Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Video Game Memories: Part 2

Dixie: Hey, what about your boyfriend? What was his name?
Roxanne Kowalski: Richard.
Dixie: When's he coming?
Roxanne Kowalski: He's not. He's not coming.
Dixie: What happened?
Roxanne Kowalski: We just ran out of gas. I guess I mistook sex for love.
Sandy: Oh, I did that once. It was great.

51 – In the same era as "Low Blow Boxing" came R.B.I. Baseball 2 for me, which I spent many hours on. I always tried their season mode but after 15-17 games, it would not remember them and always went back to maybe 12 or something like that. Shame, but this might have started my unhealthy obsession with season modes when it came to sports games.

52 – Another baseball game, hardball 2 kept me entertained for hours. I would rename all of the players after people I knew, and would drop them if their batting average got below .750.

53 – We had this weird game called Ugh-lympics, which was a caveman version of mini-games in an Olympic style type of thing. All I can really remember is that some of the events seemed really random if you could win or not. Oh, and once for footy I think we had a player billeted with us who set a record on some event that we could never beat. I didn't like that. Hated the fire starting event too.

54 – In more modern times, I remember first seeing GTA 3 on the shelf at the video store. I didn't know anything about the game, but one look at it told me that it would be awesome. I was working at the video store at this stage, and it was always a competition between myself and another guy working there over who would take it home. God knows how or when a customer could get their hands on it. I still remember trying to get our copy of it when it was banned in Australia, and a customer had actually decided to keep it instead. I made my first eBay purchase to get a un-censored copy at nearly 150% of the normal price. Later on I found out you could just buy it from New Zealand and get it shipped to Australia without the censorship and pay maybe $5 extra for the privilege.

55 – I reckon I could fill 100 with GTA themed inclusions alone. But the original GTA was something special, and I will never forget that there was one mission I could never complete because I had already finished the main story line, and in this mission you had to pick up porn magazines while driving a van or something like that – but the mafia hated me and would always shoot the van before I got all the way through the game.

56 – And really, what GTA3 memory would be complete without a mention of the first time you got with a hooker, and then used the baseball bat as a method of refund. Good times, good times.

57 – For a while, I was addicted to G.1 Jockey and similar horse racing games. Again, any game with a decent season or career mode, and I'm there. This used to piss off other people though who didn't share my same enthusiasm for the long term appeals of a horse racing video game.

58 - For me, the greatest racing game of all time will always be Street Rod. I loved the way you could buy car parts and customize your ride, and then save up to buy (or win) the best car in order to challenge "The King". It was a bit short though, and the sequel really sucked. Most people talk about racing games as "Need for Speed" or "Gran Taurismo", but for me racing games went down hill from Street Rod. Other racing games I liked were Burnout 2, Mario Kart and the previously mentioned Rock n Roll Racing.

59 – While working at the video store, I was always really into this Japanese golfing game…(searching Mobygames.com for the name now)…Swing Away Golf it was called. Not a very popular title, but I loved it because you had to earn the prize money and then buy better equipment and so on. I recall having to beat this really tough opponent in a game where first person to take the lead wins. I won it on the very first hole when he was inches from the cup in 3 strokes, and I sunk a 128m shot for eagle. I was impressed I tell you.

60 – Dead or Alive Volley Ball. I hired it out because it had to be more than what it was claiming to be, because my friend at the video store told me it was so bad, and because I could hire it for free. Wow, what an empty game. I couldn't believe how much it sucked.

61 – When we went over to a married friends house for dinner one night, it turned into a video game playing night. We had the best fun playing Fusion Frenzy on the Xbox. So much, that we just had to go out and buy it straight away. After that, I never lost a single game on our Xbox in Fusion Frenzy. In the years we had the game, we only ever saw Samson on the winners podium.

62 – There was also Balder's Gate: Dark Alliance that I got into, both 1 and 2. The main reason I got into them was because they were a good Co-op game. The Distraction loved them, and it was something to look forward to after work. It's a shame there are not more Co-op games around, with all the focus being on either single player or VS.

