Then-and-Now: 10 Game Trends That Took Singapore by Storm Since The 90s

Last Updated on 2023-03-04 , 2:48 pm

Mobile gaming did not exist until recent times, but there was no lack of entertainment options.

From gaming with the smallest game devices to playing graphics-intensive multiplayer online role-playing games on your desktop computer to the mobile games that were all the rage, here’s a trip down memory lane for all the millennials who lived and loved the best era ever for gaming.

1. ProYo

Image: Google Arts and Culture

If you haven’t heard of this, it can only prove that you are way too young. Remember ‘Walking The Dog’? Or even having to ‘Rock The Baby’?

Every boy in school needed to demonstrate at least a few of these tricks to impress girls, or simply to show off their yo-yos, including the popular ProYo Turbo Bumble Bee GT, or shimmery ProYo II, or even Cold Fusion GT.

2. Tamagotchi

Image: Amazon

First released by game maker Bandai in 1996, the Tamagotchi was a small, egg-shaped virtual pet simulation game that was initially targeted at kids but went on to captivate adults around the world.

It was the first toy that taught us real life lessons – how patience and a sense of responsibility will create a monster you’ll be proud of, and then they die.

It eventually proved to be too much for kids to mourn over their dead pixelated pet after spending so much time cleaning up poop. #shithappens #literally

3. Digimon

Image: Amazon

Tamagotchi was quickly taken over by Digimon, which was also pocket-sized and came with a simple three button navigation to feed, heal, clear poop (again) and battle.

Released by Bandai in 1997, it was intended to be a ‘boy version’ of Tamagotchi but girls really loved it too, and for a good reason. Digimon had a cooler and more sophisticated evolution system and it was always so exciting to watch your beloved virtual pet evolve!

Hands down if you have not tried achieving Teddymon by inserting and pulling the flimsy tab that came along with the device.

4. Nokia Snake

Image: Peter Gudella /

Snake was the first legit mobile game that changed the world when it started as the preload on the Nokia 6110 mobile phone in late 1997. Since then, it was featured in over 400 million Nokia phones and became one of the most played games in history.

All we had were moving black pixels and four directional buttons for control, but it was good while it lasted. Despite its simplicity, the game was actually quite challenging to beat as the difficulty level increases as the ‘Snake’ got longer and longer.

5. Dance Dance Revolution

Image: The Carnival Fair

And who could forget DDR? It was the game that breathed life back into the arcades after game consoles like the PlayStation and online gaming were on the rise in the late 90’s, mostly based on the rationale, “Why do I need to play games in the arcade when I can do it in the comfort of my own home?”

Nope. Not DDR. After all, the biggest thrill of this game is having people watch you step on those arrows like a boss at breakneck speed.

6. Para Para

Image: Wikipedia

So you think you can dance? Try para para dancing, a dance phenomenon that took over the arcades in the early 2000s. Popularised by idol Takuya Kimura from SMAP, the dance consisted heavily of arm movements and lower body movements simply involve side-stepping to the rhythm.

J-Pop bengs and lians could stand on an octagonal platform with motion sensors above that tracked arm movements as they dance away according to the corresponding arrows on-screen.

Just like DDR, it was a grand ‘stage’ to attract an audience. But unlike DDR, para para needed real dancing skills to pull off the high scores with little to no risk of being embarrassed in public.

7. Counter-Strike

Image: Steam

Homework? Too mainstream. In those days, we prefer to defuse bombs and rescue hostages in our spare time. Counter-Strike (officially coined as “play cs” by Singaporeans) is a multiplayer first-person perspective shooting game where you play team battles either on the side if terrorists or counter-terrorists.

I had a short stint working at a LAN shop in a community centre so it was Counter-Strike all day err day. Kids and teenagers alike came pouring after school, fresh out of their uniforms and paid 2 dollars per hour to spend their afternoons shooting enemies with weapons and clan war practice.


Image: Wikipedia

If you ask me, DotA seemed to be the game that destroyed many relationships. There were endless complaints from girlfriends and friends of girlfriends and beyond that they were neglected by their boyfriends who were way too addicted to the game.

DotA is the abbreviation of ‘Defense of the Ancients’, a multiplayer real-time strategic battle arena game for the WarCraft III series. Having played DotA as well, it’s easy to see why there were so many addicts out there. The ‘hero experience’ was quite immersive, and then there’s that feel-good factor whenever you lead your team to victory.

9. Angry Birds


Since we’re talking about game trends, we must talk about Angry Birds which was one of the most downloaded games in mobile gaming history with over 3.5 billion downloads according to its developer Rovio.

The very first game was released in 2009 for iOS (has it been that long already?) and basically involves using a slingshot to destroy glass and timber houses populated by little green pigs with cannon ball-shaped birds with resting bitch faces.

Simple, engaging and addictive, the game was a great companion for commuters in the MRT and other bored people.

10. Candy Crush  

Image: Google Play

The magic about mobile gaming is that upgrades are extremely accessible with app updates, like how the number of levels for Candy Crush gets bumped up time and again for players to continue, er, reaching new heights.

Downloaded at least 500 million times as of 2013, the match-three puzzle game topped the charts as 2013’s most lucrative game. For some reason, it was especially a hit with the middle-aged housewives and market conversations turned from bitching about their daughters-in-law to comparing which level they managed to conquer last evening – a good turn, I’d say.