Even if we didn’t all grow up into seasoned gamers, most of us Edge writers (being the 90s children that we are) spent the majority of childhood playing the many video games at our disposal. From the Lego games, to the classics, to sports games, to those which accompanied our favourite childhood films- this is our comprehensive list of our favourite childhood video games.
Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup
Six year old me discovered Harry Potter through a gifted video of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and became obsessed through starting the series in the conventional way, you know, with the first film and book. Fast forward one year when I’d become fully engrossed with the series and seven year old Carly-May had been given a PlayStation 2 and the classic game, Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup.
Probably the only ‘sport’ and ‘action’ game I’ve played, even though those terms feel very loosely applicable, HP:QWC had three stages. There was ‘Hogwarts’, where you play as a house to compete for the Hogwarts Quidditch Cup. Rather than just being a generic character you’re Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy, Cho Chang or Cedric Diggory. I can only assume this is set before the Goblet of Fire… ‘Exhibition’ and ‘World Cup’ followed, ‘World Cup’ being my favourite. I always played as France because they had the prettiest coloured outfits.
I spent so many hours playing this, I even developed a method of knowing I was doing well if the quaffle was still in my team’s half. Oh, memories. BRB, finding out if I still have my PS2…
words by Carly-May Kavanagh
In 1996, one of the greatest and most revolutionary gaming heroes of all time was born. Often heralded as the female equivalent to Indiana Jones, the creation of Lara Croft, A.K.A the Tomb Raider marked a significant shift in popular culture and paved the way for more female protagonists in the world of gaming. Sure, her first iteration wasn’t the best role model – with her big, triangular boobs and teeny tiny waist – but the impact that this character had was huge.
Personally, the original PS1 Tomb Raider trilogy was one of the cornerstones of my childhood. My Mum and I would play them together all the time – she’d be in charge of the controls, and I would point out where the medipacks were and scream whenever the music became suspicious – in anticipation of whatever animal was coming to try and attack Lara. Having hijacked my brother’s PS2, I decided to take a quick trip down memory lane and re-play a few levels, and though I love jumping from ledge to ledge and finding all the levers and artifacts, I can confirm that I still scream whenever the music becomes suspicious…
words by Anneka Honeyball
Let’s be clear: Rugby 08, EA’s 2007 entry and apparent finale to its series of rugby union games, is not here for its gameplay. Or its visuals. Or its stability, although that may be due to my over-exhaustion of three different copies of it. Instead, for a pack of teenage boys trapped in a boarding school with little other choice on rainy days than barely-functional FIFA relics, a DVD shelf highlighted by Woody Harrelson’s bowling bore Kingpin, or embracing the worst and focusing upon academia- it became somewhat of a lifestyle.
Barely more than a re-skin of Rugby 06, it fostered fantasy drafts as we pondered exactly how Northampton’s Carlos Spencer earned the gold star that hovered above “impact players” who, if anything, went down more easily and took the whole game with them. House rules came into play, with abuse of the game’s impractical physics engine (by which you could sprint orbits around defenders for an advantage) being the most egregious crime. Though far too much time was spent tinkering with lineups and rebuilding players either due to dodgy licensing or to bring it to life five years later, none was wasted, with an exquisite soundtrack headlined by Tokyo Police Club and The Temper Trap two years before ‘Sweet Disposition”s ascent.
Four years on, original developer HB Studios revived the codebase for the next generation of consoles, though the refresh of rules and licenses in Rugby World Cup 2011 came at the expense of much depth, and a further attempt in 2015 claimed to be a complete rebuild but instead languishes at the very bottom of Metacritic‘s PlayStation 4 rankings. Though we were the ones to make the original feel special with our recitation of the commentary and predictions of bugs and animations; this certainly illustrates how little can ever compare.
words by Xavier Voigt-Hill
Okay, okay, hear me out here. Think the adventures of Lara Croft or Indiana Jones… but you’re playing as Barbie. Barbie Explorer on the PS1 was probably one of the very first video games I bought with my own money, and it was a fundamental part of my childhood gaming experience. Playing as an archaeologist version of Barbie as she seeks to uncover artefacts across the globe; the game has 4 different places where the levels took place. These places were Egypt, Tibet, Africa (yes let’s ignore the fact that Egypt is in Africa for a moment), and once those were complete- Babylon (alas, I never got as far as to have had the opportunity to play this level). Each place has four levels, in which you mark out your journey through the wilderness and different terrains to try and uncover the artefact from that place. You have to swing from ropes, jump on columns over lava, dodge sandstorms and more on the way, and the whole thing is an adventure from start to finish. Or at least, that’s what the 7 year old reawakening in me is telling me. Seriously, this game was class and nobody can tell me otherwise.
