There is no time in my functional memory that does not include at least a passing knowledge of the existence of the ninja, so I can’t say for sure when I became aware of them. (Most likely it occurred during a way-too-young viewing of the 1980s Michael Dudikoff classic American Ninja series.) As with more or less every preadolescent with such inclinations, I became enamored with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the latter part of the decade, and as previously noted, one of my first games was Ninja Gaiden.
SMB: Those three letters are enough to make a gamer recall some of the greatest and (occasionally) some of the hardest times of their lives. Everyone who’s played SMB can think back with a sense of triumph to their successes, and more specifically, to their failures. Sometimes the memories might have more to do with what went wrong, sure, but there is definitely a point at which that success, that victory, is achieved. When that happens, it all becomes worthwhile.
And so it is with SMB: Super Meat Boy.
Oh, you thought I was talking about that other one?
Ico is something else. Ico is about remembering what it’s like to figure things out for yourself.
NFL Blitz was a sign of the coming end of arcades, sure, but it was also a lot of fun. Even if it stole my lunch money.
As anyone who reads this knows, I’m a legacy gamer of sorts, at least insofar as my mom was playing video games before I was ever born. I was never scolded for playing too many games, even when maybe I should have been, but it was not long before I surpassed her in breadth of knowledge and skill when it came to gaming.
Before any of that, though, I didn’t know the difference between a penny and a quarter.
When you take one of the most beloved and informative games of all time, jack up the difficulty somewhere just past sane, and hold it back from an adoring public for the better part of a decade, you can cause an ostensible adult to go airborne.
I swear that will make more sense in a minute.
I have not been much of a racing gamer for a while. I certainly respect how much the genre has evolved from its early days; both the Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport series are an ever-improving apotheosis of racing at home, giving a simulation that is, in some cases, literally good enough to train us for driving on the real-life tracks the games represent
I learned a lot more about driving from these games than it is probably safe to publicly admit. Because of simulation racers, I think about lines and acceleration and vehicular physics in a way I maybe never would have grokked on my own. They were crucial to my skilled-but-not-necessarily-legal driving style.
The funny thing is, I suck at them.