The will likely be spoilers, but should I talk about something super new I'll warn ya. But consider this a pre-emptive warning! You're WARNED!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

mon histoire avec les video games, part one

As I mentioned yesterday in my remembrathon: yes, I'm old. There. Now let's move on so we can all thrill to this post which is all about my history with video games- the systems I've owned, the games I've hearted hard. Trust me, I realize that this really won't be interesting to anyone besides me, unless it spurs you on to great heights of nostalgia or maybe tosses out a game title that's new to you. That's all your business, however, and right now I just feel like having a nice cup of General Mills International Coffee (Suisse Mocha) with video games as we hash over times both old and new. See, I've been a gamer for pretty much my whole life and since, as I said, I'm old, I find it curious to marvel from time to time at how far the medium has come during my substantial lifespan. Come now, pour yourself a cup and get bored read on!

Atari 2600

I got my first taste of games thanks to my old pal Smitty when I was in...oh, fifth grade, maybe? His family was the first on the block to get the Atari 2600; it came with Combat, and all the neighborhood kids wanted a piece of the action. I mean, look at the box! Can you feel the flames shooting in your face? Are you choking on the smoke and covering your ears in a futile attempt to block out the roar of the engines? Don't lie. You know you are!

The game totally lived up to the promise of the box art. Check it out, and try to contain your eyeballs because they'll be popping out from the intensity.

I know it looks so lame, but you know what? It wasn't. We were all clamoring to play, always. Smitty's mom would only let one of his friends in at a time to play but we didn't care. Everyone else would hang around outside while one lucky soul went in for a round of Combat. "Jet Fighter" was my jam, and my love of video games was born. It wasn't too long until my family got the 2600 and that was it. If playing Combat at Smitty's put me on the road to loving video games, then my parents handed me a map and the keys to a car...or some other less muddled, more meaningful metaphor.

Favorite Atari 2600 games:
  • Pitfall
  • Yar's Revenge
  • Missile Command
  • Space Invaders
  • Activision Grand Prix
Activision Grand Prix: you can practically smell the burning rubber

Nintendo Entertainment System

The leap from the 2600 to the NES was a mega one, wasn't it? First of all, it came with a gun and a robot. A GUN AND A ROBOT. Mind you, the robot proved quickly to be a pain in the ass and fairly useless and the gun fared not much better, but still. A gun and a robot. Even beyond that, it was a whole new world of gaming- more realistic, bigger, more exciting, games that spoke- spoke in voices! It was marvelous.

Incidentally, I hope that "A Whole New World" from Fievel or Aladdin or whatthefuckever is now stuck in your head.

So cool, so useless. Just like me!

Of course, Nintendo also gave a home to many who would become video game icons, characters who still appear in new games yearly- you know, like Mario and Link. Even crappy games were a revelation on this machine- I played more Top Gun and Airwolf than I care to admit (although...fuck yeah, Airwolf!). Was NES the greatest video game system of all time? No. But maybe.

Favorite NES games:
  • Balloon Fight
  • Dr. Mario
  • Castlevania (even though I sucked at it- stupid Medusa heads)
  • Contra (Do you know the Konami Code? If you do, type it now, substituting "ENTER" for "START")
  • Excitebike (ah, such impossible tracks I would make!)
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Prince of Persia
  • R.C. Pro-Am (I loved this game more than it probably deserved)
  • Super Mario Brothers (all of them. ALL OF THEM I SAY)
  • Paperboy (that bitch in the convertible got me every time)

Super Nintendo

8-bit gave way to 16-bit and I got the first game system to hug and call my very own. This was one hell of a system with some damn terrific games. I had SNES and my best friend had Sega Genesis- between the two of us we played everything there was to play while his mother yelled at us to go get some sunshine. I never really got into RPGs during the SNES era; whatever Final Fantasys and Chrono Triggers were out there in the world, they passed me by. I was all about platformers, side scrollers, and anything else I could play co-op.

Favorite SNES games:
  • Alien 3 (this was, like, my favorite game for a while. Bald, badass Ripley FTW!)
  • Star Fox
  • Aladdin (ridiculously fun)
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation (does it GET any geekier?)
  • Shadowrun
  • Pilotwings
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Super Star Wars (and SSW: Empire Strikes Back and SSW: Return of the Jedi...all three games were hard as hell!)
  • Zombies Ate My Neighbors
Oh, giant baby from Zombies At My Neighbors...I love you

So there you go, Part One is out of the way. I bet you can't wait for Part Two, amiright? Well, you'll just have to. In the meantime, you can bore me with your history!


JJonez said...

I'm sorry...I couldn't resist.

Anyway, I like the new blog!

TrG said...

Gotta give some love to "Adventure" on the 2600. The bouncing ducks that doubled for dragons were sah--weeet.

Stacie Ponder said...

JJonez, I deserve that. :D

You know, I never played Adventure. I know all about it, but I never got to experience it myself. *tear*

Andrew Green said...

Great post!
Hilarious writing, and good memories I can relate to.

Reminds me of a Top Ten Consoles countdown I did a few months back.
(Sorry, I too cannot resist posting an addy):

I'm eager to see part two of this entry!

Bill Walsh said...


Anonymous said...

Activision games really kicked ass over Atari games - Pitfall, Megamania, Frostbite, Pressure Cooker...

Okay, Plaque Attack wasn't all that great. But piloting a tube of toothpaste through someone's mouth, zapping burgers and candy canes, was a cool idea.

I will admit, Ms. Pac-Man for the 2600 looked great. But I also remember paying $59.99 for E.T. :cringe!:

But the worst Atari game EVER was SwordQuest Alpha or whatever the fuck it was called. WTF? No seriously, WTF??!

Robert G. said...

I am also old and was weaned on the 2600. By the time the NES came out I was a bit burned-out on home video games. However, when my younger brother got an NES, I remember being completely astounded after Mario went down that first pipe at the end of level 1 and the game didn't just loop around to the beginning of that level! And then the game kept going... and going...

Stacie Ponder said...

OMG, Plaque Attack- I remember that. I love how simple games were, and how many variations there were on "shoot this thing with another thing".

I also remember being extremely disappointed with the home version of Pac-Man after playing it in the arcade- he looked so weird!! I, too, fell victim to E.T. and it was terrible and I was terrible at it.

I can't believe anyone ever bitches about the current price of video games, considering they've been essentially untouched by inflation, yet they've come so far and can provide hours and hours and HOURS of entertainment.

CashBailey said...

My favourite Atari 2600 game was always SPIDER FIGHTER. That thing was frantic where a lot of Atari games were really slow.

With RIVER RAID a close second.

Oh, and I';ve gotta add BERZERK in there as well. Any time I got electrocuted by the walls I would jump.

Missy Y. (formerly A Case of You) said...

I think the happiest moment of my adult life was when I discovered I could easily download the original Castlevania and Dr. Mario onto my Wii. I stayed up for two days straight kicking Dracula's ass. It might have been the best weekend ever.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, Spider Fighter!! I was addicted to that game. As far as shoot-em-ups go, that shit was bananas!

(Well, actually it was oranges and grapes, but you know what I mean.)

Thomas Dukenfield said...

Zombies Ate My Neighbors! I had totally forgotten about that one. I think I rented it one weekend and really liked it but never bought it.

Final Fantasy II was probably my fave SNES game, but Shadowrun was definitely top 5. I also really liked the Genesis version, which was completely different (which I liked).

I replayed Castlevania recently, and I had forgotten how hard it is. Dracula is totally fucking impossible. I don't know how I beat him as a kid. I must've been like Fred Savage The Wizard good.