Super Mario 64
This little guy in a red cap and dungarees is literally the king of childhood video gaming. While Mario Kart might be the game that most people remember, Super Mario 64 was a literal game changer when it was released in 1997 and became the best selling Nintendo 64 game of all time. Running around Bowser’s castle chasing ghosts, shooting out of cannons and collecting stars in your attempt to rescue Princess Toadstool (or Peach as she’s known these days), the game provided greater freedom for players than any game that had gone before. Its bosses are legendary; who can forget Chain Chomp, Big Boo and, of course, Bowser himself?
We might complain about kids these days wasting their lives away on iPhones, but how many hours of your childhood did you lose to this addictive game? With no plot line, and therefore no end point, it was easy to get sucked into designing the most elaborate houses for your Sims, following every little detail of their lives, and ultimately spending all your money on the countless expansion packs on offer. Soon you were able to follow your Sims to university, on holiday and on dates. The game is also a good gauge of someone’s character – there were those who helped their Sims succeed, and those who deleted the stairs of the swimming pool – which one were you?
One of the most significant video game characters in popular culture, every young girl wanted to be badass archaeologist Lara Croft at some point in their lives. The player follows Lara through innumerable tombs in search of the pieces of the Scion, an artefact with great powers. The complexities of the plot escaped me when I was younger, but fighting wolves and dinosaurs while making your way through a series of epic caves, ravines, tunnels and dungeons is gripping gaming action.
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Often voted the best Legend of Zelda game, Ocarina of Time was a roaring success of its release in 1998, selling over 1 million copies in less than a week. The story follows Link as he travels around Hyrule attempting to stop the evil Ganondorf from obtaining the Triforce, an ancient artefact which grants its owner’s wishes. The green-hatted hero uses his ocarina (a small hand-held wind instrument) to travel back and forwards through time and access different dungeons. Along the way he meets Gorons, clompy rock-eating creatures, and Zoras, elegant blue-skinned aquatic species, and has his trusty steed, Epona, for company.
Spyro the Dragon
This sparky purple dragon might live on the 21st century as part of the Skylanders series, but in 1998 he was head of his own video game. The game sees Spyro set out to rescue his fellow dragons from the crystal they have all been encased in, defeat Gnasty Gnorc and collect the stolen treasure. It’s a really simple concept, with Spyro’s only two fighting features being breathing fire and charging, but it’s addictively fun. The bosses are also brilliant; there’s the pumpkin headed scarecrow Toasty, and Blowhard, a giant wizard whirlwind complete with black hat and orange beard. Who knew our childhood video games were so weird?