Gaming is all so common to us now. It´s there but it´s nothing special anymore. Today, i´d like to give some insight in my “gamer´s evolution“, how i started gaming, how it went on, and how it´s gotten worse. Still, i love gaming to this day and i´ll never quit. Gaming allows for fantasies to come true. And it is such imagination that makes me as human being happy. So, let´s take a look.
My first gaming experiences consisted of playing on the SNES at some relative´s house. We, my family, only got there like once a year only, though, so it was a rare and special occurrence. I remember how i always started playing A Link to the Past until getting stuck at finding the book of Mudora. I had no clue that i had to simply run against the book shelves to make it fall down, haha. We also played Terranigma, which i found a bit scary back then, and of course Street Fighter. Dhal Sim versus E. Honda, and whenever someone wanted to be called cheap he´d choose Blanka and spam his electrocute. One or two days of playing a bit of SNES didn´t do it, though. Back home there was no gaming. I don´t know exactly how old i was then, around ten years old i think, when my dad got his first PC. Really old thing, 20 MHz, with a turbo button for 60 MHz, lol. There were some games that i´d grew to love. Civilisation, where i never figured out how to live on when your money started going down, and Boulders, where you had to collect diamonds and avoid monsters. There was also a Formula 1-game which was really hard, and a ship trading simulation that was incredibly hard, but nonetheless intriguing. Those games were my first real gaming days.
Some time later i finally got my own PC, a 486er. It was just awsome. I played games like Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, The Last Crusade. Then there was Comanche vs. Werewolf, a helicopter fighting-game with ugly 3D-graphics. So awsome, launching hellfire missiles and taking out enemy tanks. There were other games, too, but those stand out the most. From there on gaming became something i needed more of. At that time the SNES was still super popular and i remember how i had it on my wishlist for christmas every year, begging my parents for a video game console. There was this awsome “Morefun Set”, then later the “Morefun Set 2”, which was a bundle with Yoshi´s Island and later the Super GameBoy. I never got it. BUT: On my 12th birthday, i got “it”: The GameBoy. The original GameBoy, in yellow, official name “Banana Joe”. What a great day for humanity, erm, i mean, me. It was beyond awsome. This, at that time, tiny piece of awsomeness. But it didn´t start to well: The game my parents gave me together with it was Mario´s Picross. Wait, let me tell you, i love the Picross-games today, but back then as a kid that wanted action, it was disappointing. So i instantly rushed out to get myself my second video game. Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land. I cannot remember how i chose this game, but it was a great decision. Great platforming combined with a sense for adventure when you tried to collect all treasures. For some unknown reason i had really many Disney-games for GameBoy. Got them as a present at occasions like my birthday or christmas. I had “The Junglebook” and “Pinocchio“. Actually, all these game played rather the same, but at that time they were damn hard and got me motivated enough to finish them. Now, one of the key moments in my life as a gamer: Of course, i had always been collecting the Official Club Nintendo-magazine, that was for free and came out new every month. I was extremely interested in a game called Mystic Quest, because of its cool cover with a sword and such. I had money for only one game at that time, so once spent there would be no going back. At that time i was at a friend´s house and he showed me one of his GameBoy-games, a game i never heard of: The Legend of Zelda: Link´s Awakening. Then it rang to me that this was a game like A link to the past, which i wanted to play so badly. The next day i got myself a copy of Link´s Awakening. That was the beginning of my growing love of the Zelda-series. Many years later i got to play Mystic Quest and i couldn´t have made a better decision. The GameBoy was my nonstop companion. Then the darkest day of my young life approached: One of my little brothers stepped on the GameBoy, not just anyhow, but directly onto the display. Broken beyond repair. R.I.P. Banana Joe. But it led to the birth of the probably most awsome handheld i ever had: The black GameBoy Pocket. I say “ever”, because i still think that it looks awsome. I always plan to buy one off Ebay but always forget. Maybe this time, heh. It was such a great piece of hardware. It felt so quality, had a great screen and it was so tiny. A real handheld portable device. And just right in time for the biggest franchise to enter not only my life, but of all my friend´s, too: Pokemon Red and Blue. October 1998, i´ll never forget. Of course, i got the Blue-edition, as i always preferred that “not as flashy”-version (later got Silver, then Sapphire). My first ever Pokemon was a Shiggy (the water-starter). I loved it. I loved the whole game. It was adventure at its purest. And not only was the game great by itself, but the mutliplayer made it into a social phenomenon. For one, i really collected all 150 Pokemon. For another, we had so many great battles at school inbetween the classes. One of my friend already had a GameBoy Color and he was a master with his annoying “put me to sleep” and “can regain health”-Pokemon team. I also had a friend that had a Pokemon i could never beat…until one day. Then i beat his level 51 Digdri (the worm-Pokemon). What an awsome day.
