Editor: Jonathan Bester
Something I want to talk about today is gaming nostalgia. Yep, the fond memories of growing up with games and now, many years later, looking back and reflecting on the good times and the bad.
In this, the first part of my Gaming Nostalgia piece I want to talk about my starting years a gamer, moving on to the golden years. The reason why I distinguish the two is because my starting years, even though it was great, was not the best time I had when it comes to this form of entertainment.
I grew up in a middle class family as an only child, and as a result, I was quite spoiled (according to my friends at the time) although I think they were just jealous because I got some pretty awesome games at the time.
My very first experience with a game was oddly enough on a computer, but let me point this out, this was in the time of XT computers with green-display screens. First it was a simple game akin to today’s Nokia Snake game, of which the game I never got, and then a little more than tentatively a submarine game, of which the name also completely escapes me at my uncle’s house in Mpumalanga. Both these occurrences happened in the early 90’s when I was still a wee primary school-going lad.
But where the magic really started for me was when I got my very first console. A Nintendo Super NES. My first game? Well it was a game that came bundled with it (yep even back then they did that). It was a game called Star Force! Now how many of you can honestly say they remember Star Force? Not many I’d go as far as to guess. I’ll tell you one thing though; Star Force was one of the games that really sucked hours and hours of my time away in those early years.
The Ultimate Time Vacuum
I did discover Mario and Donkey Kong and all the more popular games of the era, but nothing quite prepared me for when I finally got my hands on Super Mario Brothers 3. When I got that game I was hooked. I would have to say, that out of the entire SNES era, Super Mario Brothers 3 was probably my favourite. Not even Contra or Tetris could stem the excitement I had for SMB 3.
The best Super Mario Game in my opinion of that generation
In 1993, when I was in Standard 4 (or Grade 6 as you young-ens would say these days) I then forayed into the unknown world of PC gaming again. A friend of mine introduced me to the wonderful world of computers to which I had only had very meagre exposure before then. He was such a trusting friend that he loaned me his 286 computer and I then proceeded to teach myself how to play all these new fangled DOS-based games. Some of the titles I played at the time, and that will stick with me for a long time, are Crystal Caves, APB, Grand Prix, Leisure Suit Larry (which I will talk about in a moment), Magic Carpet, Prince of Persia, the list goes on and on.
The Biggest Cult hero in the history of PC gaming
I remember that at the time, I was first exposed to the concept of “copying”. Yep the tactless process of copying a game from a friend for your own pleasure, back in the far off age of DOS-based game. The one draw-back however, was that in a certain game called Leisure Suit Larry, there was an antiquated version of DRM which heralded in the age of copy protection (and I sincerely hope they do it again in the Kickstarter reboot of LSL1 even if just in a mocking way). Essentially what would happen is, when you ran the Leisure Suit Larry executable, you were met with a screen that asked you a simple couple of questions. I don’t remember the exact details, but what I do remember is that it asked you to reference the game’s manual and specify what the word was on page x, in the top right corner, sorta concept. As I recall this same type of protection was included later in games such as Police Quest and Space Quest as well, but I might be mistaken in my thinking.
Sticking with PC gaming, I remember when I was 16, in the school holidays I would get my dad to drop me off at our nearest Incredible Connection store, and I would simply hang around in the shop, either sitting and playing on the Internet Cafe’s computers, with the goal in mind of teaching myself Windows 95. However the one thing I will always carry with me is the memory of my very first sales experience. What did I sell? Why a game developed by SCi Studios, a game I shouldn’t even have really played at my age, but because I did, in the front of the store, I had probably between 20 and 30 people standing behind me and watching me play. I bet a good portion of the people who were watching me play Carmageddon, ended up either buying it for themselves or for their kids.
Blood and gore at it’s finest.
It was not long after that that I ended up working for Incredible Connection in their Support Department, but that’s a story for another time. Well, that’s enough Nostalgia for one day. Watch this space as I reveal more about my gaming history on another day.