words by Rehana Nurmahi
You’re in first place. Almost at the finish line. And then… Boom! Your friend just got you with a spiky blue shell. Mario Kart might be frustrating at times, but somehow it always kept me coming back. Mario Kart DS has given me some of my best gaming memories. The crazy racing action just can’t be beaten. The game was certainly fun in single player – unlocking characters and courses – but the real meat of the game is in its multiplayer mode. Racing with my friends, family and even strangers in doctor’s waiting rooms, airports and car journeys really defined my childhood. I would never leave the house without my DS and a copy of Mario Kart. While this article is about childhood games, I still come back to the crazy kart racer on a regular basis. Mario Kart is truly the ultimate multiplayer game and the 111 million people who have bought a game in the series would agree!
words by Josh Nicholson
Nintendogs was my first Nintendo DS game, and fulfilled my dream of having many small cute animals in my home. Alas, I could never actually play with them, only blow bubbles to them through my microphone. I favoured beagles and labradors – chocolate and golden were both welcome in my pad.
I remember obsessively entering my dogs into the agility competitions because they got hella cash from those, and I really wanted to upgrade my home to the space theme. That was, like, the most important thing to me, and it seemed so unattainable. I had a system, the best dogs, the dogs who found the best things on walks, it was maybe a little obsessive but the space theme looked SO cute.
Saving for that was probably hindered by all of the cute toys and accessories you can buy them. My faves were the tug rope and bubbles. Yet I always felt guilty playing with them when I knew I had many cute puppies in the kennels, choosing who to put in there was heartbreaking every time.
I never did get the space theme, I went for a sleepover and my friend’s little brother deleted my save. I was so close. It was THE WORST.
words by Carly-May Kavanagh
Ratchet and Clank
Of all the childhood games (and I was very tempted to reveal my childhood addiction to Scooby Doo on PS2), Ratchet and Clank has to have been the best. I can certainly remember wasting hours/days of my life adventuring as either this weird cat creature, or the miniature robot, saving the world from evil robot monsters and dark forces (Captain Drek and Captain Qwark were the evil villains of my childhood). Much like any standard action-orientated PS2 game, the story revolves around progressing through several levels and battling enemies, but I loved the task of collecting as many ‘bolts’ as possible to upgrade my weapons. These weapons were also always fun and over-the-top ranging from lava spewing guns to those which essentially let off a mini-earthquake which my 10-year old self thought was the coolest thing ever! There were also some very cool tasks (getting to ride down water chutes was my personal favourite), as well as some brain teasers that, if solved at first attempt, make you feel brilliant or if still puzzling you after half an hour always use to get me rather annoyed. Either way, it was the game of my childhood and I’m rather too excited about its upcoming PS4 re-release later this year!
words by Bruno Russell
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Unless you’ve been standing in a corner staring at a wall your whole life, you’ve probably had a go at playing one or two Legend of Zelda games. Hell, maybe you’ve played the whole fifteen installments. But ten years ago, Nintendo released the best installment of their thirty year LOZ run; a visually stunning, lavish and intelligent game with some genuine heart and enough hook to convince you that an eighteen hour run of fighting dancing skeletons, some impressively persistent pterodactyl-like mutant birds, and (eventually) a certain ginger-haired, seemingly immortal central antagonist, is a good move. And – and I herald myself as one of the authorities of binge-playing Legend of Zelda – let me just say, it was definitely a good move.
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess follows our hero Link as he goes on a fantastical journey to save the city of Hyrule – again. But plot twist, this time Link is cursed with a howling misfortune – he’s been turned into a wolf. Now with the power to switch, with a mere click of a button, between wolf and mortal, he embarks on a journey to save Hyrule from a corrupted parallel dimension, known as the Twilight Realm. Mysterious.
But despite its somewhat volatile premise, Twilight Princess is the most heartfelt game I’ve ever played. Its glittering cutscenes, impressive storyline and impassioned characters making it prime source material for an award-worthy, albeit probably magnificently long, film, and three years after I last played it, ten years after its original release, it’s the only game I’ve ever played which has had more than just a dent of lasting impact. Guys, this game is deep.
