There are a few people doing lists of their most influential games at the moment. To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to bother. My memory is bad at the best of times and trying to remember what games I enjoyed and that influenced me seemed like it would be rather hard and a frustrating endeavour.
Then of course Izlain of Me vs Myslef and I issued the challenge and, as it turns out, remembering such games was actually reasonably easy, The games that do influence you seem to warp your memory around them; the memory itself becomes held in place firmly within the emotional, environmental and personal context of the time. The physicality of it all comes back as well, as secondary to the memory of the game so you can vividly remember those blissful moments
These are the ones I’d be hard pressed to forget, a lot of these are even some of the clearest memories and feelings from the time. Anyway, here we go in no particular order.
My earliest gaming memories are of this simple game, well, it and Dig Dug. I used to visit some of my relatives in sydney quit often growing up and back when we were still talking with them. My grandfather used to live in marrickville, a working class suburb of old brick cottages. Every year we would visit, as well as stay over here and then visit the other relatives in the nearby suburbs.
At least once during our stay the main family gathering would be at the local pub, a classic pub with the usual wall knick knacks, wooden bar space and lots of areas to sit and drink. I was well to young for that and being one of the youngest there I was mainly just tagging along with the parent. Each time we went though I would get a stipend of coins for the game machines sitting off to the side. One was Dig Dug. The other, and my favourite was Galaga.
I played countless hours on the machine weaving my little space ship in and out to defeat the hordes coming from me. The lights, sounds, movement and action was something that would have me transfixed. Sadly, I can even remember not being able to beat the high score all those years to go. After how much I tried I only ever made it to second.
That might sound like the worst parenting in the world, going down to the pub with your child but back then it was kind of normal, hence having those game table. I was never concerned about it, or worried about where I was and I looked forward to each time walking that way to have another go at that high score.
Constructor was a game back in the era where management games were all the rage. The newest and most amazing fad. At this stage I was periodically reading the magazine pc powerplay for the articles and to get that awesome demo disc. This game really got me interested for some reason, not sure if it was an add or a review but I had to have it. I begged my MUm for it of course, a single mother by that stage although, we weren’t too bad off. It was a decent cost back then as it was a release game but within the realm of possibilities.
I pestered for a good solid couple weeks for my mum to buy it. Constantly talking about what the game did and why I loved it. I was so incessant that it become one of the first few words my mothers friends child began saying whom used to live nearby and visit us and us them. I still remember that triumphant feeling on the drive to the shops to get it, and the unboxing on the way back.
The game was perfect as well, challenging and a little unforgiving requiring attention and good management to succeed but I loved it. I loved creating my own neighbourhood and building it up bigger and better. I loved being able to order around my minions and I loved developing the known strategies for certain points, what was needed and when. And I loved the crazy collection of NPC’s you had at your disposal to annoy your opponent. Out of all the management sims of the time, and there were a lot, this was my all time favourite.
Duke Nukem 3d
Duke Nukem was my father’s influence. I used to go to his workplace after school every second week, catching the train there and then waiting around until he had finished wherein we would go to the local AMAZING pizza place and talk. While waiting there he had a second pc next to him filled with a lot of those early games. Mostly shooting ones of different styles and I pretty much played them all.
Duke Nukem was my favourite. The colours and bright atmosphere were a draw and that sound. I would still recognise that drumming of the machine gun. I also really just liked making things, especially those mean piggies explode. I remember him remarking I was a pretty good shot while I ran around maniacally running and gunning which made me feel rather special.
back then I don’t believe I knew anything about the themes underneath. The monsters were weird looking and I thought the man was funny too, saying silly things all the time.
Command and Conquer
A series that really imprinted on my early on was Command and Conquer. My first play was with the original over at a friend’s place who I had a crush on. Of course boys that age had little understanding of such things and a lot of the time I just watched him play CnC and occasional have a go as well. Play with the original extended on when I get my own PC at home, as well as at my cousins where I regularly stayed. It was all of our favourite game. We even ended up going to one of those computer cafe’s a few times for some multiplayer fun. Me winning of course MWHAHAHA!
