Nostalgia is a thing both beautiful and unfortunate. When we get sentimental about the places, people, and things, that brought us joy in the past, our memories become distorted. Everything we remember is happier and brighter and better than it actually was. It’s not inherently bad; life is tough, and we have to find joy where we can. But we also must be wary lest we are led astray by our rose-colored haze.
It’s a special kind of heartbreak when you go back as an adult to view something that you held dear as a child, and not only is it not as good as you remember, it’s actually pretty bad. Those Saturday morning cartoons that you LIVED for as a kid? Watching them now, some of them are just… no. And Garfield used to be so funny.
Occasionally, however, the universe smiles down on you, and when you revisit a cherished item from your childhood, it’s EXACTLY as good as you remember. Maybe even better. Plus, now your adult eyes give you a perspective and insight you didn’t have before. Those inappropriate jokes that developers were always hiding in games? Now we see what you did there.
The games we loved as kids will always hold a special place in our hearts, no matter how old we get. To celebrate, here are 25 hilarious comics about childhood games that only true fans will understand. Kids these days just don’t know what they’re missing!
25. Rainbow Trout Road
Since its introduction on the SNES in 1992, Nintendo has released a new Mario Kart game roughly every three years. There are nine console games in total, which means that no matter your age, there was likely a Mario Kart game that occupied a good deal of your attention during your formative years. And because it’s multiplayer, it was an easy way to have an awesome time with a group of friends (or a great way to keep your siblings happy when mom said you had to play with them).
At least Lakitu is always there to pull you back up
But the most notorious course in all the Mario Kart games, hands down, is Rainbow Road. With its psychedelic colors and complete lack of safety barriers, it’s a good reminder that driving under the influence of certain substances is a bad idea. At least Lakitu is always there to pull you back up. Unless…
24. Still Gotta Catch ‘Em All
When Pokémon Go came out in the summer of 2016 and inspired half the world to get off their behinds and go catch some Pokémon, it was a wonderful reminder that the games aren’t just for kids anymore. Fans of all ages love the series. In fact, Pokémon Red and Blue were released for the Game Boy in 1996, meaning that the game is now 21 and old enough to buy some magic beverages (Pikachu encourages you to please drink responsibly).
Naturally, Pokémon fans aren’t all the same bright-eyed masters-in-training that they once were. People age. We grow older and (hopefully) wiser. Which is a good thing, since it would be really, really weird if we didn’t. Because what if Pokémon Go woke something in its older fans? What if they remembered the thrill of trying to catch ’em all, and just couldn’t stop?
23. Disillusionment And Onion Rings
I never had a SEGA growing up. If I wanted to play one, I had to go a friend’s house (I know, the trauma has stuck with me for life). And once there, I always wanted to play Sonic (although Toejam and Earl was a VERY close second). Whichever Sonic the Hedgehog game they had was fine by me. I loved how fast the levels were and how different Sonic and his friends were from the regular Nintendo crew.
We don’t all get to have the jobs we imagined for ourselves as kids
But time marches on, and childhood dreams fade. We don’t all get to have the jobs we imagined for ourselves as kids. The world isn’t full of firemen and astronauts and MLB superstars. I wonder if even video game heroes have to come to that realization eventually. And when they can’t keep saving the world over and over, what careers are left for them?
22. Master Sword Meets Keyblade
The Legend of Zelda had been around since 1986, so after 30 years and 19 titles in its main series, Link needs no introduction. Released in 2002 for the PS2, Kingdom Hearts is what happened when Disney and Square Enix decided to make an epic crossover universe out of their most iconic characters, long before Marvel thought it was cool.
Maybe if y’all were nicer to him, we’d have Kingdom Hearts 3 by now
Although it looks like it’s meant for kids (after all, it’s got Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy in it), the game deals with themes of darkness, evil, destiny, identity, and loyalty. Kingdom Hearts is a game that deserves just as much respect as any of the Zelda titles. Okay, the enemies Sora has to fight are basically shadows, and yeah, he looks like he borrowed Goofy’s shoes. But maybe if y’all were nicer to him, we’d have Kingdom Hearts 3 by now.
21. They See Me Creepin’, They Hatin’
Since its introduction in 2011, Minecraft has sold over 122 million copies, making it the second best selling game of all time (funnily enough, number one is Tetris, so I guess that means square-based games are the key to success). According to a tweet posted by @Minecraft, if every Minecraft player in the world formed a single conga line, it would circle the globe.
Minecraft‘s popularity lies in its endless possibilities. It’s a game in which you can do pretty literally anything. You can build anything, fly, create new societies, or even rise above the laws of physics (in spectator mode, you’re not affected by gravity or collisions). It’s a wide-open world out there, and it’s yours for the taking! Unless, you know, there are creepers out. I hate those guys.
