When most gamers hear retro they think of the NES, SNES, Genesis, or some go even further back and think of the Atari or Calico-Vision. Well, I have played both an Atari and a Calico-Vision, but not while I was a child. Retro to me means the first system I ever owned, the one that made me the gamer I am today, a Playstation.
I did not start playing the old gray rectangle a lot of us came to know and love. I have very fond memories of playing my brother’s Sega Genesis. I was a much bigger fan of Sonic than I ever was of Mario, forgive me. I also enjoyed the Earthworm Jim games quite a bit, who didn’t love the music in those? There were a few others but nothing that really captured my interest at such an early age. Shortly after my Genesis phase, my brother got a Sega Gamegear, complete with the magnifying attachment which only added to the bulky awkwardness of the handheld, if you could even call it that. I had only 2 or 3 cartridges but the one I played the most was Garfield – Caught in the Act. A bit of a strange game, you played as the cat stuck in the TV world.
Above all I remember going with my brother to his friend’s house to hang out, and he had the first Playstation. Those black discs were unlike anything I had ever seen. The first game I played on it shattered my little mind. The game was Machine Head. There are not a lot of people I know who ever played the game, much less heard of it. Basically you were a supermodel connected to a floating gunship of sorts by a computer geek/genius and it was your job to save humanity from some sort of red virus that had infected the planet. It was a fast paced run and gun style of game and it was amazing, but it wasn’t the game that really made me a gamer.
Eventually my brother got his hands on his own Playstation and a handful of games he borrowed from his buddies. Gran turismo, Crash Bandicoot, Medievil, all great games but the one I bought for myself became an iconic part of my early gamer life and its own legend within that era of games. I bought Final Fantasy VII. The visuals were beautiful at the time, we all know the game did not age well. This was the first time I got so involved in a storyline within a video game. The characters resonated with me, the world was so huge compared to anything I had played until that point. To this day it is one of the few games that I have fully completed, somewhere on an old memory card rests my save file with over 200 hours invested in it. I do not even remember how many times I replayed that game. Whenever the characters show up in anything else it makes me feel like that young boy whose breath was taken away the first time he played through the title. Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 were bigs games for me because of this reason, also two more games I fully completed. This game is the game that made me the gamer I am today. If this game never came into my life I may not have been such a fan of RPGs. Hell, I may not have ever been as into games as I am without it, period.
Retro to me doesn’t have to mean a controller that consisted of one button and a stick, it means whatever feels old to you and that is going to mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The game that made you a gamer, be it Pokemon, Halo: CE, Final Fantasy, or something no one knows about like Machine Head, you should cherish that game. Thank that game for being there making you the player you are now. Without the systems or games we had as kids none of us would have the passion for the systems and games we have now. Ever notice we play a game and whether we thought it was mediocre or fantastic it doesn’t resonate with us like some of our older games do? Learn to love your roots and never forget where you started and what got you to where you are as a gamer.
Stay safe out there friends, and game on.