words by Sophie Trenear
The Simpsons: Hit and Run
Games based on TV shows and movies are rarely impressive. Often rushed cash ins, they never really capture the spirit of the source material. The Simpsons: Hit and Run is not one of these games. With all the TV writers and voice cast returning, Hit and Run really feels like playing an episode of the show. Another thing licenced games often do is copy the game play of another successful series. Hit and Run is guilty of this, taking many cues from Grand Theft Auto, but it is executed so well that this can be overlooked. Where The Simpsons: Skateboarding is a pale imitation of Tony Hawk¸ Hit and Run manages to take the basis of Grand Theft Auto and create something amazing in its own right. The game world is full of clever nods to episodes of The Simpsons and I spent many hours simply driving around Springfield looking for them. So not only can The Simpsons: Hit and Run scratch an under aged Grand Theft Auto itch, it is also a wonderful celebration of TV’s favourite animated family.
words by Josh Nicholson
Lego Harry Potter
What do you get when you combine the most successful toy franchise of the 21st century and the most successful film series of the 21st century? Surely, the 21st century’s most successful children’s video game.
As one of the earlier LEGO games, Lego Harry Potter may not have the finesse of the more recent releases by Traveller’s Tales, but its gameplay is still addictive. Released as two separate games, so the fun keeps coming, Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 was released in 2010, with Years 5-7 following in 2011. The games made history for the Lego Games franchise as the first to have large, sprawling open world ‘hubs’, which players can freely roam once unlocked by playing the games’ story levels. Also unlocked is a whole menagerie of your Harry Potter favourites, even the more obscure – you can play as Narcissa Malfoy or Professor Sprout if you like!
Best of all, it’s a great laugh. Its multiplayer format means that it’s social fun for all the family and for when you have friends round. As ever with Lego Games, the childish humour is still laugh out loud funny to a mature adult, releasing your inner child. Though this may have been my favourite game as a child, it’s probably still one of my favourite games today – for the simple reason that it takes me back to being a Potter-obsessed 13 year old, glued to the screen of my Nintendo Wii.
words by James Barker
As a child, there’s no conceivable idea that could possibly be any better than a video game that combines the characters of the Final Fantasy series with the wonders of Disney. And that is exactly what Square Enix delivered back in 2002 in the form of Kingdom Hearts.
The game was so fantastically wonderful; the action, the worlds, the characters – it was all engaging, entertaining and endlessly enjoyable. Kingdom Hearts tells the story of Sora, a teenager living on Destiny Islands with his best friends, Riku and Kairi, when the island is attacked he is separated from his friends. Soon he is in possession of the key blade, a mysterious weapon that is able to defeat the hordes of dark invading enemies he faces – the Heartless. One thing leads to another and soon he’s teaming up with Donald Duck and Goofy (yes, that Donald Duck and Goofy) and they’re off on a quest to find Riku, Kairi, King Mickey (the mouse) and to free the various worlds of the Heartless. And the worlds? Well they’re all Disney worlds of course! Tarzan, Alice in Wonderland, The Little Mermaid, The Nightmare Before Christmas… the list goes on. In these worlds you fight the villains: Ursula, Jafar, Oogie Boogie, and fight alongside the heroes: Aladdin, Peter Pan, Tarzan- how great is that!!! As bizarre as the game may sound, it’s truly a phenomenal game with great graphics, attention to detail and gameplay. The series has continued well past the first game and was arguably topped by its sequel – Kingdom Hearts 2. I poured countless hours into these games and have done so since having revisited them since with the recent PS3 HD remastered editions.
To this day, they remain my favourite games of all time. I doubt I’ll be giving up playing Kingdom Hearts anytime soon, especially with Kingdom Hearts 3 on the horizon but seemingly moving further and further away *sad face*.
words by David Mitchell-Baker
Coming from the multi-million dollar franchise, Shrek SuperSlam was probably one of the more obscure games to have loved; nevertheless, loved it I did. The game is pretty simple, you wrestle as characters from Shrek in different places within the Shrek universe. The characters you can play as range from the obvious: Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, Puss etc., to the downright random: Humpty Dumpty, Robin Hood, Quasimodo and The Black Knight.
There were 3 different modes of play, my favourite of which was the ‘melee’ in which you just wrestled and slam attacked each other as much as possible within the time constraints. Each character had a specific slam attack which was based on the character itself, and building up until you could use these attacks was a deadly competition in my household. My brother, cousins and I had countless hours of hilarious fun on this game, and as bizarre as it is, I am so glad it exists.
words by Rehana Nurmahi
Gauntlet: Dark Legacy
My PS2 days would never have been the same without the little-known Gauntlet: Dark Legacy. Arguably one of the founding games that sent me in a downwards fantasy spiral (guzzling potions, killing dragons and casting fireballs), it will resonate with any fans of the Dungeons and Dragons mindset, and contains plenty of both. In essence it’s an arcade-based dungeon crawler with up to four players taking on a character and killing as many demons, ghosts, hellspawn, swamp monsters and generally ill-fated minions as possible.
