Redbrick Gaming’s Writers and Editors recall the games from their childhood that are special to them
Animal Crossing: New Leaf – Benjamin Oakden
I’ll never forget the evening that, out of the blue, I got a call from my best friend. For him to contact me out of the blue like that was unusual for him, and so I immediately worried that something had happened.
“Ben, I have some really bad news… it’s about my sister…” My stomach turned and my imagination started racing- was she okay?
“… she’s deleted my Animal Crossing save!” came the eventual reveal. After briefly scolding him for making me worry that something had happened to her, I came to realise just how traumatic of an event he had experienced. We pour so much of our lives into our Animal Crossing towns, with the design and set of villagers being unique to each player. It might seem strange to someone who isn’t into Animal Crossing, but having a save file deleted feels like a personal loss.
Luckily, I have never been unfortunate enough to deal with such heartbreak, with my town of Anetos being a constant in my life from the age of 11 right until I moved on to the sequel, New Horizons, in early 2020. My teenage years were spent fishing, catching bugs and decorating my virtual house – New Leaf always provided that relaxing escape, whether I spent it with my friends in-game or with the eclectic range of villagers that inhabited my town.
Buzz! Junior: Robo Jam – Dan Hunt
Strap in guys, it’s about to get wild.
Encapsulating the very best of mid-noughties absurdity and complete with grainy graphics and a jarringly shouty narrator, Buzz has caused countless arguments in the Hunt household – mainly because I’m so good at this game that I’m constantly and entirely unfairly accused of cheating.
The game is simple. You pick up the Buzz remote, complete with the iconic big red button, design your robot and start playing a series of mini-games with your friends and family. What’s the story? There isn’t one. What’s the emotional arc? Eh? What’s the point? Who knows, but it’s completely brilliant.
The mini-games you play are randomly selected and incredibly varied. One minute you might be shooting rocks in space, the next you’re competitively farting in a diner (no, seriously). You might be flinging yourself across a planet with a large rotating arm, or you’ll be tapping to the beat of a singing octopus in a sewer. It’s whacky, it’s eclectic, it’s genius!
In our latest game I naturally won the game with over 70 cogs (because that’s apparently a viable point-scoring method). My sister still isn’t talking to me. Laurel, if you’re reading this: you can’t cheat at spot the difference. Grow up.
Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box – Emily Wallace
Out of all the video games I played as a child, nothing captured my attention quite like the Professor Layton series, with Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box being my particular favourite. The concept of the games is relatively simple: you follow around the titular Professor Layton and his apprentice Luke as they solve a central mystery to the game, with the gameplay mainly focusing on solving a wide variety of puzzles. I remember getting hours of enjoyment sitting with my DS trying to solve particularly fiendish puzzles, debating whether I could bring myself to use one of my carefully saved up hint coins.
Alongside the puzzles, the games also contained plots that captivated my child self. Pandora’s Box centred around the mysterious Elysian Box, which supposedly kills anyone who opens it, and Layton and Luke find themselves in the town of Folsense, which everyone claims has a vampire living in the old abandoned castle. The twists and reveals within this game still stick with me to this day, enhanced by the animated cutscenes for particularly important moments. The Professor Layton games all have minigames too, and Pandora’s Box’s tea and hamster minigames provided lots of opportunities for me to waste time as a child too. Even now, I still find myself wanting to revisit these games and enjoy the nostalgia – and with any luck I won’t remember the answers to the puzzles and can have the joy of solving them all over again.
Nintendogs – Halima Ahad
Nintendogs is a game which means something to me because it was there for me for the majority of my childhood. The game is simple and can be played on the Nintendo DS which has access to a vast array of quality games, but my favourite has to be Nintendogs.
The game is a pet simulation in which you can adopt three dogs of your liking, name them and take care of them. There are many elements of the game which I found to be enticing and immersed me in the world of looking after dogs.
One element of care which I enjoyed in the game was bathing the dogs – this was simple, interactive, and easy to do. Another aspect of the game which I enjoyed was walking. This involved drawing a route around the map presented on my DS and walking my dog around the streets as well as go to required places, such as the shops, to buy essentials for my dog.
This game has been very nostalgic for me because it reminds me of my childhood and the days where I would be excited to come home and look after my dogs. As a young child, it especially made me feel grown up because I was responsible for the dogs I was looking after.
Crash Bandicoot: Wrath of Cortex – Isobel Radakovic
When I think of games from my childhood, the first ones that come to mind are the Crash Bandicoot games, both on the PS2 and the PSP. Though some memories are hazy, I remember a feeling of awe at the concept of taking Crash Bandicoot, a bandicoot that I was convinced was a fox, on this journey through teleportation portals and mazes. I remember loving the collecting element of the game, the destructive Elemental masks both terrifying and invigorating me at the same time.
I have clear, fond memories of booting up my PS2 with my family and being allowed to take over the controller, something which 4-year-old me jumped at the chance to do. As a younger sister, I really enjoyed the introduction of the character Coco, Crash’s computer-expert sibling who helps to defeat the nefarious and eponymous Dr. Neo Cortex. While I don’t remember ever reaching the end of the game, I do remember the quality time spent with my family playing it.