63 – One game I never got finished was Max Payne on the PS2. Loved the game, but just couldn't get passed this one part. No matter how hard I tried, and I even used walk throughs to help, I just could not get through this burning building. Had to let this one go.

64 – On one of the wrestling games, I think WWF War Zone or something similar, I went over to my uncle's house where his partner's (now wife) 14 year old son was playing it on the N64. I had spent many hours on this game and became what I considered was unbeatable. He just assumed I had never played before. I have never seen anyone so shocked at loosing at a video game before (except for memory number 34). My uncle thought it was hilarious.

65 – Back to Rock n Roll racing, we sued to cheat in a way to win it on the hardest level. When playing two player season, we would both enter in the same code (my older brother and I). Then one of us would not even try to race, and just sabotage the other racers. It wasn't an overly hard game, so the tactics were not really needed but we did them anyway because the thought that this was cheating was just too much to resist.

66 – Another arcade memory…We were doing some fund raising of some description for the swimming club my family was involved in. Me and this older kid decided we needed a break and headed to the arcade for a little while. I was playing some WWF wrestling game with a Royal Rumble on it, and without knowing what I was doing I won with the Hulkster. I only remember it because I was maybe 12 and there were two guys about 16 behind me who couldn't believe I had beaten the game on my first go.

67 – When I first move to college, me and my roommate were wasting some time at Timezone when things got competitive. We must have spent two or three hours competing against each other on every game they had and kept score all the way. I can't remember who won, which means I probably didn't.

68 – Back to GTA3. I think on the third Island near a save point, I figured out that if you drove the Cheetah as fast as possible into this hill it would throw you up in the air and you would complete a perfect double back flip. I couldn't do a double anywhere else in the game.

69 – When I bought the Leisure Suit Larry compilation series, it came with a big book full of walkthroughs and plenty of jokes from Al Lowe. I must had read that thing cover to cover – not for the walk throughs, but just for the humour of it. That, and for some reason I had to make memory number 69 about Larry.

70 – The new free-roaming Spiderman series is awesome. I don't know if I actually played the first in the series, but we were looking for those damn tokens everywhere in the second of the series. Another game the distraction really got into.

71 – The Distraction seems to love searching for tokens. This was what I recruited her to help in with GTA Vice City and San Andreas. She loved to navigate to find all those little tokens, and especially on GTA:SA there were plenty to find.

72 – I bought the original Black & White when I went on a trip into the city for some reason. That game was awesome, but so full of bugs that it wouldn't really work beyond a few levels which was really frustrating.

73 – One of the best little games, perhaps a predecessor to Worms, was Scorched Earth. While the money earning system seemed to be very random at times, it had an incredible amount of options it seemed for some a simple looking game.

74 – I came into the Xbox world a little late, as I couldn't see the point in buying one if you couldn't play GTA on them. Thanks to a great mobile phone deal though, I got one for free (same went for the Xbox 360). This then introduced me to Halo, which in turn led to Halo multiplayer, and before long we were having Halo parties. In our two level unit, it would be one team upstairs and one team downstairs. On special occasions we would have a projector upstairs to make a seven foot screen on the wall. While we had many great times playing these parties, I can still remember my favorite kill – on the level with the massive street ramp in the middle of it (actually, this could even by Halo 2). Two guys from the team upstairs were in a Warthog driving around, when they thought it would be fun to go for a jump. The driver shouts out "Watch this!" as he sped up the ramp. I had perfect position to view the action, and changed to Sniper Rifle. Just before they got to the end of the ramp, I had two perfect head shots withing milli-seconds of each other, and the Warthog slowed to a standstill, about 2 feet from the edge of the ramp. I couldn't stop laughing.

75 – There was this neat little Sierra game called "Jones In The Fast Lane", I could have spent hours playing as it was really addictive. The only disappointing thing was once you got enough money, nothing was challenging and you could do pretty much as you wanted. I used to not pay rent for the first 10 weeks, and then try to come back from there to make it interesting.

