Over the many years, gamers play through countless titles, each with their own story to tell and gameplay that excites and entices us all. Certain games in particular become a critical cornerstone to our gaming history, influencing not only our gaming lives but also affecting us outside the gaming bubble too. The team here at Console Monster reflect on these chosen few, the ones that made a mark on our gaming lives.
If you’d like to join in on this discussion with your own, please do leave your comments below.
Shining Force II was an absolute triumph in my eyes, and not just for being released in my year of birth (1993 for those that care). Staring, young and naïve, at my Grandad’s boxy TV, gunning the Sega Mega Drive long into the night and well past my bedtime, I discovered patience and a love for the genre I would later come to know as the RPG.
Beautiful cartoony visuals and a hand-painted look for the backdrops and sprites in the battle-screens made for a picturesque fantasy experience, and a memorably characterised cast of players brought more than a hint of favouritism into my tactical decisions when selecting my team for battle.
I doubt that without the guiding hand of whichever responsible adult happened to be around at the time I’d have gotten all that far but progress never really mattered, this was a game I was happy starting again an infinite number of times. Rereleased on PS3 and Xbox 360 in Sega’s 2009 compilation, Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, it’s still one you can grab on consoles to this day, so if you fancy delving into the world of Shining, a series with various entries, grab a copy in the bargain bins!
2002’s Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is another childhood favourite. It wasn’t so much a case of bad parenting on my Mother’s part; more the result of a wilful child determined to have his way.
I set myself apart from my friends by demanding to play through the story without cheats which at the time earned me the reputation of being somewhat of a bore. They weren’t so negative later when they got to see protagonist Tommy Vercetti carving into a fat Cuban man with a chainsaw. I think it was around this point that our clandestine gaming sessions were rumbled.
The defensive fortifications of a few piles of 10-year-old bedroom ephemera obstructing access to our surreptitious cruises through Vice City were summarily breached by the childminder and our disc confiscated, never to return. Missing, presumed destroyed, it would be a few more years until I got to return to Vice City again, but seeing as the game matured so well, with its freedom, expanse, pithy dialogue and unprecedentedly, utterly perfect soundtrack, perhaps the wait was never such a bad thing.
Vice City would set the tone for what we understand to be the modern Grand Theft Auto title, and though it was leaps and bounds behind what we’re seeing in the latest iterations, it had a charm and abandon that Rockstar will struggle to recreate in full.
At the dawn of the last console generation, titles were thin on the ground, and many of the launch titles were destined to head quickly to the video game bone yard, that is, to be placed back in their boxes, never to return. Happily enough it wouldn’t be too long a wait until the fourth instalment in the Elder Scrolls series landed in March 2006 and changed my world entirely (probably robbing me of a few grades along the way).
I’d always loved RPGs – the sense of progression and the knowledge that this could be tracked appealed to my compulsive nature. But absent a high powered PC up until that point I’d been largely precluded from enjoying a wonderful visual accompaniment with my role-playing titles.
Coming from a Grandad-inspired background of 90s PC RPG classics, manifested mainly as Might & Magic VI and VI, the routine of starting with nothing but a club and the clothes on my back and manipulating whoever I met into supplying me with a fat heap of gold was a familiar one, but once I got a chance to take this style of game into a beautifully rendered, seemingly limitless realm and allowed such extensive freedom to roam and explore, I was taken immediately.
The first-person, trigger-based combat set up felt peculiar at first, but once I’d adapted the immersion was brilliant. Over the next 3 years I’d burn days and days puzzling at how to get the most out of each quest, finding exploits, equivocating over whether to Vampire or not-to-Vampire. There was a sense of humour and honesty to Oblivion; a warmth rarely seen in today’s games.
It paved the way for Skyrim, and Skyrim was indeed a masterpiece. It’s still a masterpiece and both Oblivion and Skyrim have played their part in piquing my interest in The Elder Scrolls Online, but where Skyrim is the technical masterpiece, and most appealing to the eye, Oblivion is the one that will long remain in my heart.
