Everyone has one. That one game that you recall as being your first video game. The game that holds your earliest memory for all the games you’ve played. For some it might be something insignificant, like Math Blaster that you played while in school. For others it could be something totally different, like Halo 2 at at party with friends. But no matter what, if you consider yourself a gamer, then there is a game (or a few games) that will always be your first and earliest games ever. I had fun looking back at mine and wanted to share them (and a little of my childhood) with you.
Astyanax was so cool. Look at that cover to the right. It’s a boy wielding a sword fighting a dragon on the steps leading up to the captured princess. As a kid I knew things didn’t get much more epic than this. The game itself is a fairly decent yet difficult side scroller. You hack and slash at enemies on your way to the end stage which culminates in a boss battle. Along the way you can collect power-ups to increase weapon damage, like bigger and better swords or axes. Astyanax in history is the son of Hector from the Trojan War, and the game emulates the Greek origins of the character by including Greek beasts as enemies and bosses. I remember explicitly a Medusa creature being a boss. This game made me appreciate science fiction and history, especially the rich past of Greek history/myth. If you have the game, or if you see the arcade machine which I’ve never played, then you should stop whatever it is your doing and try this one out.
Here’s a memory of mine about this game: After school (Kindergarten at the time), I came home to my house where my mom was a babysitter. If the TV was open, I’d ask my friend Emily to play Bubble Bobble with me. Even though we played the game for months (if not years), we never really got past the first ten or twenty levels. But man, I had SO much fun playing this game. The co-op gameplay was a unique mechanic at the time, and the game literally can’t be completed properly without playing with two people. Not to mention the incredibly infectious music that plays during each level. Bubble Bobble did a lot for my gaming roots. It showed me how fun playing with others can be; it got me very interested in puzzle games, and it displayed how crazy/cute/fun games can, and should, be. Thanks Bub & Bob!
The Game Boy was the first system (albeit a handheld) that I could call my own. My brothers had one to share, but I had my own, complete with my name written in pen on the back thanks to my mom. I don’t know if Kirby’s Dream Land was my own game or my brother’s, but I do know that I played the hell out of this title. Kirby’s Dream Land is the first game I can recall actually beating. I remember the first time I finally got to King Dedede’s star and fought him in that boxing ring, sucking up his stars and firing them right back at him. Ugh, and the music. So good! I don’t know if this was Kirby’s first game or if it was the NES game, but I do know that this was the game that introduced me to the little puffball. And I thank him greatly.
If there was one game, just one game, that I would say shaped my gaming background, it would easily be Mega Man 3. The Blue Bomber left such an impact on me that I still consider him to be my favorite video game character, and this game to be in my favorites of all time. Mega Man 3 did so many things right: it had incredibly tight and fun gameplay, the music, again, was astounding; the challenge was perfect (even for someone at my age of around 6); it warranted several playthroughs to beat the Robot Masters in different orders; and the staple of the series, the ability to copy powers from defeated bosses was totally cool. I actually don’t own this game, but rather remember renting it from the same video rental shop time and time again. I can recall my parents saying “Again?” when I said I wanted it again. Mega Man 3, even with your wacky box art, you, sir, are amazing.
I don’t think I have to spend any time talking about why this game is awesome because you should already know. But I will tell you another story. When this game came out, my older brothers bought it and I believe either a strategy guide or a video game book like Nintendo Power or something, because we had a page that showed all the possible combinations or cards used during the card matching mini-game. Whenever I would play the game I would make sure this sheet was beside me, so all the extra lives, tanooki suits, and leaves would be mine. The book the sheets came in are long gone, but the sheets are still in this little basket at my grandma’s house that we now keep our NES and games in. Without those sheets, this game literally wouldn’t be on the list. But speaking of the game, I greatly enjoyed the power-ups and sublime levels. Anyone remember World 4? You know, where everything was freakin’ huge? Yeah, you remember that… shit was awesome.
Strange story: I came into possession of this game via Kool-Aid. You could, and possibly still can, collect Kool-Aid points on the package of each Kool-Aid product you’d drink, and spend said points on prizes (Very similar to what Coca-Cola does now). Well, I remember mom saying they had some video games there, and she knew that we enjoyed Mario on the NES, so she got this one for me. We already had the first Super Mario Land, but this one is so much different and I loved it. I believe it’s the only time Mario can use the Carrot power-up (Which gives him the ability to glide, sort of like the Cape would do later in Super Mario World), and this is the first appearance of Wario. An odd game in the series, it’s definitely worth a look for Mario fans.
There are other games that I could put here, like Little League Baseball, Bad Dudes, Double Dragon II, and Kirby’s Pinball, but these are the games that have left the biggest impact and memories on my life. And certainly these aren’t the only ones that shaped my gamer life to what it is today (I’d be doing Mortal Kombat II and Street Fighter II a disservice), but they’ve contributed. I look back at these games as some of the best games I’ve ever played. And deservedly so, many of them still are.
So what are you first games? Have you ever actually thought about it? Or better yet, what are your favorite gaming memories from years past? I’d love to hear!