Friday, January 19, 2007

Video Game Memories: Part 1

Fletcher: Your honor, I object!
Judge: Why?
Fletcher: Because it's devastating to my case!
Judge: Overruled.
Fletcher: Good call!
"Liar Liar"

Well, what a few weeks it has been. Poker has been totally kicking my ass of late, to the tune of the last 12 buy-ins have come and gone with barely a whimper. In light of that, I really don't feel like talking about poker at this minute, so I have turned to a brighter topic, for me at least.

Long term readers will know that I have a big video game fan. Just before New Years I managed to score a X-Box 360 which re-enters me into the console genre for the first time in a few years. In honour of that, I decided to record 100 Video Game Moments in my gaming life. These are memories involved with video games, individual achievements or just some great times playing a favourite game over the years.

When I starting this list earlier this week, I didn't realise how big it was going to be. In light of that, here is numbers 1-50 in no real particular order:

1. Myself and my older brother saving up for months so we could go to Dick Smith’s to get a copy of Double Dragon on the C64. We paid for it with one $20 note and the rest was coins.

2. A few years later, getting a pirated copy of the same game on PC for nothing from one of Dad’s friends from work.

3. Spending maybe four or five New Years Day completing “Mixed-Up Mother Goose” as some kind of tradition. In the end I could get it finished in about 22 minutes. Not really that great when you consider it was designed with 4 year olds in mind.

4. Educating myself sufficiently enough in American culture so that I could pass the entry questions to Leisure Suit Larry. I still remember that “Ken sent me”.

5. Figuring out how to aim in some random snooker game we had on PC. Once I realised there was a way to make sure the aim was true, the 147 point breaks came flowing. Always had a few perfect games of bumper pool once I figured out the angles.

6. Getting a copy of Wrestlemania for my 12th birthday. This was the second wrestling game we had, the other was one I don’t remember the name of but had a Hulk Hogan rip-off main character called K.C. Colossus (after a quick google, I found this game was called “Championship Wrestling). These games starting a long obsession with wrestling games that continues to this day.

7. Figuring out the alien alphabet from Commander Keen. Also from Keen…

8. In year 6 we had a big open day at our school. Being one of the few students that had half a brain, they asked me to run tour guides through both campuses of the school. Mind you, this was from Kindergarten to year 10 over two massive areas on a Thursday night. They were supposed to take 30 minutes, and then we would round up more people to take the tour. My first tour took about 90 minutes. It concluded in the computer lab where I learned that they had one of the Keen games on the machine. I stayed there for the rest of the night.

9. Playing the Snoopy version of the Lemonade stand game on cassette. We had about 8-9 games on the one cassette and you had to fast forward a certain amount on the counter to get to the different games. Only about half of them worked, and that became less over time.

10. Paper boy on the same cassette.

11. We had a Ghostbusters game where you had to line up your ghost buster and set a trap to capture the ghosts. We could never figure out how to actually make enough money to stay alive in the game long, no matter how hard we tried. First time I realised that some games were not made very well, and nothing could be done about it.

12. Had an awesome games pack that contained California Games, Summer Olympics and a Winter Olympics all in the one. The Winter Olympics never worked properly and each event was pot luck if you could do anything, same went for some of the summer games. But California games made up for it.

12. Here’s one for the Sega fans out there – ABACABB. That cheat code has been used plenty of times in games, but for me it will always mean blood mode for Mortal Kombat.

13. I bought this boxing game in Adelaide called ”Low Blow” I think. At best I could get up to the Muhammad Ali clone, and I think after him was a Mike Tyson clone. My older brother could get to Tyson easily, and I think even dominated him. I got to Mike maybe once or twice, and never got close to a win. I think this was one of the first games that I really tried to beat and came off second best.

14. One of my few memories of fun at the video arcade – we would pay $5 each to have the NBA Jam machine exclusively for an hour. You couldn’t beat that for value. Spud Webb was always the best, and you thought you were cool if you knew how to get big head mode. Older brother also once beat the “Tank Game”. I can’t remember if I ever played that.

15. God Mode – got introduced to the concept in Wolfenstein. Which I think also introduced Nazi’s.

16. We sued to go down to the local video store to rent games. And by we, I mean myself and my two brothers. Once we got the Warlock game around the time of Warlock Armageddon came out. For a young lad, it was pretty scary movie and game for some reason, which is why you had to play it at night with all the lights off.

17. We spent many hours out in the back room playing Rock n Roll Racing. What a great game that was – “Rip…lights em up.” “Jake…is in another time zone.”

18. The humour and fun of playing “Hero quest”, or as it was later renamed “Quest For Glory”. We were fortunate enough to start when they re-did the first one so that it was point and click instead of typing. One of the best buys we ever made.

