My dad doesn’t play many games. When it comes time to relax, he mostly prefers movies or taking his boat out on the water. But over the years, he’s played a few here and there — some when he was younger, and some for consoles that he got my sister and I growing up. Here are my dad’s top 5 favorite games, as far as I know.
5. Duck Hunt
We never actually owned an NES — the Super Nintendo was the first console our family purchased. But on occasion we’d swap machines with a family friend for a weekend and get to take the NES for a spin. A downgrade, you say? Well, we didn’t know any better — we were kids. It was all basically magic to us, especially the Zapper and Duck Hunt, which my dad loved helping us play.
My dad was just the right age to get into Frogger when it was released in 1981. I was never any good at it, which is perhaps proof that gaming skills are not hereditary. But then, my dad probably couldn’t beat Elden Ring. Not coincidentally, the Frogger episode of Seinfeld, in which George attempts to preserve his decades-old high score on an arcade machine, is one of my father’s favorites.
3. Super Mario World
We got a Super Nintendo when I was about five years old. Super Mario World was my first video game, and the bright colors and charming characters drew me in to Nintendo’s 16-bit adventure. There was just one problem — water levels. I could deal with Mario falling into a pit, but something about the concept of Mario drowning was unacceptable to me. One of the first courses in the game, Yoshi’s Island 4 features rough waters that cause you to lose a life if you sink to the bottom of them, and I requested that my dad play that stage for me. Since I didn’t really understand the concept of saving your progress, I thought you had to play the game from the beginning every time you powered the console on, so that meant my dad played a lot of that stage. As a result, he started actually getting into Super Mario World, and whenever I’d go to sleep with him playing a little, it was a lovely surprise to wake up and see what new levels he’d uncovered.
Ok, I don’t know if my dad ever actually played Snake on his Nokia 5110, but my sister and I certainly did. A lot — So much so that we risked draining the phone’s battery on long drives and eventually had to have our time with it rationed. Maybe this one belongs on a list of my dad’s least favorite games, then, which would include anything that can’t be paused and Animal Crossing — I think it’s natural for fathers to resent any game that makes their children excited to do the same chores that they seem incapable of carrying out in reality.
1. San Francisco Rush 2049
Didn’t see that coming, huh? Neither did I. When my dad saw a demo of San Francisco Rush 2049 on our Dreamcast, he was immediately fascinated. Something about the concept of cars of wings doing flip tricks struck a chord with him. To this day, I don’t know what it was that drew him to San Francisco Rush 2049, and I’m not sure he does, either. But maybe, just maybe, it was the simple joy of driving a flying car after growing up in an era where such things were promised to one day be mundane, a future that never came to be except in the futuristic world of San Francisco in 2049.