24 Old and Classic PC Games That Marked the Childhood and Youth of the Xataka Team

From classics to rare titles, these PC games shaped the childhood and adolescence of the editorial team

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Eva Rodríguez de Luis

Some things leave an indelible mark: your first day of school, when you take off the training wheels on your bike, and, dare I say it, your first game. For many of us, that first game came with our first computer, marking our childhood or even our youth and somehow defining our destiny. As you will read below, in some cases, that first PC game helped us discover our passion for computers and technology, which is why we are here today.

Among the games selected by the Xataka's editors, you will find classics but also surprises. The fact is there's no accounting for taste! Moreover, the ages of our editorial team are quite varied. Without further ado, today we get nostalgic about the games that left their mark on us.

Index of contents (24)

‘Age of Empires’ (1997)

Age of Empires (1997)

Recommended by Ruben Marquez

Until then, it was all platforming, a few puzzles, and even a brief experience in the role-playing world of 'Final Fantasy Legend 2', which I didn't even understand –a game in English for a six-year-old child with another native language. 'Age of Empires' opened the doors to a whole new world.

Not only because of what it meant in hooking me into the strategy and resource management genre, which I still play today. But also, because it introduced me to video game design with a scenario editor that I enjoyed as much as the game itself. It may not be the name I would put in a list of my top favorites, but it is one of those that have influenced me the most as a player and professional.

Recommended by Javier Jimenez

If I had to remember a game that influenced my youth, it would be 'Age of Empires'. I am almost sure that I played more 'SimCity' and spent more hours playing 'Counter' in the local cybercafe. I'm also sure that 'Commandos' disrupted our lives. However, AoE was the game that stayed with me the longest in my formative years.

Now that I think about it, I guess it's because, with its limitations, it's just the mix of those previous games: it had the constructive and strategic component of long-term and the combative, tactical, and sometimes desperate escape. The best of all worlds, my 'Minecraft' and my 'Fortnite'.

Going back to those games so many years later makes me wonder how much what we played had an impact on who we are today. I haven't researched that. But I do realize that if video games help shape us as people, I don't think I could pick a better game than the one where a kid feels the weight of building an entire civilization on his shoulders. The rest of your life is much more serene.

‘Maniac Mansion’ (1987)

Maniac Mansion (1987)

Recommended by Juan Carlos Lopez

I am still indebted to Rol Gilbert and Gary Winnick. Their mythical 'Maniac Mansion' was one of the first games I enjoyed on the PC, although I had already been playing for several years on my long-missed Spectrum and my also great and still in shape Atari ST 520. But there was something special about this graphic adventure, the first released by LucasArts Games. Something that made me fall in love not only with video games but also with computers.

This spicy mixture of humor between innocence and absurdity, adventure, and snappy dialogues, was more thoroughly exploited by Gilbert, Winnick, and Schafer in other adventure games from George Lucas' company, but 'Maniac Mansion' has the merit of being the first. I remember it like it was yesterday, its twists and turns, and those unforgettable moments that made me laugh aloud. Yes, this is the PC game that has touched me the most, and I doubt very much that another title will take its place in the future.

  • Available on Steam for $5.99

‘Diablo’ (1996)

Diablo (1996)

Recommended by Sergio Cejas

In my childhood, several adventure games shaped me. I remember them like it was the first day, but 'Diablo' left an indelible mark. I saw it on a French video game show without understanding anything, but I found it fascinating and had a crazy desire to try it. One day I saw my brother playing it, so I decided to try it. That's how I met the Internet.

Until then, I didn't know what it was like to play online with other gamers. It seemed magical to me to realize that other people were doing the same thing I was doing on the other side of the screen, with whom I could interact and talk. Even my brother had to help me because I couldn't even type on a keyboard, and it took me a century to write a single sentence. That's why I'll always remember that time with special affection. It was undoubtedly a before and after in my love of video games.

‘Commandos’ (1998)

Commandos (1998)

Recommended by Alex Canovas

I have never been a PC gamer as such, to be honest. I spent many hours playing games on my MSX in the 80's, and later, when the first consoles came out, I leaped. However, there was one game that stole a lot of my afternoons. A Spanish title that will sound familiar to everyone: ‘Commandos’.

It was one of the first strategy games I tried on the PC besides ‘Age of Empires’. They are quite different, of course, and Pyro’s game was full of good finds. From its stealth-based gameplay mechanics, with enemies whose field of vision you could see to know when and how to act, to the cool voices of the characters when they received my orders. Mythical.

  • ‘Commandos’ Pack on Steam for $14.99

‘Prince of Persia’ (1989)

Prince of Persia (1989)

Recommended by Santi Araujo

When I was little, I remember my dad had an Olivetti, and every once in a while he let me try ‘Prince of Persia’. I could play for hours, although I always ended up frustrated (it was really hard). Its music and atmosphere put you in a dark world where you had to run against the clock to reach the end of the game (and save your beloved). Sword fights, traps of all kinds, and impossible jumps. I dare to say that I like Persian carpets because of this game.

