My life through videogames (part 2)

Continued from a previous post that you can find here

In my early teens, I received yet another gift from my parents, the occasion was probably Christmas. It was the Nintendo 64.

I had more games for this console than I ever had before. I enjoyed a plethora of games, among which I can recall Perfect Dark (incredibly entertaining shooter), Donkey Kong Country 64, Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64 (which didn’t leave as much of an impression as the Super NES predecessor) and, most importantly what some consider the best game of all time: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

For me, it was the first encounter I have had with the famous Link. Until then, I hadn’t had the pleasure to enjoy the RPG mostly because I did not know English very well (my first language is Spanish). Once that limitation was out of the way, The Legend of Zelda came to me by pure peer pressure as I was repeatedly told by friends and gaming magazines that it was one of the best games ever put together. Always a sucker for the greatest accomplishments in any art form, I followed what the vast majority was saying and I decided to purchase it, just a few days after its release in my home country.

I guess what followed can only be described as an adventure that kept me interested and that challenged me with contrived puzzles and incredibly large environments I hadn’t had the pleasure to enjoy until that point. I can still remember the cut scenes, the bosses, the endless dessert and the many types of costumes you could wear that would give you special abilities. The Legend of Zelda was, above all, an aesthetic accomplishment that pushed a sweet simple story through gorgeous visuals and richly detailed environments that still look decent today. The game remains one of the most influential and iconic developments in the history of video-games and I could not agree more with the consensus.

Being a fan of soccer, I enjoyed a title called International Super Star Soccer (sounds important doesn’t it?), which quickly became MY favorite sports game EVER. It was, to that point, the first soccer game that allowed me a greater amount of control, letting me direct shots, control the swerve of the ball, control the power of shots with amazing accuracy and even do very complex dribbles that heavily relied on the quickness of my fingers. Of course, the game was not particularly pretty to look at, and there were ways to do “trick goals”, but it mattered little as the accuracy of the control was beyond anything I had experienced until then.

As it turns out, the countless hours spent playing ISSS 64 made me a true expert. To this day, my cousins talk about how dominant I was like it is some kind of legendary feat that has not been attained since. Friends and cousins tried many times to defeat me, but they always came up short. In fact, I am confident, without fears of appearing incredibly childish and full of myself (too late for that anyway), that at my best moment with that game, I could have beaten even the most talented gamer out there. It was a kind of mastery I have not reached ever since. It was almost as if the game was perfectly suited for my style of play.

The Playstation 2

A few years passed before I had my hands on the next generation of consoles. My pick, above competitors like the long-forgotten Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo Gamecube and the new XBOX was, as my title says, the Playstation 2.

What can I say about the Playstation 2? I still play with it often and, with great patience, I have amassed a decent-size collection of titles as I waited, for years, to get some of the best games at a lower price. In fact, I have been slow to catch up to the times and since I’ve gotten this console, I have seen the XBOX 360 and the Playstation 3 be born and grab all the headlines as they are clearly the two most advanced video game engines currently in the industry.

Here is a brief summary of some of my favorite Playstation 2 games:

Gran Turismo 3: when I purchased the console, this was the game that came with the box. It was one of the first releases and it certainly helped catapult the new Sony console to be the most successful console of the 132-bit generation. It was a racing game of gorgeous visuals that offered players a great variety of vehicles of all kinds. Unfortunately, the almost endless selection of “wheels” was counterbalanced by a very limited variety of tracks and options.

Tekken Tag Tournament: I was never the best when it came to fighting games. I was always the guy that was pushed around by gamers who mastered an endless array of tricks and combos that left me agonizing after just a few seconds. It had happened with Street Fighter and with Mortal Kombat, and to a lesser degree with Killer Instinct. However, Tekken allowed me to develop as a player and be a great opponent to even the most talented of gamers because there was less of an emphasis on crazy combinations and more on cool and effective moves that were not particularly hard to use.

Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City and San Andreas: I owned them all and I was able to finish III and San Andreas. This, of course, is another highly influential game that has left a mark on gaming history and even on American culture. In fact, it was hard to avoid, when in college, the many references that guys and even girls would make about the famous game, not to mention the several get-together I was a part of where the only entertainment on offer was the game on the TV screen. Beyond the fame, GTA was different and highly addictive. Its seemingly infinite cities grew larger and more detailed with each installment and, with that, the amount of fun. Its loose gameplay allowed everyone to roam around for hours on end simply causing mayhem in new entertaining ways. The stories that drove the game forward were amoral and they idolized violence like no other game before it, but they were framed and produced with a great deal of care and artistry that made it a must-have for every gamer out there.

To be continued on another post…… tune in for more Playstation 2 games and my adventures with the Wii

Niels

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