These were the favourite childhood video games of the Vox-editors

21 Jul 2021

Modern games can evoke a feeling of nostalgia, for the often somewhat rickety games you played as a child. Four Vox editors tell about their favourite computer game from their childhood.

Annemarie Haverkamp. Year of birth: 1975

‘I was a clown, standing on the back of a lion. Together, we had to jump through hoops. When I think about the video game Circus Charlie, I immediately hear the musical tune and I’m back in the room we used to call ‘the office’. How old was I? Maybe 11? The fact that we had a Philips MSX computer was amazing. No one I knew had such a thing, but my parents were very modern. Just as well, since my brother learned to program on it, a skill that would later help him earn a pretty good living. I was the little sister who nagged to be allowed to play a video game.

Circus Charlie

As a clown I also had to swing on ropes through the circus tent and jump over monkeys on a tightrope. I looked up Circus Charlie on YouTube. It turns out to be a lot more endearing than I remembered.

And yet, those evenings when I sat at the MSX with my brother with a glass of lemonade and a bowl of crisps were not only fun and games. When my clown didn’t do what I wanted, I would scream in frustration that the joystick was broken. My brother still says to me sometimes when I get mad at some electronic device. “Broken joystick?”‘

Stan van Pelt. Year of birth: 1978

‘It was a truly magical day when the Commodore 64 first made its appearance at our house, sometime around 1984. An oversized beige keyboard that had to be connected to a standard TV, the old-fashioned kind with a slightly convex screen. You pressed 12 (the last channel), and the blue C64 screen appeared, informing us that it was ‘READY’ in white capital letters.

River Raid

Donkey Kong, Pole Position, Pac-Man, I must have played them hundreds of times on that Commodore in my bedroom. But the game I played most was River Raid. A simple but highly addictive game.

You had to use your joystick to steer a small airplane over a river in enemy territory. The goal, according to the instruction manual, was to BLAST BATTLESHIPS. BLOW UP BRIDGES. DOWN DANGEROUS HELICOPTERS AND JETS. And that while trying to avoid enemy planes, helicopters and river banks. I don’t really know why it was so addictive. Maybe it was the kick of having to respond faster and faster, or the extra lives you got when you reached the next level, or maybe the adrenalin rush when you refuelled just in time, seconds after the fuel warning had appeared on the screen. Basically, it was just steer, shoot and get a high score – the recipe for all boys’ games.

And you know what I discovered the other day? A retro-app version of the game! So, if you’re looking for me, I’ll be flying over the river!’

Thomas Lazeroms. Year of birth: 1988

‘There I was again, in front of the big monitor in my parents’ office. ‘Not too long,’ they’d shouted up the stairs. But I’d already set my heart on catching fish and taking a route outside the safe area, where I could get attacked by other players and possibly lose all the treasure I had accumulated so far. But I hadn’t spent hours getting my action figure up to level 10 for nothing.

RuneScape

RuneScape was very entertaining because I could literally get lost in it, which I enjoyed tremendously. The world it sketched was peaceful, but also edgy, as I just described. You could stroll quietly among other figures from village to village, cut iron out of stone, exchange items on the market square, or learn to make a helmet. What I remember mostly is the music, which was always very soothing and could really carry me away. As if I was really there. Until my mother sounded the final whistle: “Dinner’s ready!”‘

Vince Decates. Year of birth: 1995

‘Becoming a Pokémon Master, that was my dream. It all started with Pokémon Red on my Game Boy Color, which I soon exchanged for a Game Boy Advance. Later on, I got the fold-out version. Playing as a figure that from afar vaguely resembled Ash Ketchum from the animation series, I spent entire afternoons crouched on the sofa, staring at a screen that was far too small.

Pokémon Red

As the years went by, Ash introduced me to new Pokémon and new games. Red turned into Silver. Silver turned into Sapphire. Then there was Yellow, with a Pikachu that followed me around! I have no idea how the game worked exactly. But the goal was always to catch and train as many different creatures as possible. My younger brother and the boys next door always had the other version of the game (respectively Blue, Gold or Crystal and Ruby), so we could make endless exchanges and fight among ourselves.

If you find all these different colours confusing: per generation there are approximately 150 Pokémon to catch, all with their own unique features. The game is now on its eighth generation and I have long stopped following it. But I can still effortlessly name all the Pokémon of the first three generations. I guess all those days of crouching on the sofa were good for something after all.’

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