‘Broken Sword: The Shadow of The Templars’ (1996) and ‘Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror’ (1997)

Broken Sword: The Shadow of The Templars (1996)

Recommended by Cesar Muela

Both games are the first I remember when I think of my childhood. I was less than ten years old, and I loved playing them because I liked the main character, George Stobbart, but also because the story in both cases captivated me.

It was funny because I didn't like to read (partly because, at the age of seven or eight, we read books like Don Quixote at school). However, I would read the texts of all the objects, manuscripts, and conversations in ‘Broken Sword’. I also liked them because of the sense of freedom of being able to explore and interact calmly with the scenarios and characters.

It wasn't like in ‘Street Fighter’, which I also liked, but everything was more linear. I have it so memorized that I even remember the songs played on many screens. It was a lot of hours, especially when you got stuck, but also the feeling of victory when you solved a puzzle. In addition, with ‘Broken Sword’, I started to imagine and draft my own stories (I ended up being a journalist), and I also discovered other types of games, such as those of the strategy genre, where ‘Age of Empires’ (1997) keeps a special place for me.

  • Available on Steam: ‘Broken Sword: The Shadow of The Templars’ for free and ‘Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror’ for $5.99

‘Civilization II’ (1998)

Civilization II (1998)

Recommended by PRobertoJ

Everything I could say about it and the saga in general is already in a Xataka post (Civilization from A to Z). All I can say is that I have lost hours of sleep, and hours of university classes, returned to the game countless times, and still had one extra round to go.

Recommended by Anna Marti

I'm not much of a gamer and never have been, although I've had occasional hooks (and I have the impression that I could easily get addicted to some current titles if I decided to try, but I don't want to tempt fate or stop seeing the sunlight). The ones I spent more hours playing are ‘Civilization II’ and later one of the official F1 games, but I can't remember which version (it was probably the first).

The first one was a great-great-grandfather of the current ‘Age of Empires’ and similar, where you dedicate part of your life to building a civilization from scratch, using one of the historical ones (Greeks, Romans, etc.) as a template, and win if you beat your opponents and manage to keep a colossus standing (I won one, only a, and never played again).

The second was my entertainment between exams at university when I needed to desaturate my mind. I loved the part where I would set up the car and put on my engineer's costume for five minutes. Imola was part of the championship, it was the fastest and most fun track. And even though Alonso was still at Renault, I admit to playing with the Ferraris from time to time.

Bonus: another game that took up hours of my life was ‘Counter-Strike’, although there were a few of us with laptops, cables, a switch, and little desire to sleep.

‘Day of the Tentacle’ (1993)

Day of The Tentacle 1993

Recommended by Frankie MB

I still remember how amazed I was by the sequel to ‘Maniac Mansion’. Even though I was a real adventure game devotee at the age of ten, ‘Day of The Tentacle’ blew my mind in every single aspect: delirious characters and situations, a cartoon-like look, and puzzles full of humor, surrealism, and a dash of evil that are still brilliant today.

The keys: travel through time and history, mutations not so impressive but with huge collateral effects, and three young people with little shame as the last line of defense of humanity. Sabotaging the Purple Tentacle's master plan for world domination was an exquisite and exceptional experience and remains so to this day through the remastered version.

‘Day of the Tentacle’ is a must in the legacy of the most inspired LucasArts and one of the best adventure games of all time. It is about a game we solved with friends in the fifth grade, at a time before we had access to the Internet. And that made every achievement, every experiment, and every prank even more special.

  • The remastered version of ‘Day of The Tentacle’ on Steam for $14.99

‘GTA Vice City’ (2006)

GTA Vice City (2006)

Recommended by Gabriela Gonzalez

The PC game that probably defined my youth was ‘GTA Vice City’. It was the first time in my life a game gave me so much freedom to do what I wanted. A few years ago, I tried ‘GTA III’ while visiting a cousin's house, and it left a mark on me. When I got to play ‘Vice City’, it was quite an experience. I did not have a console or a PC at home at that time, so I played it in a cybercafé or installed it on some relatives' computers. Hours and hours of fooling around, destroying things, and using all the cheats. Even today, nothing comes close to the insanity of typing “PANZER” a bunch of times and watching the tanks rain down.

‘The Secret of Monkey Island’ (1990)

The Secret of Monkey Island (1990)

Recommended by Eva Rodriguez de Luis

My life changed when I made my First Communion: I received a computer as a gift. That old PC with Windows 3.1 came with games as mythical as ‘Wolf 3D’, others not so mythical as ‘Beauty and the Beast’ –which also gave me a fun time– and an unprecedented find: ‘The Secret of Monkey Island’. It was unlike anything I had played in arcades: no pressure (or there was a bit; after all, LeChuck is a terrible pirate), but I could spend hours running around the island with the mission to become a pirate, stealing things or verbally dueling with different characters. The open and free gameplay and the strange sense of humor left an impression on me.

