Gaming has played a very important part in my life since roughly about 1989. It was a warm summer, and I’d just finished my expedition through the Afghan mountains...
Actually...no. That wasn’t me. I don’t think it was. Maybe it was in a game I played...
Anyway, my earliest gaming memory takes place some time in the late-80s, when puffed up hairstyles were cool, The Corey’s were dominating the box-office, and the Melbourne Football Club was relevant. Yes, it really was THAT long ago...
I didn’t actually own a gaming console. In fact, I don’t even think I knew much about video games, or even that they existed: I was certainly one of those “go outside and kick the football” kind of kids...or at least that’s what my parents wanted me to be.
Unfortunately for my parents, who would persist on the great outdoors route in raising me, my cousins managed to snag a NES for Christmas, along with Super Mario Bros. and a bunch of random NES games that escape me in my current-day fragile mindset.
While I never got much of an opportunity to actually play the damn thing, I did sit in awe as my cousin managed to blast through Super Mario Bros. in roughly 10 minutes, much to my amazement. I was more than content to just sit there and watch her play, perhaps to marvel at how easily she would blisteringly jump over gaps while I would struggle to get past the very first Goomba.
A few years passed and I simply had to put up with watching my cousins play their beloved NES...but it didn’t bother me because I never even attempted to ask my parents for a console anyway: games just didn’t excite me THAT much.
Me really happy after finishing Super Metroid
That was until I was visited by some cousins from Canada in the summer of 1992. The two of them, both boys, were quite clearly spoiled rotten when looking back, because they arrived at our house sporting one Gameboy each, as well as a SEGA GameGear, which had only just been released.
While the GameGear was certainly appealing -- its colourful screen and fun games made for a very awesome handheld -- I was simply blown away by the GameBoy, probably because of the marketing overdose we were being subjected to in Australia at the time.
Luckily for me I managed to pick one up from “Santa” that Christmas, along with Pac-Man, which, funnily enough, was given to me BEFORE I received the GameBoy on Christmas morning.
“Why are you giving me a GameBoy game when I haven’t got a GameBoy?” I asked my Auntie. “Because I know Santa is going to get you one!”
I still remember the excitement that rushed through my blood to this very day.
After a few years of OBSESSIVE GameBoy playing -- the likes of Tetris, Metroid, Ghostbusters 2, and Blaster Master Boy would keep me occupied for ENTIRE weekends -- I eventually grew tired of the thing and went back to the great outdoors...
...but not for long.
In the autumn of 1994 I would celebrate my 8th birthday. At a time when the Nintendo vs. SEGA war was in full flight, I was mesmerised by everything gaming: I just couldn’t escape the marketing bonanza that was dominating Saturday morning cartoons and after-school kids TV scheduling.
I begged my parents for a Super Nintendo, simply because it seemed as though EVERYONE had one. I’d also received a subscription to Nintendo Magazine System for my 7th birthday, so I’d essentially been drooling over new Nintendo hardware that I hadn’t even seen in the flesh before.
To my amazement, I was gifted with a Super Nintendo Donkey Kong Country 2 console bundle, along with Super Metroid, Donkey Kong Country (the first one), and RoboCop vs. Terminator.
Yes, I once had an ORIGINAL copy of Robocop vs. Terminator, a game that is actually quite hard to come across these days.
Now, to say that I become OVERLY obsessed with my new console is a massive understatement: I would play this thing for 20 minutes before school, for hours after school, well into the night, and then for essentially entire weekends.
My fondest Super Nintendo memory is certainly with Super Metroid: finishing that frustratingly tough game as a kid is actually still one of my greatest accomplishments in my life.
Yeah, I haven’t achieved much...
I would eventually move on from the Super Nintendo, but strangely enough, I never got caught up by the PlayStation hype: for whatever reason, it just didn’t appeal to me. Maybe I was a Nintendo fanboy, but I only had eyes for Nintendo products.
