Level Up! | Games that made my childhood

Level Up! Is a biweekly blog about all types of games, from Dungeons and Dragons to Mario Party.

By Sinéad McDevitt, Digital Manager

When we were in elementary school, my brother told me I was getting a Nintendo DSi for Christmas. I didn’t believe him at the time because I knew he was getting one for Christmas, and I thought he was mistaken. After all, I was a girl and video games were a boy thing.

I’m so happy I was wrong because once I opened that Christmas gift, I was introduced to one of my favorite things ever. I played everything I could get my hands on, and nowadays I’m obsessed with not just playing games but also analyzing and thinking critically about them. But if I’m going to be writing about games, I thought you should know where I’m coming from.

These are the games I still look back on fondly to this day:

“Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth”

Persona Q” is objectively the worst game to play as an introduction to the Persona series. It’s a spinoff for the Nintendo 3DS that takes the characters from Persona 3 and Persona 4 and puts them together in an enjoyable story, one that makes more sense when you’ve played those games and know the characters.

Most other games in the series are stand-alone so it’s easier to jump in, and they’re all on the PlayStation family of systems. But I only owned a 3DS at the time and didn’t realize it was a spinoff when the box art caught my eye, so I went in completely blind and very confused. The dungeon crawling, graphics, music and parts of the story I understood were all so good I enjoyed it despite the lack of context. It also got me interested in the Persona series as a whole, which is now one of my favorites.

“Pokémon: Platinum”

Speaking of my favorite series, saying you enjoy Pokémon is kind of like saying you like the Marvel Cinematic Universe at this point, especially since the most recent entries, “Pokémon: Brilliant Diamond” and “Pokémon: Shining Pearl,” sold more than 6 million units in their first week alone. Everyone has a soft spot for their first game, and mine was “Pokémon: Platinum.”

At their core, each game in the series is the same. Your character travels around collecting a variety of unique creatures to battle with, fighting other trainers and trying to be “the best there ever was.” But as an introduction to turn-based battles and role-playing games, it’s a great way to experience a whole new world. The feeling of traveling around by yourself and meeting new people isn’t exactly something most 10-year-olds get to experience, and it works as a gateway to bigger and more complicated games like the Final Fantasy series.

“Super Smash Bros Brawl”

Super Smash Bros,” Nintendo’s crossover fighting game, is a popular game amongst my siblings, especially because my sisters could understand the controls and the goal of the game — hit the other person very hard — easily. Despite the most recent entry, “Super Smash Bros Ultimate,” being very good, it’s never going to replace its predecessor, “Brawl,” in my heart.

“Brawl” is the third entry in the series and made for the Nintendo Wii. It stands out in the series for having a story mode where I could play co-op with my brother. We spent a good amount of time on that, and when we finally beat the final boss after 10 tries, it was one of our greatest achievements.

“Fantasy Life”

Speaking of games I played with my brother, no other game has matched the time and energy we put into playing “Fantasy Life.” This is another 3DS game and the premise is you can take on different jobs to gather, craft materials and fight enemies. Once you got far enough into the game, some bosses were literally impossible to take on alone, so on weekends we’d make plans on what supplies we needed and which classes would be best suited for which enemies. It was the best.

I desperately want this game to have a sequel or be ported to the Switch. It was so fun and I want to play it again, but unfortunately my 3DS, which is almost 10 years old at this point, doesn’t run like it used to.

“Fire Emblem: Awakening”

I think the most fun part of playing a game is when you understand the rules enough to completely break it. Having one unit that‘s so powerful they can take on any enemy might not be what the developers intended, but it sure is fun to watch them decimate everything, and “Fire Emblem: Awakening” was so easy to break.

Fire Emblem is a long-running series of turn-based strategy games, where you control a variety of units and have to achieve goals without letting anyone die. “Awakening” was the first game in the series released for the 3DS and came out in 2013. It had several new features which allowed someone who knew what they were doing to completely wreck the game. For one thing, characters were incredibly customizable, meaning you could combine classes and skills resulting in units who were absolute powerhouses.

You could go even further when you hit the halfway point in the game and unlocked the ability to recruit the time-traveling future children of your other characters. Depending on how you matched up your characters, the second-generation units would end up with skills they couldn’t have in a different playthrough, meaning you could make them powerful in different ways every time you started a new game.

I owe this game a lot for being an introduction to one of my favorite series of games, for being one of the catalysts for my bisexual awakening with its cast full of very attractive characters and for having so many ways to thoroughly cheese the game.

Sinéad McDevitt is the digital manager at The Pitt News and enjoys writing about musicals, games and stories.