The nostalgic gremlin inside me is at it again, so I’ve decide to sate him with this week’s post: a glimpse at what my childhood was like. I never quite open up to my readers quite like this, and over 100,000 of you have bothered to show up at my site to read my posts, and sixteen of you have made it a weekly basis! So consider this a big thank you to everyone who’s been supporting me. Now, don’t expect this to be a tell-all about myself–I still shall keep personal information at bay.

Without a doubt, I have to dedicate a majority of my childhood to Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Disney Channel. In fact, the earliest memory I can recall is lying on the couch and watching GUTS from across the room. I was quite the fan of Nickelodeon game shows; the only other shows I watched were Naked Brothers Band and SpongeBob, which I also grew up alongside. I found myself playing SpongeBob games online for long stretches of time, and I can still remember the “Goofy Goober Rock” sequence from the movie like the back of my hand. Oh, and the NBB music wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t amazing either. Decent, you people call it.

But in 2008, my horizon changed completely thanks to three shows: Total Drama IslandChowder, and Flapjack. Yes, if it wasn’t for these shows, I probably never would’ve become the Cartoon Network fan I am today. And you can assure yourself that I just ate the next two Total Drama seasons up, because I did. Then there’s Disney Channel. I fondly remember watching Kim PossibleThe Emperor’s New SchoolThe ReplacementsSuite Life of Zack & CodyJonas, the list goes on.

Believe it or not, I was reading Goosebumps in the second grade. The first book in the series I ever read was Why I’m Afraid of Bees–an installment I still have today. Rarely did the books ever actually give me goosebumps–but the covers of Phantom of the Auditorium and Be Careful What You Wish For were enough to trigger a very unpleasant night’s sleep. I’m not going to lie. I have something of a Goosebumps collection today, and it’s a shame that Series 2000 and Horrorland will never match the authenticity of the original series. I’m sure many 90s kids are sure to say the same thing. What made the series so unpredictable was that some books were amazing, while others were terrible. I’m not being critical, I’m just stating the facts.

Another favored horror series of mine back in the day is the Chillers saga by Johnathan Rand. Now, Rand is working on two Chillers series: Michigan Chillers and American Chillers. As the titles imply, events within a Michigan Chillers book take place in the good ole Great Lakes State. But American Chillers books can happen anywhere in the fifty states. These books, to be honest, were awfully similar to Goosebumps, but they have covered more subjects that are common in horror literature: werewolves, aliens, zombies, ghosts, vampires, the list goes on. But then the new Chillers came and vacuums are coming to life and crickets are gaining a craving for human meat. But who am I to complain and criticize, old Chillers was the shiz back in the day. Heck, it gave me the inspiration to become a horror author–I’m not saying I am a horror author, I’m still working on it.

Nothing made a day complete quite like getting a couple laughs out of a Captain Underpants book. I was the biggest fan of this series back as a kid; I’d read and remembered each installment by heart, but unfortunately reality has ensued and I consider myself too much of a grown man to continue reading childish stories like Captain Underpants. But watching a video like this one makes me wish for younger days.

Never would I find a series quite like Captain Underpants, where a vile school principal could turn into a superhero who wore nothing but underwear and a cape. But the book I remember the fondest would probably be the third one–that’s where the game changed completely! But as a blogger, I shan’t spoil it for you. This series may have also given me the inspiration to become a comic writer, which is how many people remembered me by. I have to devote a lot of my childhood to Pilkey on this one.

I might as well take the opportunity to remember some more of my favorite book series as a kid:

  • Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel – A 2-time Newbery Honor-winning children’s book series starring a frog and a toad whose friendship take them on many adventures. Easy-to-read vocabulary, imaginative illustrations, and a great moral made this series an instant classic for me.
  • Franklin by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark – A classic children’s book series starring a group of anthropomorphic animals, but the spotlight is on a young turtle boy named Franklin. See as he learns the virtues of friendship and love as he goes through countless scenarios: a bad day, a thunderstorm, the first day of schol, etc.
  • Ready, Freddy! by Abby Klein and John McKinley – First grade is nothing short of a jungle for Freddy Thresher, first grader and amateur shark enthusiast. Read along as he deals with Max the bully, the talent show, show-and-tell competition, homework problems, bedroom horrors, and more. The series has almost 30 installments, so if you like the first book (Tooth Trouble) you can mow down the rest.
  • Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park and Denise Brunkus – 90s kids may remember this one, but I remember it from my elementary school days. It stars a kindergartner named Junie B Jones as she embarks on school misadventures from facing the “stupid smelly bus” to facing the monster living under her bed. Eventually she 1-ups to first grade, where she remains to this day.
  • Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca – Jack and Annie are siblings that live in the fictional Frog Creek, PA. They have a tree house that can magically whisk them into any time or place, from the prehistoric era to San-Fran in the middle of that gnarly quake. They are also assisted on their missions by Morgan le Fay. Like Junie B Jones, the series 1-ups and goes from “Morgan Missions” to “Merlin Missions”, where they remain to this day.

