Thursday, January 15, 2015

Gaming Nostalgia - From The Gaming Enthusiast

The story of how somebody goes from first picking up that NES/Super NES/Sega/N64 controller (or that Game Boy) to knowing for a fact that they are a gamer, through and through, is different for everyone. Everybody has a particular console, game, and even a type of snack or a particular soundtrack, that sums up their experiences of first becoming a gamer. I was directed to revisit my own experiences with first becoming a gamer thanks to the good people at Man Crates.
The whole concept behind Man Crates is you are sent a whole whack of goodies in a custom-made wooden box that has to be opened with a crowbar. How awesome is that?! They feature a bunch of different types of gifts for men to send to that man in your life, from custom NFL bar ware to a hot and spicy crate to a golfer's crate and even a whiskey connoisseur crate. One of the most popular crates they sell is the Retro Gaming Crate, so even that nerdy man in your life can be gifted to something special!

Anyway, back on topic: Here is the story of how I first became a gamer.
When I was growing up, my older brother owned all of the gaming consoles in the house. Which meant that getting one-on-one time on any game was incredibly rare.

But so long as I wasn't being a pestering brat, I was allowed to watch as my brother played his games. I had the most fun watching when he played N64 games, since that was the system hooked up in the living room and I wasn't allowed to go into his room to watch him play Tony Hawk on the PS1. He would play Perfect Dark and Star Fox 64 and Goldeneye 007. My favorite game to watch him play, the one I wanted to play myself the most, was Banjo Kazooie. Even to this day, while some people have difficulty sitting and watching a game being played, I've never minded gaming as post an interactive and a spectator sport.

The few times I was allowed to play with my brother, it was so that I could become target practice when he played Goldeneye, which was not the greatest experience. But when my dad started taking me along with my brother to rent movies and games from Blockbuster, I decided to pick up a few games that were better suited to my child-like sensibilities.
I figured out the basic workings of a game controllers from a varying series of Rugrats games, most for the PS1 that I was allowed to use after my mother made my brother let me into his room to play my rented games. I know these seem quite lame to anybody that grew up playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games on their Super NES (which my brother had, which I also wasn't allowed to play), but for a little sister that didn't own her own gaming console and had to share with her brother, these games were actually a lot of fun. And I actually beat one of them, which I believe was titled "Totally Angelica" XD

Eventually I did come to own my very first video game, and a while after that I owned my first gaming console, but before that happened, I came into contact with a game that I would solely define as one of the game of my particular generation. I was nowhere near 17 years old when I played it, nor was my brother, but this M rated game was a big part of both our childhoods. This game is known as Conker's Bad Fur Day for the N64.
This game was vulgar, inappropriate, highly offensive, and at the same time, incredibly awesome. This game put to shame the days where my mother was upset with me for playing my brother's copy of Grand Theft Auto 3 because she thought it was too inappropriate for my age. Conker set the bar for ridiculous games, and is oddly enough one of my favorites from my childhood (people of Man Crate! Definitely take note of this game - it'd be quite the addition to one of your Retro Game crates).

One distinct memory I have with this game is playing it with one of my older cousins, Benny. We played with one of the multiplayer campaigns, in which you can either play as the Jewish squirrels or the Nazi teddy bears - you can guess how the layout of this game might go. On my cousin's insistence, we always played as the teddy bears, one of us running around shooting and another one of us manning the massive gun at our HQ. I remember that when we won (and we played about 10 times in a row that day) it ended with the squirrels huddled in a cage with the teddy bears marching around. If you listen carefully, as they march the teddy bears are reciting the Oompa Loompa theme from the original Willy Wonka movie.

If you needed real proof of how offensive this game can get, that's it right there XP Nevertheless, as an ignorant young girl just opening up to the world of video games, getting to win against the squirrels and then excitedly high five my older cousin is a memory that remains with me to this day.
The first game that I ever received as a gift, the first game I ever owned, was Banjo Tooie for the N64. I might not have owned the console that it was played on (which meant I still needed my brother's permission or my mother's intervening in order to play it), but it was still a game that was all mine. Later on, when I would come to own an Xbox 360, one of the first games I downloaded for it was Banjo Tooie, which I love playing for purely nostalgic purposes.

Both Banjo Kazooie and Banjo Tooie are highly nostalgic games for me; the characters and the situations they end up in make me laugh, and there's enough of a challenge to the levels that make this game a far cry from a "little kid's game", even if the content is appropriate for kids. Even nowadays, if I'm sitting at my Xbox instead of my N64, playing Banjo Tooie and munching on some Spicy Doritos which have been a favorite of mine since childhood, it brings me back to the days of sitting on the floor, neck craned up to the TV screen, purple or silver N64 controller in hand, having fun on a Friday night and making the transition into the gamer I am today.

Later on I would receive a Nintendo Gamecube for Christmas, which would be my first gaming console, and it would be one that I would rarely have to share. Those games were all mine, but if I want to pin down when I first became a gamer, it would be when I was either playing rented Blockbuster games with my brother's (or mother's) permission, or even when I would be sitting with my brother and watching him play his games.
Both of the Retro Gaming crates that Man Crate offers - the original and the Super Retro Gaming Crate pictured above - include a plethora of nostalgic treats and even some playable games to send you right back to a time when you were just beginning the transition into becoming an adult gamer.

Man Crates is definitely a site you should check out for that special man in your life - geek or otherwise - and if you have any interesting stories or memories related to when you first were introduced to gaming, let me know in the comments below :)

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