Gaming has been around long before I was even born however there are certain games which will always remain close to me for various different reasons. Alongside the some of the Console Monster crew, we look at the top three games that we’ve ever played, and give our reasons as to why. Feel free to comment on our games and compile your own list in the comments below.
Being a twenty five year old gamer it will become to surprise to you that my first console was a Super Nintendo. I always remember getting the SNES for Christmas way back in 1996. I was so excited to finally get my hands on a computer console, and the three games I had were Starwing, Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country. It was a tough choice to choose between those three games as they are all great in their own right, but I’ve decided that Donkey Kong would get my vote out of the three as I loved that game. The two player aspect with Diddy Kong and who could forget the famous mine-karting level?! It was amazing and something that I will remember forever. What’s even better is that it ages quite well. I still have my original SNES which is in fully working order. I can’t wait t play that in my 60’s.
In my opinion this game should be in every persons top three games of all time. It was, and in my opinion, THE best game ever to be played on Xbox LIVE. The ranking system was outstanding, the amount of players playing the game was superb, the levels for multiplayer were of the highest quality *cough* Lockout *cough* and most of all, ALL my friends from school played the game with me. There was no better feeling than finishing off your turkey dinosaurs and potato smiley faces in order to rush upstairs and play online with your friends. These were also the days of fun smack talk on Xbox LIVE before party chat killed all of that. Man, I miss Halo 2!
You know the one. The game with the best ever box-art ever as the football game had a referee on the front cover. It’s ok though as the referee was the legend that is Pierluigi Collina. Pro Evolution ruled over FIFA in those days and I’m sure many of you FIFA fans would agree. But that’s not the reason I loved this game. This game saved me from hanging around the street corners drinking and causing trouble like many other fifteen year old teenagers were doing. Every Friday me and my mates instead of hanging around the streets, would sit round someones house (with their mum and dads permission of course) and play winner stays on PES. This is also one the the last decent PES games before FIFA started to dominate. Ahhh, those were the good old days.
Set in 1960, BioShock placed gamers in the role of Jack, a passenger on a place that goes down in the Atlantic Ocean. As the only survivor of the crash, Jack makes his way to a nearby lighthouse, which holds the entrance to Rapture – an underwater city forged by the personal dreams of its creator.
Something that particularly stood out in BioShock was the tension. I spent a lot of the campaign peaking round corners to see if a Big Daddy was there and anticipating an incoming attack from a Splicer as the music begins to build. It had me on the edge of my seat the entire time.
However, what impressed me the most was the storytelling, which was compelling throughout. Written by Ken Levine and Emily Ridgway, the script was truly engrossing. From the characters and their backgrounds to the twist and turns, everything about it stood out.
I was well and truly enthralled. I listened carefully to every audio diary scattered throughout and read all the theories posted on Internet forums. It was a world I fell in love with and it provided me with an unforgettable experience.
At a time when Nintendo dominated the video game market with mascots such a Mario, Link and Kirby, Sony attempted to introduce their own with the introduction of Crash Bandicoot.
Having seen adverts for the platform video game, I had to wait until Christmas Day 1996 to first experience Crash Bandicoot. I have very fond memories of ripping open the wrapping paper to reveal the game and, without another thought, I put it into the PlayStation and spent the rest of the day on Wumpa Island. It was a similar story in the coming weeks, as I’d rush home from school to attempt to overcome Doctor Neo Cortex’s evil plans.
While the storyline wasn’t innovative or ground-breaking (it was very similar to Super Mario after all), the level structure and variety meant there was plenty of enjoyment to be had. Each set of levels provided new environments, new obstacles and new enemies meant that the game was always entertaining.
Many reviews stated that Crash Bandicoot was just a “simple platform game” but, to me, this is where my gaming adventure really began. It’s the first ever title that had me hooked and, whereas I never fully completed it, it will always be remembered.