20. Red’s Harvest
With 16 series titles and three spin-offs (never mind its books, comics, cartoons, and film adaptation), Angry Birds is the little mobile game that took the world by storm. It first released in 2009 and has had people bent over their phones ever since. Players have to help some birds rescue their eggs from some green pigs (there’s a Dr. Seuss joke in there somewhere), but that deceptively simple concept lived inside an endless and addictive puzzle challenge, which was made all the more engaging by the side challenges (Must. Get. All. Stars.).
You could look at all the products in the Angry Birds franchise and say, “Wow, they’re really successful!” But what if the truth is a little darker? What if Red is just sick and tired of chasing those pigs? What if he wants to end it once and for all?
19. Your Country Needs You, President Kong
Donkey Kong Country holds a special place in my heart. I saved up my allowance for weeks so I could buy the walk-thru guide (this was before you could look up secrets on the internet), and I played and played until I got 100% completion. That’s right: every banana, every secret, I did it all. It’s amazing, yes, but please no autographs.
Could it be that King K. Rool had bigger plans in mind?
From the moment it was released in 1994, it was immediately apparent that Donkey Kong Country was something special. While the game is amazing, the story behind it is a bit odd. King K. Rool and his Kremlings (an alligator-type race of beings) have stolen Donkey Kong’s banana hoard. Why? Well, that’s never really made clear. Could it be that King K. Rool had bigger plans in mind when he began his nefarious schemes? Maybe even political plans?
18. The Get-Along Gang
Do the Super Mario Bros. characters get along? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Obviously they keep getting together to do things, like play baseball or golf or have parties (as in Mario Party 1 through 10), but then they spend the whole time viciously competing against each other, if not outright trying to destroy each other (the first rule of Super Smash Bros. is we don’t talk about Super Smash Bros.).
Peach is no longer the only female
As the Super Mario cast has grown, the question has become more complicated. It used to just be Mario and Luigi with Bowser, Princess Peach, and maybe Toad. Now there’s Yoshi, Bowser Jr., Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong, Boo, Petey Pirahna, Wario and Waluigi. Peach is no longer the only female, either; now there’s Daisy, Birdo, Toadette, and Rosalina. Do you think they all get along? Or isn’t it truthfully a bit more fun if they don’t?
17. Head In The Clouds
Since 1987, the Final Fantasy series has been bringing us epic adventures, memorable characters, and immersive stories, but 1991’s Final Fantasy VII is arguably the best of them all. Gaia (the earth) is being threatened by a giant meteor, and it’s up to Cloud Strife (with his friends Barret Wallace, Tifa Lockhart, Aerith Gainsborough, Red XIII, and Cait Sith) to save the day. Final Fantasy VII has one of the greatest villains (Sephiroth), greatest soundtracks, and greatest twists (*sobs uncontrollably*) in the series’ 30-year history.
And yet, sometimes it’s a wonder that things succeeded in the end. Cloud is not the brightest of protagonists. He makes dumb decisions, is easily manipulated, and can’t even decide whether or not his name is Zack. Luckily Tifa and Aerith are there to pick up the slack…we hope.
16. Time Waits For No Hedgehog
The Capulets and the Montagues. The Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. Nintendo and SEGA. History is full of classic rivalries. Where Nintendo had Mario as a mascot and game headliner, SEGA had Sonic the Hedgehog. With his first appearance in 1991, Sonic offered a different flavor of side-scrolling platformer. Playing one was like riding a roller coaster as kids tried to figure out how to race Sonic through obstacles in order to stop Dr. Eggman.
With 17-ish games to his name (depending on how you count), Sonic has been around the block a time or two. He’s not as young as he used to be. Do video game characters have mid-life crises? The Sonic the Hedgehog comic series explored the very issue in an arc that saw 46-year-old Sonic as king of a future version of Mobius where he and Knuckles no longer get along.
15. When I Grow Up
Since it was founded in 1991, California-based Blizzard Entertainment has been putting out addictive titles, like World of Warcraft, Diablo III, and Overwatch. But before that, there was 1998’s StarCraft. Set in the 25th century, the real-time strategy game has players choose one of the three races (the Terrans, the Zerg, or the Protoss) to attempt to defeat the other two. In StarCraft, players must manage resources, manpower (or alienpower), and both offensive and defensive tactics to win. The sequel, StarCraft II, was released in 2010 and continues the story along the same lines.
You don’t have enough barracks to train more troops
For a sci-fi game, StarCraft sure seems bent on pestering you with the limitations of reality. The game is constantly admonishing you that you don’t have enough barracks to train more troops, or that you need more minerals for..basically everything. What chance do the dreams of a young Zerg have in this cold, cruel universe?
