Every dedicated gamer out there can recall the first time they came into contact with video games. My family was very poor growing up, so our options were very limited. During a time without Internet, parents had to come up with inventive ways to keep their children entertained.
Some chose to turn them loose outdoors, but that was not always the best solution since children can get into mischief when left unsupervised.
It was during this time that Nintendo had begun work on reviving the video game market from Video Game Crash of 1983 with their Nintendo Entertainment System. Storeowners were reluctant to put a video game console back on the shelf due to the loss of consumer confidence with the previous over-saturation of poor quality games, but Nintendo was able to convince them that it was a toy with the use of an accessory we all know as R.O.B. the Robot.
It wasn’t until 1987 that the widespread appeal of the NES would be realized, almost singlehandedly pulling the video game industry from its slump.
It was around this time that my grandmother sent my brother and I a Nintendo Entertainment System Action Set. Our eyes took in the glossy packaging, with its dynamic imagery depicting the Zapper, Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt cartridge, two controllers and the glorious NES console itself. After my mother plugged in the power adapter, she then attached the RF modulator to the back of the TV set and my digital world lit up! I was first greeted with a menu giving me a choice between Super Mario Bros. or Duck Hunt.
I selected Duck Hunt and tried my best to shoot every duck on the screen without cheating, but somehow, I would always be greeted with maniacal laughter from my “trusty” canine. After shooting the shit out of some ducks and clay pigeons, I moved on to Super Mario Bros. and was completely floored. I have never seen a game like this before and its gameplay was fluid and easy to understand. Many hours were spent dodging Goombas and killing Koopas.
Around this time, I also used to go with my father on weekends to the local arcade, where I was exposed to some of the hottest titles around. My first arcade games ever played were Chase HQ and Black Tiger. Black Tiger mystified me with its graphics, immersive gameplay and medieval appearance. It was a great combination of RPG elements and fast action that I hadn’t experienced up to that point and fostered my love of the arcades, with its gritty atmosphere, bright lights and electronic sounds.
The next machine I walked up to was a driving action game called Chase HQ. This game turned out to be an adrenaline-pumping, fast-paced driver that puts the player literally behind the wheel and in hot pursuit of a fleeing suspect vehicle!
My heart would feverishly race when I put that pedal to the floor and wound my way through traffic in a frantic race towards the suspect’s car, which would reset my timer, giving me 60 seconds to ram it enough times that it comes to a screeching halt! As you hit it, the suspect vehicle begins to smoke and eventually catches fire as the clock winds down to the final seconds before the game ends and goes to the continue screen!
Time went on and Nintendo released their next-gen console: the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was Christmas morning 1994 and it was waiting under the tree, patiently waiting to be unwrapped. Every kid in the neighborhood was going on and on about the next generation of video game consoles that were released and began to split up into different camps: Nintendo and Sega. I never got a Sega Genesis, so I didn’t have an opinion either way, but that SNES was my first introduction into the 16-bit generation of consoles and my first game was Super Mario World.
Nothing could prepare me for the awesomeness of playing this in my house, as I was first introduced to the console at Toys ‘R Us, where they had Super Mario World on display. I was absolutely floored by the graphics of this new system, which departed from the graphical simplicity of the NES. My big question was, would I enjoy playing it? I turned on Super Mario World and was thoroughly impressed by the crisp graphics and sound, even though I was still working with the stock RF modulator.
What really blew me away was when I got to the first level in the Donut Plains and grabbed the feather. I didn’t know what to expect, but learned quickly when I started running, jumped and flew WAY UP! I also learned that if you hold Right, Mario would suicide bomb towards the ground, decimating anything in the vicinity, and if you hold Left, he would begin gliding, which could be stretched out to reach areas normally not accessible. This opened up a whole new level of expectations for me as it was shortly announced that the next generation of consoles was already here, but financially out of reach.
It was around this time that my brother decided that he wanted to buy a Sony Playstation and began frantically mowing lawns in order to buy a used one. Ultimately, he earned enough to get this boxy, gray video game console with 2 standard controllers and utilized a fairly new concept to video game consoles: CD-ROM.
After getting the console, we were at a loss to figure out what games to play. We went to our local video rental store and picked up two titles that changed everything for the umpteenth millionth time: Clock Tower and Project Overkill. Project Overkill took us to an alien planet where we had a choice between paths to take, with missions ranging from espionage to full-out bloody sweeps. The gameplay was brutal and in your face, but nothing could prepare us for the horror that was Clock Tower.