I have fond memories of playing Diddy Kong Racing down in my basement when I should be eating breakfast. It’s just, when I had that controller in my hand, and I was racing down the tracks of Fossil Canyon, it just conjured this feeling where everything in my world just felt right. Even if the game occasionally froze. To a lesser extent, I had that feeling playing Super Mario 64; I have both of the games to this day. But back in the day was the best when we had a little emulator called Project 64 that changed my life forever. I had every N64 game thinkable at my fingertips–the nostalgia would kill me if I had that experience to relive. But I still have an N64 console, a couple of controllers, even some paks. But I honestly have to say that not only was I a Nickelodeon kid growing up, but I sure as heck was also a Nintendo kid. The N64 stuck with me for literally my entire childhood, and then the PlayStation 2 came in and changed everything.

The PlayStation 2 picked up in my childhood where the Nintendo 64 left off, and it’s probably my most cherished childhood memento I have. (Too bad it doesn’t really function perfectly.) The games we had for the console just happened to kick major buttocks and conjure even more nostalgia for me as I type this post. One amazing game I had was SpongeBob: Lights, Camera, Pants, which was basically a SpongeBob-edition Mario Party game. But it was still superior whether I was amplifying the experience by playing with friends or soaking up the goodness by flying solo. I have great memories of knocking my friend out of the ring in the “Goo-ladiators” level, or performing SpongeBob’s solo in the “Rock Bottom” level.

Another great game I had was SSX Tricky, the first and greatest sports game I’ve ever played. My version of the game concept was simple: once you have some big air, Über Trick out to score as many points as you can before landing. When you’re not tricking out, you might be racing against competitive AI or helping upgrade your characters, unlocking boards, costumes, etc. I know the game like the back of my hand, and so do my siblings, who are equally good at it. (I think this game was the one thing we could bond over besides TV shows.) The game also had the best soundtrack:

I might as well recall another game that, while not as legendary as these other two games, was definitely a decent time-killer: Tony Hawk’s Project 8. I can just recall the game’s lenient physics that could allow you to perform a perfect half-pipe transfer or do a clean ollie over a fence. When I wasn’t skating, I sure as heck was bailing or unsuccessfully trying to perform rad tricks. The soundtrack for the game wasn’t half bad, but there’s only two songs I remember fondly: “Gone Daddy Gone” (Gnarls Barkley) and “Smack” (Ugly Duckling).

Oh, and one last thing. I also remember playing lots of music games back in the day: I had the Guitar Hero/Guitar Hero II dual pack, so I had two times the rock-star goodness in one 2-disc case. We also had the first two Rock Band games–no, not in a dual pack. Luckily, our Guitar Hero guitars worked with the game, and the only thing that was new were the drums and mic. Oh yeah, then there was that time where I may have broken the drum pad, but luckily lots of people face the same problem.

The Spy Kids series had my favorite movies ever when I was a kid. It introduced me to an entirely new world full of science-fiction gadgets and fantasy creatures, while still containing traditional laughs fresh for the whole family. I mean, what other movie features beings with thumbs for limbs and a head? I don’t remember Spy Kids all too well, but I can recall the sequel like the back of my hand. Remember, when all the kids fought against the Magna Men, and then Carmen and Juni were sword-fighting the skeletons on the edge of the cliff, and then they fell into that volcano, and then Carmen did a live concert at the end?

Oh, TMI? Sorry about that, I just had a lot to say. Oh yeah, and Lilly from Hannah Montana was in it OKAY I’M DONE! Then Spy Kids 3 came out, and that was an awesome movie too with the video game universe, but then Spy Kids 4 came out. Yeah, we don’t talk about that movie, it’s hard to even call it a Spy Kids movie. That’s why I look at the series as a trilogy with an extremely bad movie. Oh, and there was also Sharkboy and Lavagirl with the gosh-awful VFX, but the chance of it winning kids over is 9:1.

………………………..

I think that’s all I have to say about my childhood! Hungry for more nostalgia? Check out The 90s Are All That on TeenNick every night from 11:00 pm to 1:00 am ET! (I was not paid to say that.) Besides that, tune in next Friday for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak!

Stay classy,

~S~ 😎

Video of the Week: “(Parody) Everything Wrong With Equestria Girls in 7 Minutes or Less” by LittleshyFiM. It’s a hilarious parody of CinemaSins, so I recommend you check them out too. Am I the only one who didn’t know this movie existed until now?!

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