It’s true everyone. I have existed on a single planet for my whole life. I know – with galactic real estate prices at an all-time low, I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to exploring the universe, and I really have no excuse. I’m embarrassed to say, but all of my existing has taken place right on the blue planet, the one with all the water and the dinosaurs (RIP) and the video games.
AH, video games! That’s what we’re here to talk about today! In a question posed to the WordPress community by the Well-Red Mage himself to inspire some conversation with a healthy dose of nostalgia (which we LOVE here, by the way), we’re taking a look back in history to each year to when I first arrived on this planet as a sentient being. The question is:
What is your favorite game for every year you’ve been alive?
A great question, indeed. With the power of Wikipedia entries for games released in each year, I painstakingly (just kidding, I loved every second of it) came up with a list of my favorites, starting with my inception in the year 1987, or 2530 if you’re living in Thailand.
An overly realistic (in terms of gameplay, and not quite graphics) cop simulator that shows you the average day of police routine, while trying to catch a notorious criminal.
1988 – Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)
It was unforgiving, it was bizarre, it was so different than every other Mario game ever created, up to present day. As a young kid playing this (via Super Mario All-Stars, I loved how the different characters had their own unique abilities, specifically Peach’s hover ability which was super OP!
1989 – SimCity (PC)
What kid didn’t spend ages building up a thriving metropolis in SimCity? Well, that’s how I remember it anyway. Most of my cities ended up in flames from earthquakes and giant monsters in the first quarter.
1990 – SmashTV (SNES)
Here’s a game genre that I’d love to see return, with you and your buddy fending off hoards of enemies, themed around a brutal TV show. Brilliantly executed idea which saw a resurgence with the Use Map Settings equivalent in Starcraft: Brood War.
1991 – Super Mario World (SNES)
It may have taken years for five-year-old me when I got a Super Nintendo with Super Mario World as an unexpected Christmas gift, but hey, it changed my life forever!
1992 – Super Mario Kart (SNES)
Some of the fondest memories I have from the Super Nintendo era is playing Super Mario Kart with my younger sister. Incredible game that still holds up fairly well today despite the short courses.
Honorable mention – Kirby’s Dream Land (Gameboy)
1993 – Legend of Zelda – Link’s Awakening (Gameboy)
No surprises here – Zelda will show up a lot on this list, but the Gameboy installments were, in my opinion, some of the greatest titles in the series. It all started with Link’s Awakening!
Honorable mention – Secret of Mana (SNES)
1994 – Super Metroid (SNES)
Arguably the greatest platformer ever made, it stood the test of time beautifully – I only just played it to completion two years ago!
Honorable mention – Killer Instinct (SNES)
1995 – Chrono Trigger (SNES)
A legend in storytelling, the musical score wrapped up an emotional rollercoaster of a game. I was also a late bloomer to this game, only having played it about two years ago.
Honorable mention – Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest (SNES)
1996 – Super Mario 64 (N64)
What can be said about Super Mario 64 that hasn’t already been said about the wheel, the combustion engine, and the lightbulb? It turned the adventure game completely on its head and reinvented the genre.
1997 – Quake 2 (PC)
I played the hell out of Quake 2 when I was a kid. Truth be told, it was my first online multiplayer experience, and I was immediately hooked. Specifically, on Rail Arena. One-shot, one-kill. Armed with a railgun and 3,500 ping, I regularly topped the leaderboard despite having to aim over three seconds ahead of the competition. Oh yeah, and the first player had an absolutely legendary soundtrack consisting solely of instrumental heavy metal, the likes of which I still credit for my then-and-now love of guitar shredding.
Honorable mention – Dungeon Keeper (PC)
1998 – Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
Similar to Super Mario 64, this game represents my entire childhood to me. The opening sequence still brings a tear to my eye. When the bombs drop and we’re all left in the dust and have to eat each other to survive, hopefully I still have a functioning 3DS and my copy of Ocarina of Time 3D. Then, I can still die happy.
Honrable mention – Fallout 2 (PC)
1999 – Rollercoaster Tycoon (PC)
I forget if I’m discussed my love of this game series, but RCT and the followup RCT2, along with its terrific expansion packs (when they actually meant something significant was being added to the game) got me back into simulators.
Honorable mention – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (N64)
2000 – The Sims (PC)
The Sims changed the simulation game, again, much like Rollercoaster Tycoon did the year before. This time around, it opened up a sub-genre of simulations – the life sim. We would see hundreds of expansions in Maxis’ cash generating franchise, still going strong to this day.
Honorable mention – Perfect Dark (N64)
2001 – Jak & Daxter – The Precursor Legacy (PS2)
The return of the 3D platformer – Jak & Daxter blew the socks off the N64 collectathons with this super-cool duo. Many sequels and spin-offs would follow, but none were quite as charming as the initial installment.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance (PS2)
2002 – Metroid Prime
Only playing this a couple of years ago to completion, I had trouble with it initially, but once I got the platforming down, this quickly shot to the forefront of my top FPS games of all time.