Assassin’s Creed II – James Evenden
A fact that I have tried to hide about myself is that I used to be a gaming trophy hunter. I know, I’m embarrassed too. Assassin’s Creed II was the game that kept me up at night climbing up buildings as Ezio, and of course, chasing those feathers. The game means a lot to me because it captures a specific time in my life when my YouTube recommendation was filled with videos of trophy guides and my Xbox 360 would often overheat in exhaustion.
Assassin’s Creed II is easily the best in the franchise, and the story is a big reason for this. Following Ezio, after his family is killed, we witness his transformation into a master assassin. I have vivid memories of Assassin’s Creed II. It was one of the first games I played for myself, away from having to share a controller with my sister. It felt like a significant moment in my gaming journey, like a mature step into ancient Italy that I was taking on my own.
I quickly became addicted to Ezio’s journey, and it unlocked my obsessive desire to 100% the game and become a master assassin, all from the comfort of my living room. I miss Ezio. I can only assume he misses me too, as I accidentally threw him off a building, killing him and having to start the mission again.
Skyrim – Jess Parker
Developed by Bethesda Game Studios and released in 2011, Skyrim is the fifth instalment in the Elder Scrolls series and is an open-world fantasy game. Skyrim has been a favourite of mine ever since it was released, and it’s a game that I know I will always come back to. The game’s open-world nature allows for a different experience with each play, and the ever-unfolding range of main and side quests ensures that players will always have something to get stuck into.
It is impossible to get bored of a game like Skyrim. Users can experience the game in whatever capacity they want to, whether that be combat-focused or plot-driven. The game’s visuals are phenomenal, and Skyrim’s soundtrack is incredibly nostalgic for me. When not locked in combat, players are treated to a cinematic orchestration that perfectly matches Skyrim’s impressive scenery and fantastical design.
There are very few games that have successfully achieved the levels of deep world-building that Skyrim did, especially for when the game was released. The game poses unlimited possibilities for lovers of the open-world format and encourages total freedom in its players.
Super Mario Land 2: The 6 Golden Coins – Louis Wright
Everyone has their first video game, and for me that game is Super Mario Land 2: The 6 Golden Coins. Playing it on the Gameboy Advance makes for some of the fondest memories of my childhood. Whether that be on long car trips, only being able to progress whenever the street lights came through the car window, or under the covers in illicit late night gaming sessions, it was a game that I could not get enough of.
The game itself is also a blast. Learning from the missteps in the first Super Mario Land, the sequel truly feels like a fully fledged Mario experience shrunken down to the 4-bit handheld. With all the classic iconography of the franchise as well as the introduction of fan-favourite character Wario, the game is a staple of the series and worth the investment if you are a long-time fan or just dabbling in the sea of games.
Like a first film or a first book, a first game is significant in forming what you love about the medium going forward. Therefore for introducing me to the medium and helping form my love for it, Super Mario Land 2: The 6 Golden Coins is a game that means something to me.
Wii Party – Sophie Utteridge
Everyone knows about my eternal love of the ultimate gaming console: Nintendo Wii. Before, I’ve written about the cultural phenomenon of Just Dance and how it has become an integral part of my family’s New Year’s Eve traditions. This time, I am revitalising my Nintendo Wii series with another classic: the great Wii Party.
For those of you who don’t know, Wii Party is one of the best family Wii games around. Released in 2010, this game was instrumental in my family’s competitive instincts. Consisting of five four player games, dozens of two player games, and hundreds of minigames, there is something for everyone.
In particular, Board Game island has always inspired a white hot rage in me never seen before (apart from on the cricket field). If you happen to be playing with a CPU, all I can say is good luck. They may seem pretty useless at first, but be warned. They are ruthless when it comes to taking your pieces off the board one by one.
The other game I became obsessed with in my youth was Mii of a Kind. Perhaps it is just my hyper-organisation talking, but there was something incredibly satisfying about sorting each Mii into their correct shirt colour whilst simultaneously trying to beat your sibling to the oh-so-coveted “Wild Mii”. If my dear brother is reading this: don’t worry, at some point I’ll let you win.
There are countless more excellent things I could say about Wii Party, but that’s for another time. For now, it remains my favourite game of 2022 (and quite possibly all time) and I encourage everyone to release your inner child if you’re yearning for some nostalgic game play.
The Dog Island – Tom Green
The Dog Island sees me drifting into reveries of the scratchy office chairs and boxy televisions of my 2000s childhood. The game begins by allowing a choice of dog breed to play as, and sends you out on a quest to retrieve a flower with healing properties for your sick sibling. And besides a few tableau vivant memories of desert villages and jungles, that’s all I remember.
Despite the inevitable failing of childhood memory to which most games have fallen victim, occasionally I am seized by flashes of The Dog Island, and it all comes flooding back. Like the one particularly infuriating level (that I never completed) involved traversing a sandstorm while being attacked by snakes- I never had the courage to let my character take a hit out of fear that the virtual dog would actually be hurt.
Somewhere, saved to my old Nintendo Wii is probably upwards of 20 save files with different characters all stuck at the edge of the desert or rainforest about to be beset by rattlesnakes and gorillas. It’s symbolic of a bygone time in my life where the most insurmountable challenge was guiding a cyber-dog through a cyber-desert.
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