Five games that made me the gamer I am today
So where do you begin with a statement so strong as the title of this post? I’ve been running it through my mind, going in circles since Luke posed this as topic that we both could contribute on. Do you go from genre to genre, picking your favourite from each? Do you choose a game from each era you’ve gamed through? It gets so much harder when you consider some of the games you may choose are from the same genre and era. If you aren’t a gamer then try answering this question, ‘Name your top five films but none can be the same genre or decade’. Hard huh?
20 minutes later:
(Harvey, 1950. Toy Story, 1995. Fast & the Furious, 2001. Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 1979. Stand By Me, 1986.)
So let’s crack on and see the games that I feel justify the gamer I am today (and yes, I cheated by including series titles as single games).
Doom I & II (Certainly not 3) – PC
Doom will always hold a place in my top 5; not only was it one of the first games I learnt to install but it was also the first FPS (First Person Shooter) I had ever set eyes on. At the time it was unbelievable to me that I could sit at a keyboard and play a 3D game featuring gore, guts and guns when all I had previously been used to was 2D sprites in bright, clashing colours.
Playing Doom also gave me that first, real feeling of being terrified of what was round the corner. Was it going to be another dimly lit corridor or was it going to be some giant arachnid / cyborg demon from hell? Luckily, Doom sees you clear of this terror by giving you an impressive arsenal of weapons ranging from the trust chainsaw to the BFG 3000 (Big Fucking Gun – Original… yet who cares!). You’ll never forget finding that first chainsaw and massacring the mutant demon soldiers who were once your colleagues in a close combat free for all.
Goldeneye 007 – N64
As multiplayer games go, Goldeneye 007 hit every mark for me. Through my gaming career (it’s strange to call it a career but it’s the best word I can come up with) there have been so many multiplayer games my friends and I have played. Starting with just two computers and a serial cable we would play 2 man Quake, Killer Quake Pack and Quake II. Technology moved on and networking became cheaper and with that LAN parties became a regular thing with Half-Life, Rocket Crowbar and Counter Strike being popular. We had many hours of fun playing all these games but when I look at fond memories, Goldeneye 007 has more.
The single player game was amazing and having recently recompleted it twice, I can still confirm this. Multiplayer however took a good game and made it so much more, albeit graphically challenged by todays standards. The most common settings we played on were one shot kills with either pistols, explosives, knives or hands only. Favourite memories? Well, let’s see:
1/ Being banned from the Boris character as Richard believed it meant I could be shot and not killed on one shot kills.
2/ The first time you realise Odd Job can’t be shot without aiming down all the time.
3/ Spawning in the ventilation system of Faculty with no weapon and everyone waiting in the stalls to shoot you.
4/ Running round a corner and hearing the beep of a proximity mine that you laid.
Super Mario (Land, World and 64) – Game Boy, SNES, NES, N64
You all know I had a ZX Spectrum, if you didn’t where the hell have you been and have you not read any other post yet? What people don’t know is that my oldest brother Richard (not to be confused with primary / secondary school / Canadian Richard) made my Christmas one year. He had just started his job at a care home in Bricket Wood and was getting a good salary; Christmas had come and Richard intended on treating us all to presents we’d never expect. For me this was a limited edition, yellow Game Boy with pouch and more importantly, Super Mario Land.
Super Mario was a staple favourite for anytime I got to spend on a NES, SNES, Game Boy or N64 as I grew up; not many games have taken my attention in the way these games did. Super Mario Land though holds a special place in my heart, not only because it was the game I first owned for the Game Boy but it was the first game I could do a high speed run through completing the game in an average of 15 minutes a time. There aren’t many games you can say that you completed in a single sitting, Super Mario Land you can. It has a thrill to it when you realise every move you make has been pre-thought 5 steps in advance.
I’ll be honest, I don’t actually like the character of Mario or indeed any of the other supplemental characters; the game though, I love and this is why I still own that yellow Game Boy to this day.
Recent Mario games on the Wii and Wii U have fallen very short of the traditional mark. They aren’t as enjoyable and seem to be more about milking the trademark more than the game.
Skool Daze – ZX Spectrum
Skool Daze just appeared with our Spectrum when we got it, I can’t tell you who bought it and when but it was one of few games that wasn’t on pirated cassette.
What made the game for us was the ability to name everyone who mattered in the school. The headteacher (Mr Whacker by default) was always turned into something a bit more colourful whilst others got named after teachers from Parmiters or Killigrew. Students were almost always rude names and why not, we were kids ourselves after all.
Why does Skool Daze make it in to the top for me then? Well other than the naming ability there was also the ability to fire a catapult, knocking students and teachers the like down and let’s not forget being able to write on the black boards. Everything you could ask for in an 8-bit platformer was there with one exception, we never read the instructions so didn’t know the goal of the game. We had worked out that the shields around the school needed shooting and that once done hitting teachers resulted in letters appearing.
About 4 years ago I finally completed this game! It was worth the years wait but I did complete it. One of few games I have ever gone back to, insisting I must complete it.
The Hobbit – ZX Spectrum
Yes, the final game in my list is yet another Spectrum classic based upon the J R R Tolkien story; you will never have the patience of a saint without playing this title.
‘Kill Gandalf’ or ‘Kill Thorin’ must have been typed on every Spectrum owners keyboard that owned The Hobbit. This always resulted in the outrageous laughter at the proceeding text:
Me: Kill Gandalf
Computer: You attack Gandalf, but the effort is wasted. His defence is too strong. Gandalf attacks you. With one well placed blow Gandalf cleaves your skull.
Computer: You have mastered 0.25% of this adventure
Secretly every owner wanted this result:
Me: Kill Gandalf
Computer: You drop kick Gandalf in the nuts, he is defeated and offers you his soul and hat.
Me: Take magic hat.
Computer: You are all powerful
Me: Burn Gandalf with heat vision
You get where I’m going with this. One other favourite thing was killing Elrond; for the life of me I still don’t know his purpose in the game except as some one to kill easily. Once you had killed Elrond, he could be picked up, given to Thorin (usually with him thanking you) or carried for long distances before realising and dropping him off the mountain pass.
The game favoured only the people who knew the story so as a child you had to develop amazing patience. I’d like to think that the reason I can work with puzzle games and not get to the break down frustration point is because of the number of times I had to restart this game.
So there are my five games, each one different to the last yet all very familiar to me; I wouldn’t change them for the world. I can’t help thinking I have missed out on some of the games I could have chosen but if I hadn’t this post would be ten times longer and more.
Below are just some of the games that I felt lost about by the narrowest of margins:
GTA 1 – PC
Worms 1 – Megadrive
Little Big Adventure – PC
VGA Planets – PC
How to be a complete Bastard – ZX Spectrum
Duke Nukem 3D – PC