Skip to Content

Retro gaming for kids: 5 games we secretly want our kids to know what it was like playing

Nostalgia. It’s contagious. Talking with friends about retro gaming, and suddenly, you’re reminiscing with the kids about days gone by, and moaning about how games these days are just so realistic you don’t get why they would be even playing them….. Isn’t it all about the pointless, blocky graphics?

Watching kids play the latest craze, whether it is Fortnite or Apex Legends, it somehow seems a little sad that they won’t know the joy of pixelated aliens, and coloured bricks. But what games do we all secretly crave to play again? What do we want our children to have experience of so they “get” what we are going on about when we get that glazed look in our eyes. Shortly followed by that moan:

“They don’t make games like they used to”….

Me – watching Apex Legends and marveling at the graphics compared to Breakout, Space Invaders and anything on my ZX Spectrum!
Retro gaming for kids

Retro Gaming Breakout

Who doesn’t remember sitting for HOURS watching the screen and shooting that ball towards those coloured bricks in this old Spectrum game? Breakout is the classic nostalgia game; there isn’t an eighties kids that doesn’t recognise the breakout screen. Fear not, there ARE places you can get the kids to play this, and they are pretty true to the original game as well. For example, Brickout is faithful. In fact, playing it makes you also feel like you are going back in time to that special era. Almost makes one reach for the leg warmers…. 😂


There really is NOTHING quite like Pac-Man and the little yellow guy has stood the test of time. That means there are literally hundreds of items of merchandise even to this day that you can buy the will take you back to chasing the ghosts through a maze. And then getting uber frustrated because the effect of the cherries wears off just before you gobble a ghost, and you die.

Yep. We all remember that frustration. And your kids have to experience it too, don’t they?

Retro gaming

Jet Set Willy

Yep – your kids won’t believe that there really was a game called this, let alone that it was amazing, and you spent hours playing it with your brother *or was that just us*

It wasn’t the name for a slightly strange aid for couples where the magic has gone, it was one of the best platform games of that vintage game era. A follow up to Manic Minor, we spent far too long exploring the mansion with its strange residents, tidying up after a rather big party!

Good practise for any kids that need to tidy up their own houses after having a party before their parents get home….

Horace goes ski-ing

Get Horace across the road, pick up your skis, get back again, and hit the slopes. Navigate the trees and the flags and you’re done. Frogger, plus skis *ish*

It still puzzles many why this was as popular as it was; but it was strangely addictive. Horace was a bit of a cult hero as well; from his spiders to Hungry Horace; he was a bit of a fixture in 1980s games land. Modern kids (!) need a Horace in their lives.

Space Invaders

Yes, we KNOW this one isn’t on the Spectrum (our first love), BUT, we couldn’t resist the classic arcade game, which has stood the test of time as well as Pac Mac. The aliens, the spaceship that gives you extra lives, and the little “walls” you hid behind to stop the attacks. Has there been anything like it since? We don’t think so. Such a classic that there are mini arcade versions for our kids to have a go at, and even in Nintendo Switch game!

Retro gaming for kids: 5 games we secretly

Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about our kids not experiencing this one – there are plenty of ways they can get involved in the nostalgic joy of the bleeps and blips from this old classic.

We do hope you enjoyed our trip down memory lane. We toyed with the idea of getting a Spectrum Vega when it came out earlier in the 2000s, but it didn’t quite work for us. There are also plenty of great free online retro gaming sites, with amazing retro gaming alternatives now, that a console just feels a little bit like a step too far. Even for old gaming fans like us.

Retro gaming for kids secretly want

If you like this technology coverage from us here at KiddyCharts, why not check out some of the other article on tech on the site, particularly those around online safety:

KiddyCharts internet safety resources

More internet safety ideas and resources from the site. Why not come and check them out and see if they help?

We also have a great newsletter – do check that out too:

Thanks for coming to see us, and we hope you come back again soon.


Helen is a mum to two, social media consultant, and website editor; and this site is (we think) the only Social Enterprise parenting magazine! Since giving up being a business analyst when juggling travel, work and kids proved too complicated, she founded KiddyCharts so she could be with her kids, and use those grey cells at the same time. KiddyCharts has reach of over 1.1million across social and the site. The blog works with big family brands (including travel) to help promote their services, as well as offering free resources to parents of kids under 10. It gives 51%+ profits to Reverence for Life, who fund a number of important initiatives in Africa, including bringing running water and basic equipment to a school in Tanzania. Helen has worked as a digital marketing consultant (IDM qualified) with various organisations, including Channel Mum, Truprint, Talk to Mums, and Micro Scooters. She loves to be creative in the brand campaigns she works on. Get in touch TODAY!

Sharing is caring!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.