The Noughties were a decade of great change for the gaming industry. The year 2000 saw the launch of the PlayStation 2, the highest-selling console of all time and by the end of the decade, innovative devices like the Wii and DS had also appeared on the gaming scene, as well as mobile gaming with the iPhone 3G and the IOS App Store. Alongside the advancements in technical capability came the possibility for new interactive experiences, whether that be through the Wii’s motion controls or the dual screen of the DS, or even just advancements in 3D graphics. Here are a couple of our favourite games from across the decade:
Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS, PS) – 2007
When I was a wee-boy, I had a designated slot for half an hour screentime and half an hour toy time before dinner. What did I do? The second half was playing with my LEGO Star Wars sets. The first half was playing with my LEGO Star Wars sets on a screen- wow! Lego Star Wars was available on all the great platforms but I had it on DS for playing sneakily under the duvet and my mate’s PS2 for the optimised vibrations when you smash up the LEGO blocks.
All of the LEGO games fizzle with dry wit, attention to detail and unmatchable, immortal, charm, but the Star Wars iterations are childhood staples. The multiplayer and free play options (get those MiniKits!) are terrific, as is the usage of John Williams’ music. Then there are the sound effects: Yoda’s death rattle, the lasers, the Force, Padme’s slap melee attack. It is a superbly sonic game. The simplicity of the levels varies, at times teetering on frustration from losing all those precious blue coins as you fail to make a big double jump… But LEGO Star Wars is accessible fun for absolutely anyone.
Wii Sports (Wii) – 2006
I can still remember the sense of excitement I felt upon unboxing my Nintendo Wii for the first time, at the grand old age of seven. Its illustrious white features gleaming in my hands. It was my first console, and one that will remain in my heart.
Although games that followed in the years to come helped to keep my spirits high, such as Just Dance, and a god-forsaken High School Musical karaoke game that helped congregate the neighbourhood’s dogs with the unholy sound of my voice, Wii Sports has to take top banana. From CPUs dodging my many bowling-backwards misfires; to wafting my tennis racket around in the hopes of hitting something other than my parents’ expensive light fittings. It cannot be denied that there are some treasured memories (and memes) stemming from that game, sewing the seeds of a new era for kids in puberty all around the world.
As an only child, my time on the Wii was often limited to facing CPU opponents. For the most part, I could hold my own against the mechanics of a computer game, as a strong independent woman. But one character elicited a sense of fear into us all – Matt. Even typing his name brings the horror flooding back. He was a mean mean fighting machine, and I am convinced he is the reason I am now so competitive. After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – although, that doesn’t mean he didn’t try.
Of course, do not take my satire too seriously. Wii Sports will forever have a place on my TV stand, probably coated in a tasty slathering of dust by now. Still, if I ever see a Wii console at university I am instantly transported back to that seven-year-old girl, whose eyes lit up in the early hours of Christmas 2008, and that is a sentiment, which I hope shall never leave.
Sly 3: Honour Among Thieves (PS2) – 2005
There are very few games as iconic or as memorable as Sly 3: Honour Among Thieves. Quite easily the best Sly game, packed to the brim with gadgets, playable characters, vehicles and so much more; Sly 3 was an instant classic and a demonstration of what Sucker Punch Productions (Infamous: Second Son, Ghost of Tsushima) could bring to the table.
What made Sly 3 even better was its sense of progression from Sly 2: Band of Thieves, taking all of the game’s mechanics and improving upon them, adding in a few more to help it along. No longer were you restricted to playing as the titular character or Bentley and Murray, with some worlds offering a new playable character who brought their own game mechanics. (the Guru being one of the most memorable).
Along with this, some worlds brought about vehicles instead of new characters (think planes and pirate ships) and for all of the praise for Assassins Creed: Black Flag, I would say that Sly 3 did pirate content better. Sly 3 was a memorable, slick and entertaining game that I sunk hours of my childhood into.
Mario Kart Wii (Wii) – 2008
Out of all the Wii games that I fondly remember playing throughout the Noughties, Mario Kart Wii is one that has left the biggest mark.
Mario Kart is the definitive family game and all ten entries in the series are perfect for gatherings with family and friends with the perfect blend of wacky mayhem and friendship-destroying competition. However, what made Mario Kart Wii stand out was its excellent use of the Wii’s motion controls, as an 8-year-old playing the game, using the Wiimote as a steering wheel complete with a plastic moulded attachment was just unbelievable.
The gameplay and overall presentation itself are also stellar, with some amazing track designs, such as Wario’s Gold Mine, Toad Factory, Koopa Cape, and the hardest Rainbow Road in the series. As I write this, the music for the Coconut Mall track has resurfaced and will probably not leave my head for the rest of the day. Although Mario Kart 8 Deluxe now outclasses its Wii counterpart in almost all areas, the game still has a special place in the memories of my experiences of the Noughties.
Oh and my go-to racer was King Boo in the Piranha Prowler, in case you were wondering…
Nintendogs (DS) – 2005
My favourite game from the Noughties has to be Nintendogs on the Nintendo DS. The modern(ish) day Tamagotchi, you could adopt dogs, name them, walk them and care for them. What’s not to like? Several editions were available and when I unwrapped Nintendogs: Dalmation and Friends for Christmas I was so excited. I would play it as soon as I got home from school for hours. For a child who couldn’t have their own dog, it was the next best thing. My favourite thing was the agility competitions and my German Shepard Guinness, named after my own dog who died when I was young, and I were pretty great if I say so myself. I also loved walking my dogs. You could travel different distances depending on how old your pet was and meet other dogs, visit parks and, sometimes, receive little presents from your pup, whether it’s dog food, toys or accessories. I recently found it again and, to my excitement, my dogs had not died and were very happy to see me. I still play it if I’m feeling particularly stressed or down, I think it’s the ultimate nostalgia for anyone my age.
Mirror’s Edge (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) – 2008
2008 is probably best remembered as a year chockablock with acclaimed sequels, GTA IV, Fallout 3 and Guns of the Patriots all worthy flagships. But Mirror’s Edge, innovative for first-person free-running, is still an unsung gem. The game was a conscious attempt from developer DICE to diversify their catalogue after 5 mainline Battlefield games. You can tell; it feels like a tech demo in the best possible way, levels just open enough to imply a sandbox and the gameplay constantly emphasised. The storm drain mission in particular is still great, and one of the first times I can remember being consciously impressed by level design.
Some aspects have admittedly aged like milk — I replayed it on PS3 in lockdown and the combat is nearly impossible with a controller. Luckily there are only a couple of sections where a fistfight is necessary, and the game’s rubbish story is almost entirely skippable. The simple visual style elevates this and keeps Mirror’s Edge in shape against modern disciples like Dying Light, even Titanfall. “Runner’s vision”, which paints objects of interest in red against the white cityscape, is a stroke of design genius. Waypoint systems should take note, even after 14 years. Mirror’s Edge is a game close to my heart and an easy pick for the noughties — just make sure to play it on PC.
Zoo Tycoon DS (DS) – 2005
Released in the peak noughties time of 2005, Zoo Tycoon DS is still the epitome of gaming. You see that rigid plastic case, and then you are suddenly greeted with the happy smile of a lovely and friendly polar bear. He’s desperate to live in your lovely zoo. There are some downfalls as you can’t fit every animal into your zoo no matter how big it is. You have to sell some if you want to put in your new unlocked animals, and they make sad sounds when you sell them. You get to doom random zookeepers to live in an enclosure for their whole lives, but they don’t seem to mind when you put them in the water with the crocodiles.