Ever since I was about 5 years old, we had some form of video game system in the house. My parents were not the type to play games themselves, so the hobby was a new one in my house, and it was something I took to immediately. I had this NES, and we had a handful of games that we owned. More often than not though, new games were experienced through renting them at a Blockbuster. I get it, I am old. However, it was those games that we owned, that I would get to play again and again that really made me realize how much fun gaming is as a hobby. Now some of the “classics” I owned as a kid were titles such as: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Konami, Captain Skyhawk by Rare, The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt obviously by Nintendo, and Infiltrator by Chris Gray. Some of those games are absolutely great, and some are…borderline unplayable really. But three of the games that I owned absolutely changed the way I looked at video games, and would go on to inform a lot of what I liked, and even like to this day. The first of those games is:
Super Mario Bros. 3 to this day is one of my favorite games of all time. It was probably the first title I ever played that gave me the sense that games could be expansive. To this day I still go back and forth in my head as to which is better, this game or Super Mario World. Right now I am leaning toward the SNES entry, but if you ask me again tomorrow the answer may change. This game had great new power-ups, fantastic level design, and music that was catchy as all hell (Thanks Koji Kondo!). The game had secrets, twists, level-skips, and even fun little additions, like being able to play classic Mario Bros. in 2-player mode. To this day I think the Hammer-Bros and Tanooki suits are two of the greatest power-ups the Mario series has ever seen, they are functional, look great, and have little-hidden tricks of their own. The NES was a time Nintendo was truly firing on all cylinders, and this game is a timeless example as to what the best of this era was. But this isn’t the only game I am going to share, oh no! The next title that really made “gaming” click for me was…
I am sharing the Japanese cover-art for Mega Man 2 because it is good. The American art, while better than the first game…isn’t saying much. Art aside though, the game itself is all-good, all the time. Featuring great level design, great bosses, great weapons, and amazing music, this is still my favorite Mega Man game. You could sit me down with this game right now, and I’ll leap right into playing like I did when I was 7 years old. While this title lacks some of the staples of Mega Man today, like the Mega Buster, sliding, and even Rush the dog, the game doesn’t feel substantially different from things that would come later. The platforming is tight, the bosses often have multiple good weapons to use against them, and the art still holds up, decades later. This is a game that is easy to play with the Legacy Collections out in the world, and it is one that no one should really miss. Now one last game I want to talk about, this one is a little bit less ubiquitous than the past two, but this title I hammered at for hours, gladly. Now let’s talk about…
…Maniac Mansion! …for the NES? What? Yes, as a child, I cut my teeth on point-and-click adventure games by playing Maniac Mansion on the NES. This is a port from the famous Lucasarts PC game, and as far as I can tell, it’s a good one? I wouldn’t know how to compare, because I still have never touched the PC version. I can say playing a point-and-click on a NES gamepad was difficult, but really getting to play such a puzzle-heavy game at such a young age was a ton of fun, and I put countless hours trying to figure out how to beat the game…and not drown all my teenagers in the pool, or getting them tossed in jail, or abducted by mad scientists. This game may be a little harder to come across by legit means, but if you ever get the chance, please give it a go, Use Paint Brush with Paint Remover. In any case, these are some of the games that made “gaming” click for me! What about you, what games made this hobby more than a passing fancy for you? Comment, tweet, message, let me know.
October 8th 1989 when I got a NES with a box of second hand games for my birthday. And me and my mom would co-op Gradius, and Double Dragon. And every rainy day or evening before bed time I would try to beat kung-fu, TMNT, Kirby.
The 8 bit era drew me in. And the 16 bit era solidified it for me with games like DKC and Super Mario World, Link to the past.
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