I think I can say that I’ve been privileged to have grown up with an assortment of consoles; but when I think back to my earliest gaming days, images of drawn curtains and 16 bit colours reflected off my face in the mid to late nineties are etched quite vividly in my mind.
Sega Mega Drive
I don’t even remember school, or being told off by one of the parentals for playing games too much, all I remember was the addictiveness of the Sega Mega Drive. My first console and looking back, it was a pretty neat one at that.
Released in 1988 in Japan (the rest of the world saw its release in 1990) this sturdy little console found mainstream popularity amongst the masses – especially in my household. My brother and I would often battle over the controller to start a fresh game of Earth Worm Jim or Disney’s World of Illusion.
It boasted a wide selection of games including its flagship namesake – Sonic the Hedgehog and a great number of arcade and sports games. This continued to be the console of the house until the arrival of the PlayStation in 1994.
God, I still remember that noise of the initial console boot up. Like someone had gone into the cupboard, picked up a pile of plates and threw them to the ground and some thoughtful artsy person in the background finishing off the entire episode with a badly played recorder afterwards.
Oh I do recall some real fun with this console. I can’t remember the first game I got, but I do remember the first few games I had: Critical Depth, Tenchu, Doom, Crash Bandicoot and Croc: Legend of the Gobbos – a mixed bag right there.
From there I graduated to and fell in love with the RPG (Role Playing Game) genre which I believe really blossomed with this console. Even though I never bought my first two consoles (because; Question: How does a 6 year old pay for a Sega Mega Drive and a PlayStation?), I avidly awaited the release of the next generation.
The PlayStation 2 (PS2) in 2000 was where I would later scar myself for life with Fatal Frame 2 and other games in the horror genre.
Fatal Frame 2 fits in with the typical Japanese occult genre enriched with some morbidly beautiful folklore. It’s an action-adventure game with a story that revolves around two sisters Mio and Mayu who find themselves trapped in a village (which was coincidentally wiped out as a result of a failed ancient ritual). You control Mio, fighting off ghosts with a camera (yes, a camera) whilst wandering around trying to find your sister who has been possessed by the main antagonist, malice-ridden Sae (ghost by-product of said failed ancient ritual). The game itself is beautiful constructed, with a lot of attention to fine details present in characters, costumes and settings.
Eventually, I found a distinct sense of complacency in being a PC gamer. After graduating from the PS2, I found myself engorged in the Player versus Player lifestyle in games such as World of Warcraft and Rift amongst other MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing game), entering a different plain of gaming altogether.
I wouldn’t say I’m as heavy a gamer as I used to be – it might just be a sign of age, but they just don’t make games like they used to; games that left you thinking afterwards; that drove imaginations, left you wanting more. Or stuff that was just plain fun.
Those pixelated graphics and (sometimes) complex story lines will always have a place in my heart. Maybe one day I’ll blow the dust off my old PlayStation and pop Final Fantasy VIII in to reminisce. I could download it on PC, but it just wouldn’t be the same without that god-awful plate smashing welcome and those dodgy dual shock controllers.
Photo credit: Steve Berry