Video consoles and games have been a staple of my life growing up. From the Sinclair ZX Spectrum in the 80’s and early 90’s right up to my current baby, the PlayStation 4, I’ve been a mild gaming enthusiast throughout.
I’d like to point out that I’m not a gaming nerd. While I spend a fair amount of time playing, I’m not one who spends days of his life locked in a dank, dark room in my shreds. However, I’m enough of a gamer to have played a great many titles and wasted many weeks of my life playing on them.
The obsession started with a game on the ZX Spectrum called Krakout. It was one of those old school bat and ball games where you have to destroy the blocks. Simple, but so much fun and has never been bettered by any similar game I’ve played since.
The world of cartridge consoles was opened to me by my friend across the street who had a Sega Master System and I’d sit there playing Sonic The Hedgehog, Duck Shoot, Afterburner and other such classics. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) was introduced to me by another neighbour and I knew within five minutes of playing on it that I had to have it.
So for the next nine to ten years of my life I was a SNES kid. Bigger and better versions came along like the N64 and Game Cube, but I remained loyal to my SNES. Although, PC gaming did enter the fray here too thanks to my ex step granddad (about the only thing I’m grateful to the man for, but that’s another story). The Championship Manager (now Football Manager) and Grand Theft Auto series’ came into my life and has never left. I still play the games now almost twenty years later.
In about 2003, I finally left the world of the SNES behind and ventured into PlayStation land. There was one reason for it; Grand Theft Auto Vice City. I’d only seen my best mate Ian playing it and knew that I had to have it. Days later, I owned a PS2 thanks to my girlfriend at the time. I’ve been a PlayStation man since and have never deviated.
I still play my PC games a lot alongside the PS4 and my SNES is still hiding somewhere (no way am I getting rid of that). Over the years, I’ve played a vast amount of games and some of them have been amazing. They’ve literally left a lasting impression upon me. I’ll now run down five of my favourites in no particular order. Here goes…
- Super Mario Kart (SNES) – This game is still the best racing game I’ve ever played. No other has drawn me in like it since. When it first came along it was graphically stunning, the gameplay was simple yet so effective and the action was intense. It had the full package. DK JR (Donkey Kong Junior) was my favourite character and I owned the game with him. I was so good on the game that nobody could touch me. The eerie thing is that after five minutes of playing nowadays I’m right back up to the level I once was. Like riding a bike. I used to love racing my ghost on the time trials and squeezing an extra couple of hundredths of a second out of myself. The Battle Mode was great fun and a good way of beating up a mate without actually beating them up. However, the game was all about the grand prix style tournament races. That was where I couldn’t be touched by any who came up against me. Even if I’d been crap at the game, I still would have loved it. It was just sublime and will always hold a special place in my heart.
- Championship Manager 00/01 (Windows PC) – In terms of hours spent on one game, this is probably at the top of the list owing to a stupidly successful game as manager of Panathinaikos of Greece. I know people who can play games of Championship Manager and zip through many seasons in the space of days. It took me about three or four years of playing to get through nine seasons before the PC simply couldn’t handle the mammoth amount of data anymore. That is the furthest I’ve ever got before on one of these games and I managed to turn Panathinaikos into the biggest and best team in the world. Some of the players I made a success of were simply mind boggling too; Justin Haber, Marek Szmid and Ben Muirhead to name a few. I also made an international superstar of former Rangers and Chile man Sebastián Rozental. It was easy to make players good on that game just by sticking by them and playing them properly. Latest versions don’t allow for that level of progression. Their progress is almost predetermined nowadays. I still love the series and still play it all the time, but 00/01 remains my favourite.
- Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (PS3) – I’m a massive fan of the Assassin’s Creed series. One of the main reasons I finally upgraded from PS2 to PS3 is because of Assassin’s Creed. Technically, the games aren’t brilliant, but if you aren’t completely sucked in by the historical setting of each game then I think it says more about you than the games. I have to pick Black Flag simply because of the setting; The Golden Age of Piracy. As mentioned in one of my first posts, I’m big into my pirates and this game ticks every swashbuckler’s box. Each game features icons of whatever era the game is set in and this one is no exception. Blackbeard, Jack Rackham, Bartholomew Roberts, Charles Vane, Mary Read, Anne Bonny; they’re all there. It’s as close to living the life as you can get. While other Assassin’s Creed titles play better and are perhaps more immersive, nothing beats the where and when of this game. Nothing at all!
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2) – Picking a favourite GTA is like picking a favourite child, but it’s really a no brainer for me. I’ve never been gripped by a game in the series more than this one. I love the size and variety of the map, I love the story and I love the characters. It pretty much has everything I want in a game. There are some amazing Easter eggs throughout as well. I’ve played GTA V through three times now and each time I’m just thinking to myself that I want to play on San Andreas again. Not that I don’t like GTA V; I love it. So much so that it’s the only instalment I’ve ever had the patience to complete 100%. But there’s just so much going on in San Andreas that GTA V doesn’t have. I’ll definitely buy it for PS4 soon (it has been released for it) and I’ll play the hell out of it!
- Just Cause 2 (PS3) – Picking five out from the massive list I wrote was so difficult, but this game by no means only just sneaks onto the list. No; this game belongs on this list on merit! I absolutely love it! I love the first instalment. I love the third instalment too. Just Cause 2 is my favourite though. It’s the right level of frustrating, challenging and fun. Technically, the game is a long way from perfect, but I simply couldn’t care less about that. The map is incredible. From snowy mountains to sandy deserts and from rainforests to cities; it’s all crammed into one huge map. The storyline is superb and the things you can do with the main character, Rico Rodriguez, are so much fun. Even after the game is complete you feel compelled to fly around the map with Rico’s parachute that opens at will. I’d suggest this game to absolutely anybody and I’d happily fight anybody who dares to say this game isn’t good because they’re lying! Why am I writing this when I should be dusting off my PS3 and playing Just Cause 2?
So there’s my list. There are so many more I could wax lyrical about, but I’m happy with those five. I feel bad about some that I haven’t included though. Does that leave the door open for me to talk about more of my favourites in future? I reckon it’d be a shame not to.
What do you think? Are there any I shouldn’t have there and others that I definitely should? What are your thoughts on the games that I’ve listed? Have your say in the comments below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can for some enlightening (and friendly) debates.