Over the last several months I’ve been writing a sporadic series titled ‘My Life in…‘ where I highlight the films/books/moments/music that have defined me through each year of my life. Today it’s time to get our geek on, as we look over the last thirty-four years of video gaming and all the titles that have defined my life.
The rule is simple, for each year since my birth I have chosen a video game that has resonated throughout my life. Not necessarily the best video game of the year, but the one that would feature in a collection that speaks of who I am in my soul.
My Life in Video Games
1978: Space Invaders (Taito)
1979: Asteroids (Atari)
1980: Pac-Man (Namco)
1981: Frogger (Konami)
The above four games are classics for a reason! Frogger, inparticularly, has long been a favourite of mine! :p
1982: Q*Bert (Gottlieb)
This is one of the first video games I can remember becoming addicted to.
1983: Jetpac (Ultimate Play the Game)
I believe this was the first game I saved up and paid for with my own (pocket) money.
1984: Paperboy (Atari)
When I became a paperboy for real in 1990, I was severely disappointed I couldn’t get away with the shenanigans depicted in this classic game!
1985: Skool Daze (Microsphere)
Obviously being at school wasn’t good enough, I had to play a school based simulator in my free time! Some would call that ‘obsessive’! :p
1986: Kid Icarus (Atari)
Nintendo’s often forgotten hero; countless hours were lost to this game during my childhood. Curse you, Eggplant Wizard!
1987: Mega Man (Capcom)
I’ve been a Mega Man fan from the very beginning. I remember getting the first Mega Man during a shopping trip with my Nan in Hounslow, west of London. Two days later she confiscated it for two days as punishment for something. A few years later, one of its sequels got me into a world of trouble after I stole a little bit of money from a giant whisky bottle our family kept in the dining room so I could afford to purchase it. Damn you, Mega Man! ;)
1988: Chase HQ (Taito) and Parodius (Konami)
Firstly, Parodius is the greatest side-scrolling shoot-em-up of all time! Secondly, Chase HQ is a game I have tremendou nostalgia for. A true classic.
1989: Prehistoric Isle (SNK)
I have many fond memories of playing this side-scrolling shoot-em-up with my brother at the Aberdeen leisure centre. He was far better at it than me! :)
1990: Super Mario Bros. 3 (Nintendo)
Greatest. Platform game. Ever! Now…who saw The Wizard?
1991: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Nintendo) and The Legend of the Mystical Ninja (Konami)
Two games with legend in the title, two games that are legends of my life in video games. A Link to the Past set me off on my Zelda obsession whilst Mystical Ninja saw my walkthrough tips published in a video game magazine. Possibly the first time my name was ever in print! :p
1992: Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle (Atelier Double) and Tiny Toon Adventures (Konami)
They’re tiny, they’re toony, they’re all a little loony…if not for Super Mario 3 this would be the best platformer ever. As for Ranma 1/2, it’s here purely for nostalgic reasons as – once upon a time – I was a massive fan of Ranma’s hot/cold water shenanigans! :)
1993: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Nintendo) and Secret of Mana (Square)
Okay, all you Ocarina of Time fan boys and girls, I’m sorry to break this to you but Link’s Awakening is THE best Zelda game, period. As for Secret of Mana, this is the only game to come close to Zelda’s brilliance and I have many fond memories of working my way through this game.
1994: Point Blank (Namco) and Ballz (PF Magic)
Ballz, the only beat-em-up I know where you can spank your opponents and one of the only beat-em-ups I ever really enjoyed playing. These two points may or may not be related! :p As for Point Blank, many (many) hours (and coins) were wasted playing this with Diane in Alice Springs; some of my only happy memories of that period of my life.
1995: Yoshi’s Island (Nintendo) and Chrono Trigger (Square)
If it weren’t for Tiny Toon Adventures and Super Mario Bros. 3, Yoshi’s Island would be the best platformer ever. As for Chrono Trigger, it is a work of true genius! :)
1996: Super Mario 64 (Nintendo)
This is here for one reason and one reason only; I hate this game so much it nearly destroyed my love of Mario for the rest of eternity!
1997: Star Fox 64 (Nintendo)
Whilst Mario, Samus and Link get all the glory, people like Pit and Star Fox are forgotten. Which is a shame, for this sci-fi shoot ’em up was pure quality!
1998: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo)
I was always disappointed with the N64 after the genius of the Super Nintendo. However, Ocarina of Time is simply one of the most essential gaming experiences of all time. If you’ve never played this game, add it to your bucket list immediately, for it is a work of supreme genius.
1999: The Longest Journey (Funcom)
The last of the PC based, brain busting adventure games I played and a game that is criminally unknown.
2000: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (Nintendo)
This game features the greatest video game sub-plot of all time; the three day, re-uniting the lovers storyline. Beautiful! :)
2001: The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons (Capcom) and Golden Sun (Camelot Software Planning)
Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons are criminally underrated Zelda games that I’ve spent many a long hour enjoying. Whereas Golden Sun kept my mind busy during the long flight to Australia.
2002: Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (Konami)
The Castlevania series are – alongside Battletoads, Ghouls and Ghosts and Mega Man – the hardest video games of all time. Great fun!
2003: Zoo Keeper (Robot Communications/Success)
Bloody addictive puzzle game that has helped me on many occasions with controlling self-harm and various anxiety attacks. Why not try it for yourself, as you can play it here for free! :)
2004: The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap (Capcom)
Another criminally underrated Zelda game that just happens to be one of my favorite in the series.
2005: Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (Konami)
See Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
2006: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo)
I love, cherish and worship this game. Midna is one of my favorite female video game characters of all time and its story is possibly my favorite of the series. However…damn you stupid Wii fishing controls! :p
2007: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (Nintendo) and The World Ends with You (Square)
The World Ends with You is easily the greatest game ever made for the DS…and yet it never received an official Australian release. Philistines! Meanwhile, Phantom Hourglass is a glee filled Zelda adventure that simply has to be played.
2008: Mario Kart Wii (Nintendo), Lego Batman (Traveller’s Tales) and Burnout Paradise (Criterion)
Yeah, yeah, I know. But I had to include three games for this year as there was no way around it. I have incredibly fond memories of Mario Karting with Diane in Alice Springs, Burnout Paradise is the only game I’ve ever played on an Xbox console (mainly because my brother was one of its makers) and Audrey would never forgive me if I didn’t include Lego Batman (especially given the bonding we’ve been doing over it!)
2009: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (Nintendo)
Those friggin’ bunnies! Similar in many ways to Phantom Hourglass and equally enjoyable. This is noteable for featuring my second favorite final-boss fight in the history of the Zelda series (topped only by Twilight Princess‘ epically awesome final battle!)
2010: Monster Hunter Tri (Capcom) and Metroid: Other M (Team Ninja/Nintendo)
Just as Audrey would never forgive me if I’d skipped Lego Batman, I know Meadhbh would never forgive me for not including this. As for Metroid: Other M, its sexism aside, I had a great time playing this game. I just wish we had more strong, kick-ass female video game characters!
2011: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Nintendo)
Meh. I really, really wanted to love this game, but I don’t. The controls are pissing annoying, the (usually beautifully designed) bosses are incredibly boring and the dungeons are some of the weakest in the twenty-five year old series. Although there are some redeeming features (the music, revisiting the characters and the Horde Battle) they’re not enough to raise this above ‘meh’, especially given the amazing installments that have come previously.
2012: Lego The Lord of the Rings (Traveller’s Tales)
A game that helped me get through my recent depressive episode. Although it’s good fun, it’s my least favorite of the Lego video games.