For as long as I can remember, video games have been a simple part of who I am. They’ve always just been the thing that I do when I have free time. Even from the age of three and four I remember playing stuff I could barely even comprehend.
On the PlayStation, there was Monster Rancher, Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, Yu-Gi-Oh!, that sort of thing. Of all of those games, the only one where I really knew what I was doing was Spyro, and in all honesty, if I had access to it now I would start from scratch because there was a lot to that game and I want to see how much my nostalgia holds up to it. We also had a Nintendo 64 and most of its best sellers, but I only remember ever playing Super Mario 64. I would say I regret it, since I wish I had the experience of all those classics, but it’s hard to regret something I did when I was a child.
But those games I wouldn’t really call my classics. I grew up playing them, but I was too young to appreciate them. The games that I really grew up playing was all the ‘sixth’ generation of consoles: PlayStation 2, XBox, and the GameCube. This is when the console war really started to narrow down the playing field (see what I did there?). Now that I look back on it, the consoles all filled different roles for me. I’m sure most people had a similar experience, but I played them for specific purposes. The GameCube meant casual fun games and the XBox I used to play with my brothers more seriously.
I probably played the GameCube the most back then, with Super Smash Bros: Melee, Animal Crossing, and Mario Party 6, Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, and Super Monkey Ball 2 being all the ones I recall. Of all of those, the one I would go back to in a heartbeat is Super Smash Bros, but Animal Crossing filled a hole in my heart that I haven’t seen accomplished anywhere else, even other installments of the series. It gives a perfect sense of progression and completion without feeling tedious. I didn’t play the other games much, but somehow they didn’t strike the same chords with me. Also, collecting gyroids and enhancing your house’s song further and further was the best thing ever.
The XBox was the golden age of co-op play for me. Of course there was the Halo series, but I also remember playing a lot of Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, Burnout 3: Takedown, Project Gotham: Racing, and a lesser known game called Mercenaries. All of those games were really fun when you played with other people, and my nostalgia goggles have already been ruined by a few of them (by consequence of me returning to realize how outdated they’ve really become), but I would play Burnout again. Imagine playing a racing game where you could die. And believe me, you died a lot. But it was also pretty tough at times and there were a ton of cars and tracks to unlock, as well!
Now, what’s funny about the PlayStation 2 is that I don’t really remember anything about it. We had it probably for about as long as we did the others, and we didn’t have any shortage of games, but I just didn’t play it. Guitar Hero, Soulcalibur, Champions of Norrath, Veautiful Joe, Dark Cloud, etc. I played all of them, but not enough to remember really anything about them (my favorite Guitar Hero games we got later for the XBox 360). But what’s exceptionally strange is that my favorite game of all time, Dragon Quest VIII, was on the PlayStation 2. But I actually don’t think I played it until later, by the time the ‘seventh’ generation came out. It’s interesting to think about. If I had played Dragon Quest when I was younger, maybe I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate it as much. At the same time, maybe I would have played it way more? It’s crazy to think about, because playing it even one year earlier would have had a huge impact on my life, yet it’s hard to tell which way it would have gone.
In any case, by the time 2005 rolled around, things were getting serious. I spent my childhood playing the XBox and GameCube, but that meant that I would be spending all my teenage years with the new consoles. We didn’t get a PlayStation 3, but I’m not lying when I say our Wii and 360 are still readily available to play. Heck, I sometimes hook them up to play Guitar Hero or Rhythm Heaven Fever.
And as it turns out, I’ve grown up playing a lot of video games. Tune in Monday to hear the rest!