Contributed to 1001up.com HERE
When you think of the 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 gems, those VG 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 “10 more minutes” or “one more game”. That list of “Top Five” becomes a mess and you try to subcategorise just to get as many in there, doing your best to not miss one out!
The second in this series of the Games That Defined Me (LINK), I’ll be casting my mind back in time and dusting the cobwebs of some of those first memories of gaming. (First Episode HERE)
- Name: Tetris
- Developer: Bullet-Proof Software/Nintendo
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Release date: 1989-1990 (depending on region)
- PEGI rating: 3
- Genre: Puzzle
- Platforms: Game Boy (original)
- More information: http://tetris.com/
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 games of all time (selling upwards of 35million 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, 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 4 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 the game 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 game. It was incredibly addictive and progressive where games could last for hours, especially where 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 game and console I think I ever owned – a whopping £100 when I got it in 1991. Come on everybody, hum along….
Super Mario Bros.
- Name: Super Mario Bros.
- Developer: Nintendo
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Release date: September 1985
- PEGI rating: 7
- Genre: Platformer
- Platforms: NES/Famicom
- More information: http://mario.nintendo.com/
And then there was light! Multi-coloured light! At least 64 colours in total when the NES system entered my domain, strangely, after the Gameboy 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. and this game sold a whopping 40million, holding the biggest-selling game of all time for nearly 30 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 30 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!
- Name: California Games
- Developer: Epyx
- Publisher: Epyx
- Release date: 1987
- PEGI rating: 7
- Genre: Sports Game
- Platforms: Lynx (and many others)
- More information: Epyx closed in 1993
I was a wee bern in the bonnie highlands, and while it was a short stay, at just 7 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 game 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!
- Name: Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament
- Developer: Codemasters
- Publisher: Codemasters
- Release date: November 1994
- PEGI rating: 3
- Platforms: Sega Mega Drive, MS-DOS, Game Gear, SNES, Game Boy
- More information: Wiki if you needed it.
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 8 total 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 and that is why this game makes the list. This version also had 2 additional ports on the game cartridge itself, allowing up to 4 players to play against each other which, although was a rarity nearly 20 years ago, brought out a level of competitiveness that would rival the biggest sporting games of today – well, maybe not quite!
It was simple, colourful and highly entertaining, where knowing the course inside out was a necessity for not flying off the track or into an obstacle! Plus, knocking someone off the dinner table after that bowl of peas at the last fork & knife corner? Priceless.
- Name: Desert Strike (Return to the Gulf)
- Developer: Electronic Arts
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Release date: February 1992
- PEGI rating: 3
- Genre: Shoot ‘em up
- Platforms: Sega Mega Drive
- More information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_Strike
Possibly a main contributor to the development of strategy games, Desert Strike had you piloting a lone Apache helicopter and did so well, the then young(ish) EA Games 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 POW’s had be completing 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 3-D 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 80’s. Airwolf probably contributed to my love of this game too and if you haven’t watched an episode of that gem of a tv series (1984-1986) you’ve missed out!
Alex The Kidd
- Name: Alex the Kidd in Miracle World
- Developer: Sega
- Publisher: Sega
- Release date: Nov 1986 (1987 for EU)
- PEGI rating: 7
- Genre: Platform
- Platforms: Sega Master System
- More information: http://alex-kidd.wikia.com/wiki/Alex_Kidd
Finally, we come to the star of the show and here is a game that is possibly one of the first ever console games I played, one that defined many a gamer of the slightly-older-generation because anyone who had a Sega Master System had this game – it was built into the console.
This 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, Arekkz mentions this as one of his all-time greats and talks about the boss fights below:
“Learning how to defeat the bosses off by heart [is the most memorable moment within the game]. In Alex [the] 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” – Follow Arekkz on Twitter and Youtube
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 channels below for the latest banter. Game on all.