Video Game Nostalgia & New Favorites

I’ve been playing video games since I can remember. Actually, my first memories of video games started in the 90′s, with the original NES and Sega Genesis. Of course, I played classics like Excitebike, Super Mario World, and Final Fantasy (rented tirelessly from a small shop in Watertown, Minnesota.) I got my ass kicked by my brother in NBA Jam, or the consolation of playing Pippen instead of Jordan.



In middle school, I used a Playstation (PS1) to play that Spin Doctors album I had, along with Ridge Racer and the epic, Final Fantasy 7. I used AOL, and Mac OS 7. My brother and I watched Notorious BIG on BET while eating chocolate pudding.

The PS2 arrived when I was in high school, which I spent two entire ‘paychecks’ on. My friends and I played Grand Theft Auto III (GTA 3) for ever, coming so close to that coveted 100% completion.

I couldn’t play much in college, but the PS2 was along for the ride. I played a hack-n-slash, Lord of the Rings, something or other with my nephew. He made it to the peaks of the leader boards before moving on to the big guns, Call of Duty. I aced the Lego Star Wars trilogy around my senior year. As a long time fan of both Legos and Star Wars, it was delightful, easy, not stressful, and didn’t require 100 hours to complete like GTA or Final Fantasy. Anything to keep my mind off of the impending doom of graduating into the real world.

I quit smoking in 2009, buying a PS3 as a reward for myself. I was living alone for a while, so I had some time to dabble in shooters like Call of Duty, but it turned out to be too stressful, and I’m just not practiced in first person shooters. Although, I got hooked on Borderlands, because of the art style and the RPG elements. Such a good loot system. All kinds of treasure chests full of cash, ammo, and—most importantly—guns with randomly generated stats. Another action RPG that I loved was Valkyria Chronicles, which unfortunately, the sequel was only available on PSP. A PSP felt archaic next to an iPhone at the time. [Ed. Comparing a PSP 2000 to an iPhone 3G]

As an adult, I could never justify dedicating 100 hours to another title again. I don’t think I could. Maybe with multiple rounds of a Civilization title. I tried GameFly for a while, realizing that I just didn’t want to play any of the disc games around. No need to spend $60 on a disc-based game that you may or may not enjoy. It was dominated by Call of Duty, and I was sick of brutal, cursing, often racist, online battles. Being mocked and ridiculed for being a beginner is not fun. Rage quit. Done. Next.

The gaming world had changed, though, so quickly. Playstation had downloadable titles now, usually smaller, and usually less than $20 or so. In addition, with iOS offering as many snack-sized 99¢ games as I can handle, there is no shortage of availability and accessibility of games. I thrived in my own little gaming world with small puzzle games, and new indie games with better story, sound and creativity.

In 2010, I refurbished a NES with a new 30-pin connector. I indulged in my nostalgia for a while, but most games fell short of my memories. In my collection, only Tetris and Mario 3 gameplay held up well.



I’m not sure how long the hobby will endure. It has lasted longer than I expected. Some people older than me don’t understand the appeal, but perhaps they don’t realize that I’ve grown up with video games. They are as much of a media influence on me as movies and music, sometimes more so.

Here’s a list of my current favorites for iOS and PS3, in no particular order.

iOS Favorites

  • Bastion (fantastic art, sound, and story. Adaptive narration is awesome.)
  • Kingdom Rush HD (tower defense with great art and sound)
  • Plants Vs. Zombies HD
  • The Font Game (for font enthusiasts only)
  • Tetris (with touch interface)
  • Colorbind (puzzle)
  • Star Defense (tower defense. Good setting and 3D is satisfying)
  • Tiny Tower (retro aesthetic)
  • Tiny Wings (creative)
  • Fruit Ninja (3D fruit slashing action. Good for a quick fix)
  • Monster Dash
  • The Oregon Trail (a classic, updated. Good for long flights, or Amtrak.)
  • Virtual Villagers 2: The Lost Children (unusual puzzle, simulation game)
  • Osmos for iPad
  • Space Station: Frontline
  • Eufloria HD (RTS, great art style)
  • Anomaly Warzone Earth HD (innovative controls)

Playstation 3 Favorites

  • Castle Crashers (beat ‘em up with great art, entertaining)
  • Scott Pilgram vs. The World (a new beat ‘em up with retro style, homage to classics. Great typography.)
  • PixelJunk Shooter (amazing soundtrack, great art, even the menus are cool.)
  • PixelJunk Tower (tower defense with solid PixelJunk flair)
  • Borderlands (cel shaded first-person shooter with RPG elements. Great loot, weapon, and level up system. Vehicles. Good character design.)
  • Valkyria Chronicles (Japanese Action RPG with water color aesthetic and comic book typography.)
  • Renegade Ops (vehicle arcade game with weapon upgrades)
  • Dead Nation (best zombie arcade shooter, ever)
  • Savage Moon (tower defense with a Starship Troopers style)
  • Critter Crunch (Tetris like puzzle, with great art and animation.)

Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.