Oh, to be young again. Running through the meadows, pushing other kids off climbing frames, making mud pies that would score points even in the Great British Bake Off; those were the days. Or they would be if I ever went outside – as a feeble child who hated sports, that was never really how my childhood panned out. Thanks to the rise of the internet and a certain boredom killing invention called video games, staying inside was never that bad and quite frankly I preferred it.
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The early 2000s were a weird moment in history. Some people were sporting trousers baggier than a rucksack, ‘Buffy The Vampire’ slayer was on TV and for some reason Joanna Lumley voiced the AOL notification sounds. The millennium bug had trendsters rocking a pair of Oakley’s and looking like some sort of futuristic half man half robot. The gaming industry boomed and just like everything else, adhered to the style of the time. According to the Y2K Aesthetics Facebook group, these are the 9 best video game covers that encapsulated the vibes of the time.
Jet Set Radio
Dreamcast’s Jet Set Radio’s hand drawn cover illustration is the epitome of all things Y2K. This is how cool teenagers were portrayed back in the day: streetwear, skates and cans of spraypaint. Everyone was all about the graffiti.
The Eye Toy was definitely way ahead of its time as it came with a USB webcam that you’d plug into your Playstation 2 so you could personally interact with the games without a controller. It came with 12 mini games to choose from and you could cheat in some games by getting too close to the camera and moving a tiny bit (like in the window washing game – riveting, right? – where you could scrub away all the suds in one single jiggle).
If you didn’t play SSX Tricky at least once in your adolescence, have you even lived? This badass snowboarding race simulator was the bomb; just think Tony Hawks Pro Skater but for snow sports. The diss lines between rivals were pretty jokes too.
Computerised graphics were everywhere during my early teen years, so it’s no surprise that Wipeout 2097 and other games were full of them. Think about it – Spy Kids, Hackers, The Matrix – in the 2000s we were absolutely obsessed with cyber anything. Random numbers, Japanese writing, faux data and spinning wheels were not uncommon.
Space Channel 5
This Japanese release of Space Channel 5 has potentially the most Y2K cover art of all time. The fonts, the space theme, the matte graphics over holographic paper; the lot! Bionic babes and virtual VJs were everything back in these days.
Wetrix was essentially Tetris for the next generation; they had the same premise of having to fit but this version was in 3D and had some pretty dramatic techno sound bites. In all honesty though, the cover is way more fun than actually playing the game.
Here’s one for you weeaboos. Although Parasite Eve looks like just about any other anime based video game, the key here is in the logo. Y2K typography was either edgy and futuristic or felt clinically spaced out to give that science fiction feel, much like you see here.
The Sims for Playstation
We’ve all seen what the original Sims packaging looks like, surely. Most of the Playstation versions of this popular PC life simulator were vibing the style of the times pretty hard but this Japanese version “SIM People” is the Y2K cover king. If anything it looks like some stylised fan art of the original game but it’s 100% legit.
This Japanese game could potentially be the weirdest thing to ever be released. Literally, just watch some of the Roommania #203 game play. The aim of the game is to direct this dude around his room in order to complete missions and to normally live his life. You have to constantly throw balls in order to get the protagonist’s attention and if you throw them too hard or too often he’ll get pissed off quite easily. It was the closest thing to The Sims that you could play on Dreamcast (although this cover is obviously the PS2 version).
All of these classics definitely beat the choking game and are 100% less lethal too. Stay indoors, kids.