by Anand Ramachandran
Just realized that I've been gaming for quarter of a century! That's longer than many of my gamer friends have been alive! Grumpy. OLD. Man.
So perhaps I'll rather self-indulgently go off on a stroll down the old lane, and try to pick up some of the best gaming memories in all that time. Younger gamers, perhaps you can mine the following micro-memoir and try some of the oldies mentioned – you'll certainly be glad you did. Fellow dinosaurs, you may find something that has you nodding in agreement, while your eyes mist over. You have been warned.
Earliest memories of gaming
The world-famous Nintendo Game and Watch handhelds. Mickey Mouse. Parachute. Fire. Popeye. Old pong machines – I had a poppy TVG-4, which was a black and white unit, and a SOUNDIC TVSPORTS, which featured four brilliant colours. Tennis, soccer (I hate that word), basketball. Wheeee! And of course, the inevitable ATARI VCS (later known as the 2600). Not the nooB silver version. The true-blue, wood finish beauty. Oh, and before I forget – the coin-op Pac-Man at sleazy burger joints all over the US highways. When I was about seven.
Game and Watch titles such as Fire, Octopus and Parachute were pretty much unputdownable. Diablo. Baldur's Gate 2. The Sims. Halo. Tetris. Civilization (your version number here). KOTOR. The Minish Cap. I think these were probably the worst.
Turning up the speed to 'high' on the SOUNDIC, and then playing an impossible furious basketball game against a friend. The final, tense scramble as Master Chief tries to escape from Halo. Taking down a dragon for the first time in Shadows of Amn. Drunken Soul Calibur 2 parties. A headshot with the Ripper in Unreal Tournament.
Moments of WOW!
Exploring a huge (for the time) gameworld in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', on the ATARI 2600. My first view of DOOM. Every single moment of 'Shadow of the Colossus'. Typing 'kiss alien' into Space Quest 2, and discovering that Al Lowe had actually programmed a response : 'You have a dirty mind'. Katamari Damacy. Oblivion.
Adventures in Adventure
All early Sierra games – Space Quest 2 was the first. Sam and Max hit the road. Monkey Island. Grim Fandango. The MYST series – yes, I really DO think they're great games. Out of Order.
Dirty Little Secret
I LOVE the N-Gage QD. I count Pathway to Glory, Mile High Pinball, High Seize, Colin McRae, Rifts:Promise of Power among some of the most satisfying and fun games I've played. And I've played. A lot. My sympathies to biased gamers who bad-mouth a product based simply on hearsay or limited experience and knowledge. A poke in the eye to NOKIA, who was chiefly responsible for shoddy initial design and moronic marketing.
Finally finding the Lost Ark, playing the game on a 2600 emulator, some 22 years after my first attempt!
Soul Calibur 2. Burnout 3. Pro Evolution Soccer (I hate that word). Unreal Tournament. But the games I enjoy most playing with friends – Worms 2, and Outlaw on the ATARI 2600.
Holes in the Resume
Very little gametime on Nintendo systems (apart from the Game and Watch and GBA). No SNES. No N64. No Gamecube. Will plug the gaps, though.
Don't know. I am excited about all the systems – but the Wii-mote has possibilities for swashbuckler-style swordplay. Bring it on – that's what I want to see. Grrarrrhhh. Maybe a Hellbrandt Grimm game. Shhlunk!
The other Next Gen
My four year old son knows the entire Halo weapon set and creature list by heart. He knows which weapons are UNSC and which are Covenant. He knows how to snipe enemies from afar. I'm SO proud of him. I'm going to be arrested for ESRB violation.
Now that I've greatly reduced my design consultancy work to focus on game design and comic-book writing, more time to keep this blog alive. And to play more games – never again shall my Xbox see a 6-month idle period. Shudder.
Advice to gamers
Play everything. Try out MYST. Have a go at the Sims. Check out the N-Gage (if you can get your hands on one, that is). Prejudices and biases are for wimps and losers. Tell your children to stay away from cheat codes.
Okay, time to go. Have to plan my 25-years-of-gaming party. If you're in Chennai, you'll be welcome. I'll post details on this blog once I'm ready.
P.S. - Other old-timers out there - pitch in and comment. Would love to hear your voices.