After Monkey came the whole saga of ‘Maniac Mansion’, ‘Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis’, ‘Broken Sword’ or ‘Leisure Suit Larry’. I had found my genre, adventure games. And everything is thanks to this great LucasArts saga.

  • ‘The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition’ on Steam for $9.99

‘Half-Life’ (1998)

‘Half-Life’ (1998)

Recommended by Toni Castillo

I got a confession: I have never been much of a computer gamer. I played more on PlayStation or GameBoy, but when I had the chance to try ‘Half-Life’ I was hooked and fascinated. And this is even more curious considering how bad I was –and still am– at playing first-person shooters. The thing is that I don't know how, but just because I liked the story so much, I ended up playing it. I finished it pretty fast considering how much other games cost me.

  • Available on Steam for $9.99

‘Anno 1602’ (1998)

Anno 1602 (1998)

Recommended by Enrique Perez

I have always liked strategy games. I was about ten years old when I got my first computer, and I remember being very addicted to titles like ‘Commandos’, ‘Age of Empires’, or ‘Stronghold’. However, the one that captivated me was one as simple as ‘Anno 1602’, with resource management, villagers’ evolution, and the island’s planning. The commercial part was much more important than the war component. I liked the “tempo” of the game: calmer and more peaceful.

  • Available in the Ubisoft Store for $9.99

‘Age of Empires 2’ (1999)

Age of Empires 2 (1999)

Recommended by María González

I got it as a gift (with its box, technology tree, etc.) when I was a teenager, and I could not count the hours I spent playing it. Even my sisters and cousin, who were never into computer games, got hooked. It was –and still is– our "family" game. For me, the game represented a before and after at that time.

My computer was not very powerful, and AoE 2 worked well (without going over 75 population...). I had always liked strategy, and the Middle Ages were one of my favorites; It all came together in one game. I played both campaigns and scenarios that I created, as well as games against the machine. When the Internet came home, I played sometimes against other players on the net. However, my equipment was a bit outdated, despite the hours I played I am not an expert, and the online game system had problems. The truth is I did not play too much online.

Even now, years later, I still play from time to time. I've already lost count of all the versions I've bought (the original, a special one for collectors, the Steam digital one), and I'm sure that when the remastered version is ready, I'll be there to buy it. Wololo!

  • HD version on Steam for $19,99

Worms (1995)

Worms (1995)

Recommended by Amparo Babiloni

It wasn't the first PC game I got addicted to, but it was the first one all my friends got hooked on. There was a summer when we used to gather around my old PC to face each other in a several, as we always asked for revenge, bloody and at the same time adorable battle between teams of worms.

It had all kinds of weapons: air strikes, baseball bats, the push (how annoying that was), bombs, guided missiles, and you could even immolate yourself to finish off your enemies. The game was simple in graphics and mechanics but still was hilarious.

  • The original game is available on Steam for $7.99

Alley Cat (1984)

Alley Cat (1984)

Recommended by John Tones

‘Alley Cat’ is a crazy compilation of cat mini games (just three or four, repeated over and over) that mixed platforming, skill, elements from other games, and early eighties graphics to keep me hooked for a long time.

The speed of the action and some rudimentary depth in the mechanics kept me away from my ‘Commodore 64’ for a while, but I eventually went back to my first 8-bit computer. I wanted to be rocked by the purring sound of the C64’s SID chip as the PC’s beeper drilled into my brain with that soundtrack from the depths of hell.

‘DOOM’ (1993)

DOOM (1993)

Recommended by Raúl Alvarez

I wasn’t much of a PC gamer because I hated playing with a keyboard and mouse, and consoles were cheaper back then and offered what they promised: playing video games, and that was it. Later, my parents bought a desktop PC, a reliable Acer Aspire, with a demo version of ‘DOOM’ as a promo. At that moment, my life changed forever because, even though I only had one level, I memorized it until I had enough to buy the complete game.

‘DOOM’ was the first game to which I dedicated hours and sleepless nights, bought magazines to find secrets, made maps of the levels, and talked to friends to discover things together... it became an addiction. Today is one of the most important games of my life, a game that was also the gateway to the wonderful world of PC gaming.

  • Available on Steam for $19.99

‘Sid Meier’s Colonization’ (1994)

Sid Meier’s Colonization (1994)

Recommended by Antonio Ortiz

A marvel of turn-based strategy from the creator of Civilization. By chance, I got much more hooked on this one based on colonization, starting in 1492 and having to choose between England, France, Holland, and Spain.

