Month: January 2012

My Retro Years: Hannah Jones

I think anyone who partakes in the wonderful activity of gaming has been asked one defining question; ‘what was the first game you ever played.’ Now myself, I can barely remember what I did yesterday, never mind the events of the last *cough* twenty one *cough* years I’ve walked (and sometimes crawled, staggered) across the earth. My mother often enjoyed playing video games with me in my earlier years, therefore I thought she’d be the perfect person to consult whilst compiling my gaming history.

My mother’s immediate reaction was, ‘oh where do I start’, which did not surprise me at all. She vaguely remembers purchasing a SNES, referring to it as ‘the one you put the cartridge’ things in, which caused a smile to appear upon my face. I do possess a vague recollection of the Super Mario World title for the SNES. This probably explains my unhealthy obsession with anything related to Super Mario.

Another console mentioned was the Sega Mega Drive II. Again, I vaguely remember possessing it, but my title collection is nothing but a blur, owing to my age I presume. One magnificent confirmation of me owning the Mega Drive is a highly embarrassing picture of me I posted on Facebook, holding the controller whilst celebrating an early gaming victory, possibly!?

A console I hold extremely close to my heart would be my PlayStation. I swiftly built up an incredible collection of games from the likes of Croc to Hercules: Action Game. Of all the titles I received for my PlayStation, Crash Bandicoot is one that reminds me of the precious gaming memories I possess from my childhood. Doctor Neo Cortex swiftly became the ‘baddy’ according to my younger self, who I would spend hours seeking to defeat. I happily spent hours collecting Wumpa Fruit and attacking countless enemies with Crash’s infamous ‘spinning’ attack.

 

Having already caught the Sony bug by owning a PlayStation, it was inevitable that my younger self would nag my parents for the PlayStation 2. The PlayStation 2 is a magnificent console, one that I still play regularly to this day. With a collection of games that easily surpassed 100 titles, my PlayStation 2 endured copious amounts of gameplay.

I was introduced to the Grand Theft Auto series whilst playing my PlayStation 2, much to the reluctance of my parents. A friend of mine brought Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for me to ‘try’ which lead to me harassing my parents to purchase it. This triggered my obsession with the Grand Theft Auto series and ultimately I became interested in games of a mature nature.

Another series of games I thoroughly enjoyed during my childhood were the wrestling games. Having been an avid wrestling fan from a young age, the Smackdown vs Raw games were a ‘must have’ for me each Christmas. Although I am not the wrestling fan I once was (apart from being a fan of the lovely John Cena and Randy Orton) this tradition remains to this day as I still receive a wrestling game for Christmas.

I think at some point in their lives, every gamer has owned a handheld console. I was lucky enough to have both a Game Boy, Game Boy Colour and Game Boy Advance. A series that dominated the handheld market and continues to do so would be the Pokémon series. Pokémon played an integral part in my gaming endeavours. As a child my friends and I would often huddle around our Game Boy device, discussing and debating which Pokémon we would be trading with one another. This would usually lead to me having a tantrum when I didn’t receive the Pokémon I wanted. Not that I have tantrums at games anymore, I’ve grown out of it I promise…

My obsession with Pokémon, led to the purchase of a Nintendo 64. Placing Pokémon within the Pokémon stadium to duel and snapping pictures of them in their natural habitat during Pokémon Snap became my favourite pastimes. The Nintendo 64 is the console that I first discovered my profound love for the ‘Mario Kart’ franchise. Mario Kart 64 is a game I spent countless hours playing with friends.

After seeing an advertisement for the wondrous title Fable, I purchased the original Xbox. I opted for the crystal version of the console and received it for Christmas. I opened the box and was greeted to this beautiful console, with no controller…I believe this is every gamer’s nightmare. Determined to play my Xbox on Christmas Day, I attempted to play Fable using the d-pad of the steering wheel controller I received as a gift. Needless to say, this did not go according to plan. Fable is a title that broadened the spectrum of genres I became interested in as I grew up. The level of freedom and intriguing story of this title captivated me immensely. I recently played the original Fable again and it captured my attention and imagination with the same intensity as it originally did.

Although I owned various consoles throughout my childhood, I also dabbled briefly in PC gaming. Theme Park World is a title that swiftly took over my life. Nothing satisfied me more than building outrageous rollercoasters and having the ability to ride them in the first person. Theme Hospital is another title that I enjoyed immensely. It is one of the earliest examples of me purchasing the same title on two formats (PC and PlayStation.) With comical illnesses and hilarious visuals, Theme Hospital is a game that I enjoyed to such a degree that I still play to this day.

PC gaming triggered my interest in The Sims series. As most people know, The Sims is without a doubt my favourite game series ever. Most people would suggest that my profound love of The Sims, does not qualify me to call myself a ‘proper gamer’ (whatever that may mean.) If you read this thoroughly and the other ‘Retro Years’ pieces from my colleagues on the website, you will notice the games that we have played differs immensely. Does that suggest that one of us is a superior gamer to another? No, it reflects the beautiful catalogue of games that the gaming industry has supplied us with over the years.

