Last month my sister asked if she could take my PS2 from home with some games to take back to college. I told her it was ok but she’d have to get a new controller as I busted both of them, and the only one that now works is the Guitarhero one, which isn’t too practical for other games. I’ve been thinking recently how happy I was when I was little with the video games, we didn’t bitch about sound quality or picture quality. Hell most games were a marvel to me. I grew up when video games began to get into the home, I even remember going to the arcade and playing Pac-man religiously. These days kids are playing Angry Birds from age 3, Skyrim from age 8 and they bitch about pretty much everything, from the dialogue to the graphics, to the FMVs.
Maybe it’s a sign of mellowing, I look back now and there are three games that stand out. Three games that don’t necessarily defined my youth, but they do cause me to have a Madeline moment every time I play them.
Now to begin with, I should point out that as Sonic was on the Sega it was the one with the most impact. Sometimes if I concentrate very hard I can hear the Green Zone music in my head, the sound of golden hoops being acquired still makes me smile. Now the reason I only cite one game on the Sega is because the other games we had were always overshadowed by this one. We had the Aladdin game, to this day I still have the urge to murder flamingos. We had the Lion King, which was decent. We had Mig 29, and 888 Attack-Sub, but Sonic was the first, and has retained a special place in my heart. In fact when I was informed that there is a molecular protein named the Sonic hedgehog homolog I danced around the room.
Dr. Robotnik was the bane of my days, and back then a save point was a nonexistent concept. If you got bumped into lava, or slipped on a spike or over estimated a jump- you started from the beginning. That stuff was traumatizing. My Mom, always the advanced thinker, defended video games against all the other mothers. She would tell them how it taught patience, and rough algebraic reasoning when working out distances of jumps, she maintained that it improved dexterity, and that it kept us out of her way during the holidays. Yet she also used it as a strong bargaining chip threatening to disconnect it permanently should we not do our chores. It gave her near immortal power over us (well me and my sister, my brother was away most of the time, but he fell under it’s spell when he came home for the holidays).
Moving on, Christmas 1995, My brother and I received a join-present, the original Playstation For us this was a big deal. All our friends had Nintendos, and Gameboys, and we were still stuck to our antiquated SegaMega drive. The Playstation was bought with two controllers and Tekken. The Playstation was a dawning of a new era, an era of save points, human characters, an era undefined by blowing on a cartridge to get the game running again. The next two games on my list of childhood forming games were Playstation games.
Final Fantasy was my first RPG it had a gigantic impact on me (yes I’m not choosing between VII and VIII, that’s like asking someone to choose their favorite child). Never before had games been so vast, I had never needed multiple cartridges or discs to complete a game before. Not to mention having to concentrate on multiple different characters and their transition from , quite frankly budget characters, to awesome fighters, yes Yuffie, Cait Sith, Rinoa, and Selphie, I’m talking about you douchebags.
The expanse of places and side-quests revolutionized gaming for me.The fact that you could change so much of the way you did battle, you could run, you could stay> You could spend all the money you got at the golden saucer raising Chocobos. You could play endless card games so that you had all the character cards: refine Laguna’s card into 100 invincible potions, it was all soooooo intricately planned out!!! You could talk to so many characters, and they would give you stuff!!! You could spend 100 hours doing side quests and not be anywhere near the main story, this is what began the trend!
For a long time I thought that RPGs would become the only form of video game I would play. Then waltzed in smoking, sarcastic spy we all care for so dearly.
Metal Gear Solid was the final game of my ‘childhood’ gaming, after MGS I tend to count it as teenager years and gaming was just different from then on.
Metal Gear Solid was the grungy cousin of Bond, he smoked cigarettes, hid in boxes, broke people’s necks and sneaked around like a bad-*ss. He was as awesome a character you could get. I think that was the big change> No longer did I care about the blurry ball of blue. As soon as the pixels could be grouped more practically then the character development could start. The empathetic gene in all of us means that when you accidentally got shot and Otacon or Meryl or Campbell called for you, you felt sad for them. Ok so who didn’t have moments when it was more fun to blow yourself up with C4 than go against that blond ejit brother of Snake’s again. But for the most part I felt bad if I had to restart. Although saving made this less traumatizing.
Well tell me people, what video games, or regular games from your childhood do you think of first, before any other?