Gaming : Top Gaming Moments
This is a little bit odd for me. I usually write about computing, or the open source community, or Linux, or anything Computery, if that is even a word. Today, I’m tackling a slightly different topic; gaming. As a prelude to another article I’m going to write, I wanted to discuss my favorite moments in gaming. From using the Atari 800, to firing up the PS3, this is a short journey through what I believe are my defining moments in the gaming arena. The events are not grouped in any way, and are roughly chronologically.
Hardest Game – Ollies Follies – Atari 800
This game was one of the longest loading on the Atari 800 and in fact I think there must have been something wrong with our tape as you could almost gaurantee that it wouldn’t load every time. Ollies Follies has got to be one of the hardest games I ever played. It was a platform game where the entire level was contained in one screen. Though the controls were responsive, timing was so crucial that it was almost impossible to get far into the game. By crucial I’m kinda underestimating. Imagine being able to snap your fingers shut on a pin travelling past you at 50 mph. Of course the other thing to note is that I was only about 13 years old. I’d also missed out on much of the coin-op era and so my reflexes hadn’t toughened up yet. Oh ok fine…..I’m making excuses…..but it was freakin hard!
Most Satisfying Moment – Super Mario Land – Game Boy
I think this was probably the first console game that I ever completed, unlike some of the other rather unknown titles I have presented, SML is fairly well known. Coupled with the fact that there were no saves, and that it was a fairly lengthy game, completing SML for the first time was an exceedingly satisfying moment. Nintendo hit the nail right on the head in most respects in this fine gem in the platform genre, but one part shines for me above the rest. Music. The themes that play through the game great without a doubt, however it has to be the ending theme which made me feeel most satisfied. As I sit here now writing this, I can still hum the tune in my head, even though I haven’t played the game for probably over 10 years. Flying through the clouds in the ending sequence listening to that music was one of the most surreal and satisfying moments in my gaming life.
Seamless Integration – Final Fantasy VIII – PS One
If there ever was a game which hit the point of seamless integration of FMV and gameplay, then FF VIII was it. I can still recall the moment that my wife and I fired it up for the first time. The graphics were absolutely breathtaking, something which Square Enix have turned into absolute masters at. And then it happend. The FMV, which I believe was showing some kind of water craft arriving on a shoreline, slowed and our character got out. Then we sat there. Nothing happened. As I recall the water continued to lap on the shoreline, but nothing else happened. We waited for a good minute, thinking the game had crashed or that there was a bug in the FMV. It was only then we realised that as the FMV had drawn to a close, the last few frames had become the background of the in-game graphics. I touched the controller sticks, and the character burst into life. It’s these levels of shear detail that make some game makers stand out above all the rest.
Scariest Moment – Silent Hill 3 – PS2
My word, talk about brown trousers time. I’m not talking about the game in general. It is a pretty freaky game, but overall not that scary, however there is one bit of Silent Hill 3 that I just adore for the way it made me feel the first time I played it through. Having played the previous Silent Hill games, I pretty much knew what to expect, but this threw me completely off guard. I’ll say one word. Mirrors. Ok, I’ll say a few more since 99% of you have no clue what I’m talking about. You walk into a room……the door locks behind you…..nothing particularly scary there. Then you walk around the room and look at one of the walls which is in fact a gigantic mirror. As you walk about the room in a state of some confusion, all of a sudden your characters reflection stops. A tad freaky. Then a bath tub which is sitting in the room starts to fill up with blood and goo, but only in the reflection. It spills out all over the floor, at which point you’re running around literally wetting yourself. It touches your reflection and your alter ego starts to decay. All the time you’re thinking “Oh my word, let me out, let me out, let me out” and perhaps the freakiest thing of all. Nothing happens to you what so ever. You’re sure you’re gonna die. You’re sure you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere, but then…..all is well.
Most Impressive Graphics – Kill Zone 2 – PS3
Following on from the mention about seamless integration, KillZone 2 probably has to be the most spectacular demo I have ever played. The initial sequence with the close encounter with a friendly craft turns into proper game play, in a way normally reserved for flamboyant Royal visits, and by that I mean with the utmost finesse. I was watching the beginning sequence thinking, is this an FMV or is it in game graphics. I got my answer when my HUD appeard. Couple that with the most awesome AI I think I have ever seen. These guys are clever. They seek cover and will fling their gun over their head and blind fire to try to hit you. They try to flank you. They don’t exit from hiding at regular intervals. Heck I don’t even think these guys would ever use the same toilet twice. Absolutely marvellous demo. The graphics are absolutely amazing, attention to detail has not been skimped on at all. In one scene inside a building, light is streaming through some windows. If you’re standing in the right place you get some awesome lighting effects off of your helmet.
Presentation – LittleBigPlanet – PS3
Well it has to be said that LBP is without doubt one of the most beautifully presented games on the face of the planet. The choice of Stephen Fry for the narration was in my book absolutely brilliant. I must have watched the intro sequence to it many times purely because I love the concept, and I just love the way it’s been presented to the audience. The simplicity of their being a world created from the dreams of all the inhabitants of this world it probably nothing new, but it’s the last line of the introductory narration that always gets me “And you can go there now”. The guys at Mm have certainly done a grand job here. The attention to detail is fantastic and I just love the cries of “Oh man, you can even see……do……make X do……” Sheer genius.
Longevity – Destruction Derby – PC
This has got to have been one of the games I played most whilst growing up. I would sit in front of the screen for hours upon hours smashing cars up till they exploded. I like to tell people that I just love the physics of things smashing into each other, but deep down I think it’s just something that boys never grow up from. It was pretty fun too to thwack a car in the tail just at the right point to spin it round 360 degrees and hurl the driver into a high pitched scream. I think in all honesety the reason I loved playing the game so much, was although often the levels were very samey, because it was based on real physics, you’d very rarely get a round that was identical to the last one. That’s the beauty of entropy, it always increases. Tell that to the young ones.