14. Where Eggs Come From
Most of the time, video game sequels make sense when placed next to their predecessor (think Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Star Craft II, or Halo 2). But sometimes, a sequel just completely comes at you from left field (think Final Fantasy X-2, Silent Hill 4: The Room, or PacMan 2: The New Adventures). Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island is one such sequel. Instead of playing as Mario and Luigi, players control several different Yoshis in an effort to both babysit infant Mario (if you hated having to protect Ashley in Resident Evil 4, your feelings probably have root in this game) and rescue infant Luigi. Also, Mario and Luigi have a psychic link, because of reasons. One of Yoshi’s abilities in this game is that he can swallow an enemy and then lay them as an egg. How this happens…well, you’d probably rather not know.
13. Hero of Hyrule
Sometimes a good guy has to do bad things. Everyone is familiar with at least one video game where you break crates and vases, just to see if there’s something helpful inside, without ever bothering to ask who owns those vases and their contents. Or there’s my personal favorite: opening treasure chests in the houses of NPCs and taking what’s inside as they helplessly watch. Some games, such as Skyrim, play on this convention and actually punish the player if they’re caught, but otherwise, this kind of behavior is expected (nay, necessary) to play most games.
At one point in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Link is tasked with saving Ceres, who’s trapped in the Sanctuary. But considering Ceres isn’t really going anywhere, who says you can’t take a second to rob a few graves first?
12. Extra Life
Cats have nine lives, and video game characters start with three. Extra lives can be gotten through various methods in the game (such as getting 100 coins) or acquired with underhanded methods (like cheat codes). Most modern games don’t even count lives anymore; characters just respawn indefinitely. But in the race to come back from the afterlife, has anyone ever stopped to consider how it feels for the characters?
We, the players, think of it as another chance to beat the bad guy and save the day, but for the character, it might actually be some kind of Groundhog Day or Re: Zero nightmare, playing the same levels over and over again, perishing time after time in horrible ways. And even if everything went great and they beat the game and lived a happy life, elimination brings no peace. Just endless, endless war.
11. Don’t Call A Priest
Making history fun since 1997, Age of Empires I through III are real-time strategy games that take players from the Stone Age through the colonization of the Americas (you can also explore Greek, Egyptian, and Norse mythology with the Age of Mythology spin-off), and Age of Empires IV was announced in 2017. In the same vein as StarCraft, players choose a civilization to develop over centuries and must manage their resources, population, technological advancement, and military. Fail, and you’ll be responsible for the destruction of your people. No one wants to go down in the history books that way.
One of the most feared characters in Age of Empires are the Priests, who use their “conversion” spell to switch your population to the enemy’s side. And as all AoE players know, it’s the scariest sound in history.
10. Don’t Think About It Too Much
In the quest to make their games stand out from the crowd, sometimes developers go a little too far. I mean, if they’re creating kids games, why not? The kids don’t know any better! Or at least, that’s got to be the logic behind why we have some of the video game characters we do.
Jim was just a normal earthworm until a robot suit fell from the sky
Earthworm Jim debuted in his run and gun multi-platform game in 1994; Jim was just a normal earthworm until a robot suit fell from the sky (as they do) and turned him into a hero. In Final Fantasy IX, Vivi was a prototype black mage that fell out of a cargo ship and began his epic journey. I am suddenly VERY concerned about things falling from the sky for no apparent reason.
9. I Am Your Father
First released in 1993 for SNES, the Star Fox series has seven entries (not including Star Fox 2, which was infamously canceled after being nearly completed). In the games, players control Fox McCloud as he pilots his way through various missions with the Star Fox Team. But if you thought a cute little game with talking anthropomorphic animals would be light-hearted kids’ fare, think again.
In Star Fox 64, the planet Corneria is nearly destroyed by a madman with a biological weapon. Fox’s father, James McCloud, is eliminated when he’s betrayed by a close friend. Fox drops out of school to avenge his passing. Things eventually end well with Fox following in his father’s footsteps and becoming the leader of Star Fox Team, which is a good thing, because when you start trying to avenge your deceased father, sometimes you never know what you’ll learn.
8. Funk In The Trunk
Released in 1991 for SEGA, Toejam and Earl is as weird as the name suggests. Two rapping aliens crash land their ship on Earth, and accompanied by a killer soundtrack, players have to guide them through levels searching for the missing pieces of the ship. Along the way, they face strange and mysterious enemies, such as Dentists, Hamsters, and the Phantom Ice Cream Truck. Though it was a critical success, SEGA considered it a failure due to low sales. However, word of mouth helped propel it to cult hit status, and it was eventually ranked #26 on Mega magazine’s “All-Time Top 100” list. Sonic the Hedgehog may be SEGA’s golden child, but everybody loves an underdog, especially if that underdog ends up winning in the end.
7. X Marks The Spot
Poor X. He never gets a break. Ever since the first Mega Man was released for NES in 1987, there have been over 20 titles in the series (including Game Boy games and spin-offs). And so for the last 30 years, Dr. Light has been calling on him to defeat his evil former assistant, Dr. Wily.
