We grew up… so did our online games
I’ve just downloaded AuditionSEA recently – spare me the judgment though, I did it in the name of research. And maybe partly because I wanted to see how my primary school obsession has turned out now. Like flipping an album full of old photographs, revisiting my favourite childhood online games threw me into a reminiscence of those lazy afternoons as a tween, saving my Neopet from starvation, or aimlessly building firewood in RuneScape.
If you log into your old accounts now, you’d be as amazed as me. With cooler effects, high-detail graphics, and and a whole lot more sophistication, it seems like our childhood online games went through puberty with us. Here are 9 games we were oh-so-familiar with, and this is how they look like now.
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Joined right after RuneScape was launched, but all the normal usernames were still taken.
If you were lucky enough to witness RuneScape Classic, you must be feeling like a proud mother now. Launched in 2001, RuneScape was the game every cool and badass kid played. Spending hours at the computer trying to make every skill 100/100 was our favourite pastime, even though the graphics look like something we can easily create on PowerPoint now.
Then it became like this – more pleasant and organised, without the chat/stats looking like they were placed in textboxes.
And finally, here’s what RuneScape looks like now. Simplicity might have been the name of the game in the past, but now it’s all about classiness and details – right down to the very buckle on your avatar’s shoe. Landscapes are more realistic, quests are more complex, and the game is a lot less idiot-proof – I would know.
2. Habbo Hotel
Way back in time, before Friendster or Myspace was even created, the grandfather of all social networking sites in our generation was born – Habbo Hotel. Like how the old RuneScape looked like it was designed using PowerPoint, the original Habbo Hotel could pass off as a product of Paint. Nevertheless, it kept us coming back for more every evening after school, just to talk to that potentially chio girl we met the day before.
The basics of the gameplay are still the same; chat with Habbo friends, buy furniture and clothes, decorate your room etc. But for those looking to revisit the old Habbo game such as Battle Ball or SnowStorm, sad to break it to you – they no longer exist due to the upgrade from Shockwave to Flash. However, they have new, similar games now such as Freeze and Battle Banza!
And yes, Habbo still remains kid/teen-friendly. That avatar which keeps saying “BOBBA” is actually just constantly cursing
Neopets might have been on the lamer side of online games, but it sure was a hell lot of fun. Thankfully, they haven’t changed much over the years besides the web design – Marina the faerie is still gifting potions at the healing springs (she hasn’t aged), free daily omelettes are still up for grabs at the Tyrannian Plateau, and your pet’s still starving.
Like many of our other favourite childhood online games, Neopets also evolved from a site splashed with bright colours and clipart designs, to one that’s more aesthetically acceptable by society standards today.
Instead of H&M gift cards, birthday presents in primary school used to come in the form of A-Cash cards. Spiky ponytails and angel wings were a staple in every AuditionSEA avatar’s wardrobe. Besides graphic improvements, AuditionSEA’s song choices have increased by a lot, now including many popular and mainstream songs on top of their AuditionSEA tunes. They also included a wardrobe function which allows you to change outfits between games.
I was a little shocked when I logged into AuditionSEA recently – what used to be a server bursting with players is now almost empty. Sadly, it seems like the AuditionSEA fever has long died down. And we never even got to find out what we were Audition-ing for.
I didn’t play Maplestory, but I had enough friends, aka Maple addicts, to know that MapleSEA was another intense game that many would willingly burn hours for. Forming parties, defeating monsters and collecting items – all these were more appealing to my friends than hanging out with me. It was also apparently a fertile ground for secondary school kids to get together.
To all my friends and other ex-addicts out there, if you haven’t checked MapleSEA in years, you might want to do so now. You’d be impressed by the vast improvements in graphics and gameplay.
I have no clue why I was so into this game in the past – maybe it was the mindless clicking, or animated graphics that drew me to Adventure Quest. We all had the sense of satisfaction seeing the monsters’ HP going down.
It hasn’t changed a lot over the years, and I doubt the quests will appeal to us as much as before. If you’re looking for a real old school online game of a 90’s kid with graphics stuck in the early 2000s, Adventure Quest will bring you back in time.
7. The Sims
Whenever we had too much time on our hands, Sims would always be our trusty pal. In this virtual world, life’s going great – you have a stable job, the perfect family with kids, and your needs are always being taken care of.
Over the years, Sims 2, 3 and 4 were introduced, and like every iPhone after the iPhone 3, it’s hard to tell what has changed other than their graphics/appearances. Various game packs have been released, offering different gameplay settings and scenarios.
Another game that hasn’t changed much, Gunbound will surely bring you back to the past, when we would sit at our “family desktops” with eyes glued to the screen as you accumulate those back shot bonuses.
For those of us who have evolved to become basic Apple followers (like me), Gunbound doesn’t work on Macbooks. *Cries*.
Whoever played Counter-Strike in my time was probably a badass, rule-breaking rebel who didn’t give a hoot about the 16+ age limit printed on the CD-ROM cover. It was the passport to enter the “cool and tough” crew of our primary schools.
Of course, the excitement doesn’t just come from the in-game action and violence alone. We won’t forget the adrenaline rush every time our parents almost find the CD-ROM tucked between textbooks. Unless you were one of those swaggy kids who downloaded it on Steam.
Counter-strike seems more realistic and detailed now, and remains appealing to our generation, thanks to its updates.
Bonus: RIP to all the Facebook games that don’t exist now
Here’s a shoutout to all those Facebook games that were here with us throughout our tween/teen stages. You have been missed.
1. Pet Society
2. Restaurant City
3. Word Challenge
Games of our past
Imaginary friends aren’t the only long forgotten ones from our childhood – these precious online games are too. It’s a little weird to see how much some have changed over the years, from a pre-pubescent looking site, to one with elaborate details and 10/10 aesthetics. It’s like seeing your friend’s younger sibling again after five years.
And to all those sites that have ceased to exist, rest in peace.
This article was originally published on 16th September 2016. Last updated on 2nd December 2020 by Josiah Neo