Best old games you remember playing

Many many years ago, my dad had one of those old Windows XP kind of computers in his office. He had a large amount of games, predominantly released before I was born, that he would store wherever he found the space. I think he had something along the lines of an Atari in there with a really old looking TV (at least as old as it gets for 2006), and he had shoe-boxes filled with his collection of Unreal Tournament games. It was what he kept with him though, a small satchel of games, that always caught my interest.

The games inside included some of my favourite games that I used to play with my Dad when I was a toddler. The golden generation of Need For Speed games from NFSU to NFSC. The first video game I remember playing however, was the first Age of Empires game.

When I was little, I understood absolutely nothing about the concepts about that game, only that it was set thousands of years ago and there were missiles and cool helmets and cool buildings and wooden machines and it was really really cool. These really buff looking dudes could kill crocodiles and lions and alligators, and these boats could fire massive boulders.
That game was about sixteen barrels of fuel for a fire that continues to burn for a fascination in all things history, and will continue to burn for many years more.

The thing is, because I was a toddler back in 2006ish, I also understood absolutely nothing about how to play the game. I always had resource cheats I learned off by heart so I could spam a bunch of really really cool looking centurions and helepolises (or is it helepoli?). If that never worked, I just spammed nuke troopers and rapid-firing cars.

Coming back to the game today, it’s a miracle I can complete a game against standard AI. Cheats have softened me too much. But the gameplay and the graphics are still amazing to me. I’ve kept the original copy of Age Of Empires to play on Windows 10, even after the Definitive Edition – not for being a purist, but for the vivid memories I have of the details.

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Keep your ability to walk through farms, but at least I have my troopers.

(For the record, I used to think photon men looked like guys in spacesuits. Basically, that cheat also used to satisfy my love of Star Wars too.)

Plenty of games didn’t even have endings in the Before Times, back when putting together a credits sequence would have involved actually crediting game designers rather than letting them sneak their names in via Easter Eggs. And it’s not like the stories in old games needed resolution anyway, although if you’ve been wondering what the plot of Pong is all this time now there’s an RPG about it. Still, once games started having endings players started obsessing over them.

What’s the first game you remember finishing? Here are our answers, plus some from our forum.

Tyler Wilde: At first I thought it had to be Myst, but there’s no way I could’ve finished Myst on my own in 1993, given that I was a kid and I’d give up on its puzzles even now. It turns out that what I remember is my mom finishing it (I asked). That probably doesn’t count, then, and I’m betting that she was the one who actually beat Prince of Persia, too. (Update: Just asked about that, and yes.) Maybe my mom beat all the games I spent my life thinking I had beaten. Except for The Oregon Trail. I’m pretty sure I made it to the end of The Oregon Trail on my own. The trick is to do the opposite of what you think is a good idea as an eight-year-old.

Jacob Ridley: Pandemonium! The first game I can remember playing from start to finish is Pandemonium! on PlayStation. It’s all a little fuzzy, but I recall winding levels, plenty of platforming, and a man in a skin-tight jester’s outfit that still haunts me to this day. I’ll give a shout out to Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, as well. I can’t remember if I ever finished it, but I sure remember trying to for many, many hours.

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Robin Valentine: I think it must’ve been Lylat Wars aka Star Fox 64, playing co-op with a neighbour. But of course that game was super short. For the most part, as a kid I was dreadful at actually completing games. They were definitely harder back then, but I think I also must have lacked some fundamental drive to see things through. I can tell you all sorts of games I played for ages and never finished: Sonic the Hedgehog, The Secrets of Monkey Island, Simon the Sorcerer, Super Mario 64, Startopia… er, no, I don’t know why I can only think of games starting with S right now. I think this question may have broken my brain.

Rachel Watts: Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Spellbound. I’ve never seen the TV show, but the cover art of a cute, sassy girl with magical powers and a black cat must have caught my attention when I was younger. I played it from start to finish multiple times and still remember the ending cutscene. I also remember playing Disney’s Hercules on PC but only replaying the first couple of levels because it was too difficult for me…

Dave James: The Untouchables. Back when Ocean made movie tie-ins… well, back when Ocean made any kind of game… The Untouchables was undoubtedly one of the best. It was also the first full game I can remember finishing on my Commodore 64. Pulling out key scenes from the Oscar-winning movie—with the most Scottish Irishman ever to grace the cinema—the game is just as much of a classic through my rose-tinted specs.

I mean, who could forget the stop-the-baby-getting-shot-or-crashing-out-of-its-pram-down-the-stairs set piece? It was also arguably the first cover shooter, having you pop out from the side of an alley with your double-barrelled shotgun to lay waste to Capone’s goons, and dodging bullets atop the roof of the Chicago courthouse to ensure that Nitty gets his in the final bloody chapter.

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