I would like to thank anyone who actually took an interest in my gaming background and this piece of writing. There are countless other titles I could have mentioned, but I hope this paints an eclectic picture of what my ‘retro years’ of gaming consisted of!

 

Thanks again for reading,

Hannah

Theme Hospital Gameplay

Pokemon Stadium Gameplay

My Retro Years: Tim Bowers

It’s the start of a brand new year and what better way to celebrate then to look back over my almost 30 years of gaming. Some of what follows is 90 percent true but as we’re dealing with a large time scale with at least 10 years of being abused by alcohol you’ll have to allow me some artistic licence in filling in the blanks!

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin…….

I was born in July of 1982, despite what I may think my parents assured me I was not born with a controller in my hand, of this I think my Mother is most grateful, however it always feels like it’s been there. I was far too young to be aware of the “Great Video Game Crash” of 1983 but during my infancy gaming slowly started building itself up again.

I may have had an Atari or an Amiga before this but the first console I remember having is Commodore 64 Games Console. This came out in 1990 according to Wikipedia which I guess would be about right for my age. I don’t really remember having a lot of games for it, in fact i can only remember one.

Fiendish Freddy’s Big Top O’ Fun was essentially a very very early version of a Mini-Game collection. In it you were tasked with saving a circus from an evil business man and his henchman, the titular Fiendish Freddy, by completing six circus events and raising the $10,000 needed to save the circus. The events were Diving, Knife Throwing, Juggling, Trapeze, Human Cannonball and Tightrope Walking. During the events Freddy would appear to the sides of the screen and attempt to thwart your actions, such as during the juggling he would chuck on bombs that you would be required to chuck back at him before they blew up. I remember it being very difficult, although that could of been due to my under developed hand eye co-ordination.

 

As I said I can only really remember that game from the Commodore days but a year after getting that I got my hands on my first real console, the console that had almost single handedly revived the gaming world. The Nintendo Entertainment System.

My love for the “Big N” knows no bounds, in fact I have owned every Nintendo console that has been released and it all began with that little grey box of joy.  I remember the slot that held the game in was broken so I had to use a cassette tape box (remember them!!) to hold the game in place when I wanted to play. I must of spent a small lifetime playing that machine. I kept mine for years and every now and then I used to dust it off and fire it up. Oh the games, THE GAMES!!!!! This was the start of the New World of Gaming. So many of the biggest franchises still going today started off with the NES. Super Mario Bros. Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear, Ninja Gaiden, Castlevania, Mega Man. The list goes on and on.

During my time with the NES I also had a Sega Master System, it was ok, I did and still do enjoy Sega’s consoles but in the same way I’ve never really taken to Microsofts forays into todays market, I never really got on with Sega. Sorry. Go Team Nintendo!

After this you can follow my gaming life with the subsequent releases of Nintendo consoles. Our next stop is the Super Nintendo era and a game that devoured an entire Christmas Holiday and still to this day I can’t listen to George Michael’s “Jesus to a Child” without my mind thinking about it. It’s the one, the only, the sex bomb herself. Super Metroid.

The adventures of Bounty Hunter Samus Aran on the NES were unknown to me. I was possibly too young to really notice and too swept up in the colour of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. 3 to really notice the dark environments of Zebes but I found them on the SNES. The game blew my mind, it was like Zelda but in space and with aliens!! How awesome! I was running around, exploring, fighting giant space monsters and weird brain sucking things (later I would realise these were Metroids). It was everything a game should of been but was vastly overlooked back then. Still to this day the Metroid franchise is the forgotten child of the Big N’s Big Three. Did you know it was Metroid’s 25th Anniversary last year…..No didn’t think so, the fanfare that accompanied the Mario and Zelda anniversaries is sorely missing in celebrating the accomplishments of Miss. Aran. If you own a Wii and have never played Super Metroid you resolve this by downloading it from the Wii Store. I urge you to do it as it is one of the best games you will ever play. FACT!

I can’t move on from the SNES era without talking about The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The first console Zelda since Zelda II on the NES. A Link to the Past was a return to the top down, treasure hunting, dungeon solving Zelda that people had fallen in love with but it was better oh so so better. Again the game reaffirmed my love for the series and still remains a firm favourite.

I think I may leave it there, we’re slowly heading into modern territory now but all you need to know is that if there has been a Nintendo Home system with a new Zelda or Metroid game – I have owned it. My love for these series is unwavering – even when one stumbles (Metroid: Other M)

If you were wondering I currently own a PlayStation 3 so my love is spread over both Nintendo and Sony.

If you don’t mind I will leave you with Jerry Springer style thought. To be a gamer in this day and age is a wonderful experience, it finally feels like Gaming as a hobby is being accepted, yes it may have taken the watering down of some of our beloved franchises and the invention of a new genre which strikes fear into the heart of any hardcore gamer (“Party Game”) but it’s where we want to be as an accepted and admired art form. There’s still enough people out there who would be happy seeing our hobby vanish from the face of the earth so don’t compound their small mindedness by hating on each other because I have a PlayStation and you have an Xbox and they have a Wii. Do you think the studios and the programmers and the artists and the developers give a crap about that or do you think they’re more concerned about being part of an awesome industry, doing a job they enjoy?

Take care of yourself, and each other!