2003 – Dark Cloud 2 (PS2)
One of my top games ever, Dark Cloud 2 revolutionized the action-RPG/world builder combo into a huge, unforgettable title. Still hopeful that Level-5 graces us with a sequel one of these days!
Honorable mention – Serious Sam 2: The Second Encounter (PC)
2004 – Half-Life 2 (PC)
From start to finish, an absolutely wild ride. This started a chain reaction that got me heavily into Valve games, including Portal and Team Fortress 2.
Honorable mention – World of Warcraft (PC)
2005 – Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA)
Flew under my radar, but I righted that wrong back when I used to stream on Twitch and had some of the most fun I’d had in ages. An often overlooked Zelda title that deserves a run from any lifelong Zelda fan who may have missed it!
Honorable mention – F.E.A.R. (PC)
2006 – Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GameCube)
My favorite Zelda game of all time, I am praying to the Nintendo gods nightly that they port the HD remake to the Switch. Please, Nintendo. The game is everything that a Zelda game should be, and so much more.
Honorable mention – The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (PC)
2007 – Portal (PC)
Such a neat title that I got as a part of the Orange Box, previously having heard minimally about it. Always a fan of puzzlers, this one twisted my brain in half and I loved it.
Honorable mention – Penumbra: Overture (PC)
2008 – Penumbra: Black Plague (PC)
Horror masterpiece and the followup to my last honorable mention, Black Plague had this far ahead of its time graphics engine that was far too realistic for my poor heart to survive gameplay sessions of more than 45 minutes. This game was terrifying and hit the nail on the head with everything horror should be.
2009 – Left 4 Dead 2 (PC)
The followup to a huge favorite of mine, which ended up releasing shortly after I got into the first installment (naturally). I spent hundreds of hours playing L4D2 online and met tons of great friends on there.
Honorable mention – MX vs. ATV Reflex (PC)
2010 – Metro 2033 (PC)
An action-thriller that I bought on a Steam sale and fell in love with. The gun-play and realism was just what I was looking for around this time of FPS PC games. The followup Metro: Last Light is also totally worth playing.
2011 – Portal 2 (PC)
The much-heavier-in-story followup to one of my favorites in recent years, this took the puzzle test chamber concept and turned it into an incredible story, with charm and humor woven in beautifully.
Honorable mention – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
2012 – Trials: Evolution (PC)
While primarily I enjoyed the success of a dirt biking game making it to the mainstream, the game mechanics and physics were finally perfected after a couple installments of missed opportunities. Evolution shot the series into the mainstream and turned it into a competitive game.
2013 – Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)
Mix one awesome 2D Zelda game and a healthy dose of nostalgia from A Link to the Past, and what do you get? A game that Geddy really loved.
Honorable mention – Ys: Memories of Celceta (PSVita)
2014 – Rayman Legends (PSVita)
One of the most fun I’ve had playing a platformer in years, and I hadn’t played a great Rayman game since Rayman 2: The Great Escape in the late 90s!
2015 – Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D (3DS)
This brought me right back to my childhood like it was intended to be enjoyed – at a higher resolution and in 3D, making me feel like I was really in the game. The ultimate way to play Majora’s Mask.
Honorable mention – Xenoblade Chronicles 3D (3DS)
2016 – Kirby: Planet Robobot (3DS)
Kirby hits a certain spot for me – it’s goofy, almost childish, but boy is it just so charming. It’s not always completely challenging but it’s the kind of game that relaxes you at the end of a long day. I didn’t know what to expect not having played a Kirby game since Kirby’s Dream Land, but this ended up being a top contender for my Game of the Year list!
2017 – Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)
2017 saw the release of the Nintendo Switch, and despite some commercially successful ventures, nothing made me more happy to play than Metroid: Samus Returned. Samus did indeed return, and she killed it.
Honorable mention – Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
2018 – Haven’t played anything from it yet!
Whew. That was a wild ride, folks! Over here at Nostalgia Trigger Headquarters, we are straight trippin’ on nostalgia overload. As suspected, there is a clear point at which I stopped playing consoles for the most part and migrated over to PC gaming. Of course, when I bought my now-favorite console in 2014, everything changed back!
This was truly a fun trip down memory lane. The funny part is, it was fairly easy as there simply weren’t many games that were being released each year, until the turn of the new millennium. Next thing you know, there are dozens of consoles and ports coming from every which direction. It got tough! There are probably tons of games I totally forgot, but that’s ok!
See anything you liked on here? Hopefully this “triggered your nostalgia” as much as it did for me. Let me know in the comments!