By: Sally Neumann
1. Don't Wake Daddy
Don't Wake Daddy basically ruled 1992, helping Hasbro CRUSH IT in the year's 4th quarter with like a 46% increase in revenue. Pretty much incredible for what is definitely, in retrospect, one of the most terrifying games in existence. You play a little kid creeping around your dad's house (there's apparently no mom, or she like sleeps in another room or something and/or would be super chill if you woke her up), and every colorful square you pop on to is a different sound effect. Sort of like in real life. If you land on a noisy square, you have to hit Daddy's alarm clock a certain number of times. Sort of like... in real life?
So, you click the little alarm clock button with complete trepidation each time, sweating, generally feeling like you're playing the Hasbro version of Russian Roulette, and letting out just the smallest droplet of urine. Daddy doesn't wake up. You now pee freely because you suddenly become TOO RELIEVED.
This process repeats probably about 4 or 5 more times depending on what an unlucky little child you are/how much urine your body contains. And then, inevitably, you rouse the demons out of Hell, and... wake Daddy.
THIS is what that looks like. It's not like, "Oh hey kids I see you're trying to get to the fridge oh amusing game I'll just head back to--zz" it's like, "...This will not happen again."
It actually speaks to the game that this hilarious Hulk iteration (which I legitimately found just now, whilst perusing pictures of Daddy being woken) is less frightening than the original.
Look at Hulk's face. He's perfectly delighted to be woken up. And although, sure, it's a little chilling that his alarm clock is chained to his splintering bedpost, he's still a million times more personable than Daddy.
So why did this game make my list? Because it's one of the most defining games of my childhood. I don't know what that says about me, or the nineties, but it's wonderful.
2. Grape Escape
Man, this game really takes me back. I have really vivid memories of playing it once? Or maybe three or four times before I let the play dough (excuse me, "goop") get all solid and crystalized.
It's not quite as chilling as Don't Wake Daddy, but it's certainly equipped with a special kind of gore (a delicious one that you would smear on your sandwich).
For the life of me, I can't remember the mechanics of this game. Which, come to think of it, is probably because the game almost instantly devolved into "WHO CARES WHATEVER LET'S JUST SQUISH THESE GRAPES IN THE GROSSEST WAY POSSIBLE." Which, I mean, is awesome. Basically, what Parker Brothers (now, of course, Hasbro) did here is create an elaborate fruit-murdering contraption. What kid (or adult...) doesn't want that!? Who doesn't want to squish a mold of a horrified-looking Oompa Loompa-esque grape-person under a ridged plastic rolling pin? Or stretch it in a rack?
Was there an Iron Maiden? I hope there was an Iron Maiden.
As a curious tween, I had the MOST fun playing Kerplunk with my friends. It was undoubtedly my favorite game. Basically, it was a bunch of marbles that you poured into a plastic cylinder after poking an elaborate pattern of flimsy, brittle sticks through tiny holes.
Once that was done, the game was on: you had to carefully pull out each little stick and pray to your childhood deities that the marbles didn't come flooding out in a glass cacophony that would DEFINITELY wake Daddy.
I don't know what the deal was with the 90s and comically stress-inducing games, but it probably explains why I'm an uppity high-strung millennial yuppie who winces at most loud noises. It probably also explains why I love all things goop, slime, and contraption.
4. Mouse Trap
If you were unfortunate enough to be a parent during the age of Mouse Trap, I am deeply sorry. I was fortunate enough to be a child-- all I had to do was sit back and bark at my mom like a tyrant for failing to balance the cage perfectly on the precarious ridged tower.
Unlike Grape Escape, which I just fiddled with indiscriminately like a jelly-obsessed Sweeney Todd, I actually played Mouse Trap all the way through many times, with my incredibly sweet and patient mother. This game is just genuinely fun, and I'm so bummed that it's out of print (it IS out of print, right? I should know this...), because I'd really like to play it with my kids some day.
I'm making them set it up though. Nothing builds character like gaining the patience and finesse to set up Mouse Trap.
5. Gooey Louie
This is a game. A game whose tagline is "Watch Louie's brains POP when the Special Gooey gets picked!"
Someone who has played this game PLEASE tell me what it was like. Because I was barely allowed to watch commercials for it.
Like, what were the boogers made of? Do I want to know what makes the Special Gooey so special? Why couldn't they bother to give him hair?
I imagine, because they wanted children to understand the meaning of nightmares.
What games used to give you nightmares?