For a lot of people, video games were a big part of our childhood and our adult lives, too. Games are fairly inexpensive, fun, and provide hours and hours of entertainment. We got a Nintendo 64 in around 1998, and my brother and I would spend our afternoons and weekends killing monsters, going on adventures, and making amazing memories.
If you’re like me, you have a few games that are not only rooted in your memory forever, but sorted of shaped who you are. Connections to places and characters can alter your perspective and make you see the world differently. It doesn’t matter that they’re fictional!
Let me share with you six video games that seriously changed my life.
1. Pokémon Fire Red
I never had one of the original Game Boys, but my cousin did, and he sometimes let me play the original Pokémon Yellow on his device. It seemed awesome, and when I got a bit older I finally got a Game Boy Advance and Pokémon Fire Red.
I have a tendency to get really, really into games, just like some people get really into books, movies, and TV shows. Fire Red sucked me right in. I fought Team Rocket, explored the exciting Kanto region, developed close bonds with my Pokémon buddies and became World Champion. I was completely in love with Fire Red and its story. This was around 2005, so I was about twelve years old.
I cared so much for my Charizard, Dragonair, and other Pokémon I had. Like a lot of ’90s kids, I remember watching the anime on TV and always remained biased that the first generation of Pokémon were the best. My little avatar was eventually so strong and I got super emotional when I finally managed to win the Pokemon league.
Because I didn’t have the wires or stuff to trade Pokémon, the last part of the game was inaccessible to me. If I can’t 100% a game for whatever reason, it always seems even more mysterious and exciting.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
I know I’m not alone on this one. Ocarina of Time is still the best Zelda game in my opinion. With a great story, an explorable world, really cool temples, this was another game I spent hours and hours of my childhood on this game, really cared about Epona, Saria, Malon, Zelda, Ruto and, of course, Link himself.
This was the first ever game I played and I still love love love it to this day.
3. Dragon Age: Origins
I have my brother to thank for introducing me to what was probably the best roleplaying fantasy game of the 2010s (though Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion comes a close second). As a teenager who loved fantasy (still do), I lost myself from the very beginning in the rich land of Fereldan and its story.
I love games where you create your own character (2000s-2010s Sims games, anyone?) and immediately chose to be a Dalish Elf. I, like many other girls around the world, fell in actual real love with Alistair, one of the characters, and changed my own character halfway through so that I could be a human noble and marry him at the end.
Though there are some quests that are a pain, the game is truly gorgeous with a rich story and unforgettable characters. I cared about Alistair more than I cared about a lot of real people and even now he makes me give a dreamy sigh. Dragon Age: Inquisition, the third of the DA series, is also absolutely fantastic, but Origins has that special place in my heart.
4. Fallout 3
I didn’t think Fallout 3 would really be my kind of game. I wasn’t keen on post-apocalyptic style games since I found them to be depressing. However, I gave it a try.
I could make my own character again! Similarly to Dragon Age, I could choose dialogue options and either be nice or cruel. I explored the world, completed missions, and saw a glimpse of what the world (or Washington D.C., at least) could be like after a nuclear war. It was sobering as it was thrilling.
This game got me more interested in the United States and although I’m not American, I felt a sort of patriotic rush of sadness at the sight of the ruined city.
5. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon
Another Pokémon game makes this list with Mystery Dungeon, which was released in 2005. I probably played it in around 2006 or 2007 on Game Boy Advance.
This game is unlike the usual “become a trainer, capture Pokémon, and become Champion” playthrough. In Mystery Dungeon you’re transformed into a Pokémon (which one you become depends on your answers to the quiz at the beginning) and you help out other Pokémon with problems like getting lost in caves or getting separated from their friends. The game has no human people in it at all and provides insight into a completely different side of the Pokémon world.
I got really attached to your best friend in the game, whom you are always with. He even stays by your side when you are blamed for something you didn’t do and you go through a lot together. I cried my eyes out at the end and thoroughly enjoyed the game and all the adventures you go through. I was 14 years old when I played it and it touched my heart.
6. Final Fantasy X-2
(Still one of the coolest openings in any game, ever).
I had never played any Final Fantasy games before. We always had Nintendo consoles and didn’t get a PlayStation until what felt like way after everyone else. I remember my brother’s friend came over and played Final Fantasy X-2 and I was just besotted.
As an eleven-year-old, I thought the pretty, crazy-dressed fighter girls were the coolest I had ever seen. I particularly loved Paine, with her gothic-style look and giant sword. I hadn’t played X, so I didn’t know who Yuna was talking about when she mentioned Tidas from the first game. To me, he was mysterious and I wanted to know so much more about him. Yuna’s song 1000 Words still makes me cry.
This was before the time when I could just pull my phone out my pocket and search. I didn’t know who this man was or if Yuna would ever see him again. I was just the right age where I thought the three female characters were the coolest girls ever. It was something of a unique experience.
The game itself has horrible gameplay and awkward as hell animation but I think there are many people out there like me who think of FFX-2 as a guilty pleasure.
We all have memories we hold dear from our days of being kids. Whether it’s a memory of a place or person, TV show, movie, or game, we love to hold onto the unique feeling we got from the experience. Have you ever played a video game that changed your life?