76 – I was always a big fan of Mario Kart, but I never got the hang of how to properly turn the corners so you could get the boost. Anyway, I was playing against a few friends on the indoor arena Wario level, which I thought was pretty fun and I had a chance at winning on. I think my lap times were around the 2 minute mark, and my friends were both under 15 seconds. Turns out there was a glitch that let you jump the track that I didn't know about and obviously they did. They had completed the race before I was half way through my first lap.

77 – GTA:SA was the last game I really got into, playing for hours on end for days on end. The same goes for the earlier games of the same series, but nothing has come close since. I used to sit upstairs in the other spare room playing all night sitting on this cheap vinyl couches we got from Uni.

78 – While on the topic of GTA, in Vice City I was so impressed the very first time I played it when the C64 loading screen came up. They certainly did well on that one.

Back in the days before the internet, we would scour the video game magazines for the best tips and codes to use – none more so than for Mortal Kombat fatalities. I used to buy the magazine Hyper quite frequently. Now days, the internet makes them all pretty much irrelevant. Not that I think that's a bad thing, as those magazines were 70% filler anyway, and Gamefaqs.com is a fantastic site.

79 – I bought a classic PC version of "X-Com: Enemy Unknown" for $10. I still enjoyed playing it all those years later, and I think I lent it to my older brother who still has it.

80 – On the C64, there was this game where you would select which monster you would be – I remember Godzilla and the Blob being two options – and then you would go and terrorize the city and stomp down buildings. I can still hear the music score in my head, but I can't find the name of the game anywhere.

81 – At the same time we bought the above game, mum and dad also got another text adventure where you where searching for robots or something. I only remember it because mum actually got into it, and I don't think she has ever got into a video game before or since. Can't find the name of it, but I do remember that there was a robot caleld "Danielle" that mum found, none of us could ever find her again.

82 – On the NBA Jam SNES version, if you were extremely lucky you could fluke "Powerup Dunks". That meant the next game was yours and yours alone. No matter where you were on the court, it was jam time. Full court dunks were common, and we thought it was the greatest thing ever.

83 – Lakers vs Celtics on the PC, what a game. Actually, it was pretty average but I got a kick out of it at the time. I went one entire playoff series with Chicago, constantly playing Michael Jordan and keeping tally of how much he scored in the back pages of a school book. I think he averaged somewhere in the low 150's for the series. It was also interesting because the A.I. would never dribble the ball for some reason. I guess A.I.'s back in the day had not progressed to that stage yet.

84 – There was this other great PC game called Crystal Caves, which gave you the freedom to choose which level you would do next (which was pretty rare for the day). We played it heaps, but never saw the promised sequel to it.

85 – The worst game I ever played was some Western game I picked up for next to nothing. Maybe it was the "Town With No Name", or something like that. After I finished it in less than 15 minutes, I got the feeling it was a high school student project and not really a game. Oh, it had elements of a game, but in the end there was about five things you had to do before it was finished. I might have played it again to see if I had missed anything – I hadn't.

86 – I think the first game I ever bought on eBay was Monopoly Tycoon. Not a bad game, if somewhat more restrictive than I had hoped. I realised early on though that the way to make big money was buying all the railroads – because you could get 3 cheaply and then even if you didn't get the forth, the computer player would bid far too high to make it viable for them anyway, or to become a slum lord. Sure, you only collected $64 rent for each room, but the 200 room apartment building would fill up before you knew it.

87 – I also got into Golf Tycoon for a while, and had plans of playing it until I had a golf course in every available country. After a while, I had earned so much money that I couldn't even spend it all if I tried. I think I managed 5 or 6 countries before I got bored of it.

88 – An unusual selection for my renting habits was "Theme Hospital", but damn was that game addictive. The console version was much more appealing than the PC version for me. I spent many hours trying to work my way up the ranks in that game, even got my younger brother addicted to it.

89 – I got a copy of the original Caesar some how, that part is not important. Not a bad game for it's time, but I figured out a little glitch. You had to draw a wage as the ruler, and that had to come out of the cities funds. If your city was broke for three straight years, you lost the game. What I would do was put my wage up to maximum for the first two years, and even though the city had no money they were still paying me my $100K a year (which was a lot in ancient times). Then on the third year, I would have enough money to build the city from scratch to completion in the matter of days.

