Early memories

Following on from his article last week about video games that defined him, contributor Terry now tells us about those titles which helped create his first memories of gaming.

Terry, face, glasses, beard, contributor

Contributor overview
Website: gamingatheart
Description: From before fond memories of Alex Kidd and Kid Chameleon, Terry has had a biological need for gaming in his life. Nowadays an eclectic mix of genres now fills his time, even if RPGs and MMOs keep a very special place in his heart – and beard.


Terry says…

When you think of the video games that defined you, there will be those that stand out as the more obvious selections in your life. But in retrospect, you quickly remember those other little titles, those moments that took your breath away or had you crawling into work for days – weeks even – on minimal sleep because you simply couldn’t keep to that ‘ten more minutes’ or ‘one more game’. That list of top five becomes a mess and you try to sub-categorise just to get as many entries as possible in there, doing your best to not miss one out!

The second in a series about games that defined me, in this article I’ll be casting my mind back in time and dusting the cobwebs of some of those first memories of gaming.

Tetris:

Name: Tetris
Developer: Various
Publisher: Various
Release date: June 1984
PEGI rating: 3
Genre: Puzzle
Platforms: Various
More information: Official website

Starting with a little history, tetrominoes have been around for over a century and used in mathematical puzzles since. Who would have known that it would become a trademark name that any games historian will know as one of the greatest titles of all time, selling upwards of 35-million copies. Since its Game Boy release in 1989 where it really made its mark, it has been re-released for newer Nintendo handhelds ever since and is now available as an app in one way or another.

Just in case you are too youthful or wonder if a ‘tetromino’ was once played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the game involves slotting differently shaped blocks that consist of four attached, adjacent cubes into rows as best as possible without filling the screen up. Filling a line clears that line and gives a score. Simple enough but the longer you play the quicker it gets.

The Game Boy itself was a revolutionary piece of kit and when the bundle was released with Tetris, everyone who had the console had the title. It was incredibly addictive and progressive where games could last for hours, especially as you could pause and put the game down whenever you wanted. The simplicity matched with the 8-bit 3-track music collection made it the first title and console I think I ever owned – a whopping £100 when I got it in 1991. Come on everybody, hum along…

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Super Mario Bros.:

Name: Super Mario Bros.
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release date: September 1985
PEGI rating: 7
Genre: Platformer
Platforms: 3DS, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, GameCube, NES, SNES, Wii, Wii U
More information: Official website

And then there was light! Multi-coloured light! At least 64 colours in total when the NES system entered my domain, strangely, after the Game Boy did. With it came games such as Duck Hunt and The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants, but Nintendo knew they were onto a winner with this lovable moustached plumber and Super Mario Bros. – it sold a whopping 40-million, holding the biggest-selling game of all time for nearly thirty years!

Without Mario, the platform games of today may have been completely different. It combined combat, puzzle, collectables, power-ups: everything that is expected in the genre of the here and now but to think that it was thirty years ago is truly awesome. I’m not sure you’d get away with jumping down a pipe to a room of coins these days. Enjoy a play through below!

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California Games:

Name: California Games
Developer: Epyx
Publisher: Epyx
Release date: August 1987
PEGI rating: 7
Genre: Sports
Platforms: NES, PC, Sega Master System, Sega Mega Drive
More information: Wikipedia

I was a wee bern in the bonnie highlands and, while it was a short stay, at just seven years old a family friend was playing California Games. Surfing, half-pipe, BMX – it included those sports that when you were a kid you dreamt of doing and this title did just that. If you didn’t want to repeatedly fall off your board or bike however, you could try the ye olde sport of Freestyle Footbag or Flying Disc (hacky sack and frisbee respectively).

They don’t make them like the used to!

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Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament:

Name: Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament
Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Release date: November 1994
PEGI rating: 3
Genre: Racing
Platforms: Game Boy, Game Gear, PC ,Sega Mega Drive, SNES
More information: Wikipedia

I, like many other kids at a certain age, loved to play with my toy cars. I say ‘kid’ knowing full well that every grown-up has at once, with or without their own children, used a small vehicle to ride up walls, along the floor or up and down a table! And this is where the Micro Machines series brought video games and tiny cars, vans, trucks and copters into a race over a whole range of imaginary courses.

This top-down racing-sim pitted players against each other, with up to eight racers in some versions, riding around bathrooms, along dinner tables, through treehouses and any other house-related area that a child’s mind could magically transform into a racing course. That’s why this title makes the list. This version also had two additional ports on the game cartridge itself, allowing up to four players to play against each other which, although a rarity nearly twenty years ago, brought out a level of competitiveness that would rival the biggest sporting games of today – well, maybe not quite!

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Desert Strike:

Name: Desert Strike
Developer: Electronic Arts
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release date: February 1992
PEGI rating: 3
Genre: Shooter
Platforms: Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Mac, Sega Master System, PC, PSP, Sega Genesis, SNES
More information: Wikipedia

Possibly a main contributor to the development of strategy games, Desert Strike had you piloting a lone Apache helicopter and did so well that the then young(ish) EA had this as their best-selling game at the time. It was had loosely open-world maps for you to explore and secure against the hostiles while destroying bases, and rescuing POWs had be completed strategically while managing your ammo and fuel supplies.

Looking back at it now, there were some impressive mechanics in the gameplay from a camera system that mimicked realistic momentum and early 3D modelling. The music too, which could have been in the game a little more than just the title screen and between levels, was reminiscent of the late 1980s. Airwolf probably contributed to my love of this title too and if you haven’t watched an episode of that gem of a TV series, you’ve missed out!

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Alex Kidd in Miracle World:

Name: Alex Kidd in Miracle World
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Release date: November 1986
PEGI rating: 7
Genre: Platformer
Platforms: Sega Master System
More information: Alex Kidd Wiki

Finally, we come to the star of the show and here is a game that is possibly one of the first ever console titles I played, one that defined many a gamer of the slightly-older-generation because anyone who had a Sega Master System had this it – it was built into the console. The side-scrolling adventurer would mainly punch his way through his foes, boulders, blocks and anything else in his journey to rescuing his lost brother Prince Egle. The fantasy world included a currency system (called Baums) which enabled you to purchase lives, power-ups and vehicles including a pedal bike, pedal boat and a pedal copter!

One of the most memorable parts of the game were the boss-fights including Janken the Great and his henchmen – which were ironically defeated by playing rock-paper-scissors. Arekkz is a YouTube master and after recently hitting 200k followers is now focusing on more recent games such as Destiny and the upcoming The Division. Although his answers are being kept for a following piece, he mentions Alex Kidd in Miracle World as one of his all-time greats and talks about the boss fights: “Learning how to defeat the bosses off by heart [is the most memorable moment within the game]. In Alex Kidd, bosses are defeated by playing rock-paper-scissors, but they all had a particular pattern – at first I wrote them down, then began to learn it off by heart.”

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That’s it for this episode. Arekkz and others will appear in a future article looking at the games that have defined them, how it has affected their lives and how they share that love with the community far and wide. Until then, follow me on all the social media channels for the latest banter. Game on all.

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