There comes a time in every person's life when they catch themselves saying, "when I was your age...". For this reporter, it's recently come about in terms of the games for kids these days. So high tech! So many bells and whistles! Do any even exist that don't come with/on a screen?
back in my day in the days before interactive apps, you could have fun with a piece of string. No, seriously though.
OK, OK -- there may have been more to growing up than string and your Looney Tunes Tazo collection... particularly if you were lucky enough to own a Super Nintendo. Which brings us to our first entry...
Super Mario Kart (1992)
Toad, Donkey Kong, Luigi or Princess? I challenge any 90's kid not to have a favourite. (Totally Yoshi, FYI.)
From Rainbow Road to Bowser's Castle -- Mario Kart had thought of everything. Remember those ghosts that used to haunt you and make you go really slow? Or when you ran over a tiny mushroom and became tiny yourself?
Or this humiliating but unavoidable horror?
Super Mario Kart has understandably gone through many upgrades over the years, but like so many things (Marky Mark for Calvin Klein underwear, for example) the original is still the best.
Duck Hunt (1984)
Way before Big Buck Hunter became a thing, there was Duck Hunt. Basically the gaming version of taking a casual stroll to your local park with your dog to shoot some ducks. (Try not to shoot your dog though. Ba-bow.)
Extra points goes to having to swap consoles to those plastic red guns -- so simple, yet so effective.
Was a childhood even a childhood without your own electronic pet?
This keychain-sized egg became the source of frustration for parents and teachers everywhere, as kids regularly checked in to "feed" or "clean up after" their tamagotchi friend.
Feed it too much and it could die, leave it too long and it could die. Hectic stuff.
Luckily, if you did the unthinkable and did kill off your pet -- you could just jam a pencil into the reset button and start again. This can not be said of the family goldfish.
Sea monkeys (1957)
Seriously. What the hell were sea monkeys? And how have they been around since 1957?
Apparently they were developed by Harold von Braunhut after the earlier success of the ant farm (no, thank you.) Basically, these little brine shrimp were sold in hatching kits, and thanks to a process called cryptobiosis, pretty much "came to life" when you added water.
You didn't have to do much to sea monkeys aside from occasionally scoop some "growth food" into the aquarium and hey presto, you have pets!
Elastics (probably since the beginning of time)
Yep, that's right kids. In our day, you could have fun not only with a simple piece of string, but a simple piece of elastic.
In fact, this simple elastic would entertain not just one, but at least three children, and actually required some mad coordination skillz.
The basic premise was to think of a jumping sequence, and if you were successful in achieving it, the elastic would be raised higher and higher. So basically it was hardcore exercise disguised as fun. Genius.
Does anyone else remember these little guys from the
kiddie nirvana gift store The Lost Forests?
Essentially a tiny glorified bean bag with whiskers, puggles were awesome because a) they were super cute, b) the littlest ones came in nappies and c) when you bought one you had to catch it on a slide!
From memory they were quite expensive for what they were (a quick double-check confirms that, at $32.50, yes, they absolutely are) but that's part of the reason why you had to have one to call your own.
Polly Pocket (1983)
Polly Pockets -- the ultimate "ok you can bring one small toy in the car" investment from parents.
TBH Polly didn't really do anything but hang out in her tiny console, but it was kind of like having a portable doll's house to take wherever you went, which was pretty cool.
Also, they came in all different shapes and sizes, so competition in the schoolyard was strong.
Was there ever a more genius marketing tool than selling jellied slime as a toy? Gak was flubbery, squishy, brightly coloured, gooey and had the ability to make fart noises. WHAT ELSE COULD ANY CHILD EVER POSSIBLY WANT?
It came in a small tub (leave your Gak out too long and it would go hard, boo hoo) and could collect fluff like nobody's business, so no playing on the carpet, kids.
Bonus points awarded because parents and other adults generally thought it was gross. Want to make your own? Try it here.
Slap bracelets (late 80s)
Are these actually a toy? We're going to say yes.
These springy bracelets were huge in the early 90's as they doubled as a kind of game as well as a fashion accessory.
They were so popular, in fact, some schools banned students from bringing them in because incorrect use could cause injury.
In all honesty though, it was just cool to be able to say to your friends, "slap me!" and then have them snap a bracelet around your wrist.
So many good games, and not a touch screen in sight.
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