OPINION: 3 cheap video games for reliving your childhood this summer

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Hat Kid may not be a portly plumber, but she can still hang with the best. (Courtesy photo by Gears for Breakfast)

Feeling nostalgic in the hot summer air? Here are some recent video games to recapture your childhood spent pressing buttons without a care in the world.

Stardew Valley

Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC (Windows, Mac, Linux), PS Vita

Price: $14.99

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All the satisfaction of farming without any of the sunburns. (Courtesy photo by Chucklefish via PlayStation Store)

Back in my day, we had a little system called the Game Boy Advance. I had no idea what made it advanced aside from the fact that the buttons were on the sides of the screen rather than under it, and that it had the best farming game at the time: “Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town.”

As I made my transition from kid to teen, the appeal of this game was more and more clear — the real world is scary and confusing, but in “Harvest Moon,” all I have to do is water these turnips and give Karen a thousand bamboo shoots I found on the ground, and now I’m a wealthy farmer with a wife named Karen. Life was simpler in Mineral Town, and while I couldn’t stay there, it was always a lovely visit.

So enters “Stardew Valley,” a cutesy, relaxing farming game that was drawn, programmed and written entirely by one industrious man named Eric Barone.

The gameplay is comprised almost entirely of ploughing fields, planting things in said fields and harvesting things planted, along with mining, fishing, animal husbandry and chatting up the populace of the nearby town.

It’s the opposite of edge-of-your-seat gameplay, inviting you not to find the optimal strategy or solve everything under any discernible time limit, but to just spend time in a simpler world.

“Stardew Valley” is releasing free expansion content, including a new multiplayer mode, sometime in August. This will give you even more opportunity to share your wonderful little world with the people you enjoy.

A Hat in Time

Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC (Windows, Mac)

Price: $29.99

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Watch out, the floor is lava! It's a good thing Hat Kid is such an acrobat. (Courtesy photo by Gears for Breakfast via Microsoft Store)

Super Mario has always been the standard for jump-and-run platforming games, similar to how Disney is the standard for American cartoons. It’s fun to see who is taking that standard and tinkering with it to make something new and exciting, so in that sense, “A Hat in Time” is the DreamWorks of platformers.

While PlayStation 2 classics such as “Ratchet and Clank” or “Jak and Daxter” were exceptionally bold and brash in how they tinkered with the Mario formula, “A Hat in Time” feels very similar to Mario’s first 3D adventure, “Super Mario 64.”

Your character is Hat Kid, a little girl with a top hat and an umbrella. She was flying a spaceship home, only to be interrupted by the mafia (yes, really) and lose all her so-called Time Pieces, the fuel for her spaceship.

Hat Kid has to retrieve all these Time Pieces by going around from place to place doing what we all wanted to do when we were little kids: fighting the mafia, starring in a murder mystery, accidentally signing your soul away to the devil and doing more running and jumping than you can shake an umbrella at. You can also build up quite a hat collection during your travels to expand Hat Kid’s abilities and sense of style.

This game oozes charm and cuteness — it officially advertises itself as a “cute-as-heck 3D platformer” — and as the first game by studio Gears for Breakfast, it does a tremendous job of putting a smile on your face. Free downloadable content is promised by the end of the year, including an extra level and a “New Game Plus” mode where you can start a new game with your hat collection already available in full from Level 1.

Hollow Knight

Available on: Nintendo Switch, PC (Windows, Mac, Linux)

Price: $14.99

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Saying a game is full of bugs would usually be a bad thing, but with "Hollow Knight," it's just a statement of fact. (Courtesy photo by Team Cherry via Steam)

As we all dream of passing the summer hump, you may want to look at one autumnal game on this list.

Unlike the two bright and cheery games before, “Hollow Knight” traces its roots back to the tepid exploration of “Metroid” and the fantasy horror of “Castlevania.” You might even call it a “Metroidvania” if you’re crafty.

Like the games that inspired it, “Hollow Knight” has a stark atmosphere, and it’s filled with side-scrolling action. You’ll spend most of your time exploring the desolate, hand-drawn landscape to vanquish evil and find new abilities that will help you fight stronger and stronger enemies.

“Hollow Knight” follows a beetle knight exploring the underground insect kingdom of Hallownest, equipped with nothing but a small metal nail and his own courage as he unlocks the secrets of a decaying civilization. What follows is somber environmental storytelling that’s welcomed comparisons to “Dark Souls.”

Don’t let the price deceive you. Much like the previous two entries in this article, the value you get for your money is extravagantly generous. The feeling of fighting larger insects who want you dead is tuned to near perfection, and the mood is serious, yet relaxed — like Atticus Finch, of all things. “Hollow Knight” boasts three free expansions, with a fourth set to release Aug. 24.

Micah Drake is a senior in English. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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