90 – Another game we used to cheat to play was Sim City. It was one of those games that they let you play at school under the guise of being educational. There was a cheat code that gave you $25K, but if you used it too often you would get earthquakes. What I would do was pause the game before I had built anything and use it until I had $10M. The the earthquakes would come but I would have nothing to get damaged, so it was happy days from there. No matter how small my city was, it always needed a sports stadium.

91 – Tony Hawks American Wasteland – the first game I ever completed on Xbox 360. A friend in town lent me theirs for some reason, probably because he wanted to see it on a big plasma TV. Anyway, thanks to my mad skillz honed playing number 3 in the series, I was able to complete American Wasteland in a few days on the hardest level, with only 2 or 3 tasks seeming difficult. It was kind of disappointing in a way, and made me realise that perhaps this skateboarding genre has done as much as it could before the next big change – whatever that is.

92 – Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. One of my favourite games of all time, and I know I have already included it in this list. The idea of the duel endings was something I thought was a really new idea and revolutionary even. Of course the evil ending was the one they wanted you to pick, and was the more interesting one.

93 – Going back again to Black & White, in the game you could command your followers to come to your temple and worship you, giving you power to cast miracles and stuff. I was always trying to be a good God, but my followers would keep dying while worshiping me. Only later did I realise that maybe I could send the followers home once in a while, instead of making them worship me for years without a break. Maybe that was why they were all dying.

94 – A few weeks ago while down in Melbourne, my older brother was playing the new Smackdown vs Raw wrestling game. I had not played on a console for ages, and this is what probably set the wheels in motion for me getting the new Xbox. One day, a wrestling game will come out with a career mode that is really what I am looking for.

95 – Gang Wars was an fun little game, and one of the few interesting Mafia related video games to come out. Very cartoonish, but funny enough to excuse that. Had some fun with that one.

96 – Syndicate was another great game I spent a lot of time on. We used to use the mind control on heaps of the citizens for no real reason, and make them follow you around like the piper. That was when you introduced the flame thrower to the situation.

97 – Could never really make Theme-Park profitable, but had fun going through it with the cheat codes anyway. Without looking it up, I think the cheat code was something that sounded like Forza…(quick google search)…Looks like it was Horza. Not a bad memory there, pretty close.

98 – One of the first video games, if not the first, was some Atari system mum and dad had where the controllers were a square piece with numbered buttons from one through 9 on them. When we played baseball, you could slip this cover over the numbers that told you what to do. It was pixel heaven. I do remember though mum showing us that you could make the pitches curve – you had so much control over the ball infact that you could make it curve around the bat and then come back and still go over the middle of the plate. It seemed if you hit a ball near the home run fence, it would go into a different screen to catch it or let it go over. The system would crash about 50% of the time doing this, maybe more.

99 – One Christmas a few years ago I bought the latest cricket game out. I returned that one the next day too as I realised you couldn't do as much in it as I had hoped, and you could really try to hit a six every ball and still hope to not get out.

100 – The final one comes from just last night, when I finished Kameo which came bundled with the Xbox 360. I really liked the last stage as it seemed to be what a last stage is supposed to be to me: A compilation of everything you have been able to do in the game so far and long enough for you to enjoy, hard enough to keep you challenged.

While it may seem that my life is somewhat centered around video games, I assure you that is not the truth (save for the month or so following a GTA release). I just have a really clear memory for a lot of little things, and here I have collected all the ones relating to video games. It's amazing how much time I spent playing them when I was younger considering all the sport I was playing as well. I guess if I wasn't doing one, I was doing the other. This little trip down memory lane also re-confirmed for me what I had forgotten – that my older brother is way more into video games than I ever was.

I must give a shout out to MobyGames.com. I had a ball looking through that site while making this list, and I can see myself spending a few more hours doing just that.

Hopefully next post I will have some more poker stuff to report (including the new season of High Stakes Poker which was off to a slow start this week). Hope the cards are treating you well, and feel free to share a few of your favourite video game memories right here if you feel compelled.

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