I don’t know about your childhood but sometimes, I find myself thinking back to my earlier years and the memories that now seem so far away. It’s like a blur, a fuzzy, hazy memory so far back I can’t mentally take myself back to that moment, though I can still think about and remember fondly. When I talk about childhood memories I am talking about video games, a large part of my childhood. I’m talking the NES, SNES and SEGA days, even the Playstation 1 days (my favourite console for video games, I had a blast with more than a few games on that gaming system). To me, my childhood represented the simpler days when adult problems were far from my destination. We woke up, ate, played, ate again, used are creative imaginations without limits, drank (non alcoholic drinks, of course) and went back to sleep. Rinse, spit, repeat!
Duck Hunt, a game on the NES, was the first game I remember playing. I don’t remember if it was the first game I ever played, but to my knowledge the NES was the first console I had. From what I recall, an NES console was left in a house my cousin was about to move into, and as the kid of the family, the console was given to me to play with. I had Duck Hunt, the first Super Mario Bros, an Ice hockey game and a karate game (I forget the names) and at some point I got my hands on Super Mario Bros 3! Duck Hunt comes with this plastic gun and you have to shoot the birds that pop up on the screen. It’s a really fun game to play, though there’s not much else to it, other than shooting the birds on the screen down to the ground while a dog appears in the centre and laughs for no reason.
I can tell you the games that stirred my love for the video gaming genre, and Super Mario Bros 3 was one of them! I had so much fun playing that game. As a child, to play these colourful, in depth levels where you can collect different items and travel to different worlds was mind-blowing and complex. Let’s not forget the fun, catchy and lighthearted 8-bit music that is still so famous till this day! Super Mario Bros 3 is creativity at it’s best, a child’s dream! Sadly, I couldn’t even complete the game. The very last level was too hard for me. Sigh.
As much as I enjoyed this game, some of my funnest experiences of playing the earlier consoles came from Sonic The Hedgehog 2 and Streets of Rage, both on the SEGA console (and in a battle between Nintendo and Sega back then, I would have chose SEGA. I was a SEGA fangirl, you could say!) Both of these games were multi-player and my Mum used to play along with me, which made my experience even better. In Sonic The Hedgehog 2, I was Tails while my Mum played as Sonic and when it came to boss battles, I did all the work. Again, I got to the very last level and couldn’t beat the final boss. I have to add that again the music in this game is a beauty. Just pure, catchy 16-bit (this time) gold! The soundtrack is truly a classic and some of my favourite video game music of all time! There’s something about Sonic that spoke to me and became a game I favoured over Mario (despite playing Mario first). It might be the fact that Sonic was a blue hedgehog that spun and ran the speed of lightning! I mean come on! A blue hedgehog! It’s so much cooler than a plumber guy saving the Princess, right? And the hedgehog had a cute sidekick in orange fox Tails! I used to adore Tails back in the days when he didn’t have a voice (his voice was just a tad cringeworthy at times).
I remember Streets of Rage being a game that I had a lot of fun playing with my Mum as well. Again, it’s multiplayer and is a side-scroll beat ’em up type of game. You go through each stage, beating up the baddies and boss of each stage until you get to the main man, Mr X, a crime syndicate. You had about four characters to choose from and naturally, I would choose a female character called Blaze (because I would always play as the girl, given the choice). Playing this game was definitely a bonding experience between me and my Mum as we worked together to get through to the next stage (though my Mum would always die toward the end, leaving me to fight the final boss alone).
I have to say as well that Streets of Rage has possibly one of the most badass soundtracks I’ve heard in a video game programmed to handle 16-bit music (I believe SEGA’s games were of a 16-bit capacity, though I could be wrong). The soundtrack is basically 16-bit techno (and dare I say, dance), something I never thought I’d be into but it works in this game. The music got me pumped and ready to kick ass but at the same time, the music is catchy as hell!
The last game that I will mention is Donkey Kong Country for the SNES, yet another game I played with my Mum AND I game I actually saw through to completion. It’s similar to Super Mario Bros 3, in that you have a world map and move your character to the next level. I can’t remember if Donkey Kong Country had different worlds, though I do remember collecting bananas (a substitute for rings), barrels and train cart levels, where you’d have to jump from one cart to another before falling to your death. I also remember a bee being a boss and a pretty difficult one at that.
I think it is some of my early experiences with some of these games that fuelled my love for video games, a love which I still hold close to me. Though I do not have the time to play games as much as I used to, I’ll always find the time to check out what this generation has to offer.
What do you remember from your childhood? What would you say is a highlight? Video games? Or perhaps something else? Let me know! And thanks for reading!