Really they ignited the late ‘80s through early 2000’s kid, because that’s what “‘90s kid” really means. Am I right?
Release date: November 2015
Developer: Kyle Seeley
Emily is Away is middle school to me: AOL Instant Messenger. Buddy Lists, Profiles, Away Messages that were obviously meant to get a boy’s attention (or some back-stabbing friend). The player is even given the choice of several icons at the beginning of each chapter that are culturally relevant for each passing year (examples: “Sk8er Boi” in 2002, the Pirates of the Caribbean logo in 2003). Brilliant. The game has multiple endings and choice-making elements which rely on the player typing various answers into AIM in order to talk to Emily, the player’s crush. The downfall of the game, for me at least, is that straight female players such as myself really do not get much out of the flirtation (as is the case for gay male players, and so on). The game assumes the player is a straight male, which is a pretty big assumption. Even so, for a free game, the amount of choice-making and multiple endings make up for it for the most part. The nostalgia that is evoked through the flawless depiction of AIM makes the game worth spending an afternoon on, in my opinion at least.
Length: Depends on if the player chooses to play through the game multiple times and the choices he or she makes. One play-through typically lasts 1-3 hours.
2. Organ Trail
Organ Trail is Oregon Trail fitted with a zombie skin. You add yourself and four friends to a party and set out on your journey, only this time it’s to escape the zombie plague rather than to play out manifest destiny. You and your party can still get dysentery, but you can also be bitten by zombies. The graphics perfectly resemble the original Oregon Trail and have sound effects to match.
Length: One play-through on normal mode lasts 1-3 hours
Price (Steam): $4.99, or $14.99 to include the expansion and soundtrack
Digital: A Love Story is a free downloadable game somewhat similar to Emily is Away, in that the player interacts with a simulated computer screen. Here, though, the computer is much older, and there is much less to do in terms of choice-making. However, the game is also much longer with more in-depth content. The basic story involves mysteries surrounding the deaths of computer AIs (think SmarterChild), as well as some love story elements, though these are far less intense than Emily is Away. The game focuses on its mysteries, twists, turns and rich story.
Length: 5-6 hours
Replay: VHS is Not Dead is a very unique game. The main character, Harvey, has been sucked into his television and has to go through missing scenes in some VHS tapes he rented from the video store. The puzzle platformer includes elements of Braid, as the player must repeatedly rewind in order to complete the scenes. However, unlike Braid, the scenes do not include just one character. The scenes include multiple characters who must be manipulated in more complicated ways as the game progresses, and they must work together to complete each scene and puzzle. With retro graphics, fun music, and a quirky art style, this game reeks of ‘90s nostalgia.
Length: 18-24 hours
I love all four of these games, and I believe they are all worth a playthrough (especially the free ones). If you want to spend a few hours on something a little different, or you just feel like a hit of nostalgia, give these a try.
Amanda Rainear is an Associate Writer for Middle of Nowhere Gaming who has a crush on the prince of all Saiyans. You can also find her and her fiance streaming on their Ace Attorney-themed Twitch channel.