Blast From The Past - Pt 1

Happy New Year everyone!!

Nic here. This is the first in what will be an ongoing series of mini-articles chronicling my experiences diving into the broader world of 4-5 year old 'core' gaming.

OK, let me break that down a bit. I'll begin by giving some background/context. I'm what you might call a Nintendo gamer. I can count the number of non-Nintendo video game systems I've owned (PC's excluded) on one hand. And remember, I only have four fingers on my entire body. Specifically, I've had three: an Atari 2600 (yes, I'm old), a PS2 (which Josh convinced me to purchase when Dragon Quest VIII came out), and an XBOX (given to me by a friend...and I've never even turned it on). On the Nintendo side of things, I've owned: an NES (with World Class Track Meet....ironic, isn't it?), an SNES (the best overall game console of all time from my perspective), an N64 (with memory expansion pack), a Gamecube (mine was black....that's what I've got for this parenthetical...sorry), a Wii ( was white?), a Gameboy Advance (it was like a portable Super Nintendo....awesome), a DS (red), a DSi XL (a giant brown one), a 3DS (red) which I traded for a 3DS XL (also red).

This is not to say I never enjoyed games on non-Nintendo systems. Far from it. In the 16-bit days one of my best friends had a SEGA Genesis, and I thoroughly enjoyed many of the games he had for it (the Phantasy Star games, Mickey Mouse and the Castle of Illusion, Sonic 1 and 2, and others). In the 32-bit and 64-bit days I enjoyed, or in some cases just told myself I enjoyed, some PS1 games that friends of mine had (or I had on PC). In the I don't know what-bit era, there were some games on the PS2 and XBOX that looked good. And in the current generation, same thing regarding games for the PS360 (see what I did there? I saved myself some typing by combining the names of the two systems....except that I then explained it, typing far more characters than " and XBOX3").

If you're familiar with the course of gaming over the past couple of decades, then you know what happened to my pool of available games, especially on consoles. In two words: it shrunk. In the days of the SNES, that system was where it was at in terms of game variety (and pretty much everything else too). You wanted platformers? BAM! Mario, Mega Man X, Cool Spot, Bubsy, etc. Fighters? BAM! Three million varieties of Street Fighter II (with perspective simulating ground, take that Genesis), Mortal Kombat (with sweat, take that Genesis), Clay Fighters, etc. You want major franchises? BAM! Mega Man, Castlevania, Madden, Zelda, Metroid, Mario, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Contra, Earthworm Jim, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc. What about puzzle games? BAM again! In those days a person with a Nintendo system could play all sorts of high quality titles in all sorts of genres. But as things progressed from the N64 down to the Wii, that changed. Certainly there were what we today might call "casual" or "expanded audience" titles available on such systems. But there were also much loved high quality "core" games also (Goldeneye, Star Fox 64, Rogue Squadron I-III, Metroid Prime 1-3, Call of Duty: World at War, Viewtiful Joe, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, numerous Sonic games, several Zelda games, Resident Evil remakes and new entries, Super Smash Bros., etc.). I owned and enjoyed many of those. It's just that the number of "core" games, as a percentage of all titles available, seemed to go down as time went on. And increasingly new major "core" franchises skipped Nintendo consoles altogether. What that means for Nic is I didn't play them.

Here are some games/franchises that I, living at the beginning of 2013, have never played, or never played more than a few minutes of: any of the 3D GTA games, any Metal Gear other than The Twin Snakes, Gears of War, Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect, Batman, Ninja Gaiden (except the DS game), Transformers, Elder Scrolls, Parappa the Rappa (I threw that one in to see if you're paying attention...but I'm sure you are...well...really I'm not sure....there's no way for me to gotta believe!), many of the Resident Evil games, and bunch that I don't even know exist.

So you might say that, in a sense, much of "core" gaming has advanced on without me, even though I've still been active in playing video games.

Smart folks out there might notice that a few of those franchises I listed have finally found their way onto a Nintendo console (most of them with their third game, coincidentally). And that brings us to these articles.

I now can purchase games like Assassin's Creed III or Mass Effect III. Indeed, I have purchased one of them (A.C.), and hope to purchase another (M.E.) in the near future. But, as I just noted, those are each the third game in their respective franchises. Playing the third game in a series without playing the first two might still be an enjoyable experience, but certainly it would be better to play 1 and 2 before 3.

Which brings us to the wonderful world of Steam. Folks, if you like gaming, and have a decent computer, give Steam a look. While I'm sure there are downsides to it that the bitter folks on the Internet gather together and whine about, what I know is that I got Assassin's Creed, Assassin's Creed II, Mass Effect, and Mass Effect II for a few cents shy of twenty dollars. That is pretty excellent.

And so I -- a guy who's been 'stuck,' I suppose you might say, with games available on Nintendo systems...a guy who enjoys video games (it matters not if they are 'core,' 'casual,' or something in between, only if they are fun) but has been in something of a game time warp -- am going to for the first time really play some icons of modern gaming. And, in these articles I'll be sharing my thoughts with you as I do.

I'm sure at first they'll consist of things like, "where are all the warp pipes?" and, "why is everything brown?" and "oh, the hero character I'm playing as did something morally ambiguous or evil and I don't like it," and "all these characters have voice acting??? How can that be done, Tom? It can't!" But eventually I'll acclimate some, and then, who knows, maybe I'll share something interesting.

I'll be starting with the Assassin's Creed games. So I'll see you next time from inside the Animus!

 - Nic

Posted on January 1, 2013 .