As time went by, we approached 1997. You all know what that means: The launch of the Nintendo64 was imminent. I have to admit, i´m a bit at a loss of words now, because there´s so much to say. The hype was incredible. Nintendo of Europe had three promo-VHS released before the launch, which i collected all three, of course. I watched them over and over again. Remember, no internet for me at that time. 3D was SO awsome. I knew that i´d love it. Mario64 looked so stunning. All the movements you could do. Then this Wave Race-game, riding on waves. And Pilotwings, flying in the sky without limits. I had to wait a year, but then my parents had the biggest surprise of the forever for my brothers and me. I really didn´t expect to get it, but there it was on christmas day 1998: A Nintendo64, together with Mario64. My parents also bought us a television just for the N64. Maybe it´s wrong, but…those were the happiest days in my life. My brothers and me had so much fun, it was beyond what was thought possible. Though, Mario64 wasn´t enough, so the three of us went to town to get more games. One of them was WaveRace, but i´m sure you all know what the year of 1998 means: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Thanks to no internet and only having played one game of the series, i never joined the hype for this game. So after christmas i was in that shop and there i saw it. Bought it and o h my g o d! It was a totally new experience. Even though Mario64 introduced 3D, OoT felt completely different. And it was scary. Oh lord, i was so afraid of everything, never having entered a rather realistic virtual world. And it took us forever to find the Kokiri sword. And just after entering the Deku tree, i got stuck where you had to jump on the net on the ground from high above. Tried it once, didn´t work and instead of trying again i was that confused that i wrote Nintendo a letter, asking how to get further. I waited two weeks until the answer arrived. Haha, i don´t know why we didn´t try it again, but oh well, it was the beginning of 3D for us. I don´t know how long exactly it took us to finish OoT, but something like “forever” could come close. Nevertheless, best gaming experience i´ve ever had. Not only that, but the Nintendo64 was and is the best gaming system there ever was, at least to me. And even though the Sony PSX had a lot better sales, everyone at school, all of my friends, everyone had a Nintendo64. Don´t know how this came to be, but the N64 was the system to have, with the games to play. The good days continued, and finally i experienced my first first person shooter, Turok 2: Seeds of Evil. Before i got to play it (my brothers bought it), i was so damn scared of first person shooters. I always imagined how scary it has to be, when you can only look in front of you, not knowing what kind of monsters will attack you from behind. Of course, now i know that this isn´t a problem at all, but back in the days where game concepts were new and fresh, that´s how it was. Turok 2 was very hard and its save system was horrible. The most ridiculous thing, though, were its boss enemies. Thanks god we had the master-cheat, Oblivionisathand, so whenever we got to a boss enemy, god mode on. Even in god mode and with all weapons unlocked, all those boss enemies took forever to take down. To this day i don´t know how you´re supposed to manage them without cheats. Another glorious and important day was the release of Super Smash Bros. 64. The game got low 70 scores, but i bought it nonetheless…and it became the greatest multiplayer game my friends and me every played. Seriously, everyoe played it and played it all the time. At one point we even got home together after school, directly to playing SSB64. It was such motivating competition. And it was when my “Blue Kirby” became the most feared, haha. That was until the day i played against a friend of my little brother. To this day, he is the only one who ever beat me. I bow to you, young master. The N64-times proceeded, and another game became the “let´s play it as often as possible”-title: Turok: Rage Wars. It was a purely multiplayer-title, with coop and great multiplayer-options. It would scare people if we could say how many hours my brothers and me played this game, but it was like…always. Someone of the three of us always was playing it. It had such perfect controls, great level design, great weapons, and even great special characters like the Velociraptor, who couldn´t use weapons but only his own claws. Awsome. But really, “awsome” is exactly the word that describes the Nintendo64-era the best. Everything was just perfect. The great controller, the cartridges without loading times, the rumble later on, the multiplayer-games and, and, and. What Nintendo achieved in the N64-days is what gets them criticized today. They were simply to good back then, so that now even though they´re still making great games, they look bad in comparions. But everyone does, really.
After years of exclusive gaming devices, it was time for a new PC. So on another christmas eve, my parents had a new surprise for me: A new PC, a Pentium III 500 MHz. At that time this was state of the art. I also got Age of Empires 2 that day, and i don´t need to explain how this game can suck in your time. Not only that, though, together with this new PC came the internet. Yeah, my dad finally let me have internet. Well, “us”, as he demanded that everyone in the house could use my PC if they needed something done. But that was fine. At that point i wasn´t interested in gaming communities, though, all i did was chatting with people and such. But PC gaming was great. I also got Halflife 1, and even though i never managed to finish it, it was just great. Running in smooth 3D, shooting Zombies, exploring facilities, great.
