My Gaming History ‘Part 3’
Before I begin the next part of my gaming history, I have to mention something that I read online yesterday.
It was one of those really damning reports of gaming and violent content. This kind of story has risen it’s head from time to time ever since graphics looked more than just cubes.
It was deemed, in the experiment, that violent video games had effected the brains activity after just one week of play. But this time, this was said to be the first ‘credible’ scientific evidence that there is/was an effect. They were using an MRI scan too…money well spent.
I won’t go into too much detail about how the ‘male’ only subjects were forced to play violent games, like it or not and after a week of not playing, brain functionality appeared to restore to normal…
If parents are really worried about their children being effected by computer game violence, they should first learn to take the ratings stated on the box, seriously. By the time I was eighteen, I had played a fair amount of games with guns but the last thing I wanted to do, was join the army or follow a life of crime. It sounded like far too much effort to me.
Secondly, science gave us computers. During times where we see more and more freedoms extinguished in the first world, we have expressed our wild imaginations, creating all manner of video games because we’re experimenting. Remember that science…jog on.
Before kids can even function a control pad for a games console, you can observe them in various situations, quite blatantly smacking, biting, hitting and throwing all manner of things for what seems to be no reason at all.
Funny how science doesn’t point the finger at the least developed countries, the countries where they have literally banned a console, like the Nintendo NES, for suspecting it is a western super computer, capable of destroying their society. Instead they’ll settle for hate tribes, child rape and stoning people to death for not believing in a sky fairy, created in their minds.
This kind of story has more holes in it than Osama Bin Laden. Sometime in 2009 for the first time in my life I decided to get rid of my games console (mainly due to the fact I was unable to afford to eat). I had never been without a games machine since birth and I can honestly say that the only positive effects were that I saw more sunlight.
It doesn’t take a scientist to predict that in the future we won’t be leaving games at all, we’re already seeing players playing times rise exponentially.
Eventually we’ll be fully submerged in a bath of neurological violent wonderment, free to experience whatever we choose for however long we like, defecating in a Microsoft licensed colostomy bag being fed nutrients unlocked via the completion of achievements.
As the violence in videos games to me is fairly comical, I’ve never put down the controller thinking I’d quite like to go into town and kick a stripper in the face with a work boot, because she didn’t show me her tits.
Why not perform an experiment in the opposite room and scan the brains of young men watching endless world news casts and see how brain function is effected when subjected to stories out of their control. Displaying images of older generations still tripping over their dicks about who has the most army and who is today’s ‘odd one out’. Remember, it’s the same older generation who weren’t brought up on video games, the same older generation who thought smoking made you stronger and black people belonged in the jungle.
Judging by the length of that rant, my intended write up on the next instalment may have to spill over into part four. I’ll begin again, where I left off.
The Mega Drive was released whilst I still owned the Master System and the NES. They were both too good to throw out even though the 16bit cloud was looming overhead. It was always great at this time (as you had much experience with the games) to invite your friends around and win triumphantly at all of them, whilst laughing at them trying to play the game with the ‘other’ pad, with only 85% functionality from a spilt Coke incident.
Many battles were fought on these two player platforms, friendships were tested. Infuriating games like ‘Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers’ on the NES. A seemingly innocent platform game based on Walt Disney’s childhood favourites.
It’s a tough game when playing solo, so a friend is a welcomed partner, or so you’d think.
The characters were able to pick up and throw just about any objects placed in the game world, including, your partner. During a particular hard traverse over some precarious landscapes, you would be overcome with the urge to throw your friend off the edge of the screen, thus resulting in a scrap, no doubt in your mums living room. If you haven’t noted the sarcasm re: violence, at this point, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
0600 Hours, December 25th 1992, the Mega Drive was unwrapped from its polystyrene womb.
Little did they know, this new, evermore powerful machine, was aptly named. Mega, meaning ‘fucking brilliant’ and drive meaning ‘drive’, found in a computer i guess.
So the Mega Drive had a much better name in Europe. The yanks decided due to legal reasons it should be renamed the ‘Sega Genesis’. Genesis meaning ‘the time or circumstances of something’s coming into being’ not to be mistaken with the first book found in the bible. But seeing as though a massive percentage of the yanks still believe the world was created in a week, you could see this as a bit odd.
