Welcome to “Games To Know Me,” a series where Sidequest writers tell us about the games that have affected them! We’ve asked our writers to think about five games that are important to them and why.

Elvie Mae Parian is a Sidequest writer who’s written for us since 2017 about authenticity in games and trekked through hell and back covering both of the infamous Super Seducer games. You can follow Elvie on Twitter at @lvmaeparian and track her art escapades on Instagram as well.

A textbox overlaid a scene of miscellaneous furniture items in a tent: "The item that will bring you luck today is...'some women's bottoms'!"

The Animal Crossing series

April 14, 2001 (Animal Crossing) – March 20, 2020 (New Horizons)

It is interesting how non-linear simulation games like Animal Crossing have been more popular given the growing pessimism of what “success” means in our world. You can escape life’s woes by plugging yourself into this cute, furry-filled paradise that depends solely on an economy of trading furniture and bugs. You’re always welcome in this animal-majority town despite your human status. To earn by simply doing my best was enough—I feel equal amongst my kind, fuzzy neighbors. That said, to call this a utopia is a pure facade: one cannot flee capitalism in a world with loan shark Tom Nook. That said, I am thankful that someone like Isabelle can still be depended on for the support I need during these troubling times.

In a forestry-like area, two characters hover over a body laying down. They are surrounded by a cliff. A textbox above reads: "I'm hurt pretty badly...Do you think I'll die?" The user prompt, "Yes" is highlighted on the bottom, signified by a happy face.

Golden Sun

Camelot Software Planning
Game Boy Advance
August 1, 2001

Golden Sun was an incredibly important title for me during the Game Boy Advance era, reminding me that turn-based roleplaying games meant more than the strict, linear narratives that games like the Final Fantasy franchise popularized, that small actions can have consequences, and that clear-cut happy endings don’t always exist. I clearly remember standing in an Electronics Boutique, mesmerized by the very colorful artwork on the box cover. Golden Sun and its respective sequels do have mechanics and aspects that are now dated; however, it remains a personal title to me, pushing me into games that were less universal, that dared to do something a little different at a time when I was initially shamed for playing “boys’ games.”

A character wearing a cap looks towards the left at a creature (a Slowpoke) with trees adjacent to the left of the screen. A textbox on the bottom reads: "..... ..... Yawn?" They stand near a stairwell descending down, bordered by a rocky frame with a sign to its right.

Pokémon: Silver Version

Game Freak
Game Boy Color
November 21, 1999

Though I had been watching the 4Kids’ dub of the anime with Ash and company, Pokémon was essential to my foray into video games. The Johto generation was my very first introduction into the prolific game series, and Pokémon Silver in particular was one of my first dabbles into the Game Boy Color.  It was one of the first games I owned that wasn’t explicitly marketed “for girls.” It also had a greater, complex narrative in its inner workings compared to other titles I played around that time that were easy to walk away from.


The Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side series

Playstation 2, Nintendo DS, PSP
February 15, 2007 , February 14, 2008 (2nd Kiss), June 24, 2010 (3rd Story)

Yes. Let’s go there. The Girl’s Side version of the Tokimeki Memorial dating sim series is perhaps my earliest legitimate introduction into the fluffy but also saucy world of visual novels and dating sims—and also game emulation and pirating, but that’s perhaps a story for another day. This game was the first step in my destiny: a downward spiral into a video game genre obsessed with wooing anime-styled pretty boys. Konami hasn’t released a new title in their dating sim franchise for a long while now. More recently, Tokimeki Idol, a gacha mobile game only loosely based on the franchise’s concepts, ended service in 2018. I look forward to a future where dating sim pachinko exists.

Screengrap of Bejeweled 2's Classic game mode. On the right, an array of assorted gem stones are confined in a square. On the left, the score meter, the "Menu", and "Hint" buttons.


PopCap Games
May 30, 2001

This may sound like an odd choice, but when I still had a flip phone in the era of phones being purely phones and not multi-purposed mini supercomputers, Bejeweled was a very playable, go-to game that wasn’t painfully laggy. Every portable device and console I’ve ever owned in my lifetime so far has had some version of Bejeweled available, whether in its original form or in some colorful interpretation a la Candy Crush. I played Bejeweled on those long, cold nights waiting for the bus after school. Because it exists in almost every format in current existence, I would conclude that Bejeweled is a perfect game.

Read the rest of the Games to Know Me series.