The other of the series I played religiously was Red Alert. The story was just ridiculous but I adored the strategy aspect of base building and creating an army. I actually got really into the multiplayer too, playing a couple of people at school now and then over the dial up.. yes, dial up as well as random people online. It was a great feeling to being competitive, something I think I took with me ever since. I never took it too seriously, and was there having fun as well but the draw to beat others was strong.
I used to stay over a lot at my cousins place on the weekend. During a stage when my dad was working out west he would come back now and then and stay at my aunts, his sisters place and I’d come over as well. While there I’d hang out a lot with my cousins generally just playing as kids do, every now and then we’d also go down to the corner store to get lollies, ice creams and other such snacks. Staying in the house usually meant chores and at least this way we kept ourselves busy. At the local shop they had a version of Metal Slug, I think the second version and I absolutely adored it.
It is a game that is extremely fast paced; constantly active shooting, jumping and dodging everything that was coming our way. It’s pure insanity a lot of the time with the enemies that constantly assault you, the huge boss encounters and just the design in general. It embraces the idiotic and insane and wraps it up in an amazingly enjoyable 2d shooter.
I ended up going through every last cent of my allowance each weekend I went over within the first day. I just had to play it but was never good enough to last that long so I was forever pumping in more money.
Road Rash 2
My favourite game for the Sega Genesis I had at home was, and will always be Road Rash. A racing game, and the only racing game that ever got some serious play from me over a long period of time. The gameplay and driving was pretty basic for the time and the controls weren’t as polished as some but what made it great was the ability to really smack around your opponents. It was just so satisfying to hear that thud, or zap and watch your competition slide off into a ditch or even into passing traffic.
There were some decent progression mechanics involved. You got to build up your motorcycle, adding different components and going for the style of play you wanted. Over the campaign you will slowly get better and better bikes as well. The incentive was there to do well to as you were awarded more money depending on your position. A nice part was also that you got to carry over the weapon you had in the race before. It had the hooks to keep you playing and coming back.
The other part that I loved was the split screen multiplayer. It was a lot of fun challenging people to a race, especially when your able to get so physical towards each other. I played my mum quite often and this was pretty much the only game she played with me for a long time. My uncle whenever he came over as well as my friends from school and the street. It was a game everyone loved to play and laugh over.
I loved my gameboy colour, a large boxy thing with big buttons and a blurry screen but it was the absolutely best gaming device growing up. That’s not too much due to the device itself but because of one game in particular. Pokemon. It was a craze and nearly every one of the time had a gameboy and pokemon, or at least that’s how it felt.
I played it exclusively for a long time. I spent entire weekends playing and collecting all the pokemon I could get and then battling over and over, and over again. I played through the entire game multiple times and each time always trying to have a different staple of pokemon. It was a game that became a very social tool, Lunch time at school often became an impromptu swap meet and battleground as you traded and battled with other people. It helped create a few friendships in the time as well as being an excellent way of connecting with my class mates that i would have rarely, if ever talked to.
My love of all things civ started with the second version. I actually forget what grade I was in at the time But I ended up getting extremely ill with Whooping Cough. Collapsed a lung, was hospitalised and had a couple of months of school because of it. Apart from the coughing I actually had a really good time. I was staying with my dad for most of it and he ended up regularly hiring games and movies for me throughout this time… and yes, weirdly the local video store was loaning pc games as well and civilization was one of them.
I played this intently for weeks. Building up civilizations and slaughtering the week. It was a game that took your attention in so deeply that you forgot about your surrounding and even, physicality. While I was playing I didn’t feel as sick or as frail as I was; I was a commander, a ruler, the all mighty.
