Wednesday, February 3

Games that were Important to my Childhood

    Like I wrote several weeks back about movies important to my childhood, there were a number of games I enjoyed as a young boy as well. They helped shape who I am as a gamer, and they still bring me many fond memories. So without further introduction required, here's a number of games or game franchises I loved as a kid, and what I think of them now.

Super Mario: This one's fairly obvious. Very few people my age don't know about Nintendo's Italian plumber mascot. Super Mario has revolutionized platform gaming several times since his original appearance in 1981's "Donkey Kong" arcade, and continues to be a successful franchise. It was Mario who helped introduce to us the NES; the system that brought us out of the second video game market crash, and it was also Super Mario 64 who brought us the free camera in 3D games.

    As a kid, I loved "Super Mario World" for the SNES. I also enjoyed the "Super Mario Land" titles for the Gameboy. "Mario Kart", a spinoff series where you race karts around and shoot turtle shells at each other, was another great Mario game to play. Overall though, I think my favorite childhood Mario game didn't feature Mario as the lead character. "Yoshi's Island", a game where you play as Yoshi, was my favorite Mario game back then. So what do I think about the franchise now? All the older games are still great fun, although the original Mario Kart is hard on the eyes. I also enjoy most of their newer games as well. "Super Mario Galaxy" was awesome, and I'm looking forward to "Super Mario Galaxy 2". I don't have a Wii yet, but I'll find a way to play "Galaxy 2" anyway. "Mario Kart Wii", well...why did they have to destroy battle mode? The series also has way too many spin-offs these days. Do we really need a Mario Olympics games franchise?

    Overall though, I loved Super Mario back then, and I still love the franchise today.

Donkey Kong Country: This trilogy is frickin awesome. "Donkey Kong Country 2" was, and still is my favorite SNES game.  The music is awesome in all three titles, the platforming is next to perfect, and the graphics were very impressive for the system. In a sense, they still look good today. Apart from that, it's kind of hard to sum up what I like about these games.

    What do I think about the franchise today? Well, the Country trilogy is still awesome, but Donkey Kong hasn't really made a worthy appearance since "Donkey Kong 64". DK64 was a disappointment too, as they seemed to focus too much on making the game long and not enough on having varied gameplay. Each "Donkey Kong Country" game should take around two or three hours to beat, whereas DK64 takes over 40. Where did that come from? The "Donkey Konga" games on the Gamecube were alright, but they only served as a reminder to me that there hasn't been a true DK game since DK64. I miss the franchise, so I guess I'll have to settle for the SNES titles.

Super Star Wars: Yeah, I know, it's been an SNES-themed post so far. This is the last SNES game on this list though, don't worry. Anyway, like I mentioned in movies important to my childhood, I used to be a huge "Star Wars" fan. Consequentially, I loved this trilogy of Star Wars action-platformers. In each game, you play through all the major action scenes throughout the films, often being able to chose which character you use. As Luke, you can use the force (in "Super Empire Strikes Back" and "Super Return of the Jedi"), while as Chewie you have more health. The games also had vehicle levels, levels in space, and more. In addition to that, the games were actually kind of good and challenging. I still like these games now, but not quite as much as I used to.

Jedi Knight: Another game tied to my Star Wars obsession. This PC game was the first FPS I ever owned. Back when it came out (1997), PC gamer called it the "Best Game Ever". You play as Kyle Katarn, a Rebel agent who has to train himself to become a Jedi and defeat a group of seven Dark Jedi. You use both guns and your trusty lightsaber to fight off Imperial stormtroopers, smugglers, evil robots, and vicious alien creatures. The game has an epic story as well.

    What I think of it now? hasn't really aged well. Back then, shooting games didn't have body spot (shooting an enemy deals the same damage regardless where you shoot them), the graphics are well aged, and the pre-filmed cutscenes are pretty ugly. Is it still enjoyable? Sure, but not nearly as much as it used to be.

Goldeneye / Perfect Dark: I'm linking these two together because Perfect Dark is Goldeneye's spiritual successor. I have far too many good memories of these games to ever hope to write about. Goldeneye is probably the most revolutionary console FPS ever, and it showed us how to make a console FPS properly. Despite it's age, Perfect Dark still has some of the most awesome FPS weapons ever; a machine gun that could be set as a sentry gun(laptop gun), a heavy machine gun with sharp fan blades to grind up your opponents (reaper), and a sniper weapon that can see and shoot through walls (farsight). Graphically, these games haven't aged well, especially Perfect Dark with it's 2 frames/second, but they're still a joy to play. Perfect Dark is being re-released on Xbox Live Arcade, which I am excited about. Yeah, I still enjoy these games vastly.

Well, that's all I can think of right now. In conclusion, I guess I still like the same games I liked as a kid. I guess I was also lucky that we never ended up buying any bad SNES games.

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