The Strange Games I Played as a Child

a1Riven, developed by Cyan Worlds, released in 1997.

I was one of those kids in the 90’s who were lucky enough to enjoy the luxury of having a computer early on (which was a good thing considering we never had any consoles). My mom and my brother were the ones who introduced me to the computer games that I would later come to love. Despite this, my family never kept me under observation while I played something  – I was left to explore on my own, and some of the games that I got my hands on were.. Well, let’s just say they were strange.

Most of the games mentioned in this blog post I can’t even remember how I got – we had game demos and my brother let me have some of his old games, but my mom rarely ever bought games and back then we never purchased anything online.. So how I got these games are a mystery.

a2Exploring the many colorful locations in Riven.

I haven’t played Riven, the sequal to Myst, in years, but as I did some research it brought back memories – and it really made me want to play it again. Riven is a puzzle adventure game that use stills that come to life when you interract with them – which at the time and at my age, where amazing. Riven is a game full of exploration and puzzles, and in order to move you just point in the direction you want to go.

Fun fact: Cyan Worlds just released their new game Obduction which is a modern take on their previous puzzle games, and it looks really good.

sanSanitarium, developed by DreamForge, released in 1998.

Before Amnesia and classic horror games like Silent Hill there were the point-and-click psychological horror games of the 90s, and for some reason I got to play one of them – Sanitarium. After a car crash, “Max” wakes up in a sanitarium without any memory of who he is, where he came from or how he ended up there. As the game progresses, he get to explore the town and meet the bizarre characters who live there. It’s as if someone gathered a million surreal nightmares and turned them into a game.

Fun fact: One of the first people you meet in the game is a fellow inmate who can be seen repeatedly banging his head against a stone wall.. Not exactly the most appropriate game for an eight year old.

a4Dink Smallwood, developed by Robinson Technologies, released in 1998.

Dink Smallwood somehow managed to become an inside joke in my family, and even my father who doesn’t play games gave it a try at one point. The game is about Dink, a pig farmer living in a peaceful village who goes on an adventure after his farm burns down.

We never finished the game and I’m not even sure that ever liked it, but the “weird factor” about the game is a bit difficult to put into words, it’s probably a combination of many things. The fact that you can kill the pigs early in the game just made it impossible to take the storytelling seriously.

a5Jazz Jackrabbit 2 was produced by Epic MegaGames, released in 1998.

I used to play Jazz Jackrabbit 2 every day after school. It’s a fast-paced platform game about the green rabbit Jazz (and his weird brother Spaz) chasing his enemy the turtle Devan Shell through the game. What sets this game apart from other platform games is the slightly tacky style of the levels, the vivid colors and the electronic soundtrack composed by Alexander Brandon. I usually get bored with platform games pretty quickly but this one made me want to keep going.

If you want to get a sense of the gameplay you can watch the first level being played here.

a6Elroy Goes Bugzerk, developed by Headbone Interactive, released in 1995.

Elroy and his dog Blue want to win the annual Insectathon – but they need to find a cyberbug called Technoloptera in order to beat their competators. As the game is really old, I would recommend you watch a gameplay video, and you can watch the entire game here.

Elroy Goes Bugzerk was fun to play because it had a unique style and odd characters. While I was curious and wanted to explore the game, half the time I had no clue what was going on and the locations kind of freaked me out. I should also mention that, for some reason, this game got a translated version in Sweden, which ended up being the version I played.. The Swedish voice acting was an odd experience in itself.

Did you have any peculiar game experiences growing up?
Leave a comment and let’s get nostalgic!


Author: Saga Grönqvist

Cultural project manager, sfx makeup entusiast, comic book collector, gamer and an adventurer at heart.

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