Tomb Raider was the first video game that I played that combined my love for both puzzles and gaming. From rearranging objects to defeating bosses and executing a perfectly timed jump to shuffling along ledges, the combination was ideal.
The title, which I played on the PlayStation, had players controlling female archaeologist Lara Croft, who was searching for mysterious Scion artefacts across the world. While it suffered from a number of camera angle problems (which would be unforgiveable in this modern era of gaming), Tomb Raider contained an interesting storyline that threw challenges at the player at every stage.
Whereas many enjoyed Lara Croft for her sex appeal (and her triangular breasts), it was good to finally be able to play as a strong, independent female character, something that was somewhat of a rarity in video games in the 90s. Another memorable feature was the music, which proved incredibly effective at enhancing tension during action sequences and on discovering a hidden secret.
In fact, Tomb Raider has been one of the video game series that I have enjoyed since the outset (despite the occasional flops). The recent reboot made me fall back in love with Lara Croft and I’m looking forward to the future adventures
Being asked to list your best three games of all time is never going to be easy. I sat down and bashed out over a dozen firm favourites, yet seeing as they had to be console games, that made it just a little bit easier. My top trio of gaming nostalgia are games that made an impact on not only my gaming life, but the affect they made to the gaming industry and many gamers. First, let me start with an absolute classic…
The best version of Doom, in my opinion, was the original MS-DOS version back in 1993, however as we’re taking console games the experiences I had on the PlayStation version also left a mark – You see it was my first venture into console-based multiplayer gaming, that I can at least remember anyway.
Two PlayStations, two TVs, facing away from each other of course (to avoid peeking), and a pretty long serial data cable to connect the two together. My self and friends were in gaming nirvana. Although multiplayer on the same screen was the norm; having a full screen to yourself, fighting Imps and flying skulls with a pal was something else.
Then there was Deathmatch, and seeing my buddy’s face light up in horror as I crept up on them, laying bullets from my mini-gun into his backside was priceless. Creeping around on your own in Doom was terrifying enough back then, let alone knowing one of your friends was also in there looking for you too!
Doom gave a taster of over-the-wire multiplayer gaming, and although today’s gaming has seen the 2 metre serial cable replaced with miles of internet cable, the thrill, adrenaline and experience is just the same.
The first launch of the PlayStation was shrouded in an era ‘cool’ and the launch title, Wipeout (1995), from Sony developers Psygnosis, managed to capture this club-going, music-buying culture and mould it into an adrenalin-fuelled masterpiece of video game racing.
I saw the intro for the original Wipeout again recently, and it continues to give me good bumps every time; what with the bass-thumping Orbital, Leftfield and Chemical Brothers electronica soundtrack. Other than FZero on the Super Nintendo, there wasn’t that many futuristic racers on consoles. Wipeout was released just at the right time, with the perfect image and branding from the PlayStation’s launch.
Wipeout got better with age. Something that is rare to say with game franchises. Wipeout 2097 was released in 1996 and was everything fans wanted: with a bump up in graphics, the same stellar line-up of artists in its soundtrack and the gorgeous return from The Designers Republic for its visuals, which made any graphic designer, like myself, wish they had created it themselves.
Wipeout has been a big influence and an inspiration, not only to my gaming antics, but also my creative design, development and music tastes too.
Looking back at Capcom’s first venture into this survival horror genre still manages to bring a smile to my face. Some 18 years on and I still class the original as one of the best survival horrors games out there. I find that current games of this genre give the gamer far too much choice, with their open worlds, character creations and sometimes meaningless character progression and story-lines. All this choice has lead to the player feeling much less immersed as you once were back in the original Resident Evil days, which just kept it raw and simple, focusing on just the frightening experience more than anything else.
