Games that take you to another time

nostalgia is my biggest coping mechanism. sometimes when i’m not doing great, i just want to relive a happy, safer moment in my life where i can escape for a while. i feel like video games are a great vessel for that kind of immersion in a place and time, and some of them have really special memories tied to them

for example, i had my tonsils removed when i was 7, and had to spend a lot of time at home recovering from surgery. my parents bought me “spongebob squarepants: battle for bikini bottom” for the ps2 so i had something to do. i made it a daily ritual to sit down with a cup of vanilla ice cream and play for hours until i was well enough to go back to school. for a few years after, i’d return to it just to destress

do you have a game that you associate with a special event in your life? do you still play it?

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Totally. My little brother and I played Animal Crossing New Leaf together during his summer break a few years ago. He was really into it! He put a lot of effort into decorating his town and cultivating fruits and stuff. It was really cute. I remember we’d spend late nights way past his bedtime hanging out at Club LOL and spamming silly emotes at each other. I think that was the last time we were that close, because he soon grew old really fast and unfortunately now it feels like there’s some distance between us. I looked through my screencaps of our escapades a few months ago and, God, I felt so many things.


It’s very rare for me to do this just because there are so many games that I want to play coming out constantly that I rarely have time to revisit something. However, the one (series) that comes to mind is Mass Effect. I’ve gone back and replayed 1-3 probably three full times now. Every once in a great while I’ll remember a certain part of one of the games and just play through that particular game briefly to experience that moment again.

Dragon Age is the same thing for me to an extent, especially Origins. Inquisition wasn’t too bad either, and I’ve even finished DA2 twice. I’m really excited by the news that a new DA is still in the works somewhere. I just hope they don’t destroy it the way they killed Mass Effect with MEA.

I miss good Bioware as much as I do anything in games, I suppose.


Rare games do this for me, for some reason. In particular, Donkey Kong Country and Diddy Kong Racing. I have weirdly powerful associations with playing them at Christmas, so much so that I usually replay them once a year around that holiday.

Those are probably the only games, though. I keep a pretty routine stable of retro games I’m always dipping back in to so to be honest I never really get much nostalgia, because most games always feel current to me. (And yet, somehow, DKC and Diddy Kong Racing manage to feel very time-and-place. Weird)

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Heroes of Might and Magic III. I remember I found it at a small software store in my neighborhood at the time. This was around 2000 I think, may have been 99. I was 12-13 at the time. I fell in love with it, and put so many hours into then for a few years. As soon as it went on GOG numerous years back I got it and started playing again. Then a few years ago they came out with the HD remaster and I’ve probably put 60+ hours into that. I’ll go back to it when I want to remember that feeling of discovery of something completely new that made me so happy. Its great, and I still love the game. I feel it still holds up well.

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Killer7 (specifically on GC), it was a strange comfort for when I was super depressed. Made me rethink on what sort of games I wanted to do too.


I’ve referenced it a bit here, but Chrono Cross is always the one. It’s a strange thing because I’ve never played that game and was the one who watched my sister play through it. I could never remember the story, or anything else, but it was the first game that really gave me that feeling of ‘I’m really in another world’, you know?

The art and music was really beautiful and struck a chord with me that I just liked looking at it and imagining myself living in Arni, Galdove and Termina. The pier in Arni especially, since watching a bunch of kids dive off of it and go swimming made it seem so fun to live there.

Listening to the soundtrack now makes me miss the time where eight year old me—almost literally—had all the free time in the world.