Maybe he just wants a chance to live his own life
Even though X is just one of Dr. Light’s robot creations, he has feelings, too. He’s got his own hopes and dreams and by now is probably just sick of cleaning up Dr. Light’s messes, if we’re being honest. Maybe he just wants a chance to live his own life, wake up, read the paper. Maybe he could even be a paper delivery boy. Though no job is without its hazards…
6. Oopsie Daisy
Since she was first introduced in 1989’s Super Mario Land for Game Boy (when Mario had to rescue her kingdom of Sarasaland from an evil alien named Tatanga), Princess Daisy has been featured in more than 60 Nintendo games. According to Super Mario Wiki, that’s more than any other female character besides Princess Peach.
So what the heck happened in Super Mario Maker? There are over 150 costumes available for unlocking, including most Mario characters, Link and Zelda, various Pokemon, Animal Crossing characters, Hello Kitty, and Sonic. But a SEGA property is definitely not the weirdest thing on the list. You can also play as a Mahjong tile, a Mercedes-Benz car, or the Japanese heavy metal idol band BABYMETAL. So long as you don’t want to play as Daisy, everything’s peachy (see what I did there?).
5. Sometimes I Feel Like Someone Is Watching Me
Released in 1998 for the N64, Banjo-Kazooie is a platformer in which players help Banjo the bear and Kazooie the bird stop the witch Gruntilda from making Banjo’s sister ugly (really important stuff we’re dealing with here). The suitable-for-all-ages game was a huge success due to its level design, sound, and graphics; it even won Console Action Game of the Year from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.
One part that’s a little weird, though: things in the game have eyes when they shouldn’t. There are giant carrots and giant onions that gaze down on you. When you find a puzzle piece, it looks at you with its great big eyes and tells you to find the rest of them. It’s enough to make any bear start to feel a little paranoid.
4. Everybody Hates Chris
You know a property is successful when it spreads to another medium. Sonic the Hedgehog games became so beloved that they got their own cartoon series, while Disney’s cartoons were so iconic, they were put in a video game with Final Fantasy characters. Sometimes the cross-media expansion is good; other times, not so much.
Sonic X (which aired from 2003-2004) saw Sonic and friends transported to America, where they befriended a boy named Chris Thorndyke. The show was somewhat popular in America, but less so in Japan, where viewers disliked the relocation to the US. On the other hand, the Kingdom Hearts series is a huge success, and Kingdom Hearts 3 is one of the most anticipated video game sequels of all time. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d gladly trade Donald for Sonic, especially against Sephiroth (Worst. Boss. Ever.).
3. Old Friends
“Heroes get remembered, but legends never die,” so goes the quote from The Sandlot. But what’s the difference between the two? Is a hero an anthropomorphic bandicoot who has continually saved the world from Dr. Neo Cortex through seven main series titles and three racing games, plus two parties and several spin-offs, selling millions upon millions of games from 1996-2008?
While Crash Bandicoot has been on hiatus since 2011, Spyro continues to thrive
Is a legend a little purple dragon character with only four titles to his name before he was ushered off into the world of Skylanders? Alas, life is cruel, and the things that happen to us don’t always make sense. While Crash Bandicoot has been on hiatus since 2011, Spyro continues to thrive in Skylanders, even acting as a guide. At E3 2016, it was announced that Crash would be added as a playable character in Skylanders: Imaginators. Could it be that he called in a favor from an old friend?
2. The Pokemon Strike Back
Since Pokémon Red and Blue were released for Game Boy in 1996, the Pokémon franchise has become a worldwide phenomenon. Comics, films, anime, a live musical, card games, merchandising galore, and even a theme park (PokéPark) have been dedicated to the pastime of capturing wild Pokémon and making them fight each other for sport. Let that sink in for a second, because I hate to break it to you, but no matter how you spin it, this game is straight up animal abuse. Hunting wild creatures; keeping them in what basically amounts to the video game equivalent of a veal crate; fighting, breeding and trading them with little to no regard for their welfare…how did anyone ever think this was a good idea? And who could blame the Pokémon if one day they decided they were not going to take our crap anymore?
1. Mario’s Dressing Room
Setting aside the Final Fantasy games for a moment, The Legend of Zelda might be the only video game franchise that can challenge the Mario series in terms of longevity (the first Super Mario Bros. game was released for NES in 1985; the first Legend of Zelda followed in 1986). And while no one can hold a candle to the number of Mario games in existence (well over a hundred depending on how you count), The Legend of Zelda comes in with a respectable 19 titles (not counting re-releases). It seems like Mario and Link would probably have a lot to talk about. They’re always having to save their respective kingdoms, rescue their individual princesses, and keep the attention of each new generation of fans. Kind of makes you wonder what other interests they might have in common…
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