I’ve recently been on a bit of a retro gaming kick. I’ve refined my NES and PS1 collections to completion whilst I only need one more game for the Mega Drive. I recently started rebuilding my PS2 catalogue too. Why did young SDCC trade in all of his games?!?
Anyway, I have my favourite games and I’ve managed to get hold of a lot of them again. They’ve all left me with fond memories but a few have gone beyond that. Some have seared memories and feelings into my very being. I thought I’d share the moments that have left the biggest impact.
“How can it get better than this”. Our 11 year old brains were completely frazzled by the sight of Crash Bandicoot and Aku Aku. After years spent running around the Mushroom Kingdom and the Green Hill Zone, the Wumpa Islands seemed so much fuller and…three dimensional. Colourfully designed with music and characters that I still remember as clear as day now, Crash may not have done anything particularly new gameplay wise but it was an amazing start to our 32 bit times. The PS1 landed with a bang in the Cooper household.
I first entered the world of Survival Horror when I was 12. I hadn’t even watched a proper horror film yet, so was wholly unprepared for what was to come as I entered the Spencer Mansion. Resident Evil 2 was getting rave reviews so we were keen to try the first one. My brother assumed his place alongside me, ready to help with puzzles and general decision making. Sat on the bottom bunk of our bed in a well lit bedroom we turned on the game. The opening intro was cheesy but brilliant (probably a good thing we had the cut down European version). Jill* worked her way from the main hall, through the dining room, into the left wing of the Spencer Mansion, where upon seeing the first zombie rear it’s head, she ran back into the dining room and then turned off the PlayStation in panic. She needed a few minutes and some deep breaths before starting again. *Me
The first two games in the series had set an incredibly high bar. They were unlike anything we’d ever seen, and the replays were ground-breaking. But as I drove the yellow RUF (no Porsche license back then) under the canopy in Trial Mountain on the demo of Gran Turismo 3, shadows moving over the roof as I zoomed along, I was gobsmacked. I think it was the first time I thought of a game as beautiful. I’ve played the game recently and it still holds up amazingly well.
Not having played the first game I wasn’t exposed to the effects of decisions made previously. What would happen to me in Mass Effect 2 however would stay with me not just through ME3, but forever. I’d already lost Kelly to the Collectors, so I had no one to feed my fish, but it got far worse. My favourite team member. My friend. My Brother. Garrus was lost in the climactic attack on the Collectors, his hand barely missing mine as I made it through a doorway. At the time I wasn’t sure what to do. I set the control down for a minute to contemplate the loss. Ultimately I would continue on and complete the series. But the loss of Garrus still bothers me to this day. That is my Mass Effect story, and re-playing it holds no interest for me.
All of it. The entire bloody thing. From ‘556ers and pineapples’, to ‘I remember that punch’, all the way through to ‘have at you Snake!’, MGS has it all. The cinematic storytelling and stealth mechanics were complete game changers for me. Since 1998 I’ve completed this game around 25 times. Every couple of years I’ll come back to it and it’s never let me down.
Everyone will have different moments that have really stuck in their memory. What are yours?