My Top Five Video Game Crushes of the 80s and 90s

By Natania Barron
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

The day I opened up my first Nintendo gaming system was the point of no return in my geek journey; it was was a life-changing event in every sense of the word. I swear, cradling that little gray brick controller in my hands did something to alter my DNA. While we’d had an Atari 2600 previously, the Nintendo helped me branch away from classic games like Frogger and Galaga to something a bit more story-centric.

And sometimes, well, I admit I felt a little warm and fuzzy about the characters. I wasn’t in love, but I certainly had crushes. Here’s five in particular that I was um, invested in.

Donatello – Granted, this crush is a total spill over from my obsession with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But still. I always played Donatello religiously with the game that came out in 1989, not just because he was the geek, but also because his bo skills were the bomb. Well, in my imagination they were. In the earliest games especially, his attacks only happened on angles and never quite were as exciting as in the cartoon or the films. But that’s where imagination comes in, right? Cowabunga.

Sonic – Did you ever notice how few humans were really in these early games? I mean, the last guy I would crush on is Mike Tyson. But Sonic? Punk rock hair, sassy attitude, athletic and charismatic (I mean, that Tails followed him around everywhere), Sonic had everything going for him. So he didn’t say much, and had a habit of sort of zooming off without word—but you can’t get much more adorable. Would it be too much if I mention that I used to doodle his likeness all over my Trapper Keeper? Yeah, oh. Sorry.

Toad – Forget Mario and Luigi. I mean, they were old dudes. But once Super Mario Bros 2 came out, I was all bout the little Toad man. I mean, he could outplay all the other guys and he was only half their height. Plus, he had attitude. He had charm. He had that cute little choochie face you could just eat up. Mmm… mushrooms… I mean, um, no. No, so wrong on so many levels… moving on now.

The many cute guys in California Games – I’m sure this is in part due to having visited California many times as a kid, and been to the beaches where the buff blond dudes played. I mean, let’s be honest. The graphics weren’t exactly the best, but I definitely felt in the spirit of the sports. I had honestly never seen a half pipe, or a hacky sack before, not even in the real world (living in New England and far removed from those West Coast games). In my mind, the toned cute boys doing the half pipe were my dreamy future dates!

Link – So, when I think of Link, in my opinion, all the others on this list just pale in comparison. I was a little late coming to Ocarina of Time, and the whole Zelda oeuvre in general, but the impact was massive. Link and his flowing blond hair, riding his horse, outwitting the toughest puzzles… falling in love. Maybe it’s the green jumpsuit. Maybe it’s the sword. Whatever it is, there’s no other. Coincidence that my husband has a prominent Zelda themed tattoo? I don’t think so…

Any of you have video game crushes you’re willing to admit to, now that I’ve thoroughly embarrassed myself?

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20 Responses to My Top Five Video Game Crushes of the 80s and 90s

  1. My first video game was ping pong (name?) I loved when you got the paddles set just right that the ball would get "trapped" between the two.

  2. My first video game was ping pong (name?) I loved when you got the paddles set just right that the ball would get “trapped” between the two.

  3. Mother Brain, Wendy O. Koopa, and Crocodile #3 in Pitfall (Atari 2600 only). I love women in power

  4. Mother Brain, Wendy O. Koopa, and Crocodile #3 in Pitfall (Atari 2600 only). I love women in power

  5. I completely agree with Link! I've had a thing for him for a while. Glad he was in your tops faves too. (I know I wasn't the only one! XD )

  6. I completely agree with Link! I’ve had a thing for him for a while. Glad he was in your tops faves too. (I know I wasn’t the only one! XD )

  7. Link for sure!! Then of course Sephiroth, Cloud and Vincent! Not to mention Iksar Monks (eq1), something about them just made me quiver hehe. Then I have had my girl crushes, Lulu was the ultimate one.

  8. believe me or not, i loved (and actually i do) Squall Lionheart from FFVIII, and Rinoa…

    I was like… 9 when played it… and also with Miles (Tails) from Sonic, he's just THE BOMB!

  9. I have a HUGE crush on Link, I’m not going to lie. I also have a crush on Shiek (not Zelda, SHIEK). Also had a huge crush on Jak from the Jak & Daxter games, though I have to admit that I probably have a bigger crush on Errol (from the same series). Also Dante (from DMC) & his twin brother, Vergil. :) And that’s just from the 80s/90s! I have a LOT of video game crushes haha <3

  10. I have a HUGE crush on Link, I'm not going to lie. I also have a crush on Shiek (not Zelda, SHIEK). Also had a huge crush on Jak from the Jak & Daxter games, though I have to admit that I probably have a bigger crush on Errol (from the same series). Also Dante (from DMC) & his twin brother, Vergil. :) And that's just from the 80s/90s! I have a LOT of video game crushes haha <3

  11. Always nice to see Donatello love. We're such a minority. Link was a shoe in. And no shame for Zelda tattoos, I'm considering one myself.

    I remember when I found out Samus was female. I must have been…I can't even remember, young buck no less. It was one of those somewhat comical yet sexist moments little boys have. "What!? Samus …IS A GIRL?" I progressed to fall passionately in love with her. That's the thing, her gender is never really made especially purposeful. I assume that's the point, women CAN do anything men can do. No words really cover the awesomeness that she can reach. Plus the armor, it's Boba Fett meets hot chick. What's not there for a budding geek boy to swoon?

    Zelda is gorgeous in every sense of the word. I'm glad she's progressed over the years from being just a cliche damsel in distress to someone who can really hold her own, be it emotionally or physically.

  12. Oh, gosh, DEFINITELY Link. I would have married Link if I could. And also Banjo (from Banjo-Kazooie), and Diddy Kong, and… Brian (from Quest64/Holy Magic Century). Yes, definitely Brian. Brian almost usurped Link at one point… er… yeah… speaking of embarrassing oneself…