I always find it amazing that when people think back to their favourite childhood memories they almost always refer to a fantastic trip on holiday, of playing football in the park, of visiting friends’ houses, or maybe building a tree house in the big fresh open air.
My childhood had all those sort of things thrown in and I do have happy memories of playing outside and going on adventures with my friends. However, I am very aware that a quite ridiculous amount of time in my childhood was spend staring at my family’s 14 inch spare TV in the ‘other’ room and screaming obscenities at the top of my voice when the stupid game didn’t register that I had pushed the button in time!
Here are 3 of my favourite video games that, despite stealing several years from my childhood, I still have plenty of very fond memories of.
Goldeneye – N64 – Number 1
Ah yes, Goldeneye. Some describe it as the original 1st per shooter that spawned the hundreds of copycat titles that still perform well today. Others describe it as a game that defined a generation, the reason that the Bond films remained popular, and the main force behind N64 sales. I have a huge amount of memories from it from both the single and multiplayer games.
Back then there was no internet connection for multiplayer gaming, you had to get 4 friends together round someone’s house who each brought their own controller to plug in and had to use a quarter of the TV screen available to shoot your friends (on a 14 inch TV this gave you the space of about an iphone, but with horrific resolution!). I swear I knew every inch of every multiplayer map, all the secret hiding places, secret ammo boxes, the ridiculously long cheat code that gave you the extra characters, I knew it all and I loved thrashing my mates at it until they started crying or resorted to cheating.
The single player game was also fantastic; I must have played each level hundreds of times in an effort to get the all the time trial cheats and extra levels. I remember spending loads of time investigating levels, finding secret areas, bonus weapons, and faster routes. Ah happy days. Except…
Statue and Cradle levels
Whoever designed these is some sort of sadistic bastard who feasts on souls of young enthusiastic gamers.
At the end of statue you are meant to surrender. WHY IS THIS NOT CLEAR!!! I must have tried to shoot my way out of that one about 20 times (at around 10 minutes each) before I tried surrendering. My sanity was gone, my soul was destroyed and I really felt like pitching my beloved N64 out of the window by that point.
And Cradle. My old nemesis. They designed one of the best games ever created and then destroyed its credibility in the last bit of the last level. You have to randomly drop down a huge ladder to land on a tiny platform whilst being shot at by the bad guy who was also on the tiny platform. Sound hard? It was. If you managed to somehow actually land on the platform (sometimes I landed on it and, in shock, promptly fell of it!) you had the small problem of two UZI’s pointing at you from point blank range to deal with.
Yep, plenty of happy memories, broken controllers and a bruised ego from Goldeneye.
Super Mario World – SNES – Number 2
Super Mario World is easily my favourite Mario game. Years after being obsessed with it as a child I found myself playing it again at Uni and was shocked to find out how much I still remembered about the game.
My really lasting memory of the game is simply how big it was. It seemed to go on forever and there was always more stuff to find out, new levels (and worlds!) to discover, plus loads of short cuts, bonus levels and secret passages. Then even after you had completed it there was still more bonus areas to play and impossibly hard levels to complete.
This game kept me entertained for hours, days, weeks and months, it just carried on and on and, although there were a few adolescent hissy fits, I really enjoyed playing it. I was amazed to find out that the game can actually be completed (as in beat the big boss) in under 12 minutes and actually refused to believe it until I saw the video below.
Well that shattered my childhood. Months of happy gameplay reduced to 11 minutes on a Youtube video.
Zelda – SNES/Game Boy/N64/Wii/DS – Number 3
Ok, you’re probably seeing a distinctly Nintendo theme here. I have nothing against other systems but I was definitely a Nintendo boy. I have some much loved PC games as well but I’ll cover them in another post as there is no way I could leave out Zelda.
I first had Zelda on the Game Boy and absolutely loved it. I literally completed it and started all over again. I went on holiday with my family and did virtually nothing else but play Zelda using up and huge amount of batteries in the process. I remember cutting up bushes looking for rupees for about an hour just so I had enough to buy something (a shield I think…).
The SNES game quickly followed and I was similarly obsessed, this time with the spade I believe as I spent hour after hour convinced there was a secret cave and all I had to do was dig in every location on the map and I would be able to work out how to complete whatever dungeon I was on.
Then came the N64 version…
Wow, just wow. There is a reason this game has just been rereleased for the DS, because it is awesome, absolutely, awe inspiringly awesome.
Firstly the game is beautiful. Nothing had been created in the gaming world at the time that looked this good. Secondly it sounded amazing. All the Zelda games sounded it good but I can still hum some of the Ocarina tunes to this day. And finally the gameplay was great. It just worked and used the N64 controller perfectly. I must have completed this 5 or 6 times but the game is so big I often forgot what I was meant to do in each dungeon and ended up finding out something new each time.
The Wii version is also excellent and does the series no disservice. The DS games are much more cartoony and are quite fun. They remind me heavily of the Game Boy version I fell originally in love with when I should have been outside running about in the sunshine creating a proper childhood memory…