhoods were Pleasantview and Strangetown, and I loved making different iterations of my family and myself with my crushes. 

    I loved The Sims 2 because no matter how hard life got, I could always hop onto the computer and live a perfect life. I still regularly play, even over The Sims 3 and 4. TS2 has largely aged well, even at 14-years-old! My current gaming sessions have been in my year old legacy lot, where I am on the fifth generation.

  2. 2. Kirby Series

    Kirby brings back significantly older memories, going back to around the first grade. I couldn’t pick out just one game, so I’m mentioning the entire series. Some of my fonder memories involve me and my loved ones sitting far too close to the television, playing Kirby on the N64. It was such a simple, yet addictive, fun concept: suck it up! The strongest memory I have with this game is playing it with my first grade “husband,” as we would occasionally swap games.

  3. 3. Mario Series

    Much like Kirby, it was impossible to pick just one. I’ve played this series throughout my life, even presently on the mini Nintendo Entertainment System! The first games I had were Super Mario Bros Deluxe and Yoshi’s Island, which both have the distinct honor of being completed! (When I was young, I had an extremely difficult time completing games) I also played a version on the N64 (can’t remember which), Super Mario 64; Mario Kart Wii; Mario Kart 8; and Mario Party. I have excellent memories of playing on the N64 with my friends while camping, and a not-so-excellent memory of my brother scratching Mario Kart Wii to “show his love” by rubbing it on the floor. My silliest memory? I sleepwalk, sleeptalk and sleep-do-whatever, and I once started playing in my sleep. My parents didn’t believe me for years.


  4. 4. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

    This one is kind of cheating, as I wasn’t allowed to play. Instead, I spent many weekends perched on the couch, coaching my dad through his runs. I’ve watched him play it numerous times, and yet, I’ve never actually played it. My strongest memories were being mesmerized by Revolver Ocelot’s gun twirling and yelling at the screen, trying to help my dad win the final boss fight by shouting when to use grenades (surprise, children don’t know when to throw digital grenades). The entire series has a weird spot in my heart, but Snake Eater evokes the strongest emotions from me.

  5. 5. Nintendogs

    Several years ago, I made a Facebook status that read: “the people who say Nintendogs as Nintendo dogs are not the type of people you need in your life.” I stand by this.

    I was obsessed with having a dog when I was younger, even though big dogs were a bit overwhelming at times. The perfect solution? Nintendogs! I remember I had a beagle, a German shepherd and another dog. I thought I was being incredibly deep when I named the shepherd Mirabel: something to do with mirroring your inner vs. outer beauty? Who knows. I also remember driving my parents absolutely bananas with the voice recognition. Sorry mom and dad.

  6. 6. Scooby Doo Night of 100 Frights; Scooby Doo! (Game Boy version)

    My family is full of Scooby Doo fans, myself included. Even at nearly 24, I fondly remember the perpetually frightened and hungry Great Dane. Night of 100 Frights was our family game, and if I was ever grounded, I would beg and beg to watch my dad trek his way through all sorts of scary monsters. I was thrilled when I got my own Scooby game to play on my Game Boy. The movie terrified me (and who wouldn’t be terrified?! The monsters were thoroughly utterly horrifying) and I was apparently a tiny adrenaline junkie, because I played the hell out of it. I’ve probably beaten it three or four times, and part of me hopes to find the cartridge again so I can do it all again.

  7. 7. DreamLife

    I was the cool girl out of my friends because I owned one of these plug-and-play consoles, alongside the fashion designing game Designer’s World (but DreamLife was absolutely cooler). DreamLife was about, well, a dream life. You could design yourself and your real-life bestie (if I was angry at one of them, I would make a new save file and pick a different friend) and play through your perfect version of love interests, friends, part-time jobs, hobbies and most importantly, shopping! I had never imagined myself as this fun, flirty and fashionable little lady, but it was fun to imagine what my life could be like. Reflecting on it, I’m glad I stayed true to myself in reality and have no interest in revisiting DreamLife. I’m almost certainly glamorizing it, as it was not particularly inclusive (same-sex relationships were unavailable, and there were almost certainly other problematic aspects).

  8. 8. What about other folks?

    Nostalgia means something different for everyone, and the people I polled agree!

    - Bobby P.: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time; Perfect Dark

    - Serah E.: Super Mario World

    - Rebecca P.: Paper Mario; Pokémon Puzzle League; DK64; Mario 64; Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

    - Mackenzie C.: Backyard Football; Freddi Fish

    - Angelica C.: Pikmin

    - Alisia R.: The Sims

Time seemingly races ahead, so once in a while, it’s nice to look back on what made your childhood special. What makes me nostalgic may not happen for you; what games make you remember the simpler times?