Monday, December 16, 2013

The video games of my youth

I have a fondness for some of the video games of my youth. As I was reading Sam & Max's blog article about their own history with video games, I simply decided to copy their idea and recount my history of playing video games.

My very first video game was an arcade inside a café, and I must have been around 3 or 4 years old. I remember it was space-themed and I remember the screen was embedded in a table and facing up, and allowed 2 players to sit at opposite sides of the table. But I can't remember the title of that game nor the details of gameplay. Was it more like Comets or Orbits or Space Invader? I don't remember.

Later in my youth, for Xmas or some birthdays, I got some LCD games. The one where you have a car, 3 lanes, and you must avoid other cars as you drive faster than them. The one with a building in flames, people jumping through the window, and you move the firemen who must catch the jumpers. And a few others. These games were rubbish, but still you were driven to try and try again to beat your own high score.

Around 8 years old, my school organized a trip to the opposite side of France and the family of my penfriend had a video game console. Back in the day, in 1986, it was pretty rare. It was an Atari 2600 and there were 2 games:

  • Space Invaders
  • Some cowboy game. I can't find the title but I think it wasn't Gunslinger

And then came the era of "real" video games for me. It all started with a friend inviting me over to his house and showing me his Sega Master System games. 2 of them stick in my mind.

  • PsychoFox
  • R-Type

I have such a fondness for PsychoFox! It is very similar to Mario but your character can transform from 1 type of animal to another in order to gain special abilities, which in turn let you access to new places. And where Mario's level design was very horizontal, PsychoFox had much more height which gave a feeling of freedom.

So I saved money from birthdays and Xmas and bought myself one of these Master Systems when I was 11 years old (or maybe 12?) and I played quite a few of the titles available. Considering the cost of these games and the small amount of money available to a child, I bought only 6 of these but exchanged often my games with friends for 2-3 weeks at a time, so I could play quite a lot.

  • Action Fighter
  • After Burner
  • Alex Kidd in Miracle World
  • Alex Kidd in Shinobi World
  • Altered Beast
  • Battle Out Run (I loved this one!)
  • Black Belt
  • California Games
  • Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
  • Choplifter
  • Double Dragon
  • Fantasy Zone
  • Fire & Forget 2
  • Gauntlet (wicked! 512 levels without saves nor password and I once died at level 256 after 12 hours)
  • Ghostbusters
  • Ghouls'n Ghosts
  • Golden Axe
  • Hang-On
  • Impossible Mission
  • Populous
  • R-Type
  • Rampage
  • Rastan Saga
  • Rescue Mission (game using the Light Phaser gun)
  • Sagaia
  • Shinobi
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Strider
  • Vigilante
  • Wonder Boy in Monster Land

In parallel of my Master System bonanza, I also played on a variety of other systems when I had the opportunity at some friend's place or when visiting cousins. So I played some Gameboy, Sega Megadrive ("Genesis" for people in USA), a few arcades, MO5, Amstrad CPC, Amiga, PC1512 and PC1640, Atari 2600, Game Gear...

And then a new console rocked my world: the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). Depending on location it is either called Super Nintendo, Super Famicom, or SNES. I bought one of these second-hand, exchanged a lot of games, and years later I also played emulated SNES games on my PC. The list of games that I've played includes (green=good, red=bad):
  • ActRaiser
  • ActRaiser 2
  • Addams Family
  • Aero Fighters
  • Axelay
  • Bahamut Lagoon
  • Bass Masters Classic Pro Edition
  • Brain Lord
  • Breath of Fire
  • Breath of Fire 2
  • Bust-a-move (Puzzle Bobble)
  • Cacoma Knight in Bizyland
  • Cannon Fodder
  • Chrono Trigger
  • Clock Tower
  • Contra 3: The Alien Wars
  • Cool Spot
  • Darius Twin
  • Demon's Crest
  • Disney's Goof Troop
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • Dragon Ball Z
  • Dragon Ball Z: Hyper Dimension
  • Dragon Ball Z: Legend of the Super Saiyan (RPG)
  • Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Menace
  • Dragon Quest 6
  • Drakkhen
  • EVO: Search for Eden
  • EarthBound
  • Equinox
  • F-Zero
  • F1 Pole Position
  • Final Fantasy 4
  • Final Fantasy 5
  • Final Fantasy 6
  • Final Fantasy Mystic Quest
  • Front Mission
  • Gods
  • Harvest Moon
  • Illusion of Time
  • Inindo: Way of the Ninja
  • Justice League Task Force
  • Killer Instinct
  • King of Dragons
  • Lagoon
  • Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Live a live
  • Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
  • Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
  • Mega Man 7
  • Monopoly
  • Monstania
  • Mortal Kombat
  • Mortal Kombat 2
  • Ogre Battle
  • Paladin's Quest
  • Parodius
  • Pinball Dreams
  • Pop'n TwinBee
  • Radical Dreamers
  • Raiden Trad
  • Romancing Saga 3
  • Secret of Evermore
  • Secret of Mana
  • Secret of Mana 2
  • Secret of the Stars
  • Shadowrun
  • Shin Megami Tensei
  • SimEarth
  • Sonic Blast Man
  • Soul Blazer
  • Star Fox
  • Star Ocean
  • Street Fighter 2
  • Street Fighter 2 Turbo
  • Street Fighter Alpha 2
  • Sunset Riders
  • Super Castlevania 4
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Super Mario RPG
  • Super Mario World
  • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's island
  • Super Metroid
  • Super Off Road
  • Super Street Fighter 2
  • Super SWIV
  • Super Tennis
  • Super Valis
  • Tales of Phantasia
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4
  • Terranigma
  • Treasure Hunter G
  • Treasure of the Rudras
  • U.N. Squadron
  • Ultraman
  • Uncharted Waters 2: New Horizons
  • Violinist of Hameln
  • Wonder Project J
  • Young Merlin
  • Ys 3: Wanderers from Ys

My PC looked like this. 386sx25 (25 MHz), 2MB RAM,
40 MB HDD, 2 floppy drives 3.5", no sound card, 14" SVGA monitor

While I was still playing regularly with my SNES, I got my first PC. It would be too tedious to try and check all the games that I played on PC. I probably played more PC games than SNES games, and I don't expect to find a list of titles easily. So I'll only recall some of the most influencing ones that I got to play:

  • Civilization
  • Counter-Strike
  • Day Of The Tentacle
  • Diablo
  • Frontier: Elite 2
  • The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall
  • The Incredible Machine
  • UFO: Enemy Unknown


Hopefully, this will describe well enough the games I've been exposed to, before coming to the PC.

I have been a dedicated player for a long time but nowadays I spend less time playing since I have other things to do, including writing this blog, reading news, listening to science-themed podcasts and reading books (or listening to audiobooks).

Maybe someday I should try and list the PC games that I can remember playing.

For the future, I am unsure of how my relation to games will evolve. I spend less and less time playing on PC and I feel drawn to the Playstation Vita as well as Nintendo's portable console (either 3DS XL or 2DS).

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