So, i had a gaming PC, i had a N64 and i had a GameBoy. What else did i need? Heh, i could say nothing, at least until the GameCube was announced. But just six months prior to its launch, I bought a Dreamcast. It was a short time i had this system, but it was great fun. Crazy Taxi, Shenmue 2 and Soul Calibur. And for some reason, I loved Unreal Tournament on this system the most. The GameCube was strange. It was strange because it was the first system i´d buy by myself. The hype was incredible, so incredible that a friend of mine and i imported ourselves a GameCube-controller from Japan, as the European release was still months away. Yeah, only a controller. But it was so fantastic to hold this super new controller in my hand, testing out how the sticks and shoulder buttons feel. We mimicked how we´d play games with this controller. Good times. At its launch in 2002, i bought Xtreme G3 and StarWars Rogue Leader. I was disappointed by XG3, but could trade it against Luigi´s Mansion, which wowed me many times. But the most anticipated game of all of my friends and me had yet to be released: Super Smash Bros. Melee, on the 24th of May. I still remember how i downloaded the 15-minutes E3 video from Ruliweb. The hype was so enormous that i started to look around where i could get the game before its official release date. And i found a shop. Selling the game exactly one day earlier. Well, that was enough to make my friends and me buy expensive train tickets, travel 50 kilometers to the shop, going in there, paying, then travelling 50 kilometers back home. What an awsome feeling to hold this game in my own hands, wow. And what followed was the longst nonstop gaming-session i ever had: 12 hours of SSBM straight. When i stopped playing it was because i couldn´t anymore. Of course, next day i proceeded to unlock everything. And i loved the Target Attack-mode. Very important is, naturally, the release of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. From literally crying bitter tears when it was released to loving the visuals, it was a strange experience. But what really made the GameCube-era for me was Metroid Prime. This was like Zelda, taken to the next level. And i can´t forget the great JRPGs for GCN. At that time, all the fanboys loved how nothing comes close to Final Fantasy (and i got a PS2 for Kingdom Hearts and ICO, which were also great), but the trinity of Tales of Symphonia, Baten Kaitos and Paper Mario 2 was fantastic. Each game was so rich in content and kept me playing for months. In the last days of the GCN SSBM was still frequently played, but it was clear that the end is near. But not only the end of this console generation, but also the end of my interest. I have to admit, at that time i was close to quitting gaming. And believe it or not, before Nintendo said anything about the “Revolution“, i said to myself “if the next Nintendo system isn´t something drastically different, i´ll quit”. Oh, guess what, some Nintendo god had to have heard my wish. The Revolution was announced, but noone knew what it´d be like. And again i imagined what i wanted before Nintendo revelead it. And really, except for the visor that i wanted, i got my wish granted again. Motion controls, how damn awsome was that! The Wii-launch has to be the biggest, most epic launch of any system ever. I was torn between trying out that Wii-controls and playing Twilight Princess. It was awsomeness-overload. Many great games followed, as well a Xbox360, but…
Games don´t have to be niche to be fun…but these days people are missing out on so many great games because of missing hype
…now we´re in the present. And my taste in games has become extremely exclusive, elitist. There aren´t many games at all that i´m honestly interested in. But that´s okay. As long as there are still a hand full of games i like, that´s enough. Though, one thing has made the whole gaming experience worse. And that´s the gaming industry. “Journalists”, developers, gamers themselves. These days it´s all about bs hyping games that aren´t all that great, trolling games that are actually great and making fun of gamers with a different taste in games. The worst of all that development has to be the perversion of the terms “hardcore” and “casual“. I´m not hardcore, i´m also not casual. I´m a gamer, and i wrote about my gaming life to remember why gaming was and still can be so much fun. Stop caring about hype and go out and see what you can enjoy. Or in other words: Go buy Opoona for Wii and see how the gaming press and the hype-users next to you made you forget such great games. Gaming is not about being better, having the right”er” opinion, or whatever. It´s about having fun, and back in my GameBoy-days, I decided what was fun myself. And i think, i´ll start doing the same again, instead of giving in to mindless hype of big games that aren´t so great if you´re honest. I´m excited to see how my gaming life continues, but after having played WiiSports Resort for the first time three days ago, i think that´s the next big step that i´ll enjoy. Maybe i´ll do more in-depth articles on my past´s games, just to remember them for myself. Look forward.