My gaming history probably started in the late 90's. I remember going into Runcorn's town centre with my parents one day, which I realise now writing this is the strangest thing ever as I don’t ever remember going into Runcorn before or since, for anything! Maybe there was another reason for us going there, but whatever it was I cant remember, and it doesn’t matter anyway. What does matter was that for me this was, as it probably is for everyone who plays games, the pinnacle day in my gaming history. The day I got my first games console! And not just any console, a handheld! Yes, it was the Gameboy. Its strange because I have these snippets of very clear memory, I know that’s not what we had gone to Runcorn for, but I remember my dad suggesting buying one. It was in this dinky little second hand electronics store, which if I remember correctly wasn't solely for video games, but the Gameboy's were in a glass cabinet to the right of the door. There weren't just Gameboy's if I remember correctly, but I can only seem Gameboy's in my mind, surrounded by little grey boxes (cartridges), with these beautiful little stickers stuck to them, an inch square piece of artwork trying to represent and sum up the whole game, beautiful! I remember my parents working out a deal, sort of a 'bundle' as we get now, with the Gameboy and a few games, they were all second, not that I was bothered, the shop and the whole thing had, still has, some sort of charm about it. I would say that they don’t make them like that anymore, with a fear of sounding too old, but they do have small second hand electronic stores her in Leicester still, maybe it is only so magical when you're younger, and money has no real solidarity, no tight grip around your throat yet. I do also remember though, that spending £20 or £30 on this deal seemed like a big thing, which is hard to believe when the last console I bought set me back £425! guess what that was!
But, I came out of the shop with my new Gameboy, I remember it had this better, magnified screen. Not one that you clip on but actually part of the Gameboy's glass. As well as a few games and a nice big carry case. Two of the games I come out with were Tetris, obviously, and I definitely remember having some form of Mario, because Mario was so small on the screen but moved so quickly, and at my age it was difficult to play to say the least! I'm not 100% sure if I got this game on the day or later on but its one that's stuck with me, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It was so cool, fun to play, but why was it 'so' cool? Well because, if you stopped playing for long enough the Hunchback would start tapping his foot and start whistling a tune! And little music notes would flout up into the sky! Ha, epic!
So that was my first ever console, not sure if I still have it laying around somewhere actually! And I stuck with Gameboy's for a long time after that, I'd fallen in love. I had a Gameboy colour next, game to remember, Spy vs Spy, never owned a Gameboy pocket, then I had the Advance with Advanced Wars, top game, I then had a few iterations of the Advance SP Inc. the SP itself and the SP tribal edition.
I never really had a love for home consoles at this time. I think I'd caught the handheld bug from day one. I did have a PC early on with a multitude of floppy disk games, Id probably decided there and then that PC gaming wasn't my thing, these games were awful to say the least, and PC's I owned over the following years just wouldn't handle games and were extremely temperamental, I haven’t got that much patience!
I think the only home console I owned for a while after that was the NES. God knows where that came from, but it was ace. A few games I played that spring to mind, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a sort of Indy car racing game, all it was, was a big grey oval track, but it had a UI with four blocks to one side which represented your tyres. Waiting for them to turn red as your tyres became worn, and the cars handling deteriorated and you had to pit to have them changed was just awesome for me. And one game I always remember was A Boy and his Blob, I remember I could never quite do it, but I would try over and over gain, the concept of having to feed your blob jelly beans to transform him to complete the level was just a fabulous idea. And of course I had my cheat genie, unheard of nowadays, but that’s not the strangest thing, that’s the fact that you seemed to be able to find these in any little electronics store. You have to go into some state of the art, modernised Game store to buy anything console related now.
My Uncle had a Super Nintendo too, which I used to love playing when we'd go to visit, Super Mario Karting obviously one of my favourites, it seemed my love of racing games was instilled from birth! And my cousin at one point had a Sega Megadrive, don't remember playing that all to often though. It seems I had a bit of a 'dry spell' at this point, friends had Dreamcast's and N64's, it wasn't that my parents wouldn't buy me them, I just don’t think I had much interest, I was too busy enjoying what the real world had to offer me as a child, playing footy at the park with mates, or getting up to no good with mates! Days out here there and everywhere with my family, and racing motorbikes. I'm quite glad in a way that I seemed to realise from an early age that the real world, even though a game could offer you anything imaginable, still has infinite offerings to see and experience, and even now the thought of being stuck in virtual reality for too long really doesn’t appeal to me as much as it does to others.
But my dry spell was about to come to an abrupt end, my friends, or most of them anyway were already a part of it, and I was about to become part of one of the biggest families ever. The Playstation family. This for me was the definitive part of my gaming life, games had reached a point were they now really appealed to me, as I mentioned earlier I've never had much patience, and something needs to be 'worth it' to keep my attention. Games had never really been able to do that for me, they were more like a 20 minute, maybe 30 minute at a push fix. But the Playstation's games were finally at that level for me. I could list so many games that I played and loved, but here’s a few, Resident Evil, Medal Of Honour, Gran Turismo, Crash Bandicoot, Metal Gear Solid. I remember waking up before school on the morning of my 10th/11th birthday? My parents had managed to get me the PlaystationOne in a bundle with six games, they had it all set up for me in the living room!
Again I was late to the PS2, not by much, but it was the same story as the PS1, may years of pure awesomeness! Next console, this time I wouldn't be late! My love for handheld gaming was about to be reignited. The PSP! This was another definitive gaming moment for me, handheld gaming, despite it's charms, had always been very separate in many ways from home consoles, but Sony had done something very special here. I remember, I picked it up with my parents for my very first midnight launch!, I'd had it pre-ordered for a year. Waiting to get up first thing in the morning before school to flick it on after it had spent the night charging. Go through the set-up process, it has miniature discs! I was already well aware of the ins and outs way before release anyway. Insert-Tony Hawks Pro Skater Underground 2, Remix. FUCK! It looks EXACTLY the same as the PS2 version! How the hell.........?!
I wont talk about the forthcoming years of complete torture waiting for the PS3! I'll admit I was dragged into the whole 'console war', some of my friends went ahead and bought Xbox 360's, but I knew I'd wait, 'knew' the PS3 would be better, worth waiting for. I even saved and saved my part time wages, (£4.50 an hour), to buy a hi-def TV, ready for the PS3, they'd only just come out really and it cost me £650, for a 32” Samsung that couldn't even do full 1080p! I remember when my cousin got his PS3 I told him over and over, 'you need a HD TV, the PS3 deserves one! Needs one!'. But I was ready. Another midnight launch.
The PS3 has defined what gaming can be about for me, not only beautiful games with meaningful stories, stories which can grip you and steal you attention, but a complete entertainment hub, for blu-ray movies, internet browsing, downloadable content, this list goes on!
I feel I'm dragging again so I’ll leave the future, what I see and hope for, for another blog. I have way too many ideas. I do know my immediate future for gaming though, and I’m very excited. 22nd February 2012.