Bob Lazer – Game Reviewer Extraordinaire
I was 6 when I first held a video game controller, that black and gray squared machine called a NES. My father had bought it for Christmas and it came with one game. It wasn’t Super Mario.
The cassette came in a bright golden plastic and oozed with legends and stories untold. During lunch time, I’d go back home from school and listen to my father’s tales of dungeons hidden under a tombstone or of that red armour he’d found in the sixth level. I couldn’t wait for my homework to be done so I could go downstairs and load my save-state of that holiest of things, a game simply called Zelda.
I am a man that was born and raised in a different time, one when a single game cartridge would cost a family it’s gift-budget for a year. One when Arnold was still young and be the main protagonist in the movie.
We’d gather at friend’s place and behold in awe, whichever new game he’d gotten for his/her birthday.
Of course, keeping in mind the insane price of games and the non-existence of internet, games relied on their difficulty for replay value. A games you’d have would need 50+ replays before seeing the end-screen. Because, you’d probably die 400 times, and Christmas came once a year, so you’d have to wait for next year before the next game.
My video games heydays, tho, came later. When killing your enemy would see them explode into well defined, square-limited spaces. When video game music composers (the likes of Michiru Yamane and Nubuo Uematsu) would bring their arts to a point where terms such as “background music” would be replaced by “original soundtracks”.
The days where I’d drool over Duke Nuke’m 3D and Fallout 2, wishing my father hadn’t bought a Macintosh for his work. The end-days of the SNES , the rise of the PC and above all else, the birth of the PlayStation. The times of Diablo 1 and Age of Empire 2. Games that tagged monikers such as “dungeon crawler” and “strategy games”.
(Well, there was Empire Earth, but lets forget about that, shall we?) I’d hold these cheap plastic boxes holding with titles such as “Parasite Eve” “Resident Evil” and “armoured core” with the deference of a monk. Knowing too well that I wouldn’t be able to “download another copy” if I’d drop it.
To the question”If I’ve never played video games, what should I start with?” I’d have no hesitation telling you that RPG-wise, it’d be sinful to “pop in” anything else than Chrono Trigger or FF6, (Granted FF7 will go down in history, but sorry, the only person who can make a case for it being better than FF6 is someone who actually hasn’t played both games). There is, of course, FF tactics but that’s a different beast altogether.
I’d recommend Street Fighter Alpha 3 (or street fighter vs X-men) as the standard to which all fighting games should be compared and that Castlevania SOTN (or arguably Castlevania 4) is the epitome of side-scrolling epicness.
There are plenty of other titles that have forged my imagination, Faxanadu, FF1 (anyone seen I’m an FF fan so far?) 8 eyes, operation Wolfenstein, Prince of Persia 1 and 2, Unreal Tournament, the Fire Emblem series and more recently, a few games which I will more thoroughly review later.
Needless to say, I’m of the old school. I enjoy modern games, of course, and that’s what I intend to review, but I’d like readers to keep in mind that I will always compare them to the classic of my youth, a time that smell of carpets and heating plastic. A time closer to “Conan the Barbarian” than to “Game of Thrones”.