My Retro Years: Jareth Anstey

Sega Logo & Sonic

 

As the newest addition to the team at Zero1Gaming, I am to undergo a rite of passage that is to write an article detailing my gaming history. I have decided to narrow down my choices into the three most important games for me, there are of course so many to choose from though I believe my evolution as a gamer stems from three major influences. These games have not only made me the gamer I am today, but they have shaped my friendships, career aspirations and ultimately my personality.

Let’s go back to the beginning, to that fateful day just before my second birthday where my mother took me into my local game store, the year was 1992 and the store was divided in two. Half of it was coated in strange looking mushrooms with faces and some red fat man with a moustache, the other half had a blue porcupine thing with red shoes and his deformed yellow fox friend. My mother then uttered the three words that would arguably change my life as a gamer forever, “Mario or Sonic?”. The decision I made next would eventually become a massive part of my identity as a child, my pyjamas would bear this character’s name, my bedding, my wallpaper. I would go on to create friendships over whether or not fellow classmates made the same decision as me. This was massive.

I chose Sonic The Hedgehog.

Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the most important games in my life, and always will be. Sonic isn’t the first ever game I played, (I had a confusing go at ToeJam and Earl at twenty-two months old) but it is the first game I loved, the vibrant colours, fast gameplay, the ridiculously cool character and probably what resonates with me most still to this day is the incredible soundtrack.

Just listen to this whilst reading the rest of the article. Bliss.

 

The next milestone in my gaming life jumped a console generation, I believe it was 1997 when I first got hold of Resident Evil for the Sega Saturn (as you can see, I was loyal to the Sega brand) at seven years old I was way too young to be playing Resident Evil, but either my parents were lenient or just did not understand the sheer terror that Resident Evil instilled. Everyone who played RE knows the scene with the dogs suddenly jumping through the windows, and while that shocked the hell out of me like everyone else, I immediately ran through to the other side of the corridor and escaped. The REAL horror was overcoming my fear of these zombie dogs and deciding whether or not to go back and put those dogs down. The seven year old me was clearly much braver than I am today and eventually turned back, annihilated the dogs, and then was rewarded by shoving furniture aside to reveal some precious handgun ammo. For the first time in a videogame I felt rewarded for my bravery, and that felt amazing. The game scared me as a child, but in a way that made me return every day to play more, I felt smart when I would solve one of the many puzzles, and I felt proud when I would overcome a particularly tough monster. I of course didn’t complete the game until I was a couple years older, but I received such a sense of achievement every time I played Resident Evil that I strived to receive the same feeling with every subsequent game I would play.

The third and final stage in my videogame evolution was in winter 2002, I already owned a PS2 but was incredibly excited for this new “Xbox” thing I kept hearing about, that Christmas I opened up my Xbox that came bundled with Halo: Combat Evolved, and thus came the Halo-evolution.

Growing up I was never a fan of military FPS games, I loved Duke Nukem, Unreal Tournament, and Doom. All these games involved shooting monsters, aliens or hyper-stylised human beings, never a realistic depiction of violence seen at the time in the Medal Of Honour games. So when Halo: CE came along, I finally had a story based FPS with Hollywood style visuals and writing but without having to simulate destroying endless fields of fellow human beings. Instead I could maul down the Covenant and all they stood for and it was totally cool because they were nasty aliens.

I was the only one of my friends with an Xbox, and that meant that every time we wanted a Halo session I would have to cram my console, copy of Halo and 4 controllers into a massive backpack and trek across town on three buses to get to my friend’s house. Looking back at the size and weight of that console plus the cables and four duke controllers, I honestly don’t know if I could manage that feat even now. When I arrived we would plug into the TV and share a minuscule 24” TV screen amongst four players, not content with damaging my back getting the console there in the first place, I was now working hard on destroying my eyesight.

Parents of course didn’t understand, often we would be told to stop playing games and go play outside, in which case, we had rehearsed that about 20 minutes was long enough to kick a football around in the garden to justify coming back in and jumping back into this world where I could climb into a tank and blast my best friends into smithereens.

 
There you have it, the three most important games to me as a gamer. Not the most unique choices, considering each one was a major platform selling IP, but you can’t choose who you love.

As you may imagine right now is an incredible time for me as a gamer, Sonic may not have fared too well coming into the later generations, but I stand by Sonic Generations for being the best Sonic game in years, and the only one to really nail that retro tone, maybe it can be done again. Shinji Mikami has released his latest foray into the survival horror genre since the Resident Evil series with The Evil Within, and Halo: The Master Chief Collection is released in just a few days.

My hopes are at an all-time high for this re-master of my childhood memories, If the MCC can give just a glimpse of the magic I feel whenever I load up Green Hill Zone on my Sega Megadrive (still got it!) then 343 are definitely doing something right.

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About Jareth Anstey
Currently living in a tiny Village in North Yorkshire with the Missus and our two cats, Knuckles and Snape. I've been into gaming ever since having to decide between the Sega Mega Drive or a SNES at age two, (Sonic won me over in the end) and I'm a collector of all things Zelda. Mistook my adoration of Videogames and ended up doing a Bachelors in Film production, then ended up living in America for a short while and then Vancouver, Canada for 2 years. Now I'm back home, living in the middle of no-where ready to live the dream and write about Video games!