Childhood memories are rapidly changing with each generation. Our parents reflect on having had to walk to school every day. They reminisce about the abandoned house they used to sneak into, and the tire swing behind their friend’s house. These days, our memories are a bit different. Technology is advancing at undeniably rapid rates. Our generation grew up during the golden age of video games. We were exposed to the growing success of 3D games on both the Nintendo 64 and the Playstation. Many of us gamers fantasize back to the first time we laid eyes on the Temple of Time. We remember the times when we sat with three of our friends and played Goldeneye, or Smash Bros., or Crash Bandicoot. Point being, video games can become more than just a toy. They can represent our childhood. I’ve experienced it, and I’m sure you have too. Lets delve into some of these cherished memories. I can assure you that you will relate, regardless of the game.
The Legend of Zelda. It all began when I was a young 6 year old, sitting on the couch watching my brother play Ocarina of Time. Seeing him pull the Master Sword from its stone for the first time is one of my earliest prominent memories. Both my parents and myself were there to watch him travel through time, and begin a whole new adventure that awaited him. Did I quite understand what was going on? Not really. But I knew I wanted to experience this. The Sega Genesis was gathering dust, and farting and burping in the Beavis and Butt-head game can only be fun for so long. It was my turn to embark on this adventure. At the age of 7, I was ready.
For some reason, I always wanted my mother to watch me play games. Almost any time I’d ask her to, she would without reluctance. I hear stories of parents shunning video games from the household, but mine have always been supportive. Could just be that I have excellent parents who trust I will succeed no matter my hobbies. Maybe they love me. It’s could be all of the above.
I can remember the feeling I’d get in the land of Hyrule. So many of my memories are tied with that game. The Happy Mask salesman made me cry because I wasn’t able to trade a mask for some reason. His unjustified anger did not sit well at all with me. Strangely enough, redeads didn’t scare me too much.
I pressed on through the game. With my mother by my side, reading me the instruction manual and strategy guide, I persevered through this large game. Did the instruction manual aid me in any way? Unlikely. But she would still do it for me. As such a young child, this was not an easy game. There’s no quest list, no arrow pointing you in the right direction. Even with a strategy guide, I’m still impressed with myself that I managed to get through this entire game. The puzzles even now give me trouble, no matter how many times I’ve been through the game.
Each temple was a new adventure. I had no concept of the compass and map being so essential. I’d become so frustrated when I thought I’d be getting something awesome like a new weapon, but it was only the dungeon map. I can’t account for how much I relied on the strategy guide, but hey, a 7 year old being able to use a strategy guide from 1999 is pretty impressive in my eyes. Forest Temple creeped me out. Fire Temple confused me. Water Temple needs no words. Shadow Temple intrigued me, and included my favorite boss of the adult temples. Spirit Temple was amazing. I finally made it through. It was now time to face what this whole adventure had led up to.
I still get chills when I hear the music that plays in the final battle against Ganon. I remember being completely focused. I knew that he would fall, and I would be crowned victorious. I’d settle for no less. To this day it is my absolute favorite boss battle. As soon as I enter the battlefield, Ganon emerges from the rubble, and fire encircles us. The music kicks in, and chills run up and down my spine like there’s a marathon on my back. Zelda screams out in desperation for your safety, but she is of no help to you. As you plan your move against the behemoth, you’re reminded by Zelda’s shouts, that you are here to save her. It has all come down to this. What you’ve spent countless hours on, completely engrossed in front of your TV, is coming to an end. Ganon slashes your sword away, and you’re rendered useless. Through quick problem-solving you find a tactic, and all of a sudden, the flames that previously encircled you are gone. Zelda cries out for you, standing by the Master Sword. Now that you have the power, it is time.
Growing up with particular video games may sway your outlook on the game, sure. A good friend of mine commented, saying “I just do not see what’s so epic about it.” I understand his gripe. But remembering back to the 7 year old I used to be, seeing the B button read “final blow”… it’s incredible. If I could put into words the feeling that I had (and still have) every time I make that final blow, I would. But quite simply it’s indescribable. All of your hard work has finally paid off. An innocent 7 year old just saved a whole kingdom from damnation. For me, this was the biggest achievement I had attained in my short life. A whole kingdom. I saved it. But now that I have fulfilled my calling, what am I supposed to do when a hero is not needed?
“When peace returns to Hyrule… It will be time for us to say good-bye…” said Zelda.
How was I supposed to understand this? I just restored peace in Hyrule. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. As tears filled my eyes, I watched as Navi floated away, and the credits began to roll. To me, that was it. This adventure was over… for good.
Ocarina of Time is one of the first large-scale three-dimensional adventures, and for many it was the first adventure that they had ever embarked on. From the moment that the ‘name your character’ screen slides up, and you choose your identity, it is you who is in control of this adventure. So young, you do not have a goal. You are not trying to get achievement points or trophies. What you’re trying to do is save a whole kingdom from peril. You grasp your controller in hand, and you realize that although you’re young, weak, and innocent, you now have the ability to save an entire world.
The magic instilled in our childhood games may vary from person to person. The feeling I get from Ocarina of Time may hold true for someone with Final Fantasy VII, or Twisted Metal 2. The point is that when we reevaluate our feelings about these games, and play our childhood favorites, we are no longer in 2012. We are not 20 years old anymore. In that moment, the reliving of our memories, we are back on the floor, sitting cross legged, with our mothers watching us, reading us nonsense in a futile attempt to help us. We’re getting chills from certain songs, and we’re avoiding phone calls to go outside and play. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, and to underestimate its power is a serious detriment to any gamer. You must savor this feeling. It won’t last forever, but for the moment, relive your childhood. Become the child you used to be. Become the hero.
[Thank you Pseudonymous for the error report]