If you’re a 1990s baby, chances are you’ve held onto that oddly shaped N64 controller at some point. Maybe you duked it out with your brothers in a game of “NFL Quarterback Club, “ “Cruising USA” or “Army Men Sarge’s Heros.” Nights in college may have been filled with drunken games of “Mario Party,” “Golden Eye” or “Starfox” with your friends. “Do a Barrel Roll!” Oh Peppy.
Pick up your old, blocky Game Boy, then go and play around on the newest Xbox or PlayStation. It is mind-blowing how video game consoles over the past twenty or so years have transformed into insanely realistic, high-tech gaming experiences. At 7 years old, playing Mario 64 on Christmas morning changed everything for me. I was fascinated, just fascinated with the massive 3D worlds, vibrant colors and sound effects that sucked you into the game. Fast forward twenty years and you can play that same classic video game on a system the size of your cell phone. You’re never too old to play video games, remember that.
1. Pokemon Snap
Ride around in a weird-looking cart through fictional lands and use endless amounts of film to capture your favorite Pokemon awkwardly staring at you. Throw things at them to make them dance, attack other Pokemon and sometimes just…explode? And who declared Professor Oak as the next Ansel Adams? Rule of thirds? Exposure? ISO? Depth of field? Dodging and burning? Nope, none of that here. Line up that camera’s Pokeball-shaped viewfinder target and press “A” a gazillion times. Shutter speed? Pshhhh. How many kids got pissed off because their “A+” quality picture of Snorlax passed out yet again, failed Oak’s proofing. “Look Mom! See that photo of Magikarp obnoxiously jumping out of a puddle? I’m a professional photographer!” Thankfully later games like “Pokemon Stadium” were a saving grace.
2. Beetle Adventure Racing
Say it with me now, “BEETLE ADVENTUREEEEEEEEEE RACING!” Not only was the opening introduction demo video filled with cheesy techno and an overly-excited male announcer voice; it gave aspiring youth and teenagers a belief that the new Volkswagen Beetle, which debuted the same year as this video game came out, could drive 120+ mph in the snow through ice blocks, fly across rivers, bash into each other without causing damage and most of all- brag to your friends about your best lap time in a new Beetle! Wow, huzzah! So many exclamation points! Plus, how come when you got to the pick a car menu, all the Beetles were identically the exact same… but when you changed just the color: horsepower, acceleration and handling would increase or decrease drastically? I wonder now if “Beetle Adventure Racing” affected sales of the Beetle in 1998.
3. Wave Race 64
“Warm up time, follow that Dolphin!” ….Really? That is all.
4. Space Station Silicon Valley
Here’s a game that came out in 1998 that you may have never heard of. Don’t worry, you’re not missing out on much. I don’t even know how to start in explaining how strange this game was. Control a robot that ‘enters’ one of the many dorky-looking animals in a highly advanced, space station amusement park in the year 3000. Battle and solve puzzles with fat sheep, dogs, foxes, rabbis and even wolves on downhill skis. This game draws one of the best WTF reactions but is a hoot to play.
5. Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
The moon is falling. Yes yes yes! I beat that temple and collected that mask. The moon is still falling. Yes yes yes! I’m no longer running around as an emo Deku scrub thingy. Crap, the moon is falling even more. Yes Yes yes! I finally got to play in the Indigo-Gos band (can’t believe I remember that) with all the other Zoras! Uhhhh why is the moon still falling? Yes yes yes! I beat that boss. Oh for gosh sakes the world is ending and now I have to start all this, all over again. After the glory that was “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time,” which I think was the best N64 game ever made, “The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask” was a big let down. Yes the graphics were beautiful and the story line amazing, but it was just too hard for your average, young impatient Nintendo gamer. Plus creepy characters like Tingle, the bipolar mask salesman and a moon with a terrifying face would keep you up at night in constant fear, made the game even more absurd. Expansion pack and hologram-labeled, golden-colored game cartridge for the win! Be careful slamming that one into your N64’s slot.
6. Hey You, Pikachu!
Whoa! The millennium is approaching so let’s make Nintendo 64 crazy futuristic by giving kids…a microphone! Cool idea at first and I remember watching TV commercials for “Hey You, Pikachu!” where kids could tell America’s favorite Pokemon to move around, eat, smile, wave at the camera and whatever other things you’ve been begging to tell Pikachu. This game sucked, absolutely sucked. Parents paid a premium for a little yellow fuzzy microphone that would plug into the bottom of your N64 controller so their kids could yell in boiling anger at their living room TV. Even the simplest, easiest voice commands would leave Pikachu looking at you clueless. I have yet to talk to someone who has had success playing this game. Failed technology at its finest makes “Hey You, Pikachu!” one of the most ridiculous video games of all time. Oh the frustration! The game deserved a more appropriate title like “Damn you, Pikachu!”
And yep, I had parents who wrote our last name all over video game cartridges. Sharing is fun!