19. Also led to the disappointment as the series got older. Number 4 was so full of bugs that it could never be finished, which was a shame because I was really into it by that stage and thought the story was really good – I had no idea how our hero was going to overcome villains. Sadly, it always crashed a few steps fro the end. In all the games, I was always the thief. Never made it to Paladin when I tried the warrior.

20. Battle Chess. Never got that interested in chess, but we used to set up the matches just so we could see all the different deaths. It was a real skill to get all the deaths for the King, or at least so we thought.

21. My brothers and I received a SNES for Christmas one year, as the first game console we would own. I think Mario Kart and Rock n Roll racing got the most play time.

22. All the consoles I have owned and how:
SNES – Christmas present for all three of us.
PS – Birthday present, all for myself!
N64 – Won some prize money/scholarship thing through school, and decided to go buy it the next day. Gave myself the three extra controllers as Christmas presents that year (even wrapped them up and put them under the tree ready for Christmas morning).
PS2 – When the price dropped down to $500, I got my then-girlfriend (now wife) to hook me up with a store credit card, which had an interest free period of 12 months or something for purchases over $500.
Xbox – Came free with a new mobile phone deal.
Xbox 360 – Same deal. Been four weeks now, and the new mobile phone still doesn’t work. The Xbox does though.

23 – With some Xmas money one year I bought “Pokemon Snap”, which for some reason I was fascinated with and enjoyed the simple game play. My brothers and I had a fair go at it that night, and finished it 100% in just a few hours. We then un-scrunched the security stickers and stuck them back on, then returned it for a full refund the next day.

24 – You will never forget that sensation when you first lay eyes on the BFG. That, along with the favourite IDDQD and you would be running through Doom for hours.

25 – I was always a fan of compilation packs, especially for the PC. I bought one that had some generic Tennis game in it which was ok but had a few glitches. The idea behind it was good, you would play in these tournaments that simulated a year on the circuit. You could pick and choose the tournaments, or just train to get yourself better. I’ve always liked those character building type games and mastered this one – well, mastered the glitches anyway.

26 – We had an early Sierra title based on the Black Cauldron. For the life of me we could never complete it. I even tried searching for a ROM once so that I could beat the game now in my 20’s. A good use of my time no doubt.

27 – There was this CGA (Ah, remember CGA graphics? You thought you were spoilt when you got a game that came in EGA.) game of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I think after hours and hours and trying to figure out what to do, I actually finished it once. Then it crashed and never worked again. The hardest part was getting through the security questions after the first level.

28 – Like many others, we spent many hours playing Goldeneye multiplayer. I was always a big fan of the proxy mines. Spent the last few hours before our final year 12 exams playing that game.

29 – WWF Royal Rumble on SNES was a favourite of mine, another that I downloaded as a ROM a few years ago. There wasn’t really much of a career mode in those days, but the music of each of the characters kept me interested, as well as the statistics after the rumble game.

30 – Spent many a rainy day inside playing Worms on the PS1. After you watched the 6 or so cartoons they had on the disc, you wished they had more and just skipped them. Another game we rented enough that it probably would have been cheaper to buy.

31 – That first time when you get Kain to feed in “Blood Omen: Legacy Of Kain”. I can’t tell you how many times I hired this game before I completed it. I never owned the first in the series, and it still remains my favourite amongst them all. I still think the story line would make a great movie, though it gets a bit mixed up and jumbled after that.

32 – We had a mini Street Fighter 2 tournament going at a friends house who lived on the same street as us one time. I choose E.Honda and found a way that nobody could defend against his powerful low kicks if you cornered them. I won too many games in a row that everyone started to get annoyed with it, but nobody else had the timing to emulate it. I didn’t even like the game that much.

33 – Another of my favourite series of games was Monkey Island. Funny how the games got worse as the graphics got better. But never the less, I played and finished them all. Guybrush Threepwood is still one of the coolest character names ever.

34 – I had some generic 3D wrestling game on the PS that I loved, because it was the first wrestling game that had a full 3D environment to explore. I took it over to a friends house once and his mum beat my older brother. I think he was really embarrassed about that – but it was one of the great features of this game that when it got really close it could go either way.

35 – Lots of people spent lots of hours on Tony Hawk Pro Skater. I really got into the series in number 3 when they introduced the revert. I was working at the video store at the time, and one of the other guys there and I would come home after work and play it until 3 or 4 in the morning trying to finish it on the hardest level. Took maybe a month or two before the last goal was achieved, and gave a great sense of accomplishment.

36 – On the SNES, we borrowed Battletoads off some friends and found it to be one of the most frustrating games of all time. Impossible to beat without infinite lives, and even then it was borderline impossible. We had it set up for an entire day out in our back room, thanks to it not having a save function or passwords every time you reset, you had to start again. Still hate this game.

