Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Reliving Past Glory

One of the greatest things about video games is that you can play them again and again. Okay, so that’s also true for a lot of things like movies and songs, but there are things that you can’t experience again and again…like important life events such as a wedding or the birth of a child. I guess that argument fell apart a bit there, whatever. Regardless, video games are awesome because they have replay value, even if they’re the same every single playthrough. I've recently been thinking about games I’d love to play again, and I decided to put those thoughts down into list form. I hope you enjoy a walk down my memory lane, and feel free to let me know about games you’d love to play again on Twitter or in the comments.

1) Super Mario RPG

You aren't fooling anyone, Bowser!

This was one of the most memorable experiences I've ever had playing a video game. I can still recall days waking up for elementary school, throwing on clothes, and running to the living room to play this classic before the bus came. I’d be lying if I said I didn't miss a few of those buses because of this game. I was a huge Mario fan as most (S)NES children were growing up, and when Squaresoft combined Mario’s world with the RPG genre it was like crack. You couldn't keep me away and I loved every second of it, so much so that it inspired me to try some more of Squaresoft’s work (like that little Final Fantasy series they make). It’s been years since I stomped on baddies heads with the likes of Mallow, Geno, and of course emo-Bowser (his best role ever), and now that I have the Wii fired up, it’s time to rectify that.

2) Earthbound

The creators of this game definitely weren't on acid.

Where Super Mario RPG made me fall in love with Squaresoft, Earthbound is the game that made me fall in love with RPGs. I first rented this cult-classic from a Blockbuster, back in the days when it was kind to rewind, Nintendo hosted Donkey Kong Country tournaments, and the rental also came with the game guide/manual (how it didn’t get stolen I’ll never know). I remember the whimsical nature of the game that seemed driven to not take itself too seriously, and I also remember how absolutely unforgiving the game could be, especially to an inexperienced child. I rented Earthbound 3 times but couldn’t beat it…at least not until I bought a used copy from a Funcoland (remember those!?) years later. Sadly, I eventually sold that copy, but recently picked up another cart at great cost, and will one day save the world with the precocious and heroic Ness.

3) ToeJam & Earl

Spaceship hunting is hard work.

Today, multiplayer gaming is the norm, and can be done across oceans with the press of a button. But if you’ve been gaming long enough, you know well enough that the multiplayer gaming experience used to be scant and involved having multiple controllers plus a good friend down the road. My first experience with multiplayer gaming was with the Genesis classic ToeJam & Earl, playing for hours with my dad trying to help those funky aliens rebuild their spaceship and escape in the insanity of planet Earth. At the time, the highlight of my day came when my dad and I would sit on the floor together in front of the old CRT and enjoy a game just inches apart. Good times, simpler times.

4) Road Rash II


If you’ve ever played any of the Burnout, Need for Speed, or even Twisted Metal games, then you owe the Road Rash franchise a big thank you. Back in the Genesis days, Road Rash made battle racing extremely enjoyable, and they did it on motorcycles! There was just something so satisfying about pummeling your competitor with a police baton or metal chain so much that they crashed, then outracing a cop to the finish. I actually got my first experience with the 2nd iteration of the series on Sega’s little black box, and I loved it so much the first time that I rented it 3 more times from Blockbuster. Oh, and Road Rash was also one of the first video games to have a soundtrack with popular bands and allowing gamers to access them via a jukebox feature.

5) Jet Force Gemini

I barely remember these bugs but damn was this a fun game.

If you were to ask me why I love this oft-forgotten gem from the N64, I’d have a hard time telling you why. All I know is that as a kid I was blown away by the game and was deeply saddened when my copy of the game froze. Perhaps it was the sci-fi theme, and I know for sure that I was impressed by the assortment of weapons you could wield in the game (upon reflection, Jet Force Gemini has a lot of things in common with later games like Jak and Daxter and Ratchet and Clank). Regardless why I loved it, I would love to go back in time to the day I popped this little known cart into my N64 for the first time just to know the feels.

6) Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

Classic box art is classic.

I know some of you may be wondering how/why a Super Mario Gameboy game made it on this list ahead of a Pokémon game, and I have a good reason for it – ­Super Mario Land 2 was the first Gameboy game to feel whimsical and make Nintendo’s super handheld system a must-have wherever I went. Before, the system was something I borrowed from my mom between her Tetris sessions and my Super Nintendo games. However, once I started Mario’s hunt for those golden coins in Gameboy’s glorious shades of green, I couldn’t put it down. It was soon afterwards that my mom realized that the Gameboy would have to be borrowed from me, and it’s because of this game that classics like Pokémon found their way into my game library.

7) Final Fantasy VII

My sentiments exactly, Cloud.

Okay, so this one is probably on a lot of lists out there, and while I’ve made it no secret that Final Fantasy IX is my favorite installment in this celebrated franchise, the first time I ventured into Shinra as Cloud Strike & Co. was an experience that any RPG lover will never forget. While I was certainly no stranger to RPGs at the time (see above), the dark and brooding nature of Final Fantasy VII was a deviation from the bright, vibrant worlds of my previous experiences. Plus, I nearly dropped my controller on the floor with my jaw whenever Sephiroth did, well, anything badass like he does. I mean, very few villains have made me want to buy a sword quite like that silver-haired sociopath. Hell of a salesman.