The fixed cameras, creaky doors during loading sequences and tension throughout your exploration of the creature-laden mason was truly scary at times. Being a fan of the 1992 PC game ‘Alone in the Dark’, Resident Evil had just the same fixed cameras and a house full ofwandering tension. I am sure Alone in the Dark played a large part in the game’s development, however it didn’t feel like a clone or ripoff of the old PC game that started this whole genre. Over the years the franchise soon earned it’s sequels, however I will never class them in as high regard as I do with the original Resident Evil.
With its B-movie-esk FMV intro sequences and vocal acting, to its luscious (at the time) pre-rendered backgrounds. Playing Resident Evil back in 1996 felt cutting edge. You never knew what chewing-undead you’ll face around the next corridor (or door opening loading sequence), or worse, those mutant dogs that came smashing throughout the windows! Scary and truly genre defying.
There are very few games that have aged as gracefully as Super Metroid on the SNES. Even 20 years on I still find the time to complete at least one playthrough each and every year. The sheer scope of the games intricate level design, the timeless score or the amazing sense of atmosphere to each and every location the game has to offer. Simply enough Super Metroid is a master class of game design defining a genre of its own that is often emulated but never surpassed.
There are few games that have got under my skin quite like Dark Souls. The game constantly taunts and challenges you to surpass its difficulty, made worse by its unapologetic ‘YOU DIED’ caption that I can still make out when I close my eyes. Yet somehow it’s a challenge that I could never turn away from, determine to surpass and outsmart. The world felt enormous and elaborate in its design, the boss encounters magnificent to behold and gloriously rewarding to overcome and its sheer mystery and isolation a well needed vacation from the hand holding nature of the industry today.
On paper Shadow of the Colossus is an extraordinarily simple game, with the player navigating a sole character on a horse to defeat a series of grand colossal boss encounters. One of my fondest gaming moment sees me at the ground looking up at a bird of monstrous scale, sat in wonder as to how on earth I’ll ever get close enough to cause any damage. Suddenly I catch the bird’s attention and it flies towards my direction at alarming speed, with the score rising to a climatic crescendo as it’s about to strike where instinctively I leap to aside and grab hold of its wing as its flies me high into the sky at speed grasping on in awe. The music that accompanied this chain of events still gives me goose bumps.
Picking three games that left the biggest mark is a near impossible task. Having played thousands of games over the course of my life, it’s insanely hard to narrow it down to only three. But after putting ten or so into a hat, and pulling three names out, I’ve completed the task.
There will never be another game that touched me in the way that Yu Suzuki‘s 2001 epic Shenmue did. Featuring a world that still feels more alive with living and breathing characters than most of today’s games, I have never felt more transported to a time and place than I did while visiting virtual Japan in 1986. Spending hours walking around town, exploring things, and meeting new characters, Shenmue was such a radical change to what most games were at the time. While the english voice acting wasn’t the best, it didn’t stop me from feeling as if I was truly living out an interactive story hidden away within the Dreamcast discs. While I may never see an ending to my beloved series, I will always treasure how amazed and engrossed I was when I first experienced Shenmue.
One regret I have about being born in the 20th century is knowing that I will more than likely never see intergalactic space travel between our world and other intelligent life. Luckily, BioWare filled this void with their space epic Mass Effect. The excitement of exploring other worlds with loads of new creatures and beings ran through my veins when I first played the title in 2007. Meeting interesting characters dreamed up from the minds of fellow sci-fi fans was a thrill that other games had yet to fully grasp at the time. Saving the galaxy, and even finding a little space-love, was such a new and interesting theme, I found myself lost in the world of Mass Effect. While the second installment only improved on the original, the third sadly seems to have lost its path. And while I am extremely disappointed with how the series has ended up, I can always go back and re-live the magic with the original two games.
