When I was a child my PlayStation 2 was my most prized possession. Having to ask my parents for new games meant that I wasn’t able to get every single game I wanted so choosing the right game was essential. I’ve played many games over the years but very few compare to those I played as a kid. Here is a list of my favourite childhood games that will forever be in my heart.

CEL DAMAGE OVERDRIIVE

Platform: PlayStation 2

Year: 2002

For years I had a very vivid image in my head of driving through the wild-west in a car that had giant boxing gloves attached, punching at anyone who dared come near me. My friends and I would spend hours playing Cel Damage Overdrive but as the years passed, I soon forgot about the game and all the fun that came with it. But then one day a memory suddenly hit me. I could see the game, describe it in near perfect detail, but couldn’t for the life of me remember the name. For approximately that last eight years of my life, I’ve been searching all corners of the internet trying to find the name of this game. I’ve been through hundreds of Wikipedia pages, asked old friends, asked new friends, and racked my memories until my head hurt, but to no avail. A few weeks ago, I committed myself to finding out the name. After looking into hundreds of vehicle/racing games and reading the same Wikipedia pages that I had years earlier, I turned to Googling very specific and obscure things. After typing “cartoon car game with weapons” into Google Images I saw an image of A 4X4 with a circular saw on the front. Finally, I’d found it. Not only did I find out the name of the game I’d spent years searching for but I also found out that it had been remastered.

For those of you who don’t know what Cel Damage Overdrive is, it’s a cartoon take on the vehicle combat game Twisted Metal (1995), that was originally released on Xbox in 2001.  Whilst the remastered HD version released in 2014, does have a few small differences and playing alone as an adult isn’t quite the same as a kid, it’s still a lot of fun to re-live those memories I have from my childhood.

THE SIMPSONS: HIT & RUN

Platform: PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, PC

Year: 2003

As a child I was obsessed with The Simpsons so when a game came out that allowed me to explore Springfield myself, I was all for it. The first time I played Hit & Run was at a friend’s house and once I got home I immediately went out and bought it. From then, I spent days upon days in my favourite fictional town. The story of Hit and Run was written by the writers of the show and all characters were voiced by the cast so the game itself doesn’t stray from the show. It’s basically just once big interactive episode of The Simpsons so it made playing as my favourite characters all the more fun. Despite this being one of my favourite childhood games, I never managed to finish it. A few years ago, I decided to buy and play the game again and I quickly found out that it’s so much harder playing as an adult. There is this one level where you have about one minute to drive from one side of Springfield to the other. It sounds easy enough but even a perfect run through would only give you a few seconds to spare; trying to complete this was the most frustrating gaming moments I’ve ever had. I did finally manage to get past this but got stuck yet again later on and was forced to give up.

Hit & Run is probably the best Simpsons game ever made and even though I still can’t complete it, it’s still a lot of fun to go back to and take in all the fun Springfield has to offer.

 

TONY HAWK’S AMERICAN WASTELAND

Platform: PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, Xbox 360, PC

Year: 2005

American Wasteland was one of the first games I ever completed – possibly even the first. I loved skateboarding as a kid and was of course a huge fan of the Tony Hawk games, but American Wasteland was by far my favourite. Apart from the impossibly insane skateboard tricks that I mastered, one of my favourite things not just about American Wasteland but the Tony Hawk series as a whole was the soundtrack. Around the time that I started playing Tony Hawk games I was beginning to get into music and with the likes of Green Day, Alkaline Trio, and Fall Out Boy all playing on one of my favourite games it was very difficult to drag me away from my PS2.

Even though I had played previous games in the series before, this was probably the first time that I had properly attempted to complete a story. With any skateboarding game, I’m quite happy just skating around trying to beat my highest combo score, but American Wasteland’s story was interesting enough to keep my little brain interested and was also easy enough so I was actually able to complete missions. However, I did spend almost all of my time on the game skating around listening to music so I remember very little of the story.

