My gaming youth or how I didn't have a console and the franchises I missed

  • We all started playing games at some point. Perhaps since your earliest memories or if you just began, but we all share our enthusiasm for games and the EZA community. So how did we all get to this point? Here's how I did.

    I imagine myself being younger than most people here, and so my history with games begins a little later in time, but early in my childhood. Little background: my dad is a computer engineer. So he was really into PC in its earlier stages. He also has a Naval navigation certificate or something like that. As a child I was, let's say... restless. So in order I could fall asleep (and that my parents could sleep), we had played a game that my dad loved and passed that love for this franchise to me. That game was Silent Hunter.
    A game where you take command of a submarine during World War 2. I hadn't understood what world war was or entire concept of warfare, but hell yeah I was into it!

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    There were 2 more games that I have to highlight at the time. Two games and franchises that would ignite my passions for the strategy genre:
    The Settlers 3 and Age of Empires. These two franchise also finish my narrow but still deep love for the genre. No strategy game ever matched what I felt when playing these two franchises. But there was one that came very close at that time and which I love: Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom. With the sequels, this is my golden era for strategy. Especially Age of Empires 2 is one of my favorite games of all time and it's almost certainly the game that I spent most time on.

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    There was one game that somehow squeezed between these masterpieces and presented me to the FPS genre: Return to Castle Wolfenstein.
    What I love most about this game is that it was loooooong. It had so many levels in many different environments. Shooting felt great and the story was creepy, but immersive and it contain some elements of horror at certain levels. The sequel to Silent Hunter also came out and you know I'll play that. And just to remind you, I was extremely young at the time. So, a giant thank you to my parents for presenting me all these treasures. Truly, gaming was good.

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    Strategy genre died out, however. But it had to be replaced. By what? Well, following my discovery of Star Wars, probably my favorite overall franchise, I got my hands onto: Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy.
    Regarded by community, including myself, the best lighsaber combat 'till this day. That game was amazing, I replayed it many times, and it opened new doors to me: the RPGs. I went back and played prequel to Jedi Academy, titled Jedi Outcast. Not enjoyed it as much as the sequel, but still a very good game with great story.

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    After that, of course I wanted more. And again, a legacy of my parents emerges.
    So, video games have been and still might be stereotypically considered a thing for guys, it wasn't a thing for women. My mom however, has played a lot of original Prince of Persia, the 2D platform game, where you have to reach the top of the palace and rescue the princess within the time limit. So you can imagine my surprise when she, telling me that, puts in front of me: Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. A game, that still remains my favorite game of all time. The tone, the story, the characters, the combat.... everything is perfect to me. Of course I had to play part one: The sands of time after. While not quite matching the sequel, it was still a masterpiece. Definitely my favorite franchise.
    Another game that came out at the time was Sims 2 that, while wasn't really my cup of tea, it is still worth mentioning.
    A year later came the conclusion of the franchise: Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones. It provided a tweak in combat and a giant beautiful world and a nice, proper conclusion to the trilogy.

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    So 2005 was a great year for me. I got many great games that I still love, sequels to the franchises that I admire. Along The Two Thrones, there were Silent hunter 3 which is my favorite in the franchise, Age of Empires 3 with amazing scenario editor, The Settlers: Heritage of Kings, And Call of Duty 2, which I consider the best in the franchise. So many great games to play.

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    Following the amazing 2005, which satiated me for quite some time, came an interesting period for me. I really got into MMOs and browser games. While not really the best in quality, it offered a great new perspective on gaming. While not giving such immersion or excitement, they do give a nice amusement and occupy you for a long time. In this time I missed a lot of games, but it gave me another side of gaming, that I hadn't experienced until then. Games like that are Last Chaos, Lord of the Rings Online, Aion, Sonny, Age of Speed...

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    But not all games were like that. Two sequels to my dear franchises came: Silent Hunter 4: Wolves of the Pacific and The Settlers: Rise of an Empire. While not my favorite parts of the franchise, they were still solid games.

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    Until 2010 I have to mention 3 more games: Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands and Prince of Persia 2008. Forgotten Sands was realistically a bad game. While visually most advanced, the combat was bland and certain scenes looked like the developers got lazy. Even story was nothing special and while I'll take anything this franchise gives me and there were some nice points in the game, I cannot grade this game positive. Then I went back to 2008. This is visually the most pleasing game of the franchise. The artsyle is amazing, the combat is engaging and brings a twist to the franchise and all the time you are emotionally invested in the characters and the story. Also, the last great strategy game that I really appreciate: Anno 1404.

