I’m going to preface this by saying I’m not qualified to talk about the subject I’m writing about. On top of that, it’s a new territory of writing for me, but it’s something I really want to write about for a moment and maybe touch on in the future with updates on newer games. I don’t know proper terms, what really makes a successful or “good” game other than the fact that I like it, or unbiased ways games might be bad.
My experience with video games comes purely from seeing my brother, Joey, do it and thinking it looked fun. I will admit that some of the games I love are purely because my brother recommended them and, because we have similar taste, I usually end up enjoying them with no research or trial and error on my part.
My hope out of this is to maybe connect with other people who play similar games as me and have similar tastes. I don’t know about you, but I always like to take a walk down memory lane in terms of the games I use to love.
Technically, Neopets was the first game type thing I played obsessively, but I’m thinking more along the lines of video games for this.
All images (besides the Switch controller) in this were taken from nicepik.com a stock/royalty free image website!
It all started on Christmas Day of 2003. I’m in 3rd grade and my hair is cut short to the likes of Rock Lee but I’m a tomboy and don’t care.
We’re opening presents with my dad and there’s a big one this year. My brother opens a PlayStation 2 and is absolutely stoked to get it up and running. His first game is Spider-Man, his hero. His excitement makes me forget about my own presents, however, there is also something for me! My next present is the game Powerpuff Girls Relish Rampage!
Having obsessively watched the Powerpuff Girls for months and also dressing up like Blossom one year then chopping all my hair off and becoming a little, tomboy Buttercup, this game was the game of my dreams! I spent hours and hours trying to beat the Gangreen Gang and Mojo Jojo. Some levels were so hard my brother had to come in and beat them for me through my own frustration.
I didn’t realize this during those moments, but this was my first exposure to a somewhat open world game. The graphics threw me off at first showing the Powerpuff Girls in different animation without their black, cartoon outlines but I got used to it quickly! It became the basis of all games I love the most where you can explore large areas and fight bad guys as they come. There’s a little dot on the map where you’re supposed to go, but I would definitely just fly around the map as Buttercup preferably and explore. There were secret paths to go down, but for the most part the only thing making you go a certain way were buildings too high to fly over.
The next game held a special place in my heart for many, many years. My dad had introduced me and my brother to Lord of the Rings and, from the first movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, I was hooked. My favorite character was Frodo and, despite having convinced myself that he was the love of my life, I also dressed up like him for Halloween (and yes, I had the hairy feet brought to you by Sharpie).
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring had such beautiful animation, in my eyes, for those times. It followed the same idea of almost open world, but scenery gently guiding you on a specific path. I think it was one of the only games I played through and through until the disk no longer worked and by that time I had moved on to GameBoy.
There were levels with big spiders that scared me. I remember playing levels late at night (probably only 9 or 10pm back then) where you had to hide from Ringwraiths that made my heart beat so fast. I didn’t watch scary movies at this time and the fact that you could lose the game by getting killed by these monsters was a new world to me. Again, I think there were parts my more experienced brother had to beat for me. As I played more and more, I started to be able to beat those levels by myself. At some point in the last few years, my brother tried to find me a copy of the game on eBay and, despite having to pay for it and to my disappointment, all that came in the mail was the case of the game.
Towards the end of my time in elementary school, I played the first two Jak and Daxter games and Spyro, but I don’t believe I ever did those to completion. It was one of those things where our first PlayStation 2 had died and we got a PlayStation 2 Slim that my brother had moved to his room and I only played when he wasn’t at home.
GameBoy Advance SP
The future was here! Handheld gaming was gaining more traction and my brother bought himself a GameBoy Advance to play Dragon Ball Z and Jurassic Park. The struggle of not being able to play in the dark was so real. Buying extra pieces that lit up the screen but warped the image were somewhat of a decent solution on long car rides at night.
Being an absolute follower of my brother, I was jealous of his ability to play games on the road. Sure enough, for my birthday in 2005, I got a GameBoy Advance SP in a beautiful light blue color. The problem of a dark screen was no more. The screen lit up and you could even choose the brightness. Being able to fold up the device made the screen stay unscratched a lot longer too.
This was around the time I was obsessed with Marine Biology and Oceanography and told everyone I was going to go to Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego (at age 10, I know). Of course that meant that I had to get SeaWorld: Shamu’s Deep Sea Adventure for my GameBoy. I can hardly remember how the game went other than the fact that it was my hero, Shamu, and I was trying to save the place I adored.
I dove into the GameBoy world of Dragon Ball Z as well. My two favorite titles were Buu’s Fury and Legacy of Goku, by far. We had been watching DBZ for quite a few years up to that point. When the games were released for the GameBoy, I remember the moment being huge and my brother and I stole the games from each other many times with him ultimately winning because he still has the games and eventually stole my GameBoy after his died (which I want back, by the way).