A moment that was particularly evident of this was when a friend told me they had “burned” a whole bunch of PlayStation games for their new console. I took “burned” literally and pictured him actually burning all of his PlayStation games. Having only ever owned Nintendo cartridges, I had no idea one could “burn” a PlayStation game. Epic LOLs.
I fondly remember the Nintendo 64 commercials that led into the console’s launch in early 1997. The newly-opened Epping Plaza in Melbourne’s northern suburbs was one of the first places in Australia to have the console playable before launch, and I begged my mum to take me there nice and early. I still remember playing Wave Race 64 and Super Mario 64 in awe while annoying little Pokemon kids all hung off my mature gaming skills: I was by far, at 10 years-old, the oldest gamer there.
I wouldn’t happen to buy a Nintendo 64 until a few months after launch, strangely enough while on a P&O boat cruise with my parents. At a “duty free” price of $400, I thought I was getting a bargain. Turned it it was roughly the same price everywhere else.
When we eventually docked back in Melbourne I managed to coerce my dad into buying me a few games, and opted for Wave Race 64 over Super Mario 64. It’s a decision I stand by to this day, because Wave Race 64 was an awesome racing game: fantastic control mechanics, revolutionary wave physics, and pretty awesome multiplayer.
Me today, using my epic PC to try and run Battlefield 3 on Ultra settings
I would play through the most epic of N64 games -- Super Mario 64, every RARE game, Lylat Wars, and even the iconic International Superstar Soccer 64.
My fondest N64 memory certainly came with Donkey Kong 64, which had an awesome soundtrack and just a great all-round game world.
Heading into high school in 1998, I would soon discover that the Nintendo 64 was “for little kids”: as an 11 year-old, I wondered what age determined whether someone was a “kid”. Everyone was obsessed with the PlayStation, and rumblings were already around about the new PlayStation.
And then, out of nowhere, came the Dreamcast.
Looking back, I certainly underutilised that console. It was a great console looking back, but I must have been the only person in my school that owned one, because everyone wanted to come over and play Virtua Tennis.
But, of course, that popularity was lost as soon as the PlayStation 2 was launched, just as the world exploded with DVD fever.
I’d eventually sell my Dreamcast in 2002 after what was probably a total of 10 hours of personal gametime on it, which is immensely disappointing looking back. I managed to buy one again in 2003 and keep until 2007, in which time I played through a large number of its best games.
From 2000 until mid-2003, though, I was essentially “game free”: I was playing a lot of sport, was obsessed with going out clubbing and the like, and so therefore never really got into the PS2...
Me after a 10-day Vice City session
...until my parents randomly bought one after being convinced by a Harvey Norman sales clerk that it was “the best DVD player on the market”.
My love affair with the PS2 would last well into the decade, and I would go on to build a collection of over 40 PAL PS2 games, and about 10 important JPN games (mostly Beatmania games).
My fondest PS2 memory probably lies with GTA: San Andreas, although Vice City is still my favourite game to this day: San Andreas’ launch was an exciting time to be a game because it was coming off the back of two epic GTA games, and everyone was anticipating a massive, LA-styled game. It certainly lived up to its hype and potential.
In late-2004 I would jump aboard the PSP hype train, importing one from Japan along with Lumines, which is still probably my favourite PSP game, along with both Syphon Filter games. I sadly didn’t get into the DS as much as I would have liked, but Elite Beat Agents is still a game I play on random occasions.
As for Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii, it’s been a rather uninspiring generation for me. There have been some amazing games -- GTA IV is probably right at the top, followed by Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect, and Uncharted 2 -- but ultimately, I’m not sure I’ll go away from this generation with as many memories as I have from my younger years.
Maybe that’s because I’m older and I have more to compare new games to, because I always hear people talking about how great this generation has been. It certainly has been fantastic, but it’s hard for me to pinpoint certain games that I know will stick with me like Super Metroid, Donkey Kong 64 and Vice City.
As for PC...well...I used to play SimCity 2000 a lot *shrugs* No but seriously, I just never owned a PC that was good enough to run great PC games, but I’m getting more into PC gaming now thanks to MMGN HQ’s epic beast *respectfully nods at Guyver*
The End (?)