…And now I suppose all that’s left is my own history of how I got into games. Yeah, it’s one of those ‘origins’ episodes, I suppose.
The first time I played a video game was when I was 4- this was 1996, smack bang in the peak of the 90’s, back when TV was (j)awesome and we all wore jelly shoes (which got lost in the sea. You didn’t even need to be near the sea, they would get lost in the sea. One day science will grant us the technology to brave tonnes of water pressure in order to find out more about our ocean, and what will we find? Jelly shoes. Gugles of them.). My neighbours handed down Ye Olde Commodore 64 along with a bigass crate of games, about 5 of which worked (and even those were dodgy, I remember the crash screen well…). And so the first game I played was Space Invaders, probably starting my trend of playing games years after they were popular (I started playing Disgaea recently), closely followed by Paper Boy, Battleships and some Scooby Doo game (TV spin-off games sucked then, too, I recall). And that was my only gaming experience for a few years, until IT came along.
THE POKECRAZE. POKEMOOOOON.
I think me and my friends talked about nothing but Pokemon for at least 2 years. Most people didn’t even play it, just watched the godawfully awesome anime (but we who did play the games were the total bosses). Ironically, as I type this out in Microsoft Word and see that little red line under the word ‘Pokemon’, I think pretty much the exact same thing I thought when I saw that red line 12 years ago; “Why the fork is Pokemon STILL not in the bloody dictionary!?” So this was 1999, when the Pokemans were just getting popular over here; the late 90’s, the age of Nickelodeon, Sunny D (with all the E numbers), SMTV Live and the word ‘wicked’. It was around this time that I spent a lot of time at my friend’s house playing copious amounts of Crash Bandicoot. So copious that my parents offered to get me a home console of my own; it was a choice between a PS1 (“the one that Beth has”) or a Nintendo 64 (“the one with Pokemon”). My answer was something like “POKEMOOOOOOONNNNNNN”.
And oy vey, did I make the right choice. Pokemon games aside, nothing on the PS1 could ever even HOPE to match up to some of possibly The Best Games Of All Time. The Banjo-Kazooie games, for example. Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie were just MADE of pure British humour, and the fact that most of it went right over your head when you were 7 or 8 only makes it more genius when you play it years later. Only Rare would think of the name “W. Anchor”. And then there’s the menu (“Seaman's surprise"...?) in the bar owned by the Token Obviously Gay Character and his transvestite barmaid. Oh, and this was back when games were hard, too; not false difficulty, but honestly, genuinely difficult.
And then there was Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. I don’t care if Ocarina of Time came with gold bars and chocolate, Majora’s Mask is the best Zelda, hands down. There is really nothing like those last few minutes of the three-day cycle, when the saddest, most epic music begins to play, and the clock in the bottom of the screen turns to a countdown. Majora’s Mask was so different to the rest of the Zelda series, and so much darker.
Anyway, the mid-naughties were when I discovered other JRPGs than Pokemon, with Final Fantasy X (the last decent Final Fantasy game to be made), later followed by the Shin Megami Tensei series (the best of which being Digital Devil Saga, which has some really amazing character design and the most epic of soundtracks) and Phantom Brave (and eventually it’s predecessors, Disgaea and La Pucelle. See what I mean about playing games years after they’re popular?). And so that makes up the bulk of my gaming taste; RPGs and old-school platformers (…and the odd point-and-click).