I liked that point of obviating the development of a nation from 0, the wealth of options (from sending missionaries to war against other colonizing powers). It was impossible to wait for another turn until the wee hours of the morning.

  • Available on Steam for $6.99

‘Baldur's Gate’ (1998)

Baldur's Gate (1998)

Recommended by Sam Fernandez

With all the pain in my heart, my partner Eva ties my hands and feet and forces me to choose only one game from all those that I consider having marked my childhood or youth, making the choice even more difficult. ‘DOOM II’, ‘Warcraft 2’, ‘Starcraft’, ‘Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter’, ‘Broken Sword’, and all the LucasArts adventure games full of pirates, monkeys, and tentacles are excluded. So, if I must choose one, it's ‘Baldur's Gate’.

I discovered it when I was 18 years old, but it marked my already outgoing youth. I played many games before ‘Baldur's Gate’, and a lot more after, and I can't remember any that made me as obsessed as the Bioware game. Hours and hours of exploring every map, completing every side mission, and falling in love with Khalid, Jaheira, Minsk Bubu and so many other side quests. Damn, now I can't wait to get back to Candelero.

  • The Enhanced Edition includes the original ‘Baldur's Gate’ for $19.99.

‘Fallout 3’ (2008)

Fallout 3 (2008)

Recommended by Samuel Oliver (Xataka Video)

The one I remember most fondly is undoubtedly ‘Fallout 3’. I had never played the saga before, but this one caught my attention and captivated me from the first moment. Facing the Wasteland and its horrors, choosing between good or evil, being able to deal with different situations by destroying everything, being stealthy, or simply using the mastery of your words seemed crazy to me at the time.

Although I’ll be honest, I was more of a “shoot first and ask questions later” kind of guy. The game hooked me so much that I had to play every single one of its crazy expansions. Aliens in the Wasteland? Full marks to it.

  • Available on Steam for $9.99.

‘Age of Mythology’ (2002)

Ages of Mythology (2002)

Recommended by Javier Penalva

Although I had already played many titles on SEGA consoles and some Amstrad at school friends’ houses, the PC game that marked a good part of my youth was ‘Age of Mythology’. It was the first game I bought with my savings, that I could run on my PC, and that I was lucky enough to dedicate many hours to, not only during the summer holidays but throughout the school year. That’s what it was like to finally have a PC in my room. It was also the game that made me realize that the historical strategy genre would never leave me alone.

  • The updated and expanded ‘Age of Mythology: Extended Edition’ for $29.99.

‘Heroes of Might and Magic II’ (1996)

Heroes of Might and Magic II (1996)

Recommended by Yubal FM

In my youth, my gaming life depended on SEGA consoles, both Master System and Mega Drive. That’s why any PC game influenced me because it took me much longer to have one at home. The first PC game that got me hooked came installed on my old Packard Bell and was called ‘CivNet’, a version of the first ‘Civilization’. But the one that really caught my attention was ‘Heroes of Might and Magic II’.

It’s a strategy game where you go around a map looking for its secrets, but when you fight, you do it in a separate 2D screen and with turn-based combat with improved graphics compared to the main map. I remember spending hours playing it and even using the CD to listen to its soundtrack in the home player.

Best of all, its world editor was so simple that I had no trouble spending hours creating my adventures or playing those of others. It was a long game where you had to manage your castles and resources to improve your army. Over time, I tried other titles in the saga, but that second edition had a special magic that I have not seen in any of them since.

‘Terratopia’ (1996)

‘Terratopia’ (1996)

Recommended by Javier Lacort

Although I soon felt the influence of Nintendo, in 1996, I was six years old and had a PC at home to play with. Virgin Interactive was distributing a game called ‘Terratopia’ with the newspaper La Vanguardia. I received a copy, and it was the first video game I remember playing and following its history, beyond casual games to MS-DOS titles.

It was a graphic adventure adapted from a board game to the PC. Its point-and-shoot mechanics were simple, with basic cinematics and long hours of static images. It wasn't much, but it was the first story I followed in this format, and it helped me learn about the fauna and flora of Earth. Sometimes, I hear the voice of the old man or the coyote. Good times.

‘Theme Park World’ (1999)

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​​Recommended by Mario Merinowski (Xataka Video)

The PC games that shaped me when I was a kid and not so little were ‘Theme Park World’ and Theme Hospital. Although if I had to choose one, it would be the first. It was a game where you built an amusement park with Halloween and summer themes... You could construct roller coasters, children's areas, or restaurants.

I spent hours and hours playing that game. It sounds silly, but it taught you how to manage money resources and had a simulator to take care of visitors’ needs like hunger or fun.

What about yours?

We have reviewed some of the most mythical PC games of the last decades, but, for sure, we left many behind. Which game defined your childhood or youth? If you like, you can participate in the comments.

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