37 – Another wrestling game, WWF Warzone. It bragged about having full motion captured action, but it was pretty shitty in the end. However, I loved it at the time and played it a lot – so much that I became invincible. It did serve as a pretty good four player game though, and I think I had more fun watching the girls have a four way. Then they played the video games after that (boom-tish. Try the veal.)

38 – For the N64 I bought Castlevania after my $1 Trifecta came in and paid over $900. It was the one item that I bought for myself out of that win as a splurge. I never got to finish it though because one part became too hard and when you reset the console, I was stuck there minus a few power ups. I sold the console before I had a chance to revisit it.

39 – Spent many hours playing “Heroes of Might and Magic”, and again bought the compilation set at one stage – which somehow got lost when I lent it to someone much to my grief. Always favoured the Titans. I now have HMM5 on PC, still left
unfinished at this stage (blame poker).

40 – The first game I ever played over the internet was the original Grand Theft Auto. At some friends house that were more tech savvy than I back in the day, they had it set up to play matches against each other. I can still see my little man firing off a rocket launcher into the moving car the opponent was driving for a perfect hit.

41 – After that, I bought GTA for myself on the PS. I think I spent most of my time trying to run over all the Hare Krishnas in one go, unsuccesfully.

42 – One bad memory was X-Com: Enemy Unknown. While I got into the PC version, the video store had it on PS before that and my older brother got into it. So much into it that he would play it in my room even when I was asleep.

43 – As I said before, we used to go down to the video store to rent games all the time. When my older brother had his drivers licence, I remmeber the three of us going down to the store to pick out a game for the holidays or whatever. Older brother wanted Tekken, younger brother said “Tekken sucks”. For insulting his favourite game, older brother threatened to make younger brother walk home. I guess he liked his games. I agreed with younger brother.

44 – WCW vs nWo Revenge. I had one or two of the predecessors of the series, but the revenge one was by far the best for me. Slightly faster (but still very slow), easy finishers and really well set out. I had the high scores in everything except the battle royal, and I spent ages trying to get that one only to fall just short each time. Still, many more hours spent. I was always Raven or Sting.

45 – We used to have some great D&D games on the PC. What I remember about most of them was that they would crash more often than not, but a few of them worked. I am always a sucker for the character building type of games, which is pretty much at the centre of D&D.

46 – On the D&D sort of line, we once had a copy of a game called “Hillsfar”. It seemed like a great variation on the theme, but it only worked a few times before dying. Might have to try to find a ROM for that one.

47 – On a trip to Adelaide, I bought a second hand copy ($5) of the PC game “Wolf”, where you take on the role as a …wolf. It tries to be the realistic life of a wolf, which was boring as shit and I would always get lost from the pack even if I was the Alpha Male. It sucked and marked the shortest I have ever played a game that I paid money for before throwing it out. Even if eBay did exist back then, I still would not have on-sold it. I couldn’t do that to a stranger. When I bought it the store clerk said “Well, you can’t really go wrong for $5”. That was the exact reason I bought it, and we were both wrong.

48 - “Ah, a visitor. Stay a while. Stay forever!”. Yet another game that our young minds could never figure out. We knew you had to collect puzzle pieces, but what these pieces did was always a mystery to us.

49 - One on One basketball was all about Michael Jordan vs Larry Bird. Larry never got a look in, and who knows how many of those dunks we tried to emulate on a 7ft ring.

50 – While on the basketball front, another arcade game I easily got addicted to was “Arch Rivals”, which I believe was a predesessor to NBA Jam. I can still remember playing it at the Brock Works in Adelaide, which is more than likely closed down now.

51-100 in th enext post, stay tuned...


ilico said...

Well hello long lost twin brother. I have very similar gaming stories and had my first computer at aged 8, some Dick Smith double paddle thing before ‘upgrading’ to a C64, actual disk not the cassette version, then the Amiga 500 through and finally a 286. I totally agree on Ghostbusters, after driving around and getting to the final showdown with the marshmallow guy you’d always die, never beat that game

Other classics that I have loved over the years

Day of the Tentacle
They stole a Million (loved this)
720 degrees (great skateboard game)
Conan the Barbarian (spinning and cutting the heads off was excellent and the only thing you played the game for)
Warcraft II (the reason my 3 year uni degree took 4)
Might have to start my own top 100 gaming moments…

Heafy said...

Champ, I would fully recommend it. It was amazing how much I enjoyed this. I just finished the whole hundred a few minutes ago, and will post that next week. It's amazing when I talk to other people about this kind of thing, an invariably we all mention different games from when we were younger - ones I never heard of and I mention ones they have never heard of.

Great times, great times.

Biby Cletus said...

Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

Biby Cletus - Blog