The plot is based on collecting runestones from eight different realms (swamp, mountain, castle, sky, forest, desert, ice, dream) to assemble a portal into the underworld. There the players must defeat the evil Skorne and return peace to the kingdoms – but this is easier said than done. Every realm is guarded by a boss – from chimeras to spider queens – that needs a legendary weapon to exacerbate their weakness. These, alongside bonus levels, special upgrades, potions and more, can be found scattered across the various realms; so there’s plenty to do as you explore the world of Gauntlet.
It’s just great fun to play. From the action packed levels to the quirky characters, Midway Games have mixed the perfect blend of myths, legends and lore with all-out fantasy. The boxy 00s graphics will take you back in an instant – and there’s enough scary moments, funny moments, frustratingly difficult moments and plenty of puzzle solving to balance out the button mashing death strikes on hoardes of monsters. Never will you shout at a screen, your friends, and yourself so much in your life. But the reward of crystals and golden dragon fangs makes it all worth it in the end.
words by Ash Millman
From the depths of my childhood, I bring you Dog’s Life. In this, you played a farm dog called Jake as he embarked (see what I did there?) on a quest to rescue Daisy, the object of his affections, from dognappers. On his adventures, you completed mini-games, collected scents in Smell-O-Vision mode, and could temporarily possess the bodies of local dogs to harness their unique powers.
I know; it’s bizarre. But it charmed me, in a way that I’d never experienced before. You had free will, you could potter around areas or return to them before moving on. NPCs and scenery were interactive; to enter shops, he had to jump up and down in front of the automatic door. There was a slot machine you could pull the level of, and sometimes it’d spit out food for Jake. If you ate the lemon, you got to watch his face contort. It’s a time capsule for me. Honestly, Dog’s Life was my single most endearing and formative gaming experience. Quite an accolade, for this random piece of nonsense.
My feelings are a little bittersweet. In the timeless way of games, my file corrupted just as I neared the last level; a time-trial to rescue Daisy from being made into cat food by the evil villain. It wasn’t until a decade later that I finally got to watch her rescue, and the hero got to kiss – err, lick? – his girl.
words by Camilla Cassidy
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
The beauty of being born in 1996 is that I got to live through one of the best gaming booms in the industry just as it began. PlayStation came onto the scene a couple of years before I was born, but having a cousin six years older gave me the opportunity to be introduced to it throughout the late 90s.
It wasn’t until 1999 however that my whole gaming perspective changed. Three-year-old me was already thrust within the gaming sphere through Pokemon on GameBoy Color, but that fateful summer I was introduced to the game that would influence and shape me into the tomboy and sk8er kid that I became. And that game is the legendary Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.
By 2000, my cousin deemed me old enough to advance from the level of watcher to player, and the golden years of sleepovers at our Grandparents house began. With his guidance I had already begun the journey to become a Pokemon master; now was the turn of becoming a professional skateboarder.
With a killer soundtrack and classic level designs, Pro Skater gave four-year-old me the dream of becoming skateboarder. Not just any skateboarder, but my new hero Tony Hawk. It also introduced me to bands that I’m still a fan of; Dead Kennedys, Suicidal Tendencies, The Ernies and Primus (who else can say that they got introduced to these bands the questionable age of four).
I may have not become Tony Hawk, but without this game I would honestly be a completely different person. This was the catalyst into becoming the tomboy, skater-wannabe followed me throughout my childhood, through my teens right to now.
Maybe one day I will actually be able to turn a corner on my skateboard. A girl can dream.
words by Sophie McEvoy
Animal Crossing: Wild World
When the Nintendo DS first came out, my mind was somewhat blown. After years of struggling to press all the right buttons and analogue sticks in the right order, here was a console that only required the touch of a stylus. For a (still) relatively amateur gamer, the DS was a godsend. And Animal Crossing: Wild World was just about my favourite game ever.
I would play it every single day, on loop going through the same routine: shaking the trees to collect fruit and bells (and the occasional beehive), selling all the fruit and other items I could find to Tom Nook and then looking around to see what all the other cutesy animal residents were doing. I was obsessed. So obsessed that I would even take note of how many bells each fish or bug was worth. It’s amazing how much time I put into that game; trying to get all the golden equipment, collecting trophies and special ‘mush’ furniture and pleading with Kiki the cat to never move out of town… It’s not a particularly skillful game, but it kept 11 year old me entertained for hours and hours upon end.
words by Anneka Honeyball