I was the oldest kid in my family growing up. There was me, my brother, and my two step-brothers around frequently, along with a plethora of step-cousins that I saw far more often than any of my extended blood relations. Being the oldest of the kids that were around, I occasionally found myself annoyed when I was playing a game and one of the little cousins interfered.
This is a problem that pretty much everyone who has played video games in the presence of children has experienced. You want to sit down and get a game in, but your friend’s six-year-old brother or whatever wants to play. There is maybe some crying and complaining to parents and an order to let the kid play. You are resentful as you hand the controller over, so you go and stew on it, then you grow up to cynically complain about it on the internet.
I have written extensively about music in my life, although for the most part it has been about what I listened to after I began to grow up. Most people have a point where they start to make choices for themselves as far as what art they want to consume. For me, that time was right around age 12, and I did it harder than a lot of people do. I sort of unilaterally decided that my parents’ music sucked and started making choices for myself. The first music I bought for myself? Pearl Jam’s Ten. On cassette.
I moved to New York City from Tulsa in the summer of 2003. I feel like I say this a lot, but that was a strange time in my life. I had upended everything I had known, while in the process making some personal decisions that hurt those close to me, not least of all the girl with whom I moved to New York. At the time we found our apartment, we were engaged; by Christmas following the move, we were no longer dating. It should tell you something about the exigencies of living in New York that we continued to live together for another year and a half after that.
In that first year, I saw Peelander-Z at Pianos on my 21st birthday, left college due to inability to pay, worked as a barista for the first (but certainly not the last) time, and met several people who would become my best friends in New York, including some fucking guy. In addition to all that, I went back to Oklahoma to reconnect with my friends and family every few months. Given my frequently-shifting personal circumstances and relationships, each visit proved to be a little different and occasionally surreal. With all that change, I needed a constant. That constant was Super Mario 64.
Before the age of the internet, it was much more difficult for a gamer to get information on what he or she wanted to play. Once a month you got your game magazine, more often if you read a couple. Other than that, you had your friends and their opinions. As we all eventually learn, sometimes your friends are wrong.
Ninja Gaiden was an odd game for an odd time. It was part of the inescapable ninja craze of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s that I appear to have never grown out of, judging by the star tattooed on my shoulder. There were many other ninja games from that time, ushered in by (among other things) the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The key difference between this and the rest of those games, though, is a simple one: Ninja Gaiden is totally awesome.
Music in games is a very strange thing. Given how, over the short lifespan of the medium, sound in general has been treated, the way that music has evolved has a sort of logic to it that sort of defies conventional explanation. Being both a sadist and a pretentious prick, I am going to go ahead with that anyway.
I was as late to the party on the Super NES as I really ever have been on a video game system. It came out in the US in 1991, and while we’d rented one several times and played a fair share of Super Mario World and F-Zero, it was not until my brother got one for his birthday in the summer of 1994 that it became ours. (For a point of reference, we got a Sega CD before we got the SNES. That was, for lack of a better word, a blunder.)
It was first proposed that we should start a website writing about video games a couple of years ago. Through various snafus and false starts (not a few of which were my fault), it has taken us this long to actually come together.
When the idea was first proposed, I worried. After all, what could I possibly say that someone with the breadth of experience and talent of my cohort would not? However, I have come to realize that this is not the point of what we are doing here. We are not reviewing anything. We are not making a list. We are not trying to reach a consensus, and I suspect that very little of what we do here will be anything like journalism.