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    After that follows a dark period in my gaming history. My computer is old, I have no income, I go to highschool now. Most MMOs don't hold my attention anymore. So I have to figure something out. So I get into MOBAs. Most of them I didn't get invested in, maybe with an exception with two: World of Tanks, that I got into for a couple of months, and League of Legends. There's a reason that it's most popular MOBA. It's free, it's simple but at the same time it offers enough strategical challenge to easily fall into. Community, however, is just terrible. Still, I stuck ti it. I played LoL for five years and during this time I also got into eSports. I liked the excitement and big plays, but most that I got from it, is the love from commentating. Combined with my love for sports on TV and commentators, I started to study it in my free time. I even learned some things from GT and EZA. But LoL, while fun, does not satisfy a Lore whore like myself. So we have a big problem: I need a game with a good story that could run on an old computer and be cheap/free. So I was very excited when I learned that Star Wars: The Old Republic will get a free to play option. Of course I got into it. Most people didn't get into it, mostly because it's not kotor 3, it's too mmo for singleplayer players and too lore oriented for MMO players, and the game had unfinished engine. So the game was perfect for me: I love Star Wars, I don't care if it's not kotor 3, because I never played these games, I had experience both with MMOs and single player games and I liked both, and I had a dumb computer that could barely run game anyway. The game is amazing, especially after the expansions. Knights of the fallen empire, didn't only add more content, but it eased the progression, so it requires no grinding to advance in the story, which bothered many people. The game also includes two versions of space combat.

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    So a year ago, I finally bought a capable gaming PC. I also found EZA, so now I'm back on track. I've caught up with games from 2014 forward, but there is still a giant hole in my background. You may have noticed that all games I mentioned are for PC. Do you remember when I said that my dad is computer engineer? Since I was presented with PC so early, I never had any need to get a console and I was not even presented with one until much later. In my dark period I could have switched to a console, but even when I tried to get into it, I just hated the feel of a controller. I just appreciate mouse and keyboard too much. It's not that I don't respect console players, but I grew up with PC, this is my home and a console, whether hand-held or stationary, feels so alien to me. Now that I've researched the industry, I've also formed my opinion about relevance of consoles, so if you have questions or viewpoints on this topic, check the post from @tius here:

    So, because of said reasons, I've also missed many franchises, that are considered classic and a lot of people may lynch me. These include but are not limited to: Legend of Zelda, DeusX, Dragon quest, Mario, Sonic, Final Fantasy, Gran Turismo, Resident Evil, Halo, Battlefield, Donkey Kong, Crash Bandicoot, Bejeweled, Tekken, Super Smash Bros., Ratchet & Clank, Animal Crossing, God of War, Uncharted, Kingdom Hearts, Warcraft, Metroid, Red Dead, Star Fox, Yakuza.... and many more.

    And because I'm tied to a single platform, I probably won't taste many of them. But you know what? I'm not sorry. I learned to appreciate games that I was able to play. You could argue that you played better games, but I enjoyed my playing mine a much as I've had playing yours. All the games I mentioned above, I recommend as long as they fit your playstyle.

    Will I play any classics that you missed? Probably not. Classics mean to me that they were great and/or popular games when they were released and were important in development of gaming. But most of appreciation of them is based on nostalgia. If those games were released today, they would be considered bad or underperforming [compared to today's games. And I admit that many classics and retro games have certain charm that more demanding games loose, but manage capture its own in other aspects.] edit
    I appreciate all the good things that those games left you, as did games above to me, but most of them I would probably not like or I don't feel are worth my time in the present.

    Would I be ready to buy console anytime in the future? Well... more than anything, I would need a good deal. I've have invested a lot of money into my new PC and the games I bought, so more than anything, I would need something cheap. Maybe next year when Neo and Scorpio get out, the old models's price will fall and I might get it, preferably with some sort of bundle with a cool game. I'm really looking forward to NX, because the new Zelda looks astonishing. If it will be in my budget, I would like to get that.

    What are your biggest missed franchises? What consoles did you have?

    Thx for reading.

