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Nothing hits you with nostalgia like returning to your childhood hobbies. Growing up in the 2000s, online games were the coolest pasttime to have. The beautiful thing about the Internet is that nothing ever disappears, so all of those games are still hanging around. Here's a trip down memory lane with some of our favourite games, including links to each.
Neopets is like the grandma of the virtual pet world: sweet, fun, a little eccentric, and armed with copious amounts of bizarre food. (Jelly Asparagus, anyone?) For many millennials, Neopets was our first true foray into the depths of the internet. It evokes memories of sitting at the desktop, perched on an oversized office chair and clicking from page to page while the dial-up internet whirred furiously.
Once you’d named yourself and your technicolour pet — with a string of digits slapped on after the name you originally wanted — a multitude of Flash games awaited. A special shout-out to Meerca Chase II, the Neopian answer to Snake.
You could explore anywhere from the Lost Desert to the underwater kingdom of Maraqua. It was my first — and, look, probably last — experience owning my own shop and house. I’ve sunk countless hours into this website. It’s still a great procrastination tool, and I play it to this day when I have deadlines coming up. In fact, maybe you should go and log in, too. Your Neopets are dying of hunger as you read this.
Play it here: http://www.neopets.com/
Do you like fiddling with the arrow keys while constantly slamming on the spacebar? If so, Icy Tower is your kind of game. Right now, you’re probably thinking, "I remember this!" or, "what is she talking about?"
For those of you who fall into the latter camp, the premise of Icy Tower is simple. You are a small pixel dude bouncing up the inside of a tower. Should you slip off and fall, or let the end of the scrolling screen catch up with you, it’s game over. Plus, if you get combo jumps, your little character starts spewing rainbow stars behind him as he zooms through the level.
The best part of this game was hitting 100 levels and reaching a new style of ledges. The first hundred floors are plain ol’ concrete, followed by ice-slicked ones, then wood, and so on. If you could get up to the pink chewy level or the vines, you had the maddest of skills.
The current version of the game is available on the official website. If you fancy the pixelated goodness of the original 2001 version, you can download it for free here: http://www.old-games.com/download/9098/icy-tower
(The link is legit, I used it myself!)
N-Blox (a.k.a. Tetris)
Ah, Tetris, truly the master of all retro games. In my day, N-Blox was the most popular version of the classic. Created by game developer Paul Neave, N-Blox is the easy-to-use and aesthetically pleasing reimagining of the game complete with a pause button, making it immensely popular amongst students playing games in class. Teachers walking behind their students would peer at their screens only to see rows upon rows of brightly coloured blocks, followed by a hurried spacebar slam and alt-tab to the project they were supposed to be working on. The game’s popularity was largely linked to its flexibility, as it was available as both an in-browser game and a downloadable program. (In my class, we passed it around to each other via USB.)
There’s nothing quite as soothing as the rhythmic sounds of arrow keys and the satisfying whoop-whoop-whoop as you fill a line and it evaporates. I used to play it for stress relief after a hard day at school. It keeps your hands and mind busy enough to be distracting without requiring extensive mental effort. It’s beautifully simple, which is why it’s such an enjoyable game.
Play it here: https://n-blox.com/
Miniclip, the home of every eight-year-old with an internet connection. Well, ten years ago, anyway. While kids these days play with their newfangled apps and smart devices, we had to get by with Flash games on Miniclip. Still, that meant we were able to experience the joys of Bubble Trouble.
Our protagonist, a little red demon in sunglasses, wields a harpoon gun which he uses to burst bubbles. Or perhaps "ominous bouncing orbs of doom" would be a better description. The bubbles split in two with every hit until you’re faced with an army of tiny bubbles that want nothing more than to smack you in the head and end your game.
If you wanted double the Bubble Trouble, the game allowed two players to wreak bubbly havoc. If you had a friend proficient in WASD movement, then their little blue demon would team up with yours. Often, this made the game more challenging — if your partner in crime misses a shot, you’re more likely to get pelted with bubbles. Who needs a trust fall when you have the ultimate test of co-operation in Flash form?
Play it here: https://www.miniclip.com/games/bubble-trouble/en/focus/
Red Remover was a latecomer to the world of Flash games, having only been released in 2009. Still old, still 2000s, so it’s on the list! As the title implies, the aim of the game is to remove all of the red blocks from the level. However, knocking the green blocks out means you lose, and the levels have been devilishly designed to make that as challenging as possible.
The game actually relies on a basic grasp of physics. Because it’s classed as "educational" and appears on math game sites, it was a go-to game at schools which were big on their internet filtering. Regardless of educational content, it’s a genuinely interesting game. Though the concept and controls are simple, the game is very well-constructed and uses a straightforward framework to create a myriad of challenges.
As a bonus, the blocks have adorable little faces and cheer when you complete a level! Perhaps the fun is in the dark satisfaction that comes from forcing the cutesy blocks to crash into each other and fling themselves off the screen and into the abyss. All the red blocks just want to be erased from existence. I’m guessing the red blocks are depressed millennials.
Play it here: http://www.hoodamath.com/games/redremover.html