I was recently told by a good friend that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is not a Deus Ex game. And you know what? I wouldn't know. I never played Deus Ex until 2011 and, by then, it felt dated so I never finished it. Unfortunately, a lot of the same can be said about many of the games people so fondly remember, which came out long before I was able to purchase my own consoles, my own PC, my own games.
But before I continue, I should at least describe how my gaming situation was when I was a child. These will be the meandering thoughts and memories about gaming as a kid, so no one will blame you if you stop reading now.
We never owned an NES. However, the local video store, Video Land, would rent the consoles out, as well as games for it. At this time I could not have been more than four or five-years old. That was how I was able to play Batman, who was, and still is, my favorite superhero. I was completely awful at it, and I probably still am. But we would also rent Double Dare, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Super Mario Brothers. Those were great family gaming times. Those times are also the ones my mom regrets, as she thought I would want to do nothing but stay inside all day and play games. It could not have had anything to do with me waking up at 2AM one morning in order to play Top Gun.
Around the Christmas of 1994 or 1995, I believe, my parents decided to get me an SNES, which came bundled with Super Mario World and Super Mario All-Stars. This was an incredible time for me, as I had five games to play altogether. I went from having no games to suddenly having as many games as I had fingers on one hand. My ability to count was awe-inspiring! However, those incredible times were cut short almost immediately as I was informed, just after opening up the box, that I could only play for one hour a day. But — But one hour a day left 23 hours of unfulfilled game time! It wasn't enough! I can just imagine the fits I had to have thrown as a child when my playtime was up — surely worthy of a spot on America's Funniest Home Videos.
Luckily, those games kept me occupied for a couple of years, as I would only be able to rent games ever-so-often. And many a game was rented from Video Land: Primal Rage, Cool Spot, Mortal Kombat 1-3, and several others. I tried to rent DOOM at one point, but my mom got wise to my game choices and would have to see the game box before allowing me to rent it. The one game I rented on a consistent basis was Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and it was one of the very few games I would never get bored of. Also, I would always try to get Super Mario Kart, as it was the only game I knew my mom truly enjoyed and would play with me. Togetherness, gang.
In the summer of 1997, my mom came across an ad in the local newspaper about someone wanting to offload some Super Nintendo games, my guess is that he wanted a Nintendo 64. Heck, I wanted an N64! So, it was at that point I was able to have more games — games which I didn't need to hope and pray were at the rental store in order to play them. There I got Gradius 3, Batman Returns, Donkey Kong Country, and Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. The game I was the most excited for out of the bunch was Star Wars, of course, as I remembered seeing the AT-AT and AT-ST walkers on TV when I was younger at my Uncle Bobby's home. It is still one of my favorite games.
If you're keeping track, besides the games bundled in the SNES package, I never owned a brand new game. Alright, let's continue. Oh! Thanks for reading, by the way. It's gonna be longer still. How are you? Anything new and exciting going on in your neck of the woods?
Fast-forwarding, it is now Christmas of 1999 — my brothers and I are opening up our new Playstation 1, with it were Speed Racer and Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. We are jubilant. As we hook it up, my dad does something he'd never done before with any console: he picked up a controller and wanted to play. Happily, we popped in Crash Bandicoot 2 and excitement enveloped his countenance as he got into the first level. And there, he tried as hard as he could to make it past the first couple of holes in the ground, the first couple of enemies, only to be met with failure. The excitement that once was prevalent, as he started playing, slowly washed away leaving behind only a defeated look. He put the controller down, and he never picked it up again.
Yeah. Not even gonna make a joke. Just gonna leave it somber.
Anyway, my brothers and I were aces when it came to Crash! Must've been all that platforming training we had with all the other games we owned. It took us about a month, but we finally beat both games, and it was at that point my parents learned the value of buying new games, and how much money they would save instead of renting all the time. For the first time ever we got to shop for games! There we so many games to choose from, though — more games than we had ever seen! We decided on two that day: Rampage: Universal Tour and Driver. It took us what felt like ages to beat those games and, even then, their replayability was fantastic!
And once we finished those games, we were allowed to buy more. We were able to rent, from time to time, even! These days were glorious! This was our golden age of gaming! Nothing could stop us.
Or so we thought.
One day, the parents moved the Playstation to the top of the entertainment center. We also had a large dog that liked to walk in front of it, as close as he could to the TV. On that fateful day the dog tripped on one of the controller cords, was ensnared, and pulled in order to break free. Thus, in the age before break-away cables, the Playstation did the only thing it could — it plummeted, using the floor to break its fall. Also to just break the console entirely. That day we went back to the SNES. It was a time of great sorrow. I think I wrote that in a calender somewhere.
Then 2001 came along and, with it, came the time of glorious PC gaming. It was our first computer, and it had a whopping 96MB of RAM. State of the art! I couldn't play many games on it, but it played all I needed it to which were the games I was able to buy: Command & Conquer, Red Alert 1 & 2, Tiberian Sun & Firestorm, Diablo 2 & Lord of Destruction, Dungeon Siege, Neverwinter Nights, Starcraft, and Warcraft 2 & 3. This was the new golden age of gaming for my family. These games were the greatest I had ever played, as most of them belonged to my favorite genre: Real-Time Strategy.
Still with me? Excellent! I love your jeans.
So now we come to present day, where I have an Xbox 360, and a very powerful Alienware laptop, which people like to tell me it's made of wood. I have named it Spruce Springsteen, and I could not ask for better. I now have a Steam library that consists of over 300 games. Being a gamer, who had a disposable income, was the best. I could buy what I wanted, when I wanted it even if I didn't really need it. Games that looked interesting I could just buy right up without a care in the world.
That disposable income is gone. Now, I game with what I have readily available, aside from some very generous gifts from my friends, but it's something I'm accustomed to. My folks didn't have the income I had. They had more responsibilities than I had when I was a kid, and when I was in my early 20's. I was able to indulge. Able to buy myself the things they always wanted to give to me. I was able to give them they things they wanted. I could do that, I was capable of that. Giving back what they gave to me.
So I understand why I am able to love, and not get tired of, the things I've got, when it comes to games. Because I was used to making the most of what I had. And I didn't have a lot of what others did. I didn't have many of the titles that people rave about to this day. I missed out on a lot of adventures that just wouldn't be the same if I played them right now. So, when people ask if I have played Aliens vs Predator 2, I say no, because I never had it.
But I had exactly what I needed. I had the games that kept me entertained, the ones that gave me a pick-me-up after a long day, the ones that filled my late-night gaming sessions with joy. Those are all I could ask for.
Now I have more than I've ever had, and I'm very grateful for every bit of it.
Thanks Mom and Dad.
Oh, hey, you made it to the end. You had the resolve and the fortitude to do what others could not — read for a prolonged period of time. You are a champion of the written word. Or typed, in this case. It doesn't matter because you rock.