We gritted through the text-heavy prologue of this point-and-click game that absolutely throws you off from the game’s true evil intentions. The first scenario started with Jennifer, the game’s protagonist, walking down a darkened street and feeling like she is being followed. As she runs up to the nearby University, a security guard walks out and asks her what’s wrong. As she is answering, an evil little bastard jumps out of the darkened doorway and stabs the guard in the back, then severs his neck with a giant pair of scissors!
My character runs into the building, with no provocation from me, effectively trapping me in the building! I run down the hallway and duck into a bathroom stall. It was at this point where the door started shaking! The screen shifted, but I didn’t think to grab the mop standing next to me. Next, the murderer breaks in, with our heroine falling to her knees, at which point the Scissorman cuts her head off! Game Over! Well…HOLY SHIT!
The game gave me nightmares for weeks, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. I had to learn more, so ultimately, we pooled our money and bought it together and is now a permanent and loved fixture among my collection! Up to this point, games were a novelty, a fun getaway from real life, but now, I saw them in a different light.
Games could also invoke other emotions, which turned me onto the growing survival horror genre, which introduced such titles as Clock Tower 2: The Struggle Within and the Resident Evil series. By this point, I was totally hooked and ready for the next-gen console introduced by Sony in 2000: the Sony Playstation 2, or PS2.
When I could finally afford to buy a PS2, courtesy of a disheartened co-worker who was disappointed with the console, I wasn’t able to, however, buy any PS2 games until later and contented myself with playing my PS1 library on it until I could. Due to this, I don’t have a clear recollection of what my very first game was that I played from the PS2 library, but I can say that the first game that I bought brand-new the day of release was Manhunt by Rockstar Games!
After reading articles regarding the controversy this game was stirring up, I couldn’t wait for it to get into a pawnshop or used game store to buy it and had to have it! The game started out with the character, James Earl Cash, who seemingly died by lethal injection, being led out by a voice that admonishes him that he needs to kill to survive. Cash finds himself in a dilapidated neighborhood riddled with bloodthirsty thugs, and the first enemy I came across had no idea I was right behind him with a simple plastic grocery bag!
From the word “Go”, this game made it abundantly clear that it was breaking all the rules. No more cutesy-pie sprites jumping around and dodging baddies! This was brutal, graphic, hardcore murder at its finest! After sneaking up to the unaware stalker, Cash throws that bag over his head, whirls him around, punches him in the face multiple times and breaks his neck with a hard body twist! No prior game, not even Clock Tower, subjected its user to such intense violence and I was hooked from there!
I then picked up Manhunt 2 for the PS2, but didn’t like the addition of filters that blurred the killscenes to avoid an AO rating. It wasn’t until MUCH later that I acquired the PC AO version of this game, and it made Manhunt look like a trip to Disneyland. Eyeballs and tongues getting ripped out, bloody decapitations with shovels, gun executions and the list goes on and on! It sated my curiosity with a sledgehammer sucker punch and made it clear why this game was only intended for an adult audience!
Being a full-grown gamer now, the collection has gotten very large and I struggle to keep it all organized, functional and easy to use.
I now have a game room that isn’t 100% functional yet due to some dead outlets, but the collection includes a Nintendo 64, Super Nintendo, Atari 2600, Atari Flashback 2, Playstation 2 Slim, Nintendo Entertainment System, Retro Duo, Sega Genesis, modded Xbox, Sega Genesis Arcade Motion, Gameboy Advance SP, Gameboy Color, Sony Playstation Portable and a Pac-Man Plug-and-Play. I do happen to own a Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii, but they stay indoors because they don’t seem to be as hardy as the consoles I keep out here in the garage/game room.
I keep all of my games in the two white drawers on either side of the TV stand and have hundreds of titles. I hope one day to have a shelf where I can proudly display every single game I own and even plan on making a video of it when it’s all done! I’m glad I had an opportunity to share with you all a brief summary of my history with video games and how it evolved into the beast it is today! Thanks for reading!
Lumpz the Clown is an avid gamer who does Let’s Plays, reviews and other assorted clowny goodness He aspires one day to make video games his full-time career and enjoys interacting with like-minded individuals with the same passion for gaming.