Being a PC game as well, and of that time I was even able to keep playing after the disc had been returned to the store. I kept playing for a long while after and every time I went back and eventually got my own copy. It was a game that even served as a great bonding experience between us. We would do a sort of multiplayer version wherein we would designate each others towns and army for control and then take turns giving the orders to them. It was a great cooperative experience to enjoy and we’d talk for hours while playing. I’m sure at that stage I was holding him back but I don’t think he worried about it.. that much, although I do remember him sneaking some of my turns while I was getting a drink.
The mmo that started the craze for me. the one that drew me into the genre and really kicked off my gaming interest again after a long period away during my drunken years. I’ve already written about its significance to me in terms of its emotional appeal and the enjoyment of the gameplay so I won’t bother doing a recap.
Just cause 2
The seminal open world shooter that I’ve loved ever since I originally played. A vast open world to explore as well as destroy. Compared to the others it really doesn’t have the personal significance, the emotional draw or connection to some sort of personal event but it was a game that just due to the gameplay itself became one of my all time favourite titles. It was just everything you wanted it to be and filled any and every gaming urge. It’s a game I have kept around ever since it’s release just in case I want to play again and with the recent multiplayer mod release I would be if My laptop could handle it.
Time crisis (series)
During high school we ended up moving house all the way to West End, back when it was a reasonable cost of course. I was still going to the same high school as I didn’t want to change schools at that time. It meant there was a long commute to school and back every day, I didn’t mind too much though as coming back most days I would stop off in town and play a few games of whatever took my interest. If I didn’t have any money at the time this meant going to Harvey Norman and sitting on the gaming machines, playing whatever was being marketed at the time. If I did have some spare coins that meant going to Timezone and Playing Time Crisis.
Throughout the rest of high school Time crisis went through a few various iterations and I would always play each newer machine. I prided myself on being able to finish every single version on a single credit. In terms of taking up my time being able to spend a dollar or two to get 30 to 45 minutes of play was excellent. I loved the shooting and dodge mechanics too so even when learning these games I enjoyed my time and wouldn’t mind spending more.
It was an absolute point of pride being able to finish each on a single credit. I would learn and memorise every single moment there was, what to shoot and when. Who to look at for and all the boss mechanics. Occasionally while playing a crowd would form watching me shoot my way through the game at an unstoppable pace, the amazing twitch shots I made, the rapid fire times and being able to dodge out-of-the-way at the last moment. I loved the attention to and it was a great point of validation.
A more recent love but something that has imprinted itself on my nonetheless. The collection of combat, progression, collecting and building is what I truly want for a game and I was finally able to realise that through my play. It’s the perfect mix of gameplay mechanics and because of that the visuals itself don’t really matter.
One thing it also did was kickstart my interest in a lot of the indie games. Before that I mainly stuck to the more mainstream titles, the big production games of various I.P’s. I’ve constantly been looking for more after that and playing games of all different types, mostly enjoying what I find too. In the end it created a richer, more divers and more fulfilling gaming experience for me as I’d been focusing too much a certain experiences which kind of burnt me out a lot quicker.
I played most of the mech titles of the time, I loved Mechwarrior and stomping around with the movement and sounds. I liked Mechcommander far more though, even with its flaws it kept me glued to the screen for hours on end. This is probably due to my RTS background as I loved the aspect of Team building, getting the different mechs and then fitting them out with what I needed. The combat wasn’t too strategic, aim at a specific part then keep firing but with that and then recovering what I’d found, earning money and playing the marketplace for items and mechs it was a great experience.
The part I remember most is, I think the second mission where an optional part takes you into the path of a Timber wolf Mech, a rare and far more advanced Mech than what was available to you. I played this dozens of times. I just wanted it that much and a lot of that came down to luck, you aim for the cockpit so the pilot dies before he can eject and destroy the mech but whether you damage it enough before it takes out your own crew or whether it blows up anyway was a complete unknown. I was dedicated in this one purpose so much that I forgot about everything to the eventual power cord being pulled out mid play. I’d forgotten my chores and repeated calls to complete them had gone unanswered.
and 2 more because thinking of 15 games was hard and I’ve been writing for far too long
- Where in the world is Carmen sandiago