Video Games That Shaped My Childhood
Updated: May 4
By Nick Andrade
I must admit, I was never drawn to video games when I was a little kid. My early hobbies included sports and playing baseball in the alleyway with the other neighbourhood children. The only time that I was exposed to video games would be when my cousins and I were lucky enough to escape family get-togethers at my aunt’s house, and we would take turns passing around the Super Nintendo controller. We would casually play NHL ’94 against each other, and we tried to beat the hardest game known to mankind – Disney’s Aladdin.
My brother was the one who first brought a PlayStation into our own house. He was much more interested in it than I was, but his love for the games reeled me too.
I was an impressionable little brother and I wanted to do anything to be like him. I would follow him everywhere and try anything that he tried. But - I was too intimidated by the games he would play to give it a fair shot myself. I would spend what felt like hours watching Rodney play sagas like Final Fantasy, it felt like I was watching a movie, except way better. Whenever he would pass me the controller and let me try it, I would always die almost immediately. ‘
Throughout the years, my love for video games has become a full-blown obsession and I’ve actually gotten (a little bit) better. These are the games that shaped my childhood and propelled my love for games to what it is today.
1. Pokémon Blue, 1998, Gameboy I was 9 years old when this game came out and I had no idea what a Pokémon was until a new kid came to school and introduced our entire class to it. Before long, our whole grade 4 class was fascinated and we all needed to play. Rodney gave me his original Gameboy (you know the one – it looks like a grey brick), and I begged my dad to bring me to the store to buy the Pokémon game. Once we got to the store, I was faced with the most difficult decision of my young life – Blue, or red version? I had weighed the pros and cons of each and suddenly it became clear; Blue, obviously, because that was my favorite colour. The first playthrough was pretty tough for me. To this day, I still skip over instructions of most games, and dive right into the fun part of playing. I didn’t know how to heal my Pokémon, or how to beat Brock, or how to get past Pewter City. Rodney forced me to read through the instructions, and I decided to start the game over fresh. Once I read the manual, I was able to zip through the game in only a couple of days. I played non-stop, and hid under my covers with a night-light attachment so that I could get away with staying up as late as possible. I was totally obsessed. To this day, I’ve played every single Pokémon main game that has come out, and I can guarantee that I will for the rest of my life.
2. World Cup ’98, PC After beating Pokémon, I was on the hunt for a new game. I really wanted to play sports games because of my love for it. So, my parents bought this game for our old IBM PC and my love affair with sports games began. I would always play as Brazil because even as a young kid, I recognized the legend in Ronaldo. I’m pretty sure that my love for soccer was already in my blood, but I would be lying if I said that this PC game didn’t have a part in igniting the flame.
Even though the players looked like cubes and you couldn’t tell who was who, I spent countless hours playing and winning the World Cup over and over again. The main theme song to World Cup ’98 was “Tubthumping” by Chumbawumba and I sat through the intro every single time, because that song was (and still is) a banger.
3. Kingdom Hearts, 2002, PS2
Before being introduced to Kingdom Hearts, I was only keen to stick to the main storyline to gain the bragging rights of finishing a game. Kingdom Hearts quickly became one of my most beloved franchises, because the story development and attention to detail inspired me to explore every square inch of the map and beat every side quest and mission. I’ve never been a fan of unnecessarily difficult game bosses, and believe me, Sephiroth in the Coliseum is no joke. I died at least 50 times trying to beat him – but boy, was it satisfying to win. This is truly where my love for RPGs came from. I was so determined to unlock absolutely everything and discover every Easter egg that this game had to offer
Back then there were no YouTube walkthroughs to look up and see what to do on certain levels. At the time there was a website GameFAQs that had written out walkthroughs for every game. I would meticulously copy everything the instructions said to make sure I got everything. That era honestly feels like such a long time ago. This was the first game that I ever played to 100% completion – a feat that even now, I rarely accomplish. But for Kingdom Hearts, I’m always sure to get everything.