My childhood memories are stuffed with afternoons spent with my parents forcing their nostalgia on me. Countless hours were lost watching Billy Jack and listening to Aerosmith, neither of which I’d chosen. The only thing that got me through those harrowing experiences was the promise that someday I’d be able to force the things I love on my own children in an act of petty, displaced vengeance. As my fellow millennials enter parenthood, I encourage them to sit their children down with these PS1 games to make them understand that the greatest console of all time is the one you had growing up.
1. Grand Theft Auto
A great way to trick your kid into engaging with your nostalgia is to present them with an older version of something they know. Your kid probably knows GTAV as a game where Twitch streamers pretend to be accountants. You’re going to blow their mind when you show them this top-down crime simulator and insist it’s the same game.
2. Final Fantasy VIII
With such a long-running, beloved, franchise it’s hard to present a Final Fantasy game that’s properly alienating for today’s children. If you show them VII they’ll think of the popular remake. If you show them IX they might gain an appreciation for the games that predate your nostalgia. Final Fantasy VIII hits the sweet spot of feeling dated without calling back to that Super Nintendo garbage your older brother likes.
3. Tekken 3
Tekken 3 is a great game to show your kids because you can complain about the franchise going 3D. Your kid will be so distracted by how annoying you are they won’t even notice you’re just spamming the same cheesy laser eye attack with Devil Jin.
4. Silent Hill
It’s important for your kid to know that if they fuse with a demon someday you won’t hesitate to take them out. Establish dominance by getting one of the bad endings, looking them in the eye, and saying, “Cheryl had to go.”
5. Metal Gear Solid
The best part about this one is that you’re going to have to explain memory cards to your kid when you get to the Psycho Mantis fight. That’s going to open the door for so many stories your kid won’t care about. Maybe you can even complain about your parents not buying you a memory card to make the kid understand how much better you are than grandpa and grandma.
6. Brave Fencer Musashi
Halfway through making your kid play this game, you’re going to realize you never actually played it, you just watched another kid play it in elementary school. Don’t let that stop you from calling it an underrated classic.
7. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
This one will be an easy sell because it has Spider-Man in it. Little does your kid know the game also includes your long-winded explanation of both Tony Hawk and ska.
8. Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain
This game is how you prove to your child that you were cool and edgy as a kid. Make sure to point out that it was rated M but you played it when you were in 5th grade. Pretty cool right? You also watched an R-rated movie on your friend Andy’s birthday. No big deal. You were just cool like that.
9. PaRappa the Rapper
Just keep telling your kid that this is just what all rap sounded like in 1997. If they aren’t convinced you can break out your CD copy of Big Willie Style to prove it.
10. Syphon Filter
It’s literally impossible to explain to a child who’s seen modern games how crazy the flashlight was in Syphon Filter. Hype it up anyway like you’re back in 1999. Just keep saying, “This is going to blow your mind, there’s a flashlight in this game and it works like a real flashlight. It’s crazy.” Then get really indignant when they get to the dark parts and don’t react at all to the majesty of turning on a flashlight.
11. Twisted Metal
Your kid will be so psyched to finally understand the origins of the hit Peacock original series Twisted Metal. They’ll be the coolest kid in school when they show up with all that deep lore about the hottest show of 2023.
12. Monster Rancher
Honestly, if your kid doesn’t freak out when you show them how to get special monsters using different CDs they have no joy in their hearts. Put them up for adoption and make a new one, there’s no hope for that child.
When you show Driver to your kid they’re going to assume this is GTA even if you already made them play the original GTA. Don’t bother fighting them on it, just start calling it old GTA because that’s what it is now.
14. Resident Evil 2
Watching a child play Resident Evil 2 will give you plenty of opportunities to flex another crucial parenting skill: hypercriticism. “Stop wasting bullets on normal zombies.” “Why didn’t you write down that locker combination?” “No, you can’t just google the puzzle.” “Kids these days just don’t appreciate magnum bullets.”
15. Legend of Mana
The great thing about Legend of Mana is that half the mechanics don’t actually work how the game says they do. The only real way to understand what’s going on is by utilizing a comprehensive fan-made guide. That’s right, you finally get to introduce your kid to GameFAQs.
16. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Silent Hill is the game you play to let your kid know you’ll take them down if they turn evil. This is the game you play to see how cool your kid will be murdering you if you turn evil. Whether that’s a good thing or not depends on how okay you are with becoming a vampire lord.
17. Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring
Ehrgeiz is the perfect game to force on your kid because unless you’re a fan of Final Fantasy VII it’s just an aggressively mediocre fighting game. Actually, now that Smash has Cloud and Sephiroth, even if you are a Final Fantasy VII superfan it’s hard to ignore how mediocre this game is. Maybe you’ll bond over being disappointed together.
18. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
The problem with racing games today is that they don’t have any attitude. I mean in this ’90s game you weren’t doing boring street races, you were trying to get away from murder-happy cops. What do you mean they’re still making Hot Pursuit games?
19. Suikoden II
The PS1 Suikoden games are getting remasters soon so you have a limited window of time to justifiably force the originals on your kids. How will they appreciate all the quality of life improvements if they don’t suffer through the archaic elements of a 25-year-old game first?
20. Bushido Blade 2
You’re never going to beat your kid at a modern fighting game. Give up on that dream. Instead, make them play this weird one-hit-kill game from your childhood and obliterate them. Just make sure they understand that playing Highwayman is cheating because he has a gun. Why is he even in this sword-fighting game?
21. Crash Bandicoot
It’s essential to introduce your kid to Crash before big Nintendo gets to them. You can’t have your kid running around idolizing a plumber when they should be idolizing a furry with fingerless gloves.
22. Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
Ninjas were everywhere in the ’80s and ’90s. Now there’s only Naruto. It’s an indictment of our generation that we let that trend die because ninjas are fucking cool. Showing your kid Tenchu is the first step to bringing ninjas back.
23. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
We’re living in a golden age of tactical RPGs but these days they all have relationship systems and life sim elements. This game is all tactical thinking, RPG crunch, and politics. Are we trying to raise happy, well-adjusted, people here or are we trying to create the next Alexander the Great?
Like most late ’90s media, this game is just a blatant attempt to cash in on Tim Burton’s whole deal. If we don’t teach the children our history they’ll be doomed to repeat it.
25. The Fifth Element
Speaking of not repeating the past, it’s important to make your kid play some truly dogshit games based on great movies. The Fifth Element is the perfect choice for this valuable lesson.