Everybody remembers that first game that drew them in completely. Whether it was jumping on your first Goomba, pulling off your first Fatality, or getting your first sword in a Zelda game, we all had that moment that made us want to keep gaming. Given the varying ages of all the writers and editors on our staff, and the different console start points, asking my fellow Twinfiknights what game first got them into gaming got me a wide range of answers. From platformers to fighters to RPGs, we all started somewhere and from that point on, we were gamers.
Out of the countless games that have contributed to making me the person I am today, I would have to say the most influential of them all has to be the original Mortal Kombat. Most of my personality is directly tied to hours upon hours of mashing buttons in a fit of “Test Your Might” and listening to the shrill music that follows the slightly dull, but still exciting “Finish Him/Her.”
I grew up with a SNES, so while I didn’t get to experience the content that made it infamous, I still knew that I wasn’t supposed to be seeing what I did. This was the game that made me want to continue playing games like it, and as I got older, my taste matured. Though I mostly play strategy RPGs these days, I will always make time to sit down and show Shang Tsung the business end of Scorpion’s spear.
You know that realization we’ve all had while playing a game that you can go in any direction and do whatever you want? There is nothing quite like playing a video game and coming to the realization that you are in complete control of your destiny. For some people, the first time they felt it was in a Grand Theft Auto game, for others it’s an Elder Scrolls title. For younger gamers it’s in something like Minecraft, and for older ones it might have been an installment of Ultima .
For me, that game was Pitfall on the Atari 2600. While it wasn’t quite ‘open world’ as we know it, it was completely unlike anything else out there. You had a 20 minute time limit to collect 32 treasures and could go in any direction to acquire them. This game was non-linear and had paths both above and below ground. Bear in mind, this was in an era when it was rare for a game to have a point beyond ‘get as many points as you can before you die’.
How influential was this game for me? Consider; right now I’m playing through Far Cry 3, and at times I find myself thinking about Pitfall.
I’ve been playing video games for decades. Hundreds of them. I can’t even remember what actually got me interested in this hobby. I do however know the game that set me on the course to the games I still play today.
Chrono Trigger despite what many will tell you these days, didn’t hit the US with much of a thud. I didn’t know much about it when I rented it and I didn’t know many that even knew it existed. It however was something truly unique. I remember the first actual time I played it, I was only able to get to Ayla before it went back to the store.
What I played however was brilliant. The medieval world with Frog, the Trial of Chrono, the desolate future and the amazing dinosaurs. Years later I would search out other games like it and came across Final Fantasy VII. From there on I would love the JRPG genre and it all came from renting the little known game called Chrono Trigger.
The blue hedgehog came in and out of my life as fast as he runs. The first and last Sonic game I owned was Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which is interesting, considering it was the game that pretty much set the foundation for me falling in love with video games. I spent hours playing that game, despite never actually beating it myself. Little ol’ me was just not that skilled with a controller yet, however none of that took away from the damn good times it gave me. I could redo a level a hundred times over if it meant maneuvering through those terrains all over again.
In addition to being fun as hell, the sounds were so wonderful and unlike anything I had heard before. That ping sound from hitting certain bumpers in Casino Night Zone was and always will be so satisfying. Those 16-bit tunes could be serenading me, never turning into a mocking rhythm, even after a goddamn piranha jumps out ruining my awesome sprinting streak. There are seldom experiences more gratifying than speeding through a level as quickly as possible without getting hit. Sure, I could barely ever do it, but that’s beside the point.
In spite of it all, I never did return to the Sonic the Hedgehog series after that, though not for any particular reason. Nevertheless, it served its purpose as my gatekeeper to the world of video games and that was all I needed from the spinning blue blur.
Gaming is an inherent social experience in a few different ways, which is odd given that gamers have a certain anti-social label slapped on them. It connects you to others either in the game or by having a common interest outside of it and allows people to grow closer because of that. I think most people would look back and see that their favorite game or the first game that got them hooked into the scene ends up being something that you could connect with people on.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 was the first game that really stuck with me as a kid and is truly the first one that I can really remember playing as I get older and my memory becomes a little more hazy. My cousins got it when it came out in 1991 for the NES. I was only 5 but it was the right age for me to be obsessed with TMNT in every format. I had the underwear, the backpack, the chest for my room, stickers and all the other little trinkets.
It allowed for 4 total players to play at the same time with its typical sidescrolling beat-em-up gameplay that was big at that time. Being able to play with my cousins as we went through each level connected us at a level that we still have today. We would laugh at the ones that died first and cheer for the one of us still going after everyone was dead. While the game itself was mediocre at best, it’s something that I look back to often as just a pure memory in my childhood and that’s a cool thing.
Up until the age of 9 or 10 when I got a Game Boy and PS1, the only experience I had with games was going over an older friend’s house. He had an Atari, a Genesis, and everything in between. Needless to say, I was over there as often as possible. Regardless of what we were playing I sucked HARD or he always beat me. Not very fun for a little kid. Sonic, Mortal Kombat, Mario, every game I tried was another example of how bad I stunk. That all changed when I got my Game Boy and the only game I got for it, Pokemon Blue.
Once I started the game, it was love at first sight. Going around Kanto, leveling up my Pokemon, and collecting badges was the first taste of success in a video game that I had ever experienced and it felt good. It was a huge help having no consequence for losing all your Pokemon in battle other than having to start a section over again. Instead of having to suffer the taunts of the person who beat you or having to start the entire game over a la Mario and Sonic, you just found yourself at the nearest Pokemon Center. The fact that there was no local multiplayer and no limited lives helped me learn the ropes and the confidence boost from this easy-ish success was huge. After seeing that I was ready and able to tackle this huge RPG, I wanted to try out different games to see if I could be as good.
P.S. If you don’t think Squirtle is the greatest starting Pokemon of all time, I will fight you.
Now that you know what our first forays into this wonderful world of gaming were, we’d love to hear from you! What was your first game that made you want to keep gaming? Let us know in the comments.