The animal loving didn’t stop with Shamu. My favorite game of all time on the GameBoy was Petz Vet. It was the first game I played of the sort. It was my ideal world of a single girl moving to a town where she didn’t know anyone and worked hard as a vet to save all kinds of animals. The pastel colors and cute, anime-esque animation were like that of Sailor Moon so I assume it came from Japan. It had all I needed as an 11 year old: animals, romance and drama. Selecting your path of romance or work was something I didn’t know I needed until I played that game – I chose work. Who had time for boys at that age? I think I experimented with different paths in that game. Honestly, I wish I could find that game and my GameBoy just to relive that game. To this day, it still holds up.
I played Pokémon Blue a lot, but, sadly enough, after one play through, I couldn’t finish the game a second time because the cartridge stopped working all of a sudden. It makes sense because it was from someone’s GameBoy Color but my brother bought it used.
In middle school, gaming moved to the back burner and I became boy crazy for a couple of years before I realized that lifestyle just wasn’t for me. Toward the end of 8th grade, I got back into games a little bit just watching my brother play sometimes by himself and sometimes with friends.
I first took an interest in the Assassin’s Creed games. I didn’t care much for the first one, but when I saw my brother playing Assassin’s Creed II with Ezio, I wanted in. The story is rich with some factual history and the beautiful and accurate architecture of late 15th century Italy had me hooked. It was the first truly open world game I ever played. Sometimes I didn’t even have to play to get pulled in by the story. If my brother was playing I could grab a snack and watch it unfold like a movie.
The only Assassin’s Creed game I finished by myself to completion was the second one, occasionally I would mess around on the other ones, but the second one held a place in my heart for a long time. The other Assassin’s Creeds I experienced mostly through my brother.
My favorite multiplayer game to play with my brother was Little Big Planet – my love for it extending to the PlayStation 4 as well. The worlds you could explore went further than my own imagination and, especially on user created levels, I could find almost anything I wanted to play on. The platforming on this game is by far my favorite of its kind. Me and my brother would compete with each other until late at night and being able to buy costumes for your characters was everything I wanted in a game. Often, I played as Iron Man or a ninja. I even went to my friend Rayna’s house and played some of the story mode with her.
Micah having discovered Overwatch on the PS4 in early 2017 was a game changer for him. It was the first game he was absolutely obsessed with and, since we were living together, it was the first time I had a gaming console within reach since I lived with my brother. We would still play Little Big Planet together, but the search for a game I could be obsess over too was no simple task.
Christmas of 2017 rolled around and I had a nice surprise in store for me. Micah got me the Nintendo Switch as a present. It made so much sense because I could still play handheld while he was playing Overwatch or connect it to the TV when he was away.
The first game I had was Mario Kart which I still love. Whenever there are people over usually we end up playing it. I love being competitive with my family and friends and how simple it is for people to learn if they aren’t into games whatsoever. However, I think it’s only fun when I have someone over to play with me.
Unfortunately, I was still not obsessed. The open world concept I loved so much in a video game hadn’t been satisfied in a long time.
After the Christmas I got my Switch, my brother came over with his Switch and showed me this game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It was kind of confusing because I was getting used to the Switch controls as opposed to the PlayStation layout which is was I was used to for a long time. I wasn’t too attached but my brother decided to get me the game as a gift for my birthday in January anyway and I’m so lucky he did.
I started and stopped the game a couple of times – not making it very far and just kind of messing with the controls. The more I tried it, however, the more I liked it and understood the recommendation. Before long, I became full blown obsessed and I had only probably 10% of the map unlocked because I was being meticulous with my exploration of Hyrule.
My obsession grew and grew. The open world concept was unlike anything else I had ever played. Beautiful animation, amazing characters with full stories, and the tragic flashbacks between Link and Zelda as Link tried to remember who he was and the past was all I needed in a game. I avoided the castle, which is the last part of the story, like the plague. I would look at the castle from far away and be scared for what was to come in the completion of the story. I realized the story was coming to and end and there was nothing else for me to do but it still took me weeks to go back and finish the story because I just really didn’t want it to end. I completed every task and collected every Korok seed. I’m not even going to say how many hours I put into the game.
I finally finished the game but sometimes just open the game to try and complete the Hyrule Compendium. It’s not a requirement of the game and I don’t believe anything happens if you complete it, but sometimes I just want to dive back into that world and be Link for a while.
Not only do I miss playing an open world game, but now I hold every open world game to the standard of Breath of the Wild. I’ve been trying to fill the void that that game gave me as I wait for the next installment.
I tried to play Xenoblade because of its open concept, but got stuck and quit for a while and gave up because it didn’t grab my attention the way Zelda did.
My brother showed me Stardew Valley and I started another obsession for a while. The simplicity of life on the farm is something I needed. The ability to choose a path in the game made for exciting twists and turns. I’ve spent a lot of hours trying to romance the artist in the game and we finally got married and had a kid. The farm I own has made almost a million of the currency in the game. The soundtrack for the game is so beautiful and relaxing that I put it on my phone and play it sometimes if I’m driving by myself.
Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee has been a recent favorite of mine as well. I’ve finished the main plot besides finding Mewtwo. All that’s left for me is trying to catch every type of Pokémon. Unfortunately, I think I may have screwed myself over catching Zapdos because there are a lot of little twists and secrets to be figured out in the game. I love the fact that it’s so similar to Pokemon Go because anyone in my life knows how obsessed I was with that game for so long. Even now, I still update my eggs if one hatches or start my Apple Watch to track my movement if I’m walking. Micah even got me the Pokeball for the Switch. I can put a Pokemon from the game inside of it and walk around with it, making it stronger.
The game is beautiful, but it’s definitely geared towards people of younger ages which is great! I think that the map is a little bit confusing sometimes, but if you have a general understanding of the story and games of the past, it gets easy to navigate and know where you are.
Other than Little Big Planet, I wasn’t that into the PS4 at first. Maybe because it was around the time I graduated high school and so many things were changing in my life, but it just didn’t stand out to me that much. With my brother still consistently playing, we talked about games a lot and I got back into it a little while after college in about 2016.
The first game that really caught my attention was talks about the development of No Man’s Sky. The game is based around math that creates an almost infinite number of galaxies, stars, and planets to explore. It was while I was studying Astrobiology and getting into exoplanets at WSU that this game came out and caught my eye. At first, I played it with Micah at our old place in Seattle, but the interest fizzled out when the game became repetitive and, despite having a storyline, the path was somewhat confusing. While the concept was there, we were bored after a while. However, they released an update this last year that offered multiplayer mode. I could finally put on the headset and talk to my brother while we explore the vast amount of planets and build colonies on planets with favorable conditions. The graphics are also getting a whole lot better and less glitchy. The only thing I wish we could do is ride in each other’s spaceship which would make long distance travel to far away galaxies much easier together. At first I wouldn’t have recommended this game too much, but now I stand wholeheartedly behind it.
While I search for a game to fill the void that Breath of the Wild left behind, I’ve been trying out a couple of games.
The first is Assassin’s Creed Odyssey which I’m completely impressed by. The open world concept has amazed me so far. Bonus points that the girl character’s name is Kassandra and she’s buff and beautiful – basically everything I want to be. You can either play as her or Alexios which is who I’m playing as now. The graphics and animation are beautiful while the story to get your skills up and find what happens next keeps you engaged. I only do the game on medium hardness and I find it to be really hard. It’s hard in a good way but hard nonetheless. Sometimes I’ve had Micah or my brother help me with levels when I’ve had it with the game. That time period is one of my favorites. I love Greek mythology and it plays with that theme a lot. You can choose your own path and pick sides during the battles based on what you’ve learned so far. Some of the seriousness of decisions you have to make scare me because of what other events it may set off in the future of the story. I’m far from finishing.
The second game I’ve tried is Horizons Zero Dawn. Again, open world, but the scenery and characters are animated in such a surreal way. The way everything moves and interacts with other objects in the game is so true to life it’s almost scary how real it is. The story is also somewhat of a conspiracy about how the world may turn out one day and I really appreciate the details. I’m not even close to finishing that game and have tried to thoroughly complete each part, yet I’m excited to see where the story takes the character. There’s a lot of hinting to what the future holds and pieces you find along the way to a bigger, hidden plot.
Vive and Beyond
As for the future of gaming, Millenials are lucky that we learn how to use new technology so quickly. The amount of information our brains take in per day is higher than its ever been compared to past generations. I’m lucky that I get to be with someone like Micah who works in emerging technology. He specifically works for HTC Vive which is their virtual reality system. I’ve been exposed to the process of how something like that gets developed, marketed, sold and I’ve even played some of the games on there. There’s really nothing like the actual immersion of yourself into a game. I haven’t played anything too crazy because some of the more intense stuff scares me a little bit.
My favorite game so far is Beat Saber which takes songs and has you follow the beat with things that look like lightsabers which are controlled by a controller in each hand. The harder the difficulty, the more it has you do. The first step is just moving your arms but it goes to jabbing, ducking and much faster movement. It’s within the family of something like Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution, but it’s honestly a workout especially if you raise the difficulty.
I look forward to the new releases Vive will come out with in the future because the experience is unlike anything you’ve ever seen or felt before. I recommend to anyone that hasn’t been in VR to try it out! There’s a difference between the VR through the Vive or something like PlayStation VR. If you want to try it out there may be a virtual reality arcade in your area!
After reading my long winded list, what games did you play when you were a kid? Or do you have any recommendations?
If you’ve read up to this point, thank you so much for sticking with me until the end and all the support I’ve received on my blog in the last little while! I’m trying to touch on new topics and write things people like to read but also keep it personal to me.