The year was 2001. It was a snowy December day. The ice fell like pitch forks from a cold hell. I clenched my fingers around the hard, black plastic. I hit the start button, and it was over. Yeah, yeah I know, I’m no Sam Lake, but I can’t help but love the noir writing and gritty New York setting that he brought us with the 2001 shooter Max Payne. Showing that even a modestly funded game can change the entire industry, Max brought along with him a signature game mechanic and a beloved style of storytelling. Nothing felt better than running through the cold, dirty streets of NYC, diving around corners and taking out five goons before they even had a chance to react. I remember spending hours replaying chapters trying to pull off the ‘coolest’ looking executions. Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne brought with it better animations and a bigger budget. That led to an overall better performing and visually enhanced game. Unfortunately, the third installment was not handled by the original team at Remedy, and unsurprisingly stripped away everything we loved about Max from previous titles. But fear not, I have a remedy to help ease the pain of Max Payne 3. Simply beat the second installment on Dead on Arrival difficulty and take that ending as canon!
From a young age I spent a lot of my time navigating obstacles, squashing a myriad of enemies and collecting treasures. Playstation’s 1996Pandemoniumis probably the earliest platformer I remember spending hours tirelessly jumping and spinning my way around foes and puzzles, to try and rectify the mistake Nikki, one of the two protagonists, had inadvertently made – destroying their beloved home town. This game gave me my first insight into how a game could be so simple, yet so difficult in that the playing of either Fargus or Nikki could be advantageous in any given level, be it through Nikki’s double jump, or Fargus’ bandicoot-esque spin attack. The first time I finished the game and found myself at the Wishing Engine, at around the age 7, I remember frantically scribbling down an assortment of letters so I could re-play the levels, and show my friends my accomplishment (though for many, it was a case of getting the codes so they, too, could beat it). This game will always hold a special place in my gaming heart, due to the vibrant colour schemes, the challenging levels, and the pace of some of the levels. Though, of course, I say this retrospectively, as at the time I didn’t really pay much attention to the colour schemes, I just wanted coins and lives.Pandemoniumis now available on iOS, so get down to the App Store and relive my favourite childhood platformer on your phones! (Unless you’re like me and run an Android system, in which case it is available for the PSP, PSVita and PS3)
2005 gifted me with an alternative to the Grand Theft Auto series, which as a child I was neverallowedto play.Total Overdosewas the first sandbox game I finished as an adolescent, with its gimmicky gameplay, and comic-like special abilities it will always hold a special spot in my all-time favourites. A plot similar to that of a box-office flop, I was enticed by the feel of the game, playing as Ramiro Cruz (or as he is better known, Ram) I was able to charge my enemies in a bull like fashion, somersault in the air pistols drawn, in a Max Payne style, and walk around with “tommy” gun loaded guitar cases. I felt badass, no, Iwas.I remember being filled with glee as I completed the last level, running and gunning down a fast moving train, finding my woman and putting the bad-guys away. Whilst the game lacked in terms of raw replay value, I made it my mission to replay every part of the game, in attempt to do it in the coolest way possible – that and every time I loaded the game, I assumed a Hispanic identity due to the theme song. To this day, I am always wary of people who pass me in the street carrying two guitar cases.
Growing up with a Science Fiction obsessed Father, watching Star Wars on a near weekly basis led to my own obsession with the franchise.Star Wars Battlefront II,will always be a game I render one of my all-time favourites. Upon first hearing about the prospect of being able to flying around as Boba Fett, lazer guns in hands, shooting my friends as they force leaped around trying to catch me, I was hooked before the game was in my hands. Upon release I played the game relentlessly, having finished the campaign in one session, I was forced – willingly – to get my friends around my house, and play with them. The campaign, albeit short, had an amazing feel, once I had completed certain objectives of a mission; I was able to play as a hero, which meant I could be sporadically jumping around as Yoda, slicing and dicing my foes with my small green lightsaber, or stepping into the shoes of a play-it-cool smuggler, Han Solo. Knowing that the next Star Wars Battlefront is mid production on the way to release on next-gen platforms, I can’t wait to immerse myself into the Star Wars Universe yet again, but that just might be the fan boy inside of me talking.
So that wraps up our look at what console games left a mark on us monsters. Why not let us know what console games left a mark on you, leave us your comments below!