My back door neighbor had a PlayStation 2, and I wasn’t allowed in his house because he was a he. His sister (the person who would later introduce me to anime) smuggled me in any way to watch him play video games. I had seen him play Lara Croft and James Bond, but he had explained this one to me that I just had to see. The concept seemed so weird until it was executed: a boy with a key, looking for his friends. Now I would not play that game myself until I was a teenager, but watching it forged the foundation of a future gamer.
After a fierce begging spree, I was dubbed dubbedBoy Color for Christmas. A year later, we got a GameCube. After that, I was hooked: I was a gamer kid. Some of the more popular games of the time, like Final Fantasy or Grand Theft Auto, I never got to play until adulthood due to restrictive parents. That doesn’t mean I obsessed over and acquired my fair share of games. There were five in particular that I credit for developing the taste in video games I have today.
Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons for Gameboy Color
I got this, Aladdin, and Frogger for GameBoy Color all the same Christmas. But being a bookish kid, I had an affinity for RPGs. This game also started my love for video game soundtracks. I left a save slot open just so I could start a new game and spend ages listening to the music Din danced to. When I got Oracle of Ages, I had the same obsession with Nayru’s song. This was the RPG that launched my love for RPGs and the LoZ franchise. Also, I had huge crushes on Din and Link. For different reasons. I wanted to be Din. I wanted to marry Link. Dungeons were new and frustrating to me, but whenever I figured them out I would run around the house skrieking. Somehow I never finished the game. I think I lost it at a hotel or something. Hopefully, I can find a way to play it again someday.
Fire Emblem for Game Boy Advance
While the Game Boy Color was my first handheld, I wore out my GameBoy Advance SP. By then my attention span was a little better, and I would play video games under my covers when I was supposed to be sleeping. I contribute that to why I have to wear glasses to this day. This game was probably one of the biggest culprits. A turn-based strategy game with characters you made me care about? If anyone died I just restarted. So yes, I did finish this game, and without losing ANYONE. Multiple times. Get me to care about the characters and I am hooked. This game also unknowingly got me shipping the characters. Strategic relationships, for boosts and my little developing fangirl heart. Lyndis was also everything I wanted to be when I grew up. She’s a fitness cosplay goal.
Super Smash Bros. Melee for GameCube
The GameCube was my first console. I would have never been able to play such a popular fighter game if it wasn’t for the fact that it had cute Mario characters. But this was one of the video games that came with this birthday present, and my sister and I raged on this thing. It became the #1 hit with my cousins during winter break, my god-siblings during the summers, and my youth group when my parents hosted parties. Later it would help me earn some shocked respect in a college game room full of gatekeepers. Side note, Fox is the bane of my existence because I would have these intense one-on-one matches with this guy in my youth group, where we would play Zelda vs Fox. We were pretty evenly matched, but I raged so during those battles had I have a forever vendetta against him. Raise your hand if you spent hours taking bad-ass pictures like we did!
Animal Crossing for GameCube
This game was curing my anxiety before I even knew I had anxiety. When Super Mario Sunshine or Sonic Heroes would get too stressful for me, this is where I would turn. This video game was one of my favorites because I thought I would hate it. My parents got it for me because they thought it was cute. They regretted it when they would catch me out of bed at night trying to get songs from K.K. Slider. It didn’t take me long to figure out how to cheat time and collect a bunch at a time, though. But the ability to do whatever you wanted was attractive to me, and I found myself collecting apples, digging, and fishing for hours on end. Now, these are the sort of games I play now when I am feeling frazzled and just need to zone into something but stay fairly busy to keep my mind distracted.
Kingdom Hearts II for PlayStation 2
Now as I mentioned before, I did not get to actually play this video game until I was a teen. Watching my friend play this sparked something huge. It drove me to look up all of the cutscenes, research all of the lore, and create AMVs no one but my sister would see. I got Chain of Memories as a gift, but the play style wasn’t what I had longed to experience. At fourteen I impulse bought Kingdom Hearts II without owning the console. I played those games all out of order, but had been so obsessed with researching it I knew everything.
At seventeen I finally bought a PS2 from the same guy I’d had SSBM death matches with for $50. Just turning it on and hearing that music box-esque title screen music, I sat staring teary-eyed for maybe fifteen minutes. I full on cried during the opener. Even now I can’t tell you why. Yes, I’m an eternally overemotional wreck, but the power of that nostalgia was so important to me. My gamer heart felt complete.
Thus, my gamer side was developed. It took me years to admit I was a “gamer” because I let my lack of gaming pop culture keep me from diving in. I let the fact that I was not the “hot Call of Duty girl in a headset” get to me. But I was an RPG gamer and a nostalgic one at that. Now that I have my PS4 I feel like I am branching out, broadening my gaming horizons. What video game sparked your inner gamer? What was your first game? How do they contribute to your tastes now?