 

SSX ON TOUR

Platform: PlayStation 2, PSP, Xbox

Year: 2005

When I think of SSX on Tour, I immediately think of snowboarding down a huge mountain listening to Red Flag by Billy Talent. Similar to the Tony Hawk series, one of my favourite things about SSX on Tour is the soundtrack and whenever I hear Red Flag, Bat Country by Avenged Sevenfold, or Here It Goes Again by OK Go it immediately takes me back to the mountain.

Unlike other SSX games, On Tour lets you create your own character which as a kid is always pretty cool to do. As you start to make money by completing races and challenges you can buy clothes, hairstyles, and new equipment for you character. As a 10/11-year-old you don’t really care about statistics and just want to make a character who is a way cooler version of yourself, so buying the best-looking clothes and board is the ultimate goal. Another thing that I really like about this game is that you can ski as well as snowboard. There aren’t a lot of differences between the two but being able to create two characters, one snowboarder, one skier and changing between the two was a lot of fun.

SSX on Tour is the type of game that you play when you want to relax. You don’t really have to commit to it but even now I could very easily play for hours.

 

GRAND THEFT AUTO: SAN ANDREAS

Platform: PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC

Year: 2004

I started playing GTA when I was much too young. Of course, there was a lot that I didn’t understand and I didn’t even bother with any of the stories, I just pretty much drove around trying my best to evade the police. When I first started playing San Andreas I copied my friend’s completed data onto my memory card so that I’d have the whole map then just spent years using every cheat code possible to terrorize Los Santos and beyond.

For some reason one of my favourite things to do was drive along one particular route. I’d put Radio X on the radio and drive from Carl’s beach house in Los Santos, all the way through Red County and up to San Fierro, making a few stops to cause carnage. Just as you cross into Red County from Los Santos there’s a highway that goes over a bridge and that was my favourite place to torment. If you parked your car in the middle of the road, the others wouldn’t even attempt to avoid it and before you know it you’d have a pile of what looked like every vehicle in the game.

I didn’t actually complete San Andreas until a few years ago and a few missions still stand out for me for all the wrong reasons. Wrong Side of the Tracks is a mission you encounter pretty early and sends almost all San Andreas players into a fit of rage. “All you had to do, was follow the damn train, CJ” is forever imprinted in my brain and I hate Big Smoke for it. Supply Lines is another mission that sticks with me for being so frustratingly annoying. In fact, a lot RC Shop missions were very annoying. Controlling the RC plane and keeping it in the air was much harder than it should have been and the thought of having to do it again is stopping me from playing the story again.

BULLY

Platform: PlayStation 2

Year: 2006

I still love everything about Bully just as much as I did when it was first released. By the time Bully came out I was already playing and loved Grand Theft Auto, so when I was 12 years old and what is essentially a school yard version of GTA came out, I spent more time in my little purple bedroom on my PS2 than anything else.

I’ve completed Bully countless times and have no intention of stopping. I kept playing the original game right up until my PS2 finally lost its life, and when it did I bought the Scholarship Edition on Xbox 360. I wasn’t aware of the additional features when I got it so when I found out that there were missions dedicated to Christmas I became even more obsessed with the game.

One mission that stands out for me is Stronghold Assault. By this point in the game Jimmy has already overruled the nerds, preps, and greasers, so all that remains are the jocks. After the nerds refuse to help take down the jocks Jimmy goes in search of Earnest, the nerd leader who is hauled up in the observatory. You have to make your way through an area that has nerds throwing firecrackers and stink bombs at you from various hiding places, then towards the end must deal with Earnest and a rapid-fire potato gun. For me, this was probably one of hardest missions in the game. Playing it now isn’t even remotely difficult but I’m pretty sure that on my first playthrough it took a couple of attempts.

There have been rumours of a sequel for a few years now and while I don’t think it will ever happen I definitely welcome the idea.

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