  • I like these sort of personal stories of people's experiences growing up with, or experiencing games. They remind me that more than anything else, games communicate in a personal way, and we remember them vividly as things we did rather than something that we saw/read. Kinda like music, there's a distinct time and place in our mind for the medium.

    "Classics mean to me that they were great and/or popular games when they were released and were important in development of gaming. But most of appreciation of them is based on nostalgia. If those games were released today, they would be considered bad or underperforming."

    I strongly disagree with this, however. Most of what I play are older games from the third generation onwards---all games I missed and have no nostalgia for, and there are drop-dead masterpieces that put modern gaming to shame. But I do agree that it takes a slightly different disposition in order to really love them; sorta like how you can't go into a silent film expecting dialogue.

    Anyways, good read!

    PS: Oops. Forgot to answer your closing question. At the moment, I have a Wii, PS3, and PS4. I have had a number of consoles in the past however (NES, Genesis, PS1, N64, PS2), and I play a lot at a friend's house who's a big collector. As far as series I never got around to, I've never played Silent Hill or Fatal Frame (both of which I want to, just wasn't into scary games for the longest time), Neverwinter Nights, The Tales of... games, Gothic, the Xenogears/saga/blade series and a few others. I've spent a good amount of time recently filling in blind spots so there aren't any really huge series that I haven't got into in one way or another.

  • @Ringedwithtile Thx for sharing your thoughts. I too agree that games leave an everlasting impact on us. It is also a great means to unite people :D

    Really nice to see people's opinions and experiences.
    Also, yeah I was probably too harsh on the classics. I'll try to fix that.

  • Oh man, Age of Empires IV is still THE dream! Great post!

    My consoles at the moment are SNES, N64, GameCube, Wii, Wii U, PS1 - PS4, XBox!

    The biggest franchise i missed is probably Mega Man!

  • @Exist-2-Inspire There are rumors going around about it. I hoped that it will be teased at E3, but not yet apparently. Don't stop dreaming!

  • I was lucky enough to have various different consoles and PCs over the years. However, I completely missed the Uncharted series and I recently borrowed a PS4 from a friend to play through the whole series and I just can't do it. The gameplay in the first one is pretty bad for today's standards and the second game didn't do much better (except for a few smaller set piece moments). I only really played the first few hours of the first and second one. Didn't even bother to play the third one and am trying to make myself play the fourth one. Since I never had the nostalgia you described for the first couple of games, I don't really care much for the latest one. Just everybody keeps telling me to play it ;) I bet it is good, but most days, siI rather just pick up Overwatch and play a match or two.

    There are other franchises like that, which I passed along completely. As much as I loved the Resident Evil VII reveal, I only ever played the first game. I also never really got around to Ratchet & Clank, God of War games or even the Kingdom Hearts games. There just wasn't enough time or money to get though to all of them.

    It doesn't really matter to me whether I played a particular series all the way through. I didn't like the first two Witcher games but really enjoyed the first 10 or so hours of Witcher 3. After that, it was a grind for me and I moved on. It's about having fun, not about forcing yourself to play something you don't want to play ;)

    @Nillend Thanks for sharing. Maybe sometime soon I will follow in your steps and write up my gaming background :)

  • I have been strictly PC-only my entire life simply because there was no way my family would get a machine dedicated to video games. The exception being an occasional older game that I emulated (like Pokemon Red and Gold, Crash Bandicoot, Earthbound, Super Metroid, Silent Hill, MGS, God Hand). But I'm not complaining as there was always a lot to play on PC and nothing will replace the memories of years and years of Quake and Counter Strike multiplayer. Growing up with PCs also makes a person a bit more tech-savvy, so that's something to be thankful for.

    I did, however, miss all of post-N64 era Nintendo games, so that's kind of a bummer. I dabbled in Majora's Mask and Super Mario 64, but never really committed. I really want to really get back in those two specifically some time later on.

    But now I'm in my own apartment, I have a job, and I just got a PS3 a week ago after having missed out on two generations of console exclusives. Between Vanquish, Bayonetta, Catherine and (emulated) Yakuza 1, I feel like I have rediscovered video games. And if I ever get a current gen console, it will be yeeears from now. Just thinking about how I can finally finish the MGS series, experience Red Dead Redemption, and catch up on all those action games makes me giddy. Plus, those games cost next to nothing nowadays.

    Patience pays off.