Rewind and Relive: 12 Nostalgic Games That Defined an Era

fanart of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

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It’s time to remember the good old days when responsibilities were minimal, and all you cared about was having a good time. Everyone has personalized triggers for nostalgia, but some board and video games define a generation of nostalgia lovers. What are the best nostalgic games for inducing that sense of calm and childlike wonder?

Board Games

Everyone recalls sleeping over at their best friend’s house or throwing a birthday party, playing one of these games alongside raucous laughter. Have you forgotten the many hours of happiness they gave you after all these years? Maybe it’s time to revisit them — companies are even trying to market on this nostalgia-based boon.


This delightfully colorful and simplistic game satisfies any board game lover’s competitiveness and sweet tooth. With rules easy enough to grasp that children can get engrossed, Candyland evokes nostalgia with its classic art style and emotional familiarity.

The Game of Life

There is something exhilarating about imagining a life ahead of you that’s thoroughly planned. The Game of Life makes people remember what it was like to dream about the future without understanding how important those choices are. Intending to earn as much money as possible before retirement, The Game of Life is as classic of a board game as you can get.

game of life board game pieces


Who doesn’t love a game of total world domination? The experience is a wondrous blend of strategy and chance, as the dice determine whether you win or lose in expanding your global empire. Each person who has played risk can tell stories about great battles between Southeast Asia and Indonesia, or Central America and Venezuela — and perhaps a few shady treaties.


Welcome to one of the most contentious board games to ever grace the planet. This game holds up wonderfully for adults coming to terms with property ownership and capitalism, so the nostalgia in this board might be bittersweet. Everyone holds memories of family arguments, strained friendships and victorious triumphs — all because someone took New York Avenue before you could. 

monopoly board


What could be a more nostalgic board game than one that had a movie made about it in the 1980s? Clue is a special kind of vintage that gives everyone the rush they feel when listening to true crime podcasts in a safe, family-friendly setting. Which personality do you remember embodying most frequently — the radiant Miss Scarlet or perhaps the famous Professor Plum?

Hungry Hungry Hippos

If you don’t remember furiously slamming your palm into a little lever to make hippos eat marbles, you’re doing it wrong. This is a nostalgic experience because no other games have been able to replicate the adrenaline Hungry Hungry Hippos causes. 

Video Games

Now we’re onto the modern age of nostalgic games — video games. Again, this list might differ depending on what you had access to as a child. 

However, these titles could incite nostalgia even in people who didn’t play them.

classic video games the legend of zelda pokemon super mario bros kirby

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

The second the menu screen boots up and you hear that intro, you can feel your heart swell. The Legend of Zelda series is one of the most beloved on the planet for good reason. It reminds people of their first experience with exploration and fantastical wonder with characters that have evolved alongside them — just look at Link now in Tears of the Kingdom! 

The Sims

We’ve all done it. You designed a Sim to look like you, perhaps in your family home or a megamansion with your closest friends. You’ve set a few meals on fire, played rock paper scissors with Death and gotten so irritated at you — the player — that you had an accident before you could make it to the toilet. 

There is no shortage of imagination when it comes to the original Sims games. Remember going to school for the first time or becoming a witch? We did, and it was the pinnacle of PC gaming.

Super Mario Bros. 3

All of the Mario games catalyze nostalgia. From Mario Kart, Mario Party and the quintessential Super Mario 64, this is inarguable. However, Super Mario Bros. 3 for Nintendo still has people touting it as one of the best games ever. Its legacy persists, with the platforming remaining as challenging as the day the game was born — even though world-class speedrunners can reach the end screen in around three minutes.

Spyro the Dragon Trilogy

Spyro the Dragon, Ripto’s Rage and Year of the Dragon for the original PlayStation were some of the most well-regarded 3D action-adventure platformers of its time. It sits alongside the likes of Banjo-Kazooie, Jak and Daxter, and Crash Bandicoot, which are some of the most sassy and expressive games of its type. A remake of the original trilogy gave the old games a new skin, revitalizing the series to a new generation of gamers — while reigniting the nostalgia of older ones.

Halo: Combat Evolved

Xbox owners rejoice — it’s time to give credit where credit is due to the one and only Master Chief. If that signature green helmet and epic opening intro music don’t make you long for Microsoft’s chunky controllers, get yourself a copy of the Master Chief Collection now and explore Halo like it’s 2001 all over again.

poke ball

Pokémon Stadium

Nostalgic games would not be complete without a Pokémon title. Stadium was released for the Nintendo 64, and the memories might flood back to finding your perfect team and memorizing strengths and weaknesses. 

But people who played this cartridge know where the real nostalgia lies — in the minigames. The button-mashing fervor of keeping Hypno awake or not blinking to have Kakuna harden at the right time would make anyone flock to the Nintendo Switch Online to replay it.

Nostalgic Games That’ll Make You Feel Like a Kid Again

There are plenty of gems that should be mentioned here. Were you into Club Penguin, Neopets or Runescape? Are Scrabble, Battleship or Settlers of Catan more your speed? Regardless of what tickles your fancy, nobody can argue nostalgia in gaming is one of the most cherished feelings. What are games people overlook that have a soft spot in your heart?

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