In my case, the console came ready to roll with Altered Beast, a game where you are brought back to life to punch zombies in the head to save a someone’s daughter. Kinda sounds biblical doesn’t it?
The Mega Drive looked fucking cool, as did most things from SEGA. A far cry from Nintendo’s NES which was basically a toaster laid on its side with a flip down lid. We’d come a long way since the days of my VIC-20.
The Mega Drive was packing heat too. Powered by the cutting edge 16/32-bit processor from Motorola, boasting video performance never seen in a home console. A massive 512 colour palette, 64K Video Ram, 64K Work Ram. All punched through your pathetic six inch mono speaker by a combination of Yamaha and Texas instrument sound boards. This console sparked off not only one of the biggest console wars in history but made such a mark in Europe and North America, an accurate sales figure is hard to find. Ranging from as low as 29 million units to 40 million units sold. Nintendo’s NES was beaten like a bad step child.
SEGA reigned supreme, that was until two years later, the Super Nintendo was released. It is still to this day debated which was the better console, each having their own unique qualities and titles.
The last licensed game for the Megadrive was released in Brazil in 2002. The legend lives on with games being emulated on PC and MAC, with releases also appearing on PS3 and Xbox today.
I could go on and on about the console alone, as it has had such a following but this would be straying off course a little.
There was an abundance of games available at the time and some pretty reasonably priced too. This was due to the fact the console had already been around for two years after its initial release in Japan in 1988.
I remember popping open the large game case of Altered beast and flicking through the booklet, wondering ‘just how close to the arcade is this?’. I was pleasantly surprised, the music, the art work and the game play were satisfying, even on this early title.
It’s a shame to lose such a well crafted, well balanced simple gaming affair that you experienced on the 16bit machines. We do of course have such a range to chose from today but the old feel of the 4th gen consoles could be compared to that when reading an old book, rather than a Kindle.
In terms of difficulty, Altered Beast made Bayou Billy look like a game of catch, unfortunately with the same combat techniques. This was serious platforming.
You begin being rudely awoken from death by a god of some description, who wastes no time in telling you exactly what he needs from you, since he granted you life again. His daughter has been kidnapped by some bald chap who looked like Captain Jean luc Picard, in a dressing gown.
The game appears to be set in a ancient fantasy land, much like that of the Golden Axe title of the time. Mythical beasts and zombies come at you from the moment you brush off the dirt from the ditch you were lying in and you must punch, kick, jump and kick your way out. At various stages in the level you are able to kick a blue two headed dog to death and retrieve a magic floating orb.
By doing so your character looks to the screen, shouting the infamous line, “POWER, UP!” Your vest rips open and you grow in strength. This will happen a total of three times during a level before the transformation happens. Take note, just like gym culture in real life, these body enhancements gives the character huge muscles but your head, unfortunately, stays the same size.
When the fourth and final orb is collected, you are shown a short animation of the transformation from muscle maniac, to wild beast. In this first instance you turn into the wolf man and with it, you gain some extra combat abilities.
You can now fire balls of flame from your hands in both directions, with the secondary attack you can now rush across the screen, invincible to oncoming attacks, breaking foes into bags of meat and bone. For a brief moment you feel like a god, literally, the level becomes your playground as you smash enemies left and right.
Sadly the fun is cut short, when the pale bald man you have been sent to kill appears in front of you emanating electricity, which you cannot get passed. You’re lead to believe this is all you will have to face until the music stops, the man laughs at you and is then engulfed in smoke as he turns into…a ten foot tall ogre, rooted to the ground by corpses of the dead, with the ability to continually throw his own head at you until you die.
After some hundred or so fire balls to his body, he bursts once again into smoke before opening up a hole in the ground to which a large bald head of a man appears again, to laugh at you whilst taking your special powers away and giving back your vest.
Remember, all of this happens, in level one.
I apologise for not even beginning to mention the items at the end of part 2. I will continue in the next part of my gaming history with the full run down of my Mega Drive experience.
Shit’s about to get real.